Saturday, 29 September 2012

I'm home!

Just a very quick note to say I am home, and all things considered had a reasonable day.

I was seen very promptly at 7.25am, taken to the room I was to share with four other unfortunates, and kicked my heels for a bit until a nurse came to take my essential information and do the MRSA swabs which were as fun as I remembered from last time.

My consultant popped in at about 8.15am so I had a chance to chat with one or two of the other ladies that were in, which was really nice and made me feel far more confident, oddly, as I had been through a lot of what they were about to go through before so was able to reassure them a bit. I hope that doesn't sound too partonising, particularly when you think that I was the youngest in there by at least 15 years.

As I have been randomised for the Lymphodoema trial, my right arm was measured and tested with electronic "pulses", similar to a Tens machine, and these measurements will be used as a base against which to compare future measurements before and after massage and other treatments and then compared to other ladies results. I found it all rather intriguing and was also highly entertained when my consultant found that the three electric wires were totally tangled together! I landed myself the job of untangling them after I had been measured, which was fab as it gave me something to do. Anything to be helpful.

The only habit my consultant has which I don't like is he brigs his steaming cup of filter coffee round with him, and to someone who has been starved of caffeine for the day (yeah yeah I know, only four hours at this point) it seems a bit mean!! He was kind enough to let me get a good waft though....

I was second in the list, and went in at about 9.45ish I think. I had a different anaesthetist this time, who was also lovely, but did ask why the hell I was there at the grand old age of 33..... I think he put it slightly nicer than that, and called me a lovely lady (lovely, despite the lack of coffee - we like him a lot), but still, I do rather share his sentiment in that regard.

My "gin and tonic" was administered very gently, and very quickly, so I didn't get as nervous as last time - I am becoming a seasoned pro now! 

The next thing I knew, it was about 10.30am and I was coming round from the anaesthetic. I felt a bit sore, so was given some rather excellent intravenous drugs, which evidently makes the continued presence of a cannula worth it.

The op went well, I had no complications, and the nerve block that I have had has made me extremely comfortable, but I will still need to be very careful. Post it notes required all over the house to remind me of this.

I was left some fabulous fudge at reception by a friend, and once I got back to the ward I cracked it open to celebrate. Yummy, thank you - you know who you are. After a while I was able to get dressed and saw my consultant, who also likes fudge apparently! We had a nice natter, and he disappeared for the weekend or what is left of it.

I think I got home at about 3.30pm in the end, and had some nice cuddles with the children, who have had a lovely day with our friends but hopefully missed me a bit. 

Luxury this afternoon though in that I did escape upstairs for a nap and only reappeared when the children were safely tucked up in bed. Bliss, thank you. You know who you are too!

I had very little pain this evening, but have taken a few painkillers so I remain comfortable. Other than the anti inflammatories I shall try and cut them right back though - I hate taking them for any length of time, and I will know how much or how little I can do if I can actually feel something.

It is now midnight, and having been up since about 4.30 am I really ought to go to sleep!

I have had a good chat with my lovely Dr friend about options for ports for chemo and various other things, which has helped a huge amount so I have a lot to think about but I feel more informed and confident in my choices.

Maybe I will start again tomorrow. Just a week or so, and I will know a lot more about my treatment plan etc and can start phase two of the fight back.

For now, I will go to be with the fond memory that this time four years ago my waters were about to go with my darling daughter, and one of the brightest lights in my life was about to arrive.

Happy birthday darling girl. I love you too too too too.

Friday, 28 September 2012


I don't normally like packing. Liking it even less tonight. However, I am, roughly speaking, packed for my day trip to hospital tomorrow, with spare knickers, just in case. Apologies, you don't really need to know that I have spare underwear, but packing them seemed to make sense to me - I'm trying to invoke the law of sod in reverse again i.e. if I pack them I won't need them.

If I do end up staying in I have at least wrapped all of the biggest's birthday presents and written the cards in time for Sunday, so if she needs to be distracted then it will be pretty easy. 

We have friends on the way tonight to stay and look after the children, which is lovely of them. My friend very sadly lost her mother to cancer last year and she is a very talented Doctor, so she has an extremely good understanding of what I am going through.

I'm not sure how I feel this time. I am definitely nervous, particularly as everyone in the know seems to think I'm going to be in a lot more pain this time than last time.... nice of them to tell me. Hopefully it won't be too bad - I was in pretty good shape after having the mastectomy, so how bad can a few nodes be? 

I've already had the most "disfiguring" surgery - other than some cording which I can hopefully stretch out, I am already used to the changes that my body has gone through. Truth be told, my scar actually looks amazing. There is no swelling, and most of the soreness has gone. Friends and colleagues happily tell me that they can't tell what has been done, and I actually was brave enough to wear a low ish cut v necked dress today and my scar didn't show, which is excellent. I certainly don't want a new wardrobe.

I've got to be in for 7.30am so we shall leave a bit before 7am. An extremely kind person has left a box of fudge for me at the desk of the day surgery unit, so I'll have something to munch on after I come round. 

I'm half tempted to bake another cake or take a box of chocolates for the ladies on the day surgery unit, as they were all so lovely last time. Would that be weird?

This is not the most exciting post I have ever written, so for that I apologise. I think that my brain is a bit frazzled and can only cope with simple thoughts. I have half a post drafted, in my brain, on fatalism and realism, which I shall share at some point, once it and I am more coherent.

So, I shall sign off for now, with the very good news that I did manage to drag myself to work this morning, and sold 157 paintings by auction. The sale went extremely well, and the top price achieved for one lot was £13,000 before buyers premium and all taxes. Far less chocolate teapot like today. A superb result.

I'm extremely proud of my team - they have done a fab job in my absence but made it known that I am very missed, which was extremely kind of them.

Anyhoo, that is it from me for now. I shall update, God willing, tomorrow night.

God bless.

Rebecca x

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Baking frenzy

Birthday cake, baked and iced. Cake for staff at work, done. Cake for husband and children tomorrow so they actually have one to eat (the poor deprived souls), done, Lasagne x 3, done and 2 in the freezer... And so it goes.

As you can tell, my back is feeling better today. I can actually stand up, which helps a lot. 

It is now 11pm or thereabouts and I haven't really relaxed all day. Hopefully I shall go to work tomorrow, as we will be neck deep in baked goods otherwise. 

I think, after the last few days of relative inactivity I have grasped the opportunity to be useful in an attempt to keep my mind off the inevitable. My op on Saturday is fast approaching and I am getting nervous. In fairness, the GA last time was fine, and I didn't shake afterwards which I usually do after any anaesthetic, but still, the fear is there about not waking up.

I also hope that if there is any cancer left that they get it all this time. I may have said this before, but in less than two weeks we will know how bad it is, and how far it has spread into my lymphatic system. If it has at all - it is entirely possible that the remaining nodes will come back clear and have been removed for nought. Fingers crossed.

I have been trying to explain to my parents and others in my family who shall not be named, that the Drs weren't being inept by not doing the full clearance last time, they were trying to save me unnecessary surgery that has a 1 in 6 chance of causing Lymphodoema, which sounds rather unpleasant. In fact, judging by how odd my arm has felt over the lag two days I suspect that I have a touch of it already. 

On that basis, I am doubly delighted that I have been randomly selected to take part in a local trial which effectively means I shall get extra therapy and training in simple lymphatic massage as well as other support, to try and ensure that I don't develop Lymphodoema or, if I do, that it can be managed so as to cause as little discomfort as possible.

Blindly, I am starting to feel the strain though.

We have a few things going on at home on the farm too, and as a result my condition is most likely going to become very public, which is slightly scary. It is for the greater good, but still, the control is going to leave my hands. Thinking laterally it is only a matter of time though, really, seeing as I will be starting chemo next month. There isn't much chance of me being able to hide it for that much longer.

Sorry, I know I am being extremely cryptic! 

So, the world will start to know from tomorrow, or today as it is now morning! I'm going to make the best out of a bad situation and other than having a few more small panics, I will organise a Charity haircut and just giving account and start raising money.

Watch this space for more details.

Monday, 24 September 2012

More musings

One of the problems with me being flat on my back, so to speak, or at least, with very little to think about when compared with my normal chaotic existence, is that I have got too much time to think about things.

More specifically at the moment, my musings are all Chemotherapy related. I don't yet know whether I will be given Herceptin, and if so whether this is instead of Chemo, or after Chemo, or even at the same time as Chemo, so I have managed to put that to one side.

What is bothering me at the moment is whether or not I will lose my hair. Ridiculous, I know, to be worried about hair when I should be worried about whether the cancer is anywhere else in my body, but there it is. It is a concern.

I don't think it is just a vanity thing, (I hope so anyway), as one of my major concerns is if I do lose my hair, how it might affect the children. They have been remarkably robust so far, but when I am clothed I don't look any different to them. Seeing mummy without hair might be a bit scarier or stranger for them.

Apparently I can get a doll which turns inside out into a lady with no hair, but frankly it sounds scary to me! It might help the children though, which is what matters.

I have been researching the "cold cap" and it seems, like everything else, that whether or not is works, and to what extent, varies from person to person, so there is no hard and fast answer. Hopefully I will learn more when I meet the Oncology team on the 10th October or thereabouts. Not all hospitals (as far as I understand) have access to scalp cooling and there are lots of suggestions of things to do and not do whilst using scalp cooling and during chemo that I don't know if I can live with, such as not washing my hair every day - fairly untenable to someone who has washed their hair every day for 20 years. 

We live on a pig farm, and I have horses, therefore certain smells linger, shall we say, despite wearing hats. My hair is also very fine and gets greasy really really easily. 

Having the cold cap may also double the length of time each treatment takes - 3 to 4 hours rather than 1 to 2, and hair can't be washed for 24hrs afterwards. There's a whole list of things here.

It seems like such a faff, to someone who doesn't do anything more than straighten her hair on a daily basis. I really don't know if I am patient enough.

The cold cap won't do anything for the loss of eyebrows, eyelashes etc either, so I'll have to learn some new make up skills as well it seems. Not before time in many ways.

On the plus side, I won't have to worry about shaving my legs for a bit will I?

Little things, little things, sent to try me.

I am still debating having all my hair cut off for charity as a way to regain control. Apparently I could even donate my hair to a children's charity (Little Princess Trust) that provides wigs for children suffering from hair loss through cancer treatment. Now I feel properly chastened - at least I have reached 33 years old before getting cancer.

Perhaps I should raise money for this charity anyway by cutting my hair off, and donate it too? 

Perhaps I'll take it one step at a time and be sensible. Try the cold cap, and if it doesn't work, or if I can't bear it I'll have the whole lot cut off.

I just don't know. Can someone please make the decision for me?

Housework is bad for you...


In fairness, my back was feeling a little delicate last week despite being seen by my lovely Chiro the week before. Whiplash and associated torsion at the end of May has a lot to answer for. (It has been my year, didn't you know?) However, over the weekend it got worse but I was determined to go to work this morning. 

That is, until I loaded the dishwasher. One plate too many and *ping*, or possibly *pop*, went my back. Ouch.

Ice pack applied for 10 mins then hot shower and hot water directed to my lower back, but to no avail.

Not impressed, but I was going to go to work until my husband, quite rightly, took matters out of my hands and rang my boss to tell him I wouldn't be going in. Lotting up 900 lots of machinery in the pouring rain probably not the best idea.

I have been hoping that I might get there tomorrow for the actual sale, which is the fun bit, but when I accidentally picked up my son this evening (he launched himself at me and it was self defence), it really went *twang* and I am even worse. 

I could sob.

My body feels like it is rather letting me down at the moment. I am so annoyed with myself, as it is very unlikely I will be going anywhere tomorrow at all, except maybe the Chiro is someone else will drive me. Not that I think he'll be able to do anything to me as it is too damn sore. 

I do have an appointment booked for Wednesday, which is just as well. I predict that it will end in acupuncture, which don't get me wrong, is brilliant, but I have had my fill of needles at the moment. At least I won't be able to see them this time round.


On the plus side, I haven't seen my husband laugh so much in ages - just wish it wasn't at me!!!

Sunday, 23 September 2012

I am not spam!!!!! Updated

I am, as you can tell, irrationally annoyed that think I am spam.

I'm not, and therefore am going to have to try to set this blog up somewhere else - I've been waiting for 10 days for blogger to unblock me, and they have started the whole process over again.

So, watch this space if you would like to continue to follow my story - I shall delve into the world of or any other alternative I can find.

If you have any recommendations please feel free to comment below.

I have set up a Wordpress blog, and am in the process of copying everything over. The problem is, I like using blogger. It is easy.

So, as I have been unspammed today, I'll give it another week and if I have been re-spammed (my new word of the day) I shall make the move.

Indecisive. Moi?


Thursday, 20 September 2012

Here we go again

So, I have another date. Finally. 

After much chasing and begging and offering to pay. The hospital is hectic, and I am very grateful that they have been able to book me in for a full axilla node clearance on 29th September. The day before my daughter's birthday.

Hey ho.  At least I should be able to cook a birthday cake before I go in. The main part isn't until mid October, so all being well I should be well enough for that and won't quite have started chemo. Bets are on as to whether I shall have to start on my birthday, which is the 16th.

Other news? Well the larger stage 2 cancer has come back as HER2+ 3+, which I think in essence means HER2 positive, which I think means I might be given Herceptin, but it will depend on the results from the full clearance which will arrive on approx 10th October. 

Suddenly, we will be three months down the line from first hospital appointment.  A quarter of the year. Where the hell has that gone? Scary.

So, next week. I have two auctions to do. One on Tuesday and one on the Friday, and I am determined, come hell or high water to do them both before I go back on official sick leave.

Stubborn, me? Nooooooooooo. Anyway, I may be biased but I think that stubbornness can be an extremely good trait to have....

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

I'm a Chocolate teapot

.....short and stout.....

Well, maybe not that stout, but "chocolate teapot" is about how much use I feel I am at the moment, anyway, at work.  I have the concentration span of a gnat and am all over the place, emotionally. Not that surprising, but it is so not me. I hate it.

I hate sitting at work, trying to organise everyone and everything for when I won't be there. 

Everyone has been lovely, my boss has been very kind and supportive, but thinks I am nuts for trying to work between now and my operation. Am I? I don't know. I am just desperately trying to feel normal but that just isn't going to happen, not really.

I still don't have an operation date, which is frustrating. I have contacted my consultant and asked about paying for the operation privately, which he is loathe to let me do as I dont have  insurance. I used to but cancelled it a while ago and although I'd thought about getting it again I hadn't gotten round to it. Whoops. 

What I have explained to Mr Pain is that I am anxious that we don't have too long a delay for fear of letting the damn disease spread any further. I know the breast cancer tumours are out, but what if it is being pumped around my body and starting to spread? He is still pushing for a surgical date, but can we get one before the end of next week? I genuinely do not know.

I probably sound like a total hypochondriac but I just cannot help it. I am a one woman pity party tonight, sorry.

It is the waiting. It is driving me mad. Hopefully, it is only temporary. The cancer and the insanity both.

Sunday, 16 September 2012


All in all, despite everything, it has been a lovely weekend. My sister and her husband visited from Gloucestershire, we had a BBQ, tired the children out, and I have actually had a chance to spend some time with my husband. Much needed too, after this week.

Tomorrow, I shall go to work, which will be another welcome distraction and try and resume some normality at least for a few days.

I also have to telephone the hospital to chase up my next surgical appointment - I really really need a date to work to. Not only do I have various work commitments coming up, but it will also be better for me from an emotional point of view if I have a date, and a plan.

What's the song Dory sings in finding Nemo? Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming? Something like that. 

Well, my version is a bit different: Just keep living, living, living. 

Scared as I am, I cannot afford to let this disease get a grip on me in any way. I refuse to give in to it either mentally or physically. I refuse to let fear paralyse me and make me, for the want of a better word, impotent, in terms of failing to make the most of what I have right here, right now otherwise what's the point? 

I have been battling all weekend to try and ascertain how I feel. A friend of mine, who is a Doctor at GOSH and specialist in palliative care asked me very directly how I felt about having had a breast removed and how I feel about the scar.

This is something I have been avoiding thinking about since the operation, truth be told so it was a bit of a shock to suddenly have to think about it and answer a question, and I don't think I did so adequately. I still haven't really come to terms with it but on the surface at leastI accepted the fact that the breast had to go very quickly - a means to an end and a cure, we hoped. 

So, how do I feel about it? Sad and angry. Sore, upset, and of course, scared. Do I feel like I have been "mutilated". Well, a bit, yes. After all, my scar is over eight inches in length and although it is healing well it isn't exactly pretty. What is getting me through it? Have I said I'm cross? 

It's not just anger getting me through of course, not by any means. My wonderful husband, my fabulous children, my friends, my family, my list of things I want to do, my horses, my dogs, my life in general. I am damn well going to fight for all of this.

The disfigurement is going to be temporary, as is the pain. I don't like needles, but I can learn to live with them. The business that I have built up over the last twelve months will, hopefully, not suffer too much - I have great staff who I can hopefully back up and guide from home. I am very lucky in that my family situation is very strong and whilst I am worried about the effect all my treatment will have on my children, they are extremely strong individuals (already, at two and four!) and I have to believe they will be fine.

Hopefully I don't sound like I am trying too hard to talk myself into believing all of the above. At the bottom of my heart I do believe it, but the quaking in my boots is a bit distracting. It's almost like the damn disease is whispering at me. I am working very hard to tune that whispering out, to put the fear in a box and shut the lid, to keep my head above water. 

I will definitely benefit from being at work for a few days, finding distractions to keep me otherwise occupied and trying to feel normal. If nothing else, if I am at home for much longer. I will end up finding another DIY project - and we already have plumbers and electricians coming in next week as it is..... My husband might not forgive me if I starting changing anything else.

Just keep living, living, living....

Thursday, 13 September 2012

It's like ripping a plaster off..

Telling people, I mean. Talk firmly, confidently, and "fast" and it seems to be a teeeeensy bit easier.

I do hate giving bad news though, and ruining my family's evening again.

My parents and sister now know though, so they can now start to prepare themselves for what is to come. All in all, it went well, but one of the things I found the hardest was telling my sister that she probably ought to have a chat with her GP in due course, once I have more information about the cancer itself, to find out whether she is also at risk.

Quite why I feel guilty I don't know. It isn't a contagious disease that one can pass on.

Well, apart from the fact of course that if it is a hereditary form of cancer my children will both be at risk as well. Now that I do feel awful about.

Would knowing that we might be prone to cancer have affected my decisions about having children? I honestly do not know.

Bearing in mind I shall be going onto Tamoxifen, I am incredibly grateful that we have been able to have two healthy children. Being on Tamoxifen suppresses Oestrogen and of course, you need Oestrogen to get pregnant. I will be on it for five years, which will make me nearly 39 by the time I am off it. I know that people have children in their late thirties and forties, but it will be too late for me.

By the time I am forty, I would like to be clear of this horrid disease, off the drugs, and planning a mid life crisis trip to Vegas.

Who's coming with me?

Thank you

Before the children come home from nursery, I have time to write a quick thank you to everyone who has supported me along this horrid journey so far, and pledged support for what is to come.

I don't think you will ever know and don't think I will ever have the words to explain how grateful I am to have you there or how reassuring it is to know that I always have you to talk to.

You are un-shockable, unshakable, unflappable, understanding, sensible, encouraging and humorous, able to poke fun when it is needed, and to laugh with me when I need it. Not the least of all, you are incredibly generous and I shall never think myself worthy of you.

It seems like such an inadequate thing to say, but, "thank you" from the bottom of my heart.


Wednesday, 12 September 2012


I think that must be what I am in. I am numb. 

I have just rung my boss to tell him, that quite potentially, I am going to be off work for the next 2-6 months. What the very f***? 

How can this possibly be happening to me? I really don't understand it. I am not sure that the news would have been easier to take two weeks ago, if they had found that two of three nodes contained tumours in the quick test whilst I was under. At least if they had, I wouldn't have to be facing another operation, and the delay. 

It isn't that I am in any hurry to start drugs and/or chemo, but I just want to get on with kicking this vile disease out of my body. I don't want it to have a chance of spreading any further. I want..... Oh, I don't know, the clock turned back and for it all not to be true. 

I am of course, painfully aware that I want does not get. In fact, it is something that I talk about with both children on an almost daily basis [rolls eyes] 

Instead though, I am going to pick myself up and I am going to beat this bastard disease. I don't promise not to cry at some point - not now though, I'm too cross to cry now, I don't promise not to be scared, stressed, frustrated, emotional, angry, and everything in between.

My husband, children, family and friends are all behind me, and of course my DW army, without whom I would have been lost on many an occasion in the last few years.

All I've got to do now is do it. 

Results - some swearing involved

I've decided that not having an appointment put off and being seen on time when you get there is not a good thing.

Apparently, 2 out of 3 of the nodes removed 12 days ago contain cancerous cells i.e. it has spread.

Also, they found two sites of "proper" cancer when they went through the lump. One is 4mm and stage 2 cancer, the other is 2mm and stage 3 cancer - whether I'm a 2a or b, or 3a, b or c I don't know. If you want to know more, click here. Trust me to be difficult.

My consultant was lovely, as usual, and gave me the news without buggering around, which was good. 

We both swore a bit, and then discussed the next step, which is a further operation within the next two weeks. Apparently there is no space on his list, but he's going to find a way to fit me in so it might even be a Saturday. I wish I wasn't quite so important though.

I will be having a full axillary node clearance and gland removal, which is a day patient procedure again, but will be less comfortable than the mastectomy has been so far in terms of recovery etc.

As the cancer is Oestrogen receptive I shall start on Tamoxifen pretty soon which I will be on for the next 5 years. I'm not liking the list of side effects on first reading. They aren't the same for everyone though.

Depending on some more test results, if I'm HER2 positive (click here) then I will be on Herceptin, probably, or Chemo. Maybe both? I've no idea as yet. 

In fact, I've no idea in general. I am numb. And a bit pissed off.

There shall, no doubt, be more ranty posts to follow. Right now, I'm off for a walk to clear my head.

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Consultant appointment tomorrow, damn

I have been desperately waiting for a phone call today, from my consultant, to postpone tomorrow's appointment to go through my oncology/histology results from the breast, lump and nodes they took during my operation.

Correction, I have been desperately hoping they would call and postpone it.

The reason of course is I am scared they may have found something that indicates I need chemo/further treatment, hoping that the old no news is good news adage would come true.

I may be over reacting, be worrying over nothing and even, panicking for no reason, but I won't have any idea at all until tomorrow at 11.10, ish. 

Wish me luck, I shall report back in due course.

The dressing is off

All in all, a fairly successful trip to see the nurse today. Waterproof dressing off without too much wincing from me, but it is damn sore.

When I looked down at the steri strips though and saw how many there were I did panic a bit. I didn't count all of them but there were in excess of twelve which was more than I was expecting. The nurse took the first on off, and it was so stressful (for me) as I was worried about the wound opening up, that I asked to do the rest. By now you know me quite well and are probably not surprised as I am a complete control freak.

So, I stood in front of a mirror and took them all off, and other than the full ten inches of scab coming off in small sections with the steri strips it was fine. Although it did apparently go a bit ghostly white towards the end, so I ended up with a fan blowing cool air onto me whilst I did the rest....... What a twit I am.

Other than a bit of weeping (the wound, not me...yet...) it seems fine, but as my husband said when I got home, golly, that is a long scar.

In reality, it looks really good, and not at all like the obvious surgical wound I was expecting. It is amazing how much healing a body can do in ten days.

I won't lie, it is sore to touch and I can feel every whisper of air or touch of fabric, but it doesn't feel weak, if that makes sense. Just raw. A bit like my emotions at the moment.

I will photograph it, later or tomorrow when I am feeling a bit braver. Not for publication here, but if as I've said before, anyone going through similar wants to see photos of a mastectomy scar during healing, and of course, to remind me in the future just how far I have come on what is already a pretty long journey, with still a very long way to go.

Dissipating adrenaline

 Rather unfortunately, I think my wound is starting to come back to life, or perhaps the bruising is starting to come out. Yowsers. I couldn't possibly have overdone it could I?!!!!

Well, done now anyway. I shall take it a little more easy today with sofa based activities. I have the eldest with me today as it isn't a nursery day and I am pleased to say that she has requested to watch Choccywoccydoodah again, and also, some more of mummy's cooking programmes. Win win.

I have got to get an article written for work. By tomorrow, but it is only about 300 words or so so shouldn't be too hard. 

I have a second trip to the nurse booked for this afternoon and the dressing is definitely coming off  this time. It is less tight this morning as the swelling has gone down overnight, but I think it is time for me to see it. I shall dose myself up before I go. No heroism for me today.

Ah yes, the only downside of my eldest being with me all day is that I have to share my sofa! Once I work out how to, I shall share a photo!

Monday, 10 September 2012

Silver linings and amazing people

Monday. Bleurgh.

Today started badly with number one child waking at midnight, and number two at two am. I had left my husband asleep oh the sofa (plenty of room even for someone who is over six foot) at 11ish and gone to bed on my own. I know it sounds cruel but I figured he would get more sleep downstairs than upstairs being disturbed by small people. How right I was.

Managed to get oldest back into bed on a promise, and fed number two back to sleep. I think I must have passed out  - the next thing I knew was it was morning, nearly 6am even. 

I was very sore this morning and a bit swollen, must have done too much over the weekend.  At least I have the day to myself today. Except for builders and plumbers that is. Oh, and I have a friend I have been wanting to see for ages popping over this afternoon, so something to look forward to.

My appointment with the GP went okay but as I guessed, most of my questions will have to wait until we know my next results. Rather embarrassingly I ended up in floods of tears which is most unlike me. I think I am starting to get nervous about possibly going to get results on Wednesday. Hmmmmmm. 

I did at least drive myself today, so I have some freedom back. Yay! I even managed to do a  bit of v much needed food shopping. Something useful at last.

I bought a magazine to read whilst waiting for my GP. The latest "Good Housekeeping". The main reason for buying it was the front page hint about articles on breast cancer. How things change. 

The articles inside are fab. If my mum doesn't get this issue I will have to send it to her. There are lots of positive stories, and handy hints for people who know a cancer sufferer. The most poignant being " don't cry at me". Mum has got a bit better, but it was hard at the beginning to talk to someone who was more upset than me. Not that I am not upset, but you know what I mean......

Anyhow, my afternoon ended rather astoundingly and amazingly.

Not only did I get to see the lovely Rachel and her children, but she and several others had organise the most incredible surprise - a hamper full not only of delicious home made and locally acquired produce, but many many other lovely gifts to help keep me sane and occupied. Including the rather fantastic iPad on which I am now blogging.

As you know from my blogs, I never use five words if twenty will do, but I was utterly speechless today.

I feel so lucky to have such an amazing group of friends, and I am so touched that they have been so generous and kind. My gast, as they say, has been well and truly flabbered. 

The only sad news to end the day on is that a mutual friend who has also been suffering from the fucking cancer, has got to have a major operation tomorrow. Hopefully she knows that we are all thinking of her and sending her tons and tons of vibes.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Weekend success

Well, we actually had a weekend - that's a good start.

Saturday - I managed to look after one child for the day. The biggest and I slobbed out and watched re-runs of Choccywoccydoodah for a couple of hours, then made cakes and managed to go for a very small walk - apparently it was too hot for a small girl to walk too far!

We got home and decorated a ton of cakes, with madam trying to sculpt people and things from fondant icing. Impressive for one small girl who is not yet 4yrs of age!

Later on in the afternoon we're playing in the garden when my husband's adopted sister arrives with her daughter. We don't get on that well - have nothing in common, nothing more dramatic than that, and it is very awkward (for me) as I do not want her to know about what I have been going through otherwise it will be all over facebook, then round the village etc..... I don't think that my mother in law will say anything. I'll be furious if she does though.

It is made even more awkward later on when our vet and his wife, who we have known for years arrive with a big bunch of flowers for me. I quickly take the round the corner so it isn't obvious. At least, I hope it isn't. 

Today's Sunday and I dare not ask whether anyone has told her my news. 

Apparently I'm becoming quite possessive about it - now the operation has actually happened I'm coming out of denial (damn damn damn) and down to earth with a bit of a thump.

We did have a lovely day today though.

More cooking with the biggest child, who also has cystitis which is hard work - not only does she feel rough, but she's trying to put up with me trying to force liquids into her. Thank God she is easily bribed with chocolate, Choccywoccydoodah and Fireman Sam!

Mid morning, and my husband and smallest child arrive back in the house, so there is time for a quick snack then we go out for a walk - both children need a nap as we are going to have a picnic later with friends, so they'll be running around like loons for a few hours - they need their rest now.

The weather is amazing - you have to hand it to me, my timing for a break was inspired weather wise!

Lovely long walk, children nap, we talk, and no buzzards. This is a relief - I was beginning to get quite a complex about it! 

Later on we do manage to go for a picnic and have a fab time. On the whole the children are very well behaved, but are shattered by the time we get home. It was lovely to spend some time with my son, finally. I hate how little I have seen him in the last 9 days. It also hurts that he has so much fun with everyone else, apart from me. I know he loves me, there's no doubt of that, but because he knows he can't rugby tackle me, he has backed off a bit and is favouring everyone else. I can't play as much as I could before the operation, and it must be confusing for him. Soon, then I'll be able to rough and tumble like we usually do.

Fortunately, two exhausted children are in bed by 7pm which means my poor husband can get back to work (he's still there now at 10.30pm), and of course, I can try and catch up with this blog, which I have just about managed.

Sorry if it's rushed. I hate writing in the past tense all the time and I want to get everything down on paper before I forget it all.

Tomorrow, I have a busy day. Builders/plumbers arriving at 8am to do some repairs to the house, GP appointment at 11am, and lots of notes to write and questions to think of before I get there.

I also have a friend popping in in the afternoon - she's driving from Reading to see a relative fairly close by, which is a bit of a fluke, so I'm delighted to say she is going to see us too. 

I have such a long list of things to ask the GP. A list is definitely a good place to start. 

In the meantime, I'm hoping for some sleep. The youngest slept from 7.30pm last night until a bit before 5am, which is pretty much sleeping through in my book - it would be better if he slept until 6am, but hey, small steps - he isn't yet two!!!!

Bearing in mind my angst about my son not wanting to play with me as much, perhaps I should relish those midnight cuddles, as and when they are asked for? 

My children are growing up incredibly fast, and I won't be having any more babies.


What's under the bandage?

Phew. Thursday. Bandage off day.

Today, due to a necessary chiropractic appointment, I will actually get to see my husband for a few hours. We're off to the GP's to see a nurse at 2pm, then the Chiropractor at 3.15pm and hopefully time to fit in a quick grocery shop en route.

The dressing has started to annoy me now - there is a tiny bit of swelling and it is feeling tight.

So, in I go to see the nurse and my GP is waiting. She saw that I had an appointment booked and wanted to come and say hi. I am hugely flattered, and very very touched.

Our conversation is only very brief, more of a quick "hi, how are you, sorry you've got cancer" than the in depth conversation I have planned for Monday 10th. Still, it is nice to have been thought of.

The nurse appears to remove the dressing and I confess I'm rather worried about it. We agree that if I start feeling queasy she will stop, and potentially help me to do it myself. It sounds daft but it might be easier for me to do it, I'm really quite nervous.

I lie down on the bed, and we start to remove the outer waterproof dressing. I feel a bit sick, but actually it comes off without any fuss.

The nurse pops back to her desk to check the computer system to see if there are any instructions for post operative care. Apparently, she also used to work with Mr Pain at the local private hospital  (apparently he has a really large family and used to take some of his children to work with him on occasion) so has plenty of experience in this area. Good to know.

I chance a quick look as I'm still lying down. The wound is still covered up. I'm totally confused until I remember that there are steri-strips on top of the dissolveable stitches. Ugh. Have these got to come off too now? They look pretty stuck on to me.

I can't tell you how relieved I am when the nurse says that she would rather apply another water poof dressing until next week - she thinks it is too early to remove the steri-strips. 

No argument from me.

Another waterproof dressing goes on, an appointment is booked for Tuesday (apparently the GP can't or won't remove the dressing on Monday)  and off I run. Such a chicken.

We whizz off to the Chiropractor, having quickly purchased a few groceries to get us through the week.

I go in with my husband whilst he is being adjusted, as the Chiropractor, Tom also sees me and treated me for whiplash back in May/June/July. I confess that we have been a bit busy since he last saw me and tell him the reasons why. Better he knows now, rather than put him on the spot next time he is treating me/my back. I also want to know if he or his colleagues and recommend someone for lymphatic massage, which might help keep my right arm normal. He doesn't know anyone off the top of his head, but has some handy hints for dealing with the cording, which has been a bit of an issue. Stretching and massage apparently, so at least I know I am doing the right thing.

One thing I didn't expect was to feel upset after telling Tom. He's not someone I see that often, therefore  falls into the bracket of someone I'd feel safe to tell. Normally. That was pre-op. Perhaps my thoughts have changed.

Oh god. How the hell am I going to cope with seeing people who know me really well, and my parents. They all know I've had a breast removed. Frick.

This is so irrational. Everyone knows that women have two breasts - we take it for granted. Why the fact that I now only have one is an issue, I don't know.

It is such a personal thing though. What are people looking at - do they somehow know I've got a falsie in my empty bra?

I have a horrible feeling that seeing people in the real world, outside my nice little cocoon that I suddenly seem to be growing used to, is going to be harder than I thought.

Yet another reason to have the reconstruction I suppose?

Random musings

I have too much on my mind. Can you tell??!!

On Thursday I should have the dressing removed. I'm going to be able to see the scar for the first time. I'm going to have to actually look at it. There will be no hiding the fact that I have had a breast removed.

More questions from my daughter have not helped. 

"Mummy, where has your boob gone, I can't remember?" 

And repeat.

I don't want to scare her, so try and move on as swiftly as possible. I certainly cannot possibly cry in front of the children, it would not be fair.

The kids are actually being lovely, all in all. Very gentle, including my son who will probably play rugby for school one day. Feeding him is, I'm pleased to say, not impossible. It's only morning and night, but at a time when everything seems so out of control, it is a relief to have something normal to fall back on.

In the mood to confront my fears, I get the camera out and photograph my chest with bra and falsie, with bra and no falsie, and the mastectomy wound itself, still with dressing on. 

What I am hoping is that when I eventually get round to reconstruction, I'll be able to look back at these photos and see how far I have come. 

There is a long way to go in the meantime though.

Thursday bandage/dressing off. The following week I might get my results. I've had an appointment confirmed at the hospital for  Wednesday 12th September at 11.10am. I am fully expecting it to be cancelled on Tuesday after their departmental meeting - it is unlikely that the lab will have had time to thoroughly go through the lump itself for signs that the cancer has spread, and of course, they have to test all of the nodes that they removed as well.

I really really want this appointment to be on the 19th. Please don't rush it. Please check everything twice. Please don't miss anything. 

I just want to be able to get my life back on track. Everything is on hold.

My brother in law is getting married again (yay) in Australia. There's no way we can all go (someone has to stay behind and look after the farm), but I know my husband would love to go. He could take the biggest child with him - she would love to meet her cousins. There's no way we can decide at the moment though, not until we know my results.

We don't have to wait long. Worst case scenario we wait 13 days to decide if he can go - well, from a cancer point of view anyway. Whether he actually goes or not for reasons entirely farm related is another thing. If he can't go because of me though, my guilt will go to a whole new level.

I know it is daft, and I know what I would tell someone else in my shoes, but I don't have the power or the energy to be objective right now. At least my parents in law will be able to go - my husband staying behind would give them the ability to be there for several weeks.

The other thing on my mind is reconstruction.

I know I want to have it, I can't live with this flat chest, but it is far more major surgery than a mastectomy. I'll be in hospital for 7 - 10 days and off work for longer. How on earth am I going to mentally cope with that?

Can I be "selfish" enough to do it for myself? 

Am I brave enough to do it full stop?

One of the things I want to talk to my GP about next week I will no doubt have to repeat with the consultant, but I need to know what my chances of it spreading, or having spread are.

Should I have my ovaries removed? We're pretty damn sure that we have finished having children - even before this all started. Ovaries produce oestrogen, which "feeds" cancer, if you can pardon my very rough medical terminology/understanding.

When I do have reconstruction, I'm pretty sure that I want the other breast removed/replaced at the same time. It's a big decision though, and will they do it?

I should really start making notes for my appointment(s). There is a lot to talk about.

Hovering buzzards......

Monday comes around very quickly, and we drop the children off to nursery for 8am. I let the nursery manager know what has happened (they knew I was going to have an op but not why/what), and tell them what we have told the children about the poorly boob etc. Just as well, as the first words out of my darling daughters mouth were "Mummy has had an operation on her chest".....

Bugger. Hopefully no one was listening as I really don't want everyone to know. 

A quick trip to the local supermarche and the GP's later, to book appointments for taking dressings off, for a general chat with my GP (nothing in the same week of course, let alone the same day), and various vaccinations for the children (also on different days.....sigh), and I'm back at home, ensconced on the sofa, feeling like I've had 50 go's on the merry-go-round. How the hell I can have overdone it with a quick trip out in the car (I'm not driving, fortunately), I do not know. 

This is bloody annoying, but at least I know what I'm doing for the rest of the morning - drinking lots and hoping the feeling goes away. It is probably low blood pressure, or just the effects of the GA. On the plus side, my guilt has been slightly assuaged for now.

I eventually manage a walk around the farm later on and by heck it is hot. I'm also followed for about a mile and a half by a pair of buzzards, which gives me the creeps.

The rest of the day is fairly unusual - dozing, reading, putting children to bed, and for the first time since my op, a proper sit down with my husband. Much better. 

I have not confessed my temporary insanity, but he clearly knows I'm a bit fragile. I avoid getting teary as quite frankly, I don't think either of us need that right now.

Tuesday and Wednesday blur into one (with a repeat of the buzzard incident on Wednesday!!), other than the fact I chat to my boss on Tuesday and he informs me if I turn up at work, even on Auction day I'll be evicted. I feel slightly relieved, but still full of guilt as I know that someone else is having to pull my weight as well as their own.

I go singing with a friend (choir practice) on Tuesday night, which is lovely. I nearly didn't go - I looked in the mirror when I got dressed and didn't see myself. I felt scared of going out, as if people might magically know what I've had done. In a way this spurs me on - I cannot allow myself to get trapped at home in a little bubble. I've got to get out.


Right. I've worked out what my problem is. (Other than cancer and being an idiot).


I'm not at work = guilt for not being there therefore others have to take up the slack. If I felt worse I would not feel as bad. It feels like I'm having a run of duvet days and skiving.

I'm not capable of looking after the children when they aren't at nursery (can't lift, and I am shattered and grumpy) = guilt because either my husband, mother in law, or friends have got to take over. Have I mentioned that I'm a control freak?

I would really like some alone time to get my brain around the whole cancer and losing a breast issue, but I feel guilty as hell for not asking my mother to come and stay, but I genuinely feel constant company will not help. The many phone calls with mum in tears really don't help either.

I would love to see more of my husband, but he's working daft hours to keep the farm up and running, trying to be in for supper and bed times so I don't have to try and do it on my own, then going back out to work until 10pm. I can't ask him to take an afternoon off to spend with me, as that wouldn't be fair as he would have to work even harder the next day to compensate, which he has had to do so much recently anyway to take me to hospital because of the fucking cancer related stuff and I would have been too sore and upset to drive myself. 

Sorry, but I did tell you when I started this blog that I might not always be very polite.

I genuinely do not know how I can work through my guilt. There is nothing I can do about it for now, but I'm struggling to deal with it. I usually have an certain amount of guilt hovering over my head for not being a full time mum, but at the moment it is multiplied by about a thousand.

I keep trying to remind myself it is just a blip, just temporary, but what if it isn't? What if the cancer has spread? What if I have to have Chemotherapy, RT or hormone treatment? How much is that going to change our lives and what effect will it have on the children?

How did I get in this mess in the first place?

How am I going to get out of it?

It's all down to luck, I suppose.

Perhaps I had better give myself a talking to, and remember just how lucky I am to have been diagnosed at all. I nearly didn't make that call to the GP in the first place.

One thing they don't tell you about when you get the cancer diagnosis, is that temporary insanity follows shortly thereafter. At least, I hope it's only temporary......

Patience is a virtue.....

......and one that, apparently, I don't have!

I'm not a good patient. The downside of feeling well is that you're not allowed to do anything, despite feeling like you can. 

The children are being looked after by my wonderful mother in law, allowing my husband to go to work. All day. 

He is of course waiting on me too, making sure I've got enough to eat and drink, making sure I don't break my neck in the shower...... why I am such a grumpy sod I do not know.

In desperation, I order some wool and crochet hooks - perhaps keeping my hands busy will help?

Eventually, I make myself cross enough to go and put my boots on so I can at least have a walk and clear my head. I only walk about 1.5miles, but I am shattered. Feeling slightly better for stretching my legs but nervous because it has made my arm swell up (risk of Lymphedema due to having nodes removed), I finally relax and chill out on the sofa watching all the episodes of Celebrity Masterchef I have recorded all week.

I really need to sort my brain out, otherwise it is going to be a long two weeks.

I mention to my husband that I might be able to go to work in a couple of days. He doesn't say much but tells me that not only will I have to find the car keys first, but that we might fall out quite badly.

Therefore, I realise I'm grounded. Entirely for my own good, I do know that, but I just feel so frustrated with my body, and my mind. Why can't I switch off? 

At the end of the day, I also know how lucky I am to be getting off so lightly, and try try try to pull myself together.

The morning after......

Smallest woke at about 5am which is pretty good for him. I'm not feeling at all like I've just had an operation, so we all go downstairs and I gingerly sit on my favorite cozy armchair and feed him. 

Not only is breastfeeding good for the child, but it is also good for the mother. Something normal - a nice warm cuddle with my son is just what is in order. 

Although I feel fine, I take my morning dose of painkillers - there's no point being a hero, and the anti inflammatories are, I think, a must. The Breast care nurse has told me that I could swell quite badly if I do too much, something I am very anxious to avoid. Something called a "Seroma" can form - basically a build up of lots of fluid, which might then have to be removed at the doctors via syringe. Ugh. No thank you.

I am frankly shocked at how good I feel - physically speaking. Skepticism/Cynicism pays off once again! 

My husband pops out to work on the farm shortly after making sure I eat some cereal, taking the youngest with him, and whilst watching celebrity masterchef and after checking in with the DW Mafia, a nap was most definitely in order.

From recollection, I napped most of the morning, which is heaven - it is something I never get to do.

When my husband next comes in I take a shower and we check the wound together - all fine, no swelling, bruising or leaking. Good. 

I'm quite an active person and am desperate to go for a walk, so with a bit of help getting my boots on I do actually manage to go for a small stroll. A relief for the body and soul.

Other than calling round various family and friends to let them know I'm okay, that is about all there is to say about my first day at home, other than crushing tiredness is a bit of an issue which is most likely a hangover from the GA and my 4 week "nesting" spree.

The biggest child arrives home at about 3pm, and I am relieved to find out that our lovely friend, who has had her for the last 2 days, has told her that I have had an operation, so she has to be very gentle and not hug me too hard.

The most exciting and intruiging thing for said child is the fact that I have a plaster over where the cannula went in.

Just as I think I have avoided an interrogation, in she goes. I have been dreading this.

"Mummy, where have you been, why did you have an injection, what's wrong with your chest?"


So, I try out our pre-planned "party line".

"Mummy had a poorly boob, so the clever doctors did an operation and took it off".

I was not prepared for a simple "Okay", but I shall accept it for how. I have no doubt that there will be more questions, particularly if I am seen in the shower/getting changed. As anyone who has children knows, there is no such thing as privacy any more.

The rest of the day passes fairly uneventfully. An early night is in order. I don't recall the last time I was this tired - I can't even blame the children this time!

Saturday, 8 September 2012

D - Day Part three

Part three? Sorry, hope I'm not waffling too much. 

So, I wake up, which is a Good Thing. My fear of GA's is all related to not waking up.

Also, I'm not shaking - the only other time I've had a GA and also when I had an epidural with the biggest child, I got the shakes which was horrid.

No shaking, and I'm alive. Wrong order, but you know what I mean. 

There's a nurse chatting to me, and I eventually tune in. I ask the time and find out it is 1.10pm. Quite a decent nap then. Result. 

I ask whether they took any extra nodes out (which was being done if the Sentinel Lymph node test came back positive) other than what was planned - just the axillary nodes, and the answer is no - so far so good, with the normal caveat that it will be another week or two before we know for sure. Huge relief for now though.

I ask if someone can call my husband to let him know I'm okay, and the nurse leaves me for a moment to do it. This gives me time to get my bearings and try to assess whether I can feel anything. I'm a bit sore, so when I'm asked if I'd like my paracetamol and ibuprofen it is a resounding yes. I usually hate taking painkillers but figure this is a special occasion.

We have a lovely chat in general about what I do work wise (I'm an auctioneer, if you hadn't already gathered) and I'm delighted to be able to give some advice whilst I'm there, about house clearance and what is saleable/not saleable.

Finally today I feel like I'm doing something useful.

After about 30mins or so the nurse looks at my wound (I'm choosing not to look at this point) and I am deemed fit to go down to the ward, and am wheeled through the maze of corridors that makes up our local hospital. It's amazing how people don't look at you when you're on a bed though. Really odd - no one makes eye contact at all. 

Another excellent result is that I'm put in a private room and I have a great view out of the window to the main entrance. People watching is always good fun.

Yet another nurse comes to see me - it seems it is just her and I for a while, so we have a nice chat, she gets me some yoghurts and crisps as I am starving, and I drink the better part of a jug of water. After about 45mins she comes back, has a look at my wound - it isn't bleeding or weeping. My blood pressure is also checked, and it's a bit low but nothing to worry about.

I chance a quick look this time and it isn't as bad as I thought it was going to be. Everything is completely covered up so no blood in sight. It is a bit flat though, but then, what on earth else did I expect?

Right, so time to get up, and I'm helped to the loo and have to pee in a cardboard container so they can check that I am in working order. I nearly flood the damn thing, and therefore pass with flying colours.

I don't fancy getting dressed quite yet so settle down to read my book and promptly fall asleep. About an hour later a totally different nurse comes in to check my blood pressure again - it's still low, but I've been asleep so pretty normal. Wound not weeping or bleeding, so I'm left in peace again.

I think by this time it is about 3.30 and when I am next checked on I ask for help to get up so I can go for a wander. I do a few laps of the ward but am a bit wobbly, so sit down for a bit. 

Apparently I can go home whenever I like, subject to having a chat with Mr Pain first, but I give my husband a buzz and we decide he will put the smallest child to bed at 6 ish before then coming to pick me up. As it is, visiting hours are 2-4pm then 6-8pm so he can't come for ages anyway, even if I'm not allowed out.

I also ring my parents, and answer a few lovely text messages. Whilst people watching, I can't help but notice the surprising number of people wearing dressing gowns and surgical stockings that are wandering around the hospital entrance smoking. Including, to my disgust, one fairly heavily pregnant woman. 

One of the nurses walks in and catches me swearing under my breath so enquires why. We both decide that I shouldn't really throw anything out of the window....

Around 4.30 - 5pm ish Mr Pain comes for a quick chat. He's pleased with how everything went, and confirms I'm allowed home. I feel a bit cheated by the fact it was a very short conversation bearing in mind the build up I've had over the last few weeks, but console myself with the fact that nothing he saw today warranted a long in depth chat, so I start counting my lucky stars instead.

The next nurse through the door gets collared to help me get dressed which means the cannula can finally be taken out as well. Phew. I hate the bloody things. 

Proper clothes feel like heaven and I take a few more spins around the ward, much to everyone's entertainment. 

Apparently I am very vain though. Shortly after I got dressed, Kit, my breast care nurse popped in to say hi, and deliver two "softies" - bra fillers in other words. I am feeling very flat, so pop one in my crop top. Looking at myself fully clothed in the mirror, you'd never know. This is reassuring - so many people know I am going to lose/have lost a breast - at least I can fool most of the rest of the world.

I can't see the lady I went down to the Nuclear department with when I'm on one of my walks, and when I ask I find she has gone to another ward, which is a shame. I was going to pop in and say hi - she looked even more nervous than I was. 

After a while, I am visited by dishy Jnr doctor, and enthusiastic Jnr doctor. They are both slightly crestfallen that I have already seen Mr Pain which means they are too late to give me any news! However, they are both very thorough and nice, so having exchanged smalltalk, they check my wound, and away they go, after giving me a sick note for 2 weeks.

I've been lucky enough never to have been given/had to ask for a sick note before. Perhaps I should have had it made out to me rather than my employer? I am not good at relaxing. Perhaps now is going to be the time to learn?

At 6 or so, I pass up the chance to have supper as I'm on a promise - Chinese takeaway tonight, as a reward for making it to the end of the week. 

Just before 7pm I sign all my release notes, so am free to go whenever my husband arrives, which is about 7.30pm.

Never has a (gentle) hug felt so so good. 

Free to go, I say good bye to the wonderful nursing staff and saunter out of hospital, feeling slightly more dazed and confused than when I went in, but otherwise okay. I'm dosed up on drugs and can honestly say from a physical point of view, I can't feel a thing, "it" feels fine, and my arm is no worse than it was before.

Mentally, I have no idea how I'm feeling. I'll work that one out over the next few weeks. Denial is a lovely place - I might have to move there permanently.

Sitting in the car park, we order Chinese which is going to take over an hour, so we have time to stop at the pub on the way home. My husband is rather horrified, but quite frankly, he deserves a quick half pint, and I really fancy a cold coke.

When in the bar I suddenly realise that I still have my wrist and ankle tags on (as well as the fetching stockings which I have to keep on overnight). I ask the barman for a pair of scissors and remove them, which gets me a few funny looks. I explain that I've not escaped from the asylum which gets a few laughs and everyone settles back down.

By the time we get home it is about 9pm, so we eat, and enjoy the fact that the smallest child behaved beautifully for Grandma. By 10pm, we're both falling asleep, so I check my wound, and show my husband, so he can also provide an opinion as to whether or not it swells much in the next few days. Nothing has changed, so I shelve all my thoughts about it for another day.

Sleep is desparately needed - I'm quite "full" having not fed the smallest all day, and I don't quite know how I am going to go about it when he does wake.

Deep breaths and small steps.