Friday, 22 January 2016

Love with its work boots on




I'm puggled I told the GP this morning. She Irish and I'm thinking she's still trying to find out what it means. Although perhaps my presence said it all. Don't get me wrong I know to expect to be puggled just now given I'm only 12 days post-op but I'm also breathless and needed to check for a chest infection...on which the jury is still out and I'm watching a box of amoxycillin  with suspicion. 
It's been strange time; I know I'm progressing, wounds healing and I'm a teeny bit stronger but also life is passing me by and whats noticeable is I'm ok with that. I've finally stopped thinking that somehow I should feel guilty about having needed this treatment. I'm not sure why that's taken its toll, maybe it's some presbyterian guilt about costing the NHS money? Analyse that! But I recognise its deeper too. I've had to tell myself that a mastectomy without reconstruction would have been painful in so many other ways and that my choice to have an immediate reconstruction was the best , worst option.   Maybe there is a fear in me of that decision being seen as vanity. I'm vane, I dye my hair and wear make up of course I am and I'm ok with that being part of me. But actually it's much more core than that, it's about feeling complete. And so I may be bruised and swollen beyond words and feel sore and stiff and puggled but the miracle worked by the surgeons is my road back to feeling restored. And I'm deeply grateful for that and to the whole team ( and team Birt) who have played their part in that.
My care has been faultless, expert, skilled, kind and compassionate. I'm blown away by the service that has supported me so well. I couldn't be more grateful to the NHS for providing excellent care and giving me all the options I need just now. This is the same week where our Chief Nursing Officer has been criticised for calling out poor care. I for one applaud her. She also gave praise where it was due and credited most nurses with doing an excellent job but I know-as she does-that's not the reality everywhere. It's no coincidence my care is excellent, breast cancer care attracts the best staff and I'm a well informed, middle class, relatively healthy woman with good family support.   
As ever my experience has made me wonder how it would be for an older or less well off woman who lived alone, someone with cognitive impairment like dementia or someone who will not be tempted back to health with good food and love. We need our care services to care for all, whoever we are with the skills and kindness I have been shown. We all deserve no less than that. The team who looked after me could not have been busier, the ward and theatres were hectic day and night but I was always given the message that no request was too much, no effort spared. Ok I know in the hallowed halls of health care they are well respected, valued for what they do. Can we say the same for the staff in a care home or similar? Perhaps if we valued them too, we would see less poor practice? Staff deserve to be treated with humanity and respect and the depth of skills and compassion needed to care for someone in their home, with complex needs and little family support is no less than those needed to care for someone like me. Let's find a way to invest in our care teams, the returns will be worth it.
And finally i want to say thank you to all of you who have supported me and continue to do so. I feel loved and cared for and that's helping me feel confident of recovery and even make plans for the year as it unfolds. I write this blog with love and gratitude to my family, my friends and to those who are caring for me.

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