When something goes wrong in your life just yell ‘PLOT TWIST’, and move on
In January this year I found out I am a carrier of the BRCA 2 genetic mutation.
This gives me a 60 – 80% increased risk of breast cancer and 10 – 30% increased risk of ovarian cancer, vs 11% general population risk of breast cancer and 1 – 2% general population risk of ovarian cancer. See p6 of this leaflet.
After a couple of months of not thinking about it, I realised I really needed to make some decisions about what this means for me, so I booked an appointment to discuss my options with the breast and ovarian cancer teams at the hospital. I came away from the appointments with more information, and was given 6 months to think about my options.
For my breasts my options were: continue having mammograms and MRI’s which I’ve been having as part of the Nottingham family history programme, or have a preventative double mastectomy and possible reconstruction. Fortunately, as I haven’t hit the menopause yet, my ovarian cancer risk doesn’t really kick in until I’m 45, when I would need to think about having a bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy (removal of fallopian tubes and ovaries).
After some soul searching I realised that I didn’t want to live in the shadow of a possible breast cancer diagnosis, and everything that goes with it, especially after Mum’s diagnosis (and ongoing good health!), so I made A Big Decision and have opted to have a preventative double mastectomy, with implant reconstruction which will take place on XX December.
I expect to be off work for at least 6 weeks, so I’ll be jotting a few notes here about how I’m getting on with life, after the op!
The last time I wrote anything properly I was bemoaning my lack of energy, and the loss of my enthusiasm for riding bikes. Most of the 2017-18 winter was spent in a similar way – resting, in the hope my energy would come back. I had shingles, a broken wisdom tooth removed, and treatment for anaemia. I started taking serious steps to buying a horse and was impatiently waiting for a stable to become free at my favourite yard.
And then suddenly, in the first week of April, I bought a horse! I’ve spent the last year learning to ride him, and get into a whole different life. Although I’m a competent rider, he’s very different to any of the horses I had ridden before so it’s taken some adjustment in my riding. And having never owned a horse before, once the dream became a reality I suddenly realised I’d never dreamed past the ‘buy horse’ stage. What should I do with him? Up until a couple of weeks ago he wouldn’t go into my trailer, so we couldn’t go anywhere, but I’ve fixed that, thanks to the Horse Psychology course run by Kelly Marks of Intelligent Horsemanship. So we finally went to our first show together last weekend, and did a round of showjumping. It didn’t go great but I got a rosette as there were only 2 entries in my class! I was really pleased with myself, as I’ve been really worried about going to a show, but we did it!
I still have bouts of exhaustion, this week in particular has been hard. But going and seeing Louis has kept me going 🙂
So from now on the lifecycle this blog will be about is the one with my horse….!
Saturday for a while has been a bleak place. I haven’t posted anything in a long time because… well I guess I’ve been depressed.
I’ve had exhaustion issues on and off since April which have meant my usual Saturday anti- depressant of going for a MTB ride has become too tiring for me to do. So I’m left to my own devices, and being tired I’ve tended to do nothing. (Unless you count reading books back to back all day as ‘something’.) I’m currently still in bed (11am right now) which the cat thinks is great, having played numerous games, watched cute animal videos and caught up on some articles I saved during the week. Fortunately today I feel up-beat for a change, I’m not completely exhausted and I’m not upset/frustrated by my inability to go and ride with my mates. I think this might be because someone suggested perhaps I should just go do uplift days for a bit – and it got me thinking. One of the things that feeds my depression is not having a solution to a problem, so I don’t have the energy to pedal? Get in a bus and just go downhill, it’s the part I really love about mountain biking anyway! Also I’m working out a plan to own a horse which has been my dream since I was about 3. Stu mentioned that he often switches between love of different forms of cycling – for the last 2 years it’s been road, but he loves MTBing in the Alps. And I think I understand – local riding options are now a bit boring, and as he drives around for a living getting back in a van on a Saturday doesn’t fill him with joy. So perhaps mountain biking might take a little bit of a back seat while I invest my time, money and what energy I have into what I love right now.
So, time to get up and deal with some things that depression always leaves me with – the mess, piles of things I didn’t have the mental or physical capacity to deal with!
Hopefully I’ll be back into blogging now I’ve dealt with my writing blockage – I’ve got no fewer that 6 posts in the pending box!
*the more observant may notice the cat has changed. Sadly Toot died in June which was devastating, but the cat shaped hole in my life couldn’t stay empty so Cocoa came to us from Cats Protection. A confident, child hating 8 year old who we absolutely adore!
It’s a Saturday morning, and I should be getting ready or on my way to some form of MTB adventure because that’s what Saturdays are for.
But I’m not. I’m in my dressing gown. Crying.
It’s the first time I’ve had a proper cry since February 2016, when I started taking antidepressants. It seems like the last few months have taken their toll.
At the end of November I came down with some kind of a sickness bug where I constantly felt nauseous and could barely eat anything. I managed to get a bit of my strength back and had a steady ride at Sherwood Pines during the Christmas break. In January we went on a great snowboarding holiday. In February I was diagnosed with Parry Romberg syndrome. In March I had a bout of sinutisits, followed by an amazing splitboarding holiday. I came back from that holiday hoping to use the fitness I had gained to get back into cycling. Unfortunately it didn’t work and I had the worst exhausted phase I can remember. So April was spent trying to get lots of sleep, eat healthily and do gentle exercise. I got another bout of sinusitis and then my van broke down.
So here I am, half a stone heavier, unfit, lost my bike-confidence and trying to just get out of bed.
I posted up in a Facebook group I’m part of (MTB chix and trails) and asked what other people had done in similar situations, and got such amazing supportive responses. But then that got too much for me and I haven’t been back on Facebook or twitter since.
I was thinking this morning while getting ready as I always do, but today it was about medication specifically.
I’m asthmatic, and have to take 2 puffs twice a day of an inhaler, which stops me feeling like my chest has some kind of very restrictive corset on.
I also have depression, and have to take 2 20mg tablets every day, which stops me feeling like my brain has some kind of very restrictive corset on.
This year I’d set myself a goal of reducing the anti-depressants to 20mg a day.
Today I asked myself why I’d felt the need to set myself this goal, I wouldn’t do it with the inhaler, after all.
I realised that I’d put this pressure on myself because anti-depressants are, at least initially, viewed like a plaster. You put a plaster on to keep a wound clean, and help the healing process. And for some people this is exactly what anti-depressants do – help them get back on track, start and maintain their healing process until they feel like they don’t need them any more. But what if for me I need them like I need my inhaler?
So today I gave myself permission to not feel any pressure on this subject, to drop my ‘goal’. If I need to be on these tablets long term what’s the problem? Mental health is like any other form of health issue, so why treat the medication for it like a temporary fix?
And along with this I’d set goals of blogging twice a month. Well I’ve obviously succeeded at that… (NOT)* so in the name of reducing pressure I’m going to forgive myself and just blog when I can/feel inspired. Because what’s the point in forcing something?
*Wayne’s World is 25 years old. This terrifies me!
On Tuesday I signed up for the Ronde Van Vlaanderen 130km sportive for the 2nd year, my third time there…I’m not too worried this time as I know what to expect, the challenge will be to improve my time, and not eat any mayo as it made me very ill!! Today I’ve signed up for […]