Worse before it gets better

When I started my treatment I said as soon as its finished I was going return to work, to have a massive party, go out in town and dance the night away and celebrate and have some normality in my life.

Today I woke up feeling the worst I ever have, my armpit feels like its been rubbed down with a cheese grater and the exhaustion is bringing me to tears.   I’ve been so brave for so long and I’m so relieved that I can now relax that everything has kind of hit me like a steam roller.

I suppose its cause I’ve hardly cried throughout the whole treatment really.  Brave faced and strong willed has always been the way I’ve faced things but now that its all over I cant believe what has just recently happened to me and I’m quite upset about it really!

So although my physical battle is over, my battle to recover has just begun. I didn’t really get a chance to do that, after two surgeries straight into radiotherapy which has left me with more war wounds so to speak.. I guess as a cancer survivor which is one thing I most certainly thought id never be characterizing myself with, it takes much longer than a few days and weeks to really be able to feel normal again.

I’m going to see a doctor tomorrow to see about my armpit issue.

Taken today - Don't enlarge if squeamish

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Getting measured up for radiotherapy

Got up far too early this morning.  Both hubby and I are knackered cause our little son isn’t very well at the moment. He has lots of teeth coming through and a cough and a temperature.  So he woke up plenty of times last night just to remind us bless him.

We left Paphos at around 7am and got to Nicosia for about 9 at the actual clinic. Traffic is manic up there.  Upon arrival I registered and went downstairs and signed in.   There was an elderly Cypriot woman wailing rather loudly saying she was in pain. I wasn’t ready for that.    I sat down and looked around and you could see that most people there were sick or recovering.  No hair, short hair, fluffy hair.. all different stages of treatment.  I wondered if that will be me anytime soon..

I got taken into a large room that had a large machine in the middle of it.  The nurses or assistants radiotherapists were very nice.  I had to strip off from the waist up and was grateful for a while as I was allowed to keep on my bra.. but low and behold that soon was off too.  They did cover me with a piece of this large blue medical tissue type thing.  Then I lied there whilst they went off to the room with the glass window safe from the xray machine and came out and said “we have to tape your breasts together” lol  this was to stop them from falling to the side and also to protect my right nipple from any side effects. Do your tits hang low comes to mind…  So the proceeded to duct tape my boobs together two nurses and my male doctor.   Then I lied there again with duct tape boobs. (I will have to have my boobs strapped in like that every time!) I was wondering how many more people will see my boobs before the year is out and how many more people will have to move them, tape them up or draw all over them.

Meanwhile I was drawn on and my arms got tucked in, got told off for wriggling, listened to them talking about numbers and centimeters and all doctors stuff, got told off for wriggling again, felt myself start to shiver as the aircon is on pretty high due to machine, got drawn on some more by another doctor all over my right boob and yes he was another man doctor..  After that I had 5 very small permanent tattoos.  This is to mark something important!l but its painful as its done with some kind of needle type thing.  I have one on my right shoulder, right armpit, right arm and right side and one on my left side.  Considering I have two tattoos on my body I don’t remember them being that painful. lol  I also have four drawings on my right boob covered with waterproof sticker thingies.  These have to stay on at all times.  They advised I cover up during treatment.  Its not like I’ll be going out in an evening dress with blue marker pen all over me now is it.. but of course they mean from the sun.. You should not let the treated area in view of the sun apparently. FYI all.

The whole process took quite a while and I was quite low by the end of it. Then when I went for a pee that Cypriot lady was crying in the toilets.  I tried to console her, but she told me she’s suffering and she has a child. I said don’t worry, in here we all have a fight to fight and I also have a child who is only 15 months old!  Poor woman.  Its a shame to see how hard people find it and are inconsolable. 😦

I’m still hanging in there and brave.  I can shower but I cant swim and I cant use soap. I get more instructions next visit which I will of course add here. So far its 20 shots a day till the 4th of August..with a side effect of pain, tiredness and some skin flaking..  nice.. oh well at least I’ll keep the bed mites fed.. ha

My healing scar and my three out of 4 drawings..

Post Op

So as mentioned previously, I wasn’t too bad this time after surgery.  I had a drip in my left wrist and my drain coming out of my right side! I have to say maneuvering around the bed to get to the loo was quite a challenge! Lucky for me I am a woman and I can multitask!:)

This is what the drain looks like by the way.. sorry if its a little too gross for you..its actually attached to my right side by my rib cage.

Day 1 was more of a blur really!  Slept on and off!  My parents came to visit me with my son and my sister too and my hubby was there till quite late! visiting hours don’t really exist at the clinic!

Day 2 left me wondering how I didn’t fart on the operating table! I am sure during surgery they inserted a trumpet in my belly because I had some serious wind issues.  I think this is my reaction to my anesthetic or the drip that they put in.  I had the same problem last time.  So don’t worry if you get wind.  A lady I once knew used to fart when she bent over due to her age and she said “where ever you may be, let your wind go free” Of course I did not do this, I checked if the coast was clear first, I just hope the patient next door couldn’t hear me. 🙂

They wake you up quite early there, 7am!  They take my temperature, my heart rate and my blood pressure which was always low..  needless to say I’d always beat them to it and tell them first! lol  Everyone loves a smart arse.. not!  They said I need to drink more water.

I spent a lot of time reading, watching TV and looking forward to the next visitor to help pass the day.   I don’t think some people realize that after having this kind of surgery, you need all the support you can get and being awake from 7am till 10pm, in the same room on your own can be rather dull and you spend far too much time thinking!  Sure I wasn’t on my own the whole day, however I was very surprised to realise who my friends are and who aren’t!  Cause lets face it, if you cant find the time to visit a friend in hospital, then you must have a really really really good excuse! Busy isn’t it! Or you aren’t their friend in the first place.   Thats my opinion. These days people do have busy lives and families and what not, but sometimes you should stop and visit a friend in hospital because they need you to, because its the right thing to do & because you care. Even if its just passing by and not staying. Its the thought that counts. A 5 minute visit feels much longer to a person lying in a hospital bed and they always feel loved and supported when you do.
However don’t spend too much time worrying about those that don’t visit, and those that don’t call.  You cant change things and it will only upset you and thus not help you get well quick.  Focus on the ones that came, on the messages you did receive instead.  So thank you to those that came to see me, it meant more to me than you can imagine and thank you to those who have supported me on facebook from far away too! You are fab! 🙂

I made a new friend. The one I told about my cancer in the shop.  She was there from day two and has texted me every day since to check on my progress. She really cheered me up!And shes funny too.  You need people that are optimistic and fun to be around at this time!

I also spent a lot of time eating.  Chocolate, biscuits, McDonalds thick shakes, more chocolate.. and the clinic food was fantastic! I had trifle, and custard and apple, and watermelon and fruit salad!  Fish and chips, cottage pie, roast pork with roast tatties! Not all in one day! lol  I think I need to go on a diet now.  Hospitals are bad for your clothes.. lol

Day 3 I had my dressings changed. I was quite nervous cause the plaster that covers the gauze was quite large and my surgeon is always quick to remove that.  Not pleasant one bit.  He didn’t appear to mind. I also had my drain emptied.  They all made jokes and I lied there covering my one exposed boob with my hand whilst they did the spraying and the cleaning and the re patching.  Its quick and if you focus on the TV or on something else its soon over! Its why they teach you breathing exercises during labour! As you are so busy focusing on something different you forget about the pain.. (well not entirely but it works)

Sleeping wasn’t too difficult, mainly flat on my back but with a pillow you can actually lie on your side with it under your arm so your armpit isn’t touching your body.   That and making sure you don’t rip out your drain.    I dropped mine the first day and I crapped myself. Luckily I didn’t rip it out but the pain tought me not to do that again!

Days 4 & 5 went by quickly and then today I was allowed home.  Me and my drain that is.   I have stepped on it, my husband has tripped on it and I am thinking perhaps I was safer in the clinic! lol

I am in pain. I am not superwoman and it hurts to do nearly everything. I cant pick up my son, I cant cuddle my son, I cant do anything in fact that requires the use of my right arm’s muscles.However I can still do most things that are also important, like butter my toast, use the loo, wave at a friend and simple every day stuff 🙂

I have to keep the drain in till at least Friday when I hopefully get my results. They will decide if it comes out then. Results will state how much cancer was taken out, whether it spread to nearby tissue, whether it originated from my melanoma from 2008.

I recommend you read this book.  Its very interesting about cancer patients and survival and how you can actually speed up your recovery all by yourself.   And believe me when I say I will try anything to get better! Love, Medicine and Miracles: Lessons Learned about Self-Healing from a Surgeon’s Experience with Exceptional Patients

Here are some images of my stitches taken today. Do not click on it to enlarge it if you are not ready for gory details. Its not a pleasant picture. But don’t let this scare you!  as in a few weeks it will look like the one next to it!

Right, I’m shattered now so that’s it for now!

Stay positive, be strong. 🙂

Knackered

Yesterday I got up feeling glad it was Saturday.

I had to go do some card shopping for birthdays and some pressie shopping for a christening and baby shower.   I normally do that shopping in Debs in town.  A friend of mine works there, her son is in the same class as mine. We’ve chatted on and off since before we were both pregnant and always have a good natter since my son joined hers in school.  She knew I was going for surgery so she asked how it all went.  I told her the truth that I have cancer and she went all quiet and her eyes filled up! I said “don’t be sad, I’m not gonna die” then I tried to cheer her up by wearing funny sun glasses.    I felt awful after for telling her.  You see this is the kind of thing people aren’t really ready to hear when they ask how you are, which is why my sons school teachers don’t know and other people who know me but aren’t on facebook and don’t see me regularly enough to know my health situation don’t know either.  Its not the kind of news you share.   Why am I writing a blog you might ask then? Cause I am not actually looking at you as you are reading this. So neither of us have to cope with each others reaction.  Writing stuff down is a great way of getting things off your chest and perhaps help others who could be in the same position understand that they are not alone.

We later went to a baby shower of a dear friend of mine and her little girl was so cute it made me broody!  Then there was a pregnant girl there too, glowing and looking far to fab for a 8 month pregnant girl, and that made me broody too! Funny how you always want what you cant have lol

Hubby and I had arranged for my mum to come round last night to babysit so we could go out for a nice meal.  But by 6 o’clock I was so knackered I canceled and just collapsed on the couch again. Crap.

Today, we had to get up and ready very early as I had a family Christening to go to in Limassol.  My dad’s side of the family were there. All Cypriot.   They all know!  So when I arrived I got that extra hug, and that extra arm squeeze, the look of concern in their eyes and then I was able to sit down to eat.   They were all really supportive so I didn’t feel too out of place. When it was time to go, the same thing happened, that extra long hug, the arm stroke this time and lots of words of strength and support too.   They asked more about the whole process and told me not to worry and that everything was going to be alright providing I stay strong, which I am.  People really do look at you differently when they know you have cancer. Its nice to know I am so loved! 🙂 (ok so that was cheesy sorry!)

By the time we got home I was shattered once again. I actually went to bed for an afternoon sleep! I never do afternoon sleeps! NEVER, not even when Christian wasn’t sleeping properly.  I’ve got ants in my pants and I’m afraid I might miss something. That hasn’t changed since I was a little girl!

Anyway, I here are some visual effects for those of you who are curious! The first picture was taken 6 days after surgery, and the second 17 days after the surgery..the scar is shrinking cause the doctors did a really good job. Dr Phylactis and Dr Lucas from the Royal Medical Clinic in Paphos.