Tuesday 19th December 2017

A Very Personal Post About My Weight. 2017.134.

A Very Personal Post About My Weight. 2017.134.

In this, my last post for 2017, I am finally unlocking what I have kept inside more than I have let out. Into the world beyond my conversations with my husband who is my trusted confidante.

This is about my weight and what I see and think about the place it has had in my life as an adult. We are talking over 48 years.

Mid 2014 Left. Recently 2017 on Right.

It has been always, and yes it is a not very good analogy, the elephant in the room.

I do not mention my size, weight or fluctuations other than in written form in my diary or in saying something to my husband.

So, where to start with what I want to say….it’s here. As a young woman.

My Twenties.

  • I was 20 when I left home to teach in north-western NSW. I was free to be me. Well, in some ways and I do know I had the first sense of freedom around food. I believe I was a less than normal eater in my teens, still living at home and preferred ‘junk’ food over the better food.
  • I think my parents did what they could but in some ways, I had/have that sweet tooth which I used to calm and comfort. I was not overweight at all but like many young women moving into their 20s I saw the faults of hips and thighs. In fact, being told by a teaching colleague I had child-rearing hips was not taken as a compliment. In the photos above you can see I was a normal  looking young bride and then mother.
  • However, the very first notion that I needed to diet (i.e.) lose weight came at my 6 week post-pregnancy check up where the OB told me I needed to get those (back then in pound/stones) half a stone off me to be back to wedding day weight.
  • Thus it set something off in me about not being good enough AND to add to this, I was one miserable stay-at-home mum (very isolated in the NSW bush for 8 hours a day for 6 months) so I comfort-baked and ate.
  • Onto a new school and a new house and our baby grew to be a pre-schooler and my weight did too. I ate to soothe. I ate to calm and I ate, interestingly enough, because I could not fall pregnant even though the first time round was too easy!
  • We moved to an even more isolated area where we were both on staff: hub was the principal and I was the teacher and our daughter started school with us. We enjoyed the teaching stint because it was incredibly challenging but in the meantime, and the downtime I baked for ourselves and others and I put on even more weight.
  • When I saw my parents, family and friends in the school holidays  it was not a topic for conversation but my imagination took over and there were many judgement of ME by others (that they never said but I imagined). I was already ashamed to be the size I was but I was not going to talk about it to anyone. Some diets were tried to limited success and as someone who hates deprivation it was never going to last.
  • The doctor who told me I would never fall pregnant without losing weight was hated by me. I did so much want to have a second child but it appeared not to be something that would happen so I accepted the fate of one child.

My Thirties.

  • I became pregnant! Not by dieting, oh no. The  next specialist I saw once we had settled back into Sydney, diagnosed multiple ovarian cysts and other things inside that were preventing pregnancy and following major abdominal surgery…and a bit quicker than the specialist recommended, I was with child.
  • I was at a lower weight (still around 18 kgs above my wedding day weight) and kept that weight consistently with no increase until the last couple of months of pregnancy. Gave birth, went well, breastfed (the weight did not drop off!) and back to work full-time when the baby was 18 weeks old.

STRESS: This time in our married lives were amongst the worst as my husband was made to medically retire due to ill-health and the next 4 years or so were pretty grim. I was teaching full-time and seeking promotions as I was the only one now in education. Our kids were growing and whilst their Dad did some things for them, he was very unwell and a lot fell to me. How did I cope? Well, good old food. Comfort foods of course. However, noticing that I was getting bigger did not help my self-esteem and I would put myself through rigorous exercise and restricted eating in the hope that would help.

  • And no, I would not talk about it ever. My GP always checked my BP and bloods and even though I did have highish BP medication helped that and it was not weight-related. Blood tests were awesome. I was healthy.
  • But I didn’t like what I saw in the mirror or photos so I stayed behind the lens as the family photographer.

My Forties.

  • As a mum I used to wonder if my kids (who were of so-called normal weight) were ever ashamed of me and I hoped at the same time that they would never mention my weight. They did not.
  • But I sure told myself stories about how my parents must have felt about me as neither of them was overweight.
  • So, there I was on the outside trying my best to look good: I had nice clothes, I had my hair done regularly but my mind told me I looked fat. Always. And that others must be saying that behind my back too.
  • I went on diets at least 3 times. I lost and re-gained the same 18kg each time. Diets included weight watchers (who never could explain to me how NOT to be an emotional eater) and attending a dietitian.

My Fifties.

  • Life was good in many ways. Our children were now adults and independent to a degree and both eventually left home.
  • My husband was reasonably well and we had the trappings of success outwards (new house, cars etc) but there was more happening inside.
  • Interestingly I never ate when stressed but I ate to soothe when I felt overwhelmed or needed what I would call a ‘reward’ or treat.
  • I became a school principal at this time of my life and the days might not have had time for me to eat but I made up for it when I got home.
  • I liked cooking for others and enjoyed sharing my culinary skills with plenty of leftovers, always making I had put aside food for me that I liked too for another time.
  • By now I realised that I used food emotionally. Yes. Crunchy foods helped soothe anger and frustrations. Soft food, like chocolate and cake soothed my sad or loneliness.
  • I visited psychologists about my weight, I went on exercise plans and I did diaries and I even took a prescription tablet to help me reduce my cravings. That worked for a while but it gave me side-effects so off that I went and back on came the weight.
  • By now I decided NOT to be the number on the scales anymore and threw them out.

From a Slimming Mag Article on Me. Early 2000s. Made up me, around 70kg on left, Grandma me in 2001 much heavier on right.

My Sixties.

  • I was in the decade of when my maternal aunt died. This was a bit scary as she was overweight and I know she comfort ate and her death was related to an unknown cancer.
  • I did get blood tests done annually and it was as a result of one of those around 4-5 years ago that I got my first warning of what ageing, lack of exercise and excessive weight could do. I had raised blood sugar and my GP wanted me to have the Glucose Tolerance Test.
  • She really did understand thought that I was trying to live my life without being a number on the scales. But I HAD to do something myself. I then agreed to be weighed and then I asked her to give me 6 months to do something about this.
  • Six months later, and 3 kgs lighter, thanks to more attention to the amounts of what I was eating AND to increase my walking each day, there was no need to have a GTT. Phew.
  • In this period of 2014-2017 I was affected (still am from time to time) by the immense stressors of the trifecta of transitions as I like to call them: selling our house, moving away from family and friends, retiring from all education work.
  • Enter: Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) …it had emerged for the first time in my 30s but had gone till now. Suddenly, and over time I found I HAD to limit what I ate. I also found I was…ahem, going to the loo much much more.
  • My GPs (I was still going to one in Sydney and then I found one up here) re-assured me that this unintentional weight loss was OK as long as I was managing OK. I was but not always.
  • Stressors such as loneliness and sadness of the trifecta of transitions saw me settle into a healthier and better eating pattern which probably halved meals on most days.
  • I no longer went out for coffee and cake as I was too stressed to do so but I missed it. However, this helped me too.
  • I often asked the doctors “are you sure this is OK?” and they always said “yes”.
  • It took me a LOOOOONG time to believe (and I still have doubts) that this weight loss could be sustained.
  • Over the 3 years or so I lost around 33 kg. It goes up a bit then down a bit but I have gone from Size 22/20 clothes to Size 16/14. Interesting!

WHAT ABOUT GETTING CANCER?

  • Interestingly, in the 2014-2017 times I used to ask the GPs and even the Gastroenterologist “do you think I have lost some weight because I have cancer?” and this was always answered no!
  • I do not believe my cancer was weight-related either now but I also know that somewhere along the line our bodies can change inside when we are under stress. The last 3-4 years were those for me. My Professor and GP both have no idea why I got this cancer (neither a smoker nor drinker) either but they have said it can be found in older women (check) and is quite rare. Lovely. Not.
  • So, yes since having a cancer diagnosis IN my mouth it was already hard to eat as my gums and the bridge with teeth at the front of my mouth was tender. So, too sore to eat much. Weight comes down. How do I know? Clothes are loosening.
  • Time to get real about food. After the surgery I had to take responsibility for feeding myself with a very limited selections of food that can be soft, easy to swallow and are generally nutritious.
  • It was impressed on me by the dietitian before I left hospital in July that I was not to lose weight. And THAT was something I had NEVER heard in my life before.
  • Staying the weight I was and am is a bit of an up and down juggle and I weigh myself every few weeks. I have not lost much weight and have even gained a kilo or two since my lowest a few months back.
  • The importance of the nutrition in healing and staying well is something I have accepted more easily. I am eating foods I never chose before. Weetbix is my breakfast and I will even eat some scrambled egg with tasty cheese in it. I am adept at slippery and soft foods and right now, mangoes and avocadoes are my friend. Little cakes and some biscuits I can dunk for softness are my treats.

SELF-IMAGE AND CONFIDENCE.

  • I admit it took me at least 6-7 months to realise once the weight loss had settled  it is likely to stay.
  • I did donate mountains of Plus Size clothes to local charities but could not (yet) bring myself to do that with all of the size 16s so they are in a box in the linen press.
  • As time goes on, I can see with the changes I have made since cancer made me eat differently and consider food as nutrition more than for enjoyment (that still counts!) I will not re-gain those 30+kg.
  • I gave myself permission to buy new (usually on special as we have a limited income now!) clothes and over time I have begun to see myself differently.
  • The person in the mirror has more wrinkles than ever (the fat held the skin more taughtly) but she is looking, in her 60s, more like what she remembers her mother to look like. This has taken quite some time as I never thought I could be good enough to look like Mum.
  • Deciding to share my story, in bits and pieces on the blog has been good for me but until this post, I had never explained the WHOLE story.
  • Taking part in a daily outfit challenge for everyday style has given me such a lift as I do get some very encouraging and positive comments.
  • I like who I see in the mirror and in the photos now and I love seeing my husband’s eyes light up when I appear in something he likes me wearing. The day of my birthday when I wore a dress for the first time in 15 years was one such landmark.

WHAT NOW?

  • I need to remember to be kind to the ‘person who was not at an ideal weight’. I need to forgive her and tell her she was doing the best she could at the time. I do.
  • I see the ‘me’ keeping on keeping on. I know so much more about the why of what I was doing. I also think I know so much more about how to stop that continuing.
  • Getting my mouth re-construction completed in early-mid 2018 will be interesting for me as for the first time in close to a year I will probably be able to eat all foods. I have missed crunching and chewing a lot.
  • I know if I am seeking comfort for something I am not prepared to admit or talk about I want something food-wise so I will keep an eye on that.
  • My IBS is well-controlled now thanks to a medication my GP has me taking.
  • My anxiety levels (which were incredibly high PRE-cancer) have reduced by around 90%. In other words, they are not out of control.
  • Telling my story has, for the first time in ages, been both cathartic and brave. I hope, that if you got this far it has proved to be of interest.

Me: Sun 17 Dec 2017. Off to Granddaughter’s 21st and 7 months post- cancer diagnosis. I miss smiling! It will be back next year sometime.

 

I understand this is a tough topic for many of us and it took me a LONG time to own up to what has been going on for me here.

Thank you for reading and let me know what your thoughts are about weight and self-image.

Denyse.

Yes, it’s the last post in 2017! How DID that happen.

Last linky with IBOT and Kylie on Tuesdays until January 2018 and with Leanne on Thursdays for Lovin’ Life. I know Leanne is returning in the same week I am with #lifethisweek. My Monday link-up is back 1 January 2018. Leanne’s is Thurs 4 Jan.

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Plans. #LifeThisWeek 49/52. 2017.133.

Christmas Plans. #LifeThisWeek 49/52. 2017.133.

This Christmas our plans are very simple as on the day itself we will be ‘just us’.

And, shhhh, we actually don’t mind that much because for decades Christmas was a day of travelling, entertaining, eating and then resting…on Boxing Day! My lovely husband is going to cook a non-traditional Christmas roast of lamb as that is the meal I was able to eat some time ago. I am making a lemon meringue pie. It does not have to be tradition if I cannot eat something. I have missed Christmas cake, mince pies and of course anything crunchy but I reckon I can last till next Christmas for these!

So here’s a little photo collage of what Christmas is for us, two retirees living away from their adult kids and grandkids:

Every Christmas I get a ‘favourite’ tune or song and LOVE it …so much so it can be all I play in December. I love Christmas songs for their memories of teaching them to kids and being in choirs myself. This year I have found Sleigh Ride. One with no singing. Just this wonderful version added for your listening and viewing pleasure.

 

Then there is this one: only just found for those who like the words and choral voices.

Now, indulge me a little more with my look back at Christmas. I am still a bit of a kid with Christmas and I never actually let on to our kids Santa wasn’t real (he is too!) so I was determined, this year, to get a Santa photo. Here I am last Sunday. I have also included some other examples of Santa pics!

And so this is Christmas. I hope whatever your plans are that things are Merry and Bright.

Thank you all for being part of this community in 2017.

Life This Week is a special place of sharing and caring and it has sustained me through my difficult times.

For that I am most grateful.

We finish on 49 link ups because there is not one on Christmas Day and I was in hospital for 2 of them

We did well though I do believe!

The prompts for next year are on the Home Page and are part of this post too.

All good wishes to you and yours for now and into 2018.

Denyse.

Joining Alicia for Open Slather and Kell for Mummy Mondays for the last time in 2017. Thank you both.

 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!


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Christmas Gifts To Eat. 2017.132.

Christmas Gifts To Eat. 2017.132.

In my life, Christmas HAS been about sharing of food gifts with family and friends. It was always something I did to thank people who had been part of our lives in the previous 12 months.

These may have been teachers, medical professionals. office staff, family, friends and neighbours.

I always liked the idea of a home-made special gift for others to eat and even though it was preparing, cooking and wrapping at a BUSY time of my school year, it was worth it.

The most popular of these was what I called “Orange Biscuits” but some called them “Melting Moments”. I found the recipe is an old English Woman’s Own magazine and made an adjustment to the recipe (I do that!) and made it in bulk. I would wait till the biscuits were cooled and then put two together with orange-flavoured butter icing. Once they had ‘dried’ out so the icing was stable, I would wrap EACH one is a piece of festive cellophane and then add however many would fit into glass jars. I used to keep an eye out for these over the year.

Given it was very labour-intensive, I made my last batch in the kitchen at Glenwood in 2014 and those who got them also got the recipe! I really miss eating Orange Biscuits even though in this recipe they are called Walnut Cookies. I used to add a blanched almond sliver to each of the biscuits before cooking.

Here it is: nb: the secret to the crispiness of the biscuit (I do not say cookie) is using Fairy or Tulip Margarine. Not butter. Trust me.

Christmas 2017…and what will I give people this year? Actually not doing many gifts at all as we have moved on from that. I still think a home-made treat is good and people who have followed my cancer story know I can eat cake. Not biscuits.

I have been “Queen of the Cupcakes” in the past couple of years, always having some in the freezer for us and visitors. Our granddaughter is 21 the week before Christmas and I am taking a few dozen birthday cupcakes to her 21st Picnic.

That was when I had an idea for this year’s thank yous to a few people using a Christmas theme:

cupcakes with little Christmas trees as a decoration.

So, that is my Christmas giving made. Just need to remember to take them to the people they are made for!

What do you do at Christmas for thank you gifts?

Do you make anything that is YOUR signature gift as mine became?

Share with us below in the comments.

Denyse.

I have a blog link-up each Monday called “Life This Week”. I post prompts in advance for anyone who likes to take up the prompt. Bloggers can post old or new posts, on or off prompt. In 2018 I am introducing a SHARE YOUR SNAPS prompt every 5 weeks for PHOTOS to be the stars of the show! Come on over why don’t you, each Monday!

Here are the first 10 weeks of prompts:

  • 1/52. “Bye to 2017”. 1/1/18.
  • 2/52. Word or Intention for 2018. 8/1/18.
  • 3/52. Favourite Weather. 15/1/18.
  • 4/52. What is Kindness? 22/1/18.
  • 5/52 SHARE YOUR SNAPS 1. 29/1/18.
  • 6/52. Starting School Stories. 5/2/18.
  • 7/52. Who’s a Worrier? 12/2/18.
  • 8/52. February is… 19/2/18.
  • 9/52. TAKING STOCK 1. 26/2/18
  • 10/52. SHARE YOUR SNAPS 2. 5/3/18.

Linking up on Tuesday here with Kylie for I Blog On Tuesdays and here with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursday.

 

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Today I Will. #LifeThisWeek 48/52. 2017.131.

Today I Will. #LifeThisWeek 48/52. 2017.131.

Today I will.…I wondered what I thought about when I made this prompt! It was a while back so when I re-visited it to write I decided to add in what was current for this week coming AND, by popular request, post my recipe for Lemon Meringue Pie! Oh yes….the first 10 Prompts for #LifeThisWeek 2018.

  • Drive to Sydney’s suburb of Dee Why to see my almost 94 year old father. Dad remains very well and independent and has many friends where he lives, some of whom he tells me are only a few years older than me. Thanks Dad! I cannot believe it but in checking my calendar this year there will have only been 3 trips to see him in total. I got very stressed about driving on M1 relating to my IBS back in the early part of the year and so did not go anywhere near that road. Until I had to. In fact, the first time I had to I wrote about here and it was the start of me overcoming my fears and anxiety with exposure therapy. So, Dad got his first visit for the year from me  in late April 2017. We talk on the phone each week as well. Then my life imploded with the news I had cancer…you can read about that here if you weren’t following the blog back then. The second time I drove down solo to see him was in early September and then my recent planned visit was cancelled as I had a bad virus. So…..off I go today.

The day I finally went to Sydney for the first time in almost 5 months.

  • Congratulate our daughter on her graduation from Charles Sturt University (Wagga Wagga campus)  with her Masters of Education (Teacher/Librarianship). She has spent more time doing this part-time than she ever imagined when she began the 2 year part-time course and was the Teacher-Librarian in one school until the end of 2014 and then BEGAN a brand-new school’s Library from January 2015. Family and health issues of hers and her grown kids meant she had to take some breaks from Uni (study is on-line) but for her to keep the role she loves in her school the course was to be completed. Today she graduates! We are so very proud of her achievements under difficulty and that next year she is back to school full-time and in charge of the School Library once more! She and her 4 children are attending the Graduation ceremony at Wagga Wagga on Monday at 9.30 a.m. We will be there in spirit!

 

  • Complete the cupcakes for the 21st Birthday Picnic next weekend for our eldest granddaughter who is 21 just before Christmas. We are so happy to be able to see her for her birthday and we will drive down to the park where it is all happening. This young woman has faced quite a few personal health challenges when she was diagnosed with Crohns Disease but she makes the very most of her life and as you might recall I wrote about her here and she allowed me to add her YouTube. It was an amazing and memorable day when I met you, JR, in the San, on a Monday and there you were..a beautiful little girl who would one day call me “Grandma”.

 

  • Add the recipe here for lemon meringue pie which has been  synonymous with celebration in my family from when I was a child. Once I learned to make the pie I added the variation of sometimes making it in little tartlet cases. It really IS a simple recipe but you make it to your taste in lemony-ness. I recall requesting it on special occasions and when we had all of our kids/grandkids for a meal back in the ‘living in Sydney’ days, lemon meringue pie would make an appearance. Since my mouth is severely compromised for eating I search for food ideas I can literally eat and swallow and this lemon meringue pie passes! My dad totally loves it too and will have some memories of Mum’s cooking when I take him a container of mini Lemon Meringue pies in January to celebrate his 94th Birthday!

What better way to say “Congratulations” on completing your degree KT…than Lemon Meringue Pie!

  • The Recipe: You will need 2 eggs, separated. One can of condensed milk. 2 lemons. Small amount of castor sugar. A baked pie shell. Can be your own or purchased as I did.

First: Oven should be pre-heated at around 150 degrees. It is just to help the pie ingredients mix and to get a nice brown look on the meringue.

Method:

1. Separate the eggs so that you have two yolks and two lots of egg white. I do this one egg at a time into a glass to ensure there is NO yellow in the egg white or it will not whip into meringue. I put both egg whites into a small bowl. Nearby I have my castor sugar ready.

2. Cut and squeeze the juice from two lemons. If you like a really tangy lemon, you may add a bit more juice (from a 3rd lemon) as you taste test the mix. You have to really. Leave juice in juicer. For now!

3. In a separate bowl you place the two egg yolks and the contents of the condensed milk tin. Yummo. You may lick a little bit but not the lid. Ouch. Mix with a spoon to ensure all the egg yolk is combined and add the lemon and keep mixing until it is all together. Taste test to see if ‘lemony’ enough. Leave this for now.

4. Get your electric mixer and beat the heck out of those egg whites and as they begin to combine and go lovely and smooth white, add up to 2 tabs of castor sugar gradually. To know meringue is done, when you lift the beaters, the mix should form peaks.

5. Place the lemon mix in the prepared shell. It all fits in one this size above.

6. With a tablespoon, add some of the meringue to the top of the pie so that edges are covered. It does not have to be neat!

7. Place the pie in the oven  and DO NOT go far. It does not take long for the top to get a nice bit of brown on top and then it can be removed.

8. Eat it in slices when it is warm (mmm) or leave it to cool where it might be easier to slice (mmmm) and ENJOY!!

 

  • Add the first 10 prompts here for #LifeThisWeek 2018. THANK YOU for joining in #LifeThisWeek in 2016 and 2017 and do come along, when the mood takes you, to join in 2018. Every 5 weeks will be a photo-based post of any type you like. With the loss of many link ups relating to photos, I suggested this on the blog as a place to SHARE YOUR SNAPS and I hope you will! Without further ado: here are the first 10 Weeks of #LifeThisWeek prompts for 2018. 

  • 1/52. “Bye to 2017”. 1/1/18.
  • 2/52. Word or Intention for 2018. 8/1/18.
  • 3/52. Favourite Weather. 15/1/18.
  • 4/52. What is Kindness? 22/1/18.
  • 5/52 SHARE YOUR SNAPS 1. 29/1/18.
  • 6/52. Starting School Stories. 5/2/18.
  • 7/52. Who’s a Worrier? 12/2/18.
  • 8/52. February is… 19/2/18.
  • 9/52. TAKING STOCK 1. 26/2/18
  • 10/52. SHARE YOUR SNAPS 2. 5/3/18.

I will add this list to the Home Page soon.

Next week the last prompt for 2017 is Christmas Plans. Then there will be no #LTW on Christmas Day. First day back on the blog for me will be on Monday 1 January 2018. The prompt is always optional. Link up an old post if you are in holiday mode or not. It would be great to see some links but being New Year’s Day I would understand why there might not be many!!

Thank you for joining in this year. We never got to 52 weeks of the prompts thanks for my cancer surgery but hey, only missing 3 is not a bad innings!!

Take care and I look forward to reading your posts and responding soon!!

Denyse.

I do not know what breaks Alicia or Kell are having but for this last time in 2017 I will link up too. Thanks for sharing your space ladies!

 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!


 

 

 

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Daring To Do This Daily! 2017.130.

Daring To Do This Daily! 2017.130.

Recently I wrote a guest blog post about my decision to post photos of myself daily as a personal challenge. I wrote for fellow blogger Jan Wild who blogs here:

I have always noticed a few people who are blogging friends were posting an instagram photo a day using a variety of hashtags #everydaystyle or #over60 or #mumstyle or #workfromhomestyle and to be honest I really thought those people were both brave AND beautiful. But that could never be me…until I questionned myself: Why not?

I had no real answer other than I do not have a reason to ‘dress up’ or ‘dress with pride’…and they were not true either.

This was hard for me to begin and here was my reason

Why I felt fearful is because of the vulnerability I was allowing to be seen by more than me, and because I wondered how I might be judged. After all, I am certainly an older woman and saggy skin and face shows those years now. And of course, my mouth was shut as only one lip could do the smiling. From The Guest Post.

The thing was about my confidence in both my appearance and my acceptance that in my late 60s I could still take pride in my appearance. I needed to accept too that the ‘over time’ weight loss meant I really needed to update my wardrobe size wise…and shhhh buy some decent underwear.

At the end of October I began to show what I wore each day. It was like that first dip in the cold ocean. You want to do it but you are not sure until you warm up…and then you keep swimming. I did. For all of November, leading up to my 68th birthday and it was very helpful for my self-confidence and it even helped me plan my day better. No more hanging around in baggy beach pants and tees. Time to make myself get out there again. I wrote a bit about it here on my blog too.

Another quote from my Guest Post:

What really made me start this was knowing others had gone before me.

Since 2011 I have followed the wonderful Nikki Parkinson-Hubbard and her blog/website called Styling You. I have met Nikki and love her attitude to make the style that is you be your guide. She has never been about ‘weight’ or ‘appearance’, yet I was.

I never thought of joining in her style challenges, nor even subscribing again to her newsletters until now.

Then, throughout 2017, I really took notice of another blogger friend, Jan, from this very site. I have been really admiring Jan’s daily outfit shots and her love of life shows in every photo!

Then something unexpected happened! I was amazed when I saw the ‘likes’ on the social media platforms and I grinned, despite my almost toothless status, because of the love and support sent back to me.

Wow. I thought. This is OK. In fact, it is good. I needed some boost to my days and something that had previously been taken from me – my confidence and self-image – was slowly growing. I did have a bit of a confidence wobble just this weekend as I wondered would I continue on a daily basis. I also think my upcoming post-op surgery appointment in Sydney was weighing on my mind and I asked my Instagram followers about continuing daily or not. Almost everyone said YES but added, ‘post when you feel like it’…and those words helped me. Thank you everyone.

As I write tonight, Monday, despite having a fair bit of mouth pain which I hope the Professor can help explain tomorrow afternoon when I see him, I have had another confidence boost. I added my birthday collage of me in a dress for the first time since 2002 on Styling You’s Outfits of the Week Facebook group page and it was very well received and I was truly humbled.

Then tonight, feeling a bit miserable, Nikki let me know I had been chosen as last week’s winner and would receive a copy of her book. Oh wow. Thank you Stylers!

Thank you again to Jan for your encouragement and to my fellow bloggers, instagram followers too. I am very grateful to you…and of course to my photographer…using my iphone and making sure I smile as much as I am physically able..my husband.

Do you do a personal challenge like this?

Would you?

If no, why not?

Thanks for reading and viewing. I have enjoyed showing some of the outfits here.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie here for I Blog on Tuesdays and with Leanne here for Lovin Life Linky on Thursday.

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Views From Here. #LifeThisWeek 47/52. 2017.129.

Views From Here. #LifeThisWeek 47/52. 2017.129.

I made a change to this title…to viewS from here! I also realised I had used this prompt before. Ah well.

In 2018 there will be a photo-based prompt called “Share Your Snaps” as part of #LifeThisWeek and it will be for each week ending in 0 or 5. i.e. 5/52 falls on Monday 29 January 2018 so add your post about anything or ones with photos or a mix of both!!

This post, for me, is a practice one but I am sure along the way I will change my ideas.

For today’s ViewS from Here, I looked back at November 2017 and found photos I had not posted on Instagram or my Facebook page. These tell the stories of my life on these days in November. Enjoy!

That my blogging friends and followers are my viewS from here.

I hope to see some of yours too.

As the year ‘winds down’ …and everyone is busier than usual, please come here and add an old post rather than think you need to follow the prompts!

No Christmas Day #LifeThisWeek.

But #LifeThisWeek for 2018 returns on….1.1.2018….with a retrospective of YOUR choice or an ‘old’ post from 2017.

I am sorry we can’t have a Christmas or End-Of-Year party but coming along and adding some comments and visiting others in ONE heck of a substitute.

I can eat cake!! I can make cake and share…with you virtually.

I hope the first week of December is treating you kindly.

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays.

Thanks for linking up for #lifethisweek 47/52.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next week’s Prompt: Today I will.

And I will publish the first 9 prompts for 2018 next week!

Week after is last for 2017: Christmas Plans.

 


 

 

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My Cancer & Surgery #2. 2017.128.

My Cancer & Surgery #2. 2017.128.

I know I have written about the cancer I was diagnosed with on quite a few occasions. It still mystifies me, as it does the medical and surgical teams, how I got cancer at all. However, through the reading I have done – little via Dr Google – mostly from this site as recommended by my team from the Head and Neck Clinic at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse it appears that I have a rare cancer or at least it is most unusual one for me to get. I like don’t like that I am that special. 

The condition I was diagnosed with was squamous cell carcinoma in the upper gingiva. I have also seen it on the operation report as verrucous carcinoma upper alveolus. Whatever is the difference..and they are all contained within my upper part of my mouth it has meant a long surgery written about here and even longer recovery in hospital here and at home here.

WHY IS HEAD AND NECK CANCER DIFFERENT?
Head and neck cancer is incredibly complex and diverse. It includes more than 10 different cancers that can affect a person’s mouth, tongue, salivary glands, skin or voice box.

In the past, smoking was the most common cause of head and neck cancer typically affecting areas like the mouth, throat and voice box. However, today in Australia, many head and neck cancers are due to other causes. For example, the human papilloma virus is the most common cause of tonsil cancer, which is rapidly increasing in incidence.

Skin cancers on the face are mainly due to sun exposure and may extend to the eyes, ears, nose and salivary glands. For many other head and neck cancers, such as thyroid cancer, the cause is unknown. Source: Beyond Five.

I had been told following my first surgery that there would be two more surgeries to come. I was not happy about that but needed to accept that to get a ‘working mouth’ back it would be necessary.

I had a check up with Professor Jonathan Clark at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse on 10 October 2017 where he found all my recovery going well and no new issues with lymph glands  – there never had been any cancer found there but this was my first 3 month post-op cancer check. He said my next appointment would be to have a CT scan of my mouth to see how the bone (from the leg) with the added implant bases were settling, to see the specialist dentist at Westmead and then to wait to see when the second surgery might be.

The CT scan went well. The visit back to Westmead was fine now I knew the dentist so well and he is extremely kind and comforting. He explained how my future 2nd surgery would go and what would be achieved. OK. Done.

But when would it be? Before I had a chance to even think about getting mentally prepared for surgery in the coming days a phone call came from the Prof’s practice manager that it was to be DAY ONLY (what?!) surgery on Wednesday 15 November. So, that was something different. To go home on the same day!

We (ok, I) had a nervous drive to Sydney that morning, in peak hour traffic, leaving here at 6.00 am and arriving in time for the pre-admission of 9.00 am. Then my prep was fine and I was wheeled to surgery (same theatre as last time as it is where the Prof prefers to work) ready for 10.30 and there was a delay. I am not good with waiting. However, a trip to the loo, a chat to the anaesthetist and then to Prof and I was wheeled in at 11.30. I do not remember waking in recovery but I know I went OK and was back in the day surgery area feeling well (as you can after 2 hours surgery!) and by 3.50 pm ready to leave with my husband for the drive home. I was a good recoverer.

It might seem strange but for me the surgery in my mouth has never been well-understood by me. I say it is because I am spatially challenged AND that the changes are within me. So I have some troubles feeling what is going on in my mouth because using the tongue is always something that tends to magnify. I have also been in MUCH more pain than I recalled from my first surgery. So, on Day 5 post surgery the Prof wanted to see me and down to St George Private Hospital we went. It was a longer drive and on a not great day but I dealt with it pretty well and hardly did any front seat driving. My husband is a saint putting up with me.

A ten minute consultation (on time!) and we were back on our way home. 5 hours driving in one day. However, the Prof did not seem perturbed by my levels of pain and discomfort most of the time. I also cannot eat as well as I could (and that was limited then too!) after my first surgery some weeks down the track. So, I have been a relatively unhappy recoverer this time. Parts of the stitches on one side have come away, and some of the places where he put stitches feel strange. The purpose of this surgery was to open up part of the flap (the roof of my mouth taken from my leg) and inspect the condition of the 5 implants…which are WELL- EMBEDDED! Good news.

Then he and the specialist dentist put the abutments (screws) on the implants and added some skin from my right thigh to help the implants become adapted to my mouth. I am not explaining it well. Sorry. However, the added pain including nerve shooting types through my lip are driving me cray cray. I was so concerned I even sent the Prof a photo of the inside of my mouth. Can you imagine how hard that was for my poor hub to take?

I am sparing you these photos.

As I write this I have not heard back from him (yet) but I have sent more recent pictures today after his practice manager rang me. The thing I am finding (and have found since I first found out about the cancer in May) is that things are not well-explained AND unless I am ready with questions I get a very short appointment. We have been around surgeons a few times and know they tend to go in, do what they do, and go out again. I am hoping what I am feeling is normal. But it remains somewhat stressful for me. I see him again on 5 December and then the third surgery (I am not sure of its details) is scheduled for early February. But that could change I suppose.

UPDATE  1: The Prof sent me a brief email late Monday saying the photos of inside my mouth looked OK but to keep an eye on things and he will see me next Tuesday. My husband, who ‘gets what is going on in my mouth more than me’ is reassured that it is OK. Sigh.

I was feeling pretty low about it all on Saturday and it is hard. However as I write it is Sunday and I have managed to have a better day thanks to a regular intake of some food and medication for pain. I am somewhat better mentally now, Monday and have managed to eat something at meal times.

UPDATE 2: The nerve pain is likely to be coming from one of the implants my GP tells me and should settle. It is already somewhat (phew!) and yesterday I soaked in a bath for 20 minutes to allow the top covering of my donor site wound to come off and for the skin underneath to continue to re-generate and so far that is going well!

 

Have you had surgery?

Have you had cancer?

It can be so hard once you are home and there is no-one to ask. At least that’s what it is like for me.

Thanks for reading. It has been a LONG post.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie for I Blog on Tuesdays and with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky on Thursdays.

 

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Best Birthday Ever. #LifeThisWeek 46/52. 2017.127.

Best Birthday Ever. #LifeThisWeek 46/52. 2017.127.

I chose this prompt in one of the ways I select prompts…via the calendar.

This coming Thursday, 30 November is my 68th birthday. I look at those numbers….and remember how ‘concerned’ I was about turning:

40

50

60

and look what’s ahead…all things staying well. This:

70

So I shall re-group. Ahem. I am very grateful to have been born and that I continue to have birthdays, memorable or not. Because that is the way of life these days. Some great memories of birthdays is how I am interpreting this prompt. But there was ONE birthday which stands out: When I turned ONE. My dad tells me that the best and worst year of his life was 1950. I was born in late 1949. He was sent by his company (alone) to do work and training in Melbourne while Mum and I (young baby) stayed in our Wollongong home. Mum had great next door neighbours for love and support but it was not the same as having Dad home. He made a vow to be home for my first birthday and to never travel away like that again. And he kept his word. In fact he left that company and joined a new one…and he did travel again but never for as long a time as that first year of my life. I wrote about this here last year. I wish I had more photos to share of birthdays but it turns out, like many of us, I was the photographer at family events…and as contrary as it may seem, I may not have wanted my birthday to be a great celebration with me at the centre…but if I was forgotten then I was upset. But I do recall a few of the more memorable birthdays and here they are:

  • turning 4. A family and friends from the neighbourhood party.
  • my 16th. Mum and Dad organised some of my friends to surprise me at home and that was fun. My present from them was the LP Album of The Sound of Music.
  • my 21st. I have written about THAT extravaganza that went for days here.
  • my 30th was a bit of fun as we had a young child not yet 1 and a daughter who was 8 and teacher friends with a similar age gap between their kids so we had a celebration at Maccas. I know, cool! It was 1979!!
  • my 50th was interesting! I was in my first year as principal at RPS and unbelievably one of my executive team shared exactly the same birthDATE. She and I had a double celebration with a cake each from the staff.
  • in 2015 I went back to see the family for my birthday and caught up with my Dad and brother here.
  • last year I was determined not to focus on how sad I was away from our family (our second year of living on the coast) so I made myself ‘dress well’ and my husband and I celebrated afternoon tea (with cupcakes I made!) when he got home from Lifeline work.

My 66th Birthday.

My 67th Birthday.

My mouth is still very sore from recent surgery (eating is a challenge anyway since the first surgery) that my birthday treat this coming Thursday will be a coffee and cupcake shared with my husband for morning tea.

Do you find birthdays (your own) somewhat less than wonderful yet you celebrate those of others?

No? Just me then.

Yes? Do share!

Denyse. Joining with blogging friends who also have Monday Link Ups: Alicia here for Open Slather and Kell here for Mummy Mondays. You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not. * Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do! * Check out what others are up to by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

Next Week: My View From Here…. it’s a busy time of year, so make this a visual prompt with few words! Practising for next year’s Share Your Snaps!

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