“You never know how strong you are until being
strong is the only choice you have”
The last few weeks have been frenetic as we have been to-ing and fro-ing to hospital with dad. Just as we thought things were improving, he was admitted again yesterday. It’s a good job I have a Master’s Degree in Positivity and believe me, I’m putting it all to use right now.
What has been overwhelming is the swell of love from family and friends. Everyday without exception, I am blessed with messages asking how the day is going and if there is anything that can be done whether that is shopping for Bridget Jones style knickers (thank you Clare – I will look ravishing!); the numerous cake drop offs; the lighting of candles – (there is a warm glow around our area there are so many candles lit) and the heartfelt prayers.
Yesterday I started the Hibiscrub body wash routine – quite delightful – it is basically like washing with hospital grade anti-bacterial hand sanitiser – all over and in all the nooks and crannies – I will leave the rest to the imagination but needless to say, it’s not pleasant. I did wonder whether it was absolutely necessary to wash my balayaged hair that Jaki spends so long over and then Mark suggested it was probably better to strip out some of the colour than to risk any infection.
I finally got around to packing my bag. As someone who is known for being organised, I am surprised it has taken so long to put everything into a bag or rather, lots of little bags into two bigger bags. I figured that when I am in hospital I will find it easier to handle smaller bags and so everything has been packed into associated small bags – toiletries; things to do; snacks; IT et cetera.
I had in my mind what the last few days at home would be like – peaceful; time for myself; a bikram yoga session in the morning and then a relaxing yin yoga session in the afternoon; a glowing facial and hot stone massage followed by a long soak in the bath. It’s been absolutely nothing like that. I’ve gone from one task to another ticking random items off my to do list. Now my list is clear, I feel a sense of satisfaction and even fit a serene yoga session in this morning, perhaps my last for some time.
The last couple of days the children have been away, I couldn’t wait for them to return, I missed them so much. Every ounce of me needed to be close to them. Everyone arrived together, the children and Mark and not long afterwards, my brother to wish me good luck. We are so close – he has always been the stereotypical big brother. He held me in his arms but this time, there was nothing he could do to protect me from what was about to happen.
We took the children to bed. Ben couldn’t talk about it other than say ‘it’s going to be our last tuck in mummy’. I swallowed hard trying not to let the tears well up in my eyes. Gracie’s been particularly tactile which I’ve lapped up. I tucked her in and asked if she were ok not convinced at all by her answer, it wasn’t long before she was in my room, stood before me with tears running down her face. Of course, I know how they both feel, I have been the child in this scenario, frightened and lost for words, wondering what is happening and scared to cause any upset. I’ve told them both, let’s cry together, it is ok. We’ll get through this.
I woke up this morning; Mark greeted me, ‘morning Gorgeous’. I asked him if he would still think I would be gorgeous after my surgery to which he replied ‘Gorgeous is you, not a part of you’ which made me all the more teary.
So why am I feeling sad? I’d rather dad were not in hospital, that’s certainly not helping and today when we both realised he wasn’t coming home, we both cried on the phone together. I was so grateful that yesterday when I visited him we’d decided to go for a coffee together and have a chat rather than stay on the hospital ward. I would have given anything today for my dad to hold me in his arms and I know he would too.
On a deeply personal level, there’s a sense of attachment, you’ve been through a lot with your body; growing up – one boob is bigger than the other – I used to wonder, ‘is this normal?’ Having big boobs growing up when everyone else had teeny tiny ones, when as a teenager you just want to be like everyone else! The passionate affairs when you realise, actually, it doesn’t matter whether one is bigger than the other or whether they’re big or small! The love of a good man when you know in your heart you’ll never bare your breasts to another. Breast feeding the children and when Ben used to inappropriately place his hand down my top for comfort when he was upset (thankfully, he did grow out of that pretty quickly!).
I have worn my old bras with pride these last few days and weeks, changing them by the hour so I can make sure they all get a last turn out before they are cast aside. I can’t quite face removing them from my underwear drawer in case there is a chance they still fit, though the surgeon has already said there is a very slim chance of me emerging from the operation the same size – hope springs eternal.
With dad in hospital today, we had no option but to take the children with us for my sentinel node biopsy and so this afternoon, off we traipsed. I must confess, I was a little nervous especially after the core assisted biopsy which was dreadfully painful. The kids, have been intrigued about this as the side effects include blue eyes and blue skin…two hours after the radioactive injection I’m please to report no blueness yet.
For anyone who is a little squeamish – please don’t read this paragraph. For anyone having a Sentinel Node Biopsy and you’re worried about the pain – here’s what happens…
So for me, this was classified as SNB preparation, the SNB will be done tomorrow in theatre. Today I was being injected with radioactive dye to allow the oncoplast tomorrow to identify the sentinel node. I had to undress to the waist and covered myself with a gown which was quickly removed, to be honest I saw no point in covering myself in the first place! The radiographer then discussed the procedure – for me, the SNB will not be analysed in theatre though in some hospitals that does happen. A needle containing radioactive fluid is then injected into the area around the nipple. For anyone who has had the core assisted biopsy, it feels like the anaesthetic injection you have before the biopsy. You can feel the injection and you can feel the fluid going in but it is over pretty quickly. It smarts but it’s done very quickly. I was in the room for ten minutes, it felt like three. I cried when the staff went out, I think it was the realisation that this was the start of it all.
Now I am home, a brief reprise before I am admitted tonight at 7.00pm. I am as ready as I can be. The last few weeks have been truly blessed, I’ve spent time with my wonderful family and friends and had the chance to make memories but now, it’s time to crack on – I’m ready.
And to everyone who has supported me and mine over the last few weeks, thank
Much love xx