Tuesday, 30 November 2021

Oops, lost track of time

I've been back at work (at home) for a little while now. I found it tiring to be back at first and not just because I don't sleep well I guess, but that's wearing off now.
Work is still being great, they're letting me ease back into things at my own pace and I really appreciate that.

I completed my course of antibiotics and currently have no symptoms so I'm guessing that went ok. I got my appetite back a couple of days after starting them, which was annoying because I had to take the pills 4 times a day, on an empty stomach - specifically at least an hour before a meal or at least 2 hours after a meal. I was so busy obsessing all the time about when the next pill should be taken that I forgot my antidepressants quite frequently during the week, and my mental health did suffer. I was doomscrolling the news and wondering whether it was really worth trying to fight to stay alive (if I need further treatment) when the whole world is going to hell at one point! However, realising that I was skipping doses and getting myself back on them properly made an almost immediate difference (the world is still going to hell, don't get me wrong, they aren't miracle workers)

I've just been looking at some very gentle yoga videos aimed at people who've had breast cancer surgery. Some so gentle they reckon they can be done with drains in, not that I ever felt like trying that. I know that it will help me to give it a try - not just by increasing the amount of very gentle stretching going on, but also by making me take care of my body and be mindful at the same time. Maybe it will also help me get back into meditation, as I've completely fallen off the wagon then laid in the road watching the wagon drive over over a big hill since diagnosis instead of turning it to help me cope. Anyway, not much actual news or updates for today, but I guess every week can't be huge strides forward.

PS still waiting for the results of my oncotyping, hope the samples didn't get tossed overboard in the middle of the Atlantic...

Friday, 19 November 2021

Another week down

I am drain free!  But I did have the second drain in for longer than generally recommended because it kept filling up with more fluid than the cut off point. (I hate the word fluid by the way)
The drain being in so long seems to have given me a tiny bit of an infection, so although I can't express how happy I am that it has gone, I am on antibiotics now and a little under the weather. Believe it or not, that has manifested through me feeling dizzy, light headed and sick for one day, then losing my appetite completely. I never lose my appetite under any amount of stress or depression so it's weird to me. Anyway, it's nothing really, just part of the healing process. 

Friday, 12 November 2021

Emotional

I know I said a few weeks ago that I looked at myself in the mirror and felt zero emotional response to the sight I saw, and I know that I also said I expected the other shoe to drop at some point. 

I guess it did. Obviously (I guess) when waiting to hear if the former breast and its invading tumours were still trying to kill me, I was more concerned about the nature and seriousness of the disease than anything else. And when I got the overall good news from the surgeon I was really pleased and relieved about that.

Then yesterday I looked in the mirror and the other shoe did drop. the relief had worn off I guess, and I had time to feel that emotional reaction that I didn't have before and 

I HATED SEEING WHAT I SAW.

I don't think I'm particularly vain, and I have never really liked my breasts because I've always been overly endowed in that area and its led to attention I didn't like or appreciate, especially when I was between probably 12 and 18, but looking mature because of them, and getting whistled at and loudly discussed in ways I wasn't comfortable with... at any point in the last 35 years if I could have snapped my fingers and been smaller, without pain, scarring or healing, I would have done it in a heart beat. But this isn't painfree and it definitely isn't scarless, and it looked horrible. On one side normal, and on the other, repulsive.  I get that I'm probably just reacting to the emotions and fears of the last couple of months, I get that I'll get used to it, I even get that it will fade and bruising etc will disappear, and it won't always horrify me the way it does now. I also definitely get that not liking to look at myself in the mirror pales in comparison with what could have happened if the cancers had had a couple more years of growth before they were discovered etc etc etc

but I spent yesterday feeling depressed, occasionally tearful, and generally down and I don't feel much better today. 

I had been thinking I might not bother with reconstruction in the future because why volunteer to go back under the knife for purely cosmetic reasons? But now I'm not sure about that, maybe it will prove to be necessary psychologically. I don't know, and its way in the future, definitely at least a year I'd say. Just right now, I can't imagine that being my body for the next year or years.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Check up update

I had my 2 weeks post op appointment with the surgeon this week. It got off to an interesting start when she told me I'd had a 'busy breast' - not sure if that's a technical term 😂
What that meant is that there were several cancers in the breast, and therefore it was a good thing that I went straight for the mastectomy rather than trying for a lumpectomy; that would almost certainly have failed to get clear margins. That doesn't exactly sound like good news, but as the breast is gone I'm not going to worry about how much of it was me and how much was cancer, gone is gone. My lymph nodes were all clear, so I probably didn't need to have them all out, but that means I know it hadn't spread so I'm OK with that decision (don't ask if I still feel like that if I develop lympheodema down the road though)
Because of that, I don't now need radiation therapy and I am very happy about that! 
So far so good, and also good is that she removed the dressing from the main surgical wound and was very pleased with the way it's healing.
So there's now only one more step in this specific incidence of cancer for me. Apparently they are sending the tumours to the US for oncotyping - essentially testing that scores them for likelihood of recurrence and likelihood of benefiting from chemotherapy. It's a score out of 100 and if the score is high enough to warrant it I'll be referred to an oncologist to look at a chemotherapy treatment plan. If not, all I have to do is finish healing and take a pill for a few years to block estrogen so it can't make more tumours. It will take 3 weeks to get the results back, so I am waiting again, but I'm feeling much more positive now. I do still have a drain in at the moment and I'm waiting at least till its out before going back to work, but the worst of it is over for now, fingers crossed. 

Monday, 8 November 2021

Nearly 2 weeks

Nearly 2 weeks on... I have one drain now rather than 2, which is better. The nerves that were irritated by my lymph node clearance are back in business so my arm (my dominant right arm of course) is painful and or annoying most of the time. I am quite surprised that my chest hasn't been more painful but I'm not complaining (unless it should be and there's something else wrong)
I haven't done much of anything because I'm waiting for the other drain to come out. I do some very gentle shoulder mobility exercises multiple times a day, but nothing that might pull on the drain and cause leakage or pain.
I'm still eating more junk than I should, my sleep still isn't great, and I can't remember the last time I managed to stay awake long enough to watch a movie from beginning to end. I've been pretty bored while not working, but now the first two weeks are up I'm torn between wanting to be back at work for something to do and wanting to wait until I stop falling asleep all the time. I'll see what I am told in my next appointment. For now I'm just going with the napping and apathy so my body can spend all its energy on healing itself. 

Sunday, 31 October 2021

Still alive

Just a quick update again. I haven't left the house since I got home following the op and only get dressed every other day or thereabouts so there's only so much to talk about!

I still have two drains in and its getting more uncomfortable and borderline painful every day, largely my own fault because I'm not taking all the painkillers I'm allowed at the moment. I have codeine and paracetamol and I'm trying to make do with the paracetamol during the day because the codeine side effects are a problem for me (I'm not being extreme about it though, if the paracetamol doesn't do the job I take the codeine). 

The district nurse says I'm healing well and the drains should be out in a short time, probably one before the other. I CAN'T WAIT. I want to start taking mini walks for fresh air and some exercise but the weather isn't co-operating and I'm put off by having to carry the drains and their bags everywhere with me. 

I'm actually not sleeping too badly by my standards, which makes a nice change. I've even been successfully sleeping on my back, which is amazing to me after a lifetime of curling up on one side or the other.

As far as my mood is going, when I have some energy I feel fairly positive, when I'm tired I feel more depressed. I might be in denial still as when I look at the site of the surgery I have zero emotional reaction to it. It doesn't look or feel like me, and I'm not sure I really see it AS me as opposed to something you can find doing an image search on Google. I hope that doesn't mean at some point I'll just collapse in a puddle of weeping and wailing when it does really hit me, I wouldn't be surprised though. I have a follow up appointment set up to find out whether / what further treatment might be required. I think I'm (metaphorically) holding my breath and waiting for the other shoe to drop until then, so fingers, toes and drainage tubes crossed that the outcome is positive, or at worst manageably depressing.

Thursday, 28 October 2021

It's me!

Well, it's most of me anyway. Just a quick one though. I have had my surgery and I'm getting used to the way it looks already. I'm not getting used to having to carry around two drains everywhere I go but hopefully they won't be a feature for too long. I haven't had a great deal of pain so far but that's probably because the nerve blocks they used for the op haven't worn off completely yet.  I got a reasonably good night's sleep last night and hope that will continue. I'll try to post more often than I have been, but no promises as my whole life at the moment is a learning curve. But for now, I'm still alive and doing... OK.