Sunday 26th June 2022

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. Jan-June. 2020. 25/2021.

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. Jan-June 2020. 25/2021.

Yes it did. So what? Isn’t everything constantly changing anyway?

The only thing that is permanent is impermanence.

2020 was to be my year of Gratitude…and here I was in my first instagram post of 2020.

And I can tell you that I DID keep to that routine of finding gratitude every day and wrote a post here last week.

Things were still pretty grim on the east coast of Australia where bushfires had been wreaking havoc, causing death, property loss, and much much more from late Spring. Here we were in January 2020 and things were still every grim. Hot. Unrelenting. Smokey skies…but where possible,  LIFE for us/me, and as this is my version of the changes, had to go on.

First for me, and that had knock on changes for my on-going eye health was a visit for a regular check in early January 2020 where the optician was sufficiently concerned for the cataracts he could see appearing, I brought my specialist appointment forward and attended her rooms in Sydney.

Right, she said “time for cataract x 2 surgeries” and we can do them 2 days apart in Parramatta. The big changes occurred instantly early March but took a while for my vision to be ready to adapt to simpler reading glasses. The best part? Lining up at the local NSW Service Centre to have “glasses for driving” taken off my licence.

In February there was the most welcome relief of all from the unrelenting heat, smoke and fires…in the form of pouring rain, flooding roads and more but the fact is most of the fires were now put out thanks to this change. However, changes of all kinds ARE indeed mixed in their blessings!

And from January onwards we heard from time to time about something called Coronavirus that had been found in Wuhan China. We saw news items with many people covered from head to toe in what we now know as PPE. Personal Protective Equipment: masks, boots, face covers, and scrubs…

But in February and March, for my experiences as a patient visiting my head and neck surgeon for a post-cancer check, attending a charity fundraising function and for being part of a head and neck cancer video, there was just one mention at the entrance to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in early March…and none at all in February. I had a prosthodontist check at Westmead where there were no restrictions. Glad I had that because it suddenly had to stop all bar emergencies and did not come back until the latter half of 2020. Fortunately I remained OK and my regular dentist was able to see me for a check in May.

We had our first Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group Meeting in February 2020 and then…we had to cease all meetings. We were not alone. Hospitals and other organisations were affected. We were not to meet again until close to Christmas for a luncheon and then last week, February 2021 we got together like this:


February saw me take a solo drive to Newcastle and attend an event at the Civic Theatre. It was Chat 10 Looks 3 with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales and neither they, nor the audience knew it would be a last gathering in large crowds….and as I write, in February 2021, there is a return to concerts, theatre and live events but with some Covid-based restrictions.

I also took part in a video being made for head and neck cancer patients and families at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. We were, as they say, so lucky to get that kind of event before the greater restrictions were announced.

Already though, on-line and in person there were warnings that we should not visit under any circumstances if we were unwell or had travelled from certain countries.

At my day surgery for my eyes in early March (9 & 11 March) some restrictions commenced on the first visit – some questions were asked on arrival. By the day after that, I had to have a temperture check, answer a series of questions and have no-one accompany me. I didn’t anyway. I could feel the tension levels rising.

By the next day after that when my husband drove me to Morisset for post-cataract check, even more restrictions were put in place. I spoke to my Opthalmologist a few months back when she finally started seeing patients again and she said to manage “the many changes, and the ways in which services had to be offered, they were in a constant state of readiness for change and being flexible. Every day brought some new measure”.

And Then More Changed. Where We Could Travel. What We Could Do.

16 March onwards.

Our eldest granddaughter, already immuno-compromised, “left home” where she may have been exposed to any part of this very scary and unknown virus because her mum and young sister attended schools. Still schools remained open..but then they too had to adapt. BIG time.  Ms J. came to the Central Coast to stay with her paternal grandparents and in those months I think the generations made it work well for them. She did have a sneaky day trip to see us and we agreed: HUGS were happening. She said “I so miss hugs”.

About Schools. Teachers, Principals and The Students. Parents Too.

When announcements were made by our N.S.W. Premier, the Health Minister, The Police Minister and the Chief Health Officer,(and sometimes others)  those announcements were many fold.

Every state and territory managed the matters of education, transport, health and so on and there were/are continuing conflicts about Aged Care and Quarantine/Border Matters being state or federal. It truly has been very trying all-round. Schools, because of the close contact via their very nature of operation, had to make swift, educationally-sound and major changes of day to day operation.

It was non-negotiable for public schools. They had to stay open for vulnerable kids and those too of workers in essential industries. They also had to provide quality and consistent work at school for students and for those who could stay at home. I only read about this and viewed how it was via my teaching contacts. Our daughter, a teacher-librarian then at her school found it huge as a shift but like all, they got on with it. It would have been a logistical issue of huge proportions for all schools. I was a very understanding and empathetic cheerleader where I could.

Life As We Knew It…Mostly Changed! 

We here in N.S.W. learned to live with:

  • daily updates of covid cases, diagnoses, tests, and sadly deaths. This happened most mornings at 11.00. a.m. I kept up via updates in social media.
  • sad stories of what was happening in aged care facilities. So many stories that have had to be managed via (I think) a Royal Commission
  • mixed messages from different levels of government. By mixed I meant it was inconsistent because of our way of being governed.
  • shortages…in supermarkets. The first time I visited a supermarket post our levels of restriction in those early months: only leave home for essential shopping, health reasons, exercise and essential work, it blew me away. I wondered what had happened….

“this” item most likely to have been bought AND to have run out!

  • I missed my daily drives and had to re-invent how to take care of my emotional health and form some routines that worked for me at home.
  • I did still do shopping, but was in & out as soon as possible.
  • Our GP practice offered telehealth appointments and we knew they were early days for them too, my husband in particular found a challenging medical issue very difficult to manage via phone. The doctors at that stage were saying no-one over 70 attend the surgery.

Getting Accustomed To The Changes.

  • It was all about being safe. We recognised that. We could not (and would not) disobey the then rules around being out of the house. We saw many more people in our neighbourhood walking past as part of their day.
  • We could not just go out for fun at all in March into early May.
  • I was incredibly relieved when, following the strict rules, my hairdresser was able to re-open and I got a much needed psychological boost of a haircut and a connection with my caring hairdresser
  • Over time, of course, we saw the emergence of Covid Test centres and I had a temperature and a bit of cough so went through the then procedures to got to my local hospital test centre. It felt weird but knowing i had to do the right thing because of this invisible virus, I self-isolated at home and was glad to get my results within a day and a half. Negative.

Changes Happened Regularly.

April – June. My commentary related to New South Wales, and what I recall specifically affected me/us.

  • Covid rules went up and down in severity depending on where clusters of cases had been found and so on
  • Where we live, is an hour’s drive to Sydney and then another 45 minutes to either my Dad’s on the Northern Beaches or our Kids’ in the North West.
  • For quite a few weeks, into months, we could not travel at all, other than locally.
  • It meant no visits for celebrations or care. We did not know how long this would last but fortunately in time for Mother’s Day – May – we could drive to Sydney to see our family and later in that month to visit dad.
  • We also could see via media reports from around Australia that where we lived, we were doing OK relatively. It did not stop our feelings of sadness and concern for many who did lose their lives and the fact that families could not be with loved ones as they were dying.


My Health Also Needed Better Solutions.

I have written about this here before but will just summarise, I needed to have a colonoscopy once my G.P. determined how severe my rectal prolapse was in earliesh May. I did get to the colo-rectal surgeon and he very quickly sorted out my thinking do I have to….with yes, how else might we know what’s going on “up there”.

  • Meant to happen late May. Local Private Hospital where he worked one day a week for these procedures accepted my forms for procedures …psyching myself up was the hard part…and then promptly cancelled/postponed because of Covid restrictions on surgeries. They were now a quater of what was before Covid.
  • Waiting not my best thing, but had to. Had my flu injection…sitting outside G.P. surgery while he came out to give me the jab.
  • Finally late June “had the dreaded” colonoscopy. Findings: you need rectal prolapse surgery. Stat. No cancer though.
  • Stat: in Covid times, meant when larger regional private hospital could book me in and I could have relevant pre-op checks. I did. My surgery date was late July.


Regular Health Checks Continued.

  • We still saw our podiatrist
  • I had a physio session for my shoulder
  • We eventually went back to choice of face to face at G.P. with mask and social distancing.
  • Saw screens go up at all facilities over time.

Getting Out and About.

I missed my going out for coffee but even when I could return, there were very strict rules for being seated. Over time, and now, I have stopped having a coffee anywhere unless it’s outside. It’s not somewhere I want to linger any more. Perhaps that need has shifted. We do not miss going anywhere as a couple as we stopped that way before this anywhere. Even our get together for a morning tea out has stopped.

I could get back to driving to the beach and walking. There were, in winter, loud hailers and even a police helicopter above the sands, telling us to keep moving, no sitting…it felt big brother ish.

I did do some shopping on-line, like many, but missed actual shops. Sad to say, many of those I enjoyed frequenting for clothes have closed some local shops and the value is no longer there.

That’s it for now.

I will be back soon with July to December.

How was your first half of 2020?

Stay safe, everyone…we are almost at Covid jab time here. Phew.


Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.



  1. It was certainly a time to remember Denyse – and you still managed to accomplish quite a lot despite all the added hurdles. Really good news about how well your eye surgery turned out – it’s such a relief to not have it deteriorating further and limiting your life.

    • Thanks Leanne, I appreciate you visiting to read and comment. It was a strange old time here for sure. I am very glad I was able to have the eye surgery in such a timely manner.

      I heard of people getting one done, and then having to wait much longer probably due to covid changes…which I mention in a future post…where private hospitals had the limit both numbers of surgeries and patients in a hospital at one time.

      I am glad we are ‘learning to live’ with what it is now but also feel we need to be prepared for change anytime covid ramps up again.

      I will be glad to get immunised.

      Hope you are travelling well over in WA too.


  2. Denyse, Yes, lots of changes in 2020. I’m glad your health was well-maintained despite COVID-19 pandemic. Hopefully vaccinations in 2021 will allow us to gradually return to normal social and in-person interactions. Thank you for linking up with #WeekendCoffeeShare.

    • Thanks Natalie, yes I agree i was most grateful to have my health needs cared for during such uncertain times.

      It will be interesting to see how we manage post-covid vaccines because contrary to what I hear so many say, there is NO going back to normal…ie. as it was before covid …but a new way to live with the knowledge of this virus.

      Thanks for the #weekendcoffeeshare link up.


  3. Hi Denyse you have had so many changes in your life and not just in 2020. Yet you are resilient and come through smiling all the time. Have a lovely week. #weekendcoffeeshare

    • Thanks Sue, I have been reflecting on these major changes over the past 5-6 years and they were/are massive and have affected me in some ways more than others.

      The good thing about getting cancer was I learned how my resilience could play a part in my healing, along with the love, care and support of family and friends.

      The friends like you, on line, continue to play a significant role in keeping me buoyed and very much connected on-line.


  4. Hi Denyse, my post this week is about my last year as well. I was already dealing with so much that Covid-19 did not really affect me. Apart from having no visitors while I was a patient which was very upsetting at times. I guess I’ve become even more of a homebody than I was before as I’m reluctant to expose myself to Covid-19 although the risk is very low in Qld. I hope you are well, you had a lot of surgery last year too!. Regards Christina

    • Thanks for your kind wishes.

      Yes Christina, it must bring back a lot of memories that can challenge your equilibrium as not all went nearly as you had expected or hoped.

      It’s been of interest to follow another’s journey with medical and surgical setbacks and I gain insight into your life as a health professional and how it must have felt when you could not do the job you loved.

      Sure hoping this year brings rewards for all your patience and hard work.


  5. Hi Denyse, thanks for sharing. I think it is so important to hear how other countries and areas have dealt and are dealing with all things COVID. It is so easy for people to think it is just us. Yet, there are so many similarities in what we have dealt with.

    You, personally have had quite a year, with so many medical issues and lockdown. I am glad you were able to still be grateful. Blessings, Michele

    • Exactly why I shared and made it not just about me, Michele.

      We see the news which from our end has quite a bit from the USA and of course that is not reciprocated we understand.

      It bothered me greatly to see the huge numbers of Covid cases in your country especially when I knew people in NYC and California.

      Blogging is a great way to both inform and connect and I am glad you have returned to sharing too.


      • What you say about the news not being reciprocal is true, and it does sadden me. I do think we heard a bit about the fires in Australia when they were happening. The big difference for me (and I confess I have never been a fan of the news) is that now I know people who live in Australia and New Zealand. I don’t know enough to know the names of all the areas, but knowing people means anything I hear about A & NZ is going to get my attention. And,, I have a birthday coming up in April and last year I learned that my birthday is on ANZAC Day. This year I will make and shaare some Anzac cookies or biscuits. But, back to the news, whenever a tragedy happens in other countries, the extent of reporting here tends to be on the number of “Americans” who were involved. How I wish the focus would be on simple humanity, on the mothers who lost children and the children who lost parents, regardless of country. Thanks . Michele

        • Denyse Whelan says:

          Oh that was so lovely to read Michele. Having your birthday on ANZAC day and making ANZAC biscuits..makes you an honorary Aussie in my eyes!!

          I recall the one time I visited the US that the “only” news I could ever watch or even read about what what was happening in your country or what affected your country. Not having a go, as we say but it was quite a noticeable thing. My news watching these days is limited to the first 10 minutes of the local regional news and the rest I can catch up with my on my now App which was my daily newspaper and occasionally on twitter.


  6. A great way to recap that time and all the changes we underwent Denyse. So good to hear all your medical issues are resolving now and that you managed to do so much despite Covid.

  7. Hello Denyse….wow….what a year you had! Glad to hear you are doing well despite everything that has gone on. I love the way you documented it all….did you keep a journal? Write it little by little or is your memory that amazing… 🙂

    It has been a crazy year. I live in the states. I’m ready for things to go back to normal. I’ve had to keep working so in some regards it doesn’t seem like much changed, and yet it did.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Kirstin,

      I am a diary keeper in a few ways. My iphone with all its appointments, an old fashioned but very useful wall calendar on our fridge and most days an entry into an on-line journal

      I have always been the ‘rememberer’ and ‘memory maker’ so lots of albums and scrapbooks have been made over the years for my parents’ Wedding Anniversaries, our children’s significant events, our grandkids and now, I am to make the Golden Wedding Anniversary Album for us.

      Time flies.

      I actually don’t think anything can go back to what was pre-covid…the normal from now will be, I hope, lessons we are all learning about keeping well, and paying attention to staying well in a pandemic.

      Thanks for catching up here with me.


  8. I’m in Oregon in the U.S.A. We are still pretty much staying home. Not a lot is open. The places that are require masks, social distancing and have a maximum of fifty people inside at a time. We must also wear masks outdoors. They say any time you are not in your own home or inside your car, you must wear one.

    I still haven’t been to a grocery store since October of 2019. I had a broken arm and couldn’t function very well. It was a full break with the bone dislocating and on my right arm. So my daughter had me stay with her. That’s where I was caught during our first and most restrictive lockdown. So you see, I’m really getting tired of it. I’m home these days but I still can’t do anything or go anywhere and it is finally getting to me.

    I’m glad you are able to be in a pretty normal and unrestrictive state!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Wow Corina, you haven’t been in a grocery store…I understand the many limitations that bad break must have been for you. I hope you are making progress in healing. It is very hard mentally to be cooped up all the time and your seem to have had a particularly big winter.

      I hope with the coming of Spring soon, and the opening up of at least some outdoors places you may enjoy aspects of life away from the 4 walls.

      We have been pretty fortunate here…we are a relatively small country by population and we closed our borders immediately. Still that’s been tough for Australians who still cannot fly home.


  9. I will be very happy when we look back and it’s just a strange and weird time. Nice round up tho. My fb is throwing up the memories from just before lockdown and it’s so weird seeing how little we know and how naive we were….

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thank you Lydia…so true to look back a year ago.

      It’s not over by a long way and with the arguments of who/what is responsibe for whatever happens it was/is very frustrating for us I reckon in Australia.

      However, knowing of people who live in both UK and US and what they went through and still do, for once I am glad we are an isolated island surrounded by water.


  10. It’s been a whirlwind of a year, hasn’t it? So much has changed and we would never have been able to predict that 12 months ago! I still don’t understand the toilet paper frenzy!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Yes it sure has been Sanch.

      I keep remembering ‘this time last year’ because it was momentous.

      Yours was too, and look at all you did in Covid times!

      Some of us (looking at me) worried about toilet paper because of a condition I had for many years…now a lot better, phew)


  11. Denyse, it has been a roller-coaster ride for sure this past year. Your accounting of how you spent the time is impressive. We too feel fortunate to have suffered only minimal inconveniences. My state has been providing vaccines since December 22. There are levels for meeting the requirements, and Malcolm and I were in the 3rd level (over 65) so we have had our first Moderna shot. Will get the 2nd next week. Most of our friends are fully vaccinated so we feel pretty good about being around people again. We are still wearing masks and probably will be for a long time. Hopefully, the world will begin to look familiar at some point. Take care.

    • I think blogging helps me maintain a record of “life as it is” for us so it’s a good record!

      That sounds great for you Suzanne as the vaccines roll out. We too shall get them when we are ‘on the list’ for those over 70.

      I hope too that we can feel a little more confident and at ease moving about our communities. Travel, which really does not affect us, is something so many are hanging out to do!

      Take care,


  12. Secretly … I love empty shopping centres! They’re a sensory nightmare when busy so before they open is the only time I’ll willingly go to them.

    I struggled with telehealth last year. I appreciate its existence for some things but it wasn’t appropriate for most of my needs that required physical examinations not a lousy phone description, so it felt like poor quality care.

    • Ah ha, yes I know you do!

      It felt weird to me as suddenly it was empty and quiet and I thought about all the people I had interacted with over the time we’ve been here and wondered how they would be and if they still had a job.

      Telehealth has its limits alright. I know my husband found it hard to discuss his chronic pain and meds with the GP but thankfully over time, and seeing a specialist, things have improved.

      My head and neck cancer surgeon said “you have to come in, I have to see you, poke and prod to see you are going OK!” and I was!

      Feel for you and B Vanessa. It’s tough.