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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Best Friend Stories. 41/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.102.

Best Friend Stories. 41/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.102.

I have always envied those who can keep a long-time friendship going, claiming best friends from school days and more.

I reviewed some photos of mine before writing and i can see, in my case, why this is not so.

I would not like to think I am a bad friend but I do agree that over time friendships change and move on.

In the most recent years I let a friendship slide – we had moved away from Sydney – as my anxiety grew and I knew I was not able to travel back to see this friend. Nevertheless, I did make contact after a year, and she happily caught me up and I felt a sort of re-connection. Then I got cancer. She is not on social media and to be honest, maintaining friendships was not high on my priority in recovery and beyond. Nevertheless, knowing I was risking being rejected I wrote her an email, letting her know of my health status and that, for the present, I could probably meet up in Sydney again for a coffee. We met up for coffee over many years. No response. Nothing. I suspect, I did leave it too late but I also know I did something to offer the hand of friendship again.

Chronological Order of Best Friends. 

Early 1950s.

Dad tells me I had imaginary friends at this age. I think one was called Pinky. I do not remember but I believe him. I am off to the Dapto Show with my Aunty. Didn’t I dress well then?

Late 1950s

I am in second row from the bottom, 2nd in from the right. I am next to my best friend at Gwynneville P.S. in Wollongong: Helen. We played outside school hours and went to each other’s houses. She and I competed, along with Warwick, in front row, second in from left, for first, second and third place in class. Check the class numbers people!

We stayed in touch via letters and some visits when we had moved to Sydney at the end of this year. I do know, amongst the trivia in my head, that her birthday is 27 September.

Early 1960s

It would be untruthful to say anyone here was a BEST friend but some were indeed friends. I am 3rd from left in front, and my friend, who also came to the same high school as me in 1962, is first on the left front row. We were passing acquaintances once we chose our subjects for the ‘new H.S.C.’ and saw each other (and sang together) on the school bus from Balgowlah Hts to Brookvale where our High School was.

I went my way to teachers’ college and teaching as she went her way to Uni and became an architect. Our parents still lived in the same suburb and saw each other as ‘waving’ aquaintances I guess. Then, with the era of Facebook, we found each other in the past 5 years…and guess what, we had been living relatively close to each other in the Hills District of Sydney for decades! We met up before we left Sydney and I love her memory about all things where I lived because she was there from birth. It’s a great connection and I know her birthday too. She is 1 month and 5 days older than me. Ann.

Late 1960s

Last year of High School – 1967. I am far right. We were ‘besties’ in the senior years of High School. It became apparent though, that I was the one who needed to buckle down and study in that final year as I really wanted to a tertiary education to become a teacher. My friends had boyfriends then that each married. About 2-3 years out of school, and they trained in secretarial work. We went to each other’s weddings (I think!) and they came to ours. From time to time, when we returned to Sydney for school holidays we had a catch up but I could already see my social world as a country-side teacher was not in keeping with theirs. Many years later, via a social media forum I think, we did have a reunion of sorts and even more recently my Dad saw Julie (on the left) being a personal home carer to someone in his retirement place. She said “Are you Mr Simpson, Denyse’s Dad?” That is one good memory. No, we have not met up. Julie, Sue, Pauline.

From then to now.

As teachers, much of our social life is connected where we are teaching. We had friends in each of the country towns and when we moved back to Sydney, we continued seeing people once a year. I had female friendships groups at school and always enjoyed the connections. Once I became a Deputy Principal then Principal, I moved into more work-related social networks. However, after my health breakdown as a principal, I eventually went to teach in a friend’s school and had a kind and lovely relationship with two of the administration ladies. These ladies stayed in touch when we left Sydney and after my cancer diagnosis and surgeries arranged to come and visit. This is just lovely. We still do keep in touch via social media due to distance. Luisa and Marg.

But the one person who keeps top status as my best friend is this man. The one I married. Just for something different, a photo of me with him in late 2016 before cancer.

So, what are your best friend stories?

Denyse.

Today I link with Alicia here: for Open Slather and Kel here for Mummy Mondays. Do visit them too and link up!

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Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 42/52. What I Have Learned Lately. 15/10/18.


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