Tuesday 18th December 2018

Two Steps Forward. One Step Back. My Cancer Recovery Update. 2018.126.

I am dedicating this post to the memory of a lovely woman whose life was cut too short by cancer. Chelsea, my friend Leanne’s step-daughter lived life to the max. Cancer may have been ‘in her’ but cancer did not take her spirit nor her love of life…and for her family including her husband and your daughter. My shared experience with Chelsea was that we were both patients of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and because of that connection I wrote one of the Letters to Chelsea Leanne mentions on her blog.

Thank you for sharing the love and the life of Chelsea dear Leanne.

 

Two Steps Forward. One Step Back. My Cancer Recovery Update. 2018.126.

Update to update: even though I have outlined what was disappointing to me in this post which was an event from last weekend it has also taught me more about my capabilities in eating than I knew. I like many had tended to think eating with new teeth in my gums would be ‘back to what it was’. Not so, and I am now being more realistic and flexible.

Yesterday, 30 November, I turned 69. I had a wonderful and low key birthday celebration at a morning tea for two with my dear husband. We chatted, ate well, had our favourite drinks – small latte with an extra shot for me and English breakfast tea for him. Afterwards we wandered through the grounds of this lovely nursery, bought a plant each and came home to a relaxing afternoon spent at home. It really was just as I would have liked.

Except for this:

  • it has taken me sometime to adapt to some extra teeth added to my own on the lower jaw and I am very conscious of how much ‘saliva’ escapes and am constantly wiping – especially if I am talking…and drinking/eating. But with my husband or by myself I just get on with the ‘tidying up’ and enjoy what I can
  • I know my upper lip is shrinking in. I accept that. But, did you know you cannot ‘blow out the candle on your cake’ unless you get much closer…and I also cannot drink with a straw as there is no vacuum made in my mouth
  • I have a small but significant pain area in my….index left hand finger…the dominant one..the one where I write, draw and play. I have had pain in the tip of it before, as there is significant arthritis in the joint below. But not as bad as this. Our G.P. could not see anything affecting it from the outside, so he advised anti-inflammatories for a few days.
  • both of the above are so small, in the overall scheme of things I know, but I am writing about them (not using the left index finger!) because they have both given me cause for concern today especially.

Out Socially for Lunch.

  • Last Monday I had lunch at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and was asked what I could eat. I nominated a simple cheese white bread sandwich and a lemon slice I had tried there before. Whilst I did not eat more than half of the cheese sandwich, I managed and did not feel as self-conscious as I thought. I also took my leftovers home! Win.
  • Today, I ventured to a local large club for a Christmas lunch get-t0gether with the Head and Neck Cancer group I am in. It was the first time I have gone out for anything other than coffee and cake. I gave it my best shot. It is a very friendly group and I did get to know people more today in this social setting.
  • What I found though was a reality check for me about my current status in recovery as a Head and Neck cancer patient.
  • Knowing I ‘could’ have taken the easy way out and ordered a safe coffee and cake that I knew I could handle, I decided to join in and actually have lunch! Remember I have only ever eaten a meal at home for over 2 years.
  • At the ordering desk, I asked for a small meal: I could see a baked dinner was on offer and was pretty sure I could manage some meat, potatoes, pumpkin and grave. “No”. Sorry,  we do not do small meals on Saturdays. “Can I have just one slice of meat with a couple of the vegies?” “No”. No offer of a kids’ meal (I think they would have refused that too) so I asked could I have just the potato and pumpkin and gravy. “Yes”.
  • OK. I thought, well this is a lesson. Not everyone ‘gets what they think they can’ and also maybe this establishment does not cater for people with different needs. And, I stayed quiet about it. I was a guest. Everyone else at the table was either way down the cancer recovery trail than me or could find foods to suit them.
  • I could eat one half of each vegetable and then as it takes me a while, it got cold. I had leftovers and asked if I could take them home. “No”.
  • I went and got a coffee later, no cake, chatted some more then drove home and ate….some lunch.

Why Write This?

  • It helps me to process it and maybe others who know what I am talking about can understand
  • The fact that I may have given myself something creative to do over the past 3 days as I needed to has not helped my mood much. I really miss using my finger.
  • I am hopeful, that by being patient and having the meds it will come good. Or I will go back to the G.P.
  • I am concerned I over-expect of myself, so writing this is helping me process
  • Maybe I just needed to ‘get it off my chest’ as they say!
  • It is not a post where I am wanting any sympathy but I did get insight into a world out there today that, in some respects, has no flexibility to meet special needs
  • I also know people face this as a challenge every.single.day
  • I am wondering if my ‘reaction’ was a bit of an over-reaction to a day which I had wanted to go well, and in terms of socialisation it did.
  • But it came up short for me, the head and neck cancer patient getting used to eating again in a regular environment, and so I wonder if I need to be more prepared for the situations I place myself in as I change from ‘no eating’ to ‘limited eating’ to ‘regular eating’.

It feels like two steps forward and one step back….but probably it is more like five steps forward and maybe one step back!

And maybe I will take a little container of my own next time for left-overs!

Thanks for reading!!

Denyse.

P.S. It IS most unusual for me to post on a weekend but for my emotional health I am…and I already feel better for writing it out. THIS is why I blog!!

Linking up with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life on Thursday…sending love to Leanne and her family. xx

 

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My Last Meal Was. #LifeThisWeek 11/52. 2018.23.

My Last Meal Was. #LifeThisWeek 11/52. 2018.23.

When I made this prompt up initially it was “My Last Meal” but that conjured up those of prisoners who are about to be executed (yikes) get to choose their last meal. I have wondered, as you do, how on earth ANYONE could actually EAT before they were led off…anyway, I need to lighten up…and here we go.

It’s hard for me to write about a meal in actual fact . I can have meals of course and I have written about what it’s been like to eat after cancer surgery here and tomorrow is the part two of that series.

It’s really been more than a year since I have been able to chew or crunch with success. My upper front gums were very sore and inflamed before we knew it was cancer. See here if you are new and missed that post back in May 2017. So even before Christmas 2016 I was seeking food that was softer.

Onto the now.

I cannot cite my ‘last meal’ because I am writing this pre-Monday. Every day for many months I have had two weetbix and milk for breakfast. Before I discovered I actually did not mind weetbix I was struggling to get something resembling toast down. I no longer try that. I can’t. Yet.

But here are some main/lunch meals I eat now with 8 front lower gum teeth and my strong tongue!

Each of the above requires a lot of time (I used to be a 10 mins and it’s eaten girl) and concentration so I do not overfill my mouth and can swallow with ease.

I always have water near me to help the food go down and for me, a long-time talker at meals, I try not to chat and to get my food down safely. I have been fine to date! I have had to use my ingenuity in this LONG (over 8 months now) post-surgery journey as I miss variety, textures and tastes.

Each of these was borne of my need to have all of those within my limitations.

I am quite proud of these. But will be glad in a few months when chewing and crunching may return!

Here’s two meals I had in the past that I will be looking forward to have again. Simple but nutritious and very comforting!

Now I realised “this” is not a meal. But oh my gosh it is both comforting and delicious and I do not have F.O.M.O. when I treat myself to this!

As I cannot bite into a donut, I break off tiny pieces from the BEST BIT, the edges and place them in my mouth. I leave the middle ….I never liked that much anyway.

I wonder what your last meal was….I must say I have stopped being envious of people who get to eat what I cannot yet as it was not helpful to me or to them.

Eating food we like is such an enjoyable event I would never want to put someone off theirs!

Here’s to eating well!

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia for Open Slather here…and let me say, some of her food pics are wonderful and almost everything is home-grown!

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Next Week is the optional prompt’: 12/52.  “Out My Window I See.” 19.3.18.


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