Thursday, 26 May 2011

Number Twenty Three: The Other Side of the Fence

I haven’t taught a class for a year now…my maternity leave should be ending and I should be returning to the world of work. This is not so. My last day of chemotherapy should be the 4th of August but the disastrous Picc line attempt has already put chemo number 4 back by a day so keeping on track is looking less likely! (I am now having a Grossman line inserted on my birthday!)

Just in case anyone thought I was exaggerating about my arm butchery!

Because the world (and my brain) works in weird and wonderful ways I have been thinking loads about work… having new ideas…. remembering old ideas and generally feeling incredibly motivated to get back into the classroom. (I know…I did say weird!) Part of this new found motivation is down to blogging- I have been reading lots of blogs written about the world of education, teachers’ blogs, class blogs and blogs by artists who work in schools. Not to mention the world of Teacher Twitter Tips I have entered!
The other thing that has been making me think though is having a son who’s entered the world of pre-school. After teaching for ten years I’m suddenly on the other side of the fence! I’m the parent not the teacher! I drop off and collect and at parents evening I sit on the side of the table where you get to feel all warm and proud- ahhh… I get to be on the receiving end of targets rather than setting them! I finally understand why every parent thinks their child is the most precious…because they are!
I can, hand on heart, say that having a child at school has affected the way I think as a teacher. My son had only been at pre-school a few weeks when I had my ‘School Teacher becomes School Parent’ epiphany. There had been an ‘incident’ at preschool and my son was described as ‘confrontational’. This was by no means an inaccurate description of the way he can at times behave but hearing it from someone else cut me deeply. I immediately tried to recall the language I had used over the years at parent’s evenings and hoped I hadn’t hurt any feelings the way my feelings were hurting. I spent the next few weeks tallying up incident slips Vs accident slips (when he hurts another child Vs when he is hurt!) He had calmed down significantly by the first official parents evening (hence the warm and fuzzy pride) and it was clear that he loved and was loved by preschool. All was very calm until just recently when he has begun to cry when I leave him and we have seen a few incident slips creeping their way back into our lives. I of course can’t help wonder if it’s the whole Beast Breast thing that has him unsettled or whether he would have had this little phase anyway. I went to my first Yoga class today- the theme was forgiveness and there was an awful lot of emphasis of being forgiving to yourself and letting go of blame so I’m going to heed this advice and choose not to blame myself!
My little boy cannot wait to start big school- he asks me every morning if he can have a green uniform instead of the red one! ‘Where is she going? The girl in the green. I wanna go to big school too.’ I wonder what it’ll be like when he’s at school full time… I wonder what it’ll be like when he reaches key stage two and I actually have an understanding about what he’s doing and what’s expected of him. I have a slight inkling that I’ll disagree with homework even more than I already do! I do not think that homework in my own home will be fun at all!
I read a blog post this week by a deputy head whose daughter took her KS2 SATs this year- he talked about how after preparing classes of children for ten years for the tests he had been made to stop and think about the whole process when his daughter was confronted by them. He’s also experiencing the other side of the fence. Someone else on the other side of the fence is another blogger- she is a doctor with breast cancer- she’s now a patient in her own place of work. How odd this must be. I’m slowly learning to decipher the language of medical professionals- starting with… ‘You might feel a short sharp scratch.’ Translates as… ‘This is going to be mighty painful.’ Or… ‘You may find a little of symptom a, b or c occurs at some point.’ Translates as… ‘You will most defiantly feel all of these awful things very soon.’ If you are doctor who falls ill you do not even have the comfort of these precious few weeks of ignorance! How awful. I think I’m glad I don’t know much about the other side of the hospital fence- I’m going with ignorance is bliss over knowledge being power in the case!
As an A and E nurse (sorry Sister) my youngest sister is now the biggest panicker EVER! She sees danger everywhere and when around her young nieces and nephews is on constant accident patrol! The girl can not relax! I’ve now realised that she is living in fear of being on the other side of her work fence. She witnesses horrific injuries, illness and even sudden deaths as part of a normal shift. There’s no way she’d want to be on the other side of that fence!  When we were growing up she was the most carefree, impulsive and risktaking of children but her work has made her grow up into the most worried, screeching and alarm bell ringing of aunts!

So now I’m wondering about other fences…

Do chefs enjoy dining out?
Is there any such thing as retail therapy for shop assistants?
Do gallery security guards still ‘see’ the art?

Here's a couple of links to what I've been reading...

Monday, 23 May 2011

Number Twenty Two: The Wonderings

Mylene Klass told me that Osama Bin Laden had been killed. (Twitter has changed my life.)

Time on my hands…time on the sofa! This has afforded me much time to wonder (and get myself all worked up…on occasion!). Over the last few days I have been mainly wondering about privacy and the way we conduct our public and private lives. It goes without saying that the internet is having a huge impact on how much of all our private lives are played out publicly… super injunctions, Twitter, Facebook, blogs, newspapers. It also goes without saying that I’m not a particularly private person. I made a conscious decision to put what’s happening to me ‘out there’ for all to read. But I’m also aware that I have done this in a way that suits me… my own words, presented in my own style. I choose what bits I share with you and what I leave out (believe me chemotherapy is WAY more about pooing than I’ve let on so far on here!- My choice!)
It is becoming increasingly apparent that we have less control over what remains ‘private’. However tight our security and privacy settings on facebook there seems little to control what gets ‘out there’. Even without a facebook account you could appear in group shots on nights out. I wonder how many people appear in photos on social networking sites on work nights out without even being aware of it! I know one member of staff who was shocked to hear that someone had seen her on facebook! There are still people out there without facebook accounts!

I do think that we will have to get more comfortable with knowing more about people- a few (awful) parents have recently been shocked to see pictures of teachers on a hen night. Don’t even get me started on how disappointed I am in my local newspaper for running this as a (non) story. We now know everything about everybody! I am happy to say that there have been many more comments of support for these teachers than there have been horrid ones but what does concern me is the level of cruelty and spite in these fewer comments. Some horrible and totally inaccurate names have been used- I would be incredibly hurt if I’d received similar treatment and I really feel for these girls.

I am thankful that I am now boring and middle aged… (I don’t think even my private photos would cause much uproar these days!) When I was a young, single(ish) newly qualified teacher there were not even camera phones let alone facebook- and thank GOD! There’s only hearsay and rumour left to get me into trouble!

There is the question as to whether facebook has turned us all into exhibitionists- this is something I have wondered myself- it’s the combination of being able to photograph everything and so quickly upload for the world to see. Why do we want to be so ‘seen’? I will never ever ever understand those people who stand in line for X Factor yelling about how they want to be famous- wannabee WAGs- even worse! I couldn’t think of anything worse than being famous- my main reason for this has always been- I wouldn’t want to give up my private life (one of the down sides of being famous in my opinion.) I wouldn’t want people gossiping and using horrible words to describe me in the press. I wonder if this is why this newspaper article has rung such alarm bells with me. It seems that just the fact that I am a teacher (rather than being a rich and famous celebrity) could have the same affect! So without any of the perks of fame- money, cars, a mansion…I could still be in line to be criticised by the press… just because I’m a teacher! Not a nun…a teacher (just to clarify). 

Is there an up side to all of this? Could there possibly be a positive affect to foregoing a private life? Rather than being picky about what we choose to air publicly I’m wondering if in fact we will have to become more picky about what we actually do. Maybe we’ll all start being better people? If we can’t keep our dirty little secrets under wraps anymore will we start living better lives? Would we do things if we thought we were likely to get caught? Is the internet going to make us all more accountable? Or is it in fact that we’ll all get used to knowing everything about everybody and we’ll adjust to being less shockable? Most likely is a mixture of the two- we’ll maybe think twice before the affair but be less shocked when it happens!

I’ll continue to wonder away… what are you wondering?

Saturday, 21 May 2011

Number Twenty One: The Honesty

I’m sure that getting life changing news gives everyone a little perspective- it’s certainly altered my outlook on life. (Some might say that this has more to do with the fact I’m about to hit 32!) I see life with more clarity- as if it’s been brought into sharper focus. I’m more aware of the bigger picture and seem to be doing a better job of letting the little things go. (Apart from the way in which my husband uses the SKY remote- this causes me rage…he’s so inefficient! Anyway…) With perspective comes honestly… I apologise now if you find yourself on the sharp end of my raw honesty but I just can’t help myself!  
I wonder if this need for honesty has anything to do with the fact I can’t bring myself to wear the wig? I feel like a total fraud as soon as I put it on! I accept that it makes me look more normal and less ill and I also realise it helps others feel more comfortable. But I just feel like it’s lying! Not to mention the comfort factor! I’ve never been one for glamour over comfort! Although I’m only just over five foot I’ve never been one for heels- I find them excruciating! Boots in the winter, flip flops in the summer- comfort first! Also I’ve never been one for loads of make up, hair extensions, false lashes- just not me. This does leave me a little stuck in the current looks department but I have to say I’m finding even this a little liberating! I don’t need to tell you girls how long I’m saving blow drying and straightening my hair! I’ve stopped thinking quite so much about looks and am really beginning to think about what’s on the ‘inside’.

Chemo Two is behind me and I’m feeling better- Hurrah! There’s no denying it was tougher second time round but I’m going with the theory that this is a one off rather than a slippery slope affect! Highlights of my day included- waiting for the postman (he continues to bring me wonderful parcels!) and changing from one set of pyjamas into different ones! I definitely felt sorrier for myself this time too- and I think we’ve all established I’m best left alone when ill! I’ve never been one for wanting my hair held back (ha!) or my back rubbed. I’d rather navigate sickness as a lone wolf! My friends have worked out through the tone of my text messages when to get back in contact- kind of honesty without the bluntness!

So with the heatwave upon us and it looking like the end of the world is not nigh after all I intend to bathe myself in sunlight and fresh air whilst contemplating ‘life’ and the important things in it!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Number Twenty: The Odd One

Chilli pasta for breakfast and coco pops for lunch! This sums up my day- an odd one! I don’t feel well… I don’t feel ill… I do feel odd.
Awake at 3am, asleep at 3pm. Saying I’m fine when I’m not. Not feeling bothered enough to turn the TV over (and since when did pressing fast forward three times just become TOO much?). I don’t watch Neighbours but am stunned that Toadfish is still providing material!

I’m over (as much as I’m going to be) the loss of my hair but am panicking about my fragile lashes- taking off mascara and rubbing sleep from my eyes have become very delicate operations indeed! With all their compliments about how well I’m pulling off a bald head (ha!) they always back up their lies with ‘It brings out your eyes.’ So it all hangs on the lashes then… they’ve got to hang on in there! You have no idea the alarm bells that can ring in my head when I feel a light tickle on my cheek… a lash! It’s a lash isn’t it? Another one gone!

My mouth is getting horrid again meaning that everything tastes odd.

The only productive thing I’ve done all day is book myself on to the ‘ Breast Cancer Care’s Younger Women’s Forum’ in London- this one at least fits in with the evil chemo schedule- I should at least be feeling less odd when it falls!

I suppose it’s like limbo- a little limbo every three weeks. I have no choice but to take time out of life to let my body recuperate from the battering of the poisonous chemicals but in my head I’m wasting time… waiting to get on with my life. I keep getting carried away thinking I feel better only to feel like a zombie again by the time I’ve got myself ready to leave the house! In fact I think that in the days following chemotherapy the amount of energy a patient has is exactly equal to the amount of energy needed to ‘get ready’ and that’s when exhaustion hits… washed, dressed, contacts in, face trowelled on… ready to sleep again! This is possibly even more frustrating than feeling constantly exhausted.

Back to the TV…I am also getting irrationally angry with the couples who wish to ‘Escape to the Country’ but NEVER buy any of the beautiful houses! What is wrong with them?

And... How much does my head look like George Alagiah's??!!
Too much TV. Not enough control over the remote- doing odd things to me- maybe another sleep would help.
I think this rambling post just about sums up the odd time I’m having…
Over and odd!

P.S. I made it to post number twenty... not SO faddy- I'm a changed woman!

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Number Nineteen: The Missing Out

I HATE missing out on things! This week however I have been a major cancellation queen!

I’ve wimped out of the pub with friends, felt rubbish enough to cancel people coming over and felt too sick to meet either sister. Now I’ve just realised I can’t make the breast cancer care’s younger women’s forum with Chez of 'It Could Only happen to you Chez’. The annoying thing is…with all this time on my hands, I sit (OK lie) around thinking of things I’d like to do- making plans before I come to the obvious conclusion that I will not be leaving the sofa/bed because I just feel too awful. (My trademark positivity seems to have deserted me after chemo 2!)  I’m in the chemo fug and feeling miserable- I’m being grouchy with my husband (mainly for not folding the washing in the exact way I would have done) to make up for this I am subjecting myself to Dr Who- so he’s happy! (GEEK!) Chemo fug is deep and it’s hard to imagine feeling better again- my new obsession is looking at my calendar and calculating when I will feel well.

No Events- Totally sums it up!
All I can say is ‘Thank God for the internet!’ What would I do without Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, forums or iPlayer? What would I do without my PC, laptop or iPhone?

Of course the down side to the internet is the ease of internet shopping- couple this with the rekindling of my artistic flair (wool for felt making is next on my amazon shopping list!) and you have a dangerous combination! (For my bank balance and therefore my ‘happily married’ status!) At least I have no inclination at all to buy clothes- think the bald coot look has put pay to me caring about what I’m wearing and as I’m spending much of my time in pyjamas clothes have taken a back seat!

When I’m not planning things I’m not realistically going to do I’m imagining eating… I have no appetite what so ever but feel I should be eating- probably eating healthily! The only thing I’ve fancied after both chemos is fish and chips from the freezer! I do now feel like Maltesers but not so much that I could be bothered to get dressed and go to the BP!

Feels hard to imagine now but hopefully by tomorrow I’ll be feeling more myself- I have a NEXT voucher burning a hole in my wallet after all!

Less missing out and more getting out- that’s the plan!

Number Eighteen: The Wiggy One

Well, here it is... the wig!
Wiggy on her wig stand
Wiggy Side
Wiggy Back

And wiggy on my head!

Makes me look an awful lot LESS like a cancer patient but really isn't very comfortable. I'll be using it for very special occasions only! Plus I can't shake the feeling of fakeness! I sometimes think my need for honesty can be a bit of a curse!

So, I'm still favoring the hats and scarves. Really wishing this had fallen during the winter as I'd look a lot less strange it a woolly hat in December rather than May! Can't seem to get my head temperature right either- especially at night. Wear a hat=wake up with hot head / no hat=wake up with ice head! I have sort of solved this problem by semi-covering my head with a pillow!

Wig over and out. Xx

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Number Seventeen: The Coot

Hairspray in June 2009- Summer- even though some of us are dressed for other seasons!

It’s gone! Well almost all of it- save a few stray spikes. I had dreaded losing my hair more than I had dreaded any other side effect. But, as with most things; when it eventually happened it wasn’t as bad as I had feared. Predictably everyone is saying how good I look- Ha! Truth is I don’t even care if they’re lying- I’ll take the compliments anyway! Now that I look like a cancer patient I wonder if I’ll be treated any differently- haven’t noticed so far- not even when my three year old pulled off my hat in the middle of preschool to show his keyworker my ‘no hair’ hopefully I didn’t scare any other little children! Believe me; trying to pull a beanie hat on one handed whilst holding a baby is not easy!  

Not sure whether I did this purely just to torture myself but I decided to take another trip down memory lane. This time to count the number of different hairstyle I’ve had. So, here’s my hair journey!
1999! Cutting some shapes on the dancefloor! I'm SO cool! Only photo I could find of me having short hair in a previous life- sorry Jeneen! 

Jeneen's Hen Night- somewhere in London- 2005. Sisters all growing our hair long for the big wedding! Again... cutting some mean shapes on the dance floor!

My wedding day- Christmas 2005- hair up!

May 2007- the day I became an aunty! Shorter hair!
Growing it out again!

Still growing it! 2008

Longish and blondish... being Kirsty and Mike's bridesmaid with my gorgeous flower girl God Daughter. August 2008

Being a dead Rupunzel at halloween- home made wool wig- hope there's no more of these in my future!
Then went dark (and got drunk) for this photo! Christmas 2008 I think!
New year 2008 still dark but now with a bizarre blonde streak at the front! (In my beloved PJs with a shot!)

Longest it's been without me getting bored, wanting a change and cutting it! Feb 2009

Then shorter and blonder again... make up your mind woman!

Over excited on the train to London on my 30th!
Long again and heavily pregnant again- Summer 2010
Still long but now dark again- last Christmas
I look forward to it being like this again one day!
...and we laughed about how much it looked like a wig in this picture- ha ha if only we knew what was just around the corner!
We got 'The News' so here is stage one of hair removal- the bob!
Stage two of hair removal- the crop!
This is how much hair fell out last Wednesday- surprising how much you can lose without it noticing!
Thursday evening- hair falling out in clumps- new meaning to short back and sides!
Best photo I could take of the back of my own head- especially since I was still too scared to look in the mirror!
My egg head- once the clippers had finished the job!

...and a week later- a week spent pulling out stray spikey bits!

I’m so aware of hair at the moment- I can’t stop looking at people with long hair and calculating how long it might have taken to grow. When my hair does grow back I imagine I'll never want to cut it ever again- but who am I kidding? I think the changing of my hairstyles does go some way to supporting the fact I'm a little bit faddy! (I've decided I prefer the term 'implusive' to 'faddy' and am considering using this in the furture- carefully considering mind you- no snap decisions!)

Tomorrow morning I pick up my wig! Very excited about this! (I'll add a photo on here!) What a lot of crappiness to go through, but if my life is lengthened (with my hair being shortened!) then it's a small price to pay... in the words of L'Oreal... I'm worth it! And someday soonish I'll have long hair to swish about again!

Friday, 6 May 2011

Number Sixteen: The Gift

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that (the way things stand) cancer has given me the gift of time.

I don’t mean to be insensitive, I’m well aware that usually cancer robs us of precious time but I’m not even contemplating the fact that this beast breast thing will shorten my time. As far as I’m concerned the cancer has been cut out and my body, which is now being zapped just in case- so that’s that!
So, the gift of time… since chemo number 1; I have spent about a week feeling ill but then had over a week feeling well! Yay! And boy have I used every moment of that well feeling time!
So here’s how I’ve spent my ‘well time’
Planning my blog posts obviously- but now I’m actually hooked on reading other people’s blogs too! I opened my reader this morning to find 30 new posts to read- most are Australian so are posted when I’m asleep- this is making getting out of bed very difficult as I keep reading then on my phone in bed!
I had never read a blog before the beast breast and I also was not into Twitter… not anymore! I’m a newly afflicted Twitter addict! The Tweets perpetuate the blogs- it’s a vicious, time consuming circle! 
I have turned our study into my studio. Studio projects include- painting the canvas that has been in my garage blank for two years- it’s now ready to hang in the boys’ room! Making printing blocks- lino cutting, digging out the three picture book plans I drafted years ago- I’m thinking of giving them their own blog and I’m going to call it: Jack-A-Morley! (I am over the moon with this title!) Oh and I need to make Michelle her own mod-roc cow- she needs one!
I’ve spent hours trying on hats and perfecting tying scarves around my now bald head and I’ve even had a wig fitting that went surprisingly well! The parking bit did NOT go well but I think we would definitely win the award for ‘Most efficient wig choosers whilst parked in a 30min bay’! Thanks Helen! I do love a bit of efficiency! (Same for clothes shopping- if I don’t love it instantly then I’m not interested!)
So even if it’s not exactly ‘The Gift of Time’ cancer has gifted me with (I’m being far too generous here, I know!) It has definitely given me the gift of perspective… there’s the smack in the face, realise your own mortality, life’s too short, you only life once thing that hits you at diagnosis but then there’s the bit that I’m currently experiencing… the more subtle gift of perspective. I’m being able to take time out while I heel. Timeout of work, parenting, cleaning, and I’m gathering myself. I’m remembering things I used to enjoy. I’m taking a breather from the life that was running away with me and considering what I’d really like life to be about. So for this gift I am thankful, hopefully I’ll continue to feel well for more than 50% of the time and if this is the case then I intend to be creating lots of beautiful things! Cheers beast breast! (Sort of/ish!)

Here are some of my favourite blogs...

and here's the cow

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Number Fifteen: The Beast Breast Vs Beast Bottle

Breasts! Wow, they are important. The female form… sex…confidence…Oh and feeding your baby! (That’s what they’re really for. Right?) 

Now I’m not sure if it’s just our staffroom or staffrooms across the country but we do have a lot of baby/pregnancy/labour talk in ours. There’s rarely (never) a breaktime where the topic has not cropped up. And there’s no hotter baby related topic than ‘the feeding of the baby’. I’m sure Cherry Healy’s documentery ‘Is breast best?’ Got them all talking and probably the topic arose yet again at the news of Elton John having his adopted baby’s mother’s breast milk fed exed over for him!

Although I’ve remained ridiculously positive throughout this whole ordeal, there has been a couple of times my tears have caught me off guard. Both of these times were when I saw another mother breast feeding her baby. I felt sad that I probably wouldn’t breast feed again- even if I had another baby one day- I’d only have one boob! How would this affect my successfulness as a breast feeder? (Cut it by about 50% I imagine!) I breastfed both my babies, the first for six months, the second for almost three months. I had really mixed feelings about breast feeding at the time. I had two very greedy boys- neither of whom had any trouble latching on (We’re back to the amazing pencil eraser like nipples again!)- they both fed well from the moment they were born and I loved it! The closeness, the cuddle, the feeling that I was the only one in the world who could do this for them! The very best part for me was the lack of preparation (and expense) needed compared to the endless washing, sterilising, measuring heating and cooling necessary for bottle feeding! (Now we’re back to me just being lazy!) But over time breast feeding made me very tired and very hungry and to be brutally honest sometimes I wished I wasn’t the only one who could do the feeding. The biggest problem I encountered with breast feeding was quitting! My first born was (and is) incredibly stubborn and to say he was not interested in a bottle is a huge understatement! He screamed if you put a bottle anywhere near him and only changed his mind when I went away for the weekend and his only other option was to starve! With this in mind I was anxious to ensure my second born would take both bottle and breast which he did quite happily for a while and at the first sign of him beginning to get fussy I gave up breast feeding much sooner than I had done first time around. I had a comment on an earlier post from another young mum going through the same thing as me- she was in a similar situation with similar aged children to me- sadly she had to give up breast feeding in order to start her treatment. I feel very lucky that I had stopped of my own accord- I imagine feeling a lot more angry about the whole beast breast thing if it had robbed my babies of their food! I came out of this feeling like I was a successful breast feeder, I was satisfied I had done an important job for my tiny babies and they were happy too! (They are both very healthy eaters with big appetites for whatever food is offered- no fussy eaters in our household!) The reason I mention feeling like I’d made a success of breastfeeding is because I realise what an emotive topic this is- I know people who have struggled on feeding for longer than I did second time round and moved onto bottles because it didn’t work out for them. Leaving them feeling like they’d failed. Once you’re a mummy it’s amazing how much guilt you can feel about a huge range of parenting aspects. Watching Cherry Healy made me think again about breastfeeding- she was clearly upset that breastfeeding hadn’t worked out for her- she felt judged even when people didn’t know how she had fed her baby so they definitely weren’t judging her- it was the guilt again!

Opinions are incredibly strong when it comes to breast Vs bottle; I posted a facebook status about struggling to prep bottles when moving from breast to bottle the second time around and the comments came in thick and fast- mostly with advice but some with opinions on what was best for my baby. (Something only I am in a position to decide thank you very much!)

Whilst I believe breast feeding is (scientifically anyway) best for babies, I also recognise that there are, as with most things, a whole host of other factors in play. The pressure on new mothers is immense, no one can prepare you for the overwhelming feelings of love coupled with responsibility- I remember feeling terrified in the middle of my first born’s first night in the world- What have I done? I love him so much it scares me! I’m terrified that something or someone will hurt him. The combination of worry and love manifested itself as terror. So my life had altered dramatically with the arrival of my bundle of joy, I was terrified, I had a load of new skills to master AND I obviously had the need to appear like the best one! Talk about pressure!!! I heard someone say that modern mother’s have it really tough- they are expected to be something in the kitchen, something in the bedroom, something in the boardroom AND something in the nursery! This rang really true for me. (As I was trying to be the best in all this places- except the bedroom maybe- too tired ; )

My advice to all expectant mothers now is- give breastfeeding a go- see if it suits you and do what makes you happy. Happy mummy=happy baby! (And happy baby=more sleep for everyone!)

So who knows whether I’ll breast feed again- with just the one boob. I’m lucky for another reason you see… my middle sister has a mild form of cerebral palsy, hemiplegia. It affects the right side of her body so when it came to breast feeding she found it only worked for her on the left side. She’s breast fed my gorgeous baby niece extremely successfully with just ONE boob and I’m SO proud of her! Bet there’s not many girls with the beast breast that can say that! So I’m lucky enough to I know it IS do-able!  Strange, the places you can find comfort in- her ‘right breast’ issues began as a problem but now live on as a lesson to all the mono-boobed ladies out there!
My beautiful niece- happily fed with just the one boob. Left is best!

I know that breast cancer is a good ‘un to get- one of the most treatable and as I said to my mum it sounds a lot more glamorous than bowel cancer!  whilst we’re planning on sticking to just the two children I guess they’ve done their job!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

Number Fourteen: The Therapy

A Card Carrying member

I have fallen into calling it ‘chemo’ even though from the start I really didn’t want to. I have a name that you can’t shorten- this bothered me at school because all the cool kids seemed to get their names shortened. (Or even better- get a nick name!) How do you know for sure if you’re cool or not when your name is already short?
Chemotherapy hasn’t seemed like one of my mates I’d like to give a pet name to. It seems like an evil thing I have to endure. (Not friendly at all!) I suppose when I look more deeply at this theory it does unravel quite quickly- it might seem evil but it is in fact in my life to try and prolong it! (An evil friend with good intentions?)

So I’m focusing in the ‘therapy’ side of the word- there are so many therapies I’d rather be taking advantage of at the moment. The fish foot therapy is one I’d definitely like to give a go. I’ve had differing reviews though from… ‘It’s really relaxing.’ to… ‘Really? I hated it! I kept kicking them away and couldn’t wait for my 15 minutes to be up!!’  Beauty therapy- this would also be preferable. Conjuring up visions of relaxed spa days at Whittlebury Hall. But for now I’m saddled with the chemotherapy!

6 cycles didn’t seem like many before I’d had 1. Now 5 to go sounds more like a million- who said knowledge is power? Ignorance was definitely bliss! Going back there remembering how it made me feel the last time will be harder than it was to go for the very first time. Funny how you can so instantly forget the excruciating pain of childbirth and want to do it all over again- what absolute magic that is! Not just being able to banish the pain of labour from your mind but also the previous nine months of discomfort. I arrived home four hours after my second baby was born crowing about my amazing labour and how I wanted another one already-ha! God, holding that baby in your arms has magical affects! (I’m now wondering just what could be delivered to me post-chemo that could possibly make me want to return…answers on a postcard?)
I do now appreciate why as the ‘newbies’ Rob and I were the only chirpy ones in the waiting room (my how this was illustrated beautifully by Susan in this week’s Desperate Housewives!)
So, this is how it was for me - the side effects- short, medium and long term…
Short- the nausea. Bad enough to have me sat weeping on my toilet floor about never going back again. The fatigue- I’ve never exactly been a late night party animal but this was a tiredness like I’d never known- laying in an uncomfortable position yet not having the will to move a cramped limb. In actual fact I think the fatigue can be used slightly to combat the nausea- sleeping through the sick part is definitely a method I intend to try again!
Medium- the mouth. My teeth are beyond sensitive, my gums ache and my tongue is so sore! So eating is unpleasant (not altogether a bad thing- think I’ve lost a little bit of weight!) and as all my favourite foods are off the menu now anyway (No raw steak or shell fish-boo!) due to my compromised immune system. Ugh! The other medium term side effect is my digestive system (I’m trying really hard here not to talk about the pooing but it’s been such a HUGE part of my life for the past week I just don’t think it’s fair to leave it out- openness and honesty- that what you were promised- remember?) Constipation, nausea and tiredness- sounds like we’re back to pregnancy again! It is very similar- just an extreme version of each of all the side effects! So regaining the delicate balance of my digestive system has been my challenge of the week- not an easy one believe me!
Long term- the hair. It’s definitely thinning but is still hanging on in there- you’d think I’d be pleased about this but I hate my hair so much at the moment it’s actually quite frustrating! I know it’s going to fall out and so I have been preparing myself for the past 3 months for the event- we’ve covered the fact I’m not a patient patient!
The 'evil friend' being administered

I’m feeling better now. So, on the up side I now have 11 days to enjoy (with a perfectly regular digestive system!) before I have to go back for any more ‘therapy’- let’s hope they’re sunny ones! My tan is coming on beautifully!