Of wifely things

Following the recent furore over the “Ooh, a guy said that he loved and cherished his fat wife! He’s a dude! Give him cookies!” and the cries of “Yeah, you’re supposed to, that’s what normal people DO, so why get extra special kudos for it? Plus there’s some backhanded compliments in there man.” here is some writing.

[EDIT] Writing by me, with no backhanded compliments!


Some days I find myself idly watching you, comfortably revelling in the knowledge that we’re together, that you are someone who chooses to be with me. Our ups and downs through the years are just natural hills and valleys, to be traversed together, not battled with separately. 

I admire your quick hands, deft and sure whatever task it is you’re doing, and allow myself an indulgent smile because those same hands that can defeat heavy work tasks or plant out delicate seedlings, can also communicate such soothing human affection. The days I’m tired, and simply worn down by the world and the things in it, you hold me, put you arms around me and  the world…stops when the warmth of your palms and fingertips rest on my back.

The contour of your hip as you hold a child on it still enthralls me, so I’m sorry if I am tardy in taking the wriggling beast off you on occasion. Our children, our shared laughing, crying, tantruming responsibility, hide and burrow into your soft, ample curves, hugged into giggling submission whilst trying to wriggle out at the same time. I doubt they’ll ever grow out of loving your embrace, no matter how big and tall they grow, or how far they range away from us. 

That moment at the end of the day when we finally collapse into bed, each last small voice slowing and dropping into dreamland, is the time I think I look forward to the most. It’s that moment of “At last, we can rest.” as we fold wearily into each other and just lay there, silent for a while, the swell of your belly pressing into the small of my back, a rounded arm looped over my waist, warm skin melding briefly into one being, heartbeats aligning as we relish the comfort of “Aahh…bed.” for a few minutes, until we start to talk, going over the moments of the day in the peaceful brown-hued darkness.

You’re my sanity, my home port, the place and person I can’t wait to run to, and see each day. Most times I want to get home first so I can have dinner on the go for you, and have the joy of seeing your face when you walk in and smell your favourite dish bubbling away. I think we race each other. 

The years we’ve been together have passed in a flash, it seems, and yet the times we’ve shared stretch back over decades. You complete me, we complete US, and I love you now as always. My best friend, my strength, and I yours, I hope. 

My partner in all things, my love, my wife.



And so it goes…

The month of July has been one I’d probably – mostly – forget. Firstly because of my husband being very poorly indeed, and then…my turn.

If you do  not want to read about breasts and needles, leave now.

A year ago I had some odd happenings with my left breast. It had decided to leak. Seeing as I have never had, and never wish to have children, lactation was not and is not desirable. Cue GP visit, who just said keep an eye and see how things go. She wasn’t unduly worried but it just kept on happening. Badly some days, others days barely noticeable. No pain, just…leaking.

Then a few weeks ago, the fluid turned black. Let me tell you, when you see black liquid welling out of your own nipple, your inner calm makes a run for it.

Then it just ran clear again. After my momentary panic, I went right back to the nurse, who sent me for a breast scan.

The breast scan turned out to be two mammograms, one of which was so painful I cried, then an ultrasound, then a needle biopsy which GODSDAMNIT do not have that without a local anaesthetic. My pain threshold is good, but yeesh. By the way, doctors who do those biopsies, OFFER A LOCAL AS A MATTER OF COURSE BEFORE YOU SHOVE A NEEDLE IN. The needle went in right at the bottom of the areola, and felt like it was about an inch wide. I am well aware it was not.

That was actually one of the most lonely experiences I have had. Lying twisted at an awkward angle in a hospital room – a very cold hospital room – with all things medical going on around me, the ultrasound probe being pushed into already painful bits of me, being spoken about, not TO…all the fears I’d buried came to the surface and leaked out of my eyes. Finally I managed to ask the Dr what she was DOING, and begged please tell me what you are doing, don’t just treat me like a piece of meat lying here.

Anyhoo, after an hour of that, it was back to the consultant who said I’d been brave but still didn’t give me a sticker.  He says he thinks I’ve probably got nothing to worry about, as there seems to be a tiny cyst in the milk duct that’s causing problems, nothing more sinister, and to come back next week.

I fell over this weekend a bit, I admit. I thought the pain would dissipate, but it hung around, occasionally making me want to take my breast off and put it in a box wrapped in cotton wool, bubble wrap and kindness.

Finally today the pain has subsided.

For goodness sake, how can ONE NEEDLE cause so much hurt? I grant you, the muscle aches from the two mammograms probably didn’t help, but sheesh.

I’m hoping they don’t decide to do another one ‘just to check’ when I go back on Friday.
The main problem with this mammogram wasn’t the two ‘side on’ ones, that are usual. It was the ‘front on’ one. Because they had to try and see all the nipple, the ducts and the tissue behind the nipple, basically your boob goes front on into a mangle. That mangle then get sat on by an elephant. Or at least that’s what it feels like.

I’m one of the ‘lucky’ ones who still has firm boobs at the age of 47. I say lucky…but breast density means the darned things DO NOT FLATTEN no matter how much pressure the plates exert, so there was lots of twisting and manipulation of the breast to get it to be in the right position. Oddly, it didn’t want to stay put, so had to be forced.

I’m mortified that I actually cried out when she applied the plates for the third time. Stoicism failed utterly. The last thing I wanted to do was scare the others in the waiting room but it just…came out.

Still, at least I can cross my arms again now without wincing. It’s vitally important to have these things done, I know that, but I cannot help but think that if men had to have these done as routine, there would be a far better way of doing them invented very, very fast.

No doubt I’ll get a letter in the post any day now saying I’m due for a smear test…

As I was sat in the waiting room, looking around at my fellow women, all either mid treatment, or waiting for treatment, or waiting for diagnosis, it struck me that from around the age of 10 onwards, women are routinely subjected to invasions of their body. We have routine smears, routine mammograms, then we have the ones that aren’t routine, investigations, proddings, pokings and we have to do them all WITHOUT EVEN ADEQUATE ACCESS TO THINGS AS SIMPLE AS DECENT POCKETS.

I felt at one with my ladies in that room. There was a kind of resigned camaraderie there. An undercurrent of fear, yes, but also one of teeth gritted “Let’s bloody well get on with it then.”, and a willingness to share support and commiserate with others going through the same toe-curling procedures.

It’s not an experience I want to have again, really, but it’s one I’m glad I’ve had, if that makes sense.


Breast Exam

In the turn of a minute…

At the beginning of July I spent a week with my Mum in Cyprus. I had nothing to do apart from read, sit in the sun, swim and eat nice food. That was it. I was already worn out from a hectic run up to my time off, and needed to switch my brain out of work mode, and turn that dial mainly to ‘OFF’. I mostly managed it.

On my last night there I got an email from Beloved Husband, saying that he was in hospital. The reasons are not for here, but my brain was switched, then, firmly to ‘ON’ again.

Contacting the cab firm that was collecting me at the airport, and changing the destination to Hospital. Calling my boss to let him know that probably I wasn’t actually going to make it into work on the Tuesday. Letting various people know what was occurring. That done, I fell into bed, ready to get going the next day. I wasn’t in Cyprus any more, my head was in a hospital in London.

Of course the flight was delayed. That was more or less a given! But I chatted in gentle tones to the lass next to me, letting her talk about her mum who has passed away just before her holiday, and needed to let it out somewhere. It’s easier to bare your grieving soul to someone you don’t know, who has no connection, as you don’t have to worry about them getting upset, too.

From the airport it was hotfoot to the hospital. The taxi driver knew I was worried, and put his foot down.

Beloved was fully compos mentis, but very tired, very hungry and thirsty having been nil by mouth since the Sunday afternoon, and it was now the evening of Monday the 10th. After some badgering he was allowed ice cubes on the Tuesday – it was ridiculously hot in the ward – and started some small amounts of food on the Wednesday. I nearly swung for the guy in the bed opposite who ordered in fish and chips, and ate them in a ward where everyone was nil by mouth.

Eventually, on the 20th, after various Procedures, he was allowed home. To say I was delighted was an understatement, but then the fun began. An infection set in on the evening of the 24th, so Tuesday morning we got antibiotics from the hospital. By the Tuesday evening his temperature was rising by the half hour. It got all the way to 38.3C and we were prepping to go to A&E. Bags packed, we checked it again – I think I was getting a little obsessive at this point – and it had dropped. A lot. All the way to 36C.

He chose to stay home – and who wouldn’t? A&E is as far from restful as you can get.

Wednesday 26th and Thursday 27th were days full of pain for him, alternately running with sweat and shivering with an inner cold that wouldn’t shift, that rattled his teeth in his skull. I have never felt as hopeless and helpless, watching him go through this, just waiting for the double dose antibiotics to kick in, checking temperature on the hour, making sure he ate something, watching him while he slept just in case of…whatever my brain decided it was going to worry about that that moment. Anything outside my immediate life was on hold. Nothing mattered more to me than being by his side.

Friday things seemed to lessen slightly, and the weekend was spent with him in bed, resting as much as he could. The shivers/sweats had eased, but the pain was stabbing him and doubling him over with alarming regularity.

Finally things got better. As it stands, he is still not well, and might not be for a while, but he can feels ok enough to be left on his own.  We have more medical things coming up, but for now…he’s ok. I feel secure enough at the moment to come in to work, to go away for a weekend with my best friend, just to relax and recharge a bit – but make no mistake, there is nothing that I wouldn’t do for this man. Since I laid eyes on him in January of 1992 I’ve loved him more each day. If a doctor came to me and said the only way to save him would be for me to give up an organ, then without query I’d do it. I would, quite literally, lay down my life for him. People might not be able to see why, but they are not me, and I don’t need anyone’s approval or understanding for how I feel about this tall, straight talking, honourable, quiet man.