Wednesday 27th March 2019

Who’s Grateful? 23/2019.

Who’s Grateful? 23/2019.

I am!

Are you?

This ‘gratitude’ thing has been around lately wherever I read. Conquer fear by being grateful. Acknowledge your gratitude whatever things are like for you. Honestly? Are there days like that when you wonder ….I do not think I am grateful for that day or what’s going on in my life, or ….and there is an endless stream of possible negative situations..

I know.

But…can you ever take yourself out of those situations for a minute or more? I am pretty sure you can.

When you can move out of the head that is keeping you going around and around in the same negative cycles that pop up in our lives and do this:

  • look up
  • look around you
  • touch something close by
  • smell the air
  • taste the food that has been sitting on the plate
  • remember a song you always loved
  • have a smile at something you saw yesterday

that is being present. By being present you are also able to be grateful and practise gratitude!

It is not always about writing in a journal. Nor is a certain number attached to a list of what you are grateful for.

I know that just by harnessing those thoughts away from the centre of self…to the outside and  what is around you then some of the inside relaxes just by the feeling of gratitude! I have found this works well. Even using your fingers (no-one needs to see this) you can count 5 things you are grateful for or even the ten using the second hand!

 

The social benefits are especially significant here because, after all, gratitude is a social emotion. I see it as a relationship-strengthening emotion because it requires us to see how we’ve been supported and affirmed by other people.

Indeed, this cuts to very heart of my definition of gratitude, which has two components. First, it’s an affirmation of goodness. We affirm that there are good thing in the world, gifts and benefits we’ve received. This doesn’t mean that life is perfect; it doesn’t ignore complaints, burdens, and hassles. But when we look at life as a whole, gratitude encourages us to identify some amount of goodness in our life.

The second part of gratitude is figuring out where that goodness comes from. We recognize the sources of this goodness as being outside of ourselves. It didn’t stem from anything we necessarily did ourselves in which we might take pride. We can appreciate positive traits in ourselves, but I think true gratitude involves a humble dependence on others: We acknowledge that other people—or even higher powers, if you’re of a spiritual mindset—gave us many gifts, big and small, to help us achieve the goodness in our lives.

from here.

I am grateful every day.

As someone who had a cancer diagnosis nearly 2 years ago I can be grateful for this in so many ways. Whenever I feel a bit ‘over it’ which is perfectly human response, I take a minute or too and remind myself of how many people who are supporting me since my cancer diagnosis and I am incredibly grateful for them, medical advances and those in reconstructive surgery and how many new friends I have met as a result of having cancer!

So, what ARE you grateful for right now?

Maybe it is just being able to take time to read a few blog posts!

It could be you are grateful for the weather today so you can get that promised walk in.

It may just be that you are grateful for time to consider your life and how good much of it actually is.

Denyse.

Joining Min for Zen Tips Tuesday here.

 

 

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Remembering Mum’s Smile. 22/2019.

Remembering Mum’s Smile. 22/2019.

I admit it.

I inherited my Mum’s smile.

I did not always appreciate this until too late.

That was when I lost my smile to cancer.

Today it is 12 years since Mum died.

Wow.

The ‘last’ great smile photo taken by me at Mum and Dad’s 60th Wedding Anniversary lunch. 2006.

Mum was unwell for around 2 years before it was found in early 2007 that she had multiple brain tumours with no known primary source.

That was it. Mum said “no more tests” when there could have been further explorations based on what the Neurosurgeon saw in her MRI. When Mum said that, he said “that is what I would say for my Mum too.”

Dad and our close family agreed of course because Mum was not a fan of hospitals, doctors or illness and in some respects that was why diagnosis was delayed. BUT….we knew Mum. And she most of all knew herself. So, over the next 6 or so weeks, she gradually worsened. We had our chance to say goodbyes and over the final days, Dad stayed at her side in the private hospital going home at the nurse’s insistence as Mum would succumb soon. She did, once he left (that is the way with many isn’t it?) and then we knew that the love of Dad’s life, the mother of two, grandmother of four, great-grandmother of 3, mother-in-law and friend of many had died.

But, we celebrate Mum often. In the years that I have passed, I have called on her help with recipes I have forgotten some ingredients in -she was a self-taught home cook and great! And what I noticed, in more recent times, was how much my smile was like hers. Dad has this image above in his unit where he moved to 4 years after her death. He still has the various dried floral arrangement she loved to make or buy. I think I did get some of my creative loves from Mum but took a long while to acknowledge that.

Mum and I have never been considered alike in body, temperament and education background …I am my father’s daughter. But I am short like she was and I have definitely inherited her love of colourful clothing.

So, when I got cancer in my upper gum and under my top lip, I missed smiling more than eating. I truly did. It came as a surprise to me just how much it meant for me to smile.

Getting my smile back in August 2018 I did not stop beaming for quite some time.

Today then I pay tribute to Mum and her smile….with a few of mine she would love too!

Thanks Mum. Here’s some from me. Love, Denyse xx

How do you remember someone who has been part of your life and now gone?

Have you inherited any of your family’s traits?

It really can be something to consider!

Thanks for viewing and reading about my Mum today: 5 March 2019, 12 years after her death.

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love on Wednesday.

Here I am linking up with Leanne for Lovin’ Life linky on Thursday.

 

 

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Taking Stock. 9/51. #LifeThisWeek. 21/2019.

Taking Stock. 9/51. #LifeThisWeek. 21/2019.

Every ninth week (give or take) this is the optional prompt. A much-used post and often adapted by bloggers to suit their purpose. I chose to use Pip Lincoln’s list from her blog here. This year I have left some of the irrelevant words for me out. So, for the first time in 2019, I am taking stock!

Making: a new mandala and enjoying the restrictions I have added in terms of only using a limited colour palette. 

Cooking: little cakes. Always the little cakes. They are frozen and brought out when needed. I now have mini-cupcake trays and patty cake size too.

Drinking: a double shot small latte every day.

Reading: the newspaper every day. It is my breakfast companion and has been for decades. I do not finish it at breakfast so it lasts me all day.

Wanting: I still ‘think’ it’s an Apple Watch I want but I shall see when the 2 year anniversary of my cancer diagnosis comes around and check my ‘want’.

Looking: at the collage I put on Instagram marking my husband’s 70th birthday and thinking how fortunate I am to be married to him

Playing: a game on my Ipad called Bold Moves. It’s a challenge one and of course gets harder as you go on. But it’s a distraction too.

Wasting: not much at all these days as I tend to be more frugal in purchases of expendables and of what I think I need but actually don’t.

Wishing: that people do not get sick. Not cryptic but it is a nuisance in this thing we call life!

Enjoying: the spaces in between. I am getting better at not being busy all the time. 

Waiting: for Monday’s prosthodontist appointment to get his opinion on how well my gums are looking to him. Fingers crossed for good news.

Liking: that I can now help myself more to overcome any worries or stressors that seemed to get me down and now I recognise them and take action.

One of my favourite spots to ‘just be’.

Wondering: about people and why some of them are unkind, and break the law and how they think. I try not to wonder about this much though.

Loving: the family, of course. Seeing them grow up is a bitter-sweet time as we have many memories of these young people as babies to pre-schoolers.

Hoping: that the times we spent with them in those formative years leave a memory in them too.

Marvelling: at the transformation my professional surgical head and neck cancer team have made with my appearance. 

Two years apart.

Needing: to remember to slow myself down at times, and come back to the present. I am much better at this now. 

Smelling: coffee. It is a great aroma for me.

Wearing: comfy but flattering clothes to keep me accountable to me and my commitment to healthy living and enjoying the ranges of colours I own.

Following: the news. It is hard not to when I am both on-line and have the newspaper. However, I choose what NOT to follow as well for my health!

Noticing: that the sun is appearing later and setting earlier in coastal NSW even though we have about 5 weeks to go till daylight saving ends.

Looking west from our street.

Knowing: that I am helping others understand more about Head and Neck cancer as I know more about theirs too by attending my local group meeting.

Liesl Tesch MP for Gosford attended our meeting & we all got to hold her medals from Paralympics: 1992 onwards! She also taught our son in 1992!

Thinking: how great it was to live my teen years in close proximity to Manly Beach N.S.W. 

The walk from South Steyne via North Steyne to Queenscliff is iconic Manly Beach.

Feeling: that to blog is to connect

Bookmarking: Jane Caro’s Accidental Feminist because it speaks to this 69 year old. I am going to listen to Jane speak at Newcastle Writers Festival. Recommending Carly Findlay’s memoir called Say Hello. Carly is a writer and appearance activist who has been blogging for many years.

Opening: my twitter feed last week to see that a Director of Educational leadership say he was on his way to…our school from 1976-77 near the NSW Qld border and I asked him to take a photo. Wow. 

Weilmoringle P.S.

Smiling: at little kids and babies. Yes, I am that “old lady” but not in a creepy way! I had a wonderful conversation with a 10 month old recently!

There it is, in words and pictures.

Do you take stock on your blog and/or in life?

Denyse.

Joining here with Kell from All Mum Said on Mondays.

If Alicia has her linky up on Monday, hers is here.

Link ups are wonderful ways to get to know others who blog. Please consider linking up to the Australian-based ones I do. I always name them at the end of a blog post and always comment there too.

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Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Pt 1. 20/2019.

Two Years Ago: Before My Cancer Was Diagnosed. Pt 1. 20/2019.

In this series of posts relating to my head and neck cancer, specifically (quoting from pathology reports after my 6 July 2017 surgery):

hybrid squamous cell carcinoma (in my upper gums and under my top lip) showing features of both verrucous squamous cell carcinoma and conventional squamous cell carcinoma

I am writing about the times of leading up to the day I was told cancer was in my mouth. I think I thought I had cancer of some kind for a year or more earlier. But, to the medical and dental profession’s credit, my cancer is both rare (head and neck cancer is around 3% of the population) and even rarer in someone like me with no risk factors.

There is another BIG reason I am writing this. I need to feel I can say now what I could not before ….because I did not know what was wrong! I thought it was my emotional health letting me down. Again. I did so much to help myself. Therapy, medication, being outside, doing volunteer work, having some hobbies, and more. NOTHING gave me an answer for what was changing in me and I was a nervous nelly anyway …but deep down, cancer was on my mind.

Below are photos of just some of the examples I did to help me emotionally. Mind you, they have indeed helped me still now that I know it was cancer but back then, I was following instructions!

To blog about this is helpful for me

I am re-living a time of memories of the ‘unknown’ and also one in which I was doing all I could in an incredibly challenging time in my life: selling up in Sydney, moving to the Central coast , getting sad about leaving our family and finishing my worklife after decades in education. Two years on, I KNOW the sometimes good that has come from my cancer diagnosis and I acknowledge that . It has also been, and continues to be as hard path to walk but I am doing the best I can.

If my post are helpful to others, then I am also glad to write them.

From my memory and using my word journal.

In preparation for my teeth to be deep cleaned by AB after consensus from the specialist gum dentist was same as 3 other dentists (2014-2017) & a biopsy on a white patch under top lip near gum: candida.
Fungalin did not help. Mouth rinses with nilstat did not help. Already gums were over growing top teeth (bridge at front) & behind on soft palate was constantly red & irritated for at least a year.
Instuctions to “clean better” … under an impossible to reach back of a bridge just served to make ME feel at fault for my sore mouth!

2nd March 2017

My dentist is AB, and I had been seeing me for around a year & knew my dental history. I was a fearful person but always had 6 month check ups & had gone through extractions, fillings & root canals. After I did not pursue allergy-test for nickel (component in the bridge) as AB researched the composition of 2011 installed bridge done in Sydney by HS, I was coming back to him for a ‘deep clean’ on 2nd March 2017.

“I took immodium as I was wary of IBS coming on my 30 minute drive from home to his surgery. I was so stressed about that & whether I could make it but I was also determined to see that I did.

Having done some practice “exposure” therapy in small bits, I knew I had to have this “deep clean” of my upper teeth & bridge as the pain, gum growth & irritation had been there too long.

For most of my adult life I had felt “the teeth troubles I had were my fault” as I had a sweet tooth. There was a part of me that felt guilty about my mouth!

So, I set off on the road the most physically anxious I’ve been but in control of the drive in my car. I had one loo stop then arrived at the dentist. I was so stressed that when I finally saw AB & his dental nurse I broke down. Through my tears I said how worried I’d been & how judged I’d always felt about teeth & I was grateful they were helping me.

They were very kind & reassuring & I popped in my ear buds & was ready to listen to my favourite story teller, William McInnes. His voice is like a balm for me especially when telling the tales from his life as a kid.

It took so many needles to numb the area at the top where I’d had gum over growth & soreness for almost a year now . AB was to deep clean & get right into the top area where my bridge sat containing my front teeth.

As I didn’t quite know what to expect & what the outcome would be I was naturally tense. However to my credit I stayed & got it done only asking how much longer (10 mins) & telling him when it still hurt (more needles required)

William McInnes voice helped distract me from the noises of water, sucker & instruments as I visualised as much of that as I could. From time to time I had to rinse out & the blood & water that were going down the drain shocked me.
I felt quite shaky when it was done & it took more than 90 minutes I believe.

The ‘good’ news is AB believes all irritation is due to left over cement from when it was put in & debris accumulated in spaces under the bridge.
I have candida & need funglin for a while. I could come back in 3 weeks for check up if I like & he hopes all will improve over time.

They were so lovely & kind even in their front office. I was touched.
It was a trauma in a way because I had to beat 2 things/ worry re IBS & treatment & outcome.

So… I did well considering how much it took out of me to get there!

Boy that was a huge exposure therapy success.

Quiet arvo at home getting over it all
then wanted to see the sky over beach as wet weather is coming.

Spent an hour taking it in & pics too
Soup for dinner & mouth actually feels bit better already Have a special floss to use.”

Making the best effort to ‘be’ what I did not feel. Two months before I knew I had cancer. March 2017.

Stand by for what happened next.

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia who is hosting Open Slather on Fridays now! Yay for being back…and a different day. Here is the link.

 

 

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Changing Me. 19/2019.

Changing Me. 19/2019

Changing me is I now realise ON-GOING!

It has been many years as I have mentioned in previous posts of living overweight and obese that has given me a skewed view of my image. My most recent post is here.

I am doing what I can now, to approach my thinking with:

  • kindness
  • self-care
  • words of encouragement

and seeing that thoughts are not always true.

I already use the Calm app for meditation each day, and often in taking a time-out will be mindful in whichever are my circumstances as I learn to be present and here….in the now.

Eating mindfully (and planning to eat) is helping me in these ways:

  • I do not follow those rules of ‘only concentrating on one food and mouthful at a time’ mindfully in eating.
  • I do now examine and observe my inner feelings (physical and emotionally) about the why and when of eating.
  • I am getting so much better at this!
  • I am also recording what I eat via a free app and it is Australian foods-based and gives me an idea of how well I am doing.
  • As a no-diet person, this feels good to have some control but also to eat within the generous range I have allowed myself.
  • I am using my fitbit to slowly up my steps each week by 500 steps  from a base of 6000.

On Tuesday 19 February 2019 I had my 3 month cancer check, and my Professor Jonathan Clark was delighted to see no reason for further surgery (yay for now) and when I mentioned my weight gain since ‘teeth’ he said “that’s good.” Oh, he means that is healthy and I am doing well! Of course now I get it…but as I chatted with his clinical nurse consultant who is just the best for me, she and I agreed that moving more is a good idea!!

 

On 23 February 2019 I posted this image and the words on Instagram.

One Year On.

As a person who was overweight to obese for decades, losing weight pre-cancer diagnosis & post cancer surgeries has been a mental issue.

I realise to others I look well, healthier and ok now.

I acknowledge I was 5kg+ lighter a year ago & pretty darned miserable at times because of eating restrictions due to 4 cancer surgeries & reconstruction inside my mouth.

I do think I did the best I could at the time to nourish myself but acknowledge how much I missed:

*chewing

*crunching

*biting

*savouring

FOOD from a variety of offerings! My shopping for over 14 months took me away from foods I missed biting, chewing, crunching & savouring.

From 21 Aug 2018 this changed. My upper prosthesis was fitted. It was novel to try the foods I’d missed: cheese on a cracker took minutes to eat. Then over time as my mouth & my brain handled the different foods better it was/is great.

Then, about a month or so ago the creeping up of my weight on the scales (once a month weigh in- years of measuring my worth via the scales is a horrid memory) was noted & I “have” to admit I knew what to do IF I still wanted to:

*like wearing my new clothes

*feel comfortable in my body

*enjoy all aspects & variations of foods I could now choose from

It was time to choose a better balance between foods that nourish & are enjoyable & to increase my movement each day.

This mindful eating plan I’ve made up is working for me.

I am now understanding the WHY of how I used food to deal with emotions & that it does not work like that MAKES so much sense!

Keeping myself active by changing my approach to movement. Upping the steps weekly by 500 a day,  starting at 6000 a day.

Most of all I want to add is how grateful I am to be well after nearly 2 years of oral cancer & that I can continue to learn best how to care for myself emotionally & physically!

Changing the voice in my head…. the inner critic…to low volume or mute whenever she begins to shout!

So have you ever taken steps to change you?

Denyse.

Joining with Min for Zen Tips Tuesday here.

Finding a place with Sue and Leanne here in MidLife Share The Love on Wednesday

and, of course, Lovin’ Life with Leanne here each Thursday.

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My Favourite Decade. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 18/2019.

My Favourite Decade. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 18/2019.

Given my age, and my so-called group status as a “Baby Boomer” it would not be a surprise to read that my favourite decade is the 1960s.

The decade where my childhood faded, and the teen years beckoned then ended with my teaching career started.

All from ages 12 to 20.

Why oh why was it the best?

I wish I had an image for each of what I remember as highlights but instead, it’s a list and there are a few back up pics.

1960.

Into a new to us Primary School that was much bigger than the one we went to in Wollongong and I had many more people to get to know and achievements to make. The best part of 1960 was having Mr Duffy as my Yr 5 teacher and knowing that I too wanted to be a teacher.

1961.

Year 6. There were two classes and there was quite a bit of competition to do well and whilst I was not as academically gifted as many I liked the ‘leadership’ aspect of Year 6 and our relative independence. We were allowed to leave the school grounds and walk to the local shops for lunch when we had money for that. I remember hot chips and a malted vanilla milk in a carton.

It was the end of year camp that was not so wonderful as my first period decided to arrive during the 10 day camp on Lake Macquarie. Never mind, no swimming, but you can write and edit the Camp Magazine. It was fun. And it was printed on a metholated spirit printer. Remember them? They were still around when I began teaching.

The BIG deal too that year was the Year 6 Farewell Dance. Oh My! Hair done, new dress selected, stockings to wear (a garter belt held up the stockings, a bra fitted, with due embarrassment, at David Jones’ city store and my first tiny heel on a shoe. Wow.

1962.

To High School. We were the cohort of the first 6 years at High School in N.S.W. for the ‘new’ Higher School Certificate as planned by the education review called the Wyndham Scheme. We were indeed guinea pigs but off to the almost brand new single sex public school Manly Girls High, I went. I was put in the top class and there were a total of 7 or 8 classes per year. Getting to know new friends and to go to sport at a local swimming pool and to work with a timetable and catching a bus to school was all part of this time.

1963.

My social life was more fun than school but still I persisted. I would have preferred French and Art as my 2 picks for subjects added to the compulsory four but my dad insisted on French and German for the matriculation purposes in Year 12. But even though it was not as clear as that I complied. I was still part of Girl Guides but not devoted at all and went on a pretty wet camp south of Wollongong. I left Guides once I could. I also began teaching Sunday School. I like little kids and the idea of teaching. I was not as enamoured with the church side of it.

1964.

More independence and I began regular paid evening baby sitting gigs which I continued with the same family till I left for my first teaching appointment. I also began doing some school holiday office duties at Dad’s work. I sure was not interested in helping Mum much. I did a typing course at night in Manly where it was safe for me to catch a bus home in the evening. I went to an after school Ballroom Dancing class each week (i.e. meeting boys class) and my first boyfriend was from the local boys’ school. Ah Col. We had some good times and I got my first friendship ring the next year.

I went to see the Beatles in June with my friend and my brother. It was amazing to actually see, not so much hear, the Beatles.

I began collecting records. Dad was keen on all music and I could play my 45s (the small ones) and my 33s (the big ones) on the family stereo.

I got my first transistor radio and was glued to the evening shows with Mike Walsh and won prizes as I was quick on the phone. Yes I “was” doing homework but could multi-task!

1965.

A big year. Well, that was how it was made out and in terms of the new 6 years of school it was. We had to sit an external examination  called The School Certificate. In completing the School Certificate, the plan was that unless you wanted to go to University, Teachers’ College, enter Nursing or Secretarial College,  then you left school at the end of Year 10 to do an apprenticeship or go to a job. About 2/3 of the whole Year 10 would have left. It was a big shock doing our first external examination to find that the “one” compulsory component – poetry – of the English paper was not one I had prepared for nor knew much about it. Neverthless I passed all of my subjects, and we celebrated with parties at people’s places.

It was the year Sound of Music was released and more movies that genre were about: Doctor Zhivago, My Fair Lady, and so on. When we went to the movies, there was always a double feature with the main movie starting second after interval. I had a new boyfriend by the beginning of the next year, and we met via the social group at Manly Presbyterian Church.

1966.

Again social life precedes school life but the existed side-by-side thanks to joining forces with the local boys’ high schools to appear in a Gilbert and Sullivan Show, and to attend dances. Of course. Greater independence as some of the boys now had cars was for me to be ‘dropped’ by Mum or Dad into Manly on a Sunday afternoon and attend the social/church event and afterwards to go to a local coffee shop. Very trendy.

I continued to do some holiday work for Dad, and to babysit but social life aka love life beckoned more. It was during Year 11 that we of the first to do the HSC got to select and wear a senior uniform and to have some freedom with some teaching time off for ‘study.’ I was active in the School Magazine and social events but came down with a crash when my Year 11 results were not exactly stunning.

I moved on….to

1967.

Ah, a big year and one in which the boyfriend and I split (bye Rob) and hello Stu. Met through the same place. Good old Manly Presbyterian Church Fellowship. This one was already at Uni! He had completed the last of the Leaving Certificate (like my never yet met husband) and was doing Ag Science at Sydney Uni. He had a car. He lived at home with the friendly younger brother and his mum. My younger brother got to meet his, and with their neighbourhood friends, THESE blokes are still mates! Me, broken up with the bf in 1970 …another story for another time. Oh yes, here it is here.

This year was when I got my licence: P’s, could borrow Mum’s car, had more social engagements inclyuding Uni balls, and then realised I needed to put my head down to actually study in the lead up to the H.S.C. It worked, and in saying that it was a slight disappointment that I did not get a NSW Dept of Education scholarship in the first round of offers, but early in 1968.

Meanwhile from end of H.S.C. in November my father had secured a job interview for me (thanks Dad, not!) and in early December 1967 instead of holidaying like my friends, I began as a filing clerk in the human resources section of the A.B.C. in Elizabeth St. If I was happy about one part of this, I was now 18 and could meet up with bf and his mates after work and we could go to the new Wentworth Hotel, the Menzies or even the one where the Hilton is now and have a drink. I did not drink much at all but it was nice to go to those places.

1968 – 1969.

Yes, you are off the Balmain Teachers’ College: sign here to ensure your ‘bond’ of employment for 3 years after graduation and we will send you anywhere in N.S.W. as you will be a permanent teacher. And stayed that way until 2003.

I signed, our neighbour was the guarantor as was the case back then, they paid me $22 a fortnight to become a highly trained and eminently qualified teacher. It was a rigorous course: 5 days a week, every single day taken up with learning how to teach and what to teach kids aged from 5-12. Whilst I specialised in Infants teaching I qualified as a K-6 teacher. I LOVED it all. We had Wednesdays for optional activities and another arvo for sport – we had to learn what we would teach. All set in the now very posh (but not then) suburb of Balmain where the smells of making soaps at the local Colgate factory as well as the plumes from the coal-fired electricity plants at White Bay.

My social life continued with many activities based around our mutual friends’ birthdays. 21st parties were huge. As were Sydney Uni and NSW Uni Balls. I think I went to at least 4 in a year. New dress, please Mum! And I was lucky. Mum kept me looking good by being my accesory and ally in clothes shopping and hair dressing appointments.

School was even more part of my life. We did 2 pracs each year, a prac of our choice at the beginning of the second year after Christmas holidays and we also attended the North Sydney Dem School to watch selected experienced teachers and learn from them. I did well at Prac. I loved it. I had wanted to do this for a very long time and now I was.

I got to do pracs at my old primary school: Balgowlah Hts – Yr 3 and Yr 2, Mona Vale P.S. – Kinder, Neutral Bay Yr 1 and North Sydney Dem Year 2 (I was given this prac as my teaching and preparation was excellent and the Dem school was a prized place.

Graduation was formal. My parents and boyfriend attended. He had finished his Bachelor of Ag Science and was looking for work in North-western NSW. He landed a job at Tamworth. In the school holidays at the end of 1969 into 1970, my preferred teaching place came for me. I accepted: a North-western NSW country town called Barraba: about 45 minutes from Tamworth. To find out what happened next: go here. I have already written about it!

That is why 1960s was/is my favourite decade!

What is yours?

Denyse.

I join in these two other Monday Link Ups from Australian Bloggers.

Alicia is at One Mother Hen here for Open Slather and Kell is here at All Mum Said for Mummy Mondays. Go over and link up there too!

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 optional prompt is: 9/51. Taking Stock. 4/3/19.
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Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Appreciation in August. #1. 2018.69.

Update: This post is being shared to a new link up called: Zen Tips Tuesday here on Write of the Middle’s blog.

My post is about how I overcame. and continue to overcome my anxious thoughts and physical experiences, that are NOT wonderful, in order to live the best life I can as a post-Head and Neck Cancer diagnosis patient.

 

Thanks to my readers and commenters I am continuing a more ‘on the spot’ post and perhaps adding to my stories of what I would like to share.

In line with this title: Appreciation.….Today I am thankful for:

Opportunities to share my story about my head and neck cancer diagnosis and what has followed since 17 May 2017

  • My blog has, of course, been the main way of sharing since then
  • This year a number of organisations have taken note of my blog’s purpose in keeping readers updated with my cancer treatment and progress and approached me to write a post for them or to engage a writer on my behalf.
  • Both versions occurred: Here with Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.…and Here with Beyond Five and most recently here with  Cancer Aid App
  • The connections I have made on-line in groups on Facebook, for example this one and then meeting people from a local group continue to add to my knowledge of what others are doing in managing both the cancer diagnosis and treatments along with post-cancer life
  • I was approached by one newly made friend who is also a head and  neck survivor, to write about what I do each day to both be active and busy but to be mindful in my post-cancer surgery times and into the 14th month of recovery

I understand that each and every person, with a cancer diagnosis or not, will find ways in which to live their lives in semi or full retirement.

I am only one person…who has found the transition to retirement an anxious one. I have written about it here  

However, knowing it was up to ME to make things work better for me each day, I used my instincts and skills…and some creative thoughts to determine this:

The emotional impact of cancer cannot be under-stated but I have taken steps to ensure my physical and emotional health are priorities. I do this by:

  • Getting dressed each day with purpose, having a photo taken and posted on Instagram. This keeps me connected and within a routine I enjoy. Losing weight before the cancer was diagnosed and keeping it stable while recovering meant I could celebrate with buying new clothes

From 30 Oct, I did an Outfit of the Day post…now into my 10th month!

  • Taking notice of the world outside – the natural one in particular – by driving the the local beaches and walking or just taking in the scenes with all of my senses or just looking skywards and seeing the clouds and patterns. I also post a photo with #noticenaturedaily on Instagram

The week before #4 surgery

  • Creating art or designing mandalas and colouring them and making patterns to colour and decorating cards. Whatever I make I add to Instagram with #createdaily2018
  • Completed Mandala

  • Being a sociable person and meeting up with friends when I can and even if I go out alone (which I actually enjoy too) I engage in conversation with others as much as possible. I have learned long ago not to be self-conscious of ‘no teeth’ in my upper mouth.

Coffee & Morning Tea. Can only eat 1/3 of a scone out! Messy.

  • Staying interested and informed via reading newspapers, commenting on others’ blogs and generally taking an interest in the lives of those I may have met or am still to meet via social media.

I wear this to remember I AM!

That’s my Appreciation in August for this week! But before I go: on World Head and Neck Cancer Day 2018 last Friday I felt a great need to visit here and enjoy the space, sounds and more….but to also give thanks for all the beach has helped me through so much since we moved away from Sydney in 2015.

What are you thankful or grateful for this week?

Denyse.

Joining Leanne and friends here for Lovin’ Life Linky each Thursday.

My blogging friend from Ballarat is starting a first day of the month linky called Good Grateful. I think it’s always a great plan to reflect on gratitude! In fact, I AM grateful to her for rekindling old blogging friendships recently which spurred me on to making a Blog Roll on this blog!

Thanks so much Caz! Her blog is called Room For My Soul. I wish you well and will be there for sure! 

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Eating With No Teeth*- Head & Neck Cancer. 17/2019.

Eating With No Teeth* – Head & Neck Cancer. 17/2019.

Update on Being a Head & Neck Cancer Patient. 

Oh I “did” have 8 teeth*…in my lower jaw and they remain. Yay for “some” teeth.

In the past year I know how far I have come as far as eating is concerned since my Head and Neck Cancer diagnosis in May 2017. I have been delighted to have an upper prosthesis of teeth now screwed into my abutments in my jaw. They were attached on 21 August 2018.

The Before and After of “Teeth Day” 21 Aug

OH HAPPY day….it really was but I had many eating lessons to come and I still do. More on that in a future post.

Day 1 post surgery to around Day 8.

Back to those months when I was post-first surgery. I recall being fearful of what it would be like not to eat but with a fluid drip and then a gradually introduced naso-gastric feeding tube my body was cared for. My mind did accept what it was until around Day 7 post-surgery when I recall feeling hangry. You know: angry because of hunger. So, when I was given the chance to see if my mouth (and brain!) remembered how to sip water and my throat allowed it to swallow…remember all of the inside of my mouth had been affected in some or many ways but my reconstructive surgery…it was heaven!

This:

Day 9 and Day 10. Discharge on Day 10.

This:

First meal in hospital. Then next 3 times I did not enjoy it much.

Early days at home. First Weeks.

I have IBS and with an empty gut receiving food for the first time in a long time, as well as the prescription of a far too strong for me anti-biotic on the morning I left hospital as a “your drain in your leg looks infected” ….my gut (and I) were just not happy in that first 10 days home even though I was starving. Poor husband did his best to please, and I also tried to be helpful but it really was a challenging time.

When my GP unravelled the cause of the massive diarrhoea episodes I had, he told me to forget any (hospital dietitian suggestions of ) liquid meal replacements, protein additives and eat what I could and felt like. The relief was amazing and coming off the giant dose of anti-biotics helped as the leg looked fine. The toast in these pics really wasn’t consumed but I liked ‘tasting what was on it. Avocado and soup were good friends, and also peanut butter eaten off the spoon. Jelly and icecream have never been a favourite but they provided so much mouth comfort with their smooth coolness.

The next weeks turned into months.

By the time the second week at home was over, despite my sore leg, I was able to do some meal prep. It frustrated me that I depended on my husband’s kindness and labour as I wanted to contribute. Eventually I worked out how I could have some say and also make some meals that would work for me. We mostly ate separate meals anyway because of his health. I also had many types of soup: homemade vegetable soup, pumpkin soup & tomato soup. For someone who was never a cereal girl at breakfast, weetbix and milk were/are my go-to foods!

Why this post about eating as a Head and Neck cancer patient?

I have written about my management of eating in two posts.

Part one is here, part two here.

Why I decided to do this more detailed one is for any  newly-diagnosed head and neck cancer patients who come here to read and view. Sometimes it is the head and neck cancer patient’s carer who needs some ideas. It can be very overwhelming and confronting when something as normal as eating & drinking (let alone speaking and swallowing) is changed dramatically via a cancer diagnosis.

I was fortunate in many ways. I had a limited time with only a naso-gastric tube before returning to eating and drinking as well as I could.

I know some people have long-term eating and drinking challenges following different Head and Neck cancers and procedures.

My health is good. I am looking to the 2 years marking the first cancer surgery in July 2017. What I know is that I may have to modify my eating again over time if more surgery is prescribed inside my mouth to enlarge the space between the lip and ‘teeth’ on upper prosthesis.

How To Seek More Information On-Line.

In my case, the words and written information from my Chris O’Brien Lifehouse dietitian helped me. I learned about the important of protein and fat in a post surgery diet. I also learned to value-add and I am grateful for that. For information on Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, go here.

Each head and neck cancer patient needs to be guided by their professional team.

The site and organisation called Beyond Five has a comprehensive page of information and this takes you to pages on nutrition with links here.

Beyond Five is the organisation I am working for as an Ambassador in 2019 to raise awareness of Head & Neck Cancer.

The stories of others with Head & Neck cancers are shared for here all to read:

 

This is a link to finding avenues of supportive care on the Beyond Five website.

There are support groups to help you as well. Here is the link, again from Beyond Five, to those in Australia and New Zealand. Correct at the time of posting.

Recently it was World Cancer Day and I submitted my story which was published here.

I AM a head & neck cancer patient

I WILL share for others to be aware

 

This post is going live on the morning I will be driving 2 hours to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, donating some craft supplies to their Arterie program, having the first meeting with Beyond Five for 2019 and then visiting my Head & Neck surgeon, Professor Jonathan Clark and Clinical Nurse Consultant & Surgical Assistant Sr Cate Froggatt. After my cancer check, I will be better informed about ‘what’s next’ and then drive myself back home!

  • UPDATE: the meeting went well and provided much for me to discover as I move into my role as Ambassador to Beyond Five, and then my cancer check went well too. My professional team told me the inside of my mouth looked better when they last saw me early January and no surgery is required (I always add, at this stage…as my journey has had some detours!) and I will be back for a 3 month cancer check in mid May. That will be 2 years since diagnosis!

Wishing you well, from me. a head and neck cancer patient, to patients, carers, family and friends.

Denyse.

Joining with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share the Love link up on Wednesday

On Thursday linking up with Leanne for Lovin’ Life here.

 

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