Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Cardi Kid

Today, child number two had a heart check up. Since the operation, performed more than a year ago, there are two concerns: the leaky valve and the duct that should be closed.

Child number one was very excited about this appointment. Aside from being the only one in the immediate family who has had no emergency medical attention (and we hope to keep it that way) and doesn't get that hospitals aren't cool, all that child was focused on was the playground. It it pretty cool. Built all along the wall is a play centre. It includes televisions, video games, blocks, trolleys and loads of toys that I really have no idea what to call. The fact is, the waiting children are kept occupied. And, we all know that sometimes the wait at the hospital can be pretty long. Today was different though. We were seen by a nurse within five minutes; that included a weigh-in, height check and a pulse reading. Child number two sat so seriously during each. Pretty proud parent.

A half an hour after the appointment time, we were called into the Doctor's office. A testament to the public health system is that child number two always sees the same doctor. It's great. He listened to the little heart and then sent us in to have an echogram (I think that's what it is called).

For twenty minutes child number two was like a statue. The cold, jelly substance that was rubbed all over the chest, helping to grab images from all directions of that beautiful heart, didn't seem to have any affect on child number two. Pretty proud parent.

Soon, it was over. The dim lighting, in the room, had made me so sleepy. Of course, as soon as the doctor was ready to talk I was all ears. Child number two was doing very well.

As a result of the operation, child number two sustained a leaky valve. The leak could certainly get worse or the valve could have stopped growing because of the interference. None of this is true for our bundle of cute. The leak is still mild.

The duct is still open. This tiny space should have closed, but it hasn't. The doctor is not sure why it hasn't. At the moment, it is too small for any intervention. Should the duct open up further a very simple procedure can be carried out whereby the duct is simply plugged up. Nothing to be concerned with now, though. With good news, there is no need for another heart check for two years. Yeah! What wonderful news. It was, at that moment, that I felt myself let out a sigh of relief. I didn't think I was worried...I must have been.

Anyway, the doctor agreed that it was "overkill" to see him privately in a year's time. He believes the two year wait is ideal. In fact, he said that if he noticed anything change in a year that he would leave it a further year before he would intervene. Sweet. So, there is no need to worry.

The doctor then went on a rant about dental care. Until child number two had the operation, I never knew of the connection between dental care and heart disease. Should child number two have any dental work, the procedure will be coupled with antibiotics. The operation made this the case. So, another reason to keep to the sugar-free terms of the paleo way.

There were high fives all around. And, in the past it would have been an occasion for a Happy Meal on the way home. We don't do that anymore. Yes, we totally deprive our children of that. We did give them both (child number one was well-behaved too) lots of cuddles and kisses.

Pretty proud parent!

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Training Day

The plan had always been to toilet train child number two when they were eighteen months. That's the age when child number one was trained. So, as someone who needs to have rules, that was that. Cancer threw a spanner in the works though. I was absolutely uninterested in doing an intensive potty training session. Child number two is now a big 22 months and the peeping nappy was calling for "potty training" too often. Would you believe that child number one was trained in a day? No kidding. I used the "Toilet Training in Less Than a Day" book's method and was totally amazed that I had success the second time round. Yep, child number two is now potty trained. Here's how it all happened...

I gathered what I would need: plenty of drinks, yellow coloured water, treats, training pants, toilet paper, plastic bag, towel, doll, potty and mobile phone (timer). I had to add to my list later, paper and pen. With child number one out of the house, my youngest and I could focus on the task at hand. We began at ten in the morning and I knew that I was likely to only be wrapping (or should I say wiping up?) at one in the afternoon. It's gruelling, absolutely tedious but it really does double up as a great bonding activity. Let's face it, how often do any of our children get our uninterrupted attention for three hours straight?

I role played the doll having drinks and needing to go to the toilet. What do we do? Go to the toilet. What does dolly have to do? Take off her undies. Look! Dolly did a pee (yellow water was squirted into the potty by me) on the potty! These questions and responses are severely reduced here. You can imagine how many times this would have been repeated... Anyway, dolly is rewarded with a treat which child number two got to eat because, well, dolls can't really eat, of course. We went over this scenario three times. Then I, in my most enthusiastic voice, invited child number two to have a go.

Child number two drank as much as they wanted. We would be needing that bladder full in order to have many opportunities for potty time. I asked child number two, constantly, to check whether their undies were "wet" or "dry". I kept the timer going and encouraged a seat on the potty every two minutes. Eventually, (this takes a great deal of patience, there's no way I could have done this while I was on steroids!!) child number two peed (I have never, ever written that word, I don't think) on the potty. There was much celebration. A treat was given. I clapped. Even dolly got a lolly. But, she refused, so child number two got two treats.

That is, essentially, it. Lots of drinks, lots of talking (all centred on peeing, drinking and being dry) and lots of playing. As you can well imagine, there were accidents. So, as much as I was rinsing out the potty I was also having to replace the training pants with a clean, dry pair. That's ok, as they were opportunities of explaining what not to do.

The first time I did this, I carried out the whole session in the kitchen. This time, I knew that that was likely to be far too confining for child number two. Child number two's training occurred outside. This was definitely optimum. It allowed a little more room for child number two to run about while we waited for the timer to alert us when it was time to sit on the potty.

The real test came during the nap, following the toilet training. I will admit that, I was nervous. Was child number two going to be wet or dry? Well, child number two was put to bed for a nap at one. The toilet training meant that the morning nap was missed so I was pretty confident that it was going to be a longer nap than usual. Was that going to complicate things?

When child number two awoke, at four-thirty, I ran into the room. The nappy was dry! I carried my little treasure to the toilet where I heard the gentle sound of a pee hitting the toilet bowl. I was ecstatic! Second time around, with a different child (totally different personality from the first) and the results were the same.

Today, the day after training, I have some further good news to report. After an eleven hour sleep, last night, child number two had a nappy that was only a tiny (incy, wincy) bit wet. This has never happened before. You know what children's nappies look like in the morning...bulging, in need of a change... Clearly, the toilet training has, somehow, taught child number two some bladder control.

It's amazing. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone ready to potty train. The method was modified for babies back in the 1970s, after it was proven to help children with a handicap. There's nothing magical about it. But, it works.

And, a couple of bonuses from the process are: bonded with child number two and child number two has grown in self-confidence (seriously!).

Unpaid plug for the book...check it out here.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011


I spent too many hours sitting today. My total contact time would have been lucky to have been more than 20 minutes! It was my end-of-treatment reviews. And, it felt strange to be back in amongst the breast clinic patients.

The husband and the two children came along. So, as I stood in line, waiting to speak with the ever so helpful receptionist, I saw a familiar face. It was wonderful to catch up with one of the TBCs. (And, a little while later, I caught up with another). It felt strange (not that I'm complaining) to not be nervous. I was just going to be chatting with the doctors and there was no bad news. Right? Of course, there is no way I am anticipating any bad news!

I sat. I squirmed. I talked. One complaint though; the hospital has been pretty close to perfect. Child number two decided to complicate things with an ill timed nappy fill. I picked up the tiny, smelly child and headed for the toilets. I was happy-as when I discovered the absense of a nappy-change table. The second toilets were lacking too! I returned to the waiting room to collect the pram. (We brought the pram along reluctantly, but now I was so thankful that we did.) I wheeled the pram into the disabled toilets and proceded to do the nappy change; all the while anticipating my name being called. My name wasn't called. It was eventually though.

The physio was the first to call me in. She is the best! I really do feel as though I am the only person she sees. Anyway, my measures are the same. For this summer, at least, I am to wear the glove and the sleeve during exercise. Hey, that's not too bad. Totally manageable. Actually, she went on to say that very new research is showing (although not conclusive) that individuals who are fit and healthy before breast cancer treatment and who return to that straight after treatment are less likely to develop lymphedema. That's some motivation, right there, to keep up the good nutrition and exercise.

Next, I was called in to see the radiation doctor. I remembered this one..he liked to refer to the operation site as "boob". It is just so awkward. Is it unprofessional? I don't know. Either way, I felt pretty uncomfortable. That was doubled when he asked me to take my top off. In the past, the curtain was drawn and I would undress before the doctor would inspect. Now...he wanted me to undress right there and then. Look, I know he's not weird. It's just that there is so much fuss about a women's dignity etc that it was quite...I know I'm using this word an awful lot...uncomfortable. Lovely doctor of course. And, very kind. He explained everything in a way that made sense. Just...well, it's a very tiny complaint.

I was back in the waiting room. And, no, I didn't sit in the same seat. There were many ladies, sitting with their support person, and they were moving in and out of appointments, changing seats as much as I was.

I met with the chemo doctor after a while. I had nothing to report on the tamoxifen's side effects. My neutrophil levels were at 1.9 (should be at 2). And, I was yet to hear of my vitamin D levels. Essentially, all was well. I could have told her that. I feel well. I questioned whether I was to have a gene test. To which she replied that it was likely that I would in the new year. Within minutes, I was walking out of that appointment.

Another wait and then I met with the last doctor for the day. A member from the surgical team called me in. She didn't look at my scars (Mr "Boob" did that already) and she just asked a handful of questions. That was it. If it wasn't so-not-the-right-thing-to-do I would have run out of there. I was glad that it was finished. Such relief.

I felt sorry for the people who would be staying the night. But, I sure was happy to be going home.

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Well, I can't believe how good I have been feeling. I know, I never wanted to talk breast cancer again, but I just can't help myself. Actually, I was doing very well to forget about it all, until I went to Ella Bache to have a massage.

Prior to this appointment I had found myself doing, very normal, things that had not taken my interest only weeks before. Like, ironing. Yeah, I know it's weird that I like ironing. In the afternoons, when the children are napping, I usually don't mind putting on a movie and ironing clothes. The chemo really put an end to that. And, it also halted my desire to simply walk around in the shops. I have now recovered well enough for my brain to actually put such thoughts into my head. It's weird. Anyway, I'm just feeling better and better, still.

So, the massage. I had received a $100 gift voucher to be spent at Ella Bache from The Pink Pamper Pack ladies. I was, of course, looking forward to the appointment. As it turned out though, cancer patients are not permitted such luxury. The massaging actually stimulates the lymphatic system, something which is to be avoided at this time. Apparently, should there be any cancer cells floating around, the lymphatic system can be compromised. So, the massage did not go ahead. I am allowed to return for a massage in twelve months, or sooner should I present a medical certificate.

I wasn't interested in waiting twelve months to be pampered. So, I decided to go with an all-inclusive pedicure. It's a safer option. The appointment has been made. And, I will definitely enjoy it.