Wednesday, 21 September 2011

I did it ...

I've had an emotionally charged day today. This post is, in a way, a follow on to I can't stop crying. I still can't stop crying.
I had a telephone interview this morning with an adviser from Occupational Health. I had reservations about my dealings with them, at the beginning, but today she was great. Our conversation persuaded me that the crying had gone on long enough, has been embarrassing enough and is sufficiently unpredictable that Something Had to be Done. To this end she recommended I seek counselling. I have always prided myself on being a coper, a mopper up of the tears of others. I have got through bereavements, marital break-up, illness in others, homelessness, unemployment in self and others, four house moves in six years - me, I thought I was indestructible. How wrong. It appears I have dealt with none of it properly. The race pell mell through surgery and treatment left me no time to reflect properly. I either felt too ill, or unwilling to pause, to reflect, to work through all the Stuff.

And now, I've had to do one of the hardest things ever, for me, and admit I need help. I left a message with my Macmillan Nurse L. this morning after I spoke with Occupational health. She rang this afternoon, we talked things over. She was unsurprised at how I'm feeling. The upshot is that I have been referred to the Hospital Clinical Psychologist, employed by Oncology services. L. said some people have one appointment and find out that they are actually coping well. Great news. Others, she said need much more support. Oh, I said.
L. knows there is a lot of Stuff I have not dealt with, but in her deliciously calm and soothing north eastern accent, she reassured me that no, my world had not imploded but that I need more help than she can give me.
Astonishingly, to me, I feel a million times better now, still weeping for England. I don't have to manage on my own. Shame it had to be cancer that brought me to my senses.

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

From the heart

I made this heart from the words of my blog - interesting isn't it?   I made it using Tagxedo

Sunday, 11 September 2011

So, why am I crying?

I am an emotional wreck at the moment. I keep crying over the most ridiculous things. As I have told people, someone only has to look at me sideways and the bottom lip goes. Returning to work this week has been a challenge. Everyone is being wonderful, but some parts have been quite overwhelming. So much to remember and so much, potentially to do! I am my own worst enemy in that if something metaphorically has my name on it, I like it to be excellent!

I know I was not at my best for the half year I taught in the last academic year. As I discovered, my cancer was already taking its toll on my body. I was utterly exhausted all the time and was finding it hard to manage stuff at home, giving all my energy to work.
My tearfulness shows no rhyme or reason. However, having talked things over with a few people, I can now see why I might be so emotionally fragile. Ever since I had my surgery, and started my treatment, I have just kept going, I have not allowed myself many tears. This was largely because I was afraid if I really got going I would not be able to stop! I have made myself be strong, and of course, every three weeks I was getting lots of support in the chemo unit. Now, no more chemo unit and to be quite honest, I've been strong for long enough. I have got to deal with my emotions. I've got to deal with something like a bereavement. I've lost a chunk of my life and in a way I have lost my innocence. I knew nothing of what a human body can endure before all this except through childbirth, and now I've been changed forever.
While essentially I am the same Ali, my outlook on life has shifted. Things that used to bother me no longer do. Those things that irritated me often don't matter at all. However, some things that I took in my stride do now reduce me to tears. I have many 'for heavens sake' moments at MYSELF. I'd give anything not to lose words while having conversations. I'm hoping this improves over time. I have no doubt that some of my tears are due to frustration. Frustration that I'm not yet strong enough to complete tasks like I used to be able to, frustration that my stamina has not yet returned.

The sensible part of me knows I am being totally unreasonable. The child in me says why not be unreasonable after all you have been through! The adult in me says 'Grow up!'

I do know that in time, I'll stop crying, my frustrations will ease, and I'll stop feeling so cross with myself. Until then, please stand by with the tissues...

Thursday, 8 September 2011

A necessary evil...

A few weeks ago I got a summons from the Breast Screening service at the local hospital. At the time I thought it was yet another belt and braces check ordered by my Oncologist. I was not best pleased, but it fell on a none working day, so I had no excuse to avoid it. The thought of the mammogram made me very nervous. My sister is four years on from breast cancer and we are awaiting genetic testing to check if our cancers are genetically linked. I have had enough of hospital and cancer and I am frightened that if they find breast cancer, I will have to endure more surgery and chemo to deal with ANOTHER dose of life threatening illness.

Today was the day. I drove to the hospital a bundle of nerves. I booked in and discovered that my appointment was a coincidence, it was just my turn for screening. My turn duly arrived and the lovely lady  manouvered my body and boob into possibly the most uncomfortable position she could, then she clamped my boob between the plates. That hurt. Then she screwed it down tighter and went off to take her picture. To be fair, it was only a few seconds of excruciating pain but it made me cry. I am feeling very vulnerable at present and am probably more susceptible to painful stimuli. I explained this to the radiographer and she was most sympathetic but nothing changed the fact I had to have three more pictures taken. Two of these required me to hold my breath. When all was done, the radiographer said she would check the quality of the pics before I left to avoid me getting a call back letter. I sat and waited, and my heart plummeted when she called me back. Sure enough I had to have two more pictures taken. If I thought the first ones had hurt, these were worse because my breasts were so tender from the previous procedures.

Now, ladies I don't want to put you off. These are life saving measures. Screening does mean that breast cancer can be caught early and treated effectively. I WILL attend in three years time. What I will say is that the means for screening MUST have been designed by a man. You will note that testicles are not monitored by being squashed VERY firmly between two blocks of plastic. I rest my case...

Friday, 2 September 2011

Wait and see...

Yesterday morning, I saw my Oncologist for my post treatment appointment. I had already had results from my scan and blood tests. There is no evidence of disease (NED) from the can and the blood test ca125 is a very healthy 12/13 - normal levels are from 0 -35. All this is very pleasing, for now, my disease has been dealt with. My Oncologist explained that for the next five years I would be monitored. They do NOT routinely scan or blood test ladies who have had ovarian cancer. Instead, I am expected to be vigilant about sustained changes in my body. If I notice something then I must contact my Macmillan Nurse as soon as I can, I will then be seen in clinic. I was also given a challenge by my Oncologist to reduce my weight before I next see her. My next official appointment is in three months.
There was one slightly scary part to my meeting yesterday. I was very unwell after my last chemo, the side effects were horrid. This evidently means that SHOULD I need chemo again, I will have to go to Northampton as an inpatient to have my treatment. Let's hope that does not happen. After the appointment Mr G and I headed out for another of our little road trips. We went to Market Harborough where we had a delicious lunch. I tried to enjoy it completely but unaccountably I found myself weepy and tearful. I think it had struck me that my watchfulness is going to have to be lifelong. This is daunting. I know I will process this and get on with my life in my usual full on way. Because I was teary, Mr G texted his Mum, (my Marmee) to ring me and talk to me. It was a joy to hear her tender voice counselling me to be calm and that I was not alone in all this. I almost immediately felt much better. We spent the afternoon at Foxton Locks,
this is one of our favourite places. We fed the ducks and enjoyed a cup of tea.
So, this is the end of treatment, my job now is to trim up, get active again. I am sure returning to work on Monday will get me more active! I shall be very busy. Go me!