Tuesday 17th May 2022

I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery #1. Part Two. 2017.94.

I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery #1. Part Two. 2017.94.

Two weeks ago I wrote “I Am Grateful Today. Cancer Surgery #1 Part One. Here is the link as it is the ‘back story’ to this post.

Where did those two weeks go? I did say I would write Part Two last week for I Blog on Tuesdays and Loving’ Linky on Thursday but a hiccup called anti-biotic reaction in my gut  s l o w e d  me down!  Add to that a  ‘foggy post-anaesthetic’ brain and needing to rest more, time got away!

Here I go, outlining some of the features I was grateful for during my stay on Level 9 North Room 16 at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. I arrived on the ward late Sunday afternoon from ICU and the delight at seeing the V.I.E.W. from my bed made the wait worth it!

I was in my private  room from Sunday 9 July until Saturday 15 July – day of discharge.

Warning: I have added a few photos of myself as I was recovering. In some ways this was very helpful for me to see progress. Scroll on by if you would prefer not to look. 

The arrival in a room of my own brought me some independence even though I still needed some initial assistance to get up for the ‘loo. I was grateful, oh so grateful for my relative independence.

I was still on nil by mouth – liquid food via a naso-gastric tube  ( I tolerated it and guess I was grateful because the nutrition, along with the drip feed of fluid was keeping me alive (LOL) …just disliked the feeling on the fluid  tube feed inside me. 

I stayed in a hospital gown because..I was messy…no details but a fair bit of me in the head/neck area was cut into and then stitched back so there were… messy fluids. I was grateful for a warm quick wash in bed and a change of gown daily. It also meant my nice Sussan nighties stayed in the bag until later in the week.

I have mentioned elsewhere that I had some amazing nurses caring for me and I struck up conversations with them all. Often my chats were to ask them about their career choice and how they liked their working lives, and with only one exception all agreed (from young ones to older ones) that this is a vocation for them. I am incredibly grateful to those who choose nursing and who remain dedicated to it as I saw first-hand how rushed off their feet they could be. I often said to them “I hope you have had a meal and a bit of a break today/tonight”.

The night nurse I had 4 nights in a row who clicked with me was Roan and I know I featured him in a post recently  about how we shared a passion for  photography. He was the one who invited me to get up and onto the balcony for sunrise pics. I am so grateful for his genuine care.

As the week progressed I was grateful to see some of the surgeons’ team arrive each day to check on me (and the flap inside my mouth to see it was still ‘lub dubbing’. I was ALWAYS grateful to hear that sound from the doppler! 

I had excellent care from three allied professionals and I am oh so grateful for their advice and help.: the physio who got me into my boot and walking with some trepidation but I eventually could walk unaided. The speech therapist whose job it was on Day 6 post surgery to see if I could speak well (derrr. who was ever going to stop me!) and to drink my first glass of water…as sips! It was GOOD. So grateful for that drink for sure. The dietitian had lots of advice and seemed well-versed in IBS issues and I was grateful for my first day of clear fluids on the 7th day post surgery. But I never wanted to try the soup again after the third time! I tolerated the jelly and the apple juice well. On the last day in hospital I was on smooth soft foods but there was little for me to choose from (that I liked!) but I was grateful to have some mashed potato and some baked tomato – which I had to smash up for it to ‘go down.

Each day brought me something to be grateful for. I was told by every medical professional just how amazingly well I was progressing. I had no measure for this but they obviously did and when I asked the Professor quite cheekily did he think I could go home on the weekend (I hoped Saturday) he said words to the effect ” keeping on going the way you are and I see no reason why not”. How grateful I was that I would be discharged in the minimum time (I was told initially 10-14 days and I went home on day 10!) And check me out with NO more tubes down the nose or up the nose..oh so grateful for that day! 

The person I am also incredibly grateful to is the anaesthetist who put drips and cannulas in 3 different places ( he said to ensure that if one stopped working in the marathon 11 hour surgery, he has a spare to use!). I might bruise easily, and now 3 weeks post-surgery my bruises have gone. They did not hurt me much. I was grateful for relatively little pain in the mouth and just a bit from the leg’s various sites where flesh and bone were harvested. From day two I only ever needed panadol – drip version first, then  liquid version as swallowing too challenging with the swelling inside my mouth.

There are many quiet and lonely times in hospital once evening comes and I was so grateful for my iphone for messages, texts and emails (as well as IG, twitter and FB) and my new Ipad for games, music and more. I also took my art things but the one I did enjoy the most was making mandalas each evening. The meditative effect for me was so for helpful in mitigating missing my husband and home.

I was grateful for the kindness of friends who understood my request for no visitors other than my husband and my daughter. Our son could not make it in. I had many, many well-wishes and some surprises dropped into my room for me. I did feel grateful for this. It is a distraction and a way in which to reinforce how we need to connect with our fellow humans!


On Saturday 15 July, after the minor (which led to some not great complications for my gut later at home) infection  was noted in an area of my leg & treated,  my husband arrived…I was already dressed (keen much?) then he had to pack up the bag and more. It was done with ease and I was grateful to leave my room of shelter, health recovery and protection  to be put in a wheelchair and taken to our car.

I am grateful if you have read to the end. It was interesting trying to recall events chronologically and without the photos to help me I would have struggled. This weekend ( as I write) I am feeling less and less foggy-brained and the gut is settling from the nasty antibiotics.

Have you ever had major surgery?

How was your recovery?

What were you grateful for?


3 weeks post-surgery. On our way home from post-op check up.


Joining Kylie Purtell for I Blog on Tuesdays here and Leanne at Deep Fried Fruit for Loving’ Life here on Thursday.




  1. Gosh, what a journey to today. I’m slightly squeamish and I’ve always hated having a drip in my hand or arm, so I’m in awe of you coping with the feeding tube for that amount of time. Your nurses sounded like top notch, lovely people as well.

    • Thanks Kat and people like you have been ‘with me’ from Day One and it helps let me tell you. I must admit I always felt like the feeding tube contents were going to rise up in my throat (I am a total vomit-phobe) and that’s what it felt like..but it never did. So, by the end I used to say to myself, ‘Ok it will last for about a minute and it’s keeping you nourished so get on with it. It was a great day when they pulled the tube out even though it was a bit creepy. I close my eyes and do deep breathing and tell them to say “it’s over”. I did that for my stitches and staples removal too.

  2. Not major thankfully, but you know my saga has been ongoing! Thankfully after yesterday it should all be over. Like over, over! I still think it’s amazing how you got to go home after only 10 days and even more amazing that you only needed panadol! I spent a week on endone just to be able to eat.

    • Thanks Vanessa, yes we have been on a tandem track of convos with your surgery first then mine. However, I am not a believer in comparisons. I didn’t need the pain meds so didn’t have them. However, I did need valium at night, some immodium and some anti-nausea and I always had them to help me sleep with no worries about anything that might have affected me.

  3. When I had my weight loss surgery last year (which is apparently consider major surgery, though… kinda self-inflicted so….) I really wish I hadn’t talked my mother out of coming to the Sunshine Coast (where I was). She was having trouble with her eyes and I worried about her on the road driving to see me at hospital each day, but in reality I felt really alone in there. My bro and SIL called in on the day after surgery, but – particularly when they released me earlier than I’d liked – it would have been nice to have someone there saying…. “She’s still on a drip, how can she go home?!”

    Anyhoo, that’s all a lifetime ago.

    I suspect you’ll be feeling up and down for a while and make sure you’re easy on yourself about that. Major surgery is traumatic on the body and mind and emotions. Don’t underestimate the mindf*ck it can be. (As an aside, after a few bad weeks I’m finally seeking help myself for the emotional / mind stuff.) xx

    • I remember knowing you were having surgery but did not know the reason nor the circumstances until you outlined more. Yes, we can be a bit too ‘independent’ at times I know and for me, I always said ‘just my hub and kids’ to visit because I knew how much it would take from me to converse. Once I could go on my phone it felt less lonely and being there on the ward for 6 nights meant I got to know quite a few of the nurses and could have convos. I remember when you wrote about coming home and it seemed like you were nowhere near ready. Your surgery was for your health and I would never say it was less than major. Take care of you..as I am of me! Denyse xx

  4. I’m pleased your road to recovery has been smooth and I hope it continues to be so. There’s no better feeling in hospital than being in a clean “real” nightie and being tube free, apart from of course, the feeling of going home! I think the ups and downs are all to be expected, it’s all part of the rollercoaster xx

    • Yes, I am actually feeling a lot like my old (still anxious) self as IBS has decided to remind me of my emotional health. However, I have had a few little weeps and can recover well. B and I are working together on what D can eat and I do the best I can with the knowledge I have about ME rather than the dietitian who was starting to bug me. I am taking everything in my stride without being a hero. I am bathed/showered/washed with B’s help and in bed by 7 and that is bliss!

  5. My Dear Denyse, Travelling with you on your medical journey is amazing. Thank you for sharing this time in your life with not only me but so many wonderful family & friends. I have not stopped for you several times through the day in fact and to see how God has been watcing over you with a fantastic medical team is a real blessing. Modern technology has its benefits and of course to see how you are able to inform us all of your journey, even through hazy/medication days, you still are a truly educated lady. May each day bring strength and healing in every way. God bless.❤️xo

    • Dear Di, your words and loving messages always give me a bright spot in each day and to feel so loved and cared for is a blessing. Many thanks to you and your prayers. Denyse xx

  6. I just think you are amazing Denyse. Your strength is shinning through! Recovery is such a bumpy road, and you are taking it all in your stride. Excited to see you continue to recover well. xx

    • Oh thank you Nicole. I am noticing some of my old less-confident me return along with my IBS so I am going back to some of meditations and art and they help ground me. I have the best partner in the world who comforts me when needed and tells me how proud he is of me too. I am blessed for sure! D x

  7. And what a lovely photo to finish with! Denyse you have done so, so well. I am in awe. Good on you for looking for the positives and the things to be grateful for. You truly are an amazing woman.

    • Thanks so much Renee. Initially I was a bit taken aback when my hub decided to take pics of me each time he visited but now I know they give me a stepping stone in pics to recall how far I have come. That selfie of me in red was a one-time one as hub was waiting in the car after I’d been to the loo! Really pleased how it came out too! D x

  8. So many things to be grateful for, and a hugely stressful time that even though it was hard you still kept positive. You are amazing D. xxx

    • I am having a bit of a down-time these past few days K, as the enormity of what I have been through has taken its toll. My dreaded IBS is back and this always pulls me down. So, I am, as always hoping for better days ahead. Love to you my friend. D xx

  9. I’m so glad that you are at home and recovering well. I hope that when I next need surgery I manage to have your attitude of positivity and gratitude. I honestly believe that attitude aids recovery and healing too.


    • Thank you Ingrid. I think by the time I got to my surgery date (it had been up in the air for some weeks until 2 days before!) I was ‘glad’ the cancer would be gone and I could ‘move’ on but of course it is a slow moving on but it was the start. I was very well in hospital as everyone kept telling me but for me, sheer relief probably played a part and then knowing the physical side was going well I was so happy to get an almost ‘early mark’ from the hospital. Still, I was at our GPs at least 4 times in the first two weeks home because of questions about how things were going like the eating regime and my IBS so I needed (and still do somewhat) a lot of reassurance. Given the nature of the surgery and how my mouth is now…and my leg is recovering from providing me with ‘my new upper mouth’ I still need that confirmation and all was well when I saw the surgeon last week too.

  10. I love that last photo of you Denyse. It’s so victorious – it’s like (excuse the language) F*&! You Cancer!! Nothing is going to beat me! You are amazing Denyse. I know you have your down times and anxious times but you are incredibly strong, brave and inspiring. I very much doubt I could be as strong and positive as you when faced with what you have faced. I have had recent major surgery and am still recovering but it was not as confronting as what you have faced. I wish you continued strength, a speedy recovery and happy days ahead! xo #TeamLovinLife

    • Min, do not compare yourself to me ( or anyone else) as far as surgery or anything like an illness goes. I believe we each bring our own personalities and body fitness (I don’t mean running type) to surgery. Whilst I was scared I was very confident in my surgical team and the associate professor wrote full & helpful responses back to me in two emails to allay some of my fears and it really helped. I was told by the team that I was a fit and relatively young (67) person to be having this surgery and that is why they were confident in my full and good recovery. Still, I think even they were surprised (as was I) that is was so. One thing that may have aided me in recovery is that I was no longer the 97 kg person I was in 2014 and that my operation weight of 67 kg helped me with mobility as well as recovery I think.
      Thank you for your helpful and kind words, Denyse x

  11. Looking good in that last pic lovely lady!

  12. I found your post-surgery journey fascinating Denyse. My daughter is a doctor and I ofter think how incredible the medical profession are (nurses included). They all do such a wonderful job and are extremely soothing when you’re feeling down. I haven’t really had any major surgeries, only a couple of minor ones. I think you have done a remarkable job and you look terrific. Keep recuperating! #TeamLovinLife

    • Oh Kathy, the medical and surgical teams do a great job but I saw the long hours and the exhaustion too in some of them and the nursing staff who would often be back after just one shift off. I know this profession works exceedingly hard to get where they are when they move into specialities and I thank them for this. Please pass on my best wishes to your daughter. Denyse x

  13. Oh my goodness Denyse, you’ve certainly been through the mill. It’s wonderful that you’re able to look at the whole process from a perspective of gratitude. I hope you continue to recover well 🙂 x #TeamLovinLife

  14. Love all your gratitudes. Particularly love the “I was grateful to leave” one because while you had excellent care and the hospital was great, nothing beats going home. #teamlovinlife

  15. After all you’ve been through, there will be up days & down days. I love how you’re evening those out with your gratitude diaries. I think that I’m through deadline hell now, so will join the linky again on Monday. See you then! #TeamLovinLife

  16. You have and continue to make the most inspiring recovery, Denyse.

    SSG xxx

  17. Oh Denyse what a journey you have been on. Thank you for sharing your story and being so honest. You are truly inspiring. I look forward to reading the next part of your journey. #TeamIBOT