Yesterday found me once more at the Breast Clinic. My Letrozole holiday was over and it was time to shake the sand out of the hormonal sandals and review where we were at. Brainy Spice was as fab as ever. The news in was that all my muscle cramps have vanished but my hips are still stiff. It was enough of an improvement for Brainy Spice to suggest a change. So I will be starting on Exemestane just as soon as the pharmacy has made up my prescription. As with all these drugs, the side effects are very jolly sounding but needs must so I am hoping to be one of the lucky ones.
In other news, my relative quiet on here has been reflective of sheer busyness elsewhere. I am recovering with great alacrity and feeling better all the time. My newly trimmed rack is simply marvellous and I am loving the lack of shoulder and back ache! The Captain and I are poised to take to the waters next week and will be peddling our wares at a canal near you very soon. Expect photos of our new Breast Cancer Care jam to follow in another post.
Otherwise, I think you can take the infrequency of my posts to be very good news indeed. Life is happening. And it is good.
Today was the day. 261 days since I last had a hair cut. 261 days since my lovely hairdresser cropped me to chemo chic in preparation for the great shedding. Co-incidently, today has also been my first non hospital related trip out since last week’s surgical shenanigans. And what finer way to spend my first outing, I ask you? Two delicious cups of coffee, endless chatter from my darling hairdresser (who’s official verdict on my hair was ‘It really is mad, isn’t it?’) and an hour of feeling utterly normal.
I am seeing him again before the Captain and I take to the waters and head off into the wide blue yonder for a few months. We have plans for a few highlights and colourful whatchamacallits. Meanwhile, here is the finished result as promised. Pleased does not come close:
… but it is also quite dull. Five days post op and our house is still a house of unnatural quiet. My throat and mouth are by far the worst things about this latest date with the operating theatre. My uvula is about 50% longer than normal and likes to drag itself across the back of my throat. Which is as unpleasant as it sounds. My mouth is a bit like the sorest sore throat you can imagine. The one where you brace yourself to swallow your own saliva. It is improving. And it is good for the waistline as I am only really managing to eat variations on mush at the moment which is also quite dull. Ice cream is good but, and here’s something I never thought I would say, there is only so much I feel like.
Medically speaking, there seems to be nothing to be done except wait it out. I have been assured it will get better. And I can see that it is doing so. It is a tedious old business though. All that is to be done is to continue with the mouth numbing preparations, drink lots and wait.
Meanwhile, I rather think the Captain is enjoying the peace. He should worry about all the things I am plotting …
This is my mission now. The deed is done. I have been lopped, trimmed, tidied and hoovered. My job now is to pull up my positive pants, the ones that suck it all in, and get on with recovering.
All went well apart from a wee problem with my uvula. Yes, the dangly bit in the back of my throat. Apparently it got caught in the hoover. I know! Anyway, it swelled up like a balloon which made swallowing a tad tricky and caused a bit of alarm but hooray for steroids because they were fast administered and I was soon able to swallow. Fortunately breathing was never too much of a problem. Talking was but they did not seem too concerned about that. Can’t think why? I am now left with an elongated swollen dangly bit that tickles the back of my throat and is deeply annoying. It will pass. And it does mean I have been instructed to eat ice cream so it is not all bad.
All the surgical stuff seems to have gone well. I do not seem to have reacted to anything and everything so that is a major result. Everything is a bit sore but nothing that paracetamol can’t handle. The best thing is being home. They threw me out yesterday afternoon which was fabulous. I am hoping not to return.
By this time tomorrow, the deed should be done. I should have been hoovered, plumped, trimmed and lopped. I report for duty at 7:30am and hand myself over once more into the care of the NHS. This time I am taking jam to theatre with me. Can’t hurt to spread some sticky love, can it?
It is a novelty for me have to have curly hair. What am I saying? For sometime it has been a novelty for me to have hair full stop. But while I am delighted at the regrowth, I am less delighted and the sheer bonkerness of my current head covering. It really is mad. And nothing I do, not brushing, not washing, not any attempt at styling, makes the slightest bit of difference. So my plan for sometime, and I think you will agree, it is a cunning one, has been to simply avoid mirrors.
This has worked well. But the time has come when something has to be done. The reality is that, for all its madness, my hair is still not very long. Which is why I have not taken this course of action before. Finally though, I have made an appointment at with my hairdresser. It will be 261 days since my last appointment. It is a personal best. I am really hoping he can make something of the mess that now sits on my head. He is a magician so I have good reason to hope. I will of course, post photos when done but you will have to wait a while as it will not be until after my boobs have been trimmed. Boobs first, hair second. It is the rule.
Meanwhile, I have been having a lovely time over on picmonkey.com making collages of my hair regression and progression since my last cut. Enjoy.
Today was the first of my five, yearly visits to the Breast Clinic just to check that all is going well. It follows on from my annual mammogram. The appointment was with Brainy Spice and I was looking forward to seeing her.
However, on arrival, I seriously began to question whether I had got the place, time or date of the appointment wrong. The waiting room I was shown to was in the Oncology Clinic which threw me a little. But it is adjacent to the Breast Unit so that did not seem unreasonable. It was very crowded. Again, nothing unusual about that. But I did begin to wonder if I had inadvertently been sent to a Health Care for the Elderly Clinic. I was easily the youngest in the room by at least twenty years. Until the woman in her thirties showed up. I must have looked ancient to her so I can only shudder at what she thought of the rest of our companions. Of course, there is the possibility that these women were, in fact, all in the their fifties and were attending their last review appointment having spent the past five years on Letrozole.
Which brings me to my consultation. Brainy Spice was as fab as ever. I was as dippy as ever. I had a list of questions I wanted to ask. Unfortunately, it was a mental list. Mistake. Obviously, I got side tracked by demonstrating my tit twitching abilities and promptly forgot all about it. She was impressed though and felt that as a plan to fall back on in hard times, it was not an unreasonable one. Hurrah. The one question I did remember to ask was about Letrozole. Just lately I have been having a lot of trouble with muscle cramps and joint stiffness. I am frequently woken in the night with my calves or feet cramping and I can no longer sit cross legged on the floor without a good deal of pain. Both these problems are getting worse. To establish whether it is the Letrozole causing the problems or just an absence of oestrogen, Brainy Spice has suggested I have a Letrozole holiday. So for six weeks, my little brown pills get metaphorically packed away in a suitcase with arm bands and a bucket and spade. I wonder if they will send a post card?
Following this break, I return to clinic to discuss the findings. Of course by then, I will be sporting my new rack. I wonder if I will still be able to twitch?
Part of preparing for this next lot of lopping and trimming involves buying yet more underwear. Before cancer came to play, I used to thoroughly enjoy any excuse for a spot of lingering in the lingerie department. Not so much since. I am in possession of three mastectomy bras that bizarrely seem to hide my lopsidedness whether or not I wear my prosthesis so despite much research, I generally do not bother with it. I do not understand why my size B cup and size F cup look relatively balanced while wearing them. I think it is the magic of the Mastectomy Fairy. That can be the only reason for having to wear such hideous and ugly garments. I will, of course, have to buy a whole new set of bras in a new size but just at the moment, my brain is fusing at this prospect and it cannot compute that yet. Which is just as well as it is too soon. To begin with, my delightful Asda Soft & Comfy bras will be pressed once more into service. Mm mmm!
So no, it is not bras I am after. My latest venture into underwear consumerism is for big pants. Think Bridget Jones. Think Trinny & Susannah. You see, this latest op involves a spot of hoovering. Surgical Spice is going to connect a Henry Hoover to my stomach, suck out some fat (I have suggested she may like to leave it running longer than is strictly necessary. She seemed less than keen), then use it to fill in the pot holes in my newbie. As techniques go, it maybe one the council should consider as the potholes round our way are dreadful and I bet there are many who would queue up to have their fat hoovered out. Anyway, anyway, anyway. Once this has happened I have to wear compression pants for sometime. That’s shape wear. Control knickers. The sort of thing one dons to look incredibly svelte on a posh night out. No one has told me how long I have to wear them for yet. My record for such garments is about two hours. Usually I last until the first trip to the bathroom. And then I am undone. Literally. Flapping in the breeze if you will. Or alternatively, totally removed and shoved in my handbag. I will have to be more disciplined. Tunnels may result if I am not. And while that sounds curious, I think it is better not to find about them first hand.
I am now in possession of several pairs of the aforementioned constricting garments. All of them come with popper openings to make the bathroom trips less of a struggle. I foresee much wailing and gnashing of teeth as I have never been a girl for restrictions but needs must.
It was odd being back at the hospital today. I was being prepped for surgery on the 9th but still waiting for the results of my mammogram so unsure whether or not it would go ahead. However, despite leaping whenever the post dropped through the door and pouncing on the phone as soon as it has rung, no results have arrived at our house.
So I went through the motions with an extremely nice nurse, ticking boxes, standing on scales, being measured etc. all the while thinking this may not be necessary. Although now I come to think about it, whatever the outcome of my mammogram, some surgical intervention would happen so maybe it was all as well.
As the appointment drew to a close, she handed me reading matter on breast reductions and ward/admission information. Then, as an afterthought, I mentioned my mammogram. Immediately, she looked up the results and there they were. On the screen. In plain sight:
No abnormality detected.
And I breathed a little deeper and a little easier for the first time in over a week. Until the hacking cough got me that is. The Captain has been very ill. With proper flu. It appears he has been generous with his germs. I am thinking of daubing a cross on the front door in red paint for we are a house of sickness. Bugger.
What better way to kick off my second year of breast cancer survival than with a mammogram? Perhaps a large gin? But no. For me, a trip to the All Singing All Dancing Breast Unit was in order. And to be fair, for this I was very grateful.
As previously mentioned, I have a date with Surgical Spice in March that I am keen to keep. But I can only do this providing there is no evidence of a new breast cancer lurking within my, hopefully soon to be considerably reduced, right boob. I do feel it would be particularly mean for a new cancer to pop up but given that I have done this once already, I am sadly at greater risk. Sigh. So annual mammograms it is.
The delightful Brainy Spice rejigged appointments for me so that I would have all sorted in time for my date with Surgical Spice and today was the appointed hour. It was odd. I have never found it a distressing or painful experience. Undignified, yes. Uncomfortable, even. But these things are acceptable. However, it has taken on a new significance. Since beginning the whole screening malarkey back with smears in my twenties, I have always been able to put them out of mind once done. Somehow, I do not think I will be doing that this time. I only had to have the one boob irradiated. Does that equal half the discomfort and half the indignity? Possibly not. It certainly does not make for half the worry.
The radiographer assured me I would hear through the post in the usual way. I also have a date with Brainy Spice in two weeks time. But from past experience, I know I may receive a phone call. So for the next fortnight I shall be leaping out of my skin whenever the post arrives or whenever the phone rings.