Following my outpatient apt I finally went back home. My drains were out and although we knew it wouldn’t be easy (as I had limited uses) it was a long time for me to be away from the kids and Will and I was keen to get back to some kind of normal – whatever that meant! I found out quickly that I was pretty useless on a practical level around the house. Even if I wanted to help (which I tried to instinctively do on occasion) I physically wasn’t anywhere near able. I also had Mr Turton’s voice in the back of my mind saying not to do anything, rest, reconstructions can fail if you do too much etc etc. ARGHHHH!!!!!! Very frustrating but I knew I had to be patient and listen to my body. I could however feel the mobility creeping back into my arms and shoulders on a daily basis – my problem I know will be to not get too cocky about it!
Things you take for granted when you can’t pull, push, lift, twist, bend, stretch very well AND what to do about it:
- Getting out of bed – I can’t sleep upright anymore like in hospital so I’ve gone down to two pillows. The problem is now that I struggle to get out of bed in the morning and often get stuck on my side as I try and roll out often looking like some crazed insect! This of course is usually greeted with ridicule by my loved ones (and me!) so I usually just persevere or if I’m really stuck someone will push my back up slowly from the bottom.
- Putting your shoes on – slip ons are the best. I’ve needed another person for boots but I’m going to treat myself to a shoe horn today so I can do it all by myself 😉
- Wiping your bum – sorry had to get this one in but it’s true and pretty tricky. I’m getting there as my twisting is getting better!
- Washing and brushing your hair – you need another person period. I cannot get up there at the moment. At least I won’t have this problem for too much longer 😂 🥔
- Reaching for things located above shoulder height – my arms are incredibly stiff/painful if I reach too high. More so on my left arm where I had some lymph nodes removed. Archie has luckily said I can use his “big boy” step which at least gets me to the first shelf in the kitchen – ha!
- Making a brew – kettles are too heavy, milk from the fridge too heavy, teabags are too high up, ARGH!! Will makes sure there’s a small amount of water in the kettle, milk is decanted into a small milk jug, teabags are now on the windowsill. 👍
- Getting into a car and putting on a seatbelt – this was both painful and painfully slow at first. It is the area of biggest improvement. I tend to grab the seatbelt before I sit down and getting out hasn’t required any one to push me out for a week 🤣.
- Driving – I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this legally anyway. You’re not insured by the DVLA for 6 weeks following a double mastectomy with lymph node removal and with good reason. There’s no way I’d have the strength to work the gears with my left arm in our skoda estate. So a chauffeur it is for now.
- Pushing the pram – I can push the pram if it’s empty as it’s very lightweight but there’s no way if Elsie’s in it as she’s a little chunk at the minute. This is one of my biggest frustrations because before my op Will would drop the kids off at nursery and I would pick them up and walk the short distance home. I can’t do that at the minute and so again someone has to help with pickups ☹️.
- Picking Elsie up – if you’ve read my previous blogs you’ll know my biggest upset is not being able to pick up Elsie. Well in addition I also can’t feed her for very long and I certainly can’t put her down in her cot. Luckily she’s on the move and has just started to stand so we can have a cuddle if I sit down on the floor and she stands up. If she lifts her arms to be picked up I just sit down on the floor and she’ll come crawling over 😍. It’s a lovely compromise until I get my strength back.
- Cooking – I can’t lift the pans as they’re too heavy and so I can’t do any proper cooking but I can make things on toast and snacks for the kids in the evening at least. I’m also not great at cutting food. Our Yvonne had to cut my gammon steak up when I went for tea the other night as I just didn’t have the strength and it was too painful. Everyone had a good laugh about it of course 🤣
Elsie is only 10 months so doesn’t really know what’s going on. She’s a born social butterfly (which worries me for her teenage years) and is loving the convaybelt of people staying and visiting the house. For me the most important things is that I am present, I am back home now and she hasn’t forgotten me which was my main concern – silly as that may sound.
Archie is completely different. He does know what’s going on because we’ve told him. Not that I have cancer as he has no concept of what that is, but does Mummy have a poorly boobie? Yes she does. He’s just turned 3 and understands being poorly and doctors, hospitals, medicine etc. They also pick up when something’s not right which is why we told him “Mummy’s got a poorly boobie and I’m going into hospital to have an operation to make me better. I won’t be in hospital for long. It’ll take me a while to properly get better at home but I’ll be taking lots of medicine”. Upon telling Archie this he said “what’s the name of your doctor Mummy” closely followed by “do you want a cuddle” and then “does Daddy want a cuddle?”.
Will and I were of course having a good cry by this point. There’s no getting around the emotional impact something like this has on you. It’s unpredictable, honest and often incredibly uncomfortable and is certainly the most challenging thing emotionally both Will and I have had to deal with. But never mind all this stiff upper lip bollocks. It’s always better out then in. It does make you feel better and is an essential part of the process. We’re just so lucky and proud with how Archie has been dealing with everything throughout this period – it really could have gone either way. But we’ll see – we’re only half way through the process yet!
Archie does ask me every morning if my boobies are now better and if we can wrestle yet. To which he sighs when I say no and he gives me a big cuddle – at least I’m getting more cuddles. He’s also turned into a mini bodyguard telling people to be careful if they go in for a hug. Ha ha! That’s our boy 😍.
When I returned home from my parent’s house it was clear there was a well oiled machine in place on the home front. Cooking, cleaning, washing, kids nursery drop offs and pick ups, night feeds, timetables for who was staying over when, kids morning and evening routines etc etc. Of course there was an incredible amount of support from our family but Will was at the helm keeping everything coordinated and knitted together, whilst making sure the kids were ok and now that I’m back making sure I’m ok. This is all whilst working full time I may add.
I don’t want to say too much here other than you so often hear about the person with the illness and rarely about the people propping them up figuratively and literally in my case at times. You are the engine rooms and at the heart of everything that surrounds that person at a time when they are at their most vulnerable. Will – I know you’ve always got my back and here’s to our 2018 road trip when this is all over ❤️❤️❤️