My least favourite version of a hospital gown. Printed with the words 'hospital use only' - that's funny because I thought it would look good as a party dress.

Having been so open about my recent surgery for nipple reconstruction I feel it’s only fair to update you on how it’s all turned out. OK so the administration of my hospital experience was ‘not ideal’ and I’ve written plenty about that (please note just over 7,000 words, and all of them, together with Ronnie’s accompanying blog, sent hard-copy to the hospital – more about their response will follow in another blog post). But surgically this was very straightforward and has gone well. I also have the most wonderful kind and gentle and skilled plastic surgeon – Ken Graham – who I trust completely. And I know he will always do his best for me.

So for ten days after surgery I have a blue foam block covering my new nipple and dressings on the other breast where I’ve had some revision for symmetry. And a four-inch suture line on the inside of my upper thigh which is frankly, very uncomfortable. That was the donor site for the skin which was used to create an areola (which will mean I don’t need any tattoo-ing if the colour works out well). And I don’t mind telling you that having three surgical sites in particularly senstive areas do in fact hurt, I feel delicate and bruised. The effort of bending over to paint my toe nails, the tenderness, the way I am frightened that I will knock myself and hurt. Impossible to sleep on my side, too uncomfortable because of the stitches on both sides. All those things that are familiar post-surgery.

And all this healing time is frankly boring. I don’t get out much, I can’t do anything very active. I sleep long and nap often. I have some visitors who bring me chocolate and cake and we chat. I’ve been to the cinema and also went out for delicious pizza with my friend Karen, but post-surgery is a time for rest and healing.

So as I anxiously look at myself I get to see bits of stitches, dried blood and bruising. That’s what surgery looks like while it’s healing. Continue reading

Show me the money

A couple of months ago I was just going into the swimming baths and a woman came in behind me and asked the receptionist, ‘Could I leave some leaflets for you to display about a local healthy eating and weight loss group?’ And the woman behind reception said without pausing, ‘No, we don’t display leaflets.’ So the woman with the leaflets turned round and left.

But that was blatantly not true, because on the counter, right there was a cardboard leaflet holder containing leaflets for a cancer charity’s ‘Race for Life’ event taking place in Liverpool. This event is not for a breast cancer specific charity, but the leaflet has a picture showing women in pink t-shirts, and the irritating slogan of ‘Join the girls’, (well it irritated me), implying that this is an event for women. At the time I had a sense of feeling that it was wrong, a health facility supporting a national cancer reearch charity, but not a local health group.

And, the ‘Race for Life’ event happened this weekend. I was reminded of that because one of my squash friends told me she was taking part in this event. I said, ‘I hope you’re not wearing a pink t-shirt!’ and she laughed. But she told me she was doing it with her friend, whose boyfriend’s mother has just been diagnosed with breast cancer and is now being treated. And she wanted to do something.

I totally get that. She wanted to do something.

Continue reading