Dignity

Dignity

Dignity

Lavender candles, lovely warm bubble bath and a magical feeling of love and new life. This is not what childbirth is like in any stretch of the imagination. Even those annoying cow bags that pop out a baby in one hour and slip into their size six jeans for the post birth journey home would agree! However, if you are having your first baby, the minute you discover that the miracle of life is forming in your uterus, you cannot help but think that for you, it will probably be just like this. Let’s face it; Technically you are the first person to ever go through it and God Damn you are going to have the easiest birth since Copulation began!

Luckily, and unsurprisingly for me, the tranquillity and beautiful magnitude of my first ever pregnancy lasted for a whopping two days. Two days because no sooner had  I discovered I was pregnant than I was spending my days crawling round on all fours and sitting on the toilet for forty five minutes at a time. Just a little ‘nodule’ on the Ovary apparently. If that was a little one, I would have had to bite down on a whiskey soaked rag in the weeks that followed to cope with any bigger. Bugger, it really hurt! Any woman that has suffered with something on her Ovary or generally in her womanly bits will know that really, you just feel like you constantly want a giant poo but, it has taken the wrong turn! Still, it was better than the alternative we faced, as for a few days the doctor had told us to expect the worst and that this pregnancy may well be ectopic. Thankfully it was not but, in true spirit of Gynaecology departments all over, unless you were dead, you could wait a few days to find out for sure. (Although, my Gynaecologist rocks!! and looks like Louis Spence 🙂 )

Dignity

I have used this picture before, but it is disgusting and I like it!

So, apart from the constant need for a poo, the daily navigation of a spiral staircase on all fours and the hourly requirement for grated cheese in a white roll, the rest of my pregnancy seemed to pootle along quite nicely. The determination of this as an in-utero pregnancy was discovered during an internal scan but, I feel the intricacies of this particular procedure may be too much for some. Ironically, they cover it in what looks like a giant condom first but, as I said…I must stop there!

The fun really began when it was realised that all those grated cheese rolls had ensured a very yummy environment for my daughter and she clearly did not want to budge from where she stayed. Even after two weeks, she was not in the mind set to make an appearance and all the things they tell you that will encourage labour are about as useful as the birth plan they tell you to write beforehand. What you should really write in your birth plan is: give birth. In whatever way works for you. Oh, and remember the time you said that whatever happened, there was no way you were having an Epidural….Ha Ha Ha…..that was a good one Monty Python!

If when overdue, you are fortunate enough to have a ‘Sweep’, you will have had a lovely little insight into what might be waiting round the corner for you. I have had five in total and its a wonder I don’t have lady bits that could safely house the car keys. To be fair, I have never actually tried! I have friends that are nervous to have a smear test. Us Mum’s will have a little giggle at that. Blimey! When you have had a child, you are pretty much willing to save time for future gynaecological appointments by going in your pants!!

 

Dignity

To look at her now you would think she never caused me any trouble at all.

So…What happened for me the first time round?

As I have mentioned, my daughter Lani was two weeks overdue. Technically she was two weeks and ‘God knows how long in labour’ overdue but, lets not get pedantic! I had three sweeps (which incidentally is not a type of spring clean) and was booked in for an induction on the 14th day. Almost every Mum that has been induced kindly informed me of exactly how much more painful my whole experience would be with induction, which was kind! However, if I knew then what I know now, I would have demanded that Epidural from the car on the way in…Best invention ever!!…After wine.

I honestly can’t remember where I was or what I was doing when the contractions started. I do however, remember that I was wearing an orange top! I thought, ‘Well, this isn’t bad. Give it an hour or so and I shall be pushing my lovely (and tiny of course) baby into the world’. Well, on the second night…yes night..of these pains, I was ready to reach in and pull it out myself. The pain starts off like the feel of a fart collecting in your bottom region. Except, it doesn’t escape giving you immediate relief, it goes upwards where it shouldn’t. It swirls around your back passage and creeps up towards your tummy like ‘The Scream’ and the skin on your abdomen has become so tight that it would make Joan Rivers jealous. Encompassed with all this is the feeling that you must dispose of every fluid remaining in your body and you have the urge that you never thought possible to wee, poo and vomit all at the same time. Oh, and all those baby magazines you bought which suggested you have the special raspberry flavoured lip balm for this joyous occasion can stuff that lip balm right in their print press!

It starts off as a little trickle at first. I was watching Vicar of Dibley, the Christmas episode where she has to have several Christmas lunches and stuff sprouts into her mouth. I was thinking that I had to do just the opposite of that and feeling like it too. I also remember being really grateful at this point that I had a leather sofa (and that I was wearing my ex husbands trousers) but, it is not till you stand up that you realise the full fun of the ‘Gush’ that you are about to incur and the way that it actually feels, just that little bit satisfying…..

To be continued…. (because I realise I have not even got to the hospital yet and the fun increases by ten fold then) Oh and obviously Joan Rivers was alive when I had my first baby. RIP Joan (I know she wouldn’t mind)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mo Problems

Mo Problems

Mo Problems

As time moves on, I remember my Mum less and less. I remember how she sounded when she talked, how her skin felt when she washed me in the bath and how it felt to hold her hand. I also remember how she smelt: Opium she used to wear, the perfume not the barbiturate!

If it was not so ruddy expensive, I would buy a bottle, just so I could sniff it if I felt sad or missed her more than normal that day. I would not wear it myself though. Personally, I think it smells like old lady knickers!! But, I mean that in the most respectful way.

I also remember how she used to stare at me in the car. It drove me insane! Invariably, my brother would sit in the front seat, which was great as he was an annoying little toad and it got him out the way, if just for an hour. Mum and I would sit in the back; my Sony Walkman constantly attached to my bonce, where I would stare out the window and dream that I was on stage performing or modelling in my spare time as Cindy Crawford’s understudy (no one ever said imagination was similar to real life!). I would look at Mum and there she would be, staring at me again! ‘Mum! For gods sake!’ She knew what I looked like. She had produced me from her Vagina. She would always just say, ‘I like looking at you’. It is only since I became a Mother myself that I could understand what she meant. I could study every inch of my girls faces, day in day out. I am hoping that in years to come they will laugh about me staring at them in the car, not reminiscing that they wish I was still around to stare at them, like I do now.

What I do not remember as much now is things that we used to do together. I can recollect a couple of instances that she picked me up from school, especially when she bought me a brooch shaped like a camel and I thought it was a piece of honeycomb! I remember that she used to put on a silly voice when she saw my headmaster and I used to tease her about it. He was always far too ‘tracksuity’ in my mind. No good ever came of a man always wearing a tracksuit. She definitely seemed to like him though!

Mo Problems

I love my girls faces. Even when they are full of stroppiness and bogies.

I struggle now to remember the Disney World trips. I remember going on Space Mountain with my Dad and accidentally catching a peek of ‘Nightmare on Elm Street’ when I should have been asleep but, the rest is fading. It scares me that I may run out of things to tell my children about my Mum, about their Grandma. It scares me to think that by the time Rusty can understand, the stories will be even fewer. But, it has reminded me of one important thing: that we cannot spend our lives looking backwards and if we do, we will hinder the possible achievements we can conquer now.

Even after everything, I have always had this naïve sense that there will always be a miracle when you least expect it. God knows where I got this from! The very fact that I perceive it though and it is yet to happen, only cements my belief even more. I think things like all our money worries will be sorted somehow when we least expect it, that we wouldn’t have to struggle anymore and that maybe one day we will wake up and the Universe has decided that it is our time to be rewarded. It is daft I know but, if I lose this belief, I would worry even more. You never know what is around the corner I think, negative or positive. So for now I keep hoping and thinking that tomorrow may be the day.

We are wealthy in other ways though and I am never ungrateful for that. I am lucky enough to have someone that loves me, that does not make me feel like I am not good enough or want to change me and I feel the same way about him. I have two lovely girls and as much as I would like a holiday, to take them to Disney World ourselves or not worry about paying the next bill, those things are the things that are important really. It is just hard on a daily basis to remember that. More importantly though; we have our health. Although I now struggle to complete more than one physical task a day and if I could, would spend the majority of the day in the bath to ease my aching joints. I do currently have the boobs I always wanted though. 🙂 Ironic Shu as you brag about your boobs whilst talking about losing your Mum to Breast cancer.

I have also come to realise that I need to concentrate on my small family and stop spending time worrying about other factors. I had always hoped that the relationship with my parents family would improve but, really life has taken over and they are busy with their own immediate family also. I say parents family because they really stopped being my family from the point my parents left.We can never go back. I just know that if my Mum and Dad were still here, that would all be very different. They were a cement almost that kept everyone together. It is difficult for me because that aspect of family see me as a grown up but, when I think of them, I feel how I did when my Mum was still here: 16 and part of a large caring family. The spectrum for me now does not span so far and I would have loved that for my children but, it is not to be.

Mo Problems

Ahhh yes the 80’s frog willies (and my toad of a brother) Ha ha!!

So, I shall just carry on. Being happy with my life I have here, trying not to look back. I could look down but, I wouldn’t see very far at the moment! And I shall be grateful for what I have been given and remember every day just how precious it is. For those around me who are there for me and make me complete, mainly my Tristan, Thank you for helping me to remember that what life can take away from you, it also gives you back, usually when you least expect it.

Tony

Tony

Tony

I have never really had much problem with sleeping. I am one of those people that can awaken during a dream and pick up where I left off if I want to: depending on who is in it that is! This week though, I have suffered a little: probably because of Rusty deciding that he/she is not a child but actually a jumping bean! At one point, in Lidl, I thought that Rusty might even be coming early. Other supermarkets are available obviously.

One night this week when I was struggling to nod off, I began thinking about my Dad, as I normally do. I know I am 35 and I have my own family but I sometimes cry into my pillow and think that I really want my Dad! Not much shame in admitting that, I do. My Dad had the ability of making everything alright, as all Dad’s do of course but, it was almost like he could inhale your worries and bury them deep inside of him: like that massive bloke in The Green Mile (if you haven’t watched it, you should have). There are times when I need him to do that for me: not just because I want him to make me feel better but, because he gave my life light. It was only when the light went out that I realised I would have to live in darkness for a while.

Tony

My boyfriend sent me this once: if you had met him you would know what a grand gesture that is (he’ll moan at me for that)

I have thought to myself on many occasions: what is the point in being such a fantastic human being and then not having anything to show for it when you are no longer around. This is part of the reason that I started this blog and part of the reason that however small my effort, I will always do my best to ensure people know what happened to my Dad so they can make sure it does not happen to their loved ones. I wish I could go back. By that, I mean that if you have read my blog, you should be nagging your Dad to have his Prostate checked. It’s not just an ‘old man’s’ disease, just like Breast Cancer does not only afflict woman over 50. My Mum was younger than me when she first found a lump. Just because you don’t have any symptoms, does not mean diddly squat!! My Dad was born in 1945 and he died in 2005. He never went to the doctors for 25 years but, there was no prize in obtaining this milestone, in fact, it was the opposite. He most definitely got the wooden spoon.

I recently visited a local Prostate Cancer support group to talk about Travel Insurance for people with pre existing medical conditions (because that is what I do as a day job) and of course, my own experiences. My Dad would not have been the youngest one there, I would! I would have given anything to find a group that we could visit together and talk to. Although, it may not seem much, I felt like I really achieved something that day, like I did something about it, instead of just feeling sorry for myself and questioning why the Universe can be such a terrible bastard sometimes. And I know I am not the only one, there are people that have suffered much worse but grief is very inward and its hard to think of others. I do think of others now though: knowing my Dad made me a better person. I hoped that my Dad would have been proud of me too.

Cancer leaves a massive trail of destruction and not just to the one it affects. My Dad said to me once that he had the easy job because, I would be the one that was left behind to deal with it and he was right. My Mum never said a lot towards the end, she couldn’t talk and so had to use a magnetic sketch pad to tell us things. Hard to convey all your final wishes in a matter of sentences eh? So why do we not do it when we can.

Tony

My Daddy! Make sure you hang onto yours tight: with both hands.

I know that I am a bit bonkers and those who know me will know that my brain and mouth have no connecting off switch. But, whatever you think of my Blog, whatever you think of me, just remember that you have a chance to change things: before it’s too late! And so why wouldn’t you?

BRCA2

BRCA2

BRCA2

Would you like to know if you were going to die? Ok! I know it’s not exactly that dramatic but, for a long time now I have anguished over this one. I am lucky enough, at my age and only because of my history obviously, to have regular ultrasounds and check ups. I don’t have Mammograms because I am too young and younger (cough cough) breast tissue is much harder to read on a Mammogram than it is on an ultrasound. Mind you! I had to push for it. I had a referral from my doctor and numerous pointless conversations and telephone tennis in order to be able to have these reviews. Unbelievable really.Luckily, I stuck to my guns.

I have also been offered the BRCA2 test. As if it wasn’t a ticking time bomb in my life anyway without having any concrete confirmation of a defunct gene which could lead me down the same path as my Mother. Perhaps I am naive to think I would rather not know, particulary given my massive spiritual beliefs in life but, what would I really do if I did have the irregularity in my genes? Would I have a double mastectomy and rebuild my breasts and then have a hysterectomy? Of course I bloody wouldn’t. I don’t have the most amazing rack but, I am more than happy to leave it how it is for now. I do want more babies though: the thought of never having another child is absolutely devastating to me. I already feel like my biological clock may prohibit me anyway but, to chose to eliminate even the option for good is beyond any type of comprehension I must admit.

BRCA2

My daughter and I were doing the selfie before it was even popular 🙂

We have all been alerted to the BRCA2 test, mostly thanks to Angelina Jolie but, quite strangely for me, I spoke to an absolutely lovely lady whilst at work (selling her Travel Insurance) who recommended me to her specialist. The first thing she asked me and probably because of my name: Was I Jewish? Specific mutations of the gene can be associated with some ethnic groups, namely those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent. I am not Jewish by the way but, in case you were wondering Shushanah is a Hebrew name.

There can be a mutation in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes that can suggest that you are at higher risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer.If there is a mutation, your risk of getting Breast Cancer can be as high as 85%. However, your environment and lifestyle can always have a big impact. Well! Of course it can! If I never left my house, it would be unlikely that I would die from being run over. No-one else in my family had Breast Cancer but, did my Mum get it because she had a genetic mutation? Her Grandma may have had it too but, as she was run over by a bus, we will never know. Do you sense where I am going with this one?

I have agonized whether I would want to have my girls tested. The truth is, it wouldn’t be up to me. They should do whatever they see fit when the time arises and should I get Breast Cancer, then we would look at that much more closely of course. I have an Insurance in place which I have had for years, if I’m being honest, I could really do with now but, that’s an utterly despicable thing to say. I could though: or I shall continue to wait for my miracle and keep on dreaming.

BRCA2

I never want my girls to have to go through what I did..never.

I watched an amazing programme not long ago about an utterly beautiful and inspiring girl called Kris Hallenga who started the charity Coppafeel, promoting regularly checking your breasts for lumps and irregularities whatever your age. In this day and age and with all the media attention, it really isn’t still something that young girls feel they need to do. Kris was 23 when she was diagnosed with Breast Cancer and it had spread: to stage 4! Kris now spends all her time promoting breast checking and if you have a chance to check her out, make sure you do because it’s women like her that make this world seem like it has a purpose. She does for me anyway. As I said, I am lucky enough to get checked but, I still had to fight for it and as I’m used to fighting, I stuck it out. I know how easy it would have been to give up though. Very!

Don’t misunderstand me, My Mum didn’t die of her Breast Cancer because it wasn’t caught in time. She died because she first had Breast Cancer in the 80’s. That is truly what I believe. And she was in her 30’s which was considered really young to be diagnosed at that time. If she had the treatment that there is available today, I know she would still be here. There was no Herceptin then and Radiotherapy was primitive by today’s comparison, in a Prisoner Cell Block H type of fashion. My Mum’s had spread of course, spread to her brain in the end and when she could no longer talk, she jotted down her witticisms on an Etch a Sketch type affair. My treasured Godmother Ro (who I will tell you about soon) said that she had told her that she knew I would be OK because I was strong. I never wanted to be strong. I would have much rather not been strong and had an easy life. That is me being selfish again.

BRCA2

My Mum was in hospital when this picture was taken. I was 15..oh and I was angry…

My Dad on the other hand, did die because he was diagnosed too late. Had he just had a routine check where Prostate testing was standard, he would still be here: infuriating me by never doing the jobs I would ask him to do whilst I was at work and then when I moaned at him, smiling at me with an almost bellowy smile that shone deep out of his soul.. If I had a time machine, I would not go back and get the Lottery numbers, I would go back 10 years, march him to a doctor and and demanded that they stick their finger up his bum right away! It really is not a difficult concept, every man over 50 should get that ‘digit up their doughnut’!

A man with Prostate Cancer after treatment or even during can have a PSA reading (Prostate Specific Amount) of 4 or under. When my Dad’s Prostate Cancer was discovered, his PSA was 2000! 2000!!! In my job whilst Medical Screening for Travel Insurance, in 13 years I have never spoken to one client with the disease who had a reading over 100. The doctor phoned me and said she was worried that I did not understand the severity of his condition (the drunk doctor I told you about before) Cheeky cow!!! Six months she told me we would get. Nearly 4 Years we were blessed with. That’s one determined, amazing, funny and much missed old git! I wish I could ask him if he would want me to be tested.

Happy fathers day you old git. Love you Dad!