I have been lots of things this week. I have been: nervous, anxious, impatient, upset, disappointed, cross, guilty, resigned, battered, bruised and very tired. But one thing has remained constant - I remain nippleless (at this point it may be worth reading the previous post if you haven't already - and if you are squeamish dear reader, look away now!)
After more than 18 months of waiting for what I was hoping would be a last bit of plastic surgery and final operation, I came round from the anaesthetic to hear two nurses discussing across my trolley that it 'hadn't all gone to plan'. Not a good wake up call.
Mr Plastic Fantastic told me in his lovely lilting Irish accent but with a little less twinkle in his eyes that because of the damage to the skin caused by radiotherapy he’d decided it was too risky to do the normal nipple reconstruction we were all geared up for. He had though done the other bits of nip and tuck to perk up the perkiness, and balance the boobs up more - and as a bonus thrown in some liposuction by taking out some fat around my hips (to use in the op - not just because he thought I could do with less of a muffin top). Warning here ladies - lipo HURTS!
It's taken a good few days to work through the flurry of feelings and thoughts, especially in the fug of post op drugs. I know it seems in some ways so silly to be upset about something which in the wider view of things is such a trivial and minor point (or two points). And it does seem trivial, which is where the feelings of guilt come in. But I know having this done for me was as much about the psychological as the physical. This was the Last Thing, the Final Bit, the Drawing of the Line. From when I was diagnosed I tried to keep things as 'normal' as possible, carrying on working, telling very few people, staying as independent as I could be (not always good or helpful in retrospect - I may write the Duff Guide to having breast cancer - how not to do it!). I knew from the beginning that I wanted every bit of reconstruction and to eventually look as 'normal' as possible again. But I also know, that so many things have changed in so many ways – and many for the better - they will never be 'normal' again - at least not my old kind of normal.
This time four years ago I'd just been told I had cancer and although I always felt I'd be OK, I hadn't even been told what my chances of 'survival' (as they put it) would be. I would do anything to say alive - and I did – being chopped up, burnt, poisoned - anything. So of course I am happy, lucky, grateful to be here today, moaning about the fact that I don't have nipples. Maybe it's time to embrace my non normality, after all I’m still here to live with it.