Thursday 6 November 2008

Hero worship.

Well I didn't get a kitten, but I did get a bigger boob. The RSPCA Cat Woman (thankfully no PVC) came round to check out the flat and gave me the go-ahead to pick up Sgt Pepper (I didn't tell her about Miss Ellie), but the little tyke's gone and got a cold so the vet's got to hang onto her for a couple of days while she has medical treatment. (And yes, I do see the irony in me choosing a sick cat, thank you very much.) But, after Tuesday's hospital visit for the final part of my implant inflation, it might not be altogether a bad thing that I didn't have a kitten crawling all over me and my painful left boob. And if you believe that, you've not been reading this blog long enough. In truth, the kitten – just like the baking and the blogging – has been a cheerful distraction from just how panicked, worried and want-to-run-away scared I am about the next chemo. And now she's not able to come home yet, I'm back to fretting and crying uncontrollably. So that 'might not altogether be a bad thing' line is, of course, a load of toot. I'd much rather be crying about a kitten having jumped on my sore tit than the prospect of another horrific chemo, and the reality of the damage it's done to me so far, physically and emotionally. 

But back to business. The falsie is actually more tender than painful now, and no bloody wonder considering what it's been put through. To compensate for the implant-shrinking effects of radiotherapy, Smiley Surgeon inflated it to a size slightly larger than my right one. Not to the point where anyone other than me, P and Smiley Surgeon (the only other man allowed to mess with my boobs) would notice, mind, but it still feels like I've got a bowling ball stuffed down the left side of my T-shirt. I'm starting to understand the gravity-defying, fixed-in-place busts of the Strictly dancers. No matter how much you jump up and down (and even in my weak state, I've given it a go), fake tits just don't jiggle around like normal ones. They're quite the feat of engineering, I tells ya. That said, it's going to be weird in the future when my right boob goes south and my left one stays perky. Sod it, I'll just have to treat myself to another bit of surgery. Then, if nothing else, I'll at least have a perfect pair to show for this ordeal.  

I've learned, though, that this implant won't be sticking around for much longer and, to be honest, I'm glad. As brilliant as it is to have a lovely round boob and a killer cleavage again, it's not at all comfortable. I can feel the plastic edge of the implant underneath my skin, and the valve attached to it that Smiley Surgeon uses for inflation doesn't just dig in, but can be easily located by an ugly-looking bruise. But thankfully all of that will be a thing of the past when I have my next lot of surgery. What I hadn't realised was that, at the same time as creating a new nipple, Smiley Surgeon will also replace the plastic boob with the Gold Standard of falsies: a silicone implant. (Maybe I'll contact Max Clifford and see whether he can get me a few quid for a Jordan-esque story. 'My New Boob: Revealed! Exclusively in OK! Magazine.') A while back, Smiley Surgeon gave me a silicone implant to hold and I loved it. Smooth and malleable and, well, boob-like, it's a bit like transparent Silly Putty or Play-Doh (sadly without the gorgeous smell). I can't wait. The meantime-implant isn't without its uses, though – it's stretching the skin around my boob enough for it to easily accommodate the A-list implant next April.

I was hoping it could all be done a bit sooner than that, actually (it looks like Barbados will have to wait – besides, I only want to show off my bikini'd bust when it's at its most fabulous), but apparently I'm underestimating the effects of radiotherapy and how long it'll take for me to recover from it. Yet again, Smiley Surgeon was quick to sit me down and stress just how much strain it's going to put on my body at a time when it'll be battered from months of chemo. I'm starting to think that he knows my mind as well as my tits because, tattooed dots aside, I've not given radiotherapy much thought. Well, it can't be as bad as chemo, so what is there really to think about? Lots, as it turns out. Smiley Surgeon has clearly been trying to make me realise this for the last three or four appointments I've had with him but, frankly, I've just not had the space in my head to deal with it. But with my final chemo tomorrow and radiotherapy not far off, I finally took in all the things he was saying about how tired, queasy and sore it was going to make me feel, and how it was going to take a fair few weeks of getting over before I'd be surgery-ready again.

I adore Smiley Surgeon. (But I'm guessing that, with eight mentions over four paragraphs, you'd already figured that out.) I'm so eager to please that I save my best brave face for my appointments with him, I look up to him as though he were a rock star and I hang on every last word he says. I love him. Not like that. It's not a crush. I'm much more goofy than flirty when I'm around him – actually, I'm an embarrassing suck-up. And anyway, the love's not just reserved for Smiley Surgeon, but also for his sidekick, Always-Right Cancer Nurse. Batman and Robin have got nothing on these two – they're incredible. So often, medical professionals know all the facts of a condition, but lack the emotional understanding of how to deal with their patients. Not these two. They're the perfect mix of matter-of-fact and empathetic, and they always – always – hit the right note.

Something P and I particularly love about them is the fact that they'd got the pair of us sussed from the very beginning. We come as a team, P and I, and Smiley Surgeon and Always-Right Cancer Nurse were quick to recognise it. Just as often as P gets asked how I am, people ask me how he is. It's wonderfully thoughtful of people to ask, but also a bit problematic. It's another question that neither of us can bring ourselves to answer truthfully. Nobody could ever know the extent of how almost-impossibly difficult all of this is for P and I. And for that reason, it's utterly heartbreaking for us to have to consider how dreadful the other is feeling. It's just too much to bear. So, however selfish it seems, it's easier for P and I to see this as something we're feeling, fighting and dealing with not individually, but as a couple. It's the only way we can get through it. And that's something that Smiley Surgeon and Always-Right Cancer Nurse understand completely. They always ask how we are. The you in 'how did you find the last chemo?' is collective. When there's a decision to make, they ask what both of us think about it. And how can you not fall in love with people like that?

But, all of that aside, there's a bigger reason for my adulation. These people saved my life! So tell me, just how are you supposed to act around the woman who held your hand while you shouted, sobbed and screamed at her about your difficult-to-believe diagnosis, and the man who found the tumour in the first place and swiftly removed it from your body before it had the chance to do any more damage? Every time Smiley Surgeon shakes my hand, I want to grab him and hug him instead. With every bit of advice he gives me, I want to reply with an eloquent response that lets him know just how brilliant I think he is. I want to make him dinner and bake him cakes and write him poems and nominate him for awards and commission a statue of him and shout from the rooftops of London about what a bloody marvellous genius of a man he is. But even I know that none of that's appropriate (well, perhaps apart from the cake-baking). So until I find a better way to express my gratitude, I'm going to keep acting goofy and sucking up and grinning like an idiot at every appointment. Maybe he'll start calling me Smiley Patient. 


Anonymous said...

Yes, lets give him a medal. We could send him a link to this blog. Then he might get it.

Meanwhile, I'm glad your boob doesn't smell of play-doh, you wonderful, clever, honest brilliant girl. x

Anonymous said...

You are a hugely talented writter in my humble but appreciative opinion. So write SS and his nurse a letter and post a copy to the Chair of their NHS trust. Don't discount giving him a hug too though! P.S. I am seriously nerves about how you will be mentaly critiquing my grammer!

Anonymous said...

Come on woman! Bake him a cake!

Anonymous said...

I'm with you - I've had my life saved by 2 wonderfully amazing doctors and like you I just have no idea how to say thank-you. It just seems a bit mediocre doesn't it? It feels really weird that here I am walking, talking and enjoying my family and its all thanks to these 2 men who I will probably never see again and probably don't even remember my name. If you find some insight I'd love to hear it, but in the meantime its probably enough for them that they know you appreciate it. Thinking of you tomorrow xxx

Kirses said...

I guess thats why he has a hell of lot more job satisfaction than some other of us.

Pernilla said...

You are (soon) heading towards brighter days my friend!

I just finished my radiotherapy and I cried the first time. I was so scared after the chemo. But it was no problem. What a relief..!
I'll be in the hospital tomorrow for my Herceptin. Will be thinking of you and praying a prayer for you then. Wishing you peace and comfort.

Love from Stockholm

Lisa Lynch said...

Pernilla, congratulations on the end of radio! I'll be thinking of you too tomorrow, all the best with the big H. x

Anonymous said...

im in love with smiley surgeon and P..what wonderful men..

go kick the final chemo's closer step to finishing the bullshit off for good!

p.s. the surgeon seems like he would appreciate a fine fairy cake...

Anonymous said...

thinking of you! x