Sunday 26th June 2022

Reality Bites. Part Two. 2017.100.

Reality Bites. Part Two. 2017.100.

So a few weeks back I wrote here about ‘reality biting’ from the emotional health perspective as it started to over shadow my physical recovery. It is true that as I said back then our feelings can take longer to catch up with us. In some ways a more gentle and regular pattern of life has taken place since then and life is pretty good!

However, there have been some more moments and events where reality has bitten and I outline them here:

  • I am finding it  a challenge most days to ‘like’ the face…i.e. the mouth I see which is shrunken and ‘old lady with no teeth in’ look. Oh wait. That IS me. Old(ish!) lady with no teeth the top. However, I saw myself in a photo and it’s not pretty. I am vain! I guess we all like to think we present a reasonable face to anyone. It will happen! You know it will…just going to be a few months yet.
  • I am feeling luckier as time goes on that my cancer does appear to have been isolated in that one place in my mouth but IF I let my imaginative thoughts take over I anticipate more cancer in my future. Note to self: remember mindfulness and living for today
  • I am hungry and wanting to eat from a nutrition and enjoyable perspective but I am very limited by foods which require virtually no chewing and can be swallowed with no chance of choking. Oops: I remember this well when I ‘try’ to eat some small pieces of cooked chicken within a soup I have blended and I manage not to choke but to remember that I cannot chew. Note well…OK? Sigh.
  • I have a great desire to have the rest of this year on fast forward to the days when I can eat well and without much restriction but that’s not going to happen. I was reminded of this limitation again when I did my first mini supermarket shop last week and had to say to myself: can’t have chips, can’t have meat, can’t have ANY thing that is hard, crunchy or needs chewing. In 2018 this will be different. Be patient ..LOL.

I posted this photo recently and had so many positive comments about my appearance. For a while though I wondered why I felt defensive about my loss of weight because it has not been intentional. I feel I have to justify my weight loss (over 3+years) because it did come at a ‘cost’ thanks to anxiety and IBS. But..I reflected on this too because for the many years I was very overweight I was using food as a comfort. My slow and gradual weight loss has made me realise that in many ways it has also helped me to feel more content at this size and I am certainly more physically comfortable and I think my recovery was assisted by me being this size.

But you know what I do actually say to myself now?

  • I am so fortunate to have recovered well from a MOST major and complex surgery where part of my leg was made to fit into my upper part of my mouth to give me, over time, teeth and gums and a S M I L E to be proud of.
  • I have the best support person in the world…who is also incredibly patient with this ex-patient…and that of course is my husband who I paid tribute to here.
  • I have my 100% independence back now. I can look after myself in terms of hygiene…oh I do need some help with covering my leg to have a shower…and dressing. I still need the nurses to visit to dress my leg wounds but they are going well too. I can walk well with no boot and I can drive. This has all come about in the past week to 10 days.
  • I am, as they say, #blessed!

Some photos showing my progress. This post is published just under 7 weeks since my surgery on 6 July 2017.

This will be the last of the posts about my cancer diagnosis and surgery for a while. As I recover more over the next few months I will be back into other topics and those of interest each week. I appreciate that the number of commenters and the amount of support I have had since I announced I had cancer has buoyed me through much of this time. Big thanks to you all.

How have you managed when being ill or post surgery?

Are you someone who has little patience or are you someone who can wait?

Have you ever cared for someone post-surgery or who has a major illness?


Joining with Kylie Purtell here for I Blog On Tuesdays and with Leanne here for her Linky called Lovin’ Life on Thursdays.




  1. 7 weeks and basically fully independent. That’s so great. It must have felt so great to have that first independent trip out.

    One day of non solid food drove me nuts. I don’t know how you’re doing it for months but you have no idea how much I really respect your patience in that regard.

    I’m still dealing with the loss of general fitness from being sick for a year before my surgery. After cleaning the house and garden and moving a few small bits of furniture last week my muscles are still REALLY feeling it. Time will help, I know that.

    • Thank you Vanessa! I appreciate your words and having followed your illness thanks to those now departed tonsils I can see how much it affected so much of your life.
      I am indeed happy to be independent again although some of the ways in which my husband needed to care for me…and still does…actually brought us closer together so that was a win.
      I think too, that even as an impatient person , I have learned that healing happens in its own time and whilst there were days and nights of wondering (especially when the wounds on the leg caused me other issues such as diarrhoea) of when will I be Ok again, I am proud that I have been able to ‘wait.’
      The food and what I can eat is something that is bothersome but between me and my hub we have worked out how I can have fresh bread and toast again (they were foods I really craved and missed) by cutting the bread/toast into 1″squares. I can get them down without any trouble.
      I know that you too will be feeling better as each week goes by especially as the warm weather arrives and stays! Denyse x

  2. After my weight loss surgery I had to have liquids, then purees then soft foods. My mum used to buy chicken (or cook fish) and we’d put it in the blender with sour cream or dip etc…. so it became a puree. It meant I got to have meat but it was sloppy (for the want of a better word). Sometimes we did pureed the chicken with gravy… just something to add to the taste and help it go down.

    Refried beans were also handy in that respect in terms of their consistency.

    Hang in there…… xx

    • You do know what I am talking about with the food! I have, thank goodness, been able to adjust and get some foods into me that I missed – toast and bread for a start and B cuts the bread/toast into 1″squares and I can get them down Ok. I make sure I have water with me while I am eating anything to help the food go down. Tonight he is going to cook fresh fish and for me also some creamy mashed potato which I can use as part of the ‘lubricant’ to get the soft pieces of fish down.
      I made a salmon, avo, tasty grated cheese & sour cream type of dip like you mentioned but that was around the time I got unwell with diarrhoea but as that has all settled down, it might be good to try it again.
      Fortunately for me I had done quite a bit of freezer cooking before hospital and I can grab a spag bol serve which is good as long as I chop it up with knife and fork.
      Summer months are going to be harder but I will deal. I am not a fan of milk or milk products (my IBS played up when I tried the dietitian’s idea of protein drinks) but I do try to have something protein wise each day. Eating is, as you know, as much about enjoyment as it is for nourishment.
      Denyse x

  3. Your positivity and attitude to life are amazing Denyse. Yes bad stuff has happened but that was totally out of your control. You could have been negative, thrown your hands up and admitted defeat but instead to took it, worked with it and you will, I mean ARE a stronger person for it.

    • Thank you so much Natalie. It was/is a most humbling and growth experience I have been through and continue to manage. I agree that I took on a helpful attitude to get myself well but there were many times of tears and fears in those early days after diagnosis. Now that the major surgery is done and my recovery almost complete, I feel I can face more surgery as it brings me closer to have as mouth with teeth and one which can SMILE properly again!! Denyse x

  4. You’ve done so well. Now you’re driving, shopping and snapping pics like a boss, I bet you’ll be smiling with teeth in no time! I bet you could have biccies dunked it tea, you know how soft they get… Imagine a Tim Tam Slam! After my thyroidectomy, I couldn’t start my thyroid meds until a week or two after and it was purgatory. I was walking like an Egyptian and so fatigued, I couldn’t wait to get some energy and move my neck – but you know, all good things come to those who wait and while it seemed an eternity at the time, in the big scheme of things, it was really like a micro moment!

    • Thanks Sammie! I have been dunking bickies since I could have hot (warm!) tea! I tried some of the harder biscuits like Ginger Snaps but alas they do not disintegrate and could be a choke hazard. I actually said to B the other day “I am sick of chocolate” taste…then thought who am I? I meant that I can have chocolate in very small pieces and it melts doing down nicely. So, I am grateful for some different taste sensations like the lemon syrup cakes I made before hospital. I have had to avert my eyes from the people who are making the latest sensation called “crack’ which is salada biscuit based, caramel, melted choc on top then almonds…but like you say, it will be something I can enjoy again one day.
      In the OSOT (Bernard tells me this ALL the time…The Overall Scheme of Things) I am very well, grateful and feeling much more like the Denyse before all this happened..although of course it has changed me, but it is GOOD to be well again! Denyse xx

  5. There is nothing like getting your independence back, after a spell without it!!!! I know you still have a ways to go, and wish you could just hit “fast forward” but … alas life doesn’t work like that.

    • Yes I agree about the fast forward but I am become more mellowed as I age I guess and am taking each day as it comes. Something about new eyes and perspective now I am in a great space of recovery. Denyse x

  6. I am absolutely blown away at the speed of your recovery. To think you are driving again already! I can certainly understand some of your challenges, and honestly do not think I would be able to face them with the strength you have. Thank you so much for being so open and honest about your journey.xx

    • Oh thank you Nicole. However I might say that I had no idea of how I would manage any of this either so it might also surprise you how you might go too. NOT that I am wishing it on anyone. I have days of feeling ‘blue’ but they are reducing. Getting a sense of ‘me’ back along with independence has been a great boost. Thank you once more for your kind words and encouragement. Denyse x

  7. I have started writing a comment here several times but deleted it each time as it has sounded trite each time to me although I have meant it sincerely!

    So all I’m going to say is how amazed I am at how quickly you have gained back so much independence. Recoveries always feel so slow when you are in the middle of one but when you look back at how far you have already come in such a short amount of time from such a major diagnosis, you truly are amazing!


  8. Small steps, but also so much to look forward too. I’m amazed at how quickly you’ve regained your independence – and that’s priceless.

    • Yes indeed and today I have driven 45 min each way to Erina and did a small shop for around 30 minutes. I am tired now but I “did it!” Thanks Jo. D xx

  9. It’s great to see you progressing so quickly Denyse – it might seem slow to you in the middle of it all, but it’s amazing how far you’ve come in the last couple of months. Thanks for sharing your journey and your honest thoughts – it’s good for those of us who haven’t experienced major illness to know what it’s like for those dealing with it daily. Looking forward to your new posts and your continued upward improvement x

    • Thank you so much Leanne. Today I saw my psychologist who like many was amazed at my progress. Simply put, I said “this is the way I do it”. But there have been down days but many more up days as recovery proceeds and my independence grows. D xx

  10. I love the honesty in your posts. I’m totally amazed by the speed of your recovery and your ability to stay so positive through all the challenges you have faced. I’m sure it feels like forever right now, but one day soon it will all be behind you xx #teamIBOT

    • Thanks so much Erika, you are very kind. I guess like many life challenges including raising kids, sometimes we seem stuck forever and then we look back and go ‘wow, that time sure flew.’ It is very similar with healing. Denyse xx

  11. Darling Denyse you have been through so much and truly are an inspiration. I know how you feel but you do look fabulous and much better than I actually anticipated reading your pre-surgery posts. Keep up that positive spirit and feel good that others look at you with admiration and love.

    • Oh thank you BIRTHDAY girl! That is very kind. I have seen my psychologist today who smiled all the way through my story!! She praised me for my resilience and as someone who has been helped by her sessions over 2 years I am glad that I was able to bring my skills to the fore during this most challenging of life’s experiences. Denyse xx

  12. It’s those seemingly little things about regaining health that mean so much, Denyse. Stuff like attending to your own personal care.

    I feel a bit rich saying this but getting over my recent illness gave me a new lease on life and perspective. The feeling of illness was so draining mentally. Even more so than the actual symptoms.

    SSG xxx

    • So true about being more independent yet being so needy of my husband’ care and attention has brought us closer together which is an unexpected bonus.
      I think it is interesting for you to write of what you have learned about being ill in a way which zapped you mentally. It IS awful and you just want to be well and back to YOU. I am getting to be a bit patient (good word don’t you think??) about this!! Denyse x

  13. I am so glad you’re doing well in your recovery! It must suck not being able to eat whatever you want, but that will come with time. Love how grateful you are!

    • Thank you so much Di. I am being quite creative in my food selections because the last thing I need is to be bored. I have found maltesers are really good because they melt in my mouth!! Denyse x

  14. I love your little “self talk” notes to yourself at the end of each of your thoughts. You’ve got this.

  15. Denyse, I can’t imagine being so restricted in food choices. You have done amazingly well both physically & mentally with all that you are going through.

    • Thanks Jenni! I have had ‘food jealousy’ thanks to some Instagram pics…LOL.However, I am seeing it this way, as time goes on I can ‘manage’ more foods and eventually into 2018 I will have the teeth implanted and will be Ok to crunch and chew again I hope. Denyse x

  16. Finally I am following your blog. What a time you are having Denyse! I had a massive op on my teeth years ago when I was still at school and the only food I was allowed was tinned baby food for months and months. Especially humiliating when I had to go on camp with my little tins of pureed apple, pear and even rice pudding. Thankfully it all came to an end like yours will but unfortunately it does take awhile x

    • Thank you for following my blog now! I can imagine that was a big challenge for you. In my family some members were affected by accidents to their front teeth and mouths and they too had to endure the soft foods. In my case I am getting more ‘skilled’ at getting foods such as bread and toast down by having them in small bits. Food, love it but it can be a tricky thing if it’s not chewed well. Cheers, Denyse