Home and Drainless

YAY! They didn’t keep me in the hospital.

Turns out there was some kind of malfunction of the drain so they removed it. Definitely not sorry to see that gone but it has been replaced with a plastic bag type thing that sticks to the hole in my skin and collects the blood and puss stuff in the bag. Kind of like a colostomy bag.

When we got home from the hospital I was absolutely exhausted and slept the entire afternoon away and woke feeling sore but happy to be waking in my own bed.

So I happily sit here medicated with minimal pain, drainless, Kath and Kim on the TV, dogs quietly sleeping…. Life is good.

I did have a chat to the gorgeous breast care nurse at St Andrews about my pain medication issues and thankfully, there was finally someone on my side and who understood exactly what the hell was going on with me.

Oh and guess what private health insurance entitles you too? A first class, front of the non existent line in the emergency ward. There was not one person waiting in the emergency section of the hospital and was seem almost immediately by the nurse and then doctor. I was given a warmed gown and blanket to put on while I waited the whole eight minutes for the doctor.

So, today I shall not complain about what I do not get from private health insurance but stay tuned for that rant… its coming J

Update on pain, it is still there and still extreme but pain killers are taking the edge off and stop my blubbering.

To anyone who thinks doctors are not entirely truthful as to how long it takes to recover from surgery, I say, listen to them.

My surgeon told me I would need six weeks recovery from this surgery which I thought was preposterous and told my boss as much. I said that I would be happy to take two weeks to recover from surgery and then work from home for the remaining four weeks. Baaaahahahahah what a silly little twit I was.

I will be making the phone call to my boss tomorrow to explain that the surgeon may have had a point in advising I would need 6 weeks to recover from surgery. I just know from previous surgeries that the recovery time was ‘kind of ‘ correct but I could have easily worked from home, just not travelled to work and dealt with walking, pushing and pulling of doors etc.

This time, totally different story.

Pain is still high. Emotions are crazy. Sleeping more than I am being awake etc.

My advice to anyone planning on having this surgery, believe your surgeon when they tell you the recovery time. You will need this time not only to manage the pain but to rest your body. It is also incredible as to how often you use your stomach muscles. Spitting out toothpaste is absolutely excruciating.

I am slightly frightened of sleeping tonight with this stick on bag. I am a bit of a toss and turner during my sleep and dread the thought of accidentally rolling onto my left side and popping my puss and blood filled plastic bag. Gross huh?

Draining the Drain

When you have certain types of surgery, you have drains inserted into the surgical site to drain away the yucky fluid that builds up in said site in the hope to avoid infection.

I had three drains after my tram flap surgery and was lucky enough to have two removed before I went home because they’d stopped draining. One was left in which is on my left side in my lower abdomen.

Well, this drain has been working its little drainface off until yesterday.

Sam has to change the drain bottle when it gets to 300ml and has done this quite a few times since I have been home but after yesterdays drain bottle change, we noticed there wasn’t anything draining. I looked at the drain site where it goes into my body and I can see the stitch that is meant to be inside my body holding the drain in place. Thankfully the drain tube does go a fair way into the body so I knew, ok Sam assured me, that it wasn’t going to come out but, it seems there is a problem.

I have sprung a leak.

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There is yucky fluid all over my side. I woke up in a swamp of fluid. A ghetto of goop. Just disgusting sticky puss looking stuff.

What this means is that I not only have to go to the emergency ward at St Andrews but, I have to wash my hair in the sink and the body parts that don’t have bandages on them. Make myself look and smell human again. I have to find clothes that don’t restrict the surgical sites and pack a bag in case they keep me in.

No, I don’t think they’ll keep me in for the drain issue but perhaps for the pain issue.

Geez I was a mess last night. Like seriously, a blubbering girly snotty redfaced mess.

oh and do you know what I absolutely hate about being a blubbering girly sook? My voice. When I try to speak it is the dumbest sound you have ever heard. All high pitched and gaspy and damn well embarrassing. Not to mention my face as well while we are discussing it. Big red bulbous nose, red cheeks etc. Not a pretty little tear stained face with gentle sobs like the movies.

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Sam picked up the script from the chemist that my surgeon had organised for me but, I was too frightened to take them in case I ran out again but the pain was excruciating by this time. My last lot of pain killers had been taken in the morning and it was now after 5pm and I could barely breath let alone do anything else.

So, I did it. I took two tablets and then cried and cried and cried. I cried because of the pain, I cried because of how difficult it was to obtain the pain killers, more tears because of the pain, tears because Sam has to put up with me, tears because chickens are being sold for $3 per kilo at Aldi and I think they are selling those beautiful birds for too cheap (it might be here that the pain killers had started to kick in).

As you can see, it is quite the roller coaster of emotions at the moment but I recall from my mastectomy days when the pain was almost as intolerable, my surgeon considered popping me back into hospital. I do not partially love the idea but I hate the pain that I have too. I also recall that I didn’t become a pain killer addict and I got through it as I will this time too.

So, for the moment, I will sit and enjoy my cup of coffee and try not to think of how cheap chicken is in the supermarket and how they deserve more as do the chicken farmers, but only the free range chicken farmers because we all hate the cage chicken farmers  and take a few pain killers.

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Talk soon xx

My Introduction to Radiation Therapy

Today was induction day. I met the machine I will be spending the next six and a half weeks with. Thankfully, I get weekends off from having to visit the St Andrews Radiation Unit.

What I didn’t know would be happening is that I would be learning to ‘snorkel’. Yep, snorkel. I have never snorkeled before but the lovely guy who ran me through the procedure showed me the ‘thing’ that would be put into my mouth and said it was much like a snorkel. That’s great if you have done that before.

Now, try to bite your tongues but, I dont really like things in my mouth for an extended period of time. STOP THINKING RUDE THOUGHTS! And this snorkel thing PLUS a nose clip was waaaaaay out of my comfort zone.

The snorkel cuts your air off after you are told to take a big breath and this can last from 10 seconds until 30 seconds. It is the weirdest and uncomfortable thing but the staff were amazing.

My Professor Borg, the radiation specialist, came in to draw all over me and then I got some pictures taken of my scar followed by four dot tattoos.

The real thing starts Thursday. Today was just getting everything prepared. I might just get over my ‘something in my mouth’ thing after 33 sessions.

Oh hey, did you know that when you have no nose hairs, your nostrils stick together when pushed together. Does that make sense? When the nose clip was taken off, I had to unstick my nostrils so I could breath out of my nose hehe.

snorkeling

How to Support your Partner through Cancer

You can be the man or woman of your partner going through breast cancer but here are a few thing that totally threw me for a six when I had my stage 3 breast cancer.

Lets first talk about my man, quickly while he is asleep and can’t stop me hehe.

Sam is a mans man. He has a hairy face, a big body that works in a timber mill, a shaved head etc. many people would cross the road (I imagine) if they saw him walking along the road with is dog (staffy X) Kelly.

His fiance (me) has stage 3 breast cancer and you will see a whole new man. Yes. he still has the shaved head. He still has the goatie beard, black clothes, frown but, you wouldn’t want any other man to watch over you.

At the risk of having a scowl and what not from this man of mine, let me tell you how he made having stage 3 breast cancer a wee bit easier for me.

1. He listened. When we went to see the doctor to confirm the cancer, as I sobbed into a tissue, he took in all of the details and ‘next steps’ issued from my doctor. He took down the surgeon appointments and what cancer ‘we’ were dealing with.

2. At the surgeon office he took note of the cancer I had, let the surgeon ‘feel me up’ without knocking him out. Trusted and admired this surgeon who had had a wee bit of a play with the ‘girls’ and appreciated the surgeon taking into account that it wasn’t just me dealing with cancer, Sam too was dealing with it.

3. This is the big one. He asked to see the after surgery body. He gave me the option to take my time in showing him but advised me that the longer I took to show and reveal the ‘new me’, the harder it would be. He did give me what ever time I needed but whilst in hospital, he made it clear that the longer I took, the harder it would be and looking into his eyes, I knew that it was a now or never moment. He didn’t push me. He didn’t give me any guilt but just gave me the facts. The honesty of how it would be harder the longer I left it. This gave me the confidence to show him the wound. The bomb site. The boobless chest that would be like this for quite some time. And do you know what. It was ok. Sam knew that he could deal with it but it was me, with the worry and concern that he couldn’t or wouldn’t deal with it that was the issue. I honestly felt more love from my Sam that moment that I had ever felt before.  That is a huge statement because this man of mine has given me so much love and support from the moment we met.

4. We are home. Sam and I are alone, in the living room and in all honesty, I don’t know what we were discussing or how we came to this but Sam wanted me to ‘reveal’ my chest. Even though I thought I had gotten through the hurdle in the hospital, it was obvious now that I hadn’t. I didn’t want to take my t-shirt off. I didn’t want to take off the Berlie and Miss Fluff but boy they were giving me grief. Why couldn’t I just go to the en suite and just remove the bra and fluff and be comfy? Sam wanted to be there. He wanted to support me. He knew, I hadn’t gotten over the fear, the embarrassment of revealing the missing Leftie. He didn’t push or embarrass or persuade… he just gently advised he was there. I removed my support bra and miss fluff, removed my top and he gently put his hand on this missing part of me. The part that used to house a breast, a womanly part of me. His hand warmed my skin, his eyes showed and proved the love he felt. His kiss was warm and loving. His words were as these… “I was a boob man, now, I am a You man’. Bloody Fuck! What on earth did I do to deserve this man? What ever it was I am ever so thankful, so grateful. My boob man was now a me man. He loved me. Not the sex. Not the boobs. Me!

5. Sam, my timber mill worker, hairy and sweary, is the love and support that I need. Yes, I have my family, my Daughter, my friends but at the end of the day, I lay down in bed with a man who accepts the one boob me. The me that has breast cancer. The me who will soon be hairless. The me that might be quite sick. The me that will me more tired than usual. The me that is sore and achey. The me that will be another boobless and girlie inside (hysterectomy) missing. This manly man, will hold me gently and lovingly and still know that I am the one he will marry one day. The man that makes me feel loved, adored, worth it, beautiful and hugable… this is the man that will one day be my husband.

6. Sam has asked me what I want to do before the chemo takes away my energy. He will take me where ever I want, do what ever I want  to ensure I live my life before I take the ‘chemo break’ where I will be lethargic and poorly. Sam hasn’t asked for a break, hasn’t demanded he have a bit of attention and notice… he has made sure everything is about me. He has made sure all of my favourite food as been available in the hospital and at home. He growls at me if I am doing too much, checks my wounds and medication intake…Please, do not judge a book by it’s cover because my Sam would be one you might bypass but boy, he is the one I want right here beside me, loving me, looking after me…..

7. Sam has let me be me. Previously I have noticed Sam be a little curious at my choices of footwear, clothing, hairstyles etc but since my Stage 3 Cancer…. he is free and easy. What does it matter if I want to wear a red hat with an orange sweater? Previously Sam would have been absolutely mortified but now, he would happily see me in a rainbow beanie, purple scarf and white lace dress (no, this outfit hasn’t occured) . Sam has tried hat after hat on my head in preparation for my chemo baldness.

I think my point is as follows. Sam and I had totally different ‘styles’ when we met. I was more than happy with his all black, goatie, shaved head appearance. Sam on the other hand was a wee little more concerned about my ‘out there’ ideas on dress and appearance. I totally understand his concerns back then because oh gee, Accalia certainly had some, shall we say, interesting ways of dress entering the outdoors and many times I bit my tongue.

At the end of the day, does it really matter? Who cares if your wife, girlfriend, boyfriend etc wears a beanie of rainbows? A shirt of bulldogs, pants in the English flag? When your partner comes home, wraps their arms around your neck with the most loving of embraces, does it matter what they wear? Does it matter if they are missing a breast? Does it matter if their testicles have been removed from testicular cancer? A big piece of their leg missing from a surgical removal? Their heart loves you. They still want to protect you. Love you. Spend their life with you.

Take that love, unconditionally and accept it.

I struggled when I was told my lovely leftie breast was going to be removed not because of how I felt, but because of Sam. He was a boob man and I worried that he wouldn’t love me anymore because leftie would be gone. I needed to trust in his love, unconditional love. He doesn’t give a shit that leftie is gone. What he does give a shit about is that I am still here. I am here to love him, nag him, make his lunches etc. A real man doesn’t care if you lose a boob or two, he just cares that you are still here. To love him and for him to love you. Yep, I am one of the lucky ones.

I have a Sam Wilkinson in my life.

I’m Home …….

How lovely is it to come home. Weather it be a night after a long day at work, a lovely holiday or like me, a guest stay at St Andrews Hospital, nothing beats coming home. I dont even care that I still have one tube left draining the wound who I call ‘drippy’ (YUK, it even makes me cringe writing it and I have it in there).

There are a few differences from the hospital to home and the first differences are the mirrors. The hospital mirror was small and short so visuals were not quite honest. Not that I spent much time in front of the hospital mirror naked mind you. Home though, I have one of those MASSIVE mirrors in my ensuite that leave nothing to the imagination from my waist upward. It is all there and let me tell you who I saw. Rightie! Well, I could only just see Rightie because gravity is taking over. It is a like a super force trying to pull poor Rightie away and Rightie isn’t fighting the big fight. You see, I have been a wee bit tender in the area that Leftie used to live so Berlei + Miss Fluff have been draw ridden and unused and Gravity has moved in. Gravity was on the mission to take rightie but I just cant understand why Rightie isn’t fighting back.

What worries me is that what would have happened if I had elected to stay in hospital while drippy was still there? My surgeon says drippy wont come out until Monday and had I not come home and seen Righties prediciment, it might have been too late. I might have gotten up Monday morning and tripped over Rightie!

I had been so concerned about Lefties scars and drippys insertions that my Berlei Bra and Miss Fluff took a back seat to allow that area to heal and I didn’t think it was important to be wearing them until necessary. No one told me of the impact on Rightie from not wearing the boulder/fluff holder. I should have put her in a sling, like the one a person with a broken arm would wear or something.

In any case, I’ll be mindful each morning not to step on her when I get out of bed.

Saying Goodbye to Leftie

How should I be feeling about losing a breast? No one can answer this for me except me. It is a really weird thing because it isn’t like I actually ‘need’ good ol’ leftie but I don’t particularly want her thrown in the bin either. Sure, she is a wee bit sick and all but she still looks pretty good albeit a few bruises from being poked and prodded. I guess she is sort of like a tonsil hey? We have them but don’t really need them. But I can tell you right now, I didn’t check my tonsils growing up to see how big they were getting! I didn’t compare my tonsils to those of my friends. Boys didn’t want to check out my tonsils either, well, that I know off anyway.

So, ol’ leftie is useless really. I am giving her to my surgeon to throw away in a pile of other unwanted boobies, to take her and the sickness in my body, away. It really shouldn’t matter should it? It isn’t like I am losing something important or necessary for my life. I even feel a bit of a whinger to be honest knowing another person in my life who is in fact without an important part of their body, their arm. Who am I to complain about losing a boob? It isn’t like I need her to drive or hug or to pick up an object. The thing is, I like her. She has been around for quite a while now and I am used to her. But, the choice isn’t mine anymore, it is where the cancer lives and is now time to go. Like a game show really, it is time to leave……..**suspense built in here** …. Leftie (and Cancer), you have been evicted from living in the body of Bailey!

Today I thought about the things I need to pack for my holiday to St Andrews Hospital. I have received a phone call from the lady at concierge known as ‘the nurse’ who has advised me there will be a phone in my room, a television and something else that I can’t remember. Probably a bed hey? I realised, once I started looking for the things I would need for this holiday and it occured to me, she didn’t tell me if I needed a bra. Obviously I don’t need a proper bra  as though only rightie will be residing in said bra but I cant be letting rightie swing about on her own. Goodness knows what kind of damage she might do! I could end up with a black eye or bruised knees simply from rightie not being nestled tight against my body. She can get a bit out of control when left to her own devises.

Well, after all these years with leftie, I don’t think there is much else I can say in this farewell piece to her. Thanks for being there? Thanks for hanging around? Cya Leftie, and take that cancer with you!