Saturday 8th May 2021

Telling My Story. Chapter Two. 1954-67 Schooling. 2018.26.

Telling My Story. Chapter Two. 1954-67. 2018.26.

 

Photo of Me on my 67th Birthday 30.11.2016.

The day before I was diagnosed with upper gum cancer I published ‘the first’ of a fore-shadowed series of posts about Telling My Story.

The response to the post of 16 May 2017 was well-received and I am glad I made a start. Here it is. I have included, from that post of almost a year ago, the introduction:

Recently I decided to begin Telling My Story.

Initially it was school-career based in a memoir genre. Then I wanted to tell what had happened in my life once I’d reached 60 and what I had learned. Where I am at now it a mix of all of this! I am going to start here: the beginning of my life, and interspersed with my career will be aspects of my life and how I have grown and changed…over and over!

I hope you will find something of interest. I know essentially I am doing this for me as it helps. However, as a blogger, I would like to think it has enough appeal for you to enjoy too.

I admit it was a pretty full-on time from 17th May 2017 and my mind was in quite a few places where blogging took a lesser priority but I knew I wanted to keep on doing this story of my life. I am finally ready to dive deep and remember where I was and what I want to say next!

Fast Forward: 2015 I returned to my old H.S. and presented at my last ever teacher professional meeting. I was retired in full after this!

Primary School Years. 1954-1961.

I began Kindergarten in September 1954, the term of my 5th Birthday. I loved school from day one and as it was in the same street as our house, I soon walked to school independently. I had to do a transition year (common then & in 1956 (the year of the Melbourne Olympics) I was a student in Year One. Mum and Dad asked my teacher if my left-hand writing should be changed and she said no. Thank you! I did well in school – the classes were large and there was some serious competition between me and two others for placement in the year. At the end of 1959 our lives would change. We sold our house in Wollongong and my brother and I started at our new school in Balgowlah Heights and got to know both a new area and new schools. This time there were many more kids in my grade and I settled into somewhere around the midlife. It was a big deal for my parents to move away from friends and family but Dad’s promotion was the prize and we settled into the almost-water side suburb and got on with new friends, sports and so on.  It was in 1960 in Mr Duffy’s 5th class that I knew I would like to be a teacher. I am so grateful too that he encouraged my skills of organisation as I became the head library prefect in Year 6. We had a Year 6 Formal/Dance and I wore my first pair of stockings and small heels. The sophistication! Then I, along with all my HS starting peers for 1962 were being sent headlong into the “new” Wyndham Scheme – Higher School Certificate after 6 years at school!

High School Years. 1962-1967.

I was part of the cohort of N.S.W. students to enter high school in 1962 and become ‘the guinea pigs’ for the introduction of the Wyndham Scheme where it was decided that breaking the high school years up into 2 sections was the best plan. The first was Forms (years) 1 to 4 with an external School Certificate examination and then Forms 5 & 6 with an external Higher School Certificate.

The previous system which had been around for decades had students doing an Intermediate Certificate at the end of 3rd Year (and could leave school for work or a trade) and those who wanted to train, for example, as teachers or go to University went to do the Leaving Certificate at the end of 5th Year.

I was in a public primary school at Balgowlah Heights on the Northern Beaches in Sydney and the ‘feeder’ High School for my area was Manly Girls High School. It was located quite a way from home & not in Manly but a bus took us from a street near home to school and then the same in the afternoon. Manly Girls High was only pretty new too. So, when we arrived, there were students doing the five years and us, the newbies. There were at least 5 classes of 35+ students in this cohort of mine and I was placed in 1A. . This was, apparently, based on ability from primary school testing. In 2nd Form 2A meant I was studying the compulsory English, Maths, Science & History  along with my chosen subjects of French and German. We also had P.E., music lessons too. I admit I was not a swot but enjoyed the social aspect of school. I have written about that before here!

In the photo we are in Winter uniform (tunic, long sleeved shirts, tie, blazer). I am 3rd row, 2nd from left.

The school uniforms were traditional even though we were essentially a new school. The  main colour was brown, with green too. Who picks that, I ask? There were summer and winter uniforms and prefects checked length of uniforms (visually) as we walked into school and also…if our socks were turned down correctly. If we were seen in public (for example, my bus went through Manly and if I needed to go to the dentist or elsewhere, I would get off the bus there) and we had to ensure we had hat and gloves on. Even in Summer. I am not making this up.

 

First Day of High School. Gloves must be in my pocket! Summer Uniform was beige. Hats were made of straw…and flung around on the bus ( oh, not for a while!)

Our headmistress (no principal title for her!) was very English private school in her policies and we even sang British anthems at Assemblies: Jerusalem being one. (mind you I actually still like it!). To officially open the school we had the daughter of the Governor General of Australia do the honours. As in all things with government the official opening came way after the actual opening – I was in my 3rd year of H.S. but then – but we all got our photo taken to mark the occasion.

 

 

With our group being the first  to have two senior years we got the chance to have (and help design) a senior uniform. By now, the old headmistress had been replaced by a more reasonable head…but a deputy head who was dragon-like in her insistence on petty rules also arrived. Sigh. We also had the choices in subjects and could take 6 subjects in Form 5 and then drop one if we wished into the Higher School Certificate Year. I immediately dropped Science! No good at science ever. So my subjects ended up as compulsory: English and Maths, Modern History, French and German.

 

On Being The First Group To Complete Six Years at High School.

Last year it was the 50th anniversary of the first students to complete the 6 years of high school with the Higher School Certificate examination at its end. In the many years since we did it in 1967 there have been changes, such as making English the only mandatory subject and allowing many more ‘mini but specialised’ subjects into the list. The purpose as was foreshadowed by the Wyndham School of the additional year at school was to add maturity and experience in completing more complex subjects to enable most of those sitting the H.S.C. to go to University or, as in my case, Teachers’ College as they were known then.

The formal end of compulsory schooling was via the external examination called the School Certificate. It was rigorous and we sat for it in a similar way to the H.S.C. After this examination was passed (or not) students could decide to:

  • by passing, they could continue their education into the last 2 years of school at senior level
  • by passing, they could choose to leave and enter into the workforce or get a traineeship or apprenticeship and many did
  • by failing (awful word) repeat the year OR if they were 15 and over, could leave school without the qualification and enter the workforce.

There was nothing like the services of centrelink or similar. In fact, it was true that most people did get work or trained for a career. Some professions like nursing took entrants in with a School Certificate (or the H.S.C.) and they did hospital-based training as well as work in the hospitals. They were paid as they did so. They often lived-in and would have to pay board etc.

For those wanting to attend University in the time of my school leaving, there were paid Commonwealth Scholarships for University for those who wanted to do a degree (say B.A. or B.Sc) and then a Dip. Ed. to become a High School Teacher. These scholarships, earned via the quality of the final examination results,  indentured the student to work in a particular place/area of Australia for an agreed time. For me, as a new-to-be teacher in a N.S.W. Public School I secured a teachers’ scholarship which paid me an allowance to study and as I was living at home I did not need board and food allowances as my husband did when he went to teachers’ college away from home. We were both ‘bonded’ to the N.S.W. Department of Education for the first 3 years of our teaching and could be sent anywhere in N.S.W. or forfeit the bond and not have work from this employer. Neither of us did that..and if we had, we never would have met! That’s a whole chapter in the future!

This is actually still a provision of accepting a role of permanence in N.S.W. Department of Education : whilst in our employ you can and may be instructed to teach anywhere in N.S.W. When I was teaching Masters of Teaching students in 2013 and 2014 I told them of this and many were in disbelief. Unfortunately there is much less of the pioneer spirit had by those of us who graduated in the 1950s and 1960s which is a shame as there is so much to learn by moving away from your home and comfort zone.

The Social Aspects of My Teens 1962-1967. This will be the next chapter!!

What was high school like for you?

What kind of uniform did you have?

Did you go to High School to learn or to play?

I will be looking forward to reading your responses!

Denyse.

 

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Out My Window I See. #LifeThisWeek 12/52. 2018.25.

Out My Window I See. #LifeThisWeek 12/52. 2018.25.

I have struggled with this title.

I wanted to make it short and pithy but to do so, I omitted of.

Grammar nerds, do you forgive me?

So, out OF my window I see……

Not much but for me, it is plenty to see.

This is the view from the window in a bedroom of the house we are renting.

It has a double bunk set on one wall for the rare occasions we have anyone sleepover.

The rest of the room is devoted to my creative pursuits: writing, journalling, art and crafts of many kinds.

It is when I am seated at the large desk with hutch (that’s the containers of brushes etc in the shadow) that I look out here on:

  • the covered verandah of this house
  • our outdoor setting which gets used rarely now
  • the flags of ‘buddhism’ sayings that hang under the umbrella of the outdoor setting
  • a fish windsock/mobile
  • some chimes (one is bound as it is very noisy!)
  • rainbow mobiles hung from the umbrella
  • an outdoor clock
  • a hanging mobile on the clock
  • the house next door – which is fortress-like* and we only see the man who owns it occasionally as he works for a security company*.
  • some trees from houses nearby
  • some little parts of the sky

I have used this space since we moved here in November 2015 and it has seen some sad times for me. I have used this place as a space to listen to CDs to help me through very challenging times and to meditate too. I have used it to make crafty items along with visiting grandkids when they come on rare occasions. I also use it every day for a creative activity such as painting, mandala-creating and journalling. It is a great room as I have access within arm’s reach from my office chair to all the materials I need.

However, on many occasions I like to just view the outside and think and remember.

The outdoor setting was at our house at Glenwood and was used every day for creative play when we cared for our younger grandkids and it was also the space around which the family sat for barbecues and parties for birthdays too.

The outdoor clock was on the fence at Glenwood and the grandkids loved it. The hanging mobile is a car carrying a surf-board I bought for my grandson (his sisters had fairy ones!).

The buddhism flags are there for me to look at and remember what is important and for them to just ‘fly’ is lovely.

The windsock fish was bought by me at a toy store after a significant breakthrough in my sessions with the psychologist in 2015.

There it is.

Out OF my window!

What do you see out of YOUR or any other window?

Tell me in the comments!

Cheers,

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia here as it’s her Monday linky called Open Slather.

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 is the optional prompt’: 13/52.  “Story of My First Name.” 26.3.18.


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Eating After My Gum Cancer Surgery. Part Two. 2018.24.

Eating After My Gum Cancer Surgery. Part Two. 2018.24.

Now where was I?

Oh yes, about my eating after cancer surgery. Part One is here.

Let me tell you this eating with only 8 teeth on the lower jaw and one tongue has called for:

  • imagination – what might that food feel like in my mouth and will it be able to break down to enable swallowing
  • care of my mouth. Yes, this mouth needs even more oral care now. So it is brushing of my teeth and rinsing with a particular mouth wash after morning and evening meals
  • shopping lists for foods I had not previously considered eating but do because of nourishment and ease of eating
  • trying to remain creative with meal choices for me while I am very restricted. It is hard and I do get frustrated but I try to remember it is not forever
  • nothing that is pre-made or take-away (boo to having to make everything from scratch) unless it is a plain cake, a scone or yoghurt.

My mouth: at least the lips seal but it remains a challenge to get any drink into it. I use a ‘squirt’ water bottle and when having a cuppa – tea of coffee – I have a serviette under my mouth. Messy Me.

As the initial months changed from me being dependent on my husband for meal-prep and shopping to me doing this for myself it did give me freer rein for creativity and independence but in some ways in was harder. My husband eats very simply but from a different meal-base to me (and it has been like that even before my cancer) so there have been few shared meals….except for that one time, before I had surgery #2 and he made a Baked Lamb Dinner…which was so soft and delicious and easy-t0-swallow the memories are fresh!

MEALS & SNACKS.

BREAKFAST.

Once I learned that tiny slivers of toast do not equate with a satisfying breakfast, this long-time cereal avoider embraced weetbix and I am a two weetbix, sugar and milk girl every day.

MORNING TEA.

This is mostly Morning Coffee as I go out each morning around 10.30-11 for my daily outing. See more about that here. More often than not it is just a coffee but on some occasions I can add a treat. It takes me a long time to eat some of these and I often bring part of it home.

LUNCH.

If I have had a snack as above I will not have anything for lunch…because I will still be full and I cannot find the energy to try to decide what I will take ages to make and then ages to eat. It is true! However, I know the value of nutrition and need to give myself more credit for knowing actually what to select and eat it. The last few weeks I have found it harder as I have a 3rd surgery which has left me in some discomfort and even less room inside the mouth as a stent is in there where the implants will eventually go.

On the way home from Sydney when I saw the Professor recently my husband ate the cheese sandwich we took for him and I had a little kids’ yoghurt with the squirty-top.

AFTERNOON TEA.
Depending on how much I have eaten at lunch, this may not be anything or it might be a cup of tea with biscuits that can be dunked. Yes. Only those. I have tried a few but only these work for me: Malt biscuits, Scotch Fingers, Orange Creams. Even gave Tim Tams a go but the biscuit part was too hard for my mouth.

DINNER.

I have always cooked in bulk for me and for my Dad. I often made spag bol variations and beef casseroles and chicken ones too. However, I am someone who craves variety and I was O.V.E.R. anything with chicken once all of the chicken soup with vegies were done and even those with added noodles. I had low iron after surgery so determined to eat myself better (along with the iron tablets) I used red meat meals.

I made and still have in the freezer in small meal sizes for me: Beef Casserole and Veggies  along with smoothly blended mash potato & sweet potato frozen in small meal sizes to add on top. Spaghetti Bolognaise and Pasta Bake. For a change of taste, some Salmon. Cheese and Rice meals which are a comfort meal I invented ages ago. I have also cooked chicken mince with sweet and sour sauce to add to rice.

OTHER SNACKS AND TREATS A.K.A. BEATING THE BOREDOM.

Firstly what you need to know:

I cannot bite anything.

I cannot, at the moment, completely seal my lips.

I cannot use a straw because of how my mouth has been changed.

I can put very small bite-sized pieces of suitable food into my mouth, allow them to move against my lower teeth along with some encouragement from the tongue and then when I believed they are small enough and soft enough I swallow.

I have not choked (yet) but I will always have water bottle next to me when I eat.

I use a teaspoon for eating my meals & some snacks unless it is bite-sized as above and I can use my hands.

The softer and wetter a food is, the easier it will go down.

 

PUTTING IT INTO PERSPECTIVE.

I miss the many textures and tastes of so many foods  but I am also grateful to be able to eat after this surgery as not all of those having surgery like mine get to do that. Some have to eat permanently through their stomach or via a feeding tube. I do try to keep my whingeing to a minimum as a result.

I am so very grateful to the team who has brought me to this point. From Friday 23 February my trips to Sydney will be to Westmead Oral Restorative Services where my upper jaw implants are being planned. Currently the most recent surgery saw a large stent/mouthguard put over the area where the implants will go and it has made my mouth quite painful. Eating has been even harder.

I am over 9 months into my cancer journey and am hopeful that all that needs to be done will have occurred by the time May comes…my first year anniversary. We shall see! Meanwhile, I will be doing some more ‘out for coffee’ visits and eating as safely and nutritiously as I can.

Sunday Night Dinner: my invention…taco in a bowl!

And me on Sunday 18 February. Check out my top lip! My mouth above is swollen because of recent surgery to add more skin to my top lip (thank you) and added in there is the stent pushing the top jaw forward. Uncomfy, yes. Worth it. Hell Yes.

I hope that you have found reading both parts of my story of Eating After Gum Cancer Surgery of interest. My operations took place here at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and the Team headed by Professor Jonathan Clark performed all three of my surgeries. I follow Head and Neck Cancer Support Australia on Facebook and Beyond Five

On Friday 23 February I visited Westmead Oral Health Services and the two men who are part of my surgical team as well, determined that I could do without the stent for the next 4 weeks and so this was good news. My photo updating the one above is here:

UPDATE: 

Unfortunately my relief was short-lived as when my surgeon saw the pictures of my gums on Monday 26 Feb he wanted the stent returned on my  visit on Thursday 1 March. At the time of publishing this post I will be two days away from having the uncomfortable hard plastic stent removed and first impressions made…..which mean teeth will take months from then but my prosthodontist says “we have to get it perfect, Denyse.” Sigh.

Denyse.

Linking with Kylie Purtell for I Blog on Tuesdays here, with Leanne here for Lovin’ Life Link up for Thursday’s Lovin Life Linky  and on Wednesday, with Sue here for her link up.

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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!

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


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Everyone IS Creative. 2018.22.

Everyone IS Creative. 2018.22.

Recently I heard Brene Brown say on the CD of her latest book Braving The Wilderness two things that stuck with me about creativity.

One: she was THAT kid told by her teacher that she couldn’t do art. Her art sucked. As a result, Brene never ever tried again. Until this:

Two: her findings were that the best way to embed the learning in her courses was to integrate them with creativity.

Mind.Blown.

I have taken some of her on-line courses over the past two years and each has a component of journal writing, decorating a page of photos, adding some pictures that inspire and so on. In other words, the head learning becomes embedded with the heart learning.

Source: Brene Brown

My Back Story.

I cannot recall doing anything creative at home like drawing or colouring but I recall coveting the brand new Textas (so colourful) around the time I was in Year 6. I loved the geometry lessons which taught me how to make a flower with a set of compasses. That learning comes back to me every time I make a mandala. I went to High School and would have loved to do Art as a subject but I was advised to follow an academic pathway. Never mind. I had fun decorating diaries, school books bags and so on. I could not draw well but I loved patterns. Still do.

My mum was a colourful and stylish dresser and I am pretty sure I learned that from my observations and my innate creativity. Mum was not educated past age 15 but she was a wizz at cooking and baking. Loads of people were delighted to receive her goodies. I saw creativity in the way my parents’ made their gardens and how Mum arranged flowers.

Into my teaching years, particularly with the children under 8, I loved creating colourful and stimulating classroom environments with my ideas and their art. I found teaching in a space like that was great. However, over the years, I learned that some children do not need a lot of visual stimulation to act out so I amended how I did this.

Over The Years.

Teaching probably kept me as creative as I needed to be until it was time to have a break. I was non-teaching for over 20 years so I went to scrapbooking classes, learned how to make Christmas decorations and went to a term of learning how to observe doing drawing with pencil. I did buy a lot of products over the years and my grandchildren who came to us for care each week got their share of use with my paints, paper, scissors, playdoh and so on.

It actually surprised me not long ago to find that after my visual preference as a learner comes kinaesthetic so I guess I got a lot of that with the cutting, placing and pasting I was doing.

Of course, I also cooked and decorated cakes with icing (still do!) but it really wasn’t until I was permanently retired that I saw that my creativity extended to art-type activities, photography, blogging and making memory books. Then as my outer world shrank as I no longer worked nor cared for our grandchildren something needed to happen.

I needed more. I needed something. As it turned out, I needed to make, to practise, to try and to have some fun.

Every.Single.Day.

Some famous people said this about creativity:

I asked my friends on Facebook about creativity and was delighted that not one person who responded said “I am not creative…” well, a few may have said “I don’t see myself as creative but I do….”

Here’s the list from those people.

  • Blogging
  • Creative writing
  • Graphic Design
  • Playing a musical instrument
  • Doing colouring-in and dot to dots for adults
  • Making my garden
  • Dressing each day and adding accessories to suit
  • Sewing
  • Cooking and Baking
  • Scrapbooking
  • Photography
  • Making Photobooks
  • Journalling
  • Art
  • Drawing
  • Ceramics
  • Planning Family Outings and Events
  • Making costumes for dancers
  • Creating websites
  • Talking on radio
  • Dancing
  • Making Slime
  • Card Making
  • Singing
  • what about you?
  • what are your creative pursuits?
  • there are more than I have here I am sure! 

 

Thank you all who contributed. Here’s a few pics of my versions of creativity.

So, how are you creative?

And  sorry but “I am not creative” is NOT a reasonable answer!!

Thanks for joining in.

Denyse.

 

Taking part in Tuesday’s Link of the Day called: I Blog on Tuesdays with Kylie Purtell here.

And on Wednesdays I link with Sue and Leanne here for Midlife Share The Love Party.

Then comes Thursday: Thanks to Leanne we have a beaut linky called Lovin’ Life here.

 

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Share Your Snaps. 2. 10/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.21.

Share Your Snaps. 2. 10/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.21.

Saying goodbye to February was easy for me. It is not a favourite month as I wrote here but I also know for many of my readers it is one they love.

Summing up February in photos for Share Your Snaps is here:

 

That’s my lot: Sharing My Snaps. Of course I had a bajillion more but this was plenty!

I look forward to seeing your snaps too.

This photo-prompt is every 5 weeks here on #lifethisweek.

Thanks for joining me here this week!

Denyse.

Joining Alicia here for Open Slather on Mondays.

Life This Week:

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 is the optional prompt’: 11/52.  “My Last Meal Was.” 12/3/18.


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My Cancer Surgery #3. 2018.20.

My Cancer Surgery #3. 2018.20.

Since the diagnosis of cancer in my upper front gums and partially on the inside lip on the right hand side in May 2017 I have had three surgeries. The first, on Thursday 6th July 2017  has been written about in detail and in 3 parts…because it WAS huge!

Here are the links: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

And over 4 months passed as a lot of healing needed to happen in my recovery at home. My leg was cared for by the Community Nurse who visited for 8 weeks over a few days each time, and my mouth, well it had to heal over time. Before the next surgery there were visits back to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and to Westmead.

Then I had the second surgery. It was at relatively short notice and was for Day Only stay. So different to last time. But do read the post if you have not because it was a hard start to MY day with my husband driving me down on the same day.

Moving right along now to Cancer Surgery #3.

Again there was a long gap from the previous surgery to this one, but in this case let’s “blame” end of year and January …and that is fair enough because everyone needs a break. And my surgeon sure did! As did the team. But before this surgery and for some weeks in December and January we did not lose touch because as the ‘flap’ inside my mouth healed it was a bit unruly and decided to do things its way so we (ok, my husband) had to take regular photos INSIDE my mouth and send them to Professor Clark. And ‘things were OK’ he said so I managed to take my worry hat off.

I had better understanding of what would happen in Surgery #3 and as my husband agreed with my wish to drive down the night before it was a smooth start the next morning at 6.30 a.m. on an early February Sydney day to walk to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse to present me to pre-admission.

The pre-admission room and beds were full! 7th February was a popular day. This time my husband left me to go back to the apartment where we stayed overnight when I went to theatre. No waiting in the anaesthetic bay for an hour this time…I was ‘first’. Yay. Chatted to the same anesthetist from last surgery, also to my oral restorative dentist and once wheeled in and shuffled onto the bed, chatted oh so briefly to my surgeon.

Back in my waiting space within 2 hours….dressed in an hour…and we were on our way home (2 hours away) arriving there some 5 hours after I started surgery. There was ONE big surprise. How I looked!!

The ‘look’ was the foam squares (they were holding a stitch each) to add some movement but also stability to the stitches that were making MY NEW upper lip…from the skin graft from surgery #2 that was taken from my right thigh. I know, my body is a GIVER!!

The other part of the surgery was to add some ‘abutments’ – screws – to the gum/jaw area to allow for the skin there to keep healing BUT to add a cover – like a mouthguard called a stent – to protect this area.

Oh my goodness. That did fill up my mouth let me tell you, and make eating (and drinking coffee!) particularly challenging. In fact, I literally dipped my foam into a cup without realising (Initially I thought it was blood but it had a coffee aroma!) so I had to be very careful.

The foam – with stitches in –  also prevented me from washing my face and hair so my dear hub learned how to help do their hair wash over the laundry sink with me holding a washer to my face.

It was only a week of being like this as when we returned to Sydney for the check-up the stitches were removed AND the area in my mouth indicated that it was time for a visit to the Oral Restorative Surgeon to start planning the implanted teeth program.

Foam Blocks gone. Mouth very swollen due to stent and surgery.

Update #1.

On Friday 23 February we drove to Westmead to have the stent looked at and the condition of the gums. I was a little nervous as my mouth was stinky (food particles under the stent) and my oral restorative dentist had a broken hand and his colleague (who had attended each of my surgeries) would be undoing the stent and examining the gum with my regular person viewing and commenting.

Firstly, the precision with which the stent had been drilled into the current abutments was spot on and as each was loosened the stent eventually yielded and that stinky thing was GONE. The nurse and the specialist dentist did an amazing job of cleaning the area and as they always do for my visits, photos of the inside of my mouth were taken.

The BEST news was that the gums growing around the 5 abutments are doing as expected and there was now no need to put the stent back on. Phew. Phew. Phew. But now what? Well, I have my gums and abutments on display and have been given all the care instructions I need.

I will be returning to Westmead in 4 weeks to have a temporary prosthesis put in if all is well. 

I hesitated about publishing the photo of my mouth but then I wanted to explain it more:

The little silver things are the abutments with caps on – there are 5 – and they started off being attached to the fibula bone from my leg which was cut and made to fit my mouth*. I have only 5 abutments when they were hoping for 6 but my fibula bone was too narrow in one spot and broke. The redness is OK and the area above the ‘jaw’/gumline is the ‘flap’ which has been harvested from my right leg *and has been cut, stiched and used for different purposes such as burying a skin graft** to make my ‘new lip’ .

Update #2.

Whilst my dental team thought my gums were going well it was when they shared the photos from Friday with my surgeon, Professor Clark,  he saw some small issues with the gums that he thought will benefit from at least another week with the stent in. So….back to Westmead this Thursday for that. I understand the need to make things right and trust my team implicitly!

* part of surgery #1 ** part of surgery #2.

This will be the second last of Cancer posts for a while. I appreciate that there is support for me as I go through this but I also want to update readers too. However, the remaining post, Part Two of Eating after Gum Cancer Surgery will be published in two weeks. Unless there are good reasons for updates, there will be a cessation for a while. Thank you for your interest.

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie Purtell here on Tuesday for I Blog On Tuesday.
Joining here with Leanne for her Lovin Life Linky on Thursdays.
And I will also join with Sue and Leanne here for their Wednesday Link Up.
Thank you all for hosting!

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Taking Stock 1. 9/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.19.

Taking Stock 1. 9/52. #LifeThisWeek. 2018.19.

This week, and every 9th week for 2018, has the optional prompt: Taking Stock. Giving credit where it is due to Pip Lincoln here.

I had a quick look to see back how many of these posts I have done in recent years and it comes to six. I am not looking at previous content until I finish. And even then I may not. Life moves on for us doesn’t it? So, on a Saturday afternoon in late Summer in February 2018 here is my Taking Stock.

Making:  great progress in my recovery from cancer surgeries x 3 over 8 months.

Cooking: chocolate cupcakes this week for my husband’s 69th birthday on Tuesday. Side note: this means his last b’day in the 60s. OH.

Drinking: a cup of coffee made by a barista in one of the coffee shops I visit in the area. Sometimes it’s a piccolo latte, other times a latte with double shot. Got to have my hit!

Reading: the Sydney Morning Herald every day. I even had a letter published recently. Go me.

Wanting: not much other than for me and my husband to remain as healthy as we can* see note about about birthdays!!

Looking: at rental houses which have ducted air as our lease is week by week from now but we still have till August to move out.

Playing: a four dots connecting game on the Ipad thanks to a bloggy friend’s recommendation.

Wasting: not much these days at all. Time nor real items.

Sewing: hah! You joke with this prompt! Oh maybe I could praise the excellent needlework of the surgeons for #surgery 3.

Wishing: that I had found the courage to explore more about what the white spot in the gum was even though it was tested and found to be candida in 2015. But hindsight, it is a wonderful thing.

Enjoying: time with my husband as we have both settled into a gentle routine of retirement and it is most pleasant.

Waiting: for a few weeks to pass and then I will be back at Westmead Oral Health for a temporary prosthesis (teeth) in my top gums.

Liking: warm weather but an overnight shower or two is always welcomed.

Wondering: who will be brave enough to finally end the Gun Lobby in U.S.A.

Loving: the updates on Instgram by my friends with little kids. It reminds me so much of the fun we had with our grandchildren back then.

Hoping: a blogging friend going through a serious medical/surgical procedure soon for her Crohns Disease comes through with flying colours.

Marvelling: still…at how the surgeons made my upper mouth from my leg.

Needing: maybe some cooler weather clothes when I am off my #febfast of spending on clothing.

Smelling: aroma of frangipani as soon as I open to back verandah door.

Wearing: a different outfit Every.Single.Day for Outfit of the Day pics on Instagram and loving the challenge of it. Now been going for over 120 days without a repeated outfit.

Following: I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here…via IQ so I can fast forward the messy eating bits but I do like the people (except David Oldfield)

Noticing: that I have a steady mood almost every day and that if I go a bit down, I can pull myself back up with no problem.

Knowing: that it is normal for people to have a range of emotions and I am not alone.

Thinking: that maybe Barnaby Joyce could be a lonely man and father to 5 because the current partner will eventually leave him – based on various media reports about the why they got together.

Feeling: very fortunate to be in the best surgical hands for head and neck cancer with my team led by Professor Jonathan Clark.

Bookmarking: some facebook quotes and articles

Opening: my mouth a lot to…talk, eat, drink and to show the doctors and dentists!

Giggling: at some of the random videos which pop up on facebook. It can be quite the rabbit hole!

Feeling: content.

Do you take stock regularly?

Thanks for reading this blog and commenting too. It’s the comments that make a community!

Denyse.

Joining with Alicia on Mondays for her link up Open Slather.

Life This Week 9/52.

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 is the optional prompt’: 10/52.  “SHARE YOUR SNAPS” 5/3/18.


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