This month’s Sinful Sunday prompt is Bokeh. This is about producing an image where a blur is produced through parts of the image being out of focus. I thought this would be an ideal way of showing my body in a way I haven’t yet.
We love to have a bath together and having just bought some new bath bombs, Friday was the night. This was taken by the man of the house who then produced a series of edits. The reason there isn’t much water is because he jumped in soon after. Otherwise I would have had far more of my tummy covered! I love the different colours – my suntan, still visible, contrasted with the purple water.
I delayed writing this week because of my oncology appointment, which took place on Wednesday. My assumption was that I could detail the treatment plan here. Unfortunately not (see below). But there has been plenty of progress.
Over the past two weeks my recovery really has gathered pace. The wound has now completely healed and the swelling is reducing. For the past almost 7 weeks, I have been walking around with what felt like a cushion under my arm. It would swell during the day and reduce a little over night. Now though that has improved a lot. The past 2 weeks though, I have been getting shooting pains at the top of my arm, just above the armpit. My oncologist reassured me that the reduction in swelling is causing this. The nerves which had been compressed are jumping to life, and this is exactly what it feels like.
As I mentioned above, the oncology appointment was on Wednesday. After surgery a small sample of the tumour should have been sent to USA for analysis. This test predicts the likelihood of recurrence. For some reason, it was omitted, so no result and therefore no treatment yet. If the likelihood of recurrence is high I will need chemotherapy and this must be done before radiotherapy. This is very irritating as I want to get things done and over with. The doctor wasn’t best pleased either because it delays things. Plus he spent 20 minutes chasing results that didn’t exist.
The up side is that I get to enjoy Christmas with no worry about treatment. But it does prolong the uncertainty. I can’t control it, so I don’t plan to worry (too much).
Since the operation I have been wearing a soft cushion thing in my bra. They call this a stuffy. It gives some shape, but rides up and definitely isn’t the same size as my remaining boob.
Yesterday I went to be fitted for a silicone prosthesis. It is larger, a better shape and is the same size as my left boob. It weighs a pound (yes, it has been on my kitchen scales), but you don’t notice it once it is in the bra.
For this procedure I had my bra size measured. It may come as no surprise to find that I have been wearing the wrong size bra, probably for 20 years or more. So, rather than a 36D apparently I am a 42C!!!! Funny thing is, a 42 bra doesn’t seem much looser than a 36. The world of bra measuring seems weird and further investigation is needed. Plus hopefully weight loss!
Over all, I am feeling better about myself. I am used to the way I look and feel. I don’t exactly love the look of myself but it is who I am for now. For that reason, I will be sharing photos soon. I just need them to look as good as they can and the lovely Molly has offered to help me with that. There is no one I would rather have to photograph the new me.
It is a very long time since I wrote a #SoSS. It isn’t that I don’t read and comment on other blogs, I do. But I am not so good at getting my shit together to work out which ones I want to share. Let alone writing about it. But in an attempt to start my new years resolutions early I’m planning to write one each month.
It was reading this post of May’s about shadow banning that prompted me. When I was shadow banned, it irritated the hell out of me. Lately though since I have other things to worry about it had all slipped my mind. I’m picking up new followers so I don’t think I am on the banned list right now. I shall make a point of sharing more posts on Twitter though so that they get seen.
This week’s Wicked Wednesday prompt was writing, it was great to read about everyone’s writing and blogging history. I particularly loved Modesty’s post (and accompanying photo), and hadn’t realised she had published her Modest Diaries. They certainly seem worth a read. Also worth checking out is Floss’s post. Not only is she a wonderful writer of fiction and non fiction, she is also a poet. I am in awe of the talent that is out there amongst our blogging community.
On the theme of writing, the Smut Marathon reaches the final voting round tomorrow. I haven’t written any fiction since the round where I got knocked out. The monthly assignments certainly made me get on with writing and I know my style and content improved over time. Marie will be running the competition again next year (as she tells us in her #SoSS today) and entries open quite soon. I am undecided as yet whether to enter. But I will give it serious consideration.
when I write these blog sharing posts, I try to include something new. I didn’t so much find The happy Kinky Couple, as they found me to ask to swap links, which I am happy to do. They are a couple, like us in their 50’s who found kink relatively recently and have just begun to write about it. Their blog can be found here – go have a read.
Finally I would like to thank everyone for the support you have given me over the past couple of months. Discovering I have breast cancer is the definitely the worst thing that has happened to me and to us. The love and support from fellow bloggers and twitter folk has been a great help. I plan to continue to write my weekly diary. It is important for me to be able to describe the physical and emotional effects. But also, as many people have said it may help others in the future. This is the link to the posts (if I can’t self promote on my own blog, then where can I)? I don’t know if people are ready to see my new body, but I am almost ready to share. But that will be on another day.
The new me is really the old me. I have lost just a small part of my body, not an arm or a leg. In terms of body mass or weight it is nothing. But when it comes to the impact of the removal of a breast it feels enormous. Breasts are not sex organs as such, but for a woman they are important elements in the act of sex. My nipples were always very sensitive and I loved to have my breasts touched. To experience that connection to your cunt, the enlarging of your clit and a flow of moisture from within is wonderful. Of course, I still have one nipple and one breast. The connection is still there and when he nibbles or sucks my nipple the reaction is the same.
Learning to love the remains of my breast
I want him to touch the area around my scar now it is healed. I know Master found it daunting, he was frightened he would hurt me. What’s more it took longer to heal than we expected. Fluid found its way out from the suture line and a dressing was required, right up until yesterday. He strokes me gently, running his fingers across and it feels pleasant.
There seems to be no sexual connection from that area and my cunt now. The breast tissue has been removed, but there is feeling. Along most of the scar line now, the sensation is normal. But under my arm the flesh feels as if it belongs to someone else. What’s more, there seems to be more of it than there was. The nurse told me that it’s because the breast previously held it in place. I’m not sure it can be toned through exercise or lost through dieting. Neither of those ever work on the exact areas you want them to.
Over the weekend I developed some weird and not pleasant pains in my right inner arm. It feels like the numbness is subsiding and in its place over sensitive nerves. They are quite the worst pains I have had over the past 5 weeks. But they are short lived, momentary even and happen at the oddest moments. When I stretch my arm our, when I lean forwards, when I try to lie on my right side. Not every time I do those things but often. This is making me a little irritable right now.
Diet, exercise and fitness
There are a host of exercises that I am meant to be doing to make sure my arms are mobile. As I lift them up to my head and above, there is a tightness on the right side, a pulling. The sudden jolting pain is new, but localised and definitely not muscular. I have a hunch I need to increase, not reduce the exercises and so I am trying that. I want to be able to go swimming, I think that would help. But since my scar is still a little vulnerable, I won’t do that yet. So I will try exercising my arm in the bath.
Over the past weekend we stepped up exercise levels in general. The weather was glorious; beautiful crisp sunny if cold days and no rain. We walked miles around London and only took public transport a few times. Walking is great for me and something I need to do daily, a challenge in winter but something that can be done.
Our other source of exercise has been sex and lots of it. That he feels horny most mornings and wants to have sex with me is making me feel good about myself. My mood is pretty good and I feel positive. He tells me how much he wants and needs me and has me tell him how much I want and need him. That affirmation is an important element of our M/s relationship and also part of this healing process for us both.
Finally to diet. I am making the changes previously mentioned, though sticking to them is proving challenging. Mainly because in trying to eliminate one thing you can easily find yourself eating something else almost as bad. Plus over the weekend I ate more cheese than I maybe should have. However I am on the right track as I have lost 3lb over the past 2 weeks. A long way to go to get to a healthy weight but progress none the less.
Next week I see the oncologist and then we can start to plan. The radiotherapy of course, but Christmas and perhaps a trip to some warm weather in the new year.
I have to admit that I have been resistant to making changes to my lifestyle. I know full well that I am over weight, that I often make poor food choices, over eat and drink too much alcohol. But over the past few years I have been enjoying myself and it didn’t seem to be doing me any harm. My view has changed. While the things I put in my mouth and the fact I am over weight may not have caused my cancer they certainly haven’t prevented it.
Soon after my surgery May More, who has a nutrition background suggested some supplements that might help with healing. I looked up the ones she suggested and have been taking two of them for a couple of weeks now. I don’t know if they are helping or not, but I am pretty sure they are doing no harm. So, I’ll continue for now. I may even add others in.
Over the past couple of weeks I have been reading a book called the Rainbow Diet. This was suggested by a good friend whose brother is also using it. Written by a biochemist whose daughter has recovered from brain cancer it makes interesting reading. It looks at the scientific evidence for how the food we eat and the way we cook it contributes to cancer development. It doesn’t advocate diet changes instead of traditional cancer treatments. But rather using them to support treatment, mitigate side effects and eventually to prevent recurrence.
As a health professional myself, I have always been sceptical of the use of diet and supplements as a means of treating illness. Nor have I ever considered they may have preventative qualities. However, it is a fact that my cancer was oestrogen dependent and that there are some foods that support the production of that hormone. The book suggests that a diet high in fat, protein and carbohydrates encourages oestrogen production. It also says that if you are over weight then even more is produced. This seems a good place to start. So, I have begun to reduce my protein and calorie intake, and increase my fruit and vegetable consumption. We are also going to reduce our consumption of processed food (not that we are big consumers). And I am trying to cut out sugar and aspartame.
The rainbow diet is about eating food of all colours and making as much of that food plant based as possible. Eating whole grains rather than processed and cutting down on animal fats. I am not planning to stop eating meat or bread or pasta. But I am going to be thinking much more about the quality of the food that is going in my mouth.
I plan to increase the amount of exercise I take. But at the moment this will mainly be walking. Hopefully in the new year I can begin swimming. Maybe I might even do some other exercise, though I am not a lover of classes.
The conventional treatments I will undergo in the coming months are vital to make sure I can remain clear of cancer. But I believe that I can help things along by making changes to my lifestyle.
A month after surgery and I feel ready to give the merest glimpse of my body.
I was never symmetrical, indeed the right side was larger than the left. Now, though things are different. I am getting used to the look and feel of my new self and might even grow to like it a little.
What I would like though is to slim down that area below my chest. Diet and fitness is my new focus. A blog post about this will follow.
This third week since surgery, has been about getting back to normality and reality. But also about getting the balance right. I have been overwhelmed by everyone’s responses to these posts. They are essentially for me, a way of recording this journey. But as many people have pointed out, they will (hopefully) be useful to others in the future.
Once the wound drain had been removed and I had got the all clear from the doctor, we returned to our Airbnb in Oxford. The two-week festival of song (Lieder) was still going on and we finally immersed ourselves in it. Finally free of the plastic tubing sticking into my side, on the bra line, along with the vacuumed bottle in a handbag, I could again wear dresses and longer tops. At last it was possible to lie comfortably on my side and even turn briefly onto my right side for the first time. We returned home on Sunday and later, took a relaxing jacuzzi bath together. Sipping Prosecco, and allowing the water to lap around my skin was heaven. After the bath I left all the dressings off as everything appeared to be healed.
Over the course of the week, the area around the wound seemed to be swelling up. A cushion was building under my arm once again. I wasn’t immediately worried about all of this, and anyway wasn’t really sure how it should all look and feel. The worst part was that my new pretty pink bra was too tight. Had I bought the wrong size, or perhaps put on weight. On Wednesday night I discovered that a small area of the suture line was oozing serous fluid. I put a dressing over it and went to bed. Luckily I had a hospital appointment the following day.
The doctor drained about 100mls of altered blood from inside the wound area. Luckily I didn’t feel a thing (a mixture of using the stitch line plus the residual numbness). I was pretty surprised, not to mention irritated that the small bump on my chest had gone. I wasn’t meant to have a baby breast, it should have been flat. He told me that it was likely I would need the area aspirating again. I will, because the area has swollen again. Luckily though it hasn’t spread under my arm. It’s pretty obvious the physical healing process is taking longer than expected. Not surprisingly this is getting me down a little.
Sex, drugs and rock and roll
Since the operation, I have been anxious that G would no longer find me attractive. To begin with he was nervous of the wound and dressings and also of hurting me. He was clear though, that he still found me attractive. During the course of this week we have resumed our sex life and thankfully that has meant many orgasms for me. I am reluctant to get on top yet because my wound area is a bit sore. The gravity pull when leaning forward is quite painful. It is weird that I have had more pain this week than after the operation. I have even resorted to taking a few pain killers (that is the limit of my drug use).
There is no doubt I feel more positive about my body and his reaction to it. He has begun to touch and stroke my right side and that means a lot to me. I don’t necessarily like what I see when I look in the mirror, but I am getting used to it.
Our lifestyle right now isn’t exactly Rock and roll. But we have been able to return to socialising. On Wednesday we attended our local Munch and I caught up with Molly, Sub Bee and others. Thursday my brother visited and we had dinner out. Then on Friday I returned to my slimming group, had lunch with a friend and in the evening G and I went out to a concert. A busy few days indeed.
Until the middle of this week, I was pacing myself well. I have been sleeping well at night and resting between activity. Even while in Oxford I didn’t feel especially tired.
But yesterday I woke feeling exhausted. The emotional energy required to tell people about the event of the past few week is enormous. Doing so much on Friday was in hindsight a mistake and I see that I need to make sure I balance rest and activity.
Feeling tired and emotionally drained made my mood low. I could easily have gone back to bed before lunch. Instead we walked into town and did a little shopping and then had lunch. Afterwards I took a nap and woke feeling much better.
This coming week, I am going to try to work on the balance between rest, exercise and other activity. I have taken on a small piece of work that involves interviewing people by phone, collecting and reading some data and writing a report. It isn’t onerous but it is something else to juggle. There are also hospital visits once again.
Over all, as I reach the end of week 3 I feel well. But recognise that as I increase activities I must take care not to over do things. Or to be too eager to get completely back to ‘normal’ life.
I am now 11 days into my recovery from mastectomy surgery and while I am still a little sore, I am healing well.
Once the bruising started to come out, it was evident that it was widespread. Around the wound, towards my back and even on my remaining breast. After a few days the scar began to itch, I took this as a good sign. Everything was covered with dressings, which to begin with were waterproof. By Monday this week, though they were becoming wet and so I had to refrain from showering.
The drain site was the worst part. It gradually became more sore and I was constantly adjusting my bra. This is embarrassing since I was often lut when I needed to fiddle. Bloody fluid contined to to drain much to my annoyance. This meant that the nurses wanted to visit daily. We had things we wanted to do and we both became irritated with waiting in till 5pm. Other patients were more of a priority and so I only managed to be visited early once, on Sunday. They didn’t like me cancelling the visits even though it was clear I could manage the thing myself.
Thankfully, when I attended my appointment at the hospital on Wednesday the drain was removed. The site was on the verge of becoming infected and so this was the best option. There have been no I’ll effects and the swelling began to reduce almost immediately. I have a feeling that the drain was causing more problems than it was resolving.
The wound is healed, but there are still a few bruises and a little swelling under the arm. I can now step up the recommended exercises, which are necessary to make sure I regain full movement in my arm. It feels right and stretching my arm over my head is challenging at the moment.
I have found a company called Amoena that sells beautiful lingerie, swimwear and tops for people who have had breast surgery and have a bra and pants on order. If I am happy with quality etc. I may be spending a bit of money there.
In general I am feeling mentally strong. But certain events that have occurred over this last couple of weeks show that my mood can drop easily. For example the hospital transfer a couple of days after the operation made me weepy and very upset. Made worse by the confirmation this week that it had been unnecessary. Encounters with the nurses, a different one each time made my stress levels high. I am anxious about my body image and how it will affect our relationship going forward.
We have kept ourselves away from family and friends and this has helped. We have a way to go before I, he and we are comfortable with my body as it is now. I suspect that is something I will write about next week. Also in the coming days we will be seeing family and attending our local munch.
I feel ok speaking about the surgery and cancer with Master and close family but less sure of myself with others. I am clear though, I need to be open and not pretend nothing is wrong. This journey is far from over.
Tomorrow it will be a week since my surgery. It has been a strange time. A period where I and we have had less control over events and our lives than we like. I know in the future we will look back on this time and recognise it was just a week. But right now, it has felt a lifetime.
I wrote about the day of the operation and my immediate thoughts here. Remarkably I was less than 24 hours post surgery. I was still under the influence of the anaesthetic and a strong pain killer taken over night. The disappointment of not being allowed home that day had subsided. I knew I wasn’t ready. But I did feel very well and positive. Sadly my positivity didn’t last that night.
In the afternoon I had a visit from the lovely Indie, who took time out of her sightseeing schedule to spend time with me. she brought chocolates and a friendly ear. We chatted and laughed as well as discussing some of the more serious aspects of this whole episode.
Later that evening I developed haematoma. The operation had taken place in a hospital with no emergency facilities, and although there was an on call doctor, he wasn’t part of a surgical team. Around 11pm at night, he and I imagine the more senior doctors he sought advice from, decided I should move to another hospital. It is only a few miles away, but involved an ambulance, time in an assessment unit and then transfer to a ward. Suddenly I felt alone, scared and completely out of control. My bubble completely burst and over a period of a few hours I felt quite desperate.
I can see I was unrealistic about the size of this operation and the potential complications. It is also clear that those explaining things were pretty blasé about the risks. The chance of me ending up with a wound drain was high, yet I was told it was something I might have. 20% of women end up with a haematoma after mastectomy, and that is a reasonable risk. But I hadn’t really looked into it at all. We were told that it would likely be an overnight stay, but from where I sit now, I can see that was unlikely.
I wonder why it is clinical staff are so keen to shed a positive light on recovery times. The fact that I went into this with such a rosy view has meant that what happened after was quite a shock to the system.
Getting out of hospital was quite a challenge on Thursday. My surgeon is based at the original hospital and seems to have a pretty heavy workload. So another doctor saw me on Wednesday and Thursday. He would have preferred me to remain in hospital but I had had enough. Because I still have the wound drain home services were set up for me. But I really didn’t want them. My long nursing career means I know how to manage a drain and understand what to look out for. Sitting around waiting for someone to measure the output is not something I want to do. I don’t think I was being difficult when I asked for Saturday off from visits. But it is not something they seem all that used to.
I have ordered a bag so I can carry the drain around. It arrived yesterday, but unfortunately I was out and the postman has taken it to the sorting office. Meantime I have a shoulder bag that is the right size and shape. I am getting quite good at hiding the tubing. And as with other things, people don’t really observe what is going on around them so I doubt many people have noticed.
I discovered last week that Marks and Spencer have a range of post surgery bras. At the moment I need something front fastening and soft, so have this one. But have already found a company that sells colourful and pretty soft bras and have one on order. Soon I will buy something much more delicate. I want to be able to feel at least a little sexy. The insert I have is soft and while it feels odd I can see that it does look pretty normal from outside.
I am pretty bruised – I even have a shiner on my remaining tit (I wonder how that happened). but at present the scar is hidden by dressings. My body looks weird to me and I know to him too. We are not quite ready or indeed able for him to explore it. But we are speaking about the changes to my body, my body image and what that might mean.
There is a long road ahead and it has only been a week, but we have coped amazingly well considering. I am not brave or special, I just want to be able to look back and know that I have managed this process in the best way I can. This might not have always made me popular, but I am not changing my personality for anyone. What is more, I could not have done this without the love, care and support of the man I love. The man who is my Master.
The rollercoaster events of the past few weeks came to a conclusion yesterday. Once the decision for me to have a mastectomy was made last Wednesday we began to make plans for the weekend. Being away from home helped, and while we obviously discussed the operation, we also concentrated on having a good time.
The music festival got off to a great start with workshops about the poetry of Lord Byron and it’s musical settings, followed by a day on Debussy. There were evening concerts and meals in our favourite restaurants.
On Saturday night we drank a little too much, and Master took a few photographs of me naked in our Airbnb living room. I don’t know if we will ever show them, but we have a few good shots for ourselves.
Sunday was spent at a study session, learning about classical composers and their music across European and transatlantic borders. Then we travelled home. Driving home in the rain we encountered heavy traffic, but once home spent the evening quietly.
By now we both felt ready to face the inevitable. It was time to get this operation done. The time for commiserations done. On Monday morning I had an early breakfast and then we went back to bed for a while. Snuggled together he stroked and kissed me before bidding farewell to my right breast.
It turned out to be a long day
Although we arrived at the hospital at 12.30, I didn’t go for the operation until 4.30. My son came over to spend the afternoon with us. A slightly surreal but pleasant afternoon passed.
My first ever anaesthetic and operation passed smoothly and by 6.45pm I had woken up. I was amazingly awake and felt pretty good. The first face I saw as I arrived back on the ward was Master’s. A feeling of immense relief passed over me. Within minutes I was speaking to my son on the phone to reassure him all was well.
As I lay in my bubble of post surgery euphoria, I snuck a peek inside the front of my gown. My left breast remains in tact, its nipple still holding the plastic bar I bought for the operation. My right side is flat, the wound hidden by dressings, it’s breast and nipple is no more.
There were 4 of us women in our shared bay, all recovering from surgery for breast cancer. After Master and other visitors had left we lay in our beds talking about our experiences to date. Reflecting on this shared journey. Our nurses were kind and compassionate, encouraging us to talk.
It was a long night
Only one of us slept last night and that someone wasn’t me. The ward was quiet, but each of us had our lower legs encased in machinery designed to prevent thrombosis. The intermittent noise generated by each one seemed to prevent sleep. Added to this, regular observations by the diligent nursing staff and alarms elsewhere meant none of us slept for more than a few minutes at a time. Still the sence of cameradey carried us through to breakfast at 7am.
While the two women who had lumpectomies headed home at lunchtime, two of us remain for another night. I am hopeful of being sent home tomorrow. I faced my bare chest in the bathroom mirror this morning as I washed and don’t relish the thought of seeing my scar. But this has to be faced, and now hopefully the cancer is gone. Difficult days lie ahead for me and for him. But we are facing this together.