Deborah Blumfield's breast cancer diary. Part 3
PUBLISHED: 14:17 17 June 2010 | UPDATED: 17:21 20 February 2013
Breast cancer survivor Deborah Blumfield brings us up to date on her life after surgery
Saturday, July 19
Lovely to be free of the drains and Im just beginning to feel slightly more upright.Tummy still tight but very little discomfort otherwise.We started doing more e.g. Tescos for the papers, Great Barton to the butchers and mum treated me to lunch at the Beehive smoked mackerel salad which was excellent. Aaron had been playing cricket all day and Alex was with Adrian doing more cricket.
Sunday, July 20
We took Aaron to Ely Hockey Club for his level 1 coaching course and mum collected him in the afternoon while I rested/slept.Couple of friends popped in and when Alex came back we finished the game of Monopoly we had started on Friday.I was bankrupted to the tune of 1282 he had 4 houses on Mayfair! So unfair.
I also mooted the idea of a booklet about reconstructive surgery breast surgery as a thank you to the breast care nurses. Things like: how to improve the experience, what to expect etc. This was partly why I kept this diary and recorded thoughts and practical experiences
Tuesday, July 24
Aaron finished Lower 6th form at school today so fairly joyful.Alex and mum dog walked and later we collected the new bra and 2 pairs of size 12 passion killer knickers from M&S which had to be ordered in.Another project on my list of R&R ideas was to sort and file 20 years worth of photographs into albums so bought 2 albums.The weather has definitely improved and it is a pleasure to sit out and read, soaking up the warmth and fresh air.The stuffy room seems further and further away.
Wednesday, July 23
Collected a repeat prescription of Piriton and also got some Diprobase as the itching on my back, tummy and reconstruction are driving me mad.A couple of work colleagues popped in over lunch time which was nice and we caught up with the gossip.Aaron went to stay with a friend who earlier in the month had been very seriously ill with meningitis and was at home recovering.Alex was out playing up the road with his mate Luke all day. Mum and I washed the sofa covers and they all dried easily in the warm sunshine.We did have some summer this year!
Thursday, July 24
Mum took Alex to a mini-Olympics session and then Adrian took him to Copdock for an U10 county cricket match against Essex. Mum and I went to watch & collect him, Suffolk lost by 6 wickets.It was a fantastic hot day again and lovely to be able to walk around the pitch building up my stamina and gradually getting straighter.
The detailed diary stops here as I got more mobile and being much more active, the paper and pen were less of a captive audience!Over the next 4 weeks mum and I met up with friends from Woodbridge for lunch; I went every day to be with Alex while he did the Cecil and Larter tennis tournament in Bury; there must have been another cricket match or two; while Aaron completed his level 1 hockey coaching qualification, mum and I spent several lovely hours at the stained glass museum in Ely cathedral; a BBQ with Wendie and Peter; we met up with Kim for lunch; my dad and brother came up for the last w/e in July and we celebrated my parents 51st wedding anniversary with a huge meal in the Chinese Buffet. We did Kentwell Hall and spent an interesting hour learning about the Tudor kitchen. I even got out dog walking.My lovely friend Sian had sent a get well present of some Next vouchers what did I buy a top to show off my cleavage no less!
I saw Mr Morrison again on August 7and he felt it would beokay to drive again, though check with the insurance company.Freedom back!Mum stayed a couple of days extra just to make sure I wasokay and together we watched the fantastic opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics; the next two weeks were addictive TV!Over the bank holiday weekend Alex and I went to Gravesend to stay with old university friends and did Dover Castle, ate and drank well and had a great time.It was the longest drive I had done for a while and we got on just fine. Had to go back to work after that!Id had 6 weeks signed off work then took an extra week tagged on the end as the Olympics were so excellent!
I think I must have got upright after about 3-4 weeks and gradually built up my stamina again. The number of pillows was gradually reduced and how lovely to be able to sleep on my side again. The stool in the shower was removed as now the water would down my back when washing my hair, I was upright again.Reminds me of those time-line pictures illustrating the evolution of Homo Sapiens, as the ape turns into man and becomes upright!
I was doing things at my pace rather than trying to keep up with others initially.Having someone full time to cook, drive and shop etc took a lot of the strain off and meant a well-rested person recovers quicker than someone trying to do too much, too soon.Mums are great for that and it is to her I dedicate this diary, I couldnt have done it without her support,
Saw Mr Morrison and Sue, the reconstructive breast care nurse, everyone I think is thrilled with the progress.My scars are soft and fading Bio-Oil is great stuff! Massaged in twice a day for 3 months, then daily, I even think it has faded the radiotherapy tan a bit.
The next bit: The symmetry can be tidied up and with a nipand tuck in the remaining breast to make them both an A, buying bras will be easier.I have found that while the sport bras are okay, for evenness and to hide the bit of a hollow I have in the reconstruction, a padded bra does the trick wonderfully.Under-wired is out (the reconstruction is the wrong shape) which doesnt give you enormous choice.However, what you have to remember is that what you see from above is not the same as what someone in front of you sees.Most people would never know what I have been through, and yes I can go shopping and buy those lower cut tops and dresses if I wish.Mr M suggests waiting a year before disturbing the tissues thats fine by me; I can have some of the summer holidays at home with the boys.
TIPS FOR TACKLING RECONSTRUCTION SURGERY:
- If you cant find nightdresses with a long line of buttons that dont look like the ones old ladies wear, try maternity nighties.They are designed to get your boobs out and this is useful when being checked so regularly.PJ tops good for this too while confined to bed but youll need something to cover the bottom half when you get up.
- Ask for fruit in hospital, especially if you are used to a higher fibre diet.While the room is so warm you wont be able to keep fruit there so have fresh as often as you can, wish I had worked this out sooner!
- Put both drains in one bag to carry round, less to mess around with.
- Find a wrap round skirt or one split up the side while you have your drains in if you come home with them.
- When getting in/out of the bath shower, make sure you have 3 points of contact at all times to steady yourself.
- A small seat, plastic stool or step in the shower allows you both hands free to wash before you are completely upright, your drains get washed too, just pat dry.
- Make sure you have at least 7 pillows and experiment with how best to stack 5 to give support learn from the hospital staff. Two under your knees is essential. Gradually reduce the numbers as you stretch out.
- Sleep in the afternoon, its a great healer.Rest if you feel the need to, listen to what your body is telling you you know you the best.
- If you can find someone to live-in if you are single, or ensure the partner does everything to start with, you can join in with light chores later.Its strangely therapeutic to peel the potatoes and carrots!
- When researching what is to be done and the consequences, write your questions down youll never remember them all, note the answers.It helps make a viable decision whether you have a reconstruction done immediately or delayed.
- As a mother, think about yourself this once, it is amazing how folks will rally round and help, ask back for the support you have handed out over the years.
- Be religious with massaging in Bio-Oil, it really does work, worth every penny.
- Be aware your emotions will be on a rollercoaster, but if you have the facts and understand the benefits, youll be well able to handle them.Think positive and keep a sense of humour.
- Accept the fact the reconstruction it is not a duplicate of what was there before and enjoy the surprise of people when they realise what you have been through, their view from the front of you is not the same as yours.
- Remember your deodorant and body lotion
- When you get moving, do it slowly, sit on the bedside if need be and let your blood pressure equalise and your inner ear adjust for balance, theyve been lying down for 3 or so days!
- Buy your underwear before you go into hospital, keep the labels on and receipts so you can change easily if necessary.Firm Control Magic knickers are what you need so they come up over your tummy scars to protect and support them.An investment worth making and I did wear mine for 3 months and have used them since.Three pairs means youll have enough to wash and wear and if you wear your normal knickers underneath you may get away with 2 days wear
- Remember to go for a wee when wearing support knickers.As they hold you in, the stretch receptors in your bladder dont get as stretched to trigger that I need to go feeling as a couple of close calls.
- Dont allow visitors to overstay, they are more tiring that you realise initially.Lovely to see them but make it clear youve had enough now thank you!
- Prepare and freeze several days meals so that no one has to make too much of an effort when you first come home.
- Dont take loads of books into hospital; your powers of concentration are limited.Magazines are better and come with shorter articles.
- Chocolate is not good in warm environments.If you fancy some, ask a visitor to bring some.
- Flowers are banned on plastic surgery wards cards arent so make sure everyone has your hospital address before you go in!
I returned to Addenbrookes Hospital so that Mr Morrison could tweak the shape of the reconstruction a bit.It was elliptical so he tightened it up to make rounder. I also had the right breast reduced and lifted a mastopexy so the sizes are a bit more even, not that they were that far apart anyway! Again all went well, mum came to the rescue and I was only off for 2 weeks.
Lipo-filling this is where subcutaneous fat is sucked out, cleaned and then squirted back into the cavity, in my case, the lower portion of the reconstruction.We had a laugh, as being a size 12 there wasnt a lot to work with!!Anyway, there are 4 outcomes that can happen with lipo-filling: infection, lumps appear, the fat disperses or it works.My philosophy was, if I dont try Ill never know, nothing to lose, lets give it a go.Mine worked to some extent, much did disperse, but overall the result is great.
Update. 3 months before the next consultation to discuss next move, more lipo-filling and nipple construction.I think straight to the latter, you could go for ever getting it perfect, what is more important living life to the full or having more time off work to achieve a little improvement? Think I know the answer now.
Being a single mum has had its challenges in dealing with this, and now another hurdle has been jumped.Way back in April 2006, you think, what a man will think about my body with scars and a history that frightens many people!Truth is, any man worth his weight will understand and accept you for what you are; yes, there is a man in my life, and ironically he lost his first wife to breast cancer.
I feel so lucky to be here and having had a mammogram last month and seen the breast consultant, will be signed off next year where have the last 4 years gone? Living life to the full is the answer.