Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Crafting for my future

Oh boy.  That was tough. So tough, I thought I would never make it through this week. If it wasn't for Paul, my mum and sister, I think I would have run away. I have been through PTSD and beaten it with EMDR but, the numbness and detachment that I felt on Wednesday was so difficult, that I feel I haven't fully recovered from my ordeal.
At the beginning of June, I agreed to go for a mammogram, my mother's side of the family has had a terrible time with female cancer (grandmother, three sisters, my mum and her cousins). With the exception of my grandmother (ovarian cancer) my mum and her siblings have all been diagnosed with cancer in their left breast. The first appointment was bad enough; the male doctor was quite rude about my weight (I'm carrying some fat around my middle, but for my height, I'm not obese). It took a lot to undress in front of a man, (child abuse survivor) and I hurt for days after my examination.  So you can imagine my panic when two weeks after my initial mammogram I received a letter recalling me. Seeing the words 'further investigation needed' was enough to send my stomach into waves of nausea and to make my mind spin. Mammograms are invasive at the best of times but to throw an ultrasound into the works as well as wait for a further two weeks for the new appointment and not know the reason for being called back, well that nearly tipped me over the edge.  I'm not scared to say that I cried a lot through the two weeks, and I hardly slept.  My mood swings were shocking as was my temper; the slightest little annoyance sent me on a verbal tirade.  Anyway, Tuesday night was horrendous I managed to cry myself to sleep and then woke four hours later drenched in sweat, for the remainder of my time in bed I tossed and turned, and I prayed furiously. I got up when my alarm went off, showered, changed, put make-up on, blow dried my hair, ate two spoonfuls of cereal, threw up, brushed teeth, walked reluctantly to the car without saying a word to Paul. Even now, I don't know how I was able to walk into the hospital, let alone make it to the department without running back out the way I came.  I nearly passed out handing my letter over to the receptionist, but I didn't have to wait long before the radiologist called my name.  I walked numbly into the room with the mammogram machine and was instantly told I had been called back as they had found something on the first image of my right breast that needed further exploration (looking past the radiologist I saw the original image with a dense white circle on it).  I broke down. I think the radiologist knew what I was thinking and what I was scared of and made a joke about me not being able to leave until I'd had the exam as she had locked the door. It forced me to laugh, but it didn't take my anxiety away. She then said maybe we should get you changed into a gown after your exam and take your clothes away so you can't leave until you've had your ultrasound and spoken to the doctor. Again I laughed even though I was petrified.  I waited 15 minutes for my ultrasound- I watched the clock the whole time. During that time someone else's husband looked at me and smiled- this is a flashback memory that I remembered while writing this. I was then led into the tiniest dressing room on the planet, which resembled a broom cupboard in size, to dress into a gown. I was told to make sure the opening was at the front of the gown. I can remember thinking do I just hold it closed, what if it falls open and then I saw the ties; I had two blue and four white. I felt like I was on the Krypton Factor trying to tie the stupid thing together.  I then dumped my clothes in a basket and went to a new waiting room. I still don't know how I got out of that broom cupboard with a basket in my hand, but I did. I then took my clothes out of the basket because I felt embarrassed that I had scrunched them up, and I sat and folded them properly. A nurse came to check on me; I must have looked mad folding my clothes perfectly.  My ultrasound took an agonising 15 minutes from start to finish during that time the nurse commented on how beautiful my sandals were, and then was someone with me today- which sent me into a panic with the thought 'Why is it  going to be bad news?'  Then 10 minutes in the doctor broke his silence (he had not spoken to me since entering the ultrasound room and had only made scrunched up faces). 'How did you come about needing a mammogram?'  I answered by telling him about my mum. Doctor: 'How long ago was your mum diagnosed?' Me: 'February.' Doctor: Understandably your emotions are still very raw with regards to your mother.' and then he said  'Hmm! It appears to be fine.'  I broke down for the hundredth time that day and wasn't sure if I had heard him properly, the nurse took my hand and said 'you've to have a large cup of tea once this is finished.'  The doctor spent another 5 minutes rechecking my arm pit, my breast bone and breast over and over again with the wand, pressing harder and harder and then said it 'appears to be a cyst. I do need another colleague to check everything, but you are free to go.  If you are recalled, please don't fret my colleague will just want to double check to be sure for himself.'  'Do you have any questions?'  I had a million that I wanted to ask but as someone who has suffered from trauma will tell you your mouth and voice don't work when your majorly stressed so I had to nod my head no. He said 'You just want to go, don't you?'  I numbly nodded yes. I was led back to the broom cupboard again but this time, I was covered in a gel that just wouldn't wipe off.  I would clear one area only for it to appear somewhere else. Lol!

So now I'm at home, my breast is incredibly tender, and I'm badly bruised. But, I'm fine and looking at ways to improve my health and eating habits.  I've lost so much weight from worrying that I aim to keep it off.  I'm safe; I'm looking at ways of trying to reduce my stress levels, but I'm jumping at the sound of the letterbox in fear I have been recalled.  I don't like living with stress it's a part of me that hasn't entirely left since having EMDR treatment. It's embarrassing, and I feel ashamed of it, I would give anything to be free of it, perhaps it's just who I am, and maybe I need to learn to love all that I am -flaws and all.


Crafting photos: Strappy top in coral broderie anglaise made using pattern Simplicity 4127.  White flower top made using Simplicity 8523     Grey floral top with orange polka dot neckline made using New Look pattern 6705. Knitting: Veyla mittens by Ysolda. New sewing gadget is the Prym magnetic pin cushion as seen being used by Charlotte Newland on The Great British Sewing Bee.

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