It occurred to me listening to a discussion on LBC, about Danny Baker, that it seems like there is a real rise of extreme behaviours, almost as though we have forgotten how to treat people with respect. Not to say that Danny Baker’s comments were extreme, certainly stupid but extreme no and he paid the price. Then you have people like Lord Sugar who can get away with tweeting what is overtly racist and not sanctioned in any way. Politicians in recent local elections and per se are being verbally and physically abused, there’s a rise in anti-Semitic remarks, Nazi signs being painted, University students making rape threats, etc, etc…….. Not to mention protests over educating our next generations on LGBT rights. Then there’s a woman in the States who is having to pay for her own substitute at work whilst she goes through breast cancer and only recently Alabama has banned abortions!
I’m a bit concerned about the World I live in, especially having grown up with some form of prejudice. Up until recently I thought I lived in a progressive western society but now, not so much!
Is the World going backwards or what! History tells me that most Civil unrests in the World occurred as a result of inequality in society. If our governments and Judicial system continue to promote inequality, there will be a rise in extremism creating Civil unrest! But then what do I know!
I am now 10 weeks on from my DIEP surgery and I am doing well. I am officially in remission which is great. I have been swimming, cycling, Pilates, etc because I am on a mission to get fit and well, so that I can go travelling. It’s absolutely true that your perspective on life changes through this journey and for a little while I have decided to focus on my health and plan a journey of a different kind. I recently went to Venice and Croatia and realised my own limitations following all this treatment as well as how much I enjoyed travelling. Perhaps see for myself if the world really is doing a U turn. So, my next blog is about the limitations you face when traveling as a single woman whose body is weak from Chemo and having had major surgery some 12 weeks ago and what I have been doing to get fit. I have also signed up to do a 100km bike ride next year to raise money for Breast Cancer Care. Please sponsor me at https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/harjit-gill
This is now the final leg of this long journey and all I can say, “We can rebuild her. We have the can make her better than she was before: better, stronger, faster.”
I’m not sure I’m stronger or faster but I have definitely been rebuilt in the words of the bionic woman!
On my way home, driving down a country lane, a warning light appeared on the car informing me that there was a malfunction with the steering wheel. I couldn’t believe it given the car had literally just come out of the garage after a MOT and service. It was also quite scary when the steering wheel refused to turn. So, I found the nearest layby and stopped the car, at which point everything died. I had 12% battery life on my telephone and could not remember for the life of me who I had recovery with. I knew I had renewed it whilst going through Chemo but could I remember the name, no. Not to mention the fact I was conscious not to drain the battery whilst searching for the details given I would have to call the company once I found their details! Fortunately, I found the details and called them but now I needed a toilet and you know how it is when you can’t distract yourself, well I had nothing to distract myself with. I even considered going in the layby but when I got out of the car it was too cold and exposed, that I couldn’t. Every car that went by me beeped because I had no hazards on as all of the electrics had died. So, I waited, and I waited, getting colder and colder. Recovery arrived at 11pm and it took the gentleman half an hour to load the car onto the truck. It was 1pm when I arrived home freezing cold. I then had to get myself down to the garage by 8am because I needed the car to collect the kids who were both travelling to me prior to the surgery. The car was fixed some £400 later, another expense I didn’t need especially with no income coming in. The day after I spent all day at the hospital undergoing various scans but whilst at hospital I was told I had to wait for a blood thinning injection prior to surgery which meant I overstayed the time on the pay and display ticket receiving a parking charge notice of £70. Again, would it not make more sense to pay on exit rather than a pay and display system in a hospital, granted most hospital appointments are rarely on time!
The surgery itself went well. I was closely monitored, every hour the first night and then every 2 hours the following night and then every 4 hours after that. I cannot praise the nursing staff on ward 11 at High Wycombe enough for their patience and support. The consultant and the nursing staff were all brilliant and I had all the dressings removed 2 days ago. I was now allowed to use stairs and have a bath. My daughter had come over for a week and helped with food and washing which was great but there’s nothing like being able to sit in a bath and washing yourself. There is also nothing like a good night’s sleep in a bed and not a sofa. So, the last 2 nights have been in bed and I have actually slept despite the fact I have to sleep on my back with my knees bent. I am a little more mobile but given my stomach has been cut from one end to the other it is going to take time before I can do anything normal given we use our core muscles for many things.
Overall, I do feel like I have been rebuilt over the years, what with metal plates in my jaw from when I broke it in Thailand, metal screws in my knee from a football injury and now a new breast from my own fat and finally a flat stomach and new belly button. What more could a woman of my age want! Anyhow, the battle continues both physically and mentally to deal with the everyday challenges and consequences of being diagnosed with breast cancer.
I know not when you arrived
Or when I became your host
I know not whether you’ll return
Or pass like ships in the dark.
Your silence is deafening
Any words would be cheap.
For now, I am alone,
Examining this heap.
A lump in my chest and toes in pain
Premature grey all over my crown.
For you another day, another prey
I’m just one of many
Making my way.
Happy New Year!
I know, where did that year go?
You could reasonably assume that given I was ill, perhaps the year dragged a little, but it surprisingly didn’t and that’s probably because so much happened last year. Recap, I had a diagnosis of breast cancer, I had 2 operations, I underwent chemotherapy, as well as having my heart broken and treated badly by others. Work essentially has been the one stable and constant part of my life and all I wanted to do was go back to work and get my mind active as well as earn a living. The thing is you can’t make any plans or participate in social activities if you have no income. So, I am sure you can imagine that by Christmas I was feeling let down by numerous people who had led me to believe that I could rely on them. The whole rug had now been pulled out from underneath me and there was nothing I could do but topple over. As well as all this it’s only been 2 months since I finished Chemo. I am telling this story to whoever chooses to read this blog, not because I want anyone to feel sorry for me but a reminder to myself that it has been a challenging year to say the least, but it is history now and it’s time to take control and move forward.
The reality is this is an illness I had no control over and the whole purpose of our Equality Act is to ensure that people like me are treated fairly. A friend of mine reminded me of how many minority groups I represent which made me really giggle. I practically tick every box going, so now I’m disabled as well!
The hair has been growing back slowly however nobody warned me of the risk of going grey and I am now 70 % grey and this whole process is transforming who I physically used to look like. I am embracing the short grey hair and you know if I’d not had cancer I would not have realised how much short hair suits me. Silver linings hey! My muscles still hurt some days if I have walked and my toes still hurt but the fog in my brain is clearing and I can see things more clearly now.
The next stage of treatment involves further surgery. I met with the consultant who would potentially perform my DIEP surgery, another lovely man, kind and calm. Listened to my concerns and was honest with me about the whole process. So what is a DIEP?
A DIEP flap is a type of breast reconstruction in which blood vessels called deep inferior epigastric perforators (DIEP), as well as the skin and fat connected to them, are removed from the lower abdomen and transferred to the chest to reconstruct a breast after mastectomy without the sacrifice of any of the abdominal muscles.
Thanks to Wikipedia.
I opted for a Diep flap because I felt it was the right option for me and I really didn’t want an implant. Had I had a double mastectomy, I may have gone for implants for the sake of symmetry which I can only achieve with my own tissue in my case. I felt quite anxious that the surgeon who operated on me last year did not perform Diep surgery.
So I was relieved, that I liked this consultant and felt relatively safe. He explained the procedure and made notes to ensure I remembered the important factors and here is one of those.
The consultant informs me that I will have a completely flat stomach, I couldn’t believe it! Of course, he does also tell me that it’s a big operation, 5-6 hours long, I will struggle to walk for 2 weeks and that I will be hospital for at least 5 days and that the first 48 hours is critical and I will be in a lot of discomfort. Recovery time is at least 3-4 months before I feel like myself. But all I can remember when I get in to my car is I’m going to have a flat stomach. Another silver lining!
I laugh and focus on the positives whilst I pack boxes and begin another part of this journey and hope that it won’t be as bumpy as the last. A friend of mine reminded me that last year was about survival whereas this year is about thriving. My landlords is being extremely supportive and I will be moving in, shortly with my best friend. He has been a true friend. Be kind to one another.
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