Do you ever wonder if some higher power has it in for you?
I’ve seen John Edward a couple of times in London and used to watch his Crossing Over shows when we still had Sky TV! John believes that all events in our lives happen for a reason, to provide a lesson, to teach or guide us. If we die before our expected time, then it’s because we’ve completed all that we can on this earth- it’s time to go!
Obviously, we do this whilst providing a lesson to others on our way. If you think about it, while you’ve finished your journey, if it ends too early, it must affect others – so there must be a connected process between someone no longer needing to be on this earth and being able to provide a lesson to our loved ones at the same time. Or, do we all naturally need to learn that same lesson? What is it – one of humility, compassion, forgiveness, guilt, love… ? I suppose their death can provide a combination of lessons for any individual. Can we be saying that a person is put on this earth solely to provide the tools of teaching another individual!
Anyway, I digress. I can’t remember why I started writing this post – let me think… hmm… ah yes
With the amount of crap that hits the fan; how things start out going well then suddenly change course unexpectedly. Do you wonder then, that maybe, there’s something you’re just not grasping through life’s lessons? Otherwise, why would it keep going wrong? Surely there’s only so much crap a person can withstand before they crack and break, or is that the lesson?! If you keep questioning your own strength then you obviously haven’t learnt the lesson that you can cope with anything or is it that we need to realise that we’re not meant to do it all alone, that we need to use the support of others? Maybe we are put here to help another; therefore, need all the crap in order to understand what another person needs in terms of understanding and support.
This leads onto the well known question ‘If you could change anything about your life, what would it be?’. Surely then, to change one aspect of our lives is likely to have a knock on effect. For example, if I didn’t go for the job at my previous employment I wouldn’t have met my husband. The children I have now wouldn’t be here, nor would we have moved to our current location as that was my husbands idea. Therefore, I wouldn’t have found the friends I’ve made since. Then again,would I have met them anyway as it was pre planned, a requirement, a destined part of my life – a need to provide each other with a friendship, to be caring, understanding and provide support?
PLEASE CALL BACK ONCE SHE’S GOT HER SHIT TOGETHER
Up until then, he’d been in and out of hospital having various tests as he kept complaining of heart palpitations, knowing something wasn’t right. Yet they found nothing, all the tests were clear.
They were sitting in the caravan one afternoon, when he suddenly held his chest with a start. She called out to him, then screamed for help whilst trying to perform CPR. The neighboring van went over and helped with the husband carrying on the CPR until the ambulance crew arrived. They apparently continued the CPR into the ambulance; maybe to provide some comfort to her that something was being done even though he had died instantly.
When they arrived at hospital, she contacted mum who dropped our younger sister off at our flat to look after whilst they went to comfort her. I opened my futon for us to share expecting her to stay over for the night, she was only about four at the time. It was about an hour or two later that mum phoned to inform us that grandad had died, to which I set about watching the Lion King with our little sister to help her understand when I explained he wasn’t able to come back.
Grandad was taken to the funeral home round the corner to nan where mum told me should would be going to see him to pay her respects before his cremation. Unexpectedly, I asked if I could go along too. Through the whole experience I felt calm, detached from emotions – sad that he’d died but it didn’t seem to have the impact I was expecting. Maybe I was trying to be the hard, strong grown-up that I thought people expected and switching off came automatically to me.
We popped to the funeral home where they showed us to the room where he lay and left us alone. There was a very light mesh over his face which was very thin and see-through. I could see the foundation they’d applied to his skin but the main feature that stood out was the size of his nose. I hadn’t taken much notice of it before but it looked fairly large which I pointed out to mum and we both laughed. I lent over him, trying to soak up all his facial features. I felt an urge to kiss his forehead, to say goodbye but with the mesh there I wasn’t sure if that was allowed, if it was appropriate, and I was scared he may suddenly open his eyes if I did. We lingered for a while longer with me showing no real emotion, I’d drank in enough of his face and hair; I remembered his Navy tattoos on his arms, the couple of false teeth and the necklace he always wore – now worn by my mums baby brother (as he wasn’t actually her dad, although to me he was my grandad!)
As always, at the crematorium, I was calm, strong and emotionless until I turned to watch them as they started to carry his coffin through the doors. What happened next I had no control over – both unexpected by me and my family. I broke. My eyes swelled, my lips trembled immensely and I couldn’t breath. My shoulders hunched, they shuddered and my body shook as the tears fell down my face like a waterfall. I couldn’t stop and struggled to take breaths. I was a blubbering mess. I remember my sister holding me whilst exclaiming to mum that I hadn’t been like that at gramps funeral, but I suppose his death wasn’t unexpected and I’d managed to say goodbye before he died. On this occasion, one of the favourite men in my life had died unexpectedly and I felt guilty for not being there to save him.
Once back at the house I was still crying. I hugged my nan, telling her I wanted him back. At some point we got onto the subject of me visiting him at the funeral home which shocked her; maybe after all the days events it had finally hit with brute force. I don’t suppose many people expect a nineteen year old to want to visit a dead person, let alone someone like me who they always looked upon as ‘too sensitive’! However, I thought going to see him would allow closure, especially when I didn’t think I was feeling what others obviously were.
Every now and again, over the years, I would wonder if: had I been there, would I have been able to save him? – a feeling of anger and guilt even though the common sense part of my brain knows he had a heart attack that nothing I or anyone else could have done, would have saved him.
A little while after the funeral, I moved in with nan to keep her company for a year or two. Eventually when I moved out to my own place, I still went round once or twice a week with programmes I’d recorded for us to sit and watch together. Nan eventually moved on in her life by going to clubs and finding a new partner, but I still miss the old times; I can still here my grandads laugh.
When you open up enough to allow others to see what lies within, you fight darkness to leave the gates open.
Your thoughts fluctuate when you start antidepressants. You feel a false sense of security, that maybe everything will be okay but that’s followed by a huge gulf of emptiness as you sink deeper below the surface.
You start to float back up only to feel like someone is squeezing your chest, removing the air, trying to stop you from breathing. You jolt awake feeling as though you’re suffocating.
You bide time, waiting, hoping, praying for a let in the madness. Only you hit a wave where you realise maybe, just maybe, your gate should have remained closed. As salt burns your eyelids, you worry you’ve made a huge mistake leaving the gate unlocked.
When I was pregnant with our son, the effects were completely different to when I was pregnant with our daughter. During my first pregnancy I was climbing two stories of warehouse racking like a monkey or jumping across, between and over pallets of letterhead, envelopes and leaflets – all to the exasperated cries of colleagues ‘Jamie get down before you fall, you’re pregnant!’. Not that I couldn’t have fallen at any other stage in my career, yet for some reason, when you’re pregnant people become over protective for the life you’re carrying. However, with our son it was a whole lot different. Gone were the feelings of sickness where I had to snack non stop throughout the day to stop it, whilst the new girl looked on as if I was a pig. Of course we did inform her that I was pregnant after a few days of her sitting and staring, wondering how I could eat so much and put so little weight on.
Upon my visit to the clinic at twelve weeks, unbeknownst to me, I saw the head midwife. I was asked if there were any troubles or concerns. I had one: having been pregnant before this was mainly routine, only this time I had slight aches and twinges in my groin. The midwife told me this was all a normal part of pregnancy and likely to increase as the pregnancy progressed due to the hormones relaxing the ligaments. If it became too uncomfortable I was informed paracetamol would be appropriate to use.
Stupid that I was I never said another word. As it progressed I just remembered what I was told and kept reminding myself when I needed a pillow in between my legs at night that these straining pains were all normal. However, little did I know that although some women get them, it isn’t normal and generally support, monitoring, birth planning, and possibly a girdle is required. Careful delivery is required to support the pelvis and prevent the legs opening too wide putting strain on the joints.
Similar to my first pregnancy I was overdue – I went in for a sweep but nothing! The following evening about midnight I had a slight twinge and a pop to which I jumped out of bed extremely quickly, just in time for my waters to break and gush all over the bedroom floor. Lovely! Never having attended an antenatal class before, nor dealt with my waters breaking – in fact for my first pregnancy I was asked if my waters had already broken because when they tried, almost nothing came out. Id like to think that I’d have noticed a waterfall between my legs! Anyway, I digress – not knowing anything about waters breaking, I folded a tea towel and put that between my legs to catch any excess liquid, expecting it to be constantly leaking. Yes, you may roll your eyes at my stupidity and mock.
We got our daughter out of bed and drove her to my in-laws. My mother-in-law gave me a hesitant but unexpected hug and we were back on our way. We thought going around town on the motorway would be the quickest route but manged to get stuck in traffic due to roadworks – yes at midnight; lots of traffic! The contractions were increasing and panic was setting in so we phoned for an ambulance just in case. They were also stuck a way away so informed us to let them know if we managed to turn off before they got to us so they could be rerouted. Luckily, the inside lane started to move and we managed to get off back on our way to the maternity ward.
When we arrived, I waddled up to the reception desk with the towel still between my legs and informed one of the nurses. I received a look, a condescending speech about only requiring a small pad for the odd drip where she requested I remove the towel, handed it to her and she threw it into one of their bins. ‘Well, really! Its not as if they supplied me with a birthing manual!’ I was taken to a birthing room whilst being informed the birthing pool wasn’t available as it was already in use by another mother. I was offered a large birthing ball, being told it would speed up the delivery while reducing the pressure on the pelvis. I rolled and bounced in between each contraction which came in waves with extreme pelvic pain. I was given gas and air, although how much it worked I don’t know. It hadn’t worked at all during my first pregnancy, yet I’d resorted to an epidural after being in first stage labour for over 48 hours, lack of sleep and exhaustion. When our daughter was born, I passed out after for a few minutes while they cleaned her up a little. This subsequent birth was moving much faster.
Just under four hours of a lot of “fuck, fuck, fuck, ouch, ouch, ouch, fuck…” to which one of the midwife team came in to write up notes on my progress. She told me that, “that language” wasn’t really necessary – she almost got a “fuck off!” but instead the guilty side of me sat on the ball, teeth gritted and lips pursed tightly shut until she’d left the room for a release of “fuck, fuck, ouch..you fucking sit here… fuck, fuck, ouch ouch..”
I wanted ‘my’ midwife but she was busy delivering in the next room. I was in so much pain and discomfort that I was literally screaming her name with each contraction. One of the midwife team wanted me to lie on my back so that she could check my progress and how dilated I was. When I opened my legs the pain was unimaginable. I refused to let her anywhere down there and clamped my knees shut! I then noticed her dirty hand brace and that was it – luckily hubby stood in and blatantly told her I’d said no, seeing how much pain I was in. At that point I was trying so hard to hold back tears. That made her a little angry but just at that point my midwife came in. They exclaimed I’d refused to be checked, not hiding their anger, however my midwife was lovely.
I told my midwife I needed an epidural as I couldn’t cope but up until then the anesthetist had been busy and unable to attend. I told her I was unable to relax enough to open my legs to be checked but at that stage I was getting the urge to push. Non of which I’d experienced previously due to the epidural. At the same time I was informed that the anesthetist was on his was to which I exclaimed I wanted that epidural. My midwife spoke to me calmly and explained that if I really needed it I could but with every contraction, as I push the pain would subside. ‘REALLY?!’ Shock and relief. Again, after previously having the epidural and never having received that all informative birthing manual that describes the whole process in fine detail from start to finish, I was unaware that it would be quicker and easier to push.
Eight minutes later our son was placed into my arms, me with a second degree tear and luckily, not as much pelvic pain. I waited to be sutured and after a while I was escorted into the bathroom to clean up. I was too weak to stand for long so instead of the welcoming shower the midwife had planned for I had to use the bidet to rinse, where I almost passed out. My eyes blacked out, all sounds became muffled or distant as I told the midwife I was going to faint, and I screwed up my eyes holding onto the side of the bidet in hope I wouldn’t fall off. She helped me dry, carefully escorting me back with the support from my husband, back to the bed where I found I couldn’t lift my legs on their own without using my hands. The midwife checked my vitals, then offered me a cup of sweet tea telling me it would help. I agreed. Later, on my notes, I notice she wrote “requesting a cup of sweet tea” – ‘Hello! No I didn’t, you offered and I said yes!’
It wasn’t long before they were informed a bed was available in the ward, so they wheeled me up. Luckily it was a private room – YAY! No strangers to share with or pretend aren’t looking at me. I was given a buzzer to request support getting in and out of bed due to my pelvis and when the senior midwife arrived later that morning she informed me I should have mentioned it in my clinic visits. I told her I had mentioned it to her on my first visit and was told it was all normal, to which she gave a slight ‘huh’ response and quickly moved the subject on realizing she’d made a mistake. I was informed I had SPD: Symphysis Pubis Dysfunction, or DSP: Diastasis Symphysis Pubis and needed to see the physio to assess my movement before being discharged. I was therefore advised to stay in over night. That didn’t quite go to plan as the physio was off sick the following day so after a few discussions with the nursing team I was allowed to go home with a referral the following day.
I spent the next couple of weeks lifting my legs by hand until I was able to move them without as much support. However, even today during the menstrual cycle I’m unable to shift boxes or items with the sides of my feet or push a shopping trolley without receiving straining or shooting pains in my groin. Some say that if you control it, you can prevent it worsening with subsequent pregnancies, yet others say theirs has increased with each one. Bearing in mind I was unable to lift my legs at all and it hadn’t fully resolved as expected, we decided it was best not to put my body through that again – so we stopped at two.
The joys of labour!
When I first started this blog, back in 2011, my posts were mainly a place to vent or offload some pent up emotion. Trying to relieve the stress without adding unwanted burdens to family and friends, as well as being used to coping alone. I’d never asked for help, always refusing to accept any offers.
If you look at some of my earlier posts they show where things were already starting to build-up. Instead of accepting the help I needed I pushed on through whilst building a wall of defence. Not only from others but also myself. I refused to acknowledge the signs and wondered aloud how much I or my body could take before I snapped.
The fact my body is failing, my brain is failing, my mental state has hit maximum load; I can officially say I’m there… Ka boom!
The plan now is to mind dump as much as possible. Negativity out so I can start the process of rewiring the positive. So excuse the posts if they’re a bit.. Hmm.. extreme but there is a process 🤔
Every now and again I’ll pick up my notebook and pen to brainstorm for a post. Today my head doesn’t want to offer anything up – I have some ideas but my thoughts are quiet, or at least I’m struggling to process what I want to do.
I went through some old journal entries to see if that would jump start my brain but no, not really. The one thing I did notice, though, was that my moods for the last couple of years have dipped around the same time. I wrote the below in February 2014 and I know full well that last March/April was a huge low point for me, although I also know that each year has had a crappy family event or health issue so maybe just a coincidence? Either way, in 2014 I’d been in and out of emailing a friend but had started trying to journalise my thoughts, on most occasions not actually sending them anywhere but trying to get them out.
Below was obviously a self pity day!
“One of those weepy days when you feel low with a need to cry but no known reason why. Of course you can’t cry as you don’t want to be seen crying nor do you want to explain that you don’t know why you’re crying. Worrying about things that needn’t be worried about and not being able to pinpoint the one thing that set you off in the first place.
You remember somewhere along the way your daughter was crying because no one liked her, not wanting to work in groups as she was either left on her own or taken advantage of being made to complete all the work. Not having anyone to go with at break and lunch and getting the odd remark from other girls about where her friends were! You try to offer support but feel totally useless as you’re unable to make people like her and can’t see where she’s going wrong as you aren’t able to be there to observe. There’s no point in raising it with school as previously it did nothing except produce questions from her peers. You question whether you should move her but as it’s not the only place she’s struggled you wonder if starting over will be just as bad, besides generally she’s doing okay, she just has episodes.
Your son is having a bad few weeks – concentration poor, attention lacking, refusing to do his homework when asked, spending 5 hours of motivating and not getting very far, along with rudeness in school and aggressive outbursts. He’s eaten holes into all his new clothes from Christmas and you feel like you’re in a losing battle. He’s becoming more verbal in his rigid thinking and things are starting to stand out, like not wanting to eat a biscuit from mummy’s box because he usually has one when it’s dark and it isn’t, or not wanting to watch a film on Sunday afternoon because it’s a school night and that makes him feel weird. Then there’s the tics which have since diminished to the odd one or two every now and again in a week, yet in the back of your mind you wonder if the tics will come back with a vengeance or if he’ll grow out of them. This sudden behaviour change brings with it, more tics but not as bad as they were and nothing new, so you don’t know if you should worry but it always plays in the back of your mind. Now he’s sucking his lips causing suction marks and sores that you’re trying to stop. You also need to decide still on secondary schools as the specialist teacher has added her opinion on your daughters school making you question your opinions and current decisions.
You realise you have to step it up a few gears with your study which involves much more reading and note taking along with revision and catching up. You feel like you’re spending any spare second with your nose stuck in a book but you don’t seem to be getting anywhere and remember nothing of what you’ve read, and with another assignment looming you revert to panic mode 3 which by the night before will be at a 1.
The ears constantly hiss with a static tv noise that hasn’t stopped since November when you had the last major migraine attack. You suffer from more and more headaches which progress into migraine with batch onsets lasting one to six weeks sometimes involving facial pain similar to sinus issues. Then there’s the skin problem and your face flares up just in time to go back to school so that you need to take more meds to help ease it whilst painting your face in foundation to block the red marks until the medication works enough, but it doesn’t seem to be so you worry it will worsen with every passing year.
You can’t seem to get on top of the mess you call a home, you have far too much stuff than you know where to put and all you seem to do is tidy up after your children. You’d be far too embarrassed to invite anyone in without a days notice.
The sleepless nights with lucid dreams where you wake often but can’t really remember what you dreamt have restarted. You know they are anxiety driven as you wake grinding your teeth but you’re unable to work out what’s going on apart from the odd one where you remember the ghosts. You’re thankful for the vivid dreams, although majority unpleasant, at least you remember them.
In between everything else your husband is showing the signs of dipping which lead to a week or two of him feeling low before its result of a weekend where you have to pick his mood up off the floor to prevent a rapid descent into relapse. It doesn’t matter that you’re already feeling the strain and just need to switch off, surely that’s what the days during the week are for? but you have to keep going, put on a brave face and search your bottomless pit for a smidgen of happy to paste that smile on your face and tell him everything is good, talk things through, give him the extra attention he needs zapping your energy along with it. You still worry things will go wrong again, you have no real control, memories of last time flooding back.
Just as you start to get your shit together a friend notices your ‘I’m fine’ response isn’t as it seems but everything seems really trivial and not worth mentioning, besides, you do things alone and your relationship can’t be based on your issues. You’re slowly getting there, even though the caring drills into the wall you’ve been rebuilding and you struggle to hold it together. It’s like having a frosted ice shell and a warm hug which starts to melt the surface, you start to question your sanity and coping mechanism before deciding your way is the only way and you hold onto the facade. Although, you can see they don’t believe you, even after you’ve given the ‘honest’ spiel, you can read them as much as they can you.
You then get told you need a referral and to expect an MRI for that back trouble only your mind wanders to the history of neck pain, headaches, fuzzy ears, tingling arm and hands and all the others things you keep telling yourself are all hormonal and probably stress related and to ignore them, they have bugger all to do with your back and your back is a separate issue. Your doctor doesn’t make a connection but even so you’re piecing things together and seeing things that aren’t there. Regardless of your common sense, you still worry and thoughts at the back of your mind scream something sinister.
You get your new application for DLA through the door telling you it’s coming up to renewal where you know hours of endless negativity is required to highlight every issue your child has compared to his friends and other children his age. How much extra support he needs and all the therapies required. You’ll have to wade through question after question, repeating things over and over, boring further into your brain that your child isn’t ‘typical’ whilst wondering what went wrong and if somehow you caused it. It doesn’t matter that you know that’s not how things work, the genes do the talking. Yours probably didn’t help and you still feel pangs of guilt, every now and again wonder if maybe the temperature when he had a cold did it, or the time he bit into a karvol capsule he found in the suitcase, or maybe taking him abroad as a baby, or…
To top it off, you try to put your mind at ease about the MRI only to realise your evasive responses and lack of detail probably made your friend worry so you wonder if you should carry on with the facade or tell all to ease her mind.
So, you type it all up and at the end of it all, you read it back, it looks like a load of nothing that you’ve just reasoned is all okay and stupid, and wonder why you are stressed, you should get a grip and get on with it like everyone else!!
So, when I say there isn’t anything wrong, inside I feel like I’m riding a roller coaster that I desperately want to get off, but on the outside it probably looks like a merry-go-round. There isn’t anything wrong, just a big knot of negativity and a load of nothing, a tired me and now a concerned you (sorry, I probably made that a whole lot worse)”
On two separate occasions I had, what I can only describe as, some kind of panic/anxiety attack or hyperventilation. It was as if I wasn’t getting enough air and my body felt weird! As far as I remember, I didn’t have any emotional problems, stresses or worries. I enjoyed my job, the money and the company.
Over the course of a year my job became my life. Working unsociable hours of 12:00-20:00, eventually stepping it up with overtime 10:00-20:00 or even 6:00-20:00. At one point I went as far as working until two or three in the morning! I was socialising in the evening and on weekends with work colleagues; going to pubs, clubs which ended at someone’s house, usually a friend of a colleague. It was around this time in my life that the attacks hit.
The first time we’d pulled over to get some cash when it happened. There was about six of us piled in the car so I was sitting on someone’s lap. Whilst standing outside the car, it hit. I leant against one of the blokes with my forehead buried in his chest as I tried to relax my body and breathing. A year or two before that I’d been diagnosed with asthma so assumed, never having had an attack, that this was one of them. In the words of my father ‘stupid child!’.
The second time, we’d all had a little too much to drink so ended up at a friend of a colleagues house (who at the time I classed as a friend). Again, it hit out of the blue for no apparent reason and I struggled to breath. I went out into the front porch to get some fresh air when I heard her say (even in my drunken state) ‘just ignore her, she’s just trying to get attention’. At that moment I wanted to leave, grab my keys and go, but I was too drunk to drive. I pretended I didn’t hear the comment, waited for my anxiety attack to pass then went back inside wishing the night away very quickly, falling asleep on the spare bed in the back bedroom. Suffice to say we were all late for work the following morning as I drove us all home at 6:00am, took a nap which obviously lasted a little longer than intended, and got changed.
I don’t recall ever having an attack like that before or since; until December 2015 when I woke one night after starting this medication!
We sat watching the queue grow bigger whilst laughing and joking with the foreign lady sitting opposite us who spoke very little English. She struggled to get a plastic cup for the water fountain when underneath it, directly in front, it said ‘push’. A few of us pointed this out as did her interpreter which was followed by us all laughing. When she went to dispose of her cup in the push bin, hubby shouted out, ‘push!’ to which a fair few giggles ensued.
The wait was a little longer for the ultra sound than the mammogram but eventually my name was called and in I went.
I was taken to the bed where I was told to remove my gown. There were two nurses and one male radiographer who performed the scan. They were all lovely, calm, gentle, explaining what they would do and if I was okay. The radio man asked me to lie down, checking to see if I’d had any previous scans which I had – one five years prior on my left boob and one fifteen years prior to that, again on the left boob. Radio man warned me the gel might be cold but I wasn’t prepared for ice!! Oh my was that cold!! The nurse popped her head in laughing ‘oh sorry, that’s a new bottle from the store cupboard’. They were all jolly and nice which is lovely to help keep you calm and make the experience as nice as possible. Radio man checked the gel heater to find it was turned off but it wouldn’t have warmed it in time for me anyway but it was surprisingly nice after the initial shock as temperatures outside were starting to sky rocket.
From previous experience I was only expecting one boob to be scanned but he made a start, first on the left side. Hmm made me wonder what they saw on the mammogram! I’m told to lift my arm above my head as he circles the boob, asking when I last had the scan, moving up into my armpit. Eventually he moved onto the right boob, again shocking my system as he squirted a load of ice cool gel in a circular motion. I was relatively relaxed as he circled the boob with his scanner, showing me both cysts he could see and checking my armpit. He carried that expression of ‘I’m not seeing’ as I tell him about the smaller firmer lump I can feel. He asks me to locate it for him, so by sitting up as even I struggle when lying down, I run my fingers through the gel which makes it slightly harder to find as my finger slip and slide. It’s not easy to locate but I manage all the same and he checks if I’m okay for him to feel it so he knows where it is, he gently pushes a couple of fingers onto the area then guides the scanner over, managing to locate it. He confirms there is a lump, showing it to me on the screen,to which a rush of relief floods over me. He explains its not a cyst but looks like it could possibly a benign fibroadenoma. To be safe, they will need to take some samples which I am extremely glad to hear.
Had I been told it was nothing and given the all clear to go home I don’t think I would have been left feeling at ease but worrying it hadn’t been thoroughly checked. He measured it 7mm across and took a few images before handing me large blue sheets of paper toweling to wipe off the excess gel. As much as that sheet was large, the amount of gel running across my chest required a scoop as I requested more from the nurse as she passed me to prepare for my biopsy.
So, today was the day I went for my boob check. We arrived 30 minutes early at 17:00 and after registering at reception, I sat with one leg draped over hubby whilst putting my phone in all sorts of positions trying to obtain a signal in case our children tried to contact, or most importantly I knew at some point a friend would question how it was going. Eventually I found a good signal by placing my face on the floor and sticking my tongue in the air like an aerial mast. I jest but it wasn’t far off; I had to place my phone in my bag on the floor in order to get any kind of G, and we aren’t talking about spots.
We waited, watching others who were in the queue before us being called, until the one before us went into the examination room. We were next; I know because she was highlighted on the list before me so I knew time was coming.
Eventually about 18:00 my name was called and we went into the room where a nurse and registrar were waiting. First thoughts ‘hmm you’re not a Mr xxx!’ Miss – Mr’s helper – introduced herself by her first name, at least I don’t remember her saying her surname, then proceeded with stage 1.
We sat down, confirmed name, date of birth, regularity of periods and family history of breast cancer. Oh well ‘dads mum died at around the age of 58 from breast cancer and mums mum had it a couple of years ago at approx 76 I think’. Yes I know, I’m terrible for not remembering her age but I believe she’s about 76. The registrar confirmed ‘so both of your nans had breast cancer?’ Ahuh
The usual routine followed: go behind curtain, take off top, lie on bed, have registrar grope boobs, ask where lump is as struggling to find, I locate, they feel, exclaim they aren’t concerned but ‘we’ll sent you for a mammogram and ultrasound to be sure’, I get dressed, am handed a form and off she goes! We’re told she’s off to get caffeine as she’s been there since 11am, leaving us in the capable hands of the nurse. She shows us half way to the x-ray department, giving directions for the rest of the way.
We stop at x-ray reception desk where we’re told to follow the purple to the end of the corridor. What she means is, ‘see that purple square we’ve taped to that door, yeah, well that’s where you’re going’
Outside the mammogram room we sit and wait for our turn. Just after we arrive a queue starts to form, lucky were we to get there before the others. I’m called in and asked to confirm my date of birth. A quick explanation of what will happen during part 1 of stage 2, before being asked to remove my top and bra – again! On, off, on, off.. I’ve not had so much exercise is one afternoon! I’m guided towards the machine where the nice young lady positions my right boob on the slab and compresses it with a top plate while gently shifting or massaging it into the right position. Think of a butcher trying to tenderise a steak, it’s that kind of image that springs to mind. Of course that isn’t how it works, she’s kind, gentle, softly talks and puts you at ease but still: meat on a slab! We repeat the process for the left boob then reposition the machine, rotating for a side on view. This time I need to hold a handle with the slab slightly up under my armpit. Mm think of all those armpits rubbing on the machine! Don’t be silly, she sanitised it after use, ready for the next lamb. I was given a gown to put on and a carrier bag for my clothes; a bit like a prison convict, or maybe it’s easier to hand your belongings to your next of kin! I’m guided to the next area for waiting – part 2 of stage 2. The ultrasound of doom.. dum dum daaaa….
There’s one before me and in between that the nurse pops out to hand earlier patients their scan paperwork plus I think maybe a wee break. Whilst waiting I check my phone. My friend has messaged as well as our daughter. Questions: When will you be home? How long? Can I have a Wispa? Can I go on the trampoline I’ve waited half hour since dinner? What time will you be home?… Then lots of silly responses from us plus a quick update to friend on current stage and lack of signal – the only other person in the know about my new found friendly’noma.
Have you ever watched Cat on a Hot Tin Roof by Tennessee Williams? Brick, an alcoholic – played by Paul Newman – is talking to his father about why he drinks.
Brick: Somethin’ hasn’t happened yet.
Big Daddy: What’s that?
Brick: A click in my head.
Big Daddy: Did you say “click”?
Brick: Yes sir, the click in my head that makes me feel peaceful.
Big Daddy: Boy, sometimes you worry me.
Brick: It’s like a switch, clickin’ off in my head. Turns the hot light off and the cool one on, and all of a sudden there’s peace.
Big Daddy: Boy, you’re, you’re a real alcoholic!
Brick: That is the truth. Yes, sir, I am an alcoholic. So if you’d just excuse me…
Big Daddy: [grabbing him] No, I won’t excuse you.
Brick: Now I’m waitin’ for that click and I don’t get it. Listen, I’m all alone. I’m talkin’ to no one where there’s absolute quiet.
Big Daddy: You’ll hear plenty of that in the grave soon enough.
The closest I can get to explaining how I feel is to liken it to an overflowing pool of thoughts that keep circling round, sometimes producing more thoughts and questions that need to be released in order for them to stop. Only unlike Brick who drinks alcohol to stop his thoughts, I use words and send them out into the void. Sometimes I post them in a blog, other times I type them into a journal, and on occasion I’ve sent them to a friend.
That’s how I get my click!!
This blog contains random thoughts that pop into my head any time; day or night. They may not make sense to you, but I don’t need them!
The nerves in the body tingle. Intermittent waves of pain shooting down the arms into the hand. Bend the arm this way and it’s numb, straighten it that way and it increases pain in the hand. The base of the skull and neck have the weirdest sensation, like a film of pressure misted with nerves that are radiatiting around the head but not within it! Tilting the head back there’s a slight release, but it just hits again. It’s like a weakness in the neck affecting the rest of the body, sitting exacerbates it but standing eases it into non existence.
Unable to get the sensation to go, it plays constantly on loop in the mind. Scared of the worst and pleading for the simple, but the fear being felt is incomprehensible to any chosen to be told. Holding the thoughts in, telling no one of the small shocks that penetrate the body, the pain unable to be described. The closest to an explaination is to ask them to think of that trapped nerve in their finger, spread it to other parts of the body and add intermittent flares of pain in between.
We hide behind walls. Some are like Fort Knox where even the very best struggle to penetrate, others a gentle shell that when tapped crack to allow secrets to seep. Others are built from a crumbling foundation that require the strength, patience and love of a friend to chip away. When we aren’t able to build anymore we start to dig. Sometimes we lie down and hide within the tall grass, disguised, other times we bury our heads in the sand muffling out the world. Then there’s the odd occasion when we dig, we dig deep and keep on going burying ourselves ever deeper until there is no light at the end of the tunnel. It’s only with persistence that we might eventually break through to the other side and light comes flooding in.
How many of you sit and search the internet to ascertain some meaning to those all encompassing symptoms only to find it can be one of many ailments including that life threatening illness?
We all do it. We then start reeling of lists of symptoms that match those we’ve got to our dearest friend in hope of some comfort because we’ve managed to stress ourselves to the point of explosion.
You have a heavy weight tugging on your brow that aches with every thought as that twinge in your leg or fuzz in your ear distracts you from your normal daily chores. Your sympathetic friend will lend you that ear, offer you their shoulder and talk sense, calming your mind whilst persuading you that it’s best you check with your GP, if only to get some peace of mind that everything is okay and it’s nothing like as you feared, just an over active imagination and too much of that world wide web.
However, no matter how much you want to go to your GP, you feel like a fraud, stupid and a hypochondriac. Let’s face it, you’re getting older and your body is changing in ways that requires the need for constant servicing and you’ve spent the best part of the last year sitting in the waiting room for this or that. Now that you actually have something worth visiting for, you can’t pluck up the courage as you can see their face staring down at you, their eyes boring deep into yours only to give that sympathetic smile, calm voice, yet, that air of superiority that adds to your feelings of stupidity.
It doesn’t matter that you could actually have something wrong and only certain tests can put both you and your GPs mind at rest, you still can’t bring your self to make that call.
A what point do you eventually give in to the pressures in your head? When you can’t concentrate anymore? When the thought of death for the 60th time brings you to tears? or maybe you bury it so deep that eventually you’re in denial?