Sunday 26th June 2022

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. July- December. 2020. 31/2021.

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. July- December. 2020. 31/2021.

Recently I wrote here about the changes for me, and many of us, in the first half of 2020 in my life, my local area and wider community during Covid 19 conditions in Australia.

From memory, I think we started to deal with the restrictions of Covid 19 here in our local area quite well:

Central Coast (located on map below – right side -Eastern Australia between Sydney and Newcastle)

It’s in the state of New South Wales Australia.

There were many who would say differently and that is because of these Covid 19  impacts:

  • Borders between states and territories closed/opened/required permits/required quarantine….with changes occurring immediately or overnight. Often without warning.


  • Those who were trying to get back home to Australia from overseas were met with cancellations by airlines at the last minute, changes in Australia’s capacity to manage quarantine situations if and when people returned


  • As I write, late February 2021, this is still quite an issue. The Australian (Federal) Government and its various Departments are doing what they can (they say) but as we are also State-based, those leaders have to agree/acknowledge their limitations for taking people into quarantine. I know little about it but keep an eye on facebook friends who I know are in this situation and understand it is not great.


  • Then there is this. The quarantine comes at a personal cost to returning travellers/citizens and whilst initially it was free, it is now $3000 per first person in family and less for subsequent members. A friend is almost finished her quarantine with her 18 year old daughter and has shown updates from their room, food supplied and more. She is Australian, with her daughter, also Australian, returning to the capital city where they used to live for her to start University. They still live as expats in Singapore for her husband’s work.


  • There is also this example. Another friend cannot travel across Australia to see her family (a new & first grandchild born before Covid hit) because of the states’ laws between her state (New South Wales) and that where her grandson and family live (Western Australia). Quarantine costs time AND money and as she is the sole income earner in her family, she cannot afford to do this. We know why, it is just hard!


  • For those reading from countries other than Australia, our country, is also a continent and is roughly close in physical size to North America.

Health (again!)

June and it brought my first colonoscopy in over 10 years. It was something I needed but oh my, I hate the prep. I would have to say, it is probably worse than any surgical procedure!! Anyway, because I know I could be having some surgery in my future, I did take the chance once some of the Covid rules for travel and visiting were reduced, to go see my father who had been automatically socially isolating because of his age and where he lives. As always he was pleased to see me and I carried some frozen meals and treats for him. It’s roughly a two hour drive to him from us and similarly on the way back. I listen to audiobooks most times! As the walking on beaches was less restrictive over time, I could visit again.

Our 7th grandchild turned 7. There was no family party but she knew we were thinking of her. We always send a card, which I add lots of photos inside as a memento of the grandchild and us…and often some money is put in the parent’s bank account for the child to spend later on something needed or wanted or even both. Schooling continued to be a mix of home and at school from memory and like everything and everyone, adaptations happened.

My colonoscopy result was good (no cancer ) but also, yes, you need rectal prolapse surgery so I began preparation for the date allocated in July. School holidays were in this month but we had no visitors nor did we visit. Being winter, everyone was pretty cautious around going anywhere and restrictions for visitors to the home were still in place. There was no outdoor concerts, nor even indoor ones at this point. On-line shopping and event gathering happened via Zoom. My pre-hospital admission ended up being over the phone for the late July surgery.

I admit, that pre-major surgery I do get concerned/worried/stressed and much of it, in this case, related to the procedure, what it would be like before I went into theatre – an enema would be carried out – and the preparation whilst thorough and necessary for the type of surgery just added to my load.

I tried to get myself into some nature, locally as it was fine to visit, and to making some meals so that I would have plenty of variety for me to eat. You see, since head and neck cancer surgery, eating anywhere other than home, and in small and suitable quantities is how I have to keep well-nourished.

I did it. Well, the surgeon did, and I am, as always  a model patient and excellent recoverer so I got to come home a night early. I was so stressed because…couldn’t eat much, very uncomfy and my colo rectal surgeon kindly OK-ed me to go home. Best place ever!

World Head and Neck Cancer Day: 27 July 2020. Suddenly when COVID hit, all aspects of fundraising in person went by the by, and in came virtual events, cooking demonstrations and Soup For the Soul via individuals where groups might gather. My surgery was within the same week as this but I did what I could prior to the Day in my role as an Ambassador….and jumping ahead to September, Beyond Five had a name change to Head and Neck Cancer Australia. I remain honoured to be continuing this important work of awareness sharing and telling my story.

August arrived with some wonderful people we had not seen since late the previous year…at least I had but my husband had not. Grandchildren and our son, their Dad. I was still very gingerly post-op with a sore tummy that had an upside down T incision from belly button to pelvis because of the finding of a hernia on top of doing the repair. Sigh. Thank goodness I was wise enough to get some very loose fitting pants and slip on slipper/shoes because getting up and bending was not part of my repertoire then. Nevertheless I had the wonderful feeling of wellness and happiness!

The wellness continued until it did not.

My wound, which had an area of where the opening had been a challenge for my surgeons, opened up slightly but enough to be scary. Fluid leaked constantly and fortunately my G.P. got me straight back to my surgeon, who arranged for wound debridement surgery the following Monday. The hospital stays were about 3 weeks apart. The surgery meant I wore a bag called a VAC attached to the wound and I had home visits from a nurse for almost 3 weeks, then visits to my local GP Nurse. I was not finally well…i.e. the wound closed and good till October 6th! 

More Than “just” Health…Life Goes On!!

Head and Neck Cancer Check in early September 2020 went so well my head and neck surgeon said “see you in a year”. I was in shock. Many of us with cancers who have on-going checks which indicate no changes (for the bad or cancer returning) tell me that hearing that from the doctors can be like that. We are so used to someone keeping an eye on us!

Father’s Day: no get togethers but I remembered the Dads in my life…and that of our children and their children.

6/9/2020: the Fathers & Grandfathers

Together For Fifty Years!

In October we celebrated our meeting as young teachers at a NSW Teachers Federation Conference Dinner at Tamworth in 1970 by going back. It was a great trip down memory lane and some of these snaps capture it. I wrote about it more for Telling My Story here too.

November. Staying In Touch.

Our two eldest granddaughters visited for a mission…taking photos (memories) of their grandparents to celebrate their 50 years together. It was so good to see them again too. What fun we had. Lots of smiles and laughter!

Time for another visit to see my Dad. Important for me (and him) having these more frequent visits as he has kept himself more isolated socially due to Covid and his restricted physical mobility.

I also have almost no other reasons to be driving back and forth to Sydney so can factor in seeing Dad once a month now.

He has had some tricky (for him) health scares including potential melanoma (not) and a serious balance issue (sorted in 2018 along with the permanent loss of vision in one eye (only about 20% OK) so he relies on this better eye. An avid reader, and writer, he is very restricted for both now. He does however, remain very active in one social group where he lives and relies on his TV news and more including sport and other interests.

My husband joined me on my 30 November catch up morning tea because it was my 71st Birthday!

The two of us.

Suddenly it’s THAT month: December.

I spent quite a bit of time on-line and out and about at the local ‘cheap shops’ as I call them finding memorabilia and items for our Golden Wedding Anniversary coming up in mid January 2021. I admit it was fun and very distracting and I enjoyed both the research and the rewards.

I had a little niggle of pain in the area of my upper prosthesis and had a hastily arranged appointment in Westmead with my prosthodontist where he felt it would be OK once I took a dose of anti-biotics and took care with some ‘sharp foods’…ok, chips.

Happily back in the car to see Dad as a pre-Christmas visit. We had plans to go to our daughter’s in North Western Sydney to join most of our family, and Dad was going to my brother’s for Christmas Day….and whilst I did get to see Dad on 17 December, on 18 December everywhere on Sydney’s Northern Beaches – where Dad and brother live – was declared a Covid Hot Spot. Oh Great. NOT.

COVID really interrupted many plans for Christmas and BEYOND. Big time.

By close to Christmas Day, we made the decision not to travel to our daughter’s house.

My Dad would be going to my brother’s as his house, whilst in the Northern Beaches, was OK to have visitors from within the same area.

I ended up with some more pain in my gum and my prosthodontist was able to fit me in 3 days before Christmas (all was OK but he left me with an anti-biotic script just in case) and I took the chance to swing by my daughter’s beforehand to drop off our presents and biscuits I had made to her and see two of my granddaughters.

 Time to Reflect.

Gratitude was my word for 2020. I needed it. I remembered it and I am glad I chose it.

Our extended family stayed well, despite some visits to emergency departments for chronic conditions and accidents. No covid.

Those in our family had shelter, an income and care of each other. Money coming in did reduce and some were helped by the Australian government Covid payments.

We felt generally well, and very safe in the house we call home (even though it is not ours) and we know we are here until April 2022.

We could not fault those in the medical and hospital and ancillary health services who cared for us, as older citizens.

I was glad to be a supporter of all that was happening in schooling and schools things changed…because I am a “cheerleader” but not to have to manage a family and work anymore.

We were grateful we had plenty of practice living as a retired couple and 2020 did not challenge us too much at all. We have separate spaces for our hobbies and interests and that is a good thing.

We had each other.

We remained focussed as much as we could on the good the year had brought, particularly to me as I ticked health boxes and recovered so well.

Summing it up:

How was the second half of 2020 for you and your family?


Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.




  1. I feel like restricting international returns was a smart move initially – we had no idea of the scope of what would hit. But now it just seems pathetic and I believe we could get more people safely home if the government was willing to pay more for decent security etc for quarantine. But as if they ever want to pay for things that help mere citizens instead of business mates…

    I also think charging for quarantine is ridiculous, state or international level. It’s cheaper for the government to wear that cost rather than wear the cost of people sneaking around (more of an interstate thing) and risking spread/costs of lockdown.

    No showers would be hard for me. They’re a big pain management/relaxation thing.

    • Well we both know the calibre of those who are in government…they did some good things at the beginning of 2020 and then, over time, it’s just become a blame game.

      Certainly much less security around the ways in which quarantine happened initially and of course, again it was ‘state vs federal’.

      I did miss showers but..I did not want to jeopardise the healing which had gone wrong once so put up with it. Yes, nothing better than that hot water against your skin.

      Thanks Vanessa for your words and hope you feel a bit better with some days of rest.


  2. So much change, so much upheaval, and also so much resilience. The border closures have been painful for so many people. I know that it’s meant that we’ve been able to live almost normally in Queensland, but the personal cost for many has been huge.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Yes and we seem to be still on the backfoot even with these immunisations. So much trouble and confusion in a country that is federal for some things and state for others.

      My hope is that you can safely visit your parents soon.

      Thanks Jo,


  3. Denyse, I’m so glad you recovered well from your health issues and got to see some of your family members despite the covid-related restrictions in the last half of 2020. Have a great weekend! Thank you for sharing your story. #WeekendCoffeeShare

    • Thanks Natalie, very grateful for all coming together well for my health in the latter half of 2020. I guess we have all learned to be flexible and understanding of rapid changes thanks to Covid but we wouldn’t be human if we did not feel an element of disappointment at the time.

      See you on Monday for the link up.


  4. Hi Denyse, I agree the restrictions and border closures have put a huge strain on people. I never would have thought we would have borders within Australia. It was such a disappointment because it caused friction between people from other states – I really think it was unnecessary. Having changes happen with no notice was also ridiculous. My best friend’s daughter was married a couple of weeks ago and the sudden border changes meant 16 people had to cancel plans to come. Lets hope you and I both have a better year health wise – no more surgery! Take care, Christina

    • The politicians of 1901 fractured our country sadly because of the very different ways the Federation of Australia was founded. Some things are state responsibilities, others Federal. I really think we have seen a more nasty and divisive country as a result thanks to the PM who shoots off at the mouth pretty regularly…anyway, will stop now.

      I too am grateful, as I know you are to have come through such array of health issues I could not have foreseen.

      As for making plans, I still feel very reluctant to make anything like a plan to visit another state!

      Thanks for your kind words and yes here is to a better year for us both.


  5. This really has been a painful and long haul for so many. We are blessed that we’ve been healthy but happily home-bound for most of this past year. But our story is not the experience of so many others. Praying that it soon will be over and our leaders find the wisdom we need them to have.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      It has been indeed. You have hit the nail on the head about the leaders. I, and others, have sense of great frustration about our leader…however, he is streets ahead of many!

      Thanks Gary, may you and yours continue to be well.


  6. It’s so good to recap on this time Denyse, so much has happened but you’ve seen it through in your own indomitable style.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Thanks Deb, I think one of the great things about this blogging caper is to record life as it is/was!


  7. Hi Denyse, what an incredible summary of the last 6 months of 2020! You were given so much to deal with on so many levels. I love that you said ‘We had each other’, I really believe that having your husband/wife by your side, and supportive, is one of the things that keeps us sane and balanced, especially in difficult times. I can only imagine how difficult last year was for you, because you always look amazing in your photos, so full of love and kindness and happiness is what I see when I look at your photos. I hope that 2021 is kinder to you and your family. Take care.

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh Cheryl, those words are so thoughtful and kind. I know how fortunate I am to have this bloke of mine and it’s now for over 50 years. We are each other’s best friends as well as husband and wife.

      It was a challenge last year but I am so glad I could have that surgery (even though it was stressful) because it has made the world of difference to me now.

      I hope you continue to do well in your part of the world too.


  8. It was a whirlwind half of a year, wasn’t it? I remember feeling so hopeless at this time last year, wondering how I was going to keep my sanity during stay-at-home orders with no end date. Things eventually settled a little, but my access to my greatest supports was inconsistent, at best. I had established some great routines and was doing really well going into 2020. By the time I actually got Covid, my mental health was really struggling already.

    Now, there is no more quarantine for me, since I have recovered from Covid and have gotten a vaccine. But life is all about adjusting to the world as someone who has had the virus. It is a crazy roller coaster, and sometimes a nap sounds so nice! 😉

    But here we are. Kudos to all of us for making it through the crazy past year!

    • Denyse Whelan says:

      Oh wow Beth, you sure did manage so much personally and health wise. I am glad you are well now.

      It’s such an unknown with a virus like this and it’s said everyone has it at differing levels and after effects are unique too.

      I hope, as time goes on, you regain strength from all you can do and be.

      Sending my love from Australia


  9. 2020. What a strange year. For me it was about realising my resilience is low. That the blows of the previous couple of years were still lingering and what I”d normally cruise through I could no longer ignore as I just didn’t have the energy or the resilience to glide anymore. It was a weird thing to come to terms with. Being locked away and having travel and interactions restricted brought so many feelings I’d normally brush aside to the surface.

    • Coming closer to ourselves because we ‘have to’ is very confronting. I know what you mean about not being able to use your tried and true remedies for this.

      Have you considered then, as I know I have had to, that to do this hard work inside yourself is something you can, even though it’s tempting, ever actually get away from until you do something about it. I mean the inner work, the sharing, the grief, not looking for a distraction to ‘fix’ this….

      Hope you are doin OK. You have a lot on your plate and expect a lot of yourself…be kind my friend, to you first as you are to many…including me.