Wednesday 6th July 2022

Archives for February 2022

The Month That Was: February 2022. 9/51. FINAL. #LifeThisWeek. #280. 13/2022.

The Month That Was: February 2022. 9/51. FINAL. #LifeThisWeek. #280  13/2022.

February 2022.

I was going to give away blogging. I was feeling stale and like I had already said what I wanted to share about in this forum.

I did let myself sit with those feelings and thoughts for a while as I have learned over the years not to act upon them quickly.

So I did some of this:

Be kinder to myself

What did I learn from the time spent?

  • That I need to keep my blog going as it is like a part of my life’s history
  • That I do not need to please others to keep blogging
  • That others actually understand more than I may have thought
  • That I can make a shift in my thinking, and blogging practice and run a link up too
  • That I have an outlet for my words and photos…

The History of Life This Week Link Up.

I was blogging most days of the week back in 2016 and there were quite a few friendly link ups. On Mondays, Kirsty used to have “I Confess” and when she was leaving blogging to concentrate on her business and busy family life, I thought why not have a go. I had already been posting  a topic each Monday called “life this week” so that’s where I went with it.

Life This Week is the new link-up from here, on Denyse Whelan Blogs.

Starts: Monday 12 September 2016.

Each Monday I’ve been using the topic “Life This Week” which for me has meant anything I came up with that seemed relevant for that week. It might have been something topical from the news, or something in my life and from time to time I joined in the link-up on Kirsty’s blog.

Started Life This Week Link Up. Sept 2016.

And the very first link up had….24 bloggers link up!! Yay for them…sadly many are no longer blogging but that’s life!

Moving on to the news:

It’s all in the blog post I have linked up to the FINAL Life This Week…so do have a read! Please.

Thank you for continuing to be part of this community. Here’s to seeing you back here on Monday 14 March!

Denyse.

and from Bernard who is pleased I AM still blogging…and Happy Birthday for 27th!

 

Life This Week. FINAL 28.2.2022.

This is opening 9 hours earlier for me to add my post…I am not awake at 5.a.m. Mondays! 

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a kind thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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NEWS! #LifeThisWeek: Becomes #LifeThisMonth. #LinkUp. 12/2022.

NEWS! #LifeThisWeek: Becomes #LifeThisMonth. #LinkUp. 12/2022.

News from Denyse at Denyse Whelan Blogs.

Since September 2016, I have been hosting a link up each Monday of the year, except the last week of any year, called:

Life This Week.

It became a part of MY life as a blogger for sure as I had no idea that within 8 months of this event, I would be diagnosed with head and neck cancer in May 2017.

My blog, my link up and the community that is OUR community here at Life This Week has meant the world to me…..and then

in

2022

I began

to feel the effects of

doing so much.

Even though I had chosen to reduce my blog output to once a week, I started to feel tired and that I had literally run out of stories but it was more than that, my energy to keep the link up in the way I always intended was waning.

What to do?

I considered a few options.

I even started trimming my blog’s posts so that I could see the end of an era in sight as I have been blogging since 2010 and then I stopped.

I was caught up in a mood from my revelation last week about grief. The post is here.

I was also physically and emotionally still in recovery from doing so much towards the end of the year so I….

  • Gave serious thought to closing the blog.
  • Giving away the link up.
  • STOPPING what had become a regular and valuable routine in my life.

But now I know that the thinking and planning was all for a good reason, because there would be a way of working things out, and with some advice and support from blogging friends

and my husband ( I think he was wondering, what the heck will D do if she doesn’t have blogging….) I let time pass (my great strategy) and decided that:

YES. I did want to continue to blog.

YES. I did want to host a link up.

YES. I did want to self-care too.

YES. A new link up ONCE a month was just right!

Now it’s the FINAL #lifethisweek link up on 28th February 2022….

 

And it’s welcome to Life This Month, where the first post will be on the second Monday (of each month):

14th March.

There will be the same ways to add your post, via my link up.

I will be commenting back at your blog later in the week.

The ‘rules’ for the link up is for you to comment on my post that month, and so on.

The dates for the rest of the year are here:

Life This Week: Becomes Life This Month.

Second Mondays each month.

10 Link Ups for 2022.

14 March 1/10

11 April 2/10

9 May 3/10

13 June 4/10

11 July 5/10

8 August 6/10

12 September 7/10

10 October 8/10

14 November 9/10

12 December 10/10

For your information for the first Monday’s link up and those each month afterwards) this is part of the link up from 14 March.

Welcome to Life This Month.

Denyse Whelan Blogs Is a Community

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post… NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a kind thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

*You are welcome to add my link up’s image to your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Month

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

*This link up opens at 5.00 a.m Australian eastern time on the second Monday of the month, and closes at 5.00 p.m. on the Wednesday of that week.

*I commit to visiting your blog and to  comment on your post.

Denyse Whelan.

 

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share to share my news. Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

Denyse.

 

 

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Being Me: February 2022 Review. #WOTYLinkParty. 11/2022.

Being Me: February 2022 Review. #WOTYLinkParty. 11/2022.

Last month I wrote here and joined in this new linky party.

Back again to this new linky hosted by friends Deb, Sue,  Donna and  Jo too.

 

I am glad to have the chance to write about my Word of The Year progress

….even though mine are two…and despite being little actually are BIG in terms of making changes.

For me, it’s often easier to link my progress and review with photos as they have the memories of the time embedded. It helps me anyway!

Being Me: Health-wise.

  • I admit I held quite a bit of stress and anxiety relating to not being well from late November onwards.
  • I know that ‘it’s me’ and how I am and can BE yet I would like to manage this with greater ease.

THIS got me through really tough times….and now, I have to soften…and go slower…

  • I went to my general practitioners’ rooms a couple of times because I still was not well and wanted reassurance more than anything.
  • That wasn’t quite forthcoming until I got the results of the tests I’d had. One related to ‘my bowels’ and whilst I knew it was most likely I.B.S. it was necessary for a pathology confirmation.
  • That turned out fine.

In fact my main G.P. when I finally saw him after his 3 weeks on holiday was pleased to hear of my better healthy days. Yet still.

I did need to ‘fess up about I.B.S. and my constancy of worry about it after its long absence.

And I surprised myself (and him) when I said

“I think I am going to see any I.B.S. as a barometer of my health. In fact, I now know, that last year, after the virus, I probably continued to try to do too much (again) and back it came”.

I might get some help but in the end I am the one who does what I can…to BE ME

So, from this conversation and into reality I now:

accept

this

as

part

of

me

and

offer

myself

compassion

now

not blame.

 

But, I hear you and me say…”that is HARD and now you are not being hard on yourself but self-compassionate, HOW is it working for you”?

In January 2022 I signed up for a very helpful and much needed program right for me, now, called Self-Compassion App. I found it initially via the App store (iphone) and then when they offered a 20% off subscription after the 3 free days, I took that up.

 

The Self-Compassion App: app icon

The Self-Compassion App

 

I have written about it here but the various reflections, learnings and actions have all contributed to me being:

  • Kind(er) in my self-talk
  • Encouraging when I may be feeling a little anxious
  • Able to see these things (feelings, thoughts) do eventually pass

A human BEING with all the frailties and qualities that make me the ME I am more comfy with these days.

How I Help Myself.

The first time I realised I could choose to do less to be more I couldn’t quite believe it.

As a life-time doing person, helping person, sharing and teaching person, I was not sure that I could until I realised this:

I

Had

Little

Choice

Now

because I was/am keen not to fall back into the behaviours of ‘older’ me but not yet quite as wise me!

After making adjustments for myself and then in discussion with Head and Neck Cancer Australia CEO, I know I can continue my role into my 4th year but in a less active one and with fewer needs to drive and attend meetings. This graphic is from my twitter header.

February is FREE for Me to Plan…or Not! 

So, this is/was new. Very new.

I can plan my own February…..

It took me a bit to give myself permission to enjoy a morning tea out with me. Half the muffin came home for B. I really loved being back ‘people watching’ too.

Change Takes Time:

I have always I guess since I was a kid, been ready to throw myself into whatever the first term of school, whether as student or teacher brought.

In retirement back in Sydney, it often meant, back to grandchild care some days a week, and perhaps school pick ups.

In volunteer land (we have both inhabited that for many years) it meant the gearing up of activities to plan, places to be and work of some kind to do, for others.

Meetings. Face to face or via zoom and writing and helping others.

It often meant, since 2017 appointments for my head and neck cancer checks, surgeries, treatments with the prosthodontist and more.

I gave myself permission to STOP.

I am learning so much about myself from freeing myself too.

I am learning that I am a valuable person to myself and my husband and family.

I am learning that I do not need to DO as much now, to continue my life moving forward and that the last almost 5 years have taken a toll of sorts.

I was always ready to go, to drive, to put up with a lot of time waiting, to recover, to do without eating for ages, to not plan too far ahead, and to keep trusting that my head and neck cancer professional team knew exactly what they were doing…but

I felt a great deal of emotional stress and some physical stress over those years.

I now realise I am was can feel emotionally worn out….but definitely NOT out!

So now I self- nurture.

And I wrote about the unexpected but actual GRIEF that overtook me recently here.

 

And so far, I am loving that I am giving back to me to be me…..Sunday solo excursions listening to an audible book or some fave music. I love these times

And I continue to be grateful and remembering how to BE ME in a different time in my life. I may be ageing (aren’t we all) and into my early 70s but I am also learning to BE which is a challenge I am prepared to take!

Thanks for your interest in my post for Word of The Year.

I look forward to catching up with yours and others soon too.

Denyse.

P.S. For regular readers and those who link up with me on Mondays, come on over this coming Monday, 28th February to catch up on some N E W S.

 

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Grieving For My Body’s Losses from Head & Neck Cancer. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 10/2022.

Grieving For My Body’s Losses from Head & Neck Cancer. 8/51. #LifeThisWeek. 10/2022.

CW: images from my head and neck cancer.

This post talks about my grief and trauma before and following my cancer diagnosis.

There are images that may be confronting.

 

Links and phone contacts are here:

https://www.cancercouncil.com.au/cancer-information/advanced-cancer/grief/seeking-support/

Cancer Council: 13 11 20

https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 46 36

https://www.lifeline.org.au/

Lifeline: 13 11 14

 

Before you read on, which I hope you will,  I am  doing well.

This post, however, has been one I have needed to write, probably for some time but it was not till recently did this need become apparent.

Warm wishes, Denyse.

 

It’s a shock to the system when you are told

we will be removing all of the upper part of your mouth and replacing it with a bone, flesh and skin from your leg“.

And to be honest, it has taken me till recent months in 2021 into 2022 to understand this has been a traumatic experience and that I am, in some ways, managing a post-traumatic event.

So here goes. Blogging and sharing has always helped me.

I hope it can be seen as a way to not only get something said but for me to now divulge what a struggle it is at times to live with the ramifications of my head and neck cancer.

May 2017: following my diagnosis the day before and meeting with the men who would form my team and perform the surgery at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse.

My particular cancer, a verrucous carcinoma was in the upper alveolus. Explained here. And the cancer had spread to upper top lip – see left.

After the 2.5 hours of examination – lighted tube down my nose, examination of all areas where cancer might have spread and of course inside my mouth I received the news of how this cancer would be removed.

And that was too much for my emotional system to bear for then…so B and I had a walk along the short corridor to stand here and for me to take a 1/4 valium, a sip of water and to view this scene…

 

and then come back to hear more about the surgery and the ‘what comes next’. I was asked if I was fit to sign and yes I was. I had no idea of some of the words’ meaning but over time I would.

So about the grief then…..2017 into 2018 and when I got my upper prosthesis.

I actually felt relief as an emotion more because I finally had an answer to what was going on in my mouth for the past year or more. I also began to feel confident that this team of specialists was there to do the right thing by me always. My husband, my biggest supporter, agreed.

I blogged. And in June 2017, I wrote this….adding now, as it helps me recall the downright fear:

When I wrote this post I thought I was managing myself quite well. Since then, I have had some pretty horrid days (and nights) where I have become fearful, panicked, and so vulnerable I wanted to go into a corner and hide and never come out.

I am shitscared right now.

I am worried about losing what I valued: my mouth where I speak, eat, share my emotions and smile. It has been days of crying uncontrollably, being held until I calm down (thank you dear B) and taking some valium (which I don’t really want to) and letting out the fears  in words between the sobs. 

I fear: the loss of ability to use my mouth for at least 7-10 days, have a naso-gastric feeding tube down my throat for those days, having the skin/flesh/bone from my right leg inside my mouth after 3/4 (I did not know then it would be ALL) of my upper jaw/palate as been removed. Dealing with the not being in control.

I am, as I write, unable to really express what it means to be facing this loss of control of my body. I will be in ICU to start and may even have a tracheostomy to start if the mouth is too swollen. This is very scary to me, and I am admitting it now.

For me to admit how vulnerable I feel right now is to say “I cannot do this without help”.

  • I know I did some reflecting.
  • I also know it took me a while to get my paperwork done at home.
  • I also got ‘butterflies’ in my tummy each time I had the thought ‘I have cancer.’
  • I did some blogging about it too. However, I remember thinking “I don’t want to be known as a cancer blogger”.
  • I thought, and it was mostly correct, that I could write about much more than my cancer, and I did but I did not take into account some of the feelings I may have pushed away…because I wanted to look like and sound like I was managing very well indeed. Almost true but not quite. Sigh.

But I was confident, from the ways in which my professional team described their views, that my cancer was likely to be taken away and most probably not return.

I did not know in the early months, and post the big reconstruction surgery in July 2017 that I would face LONG times in recovery in hospital and at home.

Months

Into over a year.

Four surgeries in total.

Countless cancer checks and times at the prosthodontist : all requiring a 2 hour drive there and back. I did all solo from March 2018 and one with B in 2020.

I found I had more resilience and determination than I knew.

I found I had patience but it too wore thin as I was in a pretty constant state of:

hunger

for foods I could not eat…and so I had to become very creative. See posts here.

Counselling and Help For Me.

Before I was diagnosed with head and neck cancer I had been successfully managing my mental health with a wonderful psychologist in 2016 and into 2017. In fact I saw her before my first surgery and she already could tell I had the many tools needed to deal with what was ahead. I saw her some months after my surgery and we both agreed I was going so well. I was, and that continued for some time. In fact I did go back last year to check in with another psychologist and after two sessions she and I agreed, that with my working through my feelings and more, I would be OK. I was and I am. But…further on…see what can happen!

What a Time: Getting my Upper Prosthesis Fitted. August – December 2018.

Such a big day on 21 August 2018 when I left home with no upper teeth and arrived back with them fitted. I was tired but happy even though they felt weird and sore. There were days and weeks spent back and forth to Westmead for physical adjustments.

Of course I was HAPPY. And of course I SMILED a lot. And was complimented over and over.

That is so nice.

It felt like a reward from the many months of hard yards of surgeries and recoveries and very limited eating.

I don’t think I stopped smiling. It was so life-affirming…yet…

my love of smiling and my smile itself drew me many positive comments and I sometimes felt I needed to share that the smile is actually not the whole story…this IS the blog post I needed to write now. 

However, by myself, there were small disappointments.

I thought (and I had been told!) that I could eat like I used to.

However that was not true I had a limited ability to bit and even more so for chewing.

The amount of physical hardware that is in my mouth meant amounts needed changing as did how long it would take me to eat.

Oh yes, I was still having my memories of 69+ years of eating and at times it would be a very disappointed me who could no longer:

  • eat at a dinner table other than my own
  • go out for a meal
  • eat in front of others – excluding my husband and family
  • use food and socialising together
  • go away to spend a night somewhere (we did but it was incredibly challenging to take all I needed with me)
  • take it for granted that I could eat a meal/snack as I imagined.

So this was the beginning of grief.…yearning for what was and had been and could be no longer….

I dealt with it mostly privately and made excuses to people who asked me to events and outings. Coffee and cake of some kind was still OK. Some people were/are very understanding and accommodating but I still did not truly accept what LIFE was for me now until late 2021.

I realised I was unwell and it was an overload of self-expectations and an unrealistic view of what I was now, as a 72 year old, living with the effects of head and neck cancer surgeries could do.

My body told me it was time to stop. Took me a while to listen!

Admission Of How I Was Feeling. Grief and Sadness. 

With so much gratitude for my return of health, following the diagnosis and being able to accept the role of an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia, I did get many opportunities to share the awareness, the stories and more to help others. That sure did appeal to teacher-me. I have been incredibly fortunate to have my cancer removed and doing well. In fact, I guess I even have some survivor guilt. It IS a thing.

I was going well in covid times, as I was able to adapt and work through helping others with head and neck cancer and whilst we could not hold events, I remained a participant where necessary supporting others who have head and neck cancer, and doing what I could to bring my messages of  personal experiences to federal politicians.

Then this year, I became determined to listen more to my body and take better care of my emotional health and I learned that I can say “no thank you”.

It’s been hard.

I am, by nature a people pleaser and an extrovert but I also wore myself out. A post about Being Me is coming soon…and what I have done.

But before I go:

This is the point of what I wanted to say.

  • I am managing my grief now in a better way because I know it is safe to share
  • My times in nature are helpful, as is my reading about grief and cancer, along with my daily meditations

I am also telling more of the truth about what is.

Acceptance of does not mean ” loving” or even “liking” something or situation but when there is no choice..and fighting it makes it worse…then I accept that I have had a traumatic event in my life, and I now share with greater honesty.

And that whilst I have had many, many compliments about my recovery and my smile, it has been a much harder time than even I was prepared to own up to...

till a night this week when tears overwhelmed me as I realised the brutal way in which my body had to be changed…to rid me of a nasty cancer.

This series of images and then the culmination of a graphic goes some way for me to share with the world…my readers and bloggers how it really IS to have had this cancer and the aftermath.

It’s coming up to 5 years in May, since my diagnosis and that is probably playing a part in my looking back and seeing how this has been. I will never discount it as a life trauma now.

I accept it is.

I also know I can admit how hard things are. No longer hiding it.

 

This is the graphic which I made when I was feeling less than understood about how my cancer was affecting me…because it really has been MUCH more than getting a smile back. Much, much more involved.

Life’s traumas are not always obvious until later…somehow we keep going. I did till I stopped.

There are number and links for support listed at the beginning of this post.

I do hope you are OK and that reading this frank account from me has been something that you can see why I needed to share it.

I am doing well.

Thank you,

Denyse.

And I am visiting 98 year old Dad at Dee Why today so will be back to see the post later today and comment as well.

 

 

Life This Week. 21.2.2022.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a kind thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


 

 

 

 

 

 

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