As I sit on a train heading south for the second time this month I am thinking of the pre Christmas madness that affects us. Or is that just me? I am determined to enjoy my festive season but need to survive to the end of the week first. And its feeling like a significant challenge right now.
Several years ago I needed a fairly urgent operation on an ovarian cyst which they thought could perhaps be malignant. It wasn't I am glad to say but factoring that in in the run up to Christmas was no fun. As I was awaiting theatre I was dozing off on the trolley. The nurse said to me , a little puzzled, have you had your pre med already? No no its just the first time I have been able to stop in weeks and I am making the most of it! Sad but true you see. A working mothers Christmas story....
I found out later that having been on tamoxifen I was at higher risk of ovarian cysts. This week some research in the US has shown how many women stop treatment like tamoxifen. As someone who was on it for 5 years I do understand the dilemma. Drug information tends to focus on potential side effects without any balancing information about the benefits in terms of survival outcomes . Also for some of us we may not wish to be demanding and not ask for help with side effects like tiredness, hot flushes etc.
We do need to understand this better so women get the support, advice and information they need to make the right decisions for them. And if you are struggling, do speak to your doctor or nurse, they will be able to help.
My memories of working in general practice on the run up to Christmas are poignant. I used to find it so hard to feel free to enjoy my family time when I knew others were having a tough or lonely time. In the run up to Christmas so many people would find a reason to visit but you knew it was also to share their heavy hearts with someone who would listen. For those who had had many different challenges like a redundancy to deal with, bereavement, illness , money or housing problems these are always difficult times to get through. And recently I read the most reported long term condition many people face is loneliness. Perhaps the worst condition of all at this time of year when we think everyone one else is having a ball without us.
And one Christmas eve I sat in a breast clinic waiting for results, knowing that there would be some families getting news they didn't want and facing a very uncertain future. So think of those who have that to face this Christmas and also those caring for them too, be they family or the healthcare professionals. But also it is really important that we all enjoy and value time with those we love, as well as try to remember to extend a hand to those who might need it.
Reasons to be cheerful
I am on the countdown to holidays and our daughter coming for Christmas. Also looking forward to Christmas party time with colleagues. The one this week finishes at 3 am..........my own lights go off around 11 so it's not looking hopeful! The tree is up and Koshka is taking it in his stride and I got a gift of Michael Buble Christmas album. It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas....