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

Fit for Friday #8

I should be up to week 21 or something but for me this is the 8th post. I guess though that doesn’t matter.

Fitness

On Wednesday we returned from 6 days travelling to Holland, via France and Belgium. We mostly stayed in hotels which was a challenge for the diet (more of that below). But there was plenty of opportunity for walking. In fact, my legs still ache! Last week’s step count was up from 61,000 to 66,000 and this week will be even better. My best day last week was 12,517 on Saturday when we visited a beautiful town for a music festival. This increase has prompted me to increase my Fitbit daily target from 9,000 to 10,000. I plan to keep up this level of walking where possible. I haven’t been swimming this week for obvious reasons but might try twice next week.

Food intake

I have recorded my meals religiously over the past 2 weeks, but while away recording exact portions was challenging. I also know that some snacks and drinks went unrecorded. So my plan this week is to be more accurate. I also need to look at portion sizes a bit more than I am used to. I am determined to lose some weight so this week am going to drastically reduce my alcohol intake.

Weight

Not surprisingly I put on a couple of pounds while away on holiday. But am focused on losing that over the next week. We have 5 weeks till we go away again and ideally I’d like to lose a stone in weight by then. Let’s see if this resolution is better kept than the last 25! I feel positive though and positivity brings results!

Health

All is good on the health front. I have a scan this coming week as part of the preparation for my breast reconstruction. More about that next week.

I took the decision yesterday not to go back to work just now. while I like the idea of working again, the job being offered was, I fear going to lead to stress but not fulfilment. It was below my previous pay scale, and they were just a little over keen on having me. The crunch came when I was asked to go to a 9am interview this morning. I decided no thanks. So for now, I remain a lady of leisure.

Revealing my vulnerability

Radiotherapy took much more out of me than I expected. The journey to the hospital, waiting around and receiving the short treatment was fine. It has been the ensuing 3 weeks that has been difficult. I have been sore, very sore and I have been tired. Surprisingly too my mood has been low. You would imagine that reaching the end of treatment would be a high and it was. So why do I feel so low? Finally this week I admitted to Master, not only am I dead tired and weary but I feel depressed. Not seriously, just a little.

I have rarely in my life admitted these kind of feelings to another and I still feel slightly surprised that I can. Maybe not quite the astonished of the Wicked Wednesday prompt, but surprised all the same. Acknowledging my vulnerability to Master is something of an achievement. Admitting it to friends and family, now that would be something. But actually, I have.

There is strength in not admitting your vulnerability

That was what I believed for many years. I wanted to appear strong, not weak. But then was often surprised people did not see through it. People, including my husband used to tell me how strong I was. While all the time I would be crying inside, unsure which way to turn, what to do. There was always someone I needed to be strong for – my son who was a young child when my husband was cheating, my husband when he was made redundant, my parents when my dad was diagnosed with cancer. The list is almost endless.

The longer you keep that stiff upper lip going the tougher you and others think you are. But in the end something has to give and when I reached outside of my marriage for another man to love me I was searching for something else. It is no surprise that I found men who wanted to use my body, who wanted to restrain and beat me. Luckily I chose wisely and neither of those men turned out to be in any way abusive.

Letting go

Over the past 5 years, Master has helped me reveal my vulnerable side. He has helped peel away the layers of armour with which I had surrounded myself. I always held secrets, things I didn’t want to tell others. Sometimes because I didn’t want to hurt another, or because I wanted to hold something back. Now though, there is nothing to hide. There is nothing I can’t tell. Secrets and lies multiply over time and then when they are told they have a greater effect. By admitting a vulnerability at the time takes away some of the weight of the problem.

It is amazing I didn’t recognise this in me before. When my son was small, around 6 or 7 he worried about so many things. We found a book in the library which, was all about a little boy like him, who learnt how to share worries so they didn’t become a huge burden. It seems a shame I didn’t make the link then, as I would have saved myself a huge amount of heart ache.

Moving forward

My doctors, nurses and others said that the period just after treatment would be difficult. That people often feel vulnerable and they were right. The soreness, even though I knew it might happen, surprised me. As did the extent of the exhaustion. But thank goodness I am with someone who had listened and read about the effects of diagnosis and treatment. Someone who understands and wants to care for me.

This illness has allowed me to be vulnerable and to allow my family to see a different side of me. Some have embraced it and reassured me while others have chosen to ignore it. But it has taught me about myself and my body and about what is important. I hope that in the future I will take the memories from this experience and choose not to try to rebuild that armour. I’m sure Master will have something to say if I try.

Maybe I am a little bit astonished so this piece fits nicely into the Wicked Wednesday prompt of ‘astonish’ as well as the Safeword D/s club prompt of vulnerability.

tellmeabout

Fit for Friday in February

There was no time last weekend for a fit for Friday post. After a quiet January, we burst into February with a vengeance. There have been old films to see, concerts to attend and a couple of gallery exhibitions. We are culturally on top of our game. But this meant a lot of meals out, wine and beer. Enjoyable but not necessarily conducive to weight loss.

Diet and fitness

We’ve had some great meals out as well as in. When we are home we try to eat healthily, and include lots of vegetables. When out though it is difficult because even when you think you are choosing wisely it can still turn up smothered in oil. Mind you, being out and about lends itself to tons of walking and an improved step count. Unfortunately one doesn’t cancel out the other, so the net gain over all has been another pound. Today though my weight stayed the same so perhaps I can turn things around next week. Steps averaged 7000, with some highs of 12,000 and more. But there are some post radiotherapy lows that have definitely got in the way.

Health

They tell you that the after effects of radiotherapy continue for a few weeks following treatment. Also that effects are cumulative. They aren’t joking. I am now 16 days post end of treatment and am as sore as someone who lay in the sun for 14 days without sun lotion. Worse, much of the burnt area is under my right arm. It is red, bruised and bow the skin is peeling. On Wednesday I went back to the hospital for advice and dressings. I know this will pass, but it is seriously unpleasant. I am also tired and fed up.

Luckily we are off on holiday in a week and to be frank I cant wait. I’m hoping that by the time we get home I’ll be ready to step up the steps and exercise in general and lose so e weight.

Things that made me laugh

Dealing with medical embarrassment

Over the past few months I have found myself in some strange but pretty serious situations. I have had to take my top off for doctors and other health professionals more times than most models do for a photographer in a whole career. Everyone is very professional and careful to protect privacy and dignity. But we do smile about it afterwards. G comes with me to appointments and even though they think he is my husband they are very careful that he doesn’t see my naked chest behind the curtain. Of course you should never take these things for granted, but it does amuse us.

In the waiting room

Over the past 3 weeks we have been making daily trips to the cancer hospital for radiotherapy treatment. It’s a reasonably big place with about 9 or 10 Linear Accelerators and most have their own little waiting area. The radiography teams are often running late, so you are sitting in close proximity to (often anxious) people for a while. During the first week, there was an abundance of people talking about their illnesses, not only their own but everyone they have ever known. Not so much funny as irritating, especially for G who has to spend longer listening.

Last Monday though we were waiting with a group of 3 women; daughter (the patient), her mother and a friend who had driven them. The conversation was about whether the mother and daughter who lived together should invest in amazon prime. There then ensued a conversation where all 3 called out films that could or could not be accessed on the service. A conversation about the chronological order and quality of the Alien films ensued. Plus the daughter wanted access to ‘christian’ music to listen to all day. I guess it is a measure of our daily lives right now that this was amusing. So much so that we have been talking about it all week. Especially when we were trying to find something to watch on Amazon Prime that was worth watching and at no extra cost.

Our own laugh filled viewing

We don’t watch much real time TV, mainly because we can’t find much to appeal. Recently we’ve been binge watching some old stuff. One from our youth that made us laugh was the Beiderbeck Trilogy – jazz, intrigue and comedy rolled into one. I never watched My Name is Earl when it was on TV, but we’ve been watching some episodes of that too.

At the cinema we saw the new Laurel and Hardy Biopic: Stan and Ollie which we really enjoyed. The bits when they were doing their act was like watching the real thing. It made us laugh out loud. It was serious and sad too, but the funny bits were real belly laugh moments. We rounded off with a couple of original films which added to the fun and laughter.

I pledge my commitment to blog for my mental health. I will write about mental health topics not only for myself but for others. I do this to destigmatize mental illness and to promote mental health awareness & education. I am a sex blogger for mental health. #sb4mh #bfmh #notalone #SexNotStigma