My problem with food

Plate of food - chicken salad

The thing is that my problem with food is that I like food too much and I pretty much like all food. Obviously I like some things better than others, but the only thing I can think of that I won’t eat is peanut butter. I like peanuts and butter, but together? Yuk!!

This post, for May’s new Life Matters Meme is cross posted on my own health blog. I hope that going forward we will be able to complement each other and build up resources for others to use. I’m planning my own meme next month, which I hope people will also join in with. But for now, the topic is food and problems with it.

As a child

My mum had a strong dislike of waste and my younger brother was picky and pretty lazy. He ate slowly and mucked about and we (my two brothers and I) weren’t allowed to get down until we had all eaten everything. So, I tended to help him out, especially with meat. There is a memorable occasion after I’d been elsewhere at dinner time and the next time she unloaded the washing machine she discovered an uneaten lamb chop in the pocket of his trousers. After that she offered more sausages, something he liked. But I trace my willingness to eat everything in sight to those days. Plus the fact I wasn’t faddy and just liked food. My appetite was healthy.

I never dieted until after I’d had my son

I was an active teenager and young adult. Not sporty but just busy. I could eat lots because I rarely stood or sat still. As a nurse, I spent a great deal of the day running around, up and down stairs and breaks were far and few between. I was a size 12 when I married, but put on weight on honeymoon. I wasn’t worried that I needed a size 14. Looking back I can see I was slim and healthy looking. But each new job was a little more sedentary, I drove instead of taking public transport and started to like wine.

We were married for 7 years before we had my son and had a reasonable amount of disposable income. There were lots of opportunities to socialise with friends and family, we ate out a fair bit. We also developed a taste for pizzas or other fast food that we could get in and cook at home. This was washed down with a bottle or so of wine.

I didn’t enjoy pregnancy and did a fair amount of comfort eating. I craved things like grapes which seemed healthy. Couldn’t drink coffee and often felt unwell. I had a few odd turns while eating out so did so rarely. I had pre-eclampsia and retained fluid. At the end of my pregnancy I’d put on 2 stone in weight. I became more active almost immediately. Breast fed and just by cutting a few things out got to my pre-pregnancy weight and in no time. If that was dieting, it was simple. Little did I know.

Yoyo dieting made me fat

Over the next 10 years I would settle into life, eat what I fancied and then decide I needed to lose some weight and do so. My son was a faddy eater like my brother but I didn’t make him eat everything up. I ate it for him in the kitchen. I also ate food as I cooked and more as I served up. By the time I approached my 40th birthday I was back at my 8 month pregnancy weight and this time it wasn’t falling off by just cutting back. I joined a Rosemary Conley club because it involved a half hour fitness class. I lost the weight in time for my birthday and decided I was done.

More time passed and I joined Slimming World. Here you could eat pasta or rice till it came out of your ears but you had to restrict fat and sugar. This brought me into the world of large portions of starchy carbohydrates and aspartame.

I’ve been a slimming world member on and off for over 10 years now. I’ve lost weight and put it back on. This time I’ve lost weight and put it back while still attending the group. I enjoy the friendship of my fellow group members, but the diet doesn’t work for me anymore. The company will tell you this is not a diet, but a way of life. But the problem is many of my fellow members eat a lot of highly processed food and tons of artificial sweeteners.

Getting cancer was a wake up call

There are people who will tell you that your diet causes cancer. That if you are over weight and also drink alcohol that causes cancer. It contributes but there are a lot of factors involved. However since my own diagnosis almost 18 months ago I have read a lot of books, articles and blogs about diet and health. I have begun to realise that the processes applied to food production to make them ‘healthier’ may well be harmful. I’ve begun to appreciate the taste of real food rather than artificial. I don’t plan to become obsessed with what I eat but the steps I’m taking right now are working.

Since November last year I’ve made some big changes. I’ve introduced intermittent fasting and stopped snacking. My fruit consumption has reduced, but I do still eat it, mainly berries. I’ve reduced my starchy carbohydrate input and eaten a lot more vegetables. I’ve eaten little sugar laden foods, indeed am finding them too sweet to eat. Though I had a small mince pie on Boxing Day and really enjoyed it. I had some chocolate at Christmas too and, it was a treat. I ate whole meal pasta last night and again felt it a treat.

I’m trying to change my relationship with food

Firstly to eat when hungry. I reckon I lost that ability when I was a child eating my brothers left overs. Whereas my son retains it. Now I eat lunch and dinner when I am hungry and not really before.

I’m trying to savour food, to enjoy the tastes. But also to eat real food. I want and need to lose weight for a specific purpose but this time I want it to be the last time. I’m committed to ending my dieting journey and instead finding something that I can sustain. Just because I like food I don’t have to eat it all!

Personal reflections on 2019

As usual I will be posting a few reflective posts in the coming couple of weeks. About my own blogging milestones, as well as shouting out about my fellow sex bloggers and writers. I plan to articulate my goals for 2020 too. But this post reflects on 2019 for me personally. The ways in which I have struggled, but also where I feel I have grown as a person.

The end of 2018 was pretty shitty. I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer in September and had a mastectomy in October. The very end of the year was somewhat brighter with my son’s wedding on 29th December. But I didn’t exactly feel good about myself. I’m not keen on the photos taken of me on the day partly because my dress definitely didn’t flatter. But also my makeup was wrong my mum caused me a lot of stress. It was a lovely day and I was a proud mum of the groom, but it was that day that set up how 2019 needed to be different.

I have always been someone who puts others first. I worry about what other people need and then consider myself. But in January I was waiting for my radiotherapy treatment to start, so prepared others that I would need to put that first. From 10th January, for 15 days we travelled to the cancer centre for treatment. But the effects; fatigue, soreness and general malaise lasted well into February. The emotional recovery though has taken much longer. It’s only now I can say that I am over the psychological effects of the cancer diagnosis, surgery and treatment.

The impact of having one breast

Before I’d had breast cancer, I didn’t understand just how important a complete body is. I’ve been overweight for the past 10 years or more, but can usually find a way to feel good in my body despite it. I’d never had surgery, so other than a few stretch marks, no blemishes. My tits were pretty good for a woman of my age. Losing one of them has at times felt like a tragedy. It has led to me feeling less happy with the remaining breast and in me losing interest in it being touched. Weird I used to be able to orgasm through nipple play. I’m sure this is a psychological, not physical thing. But it does relate to the knowledge that the right breast is missing and that what remains is numb. A physical reality and not a psychological one.

Overcoming my fears

Being a sex blogger who posts photos of herself has been useful in my recovery. It’s true I could have shut myself away and not spoken of it to anyone. But that isn’t me. First and foremost I blogged about my recovery for me. I wanted to show others what it looked like and to demonstrate that while a mastectomy is a horrible thing to have to go through, there is life afterwards. At my son’s wedding I felt incomplete even though no one could tell. I bought a dress with a higher neckline than suits me because I didn’t want to show cleavage. I guess it was just too soon.

Eroticon helped my recovery journey immensely. I got the opportunity to take part in a group photo and went topless for it. That was the first time I had shown anyone other than health professionals and Master my new body. That occasion and the response to it helped drive me on. And since then I’ve been back to CMnf, taken my clothes off in a hot tub with others present and been naked at a couple of play events. I have also begun to post photos on my blog that show me breast, scars and all. I feel self conscious when naked in front of people, but am able to forget and be myself.

Weirdly though, while on holiday with my mum, I was very careful not to show her my body. I’m not sure why. But maybe it has more to do with our relationship than the fact I have only one tit. After all it isn’t as if she doesn’t know. I also find I prefer wearing a bra rather than going lop sided. Even though I doubt most people would even notice. This made my holidays this summer hot and uncomfortable at times.

The future isn’t plain sailing

I’m on the waiting list for a DIEP reconstruction. This will mean surgery to my abdomen to taken fat and skin for reconstruction as a breast. A huge operation which will give me more scars and a new breast that looks different from the other. But in clothes I will be able to look ‘normal’ again.

At least this surgery is planned. There will be time to talk to others who have had surgery. Time also to lose weight. My tummy will be flatter afterwards which has to be a great side effect. But this won’t give me my body back and make me look as I did before. I’ll need to have a nipple created later and this will include a tattoo.

Looking back I was feeling pretty fragile this time last year. Even though I’d been told I was cured, the uncertainties around the diagnosis lingered around me. Treatment was physically tiring and emotionally draining. But I was focused on getting through and in coming to terms with what had happened. I might not be wild about how I look right now, but I am in a much better place to cope with whatever the future throws my way and that is a massive achievement.

Thank you to all of my fellow bloggers that have helped me along the way, particularly May More, Molly Moore and Posy Churchgate, all of whom have been there for me along the way.

My Breast Cancer Posts are here

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Planning for breast reconstruction

I haven’t written about my breast cancer journey for a while. Well I have weaved things that have already happened into various posts. But as for the journey itself, there has been nothing much to say. In early summer when I first saw the plastic surgeons, I was led to believe the wait for breast reconstruction would be quite short. So I told them I wanted to delay and in September I was put on the waiting list. We have kept the post Christmas to spring period free in our diaries. We hadn’t booked Eroticon tickets. But things have changed.

I wasn’t worried that I hadn’t seen the consultant yet. But now I realise this would have been desirable. The junior doctors are great assets to their boss, but didn’t really have the whole picture. I was vaguely told to lose weight and told I could phone to find out when my surgery would likely be.

On Friday I saw a really pleasant and straight forward specialist nurse. I used to do something like she does, though in a different field. I am confident that she knows how the system works. She told me that next time I MUST see the consultant. She also told me that before my breast reconstruction goes ahead, I must lost weight. That they have tightened up this rule because BMI seems to have been a factor when looking at those who recover less quickly.

My weight

To say I am struggling to lose any weight is an understatement. But at least I have maintained – i.e I am the same weight today as about a year ago. The nurse and I agreed that a loss of about a stone (16lb) would be optimum. But I have already excluded most sugar, all sugary and artificial sweetened drinks. I rarely eat anything fatty and don’t know when I last ate pizza. The only thing I can think of is wine. So, I’ll have to reduce that drastically now. The nurse didn’t argue when I said that I thought Letrozole was contributing.

I’ve decided to try intermittent fasting, on the basis that metabolism is affected by constant dieting. Also that frequent food intake may cause insulin resistance. I’m busy reading up on this approach and feel that it can’t hurt. I’m going to go back to reporting my progress on here over the next few months, to help keep a record.

Other aspects of planning

We went through the implications of the DIEP surgery – the actual operation, potential risks and side effects and after care. This really is a major operation. I was also told that the longer between the end of radiotherapy and surgery the better. This involves micro surgery to tiny blood vessels in my breast and abdomen. The reality of the enormity of what I am putting myself forward for hit. Waiting feels right even if the list was shorter.

I need to be as fit and well prepared as possible for this surgery. I need to follow the advice of the health professionals and Master and I need to be as ready as we can be. So we can plan some things for winter and spring.

Fun things to do

Eroticon tickets are now in the bag, we just need to sort out hotel etc. Master has a big birthday at the end of March, so we are planning for that. There’s also an English Song Festival in April and I will want to get over to France to get things ready for summer. We can also book a summer holiday and the hospital will honour this. But I happily put myself forward for a short notice call from the end of spring. So long as I am physically ready, I think I will be emotionally fit to take a cancellation. Or failing that to have my breast reconstruction surgery when I get to the top of the list. Whenever that is.

Being positive

This is prompt week on Sinful Sunday. But as I mentioned in my last post, I am not a lover of Halloween, therefore I make no excuse for not following the prompt.

Instead I want to show you another (in what might be a series) of photos where I proudly show you my body. I am preparing for my reconstructive surgery and as I do so feel better about sharing what my mastectomy looks like.

This is the third (and final) photo from our recent trip to Oxford. I think you can see here that I am much more at home in my body. More positive and confident. This has been a journey I don’t recommend, but one which I am happy to share.

I stand at the window of our hotel on a beautiful morning. The view behind is the historic buildings of the Oxford University Schook (back). I am standing proudly showing my body. I have one breast - the right removed in a mastectomy last year.
Sinful Sunday

Fear

The Erotic Journal Challenge for October is Fear. I love that Brigit has gone for a month long theme and hope it is something she will continue. I love to join in with memes but struggle with my originality and often feel I am repeating myself. For this one though I may well post a couple (or more) essays on my thoughts about my fears. Brigit has helpfully posed a few questions and this is the first one:

What are your sexual fears / insecurities?

Body image

I guess most of my sexual fears relate to my body and insecurities about it. I currently weight the most I have pretty much ever. I want to lose weight and am trying. But so far this year I have failed spectacularly in doing so. This massively affects my self image and I struggle to see why I might be attractive to another person. I also know that I am less fit than I could be so not very agile.

Finally of course there is the small matter of only having one tit. This is most evident (unsurprisingly) when I am naked. A by product of having had cancer are the hormone inhibiting tablets I take, which have side effects of weight gain and joint pain. The latter for me is more of a stiffness, which makes getting up from the floor for example a challenge.

Performance

We have had our fair share of sexual performance issues over the years. I am always fearful that another is around the corner. I am not so young and agile, I am overweight and taking hormone inhibiters. What if my vaginal juices dry up, what if I can’t get into a particular position, what if I can’t orgasm? From time to time all of the above have happened, though each has been a passing phase. There was also a period of time when my body seemed to go into spasm when he pushed his cock into me, causing pain. This lasted a little longer, but also passed. However I am always worried the problem will return.

I worry that Master will no longer fancy me, that my body will not satisfy his needs. Or that I will begin to push him away as I did my husband. So far this has only happened if I am tired or emotional, but the fear is always there. What’s more, he says he fancies me more than ever, that he wants and needs me.

Getting over our fears

I haven’t arrived at the age of 57 without learning to be realistic. That my body, that both of our bodies are ageing. We have learned to pace ourselves and know when sex is best for us. He is also good at listening to my troubles and woes and mostly dealing with them effectively. Unsurprisingly he is usually right. There is really no reason to believe we will go off of each other. More likely we are going to grow old disgracefully together. But that doesn’t completely stop the fears from emerging nor does it prevent me from getting carried away with my negative thoughts.

But I will plough on with trying to improve my image of myself – try to lose some weight, try to get fitter. These will be especially important as I prepare for my reconstruction surgery. Then hopefully I can look in the mirror and like myself just that little bit more and feel like the sexually attractive woman he says I am. Then maybe those fears will go.

Topless

This is my first (and hopefully last) summer with just one boob. The idea of going braless, let alone topless is pretty much a step too far at the moment. Even around the house, I feel weird without a bra. But in hot weather wearing a bra (or swimming costume) all of the time is a bit much.

Probably the best part of our time away was the boat holiday. We chose a route that had few locks since it was my first time. Also there were just the two of us on the boat. That also meant that for hours at a time we saw very few other boats and the people on them. This gave me the chance to leave my bra off for a while and then to take my dress off for this shot.

I love this, even though it isn’t a close up, because it shows the beauty of our surroundings and that no one else was around. I have a close up which I’ll show another time. I’m starting to feel more comfortable in my body again, but posting pictures of me topless is still challenging. However I know I was happy and relaxed that day and so I feel happy to share.

We are on a boat on the canal du rhone à Sete. I am at the back of the boat topless. I only have a left boob as I have has a mastectomy
Photo by Master
Sinful Sunday

Before and after

our trip to Holland offered so many photo opportunities. But unusually many of those opportunities were of him rather than me. Plus in these two photos I had the chance to photograph him in two ways. Both fabulous and exciting. Before and after or after and before.

Sinful Sunday

Lingerie for me

Lingerie Is For Everyone is probably the only meme I haven’t yet taken part in. Hosted by Violet Faukes Lingerie Is For Everyone is body positive, inclusive and also a great place to see beautiful bodies and fabulous lingerie.

But I have been hesitant to take part. I have a drawer full of lingerie that I rarely wear. Well I can put on most of the knickers, though some are currently a little tight. But I’m unable to wear any of my pre- mastectomy bras.

For the first few months post mastectomy I wore bras for comfort. So underwired ones were out. I also needed to go up a couple of sizes. It turns out I had a larger back size and smaller cup than I knew.

Finally though I’ve begun to source bras that not only feel comfortable but look good too. This is one of them and I have it in white too. I’m planning further purchases and maybe some matching knickers. It’s take time for me to begin to feel happy with my body again and sharing this photo is part of that process. Because, lingerie really is for everyone who wants to wear it.

Lingerie is for everyone

Unmentionable

I think I have mentioned before that I am a member of a facebook group for people with or who have had breast cancer. It is a place where people support each other through treatment and recovery, recurrence and general daily life. People who are struggling with problems they can’t speak to loved ones about. Of course, there are positive posts too, news of a wedding, baby, new house, new relationship. One thing has struck me though. While people will happily describe the symptoms of their cancer or side effects of treatment in graphic detail, often including photos. They skirt around sex and relationships in the most interesting way. Breast cancer can play havoc with your sex life. But sadly it seems that the word sex is pretty much unmentionable.

Sex as a taboo subject

I wonder how many people talk to their friends about their sex lives. It is easy to sit here as part of a sex blogging community and imagine that every one does it. But in reality they don’t. Indeed I don’t discuss my sex life with people I know, but then I also don’t have a close friend to confide in. But if I did, would I? This spot on the internet is a safe place, most of us are anonymous to a greater or lesser degree. I find it much easier to describe my most intimate moments on my blog than to describe them in public.

But I have no qualms about using the actual words for what I am trying to say. I wouldn’t act like some 70’s sitcom cast member and wink or blush if I needed to say the word sex. I prefer to use proper anatomical names rather than a euphemism. And certainly if someone asks a question on an online forum then I am going to answer with reference to the actual word.

I actually think the lady was brave to raise an unmentionable topic

Even though she referred to sex as ‘being intimate’. Indeed she might not have meant sex, she may have meant that she didn’t want her partner to see her naked. But unfortunately everyone who responded skirted around the topic in the same way she had. Mentioning relationship issues and the fact that the tablets they were taking had stopped them feeling like letting their partner close.

Further conversation though identified her actual issue. She was frightened that if she became aroused and orgasmed then the hormones would make her cancer worse. This is because like mine, her cancer is hormone dependent. So she had put 2 and 2 together and made 22.

I and another lady were able to reassure her that the hormones we produce during sexual pleasure will not affect or cause breast cancer. But I wonder why it is left to an online forum of peers to impart this information. It does feel like a reasonable assumption to make when people vaguely refer to hormones.

Mentioning the unmentionable

Sex is such a difficult topic to raise as a patient. In the mix of surgery, treatment options and general issues of body image, sex is pretty much no where. As a nurse I found it a challenge to discuss with my patients too, though I did. In my last clinical role, I worked with people with rheumatoid arthritis, often with young women. Being able to find a comfortable position, dealing with the side effects of treatment and general tiredness and pain were all factors. So I made myself ask the unmentionable questions, even though I’d really rather have not.

Society in general would rather people didn’t mention sex or their sex lives. But if we are to move away from sex as taboo we need to start somewhere. I guess an online forum for people with breast cancer is as good a place as any to start.

Wicked Wednesday... a place to be wickedly sexy or sexily wicked

Being positive about my body

I won’t deny that my last post was rather negative. I hadn’t intended to write in that way, but as is often the case it felt right in the moment. Having one tit really does suck. However there is much to celebrate about myself, my body and my situation.

I really do intend to post more photos of myself as I am now. I don’t intend to hid behind lingerie or just post photos of my backside (though as the guru of sexy photography Exposing 40 advises they often come out looking fabulous). Instead, I plan to celebrate and be body positive. Then when I get my reconstruction, well hopefully I’ll be ready to share even more.

At the end of Eroticon Hy from A Dissolute Life Means…. organised a special Boob Day photo. 20 something of us got together and bared our breasts and Missy took some amazing photos. Although she doesn’t appear she was topless thought and so was definitely one of the group.

I think this photo sums up what is so good about Eroticon and why you should attend if you can. Ok, it is a conference for writers and bloggers, but honestly there is something for everyone who is kink minded.

27 people come together to show their boobs in an inclusive body positive way.