Sunday 17th February 2019

The Big C and Me. 15/2019.

The Big C and Me. 15/2019.

It’s time to share more about me and the Big C.

Yes, it’s about C for…..

CONFIDENCE!

(ha! not the other big C for cancer)

I think I give an outward show of being confident. It is not really a fake it till I make it confidence either.

It is about self-confidence in selected settings.

  • I am confident about my school life and teaching days and enjoy sharing the stories from then.
  • I love this part of me that can share now. I know there were days in education that were not always great (yes, my emotional health took a beating in 2002) but I have grown so much as a person and learner since then.

 

  • I am getting more confident of how I am managing my self-care in regards to less anxiety that plagued me for the years of my transition into retirement.
  • What good news that is! It was horrible for me with IBS thrown into the mix and I have done so well taking on board exposure therapy and a small medication routine.

 

  • I am less than confident in my belief about how well I am going in terms of my mental outlook since my cancer diagnosis and subsequent treatments and surgeries.
  • What is the evidence each day? None, really. It just happens sometimes.

 

  • I remain under-confident about my changed appearance a.k.a. my body’s change from very overweight to ‘almost normal weight’ and then back to a slightly ‘overweight’ status.
  • Am I taking steps to understand this huge shift and learning as I go? Yes. Every day.

 

  • I am still not as confident as I think I need to be to take on a continuing role in educating others about Head and Neck cancer because I am sensing judgment of others. I do know that I call upon courage to help me through even I have doubts.
  • Do I have evidence? Not really.

WHY?

I am who I am.

I am the product of a childhood and teen years spent in a dominant paternal household. I was told what to do. I may not always have done it but the memory of “other people’s words” being my measure for self remain.

I am able to give myself a ‘good talking to’ at times and can turn this matter of lack of self-confidence around.

But it takes energy and time AND motivation. I do not always have these on hand together and so there are days when my lack of self-confidence AND worth impact me more.

I am learning more in terms of self-compassion and how each of us is connected via shared humanity.

AM I FOOLING ANYONE?

Possibly but what of it?

  • I am on Instagram each day keeping myself accountable for dressing with purpose and going out somewhere for coffee.
  • This does help me ramp up some of my confidence in just doing so. I am not reliant on the comments as much any more because I know the effort I put in makes the outcome worth it.
  • But then when I have kind followers write comments of “congratulations, kindness and cheering me on” I do appreciate this a lot but also that inner critic rises up and adds her voice “would they say that if they really knew me?”
  • Lies. I do not tell them as far as I am aware but it seems maybe I am believing them from this inner critic. Who? Moi?

WHAT NOW?

Onward.

I know that putting these words here has helped me see that it’s my faulty thinking that has been affecting my self-confidence.

OK! How to change that?

  • Already I have in some ways as I now recognise this inner critic voice and her role.

 

  • My actions, my words and my inner life help me remember MUCH more about the confidence I like to have and know I can bring more to the fore.

 

  • Each time I dress and go out for coffee, I am embedding self-confidence.

 

  • My daily journal keeping can continue to be a ‘write it all down’ place and then review for evidence of this confidence tracking upwards not the downwards the inner critic can believe.

 

  • My on-line interactions with people from my various communities in education, blogging and head and neck cancer are ways in which I grow my self-confidence and also give back to others where I can and it is asked for.

 

  • Seeing myself as others do and may. It helps to believe that I am both good and doing good. This is something I have struggled with all of my life and want it to change. I can do this. I will remind myself more.

 

  • Maintaining practices of:

 

  • being in nature,
  • time-outs with my art journal,
  • chats with my husband, meditation each night,
  • helping my physical body to relax,
  • exercising within my limitations,
  • planning to eat well and doing the same without any deprivation,
  • cancer checks and better understanding of the fact that cancer actually never leaves but might take a back seat in my life,
  • taking time to make contact with family and friends,
  • exploring the local area’s beauty,
  • browsing at the shops,
  • reading,
  • keeping to a timetable of sorts each day for balance in my life.

Already I feel better!

Thanks for reading.

Do you have an issue with the Big C?

 

Denyse.

Joining with my blogging friends here:

Min on Tuesdays here for #ZenTipsTuesday

Sue & Leanne on Wednesdays  here for #MidlifeShareTheLove

Leanne & Crew on Thursdays  here for #LovinLife

 

 

 

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My Mindfulness Practices’ Update. 13/2019.

My Mindfulness Practices’ Update. 13/2019.

I have written about the value of mindfulness and meditation several times here and here since 2015 and I have decided to update my readers and in doing so, join in with Min of who is launching her ZenTipsTuesday link up today!

Join the #ZTT train by linking up your post about any kind of lifestyle choice, activity, or holiday that helped bring you a feeling of ZEN – peace, or enhanced feeling of balance (mind, body and spirit).

Congratulations to Min. I hope this Tuesday link-up is a great one.

In the past year, these are some of what I practise to achieve mindfulness:

mindfulness: rather than me explain it: this one page article has three ways in which to describe mindfulness and I suggest a read because…it is ‘not all about being in this moment’. Nor is it all about meditation and clearing out your mind. That as I know is impossible and no meditation teacher ever expects that to occur.

 

When I notice my body (and soul I suppose!) not being as in sync as I now know they can be, I try to find s part of nature that soothes me and helps me add the world around me to filling me up again.

A place called Porters Creek – part of Wyong River – is a favourite place to walk alongside and stop and take in what surrounds me.

 

Of course, I have written before about Mindfulness and Mandalas and that is here. However after quite a gap between making mandalas due to busy-ness of making bookmarks from my art, I felt called back to this most mindful of art I do. I love the creative process and then carefully deciding after the pattern has been completed, just how I will colour it.

 

An A3 size mandala created by me and eventually coloured with some of these fabulous markers which has a brush end and a pointed end.

 

Recently I could not settle myself. That happens at times when there is more on my mind than I may admit to: possibly related to cancer recovery. So on this occasion again I took myself out in the car and found a place at Tacoma beside the Wyong River and sat. And looked and noticed: what I held in my hand. Check out the tiny mandala shape in nature!

Sometimes it is the change of view that helps and I get out of my house. This find told me that if I look carefully I will find something of interest. I did.

 

I have learned the lesson over and over again that there is no one right time. Take a risk, give something a go and be kind to yourself as you do so. That is living in the now!

 

Calm is my preferred meditation app now and I have life membership – it was surprisingly cheap and there are many options on the app that it is for me better than my previous Headspace app.

 

If my mind is whirling and worrying sometimes a more complex but different kind of drawing challenge helps me focus on “just one thing”. This is an example of a previously “too hard” mandala in its final stages of drawing.

Taking my time, reading the instructions (!) and doing this was such a good thing for me at the time.

 

I have been learning about Self-Compassion for over 3 years now but am always learning something new about it and myself. I am far less likely to speak to myself harshly these days and I remember to practise self-compassion when I do not have a great day. Completing the Mindful Self Compassion Workbook by Dr Kirstin Neff and Dr Chris Germer is helping cement my practices.

Do you practise self-care? In 2019 each 7th week, for LifeThisWeek I am asking bloggers to share their self-care and self-kindness stories.

 

A favourite way of re-connecting with myself in a pleasant environment is this place. I found it before I knew I had cancer in 2017 and visited it once I found out. I like to walk here and take time to gather my thoughts and at the same time immerse myself in the bigger world beyond my mind!

The walking bridge at Budgie is a favourite.

 

It is no secret to those who follow me on Instagram that the beach is a winner hands-down for me as a mood-buster and a ‘time to give thanks’ spot.

I knew last week this is where I HAD to come at 6 p.m. and it cheered me no end. Especially dipping in the water and facing the challenge of crashing waves!

 

And so, that IS my mindful practices’ update. I hope you are finding this thing we are in called LIFE going well for you. If you are not so, and that happens, maybe some of mine could be ones to help you too.

Denyse.

Joining in with Min from Write of the Middle for Zen Tips Tuesday for the first link up!

On Wednesdays I link here for Midlife Share the Love. Thank you Sue and Leanne.

This Thursday I link up here as part of Lovin’ Life linky  with Leanne and friends.

 

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On Learning About Eating. Part One.10/2019.

On Learning About Eating.  Part One. 10/2019.

I have been eating my way through life for over 69 years now. As anyone does.

Yes, I “am” the baby. I also know my grandmother (left) and Dad struggled with weight issues too.

But, I still do not understand much about eating ….unless it is:

  • diet-based (fail)
  • managing to eat enough for nourishment after cancer surgery in my mouth (pass/fail/maybe)
  • how to moderate my choices for more than a day or so ( pass or is it fail?)

Why I am I writing about this topic?

It has puzzled me (and I am thinking many who read this) why I ate. Because I know it was often not based on sound nutritional practices and in fact was in some way disordered. I do not have an eating disorder but I do/did eat like this:

  • some secretive ways – late at night or when no-one was around
  • using stashes of chocolate to soothe me
  • having take-away food in the car

I have written a long post here about my “weight” and how I played “possum” about it. No-one could (or dared) mention it yet I was/still can be ashamed of my behaviour.

Since my cancer surgeries where I lost more weight through not being ABLE to eat much, I did enjoy the unexpected outcome of buying lovely clothes to fit me and to show my newly acquired physique…thanks to oral cancer…

And that was lovely and I will always appreciate that time in my life from October 2017 to around the same time in 2018.

Some examples of my pre-upper prosthesis meals. Mind you I cannot face any of these as a meal now I am post-teeth.

Then I began to eat more food from late August 2018 on. Because I could. Oh and it tasted so good, the senses were in over-drive and the fact that I could now BITE, CRUNCH and CHEW was amazing. This happened because “I got my upper prosthesis”. Yay.

And my weight has crept up. What did I do? I was glad I could eat from a wider (pardon the pun) range of foods but I sensed my retreat into anxiety about my appearance and that it would become noticeable to others. Early in 2019 my husband could see my emotional state had become less content since my early months of “having teeth” euphoria and we had a very frank discussion where I confessed I was worried I had not learned anything new about eating despite the privations of 14 months with no upper teeth. Because of cancer. If you want to read about my cancer, here is the page with the posts.

Organised and planner me took over for a while and this is what I came up with since that chat:

  • weigh-in once a month
  • focus when I go out on coffee part not the add-on of a food such as donuts, date loaf or muffin
  • eat more regularly: make specific time ranges for three meals a day. Add snacks.
  • plan groceries around my meals (my husband and I eat a shared meal a few times only in a week)
  • resist late-night snacking in bed by allowing hunger to be felt
  • speaking kindly towards myself in any times of difficulty (this is such a different me to old, punitive me)
  • look at the facts about my appearance rather than the perceptions aka mind-based ones
  • move more each day – it has been very hot so it has been better to stay home than to get outside BUT I can walk more when I go to a coffee place in a shopping centre

Then I heard about Mindful Eating. As someone who has practised mindfulness as part of my cancer recovery time along with when I am faced with anxious and scary times, I was very interested. So I bought the two books AND am now listening via CD to this program.

I KNEW I ate for more reasons than stomach hunger! The author who knows from experience of both an early eating issue, is a doctor and a mindfulness practitioner has opened my mind! I am doing some of the exercises and I now know I (we) eat to satisfy:

  • eye hunger
  • nose hunger
  • stomach hunger
  • mouth hunger
  • heart hunger
  • mind hunger
  • cellular hunger

The tracks on the CD are listed here. I am a work-in-progress of course.

Here’s what I am learning so far:

  • I eat visually: eyes it seems come first BUT
  • I also eat by the stomach so I recognise the feelings of fullness
  • I KNEW I ate from mouth hunger but had no idea why. It explains how much I (we) miss chewing, crunching, savouring and tasting….as I did in my 14 months after cancer surgeries.
  • I need to care for and about myself around this issue of eating. Not say anything negative about what I am doing. The inner critic needs to be back in her place. Doing well so far.
  • I need to eat at regular intervals but to also feel the stomach hunger too. I am very much into the early stages of making things around eating work for me but am proud now that I:
  • meal plan – and include some protein at each main meal
  • snacks are well & truly covered and are linked to helping my meet my mouth hunger, visual hunger and heart hunger
  • can look at my image in the mirror or photo and be proud of the body that has helped me overcome cancer 
  • am learning lessons about eating I wish I had known a long time ago

29 Jan 19 : Writing this post after going out for coffee and groceries.

Part Two will be an update. This is most definitely a project in health and head and neck cancer recovery worth taking my time over.

Is eating something you struggle with?

How do you make eating choices?

I would love to know more in the comments!

Denyse.

Joining with Sue here and Leanne for the Wednesday link up MidLife Share The Love.

 

 

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Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

Best Gift Ever. 3/52. #LifeThisWeek. 7/2019.

The best gift ever has given me food for thought.

I have had some great gifts in my life including these:

  • parents who gave me life, shelter, education, care and loveand who were wed for over 60 years.
  • a man I met and married within 3 months who has loved me for over 48 years now as I have him. This is on our wedding day, 23 January 1971.

  • the first gift of a child: our daughter (story is here) and then much later, our son (story soon!) and even though we did not know much about parenting, both are doing well in their adult lives.
  • a career in K-6 education in New South Wales schools which took me from probationary teacher to school principal thanks to the gifts of others who saw the potential in me, degree courses I completed with loving support from my family, and the children, teachers and parents of the many schools. Latterly I enjoyed teaching and supervising pre-service Masters’ students at University. On many occasions I was glad I could help these people and share what had been shared to me as gifts in my career.
  • the gift of meeting people and socialising is one I enjoy and to this end am doing it in a new area and loving making new connections socially: on-line and in real life, as they say!
  • I love the gift I have been given as someone who notices nature, enjoys solitude from time to time, and has learned so much about herself during some times of turbulence in recent years.
  • The gift I have been given of enjoying art and especially making mandalas has also seen me make 100s of bookmarks to help a charity called The Big Hug Box.
  • How good is it to give back! My story was also in a book that was published. What a gift that was.

But what about cancer? Is THAT a gift? 

I cannot finish this post without mentioning my fairly recent brush with the big C and what a gift that has been.

  • Life is a matter of how it’s viewed by the individual.
  • I do not like having had cancer because of many of the ramifications in my life, yet I know its presence has been a present. Let me explain more!
  • I was in a major life transition which had, in its own way, strangled my confidence and demeanour because of the grief involved. Yet I had some ideas of how to help myself.
  • That series of ideas was supplemented by the gift of amazing professional support, amazing and unending personal support and many hours of time to both learn and absorb.
  • When it was found that I had cancer, up from within me, emerged what had been hidden for almost 3 years and over time, my personal qualities of determination, belief in my surgical and oral health teams and in my capacity to heal and that I could share my story with others as I have and do.

The Best Gift is:

  • A return to “Denyse”. She had been long gone and I am so glad she is back.
  • This is my best gift: I am back. It does not matter I am ageing – that’s a privilege, nor that I have some physical scars I cannot overcome – they’re part of my history now and I am so glad to be here and look at my image in the mirror to say:

Hello, looking OK for someone who’s been through so much.

Well-done, you!

 

What is your best gift?

Denyse.

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!

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

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 4/51. What Is Hope? 28/1/19.


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No (ONE) Word Of The Year For Me. 6/2019.

No (ONE) Word Of The Year For Me. 6/2019.

Dear Readers,

In my earlier post here, I gave a rundown on my success/lack thereof with recent “words of the year”. I said I would be back with what I have in 2019.

Here I am.

I have no (ONE) word of the year at all. I have many and I need to share the story more.

Thank you,

Denyse.

If you have ever wondered why it is hard to come to a decision about something? I have been like this with the notion of a word/intention for 2019.

I have asked myself MANY times why and the response is usually because I want to cover all I need for me in 2019.

This is impractical so I will share the range of words here in this post.

Last year as I went through two surgeries for re-construction and re-modelling inside my mouth after my oral cancer diagnosis in May 2017. In doing that I had a significant need to remember to be B.O.L.D. that is: Be Brave Optimistic Loving & Learning Determined Denyse. It was (and still is engraved on a small bracelet chain I wear day and night. I could ‘touch it’ or read it to remind me of how I wanted to be even in the hardest of situations. Some of these included being told a 4th surgery was necessary and would be a much longer time for me to wear a stent inside my mouth to allow the space to stay open.

I kept my practice going of wearing an outfit, having a photo taken, going out for a coffee and sharing what I got up on Instagram and the on-line support was a boost I always appreciated.

Of course, I did not only rely on the bracelet and already had so much knowledge and experience from the even more emotionally hard days well before my cancer diagnosis. Even though I did not seem to be able to live as I would have liked then I was sowing the seeds within. Many of these titles were listened to in the car and in my then art room as I made patterns and mandalas (another coping mechanism for my anxiety pre-cancer) and meditate along with some of these mindfulness teachers.

I believed I was going well in many aspects as I could face the hard things which I wrote about here and here. I also had greater understanding of what it is to be human! We are not alone at all. My meditation practices helped. Not always. But anything which slowed down my critical voice and over-active mind was a good thing!

In August 2018 the event I had waited over 14 months for occurred. I had the new upper prosthesis of teeth screwed into my new jaw and gums. At last, I could eat more again! So exciting. It was (and still is) and work-in-progress as the mouth I use to eat is so very different to one that has natural teeth attached to a natural jaw.

3 months difference! I like to recognise special days

But I loved trying new foods. Until in the last few months my weight changed. Up. I am continually torn between eating for fun/enjoyment and for nourishment. Sigh. So, not being disrespectful to my professional team at all, I need to take personal responsibility for my eating. I am not 100% confident with that yet (again!) as I have had issues with being very overweight (related to using food for needs other than hunger) and I confessed all that here.

I value honesty and truth-telling and I know some people who read here tell me that they think I am being brave. Well, that maybe the case but I cannot hide. I tried that a long time ago and it does not work. So I must accept my truth is that I am vulnerable and sometimes look to food to be a salve for what I cannot fix. I actually do not want to be like this anymore. I am needing to find the words to help me through and they seem to be based in:

  • self-care
  • self-kindness
  • self-compassion

But even before I can do this well, I have to accept what my ageing body is doing (70 this year) and normalising that is hard! I thought managing cancer was all I had to do. Nope.

  • I have to manage my IBS symptoms when and if they appear,
  • I need to be aware of my regular skin checks, eye sight (I had a wee scare late December which turned out to be floaters),
  • my feet cannot embrace many shoes so I need to care for them better
  • manage my weight. Oh I was so hoping I would not HAVE to go there
  • acknowledge that some foods add weight & were what I used to calm me then I need(ed) to be able to embrace those emotions that are stress/anxiety/worry based …
  • and, in owning up to them, let them arrive, and let them go of their own accord.

This is what I have also learned in my mindfulness, meditation, podcasts and more.

So many wonderful people speaking on these CDs and each has helped (and continue to help) me.

Calm is my latest and the each 10 minutes has something of value to me to shift my attitude and be more at one with myself.

A word popped into my head two weeks back as I considered this topic (where were we….ah, Word or Intention!) and INTEGRATE stayed. I now have this word on a second bracelet and it may look a teensy bit over-done but as a visual and sensory reminder, with the tiny heart bracelet in between I reckon they will help me return to calm(er) waters.

The bracelets don’t stay like this of course but each faces me so I can see them and remember!

What now?

I continue to face what I need to do to live honestly and to embrace the emotions I dislike.

  • To this end, and because I had been learning lots about self-compassion, I have just started on the Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Kirstin Neff PhD & Christopher Germer PhD. I shall share progress on this in future blog posts.
  • I remain committed to something creative each day and am exploring different ways of using my small and medium art journal and finding that excellent. I am returning to mandala making. I have, to a greater extent, ruled out Tarot cards. I just am not in a headspace for that right now.
  • I think too, that I have been pretty distracted since Tuesday 8 January 2019 where I had an unexpected mouth check as more skin was growing and it came as a shock that it was done in case it was cancer. THAT in itself is another post. I had pushed cancer to the back and I was jolted back to reality when my surgeon said “I’m a cancer doctor”. Oh.
  • He also mentioned the possibility of further and extensive in-mouth surgery if the lip continues to have reduced room between it and the teeth and when he outlined what they might involve, I was pretty shocked. HOWEVER, nothing is decided yet but it’s there, hovering.

Every 7th week now on my Monday link-up the optional prompt will be Self-Care and I have added this for me and for anyone else who wants to share their self-care. 

I have written a lot and still there is no conclusive one word or an intention  but this is how it is for me in January 2019.

Thanks for reading!

I hope it’s been of interest to you.

It has helped to write it out.

Denyse.

Linking up with Sue here and Leanne on Wednesdays for Midlife Share The Love link up.

On Thursdays I link with Leanne and the crew at Lovin’ Life here.

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Word, Intention or Nothing! 2/51.#LifeThisWeek. 4/2019.

Word, Intention or Nothing! 2/51.#LifeThisWeek. 4/2019.

So, it’s now 14 January 2019 and many New Year’s Resolutions have been made, kept and already broken. I actually do not make them. However, since blogging, I have followed a pattern of making a:

word for the calendar year

Here’s what I did in:

2015: Acceptance. I had NO idea that the year would prove to be much more than I could ever ‘accept’ because at the time I was not equipped with how to deal with my many changes.

2016: FEARless. I would have liked to think this clever play on words would help. In some ways they did, but at other times I found I could not quite shape-up. NB: Am can be a very tough self-critic. Trust popped up somewhere along the way and nope it didn’t resonate either.

 

2017: Kindness. This started well and it certainly made me aware of others’ kindness back to me once I was diagnosed with cancer. I have kept the small design I made for this one and it hangs near my desk.

2018: Started as Brave and then went to Braving and some days later B.O.L.D. took centre stage and I mostly lived this one. Here’s the initial post and a subsequent one.

Sign Above Where I Blog.

My “message to me” bracelet.

2019: What IS it?

I don’t really know…yet. But I have already written and thought about it so much privately.

Maybe it’s because I have had cancer (and it can come back) that I have stopped thinking as positively as I did.

I also add in some health issues that come as a matter of age (70 this year!) and stage and wonder IF I can handle them on top of everything else emotionally and physically in my cancer recovery.

So, I have had ideas, and even some words. I also wrote a bit – a lot – in my journals.

I thought about SELF-CARE a great deal and I know that I can neglect this side of my health and welfare when I go down well-trodden, older paths of what it is like to be ME.

I wrote about that only last September here.

For now, though I would rather not go through the process in just one post as it has been and will continue to be a good old “Work-In-Progress”.

I am going to post what my conclusion is in a second post this week which will be, within itself, a better explanation and understanding of my thought processes! That IS expecting a lot, but as many here know, I tend to tell the truth and open up quite a bit about my struggles.

So, thank you for your patience in advance.

I will have it all here for the next blog post.

Meanwhile, have you decided on a word or intention for 2019 or did you decided “nothing” and leave it at that.

Maybe if I break the code this man is writing I will know more!

I am a bit late to the party for this and I know many of you have published what your decisions are for 2019 earlier.

Denyse.

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!

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

Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 3/51. Best Gift Ever. 21/1/19.


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Second Six Month Check-Up…With Myself! 3/2019.

Second Six Month Check-Up…With Myself! 3/2019.

What is this six month check-up about?

It is about my assessment of my physical and emotional health for the second 6 months of 2018.

Oops it is already 2019 I know but I have just scraped in I believe.

Here I go, following on from the first six month check-up with myself, here.

It’s no secret that when you have a cancer diagnosis that check-ups are both regular and scary. Regular ones are like this protocol for my head and neck cancer:

for the first 2 years: every 3 months. I have completed one year and really only had ONE formal check up because…I have been for surgery with my Professor 3 times post initial big surgery, and my prosthodontist is checking inside my mouth at all of my very regular visits. 

for the next 3 years: every six months. This assumes no symptoms in between checks. On Tuesday 8 January my mouth needed a check as skin was growing more than it should. I was relieved to know it is not a cancer recurrence but I did get news that more reconstructive surgery could be ahead. I am still absorbing this news. 

Let’s get started:

July –  December 2018.

My Contribution to Our “2 Person Retired” Household.

  • cooking my meals which can be eaten with little chewing, with good nutrition & taste until I could eat in a more normal way
  • cooking more meals that we can eat together as I got my upper teeth prosthesis we get to do this
  • making cakes & biscuits. As I can eat cake & now some biscuits, there is greater variety for us both. I still have a stash of small iced cakes for me and un-iced ones for my husband to which I now add (at his request) sultanas and walnuts
  • cleaning the floors that require vacuuming each fortnight – oh so necessary but thank goodness for the battery-charged stick Dyson
  • cleaning my en-suite bathroom and all surfaces of shelves, sets of drawers etc in the house
  • ensuring all plants outside are watered and cared for – watering, moving them around as need be and pruning
  • grocery shopping now my full responsibility as there is a very convenient local Woolies. My husband picks up some needs for himself at the local IGA.

My Self-Care Routine.

  • I would like to think I have this down pat. I do not. I sometimes do too much and wonder why I am tired or tetchy.
  • I kept the same first sentence as last time. I have made it a priority to recognise my fatigue before it really hits and I also want to be less focussed on social media for a time each day.
  • Even though I was someone who loved her busy-ness in work and then when caring for our grandkids and part-time teaching I now know I am better with stretches of time that are mine
  • I am getting better at my ‘going to sleep’ times and continue listening to some ‘sleep stories’ via my Calm meditation app
  • I know for sure I am not in a race for self-care or self-improvement and I do think marathon rather than sprint much more than I did 6 months ago.

Love sent to me by a friend. A beautiful mandala crocheted blanket: perfect in the cooler months.

My Care For Others.

  • I am getting better at this one!
  • When I was recovering from cancer surgery in those months from July to November 2017 my physical restrictions and mental tiredness meant I could not do much at all
  • I now know the value of caring for and about others does not mean I have to fix anything 
  • I have stepped much further away from my “must fix everything for everyone” self.
  • I need reminders from myself about this and usually I ask myself the question “who am I doing this for?” If the answer is to make me feel better I no longer do it.
  • It is essential though, to know each of us is connected to the rest of the humans in one way or another and to share what we can for the common good
  • I believe this means my people pleasing has diminished even more in the past 6 months by setting boundaries
  • I know the boundaries for me and that how others are behaving might relate to their boundaries. This is big learning life lesson for me.

With Naomi, our property manager, on the Tenants Awards’ night where we won Tenants of the Year “Gratitude”.

My Physical Appearance Each Day.

  • In  2018 over time my physical appearance has taken on a new dimension with new & colourful clothes which suit me and fit well as I continued to #dresswithpurpose each day
  • It is also something I look forward to as it is part of the way in which I self-care to take myself out for a coffee.
  • I continued having my photo taken and into 2019 it will continue
  • I am keeping myself honest about my appearance too as I know my weight has increased as I can eat not only more easily but from a greater range of foods
  • As someone who was very overweight for decades  – read about it here – I can still become a little concerned about the weight creeping on but am now seeing myself as being healthier as I do eat better than I ever did.
  • Instead, I took a challenge to dress well each day quite seriously. It was a self-created challenge. I am not going to stop it as I know it helps me each day.

With this man by my side “we” can do and be all we need. Love is our relationship that will celebrate 48 years of marriage in late January 2019.

Summary.

  • I am happy with many aspects of my six month review as I know I feel better emotionally and physically
  • I have taken on board some disappointments relating to my cancer surgery and the on-going work inside my mouth and I trust my professional team wholeheartedly
  • I am glad to have found a support group for Head and Neck Cancer patients on Facebook and it is making a difference to have a kind and safe place to share stories.
  • My confidence about myself and my ability to re-join the world more widely was proven many times as I drove myself to functions where I knew no-one and socialised, and met up with friends for coffee and cake
  • I also was finally recognised for my service to students of N.S.W. Public Schools in December and that closed a gap in the circle that had been messy in terms of my almost 40 year career.

Met fellow blogger and Central Coastie Sanch for morning tea.

 

I believe I have allowed myself, even writing this, to be vulnerable. I am taking braver steps each day as I not only recover from cancer but learn to live well as a woman who will be 70 this year!

 

Have you ever considered a ‘check-up’ with yourself?

It could be a good thing for you to ask yourself “how am I going?”

Thanks for reading.

Denyse.

Joining with Sue here & Leanne for MidLife Share The Love Linky on Wednesday – the first one for 2019.

Joining in with Leanne here  on Thursdays for Lovin Life linky.

Hello everyone!

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Not A Smooth Recovery Path For Me: Head & Neck Cancer. 2018.133.

Not A Smooth Recovery Path For Me: Head & Neck Cancer. 2018.133.

Update One: Monday 24 December, is that whilst it is always disappointing to have changes like this in recovery, I am actually able to manage the issue of pain, when it arises and am feeling better in general.

Update Two: Monday 14 January, the pain comes and goes but the news from my Head & Neck surgeon is that he was looking for cancer when I saw him on 8 January. This made me quite concerned. Whilst there was not cancer there as he could see, I do now know there could be another surgery this year. Sigh.

It’s Friday 21 December 2018 and not a normal blogging day for me at all.

But, head and neck cancer recovery is not ‘normal’ I guess!

My blog has been a great source of comfort to me as I can write down what is happening to me, and often receive support in return.

That is lovely.

Today I just need to share this story.

Since my last blog post here, I have continued to be back and forth to the great team I have at Westmead: my prosthodontist and nurse. Each visit since October – when I last saw my Head and Neck cancer surgeon and nurse – has been about:

  • checking the health of the skin which was added to my upper lip (under it) last May
  • checking I am keeping the metal abutments clean where they are attached to the upper teeth prosthesis
  • and fitting me for a partial lower denture to add to my remaining 8 teeth

Showing my mouth’s flexibility – reduced now.

I have had some pain. It is like a sharp nerve pain and each time I mentioned it I was told it is part of ‘re-modelling’ and I have taken that to mean, this will go on as my new mouth and lip settle into their space. I am pretty good at managing pain but earlier this week I needed to share what had been noted by me after seeing my G.P.

  • the pain, which initially we/I thought was from some abrasion of the new tender inner side of the lip against the prosthesis was not likely to have been only from there…because
  • when I tried to use my small micro brush to clean in between the gaps left at the top of the screwed in prosthesis there was  no gap 
  • where the gap had been was skin, resting and immoveable, onto the top of the acrylic prosthesis

After my G.P. saw it, I sent these photos to my Professor and the Prosthodontist. The prosthodontist rang to say, stop using the microbrushes and use the water pik only to clean. The professor emailed to say “come and see me early January for a closer look”.

Yay to having responsive professionals. Very grateful.

Not so happy for the pain it is causing, the lip tightening even more and the disappointment that things are not going as I had hoped. Probably as my team had hoped too!

On the positive side, I have overcome setbacks before AND I trust my professional team BUT this is not a situation I imagined.

Skin does its thing it seems. My post here is about how the stent being taken out too soon prevented the full healing and I needed a 4th surgery and then over 3 months with a new stent.

I seem to think….more surgery may be on the cards.

Sigh.

I am taking pain medication as advised by my G.P. I am doing all I can to treat myself more gently. I am looking forward to seeing the family on Christmas Day here but my eating may be even more compromised by then. Who knows?

Many I know in the Head and Neck cancer support groups are in quite different stages of healing, acceptance of many aspects of their recovery and managing things well. I am buoyed by them, and already support for me and my update has helped. I also know as an Ambassador for Beyond Five, that those of us with Head and Neck cancers are affected by treatments long after the five years.

I am just over 19 months since diagnosis. I am also less patient than some! I am, always very grateful for my cancer treatments and follow-ups in an Australian setting here:

Chris O’Brien Lifehouse

The late Prof Chris O’Brien. In the hospital named after him.

Westmead Oral Restorative Sciences

Thank you for your support, friends from blogging land and readers!

Denyse.

 

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