Sunday, 30 October 2011

Girl stuff- What if..?

As many of you will know, I've just been into hospital for a small procedure.  This is forcing me to put my feet up and rest- not so bad, I'm sure you'll agree.  However, the down-side is that it is also giving me time to think.

To put you in the picture, I'll tell you how I came to this stage.  These things are rarely talked about- even in this day and age I suppose it's a little 'taboo' to discuss intimate issues- but here goes.

I was visiting my GP for little more than a sore throat and an annoying cough.  The surgery I go to is very handy in that it is open late evenings and weekends- I work long hours and not exactly on my doorstep- but because of this I don't recall ever seeing the same doctor twice.  It just happened that the doctor I saw this time round was very approachable- not one of those 'you're wasting my time!' types that can't get you out of the room fast enough.  Don't get me wrong, it's a tough job and they must see so many time wasters, but sometimes you just need to be comfortable enough to talk about things- so here I was.  He must have sensed that there was something more I wanted to share, prompted by 'how are you, generally..?' type questions which led me to confess that things weren't quite right.  I'd been feeling very run-down for a long time, which was never particularly unusual as I have Crohn's Disease and this goes with the territory.  However, my Crohn's, thankfully, has been in remission for quite some time and things had been much better of late... well, until the last month or so.  I explained that as well as the tiredness, I'd been having irregular periods and 'unusual' bleeding.  Whilst embarrassing and disruptive, I hadn't given it too much thought, but it was beginning to play on my mind- but once I'd 'confessed' all I felt a little better, relieved I suppose!  My doctor suggested I booked in for a smear test, just in case, but advised that it could be a number of things and not to worry.

So reluctantly, I booked myself in for the following week- I'm never good at these things and I must confess it was more than a little overdue...

A week later, the test was over and done with in a matter of minutes- really, what was I so worried about?!  The nurse advised that I'd hear back within a couple of weeks and I would be contacted about the results.  That's that then.

Within a week a letter arrived to say that there were abnormalities shown in my results and that I was required to attend a colposcopy at the hospital.  It said 'severe diskaryosis'.  I'll admit, the bit that I read and re-read was 'severe'.

Well, that was a bit scary.  I'm not sure what I'd expected, I had been trying not to think about it, but here it is.  That 'something's not right' feeling again.  Mr T was brilliantly supportive, as always.  A quick call to Mum also put my mind at rest- 'you hear about these things all the time, it'll be something and nothing, don't you worry'.  So I didn't.

Along I went for my colposcopy examination- mildly uncomfortable and a little embarrassing- it's not the most natural thing in the World now is it ladies!  For those of you that are lucky enough not to know, here's a quick summary- whip your pants off, pop your legs in the air and we'll have a look with this here camera (it's tiny, don't panic!).  Not pleasant, but not unbearable- half an hour and it's all over with, I promise.  My consultant reassured me that from what could be seen, there were mild abnormalities only and no treatment was necessary.  Hoorah!  A little biopsy was taken (ouch, but again, all over before you know it) and I'd have my results in 6 weeks.  I went out celebrating my 'lucky escape' with the girls the following weekend.

6 weeks!  They're obviously not in any hurry and no news is good news so they say.  Only, 6 days later I received a call at home.  The results had shown the abnormalities to be more serious that they had suspected.  They had diagnosed CIN 3 and would like me to confirm available dates for treatment.  Mr T and I had our wedding just around the corner, but they explained that I couldn't travel for 6 weeks after treatment- we didn't even know what 'treatment' was!  Mild panic set in, we tried to bring the whole wedding forward, but the honeymoon couldn't be rearranged without paying the cost all over again.  Absolute chaos.

Eventually, after speaking with my consultant, we decided that we would move the actual wedding day forward but leave everything else as it was.  What was most important to us right then and there was to be married- to be happy- and let everything else wait.  So we did.  The consultant made me promise to book in for treatment as soon as we were back from our Honeymoon.

So here we are- I've just been in for my cone biopsy, now I'm home resting... and thinking.  The lead-up to the wedding left no time for thought!  We've been so very busy, so much to do, the dust is finally settling.

And I'm scared.

I have a two week wait for my results.  Then, hopefully, I'll be told that they've removed the abnormal cells and everything is going to be ok.  I'm aware that there will be regular screening and monitoring now I'm 'at risk', but that's a good thing.  But I can't escape that 'what if' feeling.  What if it's not all over.  What if when my results are back from histology they find out that it's more sinister?  What if it's the 'Big C'?  What if I can't have children?  I've always just assumed that it's my right to decide.  Everything could change.

Many people have sent well wishes and asked how I am- and I genuinely appreciate it.  I will always say I'm fine, because that's what people need to hear, and mostly- I am fine.  But just sometimes, the what-ifs creep up on me.  Any ladies reading this can help- get yourselves checked.   Put up with the embarrassment and look after yourselves- regularly.  Don't put it off like I did, it's not worth the worry, not worth the 'what-ifs'!  Gents, if you're still reading- well done, and prompt the ladies in your life to look after themselves. 

So many things can be prevented if we just do the little things available to keep us healthy.  Stop putting it off- be safe, be healthy and live the longest happiest life you can.

I'm sure I'll be just fine and of course I'll keep you all posted- I just wanted to share, honestly, with you and hope to make a difference to maybe just one person thinking, 'Ah, I'll sort it out next week'.

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

Sister, Sister

I grew up with my Mum and Dad and my two sisters.  I am the 'middle child'.  When we were much younger, we were very close- most of the time, inseparable.  These days, sadly, we are no longer so close.  It's understandable, we all have our own lives to lead, there are never enough hours in the day.  Both of my sisters have children of their own and little free time- I am proud of them both.  I work long hours during the week and my weekends are occupied by the goblins.  I wish it were only time that prevented us from being so close.  Sadly, as we've grown, our opinions have changed, we've all developed very different personalities and beliefs.  We no longer finish each others' sentences and swap clothes- we tend to catch up via our parents if at all.

Families are complicated.  No matter what happens, you never stop loving them.  They have the ability to frustrate and infuriate you, to hurt you and embarrass you.  Equally they can love and support you, make you laugh until you cry.

The one thing my sisters and I will always have in common (other than our parents... duh) is our sense of humour.  The same things will always make us chuckle, or laugh out loud uncontrollably.  If ever my sisters and I are going through a tough patch, I take comfort in the little things that I say or do that make me think (Huh... she would understand!) when nobody around is amused.  I remember the happy and silly times spent together and look forward to happier times that I know will follow- because, well, we're sisters!

Whether we let our guard down and say it, or whether we're stubborn and don't- we know we'll always love and care about each other.  If we hear that one or other is having a tough time, we think well wishes and send positive 'hugs', if only in our heads.  We still care.

I was recently reunited with my younger sister after some troubled times.  She may be a pain at times but I'll always need her.  I'm pretty sure she feels exactly the same way!  I hope one day to have my big sister in my life again too, but whether we speak daily, or only at Christmas, she'll always be my hero.

One thing is for sure- time is short and we should all make the most of it.  I adore my family and I often wish my Mum would affectionately utter her famous line from my childhood, "If you girls don't get along nicely I'll bang your heads together!"

If only it were that easy!

I guess my point is- Zoe, Bex- I love you.  You know where I am x

Saturday, 8 October 2011

In loving memory

At some time in our lives, we all have to say goodbye to somebody.  If you're lucky, it's just for a while, and they'll come back to you again.  Sadly, the most memorable goodbyes are to those that we aren't to see again in this lifetime- I however, am sure that at some point, we will once again reunite.  I don't believe in heaven or hell or anything written in any book or preached to the masses.  I just believe that life doesn't just stop.  I never have the words to comfort or ease the pain of those in need- particularly if I am hurting too.  I suppose there are no words, only time.

It often feels as though the World has come to a stop, it's hard to just carry on when nothing seems to matter as much- but carry on we must.  If we really think about it, I'm sure the ones we've lost wouldn't want us to wallow in sadness.  I know for sure that those I hold dear that have had to leave would not accept this behaviour for long at all and would pack me up and send me on my way, on to the next adventure, to the next smile.  I find comfort in the happy memories left behind, the shared laughter, the stories retold again and again because they leave me feeling warm and no longer so empty.  I find comfort in the fact that they will always be with me in some way- a song that reminds me of a happier time, a scent that brings me right back to a hug, an advert on tv, a passing stranger with a familiar face- so many things that will always remind me of the ones that I miss.

Every time the sun shines through on a cloudy day- I feel those people smiling at me, being happy that I am happy, being proud of the things I do right and laughing along with me when I do things wrong.  Every special moment in my life- I don't feel that they are missing them- they are right there with us when it matters.  When I am down and struggling to find these comforts and I feel the pain of loss once again- something or someone will always happen along to help me up... I truly believe that they are right there too, pushing me along, willing me to carry on and enjoy our precious time here.

Live, love, share, forgive- life really is too short, it will be what you make it.  Don't regret the things you haven't done, appreciate the things you have.  I hope these words are of some comfort to any of you feeling a loss, but if not, please give it time, keep going- you will smile again.

In loving memory of all those that I have loved and lost.