Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Being 'happy forever'

With each passing day I'm getting back on my feet. It's a slow process and at times frustrating. Poor Saint Mike knows when I'm really pushing myself too hard as I invariably end up snapping at him. That Sainthood is really knocking hard on his door!

I'm at my happiest when I get my creative on. This weekend I was executing the event styling for a 40th birthday for a very dear friend. It was just what I needed.

We had agreed on a similar scheme to the natural textures used at a few other events I've styled but because it was for my friend we also needed some femininity thrown in so we went with gold and I incorporated some foliage to up the ante.

I re used the cloths I made early in the year for a school function but the table needed something else so I went with a DIY doily table runner. A couple of trips to the local charity stores and I had the makings of a perfectly proportioned runner made up of assorted doilies to lay across the tables.

I decorated the room with my rustic bunting and upped the bling factor by making a garland with some  cardboard and bronze/gold adhesive paper cut into disks and then sewn into a garland...so easy it's ridiculous! Looked really effective.

The girls had their fill of Heinz Baby puréed apple so I could use the jars as votive holders - gold washi tape and some sweet lace ribbon was all it took to make them shine.

It took a huge effort to set it up but I loved every moment and was thrilled that my gorgeous friend was able to see her space transformed into a magical dining room for her to enjoy her night.

Now if only I could manage to do event styling and get paid to do it I would "be happy forever" (fave expression used by the KATs).

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Finding the Phenomenal Woman Inside

I caught up with a lovely friend this week. She is an amazing woman. We met when I embarked on my first foray into Ocean Swimming with CanToo.

I struggled terribly with the dreaded Imposter Syndrome and although unaware of this she buoyed my confidence that year simply by being her lovely self - warm, encouraging and inclusive. She swam beside me and although I know she thought it was me helping her, it was really the other way round!

The following year I returned despite knowing that I was carrying even more weight both physically and psychologically than my first year. I shouldn't have put myself through the program. It wasn't being kind to myself. It was certainly not the confidence building experience of the first time. I stumbled towards the goal swim isolated from my team and although I raised my required funds, I chose to swim on my own the day of the Cole because I was so ashamed at my perceived failure.

As I stood alone in the crowd of people milling around awaiting our "wave", Lizzie stumbled upon me. We agreed to swim together. I knew that this meant Lizzie would not swim to her own pace. I knew she was forsaking a better time to stay with me. I will always be grateful for her compassion and kindness.

The day after we caught up she sent me the shots from the swim photographer. They transported me. How lost I felt. How much I was struggling. How much has happened since.

I'm not this person anymore. I'm different in so many ways. But I still have my friendship with this special person.

I am so fortunate to have people like Lizzie in my life.

Monday, May 19, 2014

I'm still here!

I know I've been MIA! Sorry. Sorry. Sorry!

My mother pointed out to me this week that I haven't updated my blog of late. No excuse really. Just simply a feeling that I can't quite overcome that anything I say here is a bit redundant.

It's hard to explain but it's got something to do with a pervasive feeling that I've got nothing much left to say here....I'm alive. I'm on the road to recovery. I don't feel great but I don't want to be a whiner!!

Emerging from the other side of my treatment has been and continues to be a challenge. The world and my place in it is different. I just haven't worked out how to work with that "different".

I'm feeling much healthier. My wounds are healing - the physical and the mental ones. My KAT's are also recovering. Less fragile and more secure. Saint Mike is also starting to relax!  

I smile broadly and my smile is genuine. I am happy to be alive.

If I'm absent for a while longer forgive me. If you aren't related to me and still check in here I thank you for your interest! 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The swing of things

I'm five weeks post-surgery today. This is a good thing as Oprah would say.

My recovery is coming along swimmingly. I seem to be text-book compliant in terms of my physical state. Pain reducing but not altogether fantastic. I keep it at bay during daylight hours using Panadol Osteo but as the afternoon progresses it all seems to catch up on me and I'm scoffing codeine before bed to ensure my sleep is undisturbed.

To distract myself I've been undertaking some "recovery-friendly" creative pursuits. My little Portulaca friend is an example of the sort of gardening I can manage.

This little beauty was inspired by something on Pinterest where they utilised Grape Vines....not living in or near a vineyard meant I resorted to stripping some vines off our Star Jasmine outside the back door....a ball I found in the garden was used as my base and whilst watching a bit of trashy "Real Housewives of Melbourne" (God save me now) I wound and tied and wound and tied until I had this rustic work of art! I've attached a string of solar powered fairy lights but I'm not loving the effect....stay tuned, I have my thinking cap on and it will be finessed!

Prior to the BC diagnosis I was in the process of launching a new business. It's clearly not happened but I've had loads of time to develop my business plan and I'm now in the early stages of getting it off the ground. Watch this space!

I'm still doing my best to spend at least a little while each day here. Some days are harder than others to put my feet up.

Oh and we had a wedding anniversary to celebrate on Saturday. Seventeen years! Can you believe it!! As you can see, age doesn't weary the silliness of Saint Mike:)

That's pretty much all I have to report. Note the distinct lack of talk re my mental state? Did I mention my physical recovery is going well? We won't discuss my fragile mental state. It's all good, time is a great healer as they say.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


I'm supposed to be resting and recuperating. I'm trying to sit still but I'm really useless at it. 

Instead I'm pottering about the house finding little jobs to do. One of them involves a minor bit of potting (nothing heavy is allowed).

I commandeered this ladder ages ago during a council clean up. Saint Mike isn't a fan but I love it's rustic charm.

It's been repurposed for now as a pot plant holder. The bottom three white plants are the grape dip trays I finished last year but all the other little beauties are things I've potted up from cuttings some pre-surgery. Some post-op.

These tea cups were lovely but they're just not practical. Hence I decided they'd look cute as a receptacle for succulents. 

Now it's just a case of making sure the possum doesn't climb my ladder and have a naughty nibble!

Monday, March 10, 2014

Home sweet home

Late this afternoon my surgeon popped his smiling face in my door. A few minutes later he uttered the words I'd been waiting to hear. I was free to go home!

The final drain was removed and I left hospital clutching my overflowing bag of medications. Let's just say if there's a sudden shortage of endone on the lower north shore swing by my place for a fix!!!

A certain ruby-hued cavoodle was positively beside herself when I arrived home. She exhausted herself completely in her enthusiasm.

My KATs were equally thrilled and Saint Mike was a walking sigh of relief. We are fortunate to once again have my big sister her to help nurse us all (she arrived last night) so it's been lovely to have her once again doing her best to cajole us all in the right direction - be it dinner, homework, shower or bed!
Anyone who reads this blog that knows her IRL (in real life) will know that cajoling is not a habit normally associated with her...she's usually more steamroller than powderpuff. So watching her gently persuading the KATs really speaks to how much she loves them and me:)

Friday, March 7, 2014

The tastiest cherry

As I have processed down the corridor where all doors lead to breast cancer treatment I commandeered a saying from one of my favourite shows, VEEP.

If you haven't seen it, you are missing out. Then again you might watch a few minutes of it and decide that I'm the one missing out....on a few brain cells! It's about a female US Vice President and her minute by minute struggles with the Washington political machine. It is expletive-laden quick-fire dialogue and not for the faint-hearted.

One of Selena's funniest sayings comes when she's briefed on yet another crap situation coming her way and she announces "Well, isn't that just another cherry on my turd cake!!!" Insert a few F-bombs and you have the expression that I am now renowned for in the house of KATcapers!

My latest cherry was my double mastectomy with TRAM flap reconstruction. I had determined that this was the surgery that would give me the outcome I wanted - remove the remaining DCIS in left boobie, reduce chance of cancer recurring in this boob and the other boob was going to be dragged along for the ride just in case leftie got lonely!! Seriously, I don't ever want to face breast cancer again so removing and reconstructing both breasts was the risk-minimization strategy that ticked all the boxes for me.

Surgery was Feb 26th. I was beside myself with terror in the days and weeks preceding.

Surgery length was roughly 12 hours. I was at the hospital at 6am and apparently was in ICU by 9pm Wednesday night. I remained there heavily medicated until Saturday when I was transferred to the ward.

My second stint in ICU was more painful but less dramatic than the December visit. I wasn't conscious for mush of it and the KATs didn't come in to visit....it just would have been too upsetting!

I came down to the ward with 6 drains slowly ridding my body of the fluid from surgery. I was a human octopus with said drains needing to be "milked" each few hours and every 24hrs measured...each drain needs to be under 30ml before it can be removed. These drains are uncomfortable and painful when they're accidentally tugged on. Worse still, I had one in my groin that was touching a nerve and I was in agony each time the nursing staff tried to move me...grim!

During my ICU stint I had required another blood transfusion and my blood pressure had once again been cause for concern. Checks of my new breasts' blood supply were done on a 30min schedule so what sleep I could manage was in those increments! By Saturday the "flap" checks were being done 4 hourly. Leaving ICU also meant leaving behind my PCA machine which was my push-button method of getting a fast dose of pain relief. Once in the ward I went to a combination of slow release narcotic and more instant endone with a chaser of paracetamol....the pain relief version of a pat on the head!

It's been a ride that's for sure! My body is still reeling from the shock imposed on it and emotionally I am up one minute and then crashing down the next. Unfortunately what was to be a 7 night hospital stay has become 11 nights due to fluid still draining and a requirement for some additional surgery on the following Wednesday to deal with an area on the left breast flap where the skin wasn't going to survive. To the naked eye it looked just like an area of bruising, but in actuality it was dying tissue.

So here I lie typing away on Saturday night hoping that tomorrow will be the day I can go home to my gorgeous girls. They have been so brave and I want them to be able to commence the new school week with their mum finally back home...cross fingers!

It will be a long recovery (6 weeks not driving and apparently 12 weeks before I get my strength back). I can't sit up without rolling over and aside from scars and inflammation and new boobs I have a scar that extends from my rear pelvic bone all the way around the front to the other side and back to above my butt! It's a whopper! 

As with every other step in this process we have been overwhelmed by the love and support of our family and friends near and far. We are being supported every step of the way and for that I am extremely grateful.
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