Saturday, 29 August 2015

Sonic Pings and Sheldon

This week's adventure was an Echocardiogram. 

I will be receiving a treatment soon that could cause heart problems, so my heart needs to be monitored. I received my appointment letter for the Echocardiogram and it made me giggle. Strange you may think, but the opening paragraph was so random, it had to be written by Sheldon (Big Bang Theory). This is how it went....."Dear Mrs Bond, Ships use very high frequency sound waves". Feeling bewildered? So was I. It continued "projecting down into the sea to monitor the depth of water and to look for moving objects in the water". Yes, Sheldon's still explaining. "Recording equipment picks up the echoes bounced back from objects below the water enabling their size, shape and movement to be monitored". OK Shelley, what are you wittering on about? Ships? Water? Sound waves? Where is this going? For a moment I felt I was in work reading an engineering working instruction! Then Sheldon became a little clearer, "This procedure can be used to study the anatomy of your heart". Ah ha! So I need a ship, some water and some sonic pings? My brain was a little on the side of confused, whilst giggling to myself that this was the strangest appointment letter I had ever received! Wait, wait, Sheldon almost manages to talk a bit of patient speak "The Doppler Study uses changes in the frequency of reflected sound to measure blood flow through your heart". So it's just a fancy scan!   Now I know we all crave more information from the medical world, so I will not be critical and heck it did make me laugh!!! Hubbie and sons inform me that ships send sonic pings down to hunt for submarines, so it did occur to me that the odd sub may well be found floating around my heart, but the type with ham, cheese and tomato!!!!

My wonderful MIL (Mother in law) collects me and off we go for my sonic ping adventure. The Cardiology waiting room is full, as all waiting rooms are, but we are good at this now and are Kindle ready. We sit down, the MIL manages to sit on part of another lady patient's bag, which she tries to whip away quickly. Apologies given etc, the lady says "Don't worry it's only an Echocardiogram!". We smile and make the right noises, but I'm thinking, why have you got an Echocardiogram in a carrier bag and just what does one look like? The object in the bag looked to be the size of my Sky Hub. Very confused and with so so many questions I wanted to ask, I did the right thing and said nothing. I did think, I may have my own soon to transport around in a carrier bag!  Not enough time to resort to the Kindle as my name is called. The Cardiac Physiologist (lady doing the pinging), takes me into a room and tells me to strip to my waist, it crosses my mind how easily I do that these days, will I be stood in Sainsbury's one day and over the tannoy I hear "Shelf strip down in aisle five please" and before I know it, I've released my boobs to the unsuspecting pickles, sauces and tinned goods customers? Back to the pinging, I put a gown on and lie on the bed. Sticky pads get applied and wired up and lashings of lovely lubricating gel gets slowly smeared all over my chest. Steady boys, steady, if only it were going to be that much fun!!!  I'm told to lie on my left side and my Pinger says "I'm not really hurting you but I have to press hard". Oh dear Lord but you are!  Ouch and double ouch!!!  She is pressing the Doppler doodah very hard into my left boob, right on the site of my surgery. This is not good I tell myself, I'm not liking this.  It's pressing down right onto my ribs.  She finally releases the pressure.   Then she tells me to breathe in, in, in and out and...... hold it!  I'm holding, holding, still holding, s..t..i..l..l.. holding.   I start rolling my eyes and pursing my lips, trying to stop my brain from thinking "Hello, I am not breathing!".  And release. Praise the Lord, I grasp a few quick breaths.   Uh oh, the Doppler Pinger is on the move, she plops my boob out of the way and attacks me in the side of my rib cage, I mean right in my rib cage, this hurts!   She does apologise though and I understand she has to push or the pings wouldn't work.  More deep breaths in and out and hold.  Oh no, more eyeball rolling, lip pursing.   I am going to expire. My brain is screaming "breathe!!!".   It also occurs to me at this point that I should never seek an alternative career as a deep sea free diver.  At last she says "Oh sorry, release"!!!!!! She forgot to tell me!  She then says "just hold it for as long as you can".  A little late in the day for that important message don't you think Cruella De Vil??   Then the door opens, a man says "Hello" from the other side of the curtain.   Please don't come in, please, my boobs are spread all over the shop, dignity where have you gone?  Cruella kindly pulls my gown half over one boob.   Thankfully he doesn't come in any further, they exchange a few words and off he pops.  Sometimes I just hate the helplessness of undignified hospital body bits exposure.  So a few more rib cracking thrusts from Miss De Vil and she tells me to move onto my back, she Dopples my tummy with the same manoeuvres and then sticks it in my neck.  Any other situation you would be wrestling someone off who purposely tried to throttle you!!!!!  Throughout all this I did hear the occasional sound of blood swishing through my heart, which was reassuring. I didn't hear any hatches being battened and calls for "Dive, Dive".  Also reassuring.   All done.   My lovely lady Cardiac Physiologist (can't call her Cruella anymore, once the Doppler was out of her hand, she stopped being a sadist), then told me my heart was all good, it was all balanced and everything was working normally.  So it's official I have a good heart!!!!   Gel wiped off, clothes back on, back to the waiting room to interrupt the MIL from her Kindle, which did look like it irritated her a bit, has she found a legitimate escape from the FIL?  As she also has a good heart (huge one), she packed away her Kindle and drove me and my good heart home.

Overall a positive day, but I hadn't been given my own Echocardiogram, just what was in that woman's carrier bag?

Loves to CB xx

Friday, 28 August 2015

Amazing Coppafeel Rae Morris video

Please watch this amazing video by Rae Morris for Coppafeel charity.  I am in the position on the left, don't be the one on the right.  Feel those boobs!  If you download the video from iTunes, all the money goes to Coppafeel

Coppafeel charity

Saturday, 22 August 2015

Chemo and Daytime TV

Halfway through my chemotherapy
And I haven't once watched Jeremy
Even with all this time on my hands
I refuse to succumb to TV demands
Daytime TV is no place for me
I'd rather set my imagination free
So my brain wanders from place to place
Improving my lot is not a fast race
I'm slowly marching through each week
Obviously without being too meek
I've dealt with the first three infusions
How nice if the next three were just illusions
The therapy now changes, it's all anew
Side effects will come out of the blue
The unknown is what causes most concern
But from a path travelled once I will learn
What helps, what hinders, what will heal
Only then can I wholeheartedly feel
With true judgment and cunning wile
I still don't want to watch Mr Kyle!

Thursday, 20 August 2015

Look for Lumps = Look for Life

Be honest ladies, how many of you have run your fingers over what felt like a lump, had a mini electric shock of fear course through you, then hurriedly move your fingers away and ignored what you may have just found?  

My hands are up, I've done it in the past!  My boobs are naturally lumpy anyway and whenever docs and nurses had a rummage in them, they always found something, but it was always a harmless natural lumpiness.  Anything that I found I always put down to that too. I quite simply sectioned it off to those compartments that us girls have in our heads, that are titled "nothing to be worried about". We don't want to make a fuss and take up the time of NHS staff for simply nothing. But that really isn't the right attitude nowadays.  

I bet you will know not only 1 person with Breast Cancer, but more likely at least 2 or 3 if not more.  You may even know people that have passed away from it.  It does seem to be everywhere now.

Thankfully when I felt my lump, I just knew it was a nasty one.  It felt different.  But I did have that fleeting moment of thinking "Ignore it", seriously I did!  Luckily that disappeared from my brain in a nanosecond.  But what if it hadn't?  What if I had ignored it?  Not wanted to make a fuss, not wanted to go through the awful waiting for results? The period of keeping it quiet in case it was nothing and I looked a fool for making a song and dance over nothing? Quite simply, my lump would have grown and spread, I would be looking at a very different scenario than the one presently before me.  

Once you can feel a lump it has the ability to spread, this means you have to leap into action, not sit around pondering whether to do anything about it!   Did you watch "The C-Word" recently on BBC1?  It was raw watching for me as I had only just been diagnosed, but a Mammographer that I know, reported an increase of 30 women who, following the programme, noticed changes in their boobs and followed it up, 3 of those women were diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  That was just in one hospital in one town.  Potentially that one programme has saved 100's of lives.

So you see if you find it early enough and follow it up, you may well save your life!  We have to accept that Breast Cancer is out there and its likely to get you, so let's stop it in its tracks!

I want looking for lumps not to be equated with a dire outcome, but a positive one, looking for lumps should equal looking for life.  Go looking for lumps, understand your boobs, know their road map, know how they feel throughout your cycle, you will then stand a good chance of feeling any changes and acting upon them straight away, look for life.  Impress on your daughters and granddaughters that this should become a habit for life.  I support the Coppafeel charity because they start with the youngsters, they offer a free checking reminder service. Take up that service whatever age you are.  Lets make lump finding a positive thing. Please also remember it's not just lumps, but any other changes too.  Get to know your boobs!

Monday, 17 August 2015

I've had the results of my scans

I've had the results of my scans......

We had been fairly petrified of what we were going to hear, a bad result meant we could be given a scenario of how many years I had left, but praise the Lord and hallelujah, the results were, no secondaries! This means my cancer has been contained, so my surgery and chemo etc should all be effective at knocking it on the head! (We will need to wait until treatment is finished for those results). So at this moment, after the scan results, I am very grateful and much relieved!


I have to say "But". Why? Not because I am the most negative, pessimistic soul ever, but because I am a realist. I like to have all my facts and figures, know what the reality is, decide on my course of action. I also say "But" because I need to look after everyone around me. I need to be careful with their emotions and feelings. I care for them because they care for me. If after my treatment, I was to say I'm "all clear" they will quite rightly rejoice and feel relieved!! However if after 1 year, 5 years or 10 years, my cancer comes back, they may think, she told me she was all clear, what has she done to herself? Did she not look after herself? Didn't she do all the correct things she was supposed to do? I know they may think this, because I've thought it myself of other people. Have you not been a little bewildered by people you've known who have gone through all the chemo etc and said they've beaten it, but a year or so later it returned? I was. I now know that it comes from a complete lack of understanding of how breast cancer behaves, or rather misbehaves! This is how it goes, the surgery, chemo and radiotherapy should kill off anything that exists. The hormone and targeted therapies will help to reduce the risk of recurrence. So BC can then just decide to pop up again either as a repeat of the first time or as secondaries in other parts of the body. This is where my "But" comes in, I know my statistics, I am aware. I have less chance of recurrence than someone who smokes dying prematurely, 50% of smokers will. Most smokers live in a dream world of denial. I'm not in denial. If cancer dares to strike me again in the future, I will be prepared. If I told people it was beaten and then it came back, how puzzled and mystified would they feel? I have accepted, that albeit in the low percentages of chance, there is a possibility it could return, the rate is approx 25%. (To all smokers out there, look at me and realise that I have a better chance of living longer than you!!! That might make you give up!!). The recurrence rate is roughly the same for all Breast Cancer club members. It's the only cancer where you can't say after five years it's all clear, because it can come back after even 20 years! You can however, say that your cancer has been treated. Treated and cured, I have learned, are two different things. Now please believe me when I say I am incredibly positive and I am not being negative in any way, I am just being realistic. I have a future. A future filled with laughter and love, my future. What this future will have to contain though is for any lumps, bumps, aches or pains that arise, I will have to view them with a little more suspicion. Now trust me, I can handle that! The answer I will be looking for is, there is nothing wrong. I will not be spending my life thinking it may be cancer, now that is negative! However it is a conundrum, looking for lumps and aches all the time is negative, but ignoring them is negative! What's the one thing that we are all persistently told? Examine yourself, get it checked out. So why then after a diagnosis would you not follow that advice? It is the most positive action ever. I've saved my life once already by finding my lump in time, I'm definitely up for saving it again should those pesky blighters dare to return!! I believe taking a pro-active stance is positive. This can't be viewed as having a negative outlook. So when I say I have "no secondaries...But" you now know that it's a positive thing to say "But", it will help those around me to deal with possible future shock and most importantly, it may well just save my life! Again.

Sunday, 9 August 2015

Bald Showers Are No Fun

Bald showers are simply no fun
With no hair there's nowt to be done!
Ten minutes each morning I would spend
Washing and rinsing hair root to end
Lathering, rinsing, massaging with froth
The water completely carried me off
It took me to a island paradise dream
With waterfalls crisp and sparkly clean
The sun envelopes me with a healing glow
I add conditioner to the smooth liquid flow
I feel the suds slide down my back
Of joy and glee there is no lack
The sparkling water splashes through my hair
I'm enraptured by the sense of clean fresh air
No longer a razor called Venus have I
Its a real life sponge I drape up my thigh
Removing hair in a turquoise sea so blue
Much better than stubble flicked into the loo

A ten minute morning adventure
From real life a moment of censure

But no longer can I enjoy such bliss
With no hair its simply all amiss
Five minutes is all it will take
No exotic island tour to make
I now have no reason to drift far away
There's no tresses to wash at the start of my day
No more depilation
To aid relaxation
I get in wash my bod and I'm all done
That's why bald showers are no damn fun!

Saturday, 8 August 2015

My boss left his job this week and I sobbed my heart out.

My boss left his job this week and I sobbed my heart out.

Not because he left, but because when I said goodbye I shed a tear, then without warning the floodgates opened. I became a blubbering sobbing mess.

I returned home from his leaving do and fell into the arms of my bewildered husband, heaving, gasping, muttering nonsense, tears streaming down my face. "What's wrong?" Asked my husband, holding his arms tightly around me whilst trying to look me up and down to inspect for any signs of outward damage. Talking in the gulp, gulp, grab breath, one word, gulp, parlance of a bereft sobbing woman, I tried to explain "I," gulp, gulp,"feel", big breath, more tears, "so sad". Floods of shoulder shaking tears. My body gives up, being upright can only be supported by my husband. He moves me to the sofa and we sit. I'm wrapped up in his love. He wipes the tears from my face with his fingers "Oh Sweetie, what's happened, why are you so sad?".

"I just don't want to be doing this". There I've said it. My bravery, my stoical resolution, my smile no matter what, my Dunkirk Spirit, my inspirational status, has all come crashing down. It's hit the floor with a resounding smash like a redundant chimney tower being demolished.

I had gone out that evening for the first time, for a normal night out with friends, since my diagnosis. It was also the first evening out with my new "1920's Hollywood" look, A.K.A. a headscarf, dangly earrings and a bit more slap. I felt fine, I was looking forward to the copious giggles that I knew would occur with my workmates. I have always been very lucky with the people I have worked with, laughter and bad taste jokes have always been in plentiful supply, whichever Company I've worked for.

So there I was in the pub with my lovely friends, being normal. Except it wasn't normal. I'd joined everyone a couple of hours after the start, as I'd been home for a sleep. I wasn't drinking, I am allowed to, but I'm keeping it very limited. I wasn't having a meal because I need to keep the risk of infection to a minimum. I had no hair, but instead a headscarf on my head.

Whilst I sat there enveloped by the warm companionship of my friends, it was different. I was viewing everything around me with suspicion. The sauce bottles and menus had congealed liquid over them, the table had sticky patches on it, the woman on the next table coughed, the plates did not look clean, my friends meal looked undercooked, there was a used tissue on the floor. Oh my God, I had turned into Miles from Frasier! I've already got hand gel in my bag. It was like I was a newborn babe being taken out into the world for the first time. You wrap an imaginary bubble of protection around that baby and by staring hard at people you can will them not to breathe over your precious bundle. But I had to do my own staring and willing. I felt apart somehow, the gooseberry on someone else's date. My levels of self protection were at Defcon 1. I couldn't stop wondering how many dirty hands had touched my glass and straw. Dear God, paranoia? But no, this had been drummed into me, be careful. I have a low immune system, no way of battling infection. I take my temperature three times a day everyday, if it rises it could be a sign of infection and off to hospital I would need to go.

This was not a normal night out.

Then my headscarf came undone. My poise and perfected elegance unravelled. I dashed to the loo with the same fear as if the arse in my trousers had split. The underneath of you does not get exposed. The veneer of clothes and accessories should remain intact. As I re-tied my scarf my hands were shaking. This was not good. This should not happen. This was upsetting. How odd. I knew that the pre-diagnosis me would not have bothered to re-tie it and slung it down on the table with a "Sod it". But suddenly I felt vulnerable.

I looked at myself in the mirror, my face more heavily made up to balance the loss of hair. Was that me? Am I still there? I felt like a drag queen without his wig.

Deep breath taken, scarf sorted, I rejoin my lovely friends for some more laughter. Then it's time to say goodbye to my boss for the very last time. I feel a lump in my throat, a tear starts to roll, oh no, am I really going to blub? It's on its way, I try a breath and a gulp, it's no good, I spurt out "I have to go home now". I scuttle away. Rushing towards the door the tears are streaming down my face, just get outside is all I can think, then my headscarf comes undone again, I sob.

I'm outside, I get in my car and swear at myself. Stupid stupid cow. What the f**k is wrong with you?

I get home and collapse into my husbands ever strong, ever calming arms.

I go to sleep still gently sobbing. I wake up to find I'm in the same state, tears start to trickle. A nice cup of tea might fix this. Oh my Lord, I'm off again. Where the hell has all this emotion come from? I consider myself a strong and capable woman, like everyone I've dealt with lots of shit over the years and come through it still smiling, but today I need help. Today is not a day to be brave and stoical. Today I give in. I text a friend who is nearby, brief details that I've had a major meltdown. She prescribes an afternoon of chocolate and cake and she will bring supplies.

She arrives on the doorstep, we look at each other and instantly cry. We dissect my feelings. We cry some more. More tea, more chocolate, more dawning realisation. I'd reached that moment. It was my time to crash and burn.

My friend dug all these feelings gently out of my soul. I could not understand why I was sobbing, was I really that upset about my boss leaving? It turned out to be the catalyst that unleashed my built up anxieties.

Without friends like this our world would not be as rich. I am lucky in that I know I could have dropped my blubbering self on any of my friends doorsteps and they would have all scooped me up. A true mate is one that you can cry in front of with no make up on, unwashed, unkempt but not unloved. I am blessed.

I am so glad I wasn't afraid to ask for that proverbial shoulder to cry on.

It helps. Big time.

Fortunately my brain and my tear producing hormones have now written a peace treaty. The dust from my collapsed chimney tower has settled. I will expect to feel like that again at some point. This is surely what normal is. Otherwise to be a in constant state of controlled vigilance, guarding against raw emotional fears, cannot be healthy and can only lead to years of suppressed resentment. I'm not going to do that. I'm here, this is me, life at times is shit, but for the majority of time, life is a gossipy giggle with real good friends.

As well as remembering to tie double knots in my scarves, I'm now back to being irreverent, rude, rebellious and a little bit naughty. Because being good all the time isn't normal either!!!!

Kisses to MK xx