Tag Archives: Women’s health

The toll of working shifts

January
January is turning out to be a very busy month for my better half. One of the guys he works with, has had to go out of town for a few weeks which means overtime, six extra shifts this month. Now that doesn’t sound like a lot, but when you work twelve hours (he is paid extra for breaks and lunch since his job does not allow him to leave the boiler room), and then throw in a few extra, your body becomes completely messed up. This week alone, instead of working just two nights, he did four, and without any days off, he is switching to days (Sunday is considered a day off since the shift started Saturday night). Thus, he worked Wednesday night, Thursday night, Friday night, and Saturday night, and tomorrow morning he will go in for a twelve hour day. Basically when he came home this morning he only slept for three or four hours, because he will be going back to bed tonight so he can get up and go to work in the morning.

Hubby and I have been together for almost thirty-one years and he has always worked shifts. Way back when, he used to work a completely insane schedule. The shifts comprised of working seven-eight hour days, two off, seven afternoons, two off, then seven nights with three days off. This rotation gave him one weekend off a month. I found it to be particularly difficult on me also; I had three kids all under the age of five and if it wasn’t for the help of my mother, I would have went crazy. Afternoons were the hardest, feeding the kids supper, clean up, cleaning them up, and putting them into bed. I’m pretty sure, I went to bed right after the kids. My one saving grace, my kids were (and still are) sleepers. All loved a good twelve hours of sleep, so bedtime was at 7 p.m.

Throughout the years, hubby has worked all different rotations, with each new job he started, there was always a new schedule to get used too. One benefit I did enjoy was him having days off during the week. On those days, he could and would gladly take kids to school, swimming, or soccer, giving me a break. When it is just you and the kids for days on end, you feel and are in some ways a single parent, because even if hubby was home, there were days he was just too exhausted to really do anything, or he was sleeping.

Hubby has worked his current shift rotation for quite a number of years, and as it worked out, he wasn’t here for Christmas, boxing day, or New Year’s eve. On Christmas, we all woke at 6 a.m. to open our gifts, then middle child drove dad to work while the rest of us went back to bed (actually I stayed up, and started work on the dinner since we were having company). When the kids were small, it was a lot more difficult; waking kids early, or having them have to wait until dad gets home, is hard when all you want to do is open presents. The kids were troopers though, and would wait, asking every few minutes, “is he on his way home mommy”, kind of like the “are we there yet”question.

The one major bonus of night shift, especially when the kids were (are) in school, is well, sex. The kids weren’t home, so the parents played!

They called while I was away, another mammogram was necessary

I had my first mammogram when I was fifty, and when I received the letter to have another at fifty-two, I thought no problem. So last week before leaving for camping I went for a mammogram, and was told if there was an issue, they would call me. Off camping I went with no worries. Well apparently I should have worried because the Breast Screening program phoned, leaving a message with the teenage boy. (I wish I had not gone away, because then I would have received the telephone call, not the teenage boy). He was a tad concerned, wondering why I needed another scan. When he gave me the message, I put on a brave face, telling him that sometimes the scans don’t give proper images, thus the need for new ones. Inside though, I was worried because I knew the first scans were done perfectly.

I was the first appointment of the day. I squirmed in my seat as I waited. Finally, they called me and the first thing I asked was “why?”. Apparently the technician had seen something. I asked “where?”. “Your left breast”, and she pointed to the location. (Now I had been checking and re-checking my breasts the past few days, but I didn’t feel anything out of the normal). The extremely nice woman positioned my breast in the mammogram machine, so she could take the new pictures. It really hurt, but I wasn’t complaining. It didn’t matter how much it hurt this time, I wanted the images to be perfect. After she had the new pictures, I was told to wait in the waiting room while the doctor scanned the pictures and depending on the results, there may be need for an ultrasound.

Well I was waiting a few other women came into the room. Thursday was repeat day. The day for women with questionable scans. There were a few worried faces.

Another ten minutes or so went by before I was called in, an ultrasound was needed. Now I am scared. The ultrasound took very little time. When the technician was done, I was not sent to the waiting room, I was asked to wait where I was. I tried not to freak out. Images of my family went through my mind. I thought of my sister-in-law, who had lost her battle with cervical cancer not too long ago. It seemed like a long time before the technician re-entered the room, and when she reappeared, she just said all was fine, you can go. That was that. No explanation, nothing. Just everything was fine. I worried for no reason. I should have been happy but I wanted a better explanation.

On the way home, I happened to see my eldest daughter working (her summer job is cutting grass for the city). I waved, drove some more, then as soon as I could, I turned the car around. I drove to where I saw her. Then practically running out of the car, I gave her a great big hug and said “all is fine”. It had hit me. I was okay. Thank you Breast Screening Clinic.

To all women/men fighting breast cancer, I send you my strength, and hugs.

Cancer Sucks

It’s has been one year since my SIL (sister-in-law) was diagnosed with cervical cancer. The year has been filled with disappointment, joy, and more disappointment. She has undergone chemotherapy, radiation, more chemotherapy. She has been told the cancer was cured, only to find out from another doctor the cancer had reappeared and spread. More chemotherapy was ordered, with the hope that the tumour would shrink so she could undergo radical surgery. Sadly the tumour only grew, surgery was now out of the question. Another round of chemotherapy was ordered but at the same time, she was now being told that her cancer was terminal and the chemo would only, hopefully extend her life. We go for a second opinion, they say the same thing, they would not change her treatment plan. We find out January 11th whether or not the chemo is slowing the cancer down.

My brother and his wife have a seven-year old daughter. How in God’s name do you tell a seven-year old, that you won’t see her graduate from elementary school, high school, her life? Cancer takes away your inner soul. The poor dear has waves of feeling totally and completely hopeless, depression is constant, crying and screaming break into the day far too often. My SIL is thirty-one years old, she has not experienced life to it’s fullest.

My SIL has asked me to take care of my brother and their daughter when she is no longer here. With no hesitation I say yes. She asks how will her daughter remember her. I tell her, she will be an angel, always watching over her daughter. I tell her Leah will always have her memories and no one can take those away from her. Cancer Sucks, plain and simple.

Update:

Yesterday, we received the results of my SIL’s latest CAT scan and it was neither positive nor negative. The tum our has not gotten larger, there some new suspect cells that the doctor is not sure of, and it appears it is no longer pressing on her bladder. The middle of the tumor may be dying but again the doctor is not sure. He says we will have to wait until her next CAT scan in a month to figure out whether or not the latest chemo drug is working. I think the good news about all of this is that my SIL took it as a positive sign which changed her attitude to a more optimistic one. One of the side affects of this chemo drug is she is now anemic, and will have to have a blood transfusion next week.