Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Number Thirty Eight: The Hurry

You may well have got the impression already that I’m quite often in a hurry to move on to the next thing. This is definitely so and the impulse to move on has never been more strong than when it comes to moving on from the Beast Breast!
I’ve decided to return to work at the beginning of September- I just can’t resist that ‘start of a new year’ feel, can’t wait to catch up with everybody after so long off and get stuck into my job! Going back to work is the biggest part of moving on- I am really looking forward to getting back to normal (ish).
There are however a few pesky things that seem to be trying to hinder my hurry to move on…

  1. The Line- it’s just been a nightmare from start to finish really. I can now have it removed- yay! “Good news” I hear you cry- no more weekly hospital visits for line flushing or dressing changes. I’ll be able to swim and bath again! As soon as the line is removed I can stop the evil stingy blood thinning injections! That all sounds lovely apart from one sticking point… there’s no one available to remove the line- not at MK or at Northampton! So for now I’m stuck with it! (Have considered self removal but thought better of it!)
  2. The Hair- it’s definitely growing back but I think we all know that it realistically won’t be growing back fast enough for my liking! And if it’s possible I think a slightly hairy fluffy head is more unattractive than a completely bald head! Twice now I’ve woken up from dreaming about having lovely long hair. Cruel subconscious!
  3. The FAT- yep, eight months of feeling up to doing very little will do that to you (that and the steroids) my most regular form of exercise has been to shuffle pathetically from the sofa to the bed and back again! I am now feeling really motivated to get fit and healthy and lose the weight but it seems my body has other plans- I thought a brisk walk would be a sensible starting point… Oh no! My body was not happy about this- a bit of a shock to the system after so long on the sofa! My feet have decided to strongly object in the form of the biggest blisters you’ve ever seen! The soles of my feet are more blister than foot! Yesterday I could not even walk! (Unless you count the ridiculous penguin-like shuffle I adopted!) Was this really my body so literally telling me not to hurry quite so much?
  4. The Tattoos- they’re not exactly hindering my moving on but they are disappointing- much more visible than I thought they’d be and just serve as a little reminder that I’ll be driving up and down the M1 an awful lot over the next month! I’m approaching radiotherapy in the same flippant way I originally approached chemotherapy- let’s hope it’s the walk in the park I’ve set myself up for because if it’s not then I’m going to get a shock! Radiotherapy starts on 7th September for three weeks. 
  5. The Herceptin- I’ve not really experienced any side affects. The problem with this is the interruption really. From now on it’ll be given every three weeks at my house- very convenient until you factor into that canular and drip tangled equation two small children! Also the fact that I could think of much better things to do with two hours every third Friday afternoon!
  6. The scars- they don’t really bother me. They are just a reminder that reconstruction is still something to consider in the future.
  7. The Tamoxifen- starts next week and continues, one tablet a day, for the next FIVE years! This really is the part I’m dreading the most… can my marriage really survive an early menopause? I’m already a moody beast and things are set to get worse! (Good thing I’ve booked that holiday- let’s just hope I won’t be going alone!)

It’s not just my body urging me not to hurry too quickly… my friends keep giving me long head tilted looks and saying ‘Are you sure you’re not over doing it?’ Probably but I imagine they’d be exactly the same in my position!
Anyway, I’ll continue to look forward and get excited about the future but I’ll also try to do this at a pace that suits my recovery. I’ll try my very best to control my urge to hurry… promise.

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Number Thirty Seven: The Parenting

Cowboy hats- a cancer perk courtesy of my hospital stay!
I’ve wondered on and on about how the Beast breast has affected my boys but Monday night’s Cherry Healey’s Parenting Dilemmas made me feel much better! The way I parent has always worried me… I’ve mentioned before that I did not take to motherhood like a duck to water and was surprised to find what a pressure I found being the perfect mother. Ha no such thing! My fear of ‘What will other mothers think of me?’  didn’t begin on day one… I was good at the early baby bit- feeding and sleeping, it was the ‘How do I deal with THIS behaviour?’ that had me stumped. This occurred on the very day that my first born turned two… that night he learned how to climb out of his cot! This meant moving on to a bed much earlier than we’d hoped due to my fear of broken limbs/skull. It also led to his nocturnal head banging not only disturbing us but also our neighbours as cot bars were replaced with their adjoining wall! This is just a teeny tiny example of the trials I certainly had not contemplated when planning to have a baby. My baby was no more- in his place was a terrible two! (The REAL low point was being asked to leave Baby Gym! I was so mortified that I could not hold back the tears in front of perfect strangers and my boy was utterly distressed- ‘I want to say sorry, I want to go back to Gymlastics’, he sobbed all the way home. Who knows if this was a terrible bit of instruction on the part of the gym teacher or did in actual fact teach him a valuable lesson- probably both! Either way the gym lost a potential future gym star that day- a child who has NO fear, the HIGHEST pain threshold known to man AND boundless energy- sounds like vital gymnastic attributes to me- the discipline could be learned later but we won’t be returning there!)  
My mum recently went on a course- the lady leading the course wasn’t from the UK and Terrible Twos was a new concept to her- she made the point that it is the expectations we place on our two year olds that lead us to believe they are terrible- in her country they treat two year olds as slightly older babies and so are not disappointed… are less anxious and less judgemental. This sounds like bliss compared to my experience. Find me several hundreds of miles away convincing myself that all the other mothers had nothing better to do than scrutinise my parenting skills. I look back now and realise that all the pressure was coming from within- hindsight is a fabulous thing! Also it’s easy to see looking back that all these short phases pass- at the time I had myself convinced that I was stuck with a tantruming beast forever. His will power determination and confidence have remained but he is much calmer. (On the whole) It is more easy to reason with him now anyway. For ‘Reason with,’ read. ‘Bribe!’
I watched Cherry Healy’s documentary on parenting this morning- I’m compelled as much by her honesty as I am by her hair! For those of you who missed it (catch it on iPlayer) she examined different parenting styles and reflected upon what she hoped for her own daughter. I guess what made for good telly though was to again visit extreme examples- strict meaning smacking three times a week and putting your child in the garden in the dark at night if they didn’t go to sleep! I think a more balanced approach would have strict equalling- I always carry out what I say- consistency is the key. Have high expectations and have fun- give your child a reason to want to spend time with you,enjoy your company, love you and respect you. The worst example though in my opinion was the home schooling mother- I know I’m a teacher and so obviously have an interest in schools but watching this reignited my passionate loathing for home schooling. I just can not see it as anything but a reflection of utter selfish parenting. It says so much more about the needs of the parent than those of the child- mothers and fathers who simply ignore their responsibility to bring their child up as sociable, independent young people. Young people who are well equipped with dealing with a variety of social situations and peers- many of which will have been awkward or even painful experiences but vital in the journey toward becoming independent and well rounded. The only needs catered for effectively was those of the parents- a need to keep them close and controlled. I saw nothing positive in the home schooling approach that I did not feel could be achieved out of school hours but I did see appalling examples of so called teaching! I believe that well balanced happy children should go skipping into school at quarter to nine and skipping home again at three O’clock.
It probably wouldn’t make good telly but I’d love to see ‘The Balanced Parenting’ approach- not extreme in any way, honest about the trials and tribulations that are part of parenting- Cherry herself was the closest we got to this example so I hope she continues to share her journey with us.
Anyway… I digress- rant over!
One thing that is extremely clear to me about parenting second time around is how much more simple and straight forward everything is. (Once you get over the ‘double trouble’ element of juggling two children of differing ages and stages and therefore needs.) You not only have all the baby paraphernalia you more importantly have been there and done that once before! I don’t believe it is possible to parent your second child in the same way you parented first time around- just can’t be done! You know too much! Looking back I feel silly for spending the nine months of my pregnancy reading up on pregnancy and birth- how had it not occurred to me that this was a tiny slither of what I was actually getting myself into? Silly girl!
I’ve said before that one of the positive affects of the Beast Breast is that I’m happier being myself- I’m here to enjoy the life I’ve been given and will no longer be wasting time and energy worrying quite so much about what others are thinking of me. I truly believe this will be the single most beneficial thing that could have happened for my parenting abilities and therefore for my wonderful boys. And if I needed any proof of this I just need to remember Saturday’s BBQ where my three year old played beautifully with his friends and sorted out minor squabbles without the need of adult intervention and my one year old played and giggled his way to nine pm making the adults beam! Proud, confident, well balanced parenting is the way forward and has been all the more achievable thanks to the wake up call that is cancer.

I feel the need for a P.S…
Please don’t think I’m bragging about my children- I still find being a mummy exhausting and challenging, I have just realised that I needed to worry less and enjoy more.
P.P.S… I also must acknowledge that there are probably some cases when home schooling IS most appropriate and there and probably examples of it being done very well- just not this time.

P.P.P.S… Don’t even get me start on Kumon maths lessons!