Wednesday 12th May 2021

Self Care Stories #1 7/51. #LifeThisWeek. Ageing. 21/2021.

Self Care Stories #1 7/51. #LifeThisWeek. Ageing. 21/2021.

Every 7th week for #LifeThisWeek optional prompts it’s about Self Care. Time to take a look at care habits, physical, mental and emotional.

And this year as I began to consider my purpose for continuing this blog in a meaningful way as I am changing, I added a category called Stories About Ageing. I introduced my view on ageing and I sought readers’ comments and thoughts. For this week’s post about self care, it made sense to write about what I am noticing about my habits and what I may need to change or update.

Self Care #1. Ageing.

Physical.

What I am noticing about me now. I am, because I can see from the many photos I have that I am looking older.

Yes, I am overweight  somewhat more now than when I was at my then lightest following my first year of head and neck cancer in 2017. However my doctors (and I!) do not want me to change anything.  I am also showing signs on my face with extra sun spot marks and

….for the first time ever, my hair has begun thinning.

When I first remarked on this at a recent hair appointment my lovely hairdresser said she had noticed it before and we worked on a style that will not show it as obviously. I also mentioned it to my G.P. and he said that because I have had a number of anaesthetics in the past 9 months, the effects can do that to hair and growth.

Recent blood tests showed my low iron has continued and in fact is probably the lowest it has been since my head and neck surgery in July 2017. The conservative treatment of iron supplements just don’t work for me as my sensitive IBS gut (potentially) acts up.

To rule out internal bleeding, because I had a colonoscopy back in June 2020 where all was OK cancer-wise, I am having a gastroscopy and an iron infusion. The first will check any potential bleeding sites in the gut, gullet and so on, and the second will, I hope boost my energy because even with the best of intentions, I do find hill walking hard. So I don’t do it! Update: had the gastroscopy and no bleeding areas but will need to increase use of anti-reflux meds and iron infusion went well but making me, ironically, a bit more tired next day!

Mental.

I have been well following my head and neck cancer surgeon’s visit last September when he said “see you in a year!”. At the time, that came as quite a surprise because I thought I would still be having 6 monthly checks.

I did need to take time to process this news.

Coming from my surgeon, who knows head and neck cancer the best (top one who is recognised by his peers as the best) I needed to believe he was right in his judgement.

It is quite a mind shift to make from wondering if any new swelling, pain or slight change might mean cancer is back. And I have had to work on challenging such negative and highly emotive thoughts. They can take me back to feeling fearful as I had for such a long time and I have to trust in the process that I can be well.

I am well!

Then there is this. In July 2020 and then in August 2020 I had some pretty serious abdominal surgeries. One was a rectopexy to repair and make my rectum work as it should, and when the surgeon was inside, he found a hernia, so that meant two lots of incisions. Big upside down T for me…and readers here might recall the wound dehisced. And that meant more surgery. More and much longer recovery and loss of independence, just as I had it back.

How to handle this?

By letting out my frustrations in some tears and telling my husband how I felt.

And making my home space more comfortable so I could recover in comfort. I also needed to allow myself time to grieve for how disappointed I was I needed a second surgery.

Once I had done that, I accepted with gratitude (it truly works!) and allowed the healing from the visiting nurse, my attendance at the G.P.s to go well.

It did. And now, I still cannot believe the freedom I have from having a fully working well ….body. No more worries about prolapse, and so much more embarrassing times I endured for far longer than I needed.

Emotional.

It’s hard to delineate where this fits in between physical and mental but for me it’s about how my mood is and how I can catch myself before go down any rabbit holes of negativity, regret and future concerns.

I remain in the present as much as I can and this for me has been a game-changer!

In fact, I have many more good and great days now than ever.

It has a lot to do with my own growth via reading, learning, seeing a psychologist some years back, a great G.P. who listens (and always tells me how well I am doing to when he first met me in early 2017) and my dear, counsellor-trained husband.

I have been taking an old fashioned anti-depressant since April 2017 which my G.P. originally suggested I take to help calm my insides when IBS was rampant and it would help me sleep. Since then I have, with his support, continued to take it in various doses.

Establishing a daily routine way back in the latter half of 2017 in my early head and neck cancer recoveries is still the basis of my day and it works. I shift times and so on around a bit but the essence of the routine is this which I wrote about here too:

  • Calm Meditation when I wake. Daily Calm. I lie in bed to do this as I am much more comfy.
  • Getting Up times: looser in structure now as we are retired.
  • Having breakfast and getting into my morning: reading the daily newspaper, blog reading and commenting
  • Dress With Purpose and Go Out Of the House. I continue to do this in a modified way with COVID changing my habit of sitting somewhere for a coffee but the delineation in my day makes this something I look forward to every day.
  • Late Lunch and reading
  • Afternoon for Blogging, Some art and NOW some walking outside somewhere. I got slack about this a while back and I am back into it.
  • Dinner Preparation and Eating.
  • News and maybe other viewing for a while with my husband.
  • Later: shower, bed  routine and Netflix or similar in my wind down
  • Calm Meditation of my choice in bed as I ready for sleep

In Summary.

I do all I can to remain in the present.

I remember to go outside if I need a better perspective for a while. I look up, I walk on the grass barefoot and I might drive to the river just to watch and listen.

I spend far less time than I did in comparing myself to others. This used to be a main source of upset for me.

I look at myself with a kinder eye and a warmer heart. Often.

I remind myself I AM 71….

and it is OK not to be as sprightly as those I sometimes see talking about “as we get older” and they are in fact, maybe 45-50. Eye rolling!

That’s me for now.

How are you going in terms of self-care?

Share in the comments for us all to learn.

Denyse.

Link Up #227

 

Life This Week. Link Up #227

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Comments

  1. Hi Denyse, I enjoyed reading your daily routine and how you incorporate self-care into each day. I think your summary of self-care is spot on. Thanks for hosting #lifethisweek and putting the spotlight on a very important subject . I feel unfortunately the message of self-care is being diluted because there is so much written about it – but we still need to keep the focus on this area of our lives. Have a lovely week. x

    • Thank you Sue for your kind and encouraging comment.

      I think self-care is going down the same track as mindfulness and what a shame that it. Yes, people tune out before even wanting to discover more.

      Denyse.

  2. Hi Denyse, Good for you to do self-care daily. It’s a gift of health that we give to ourselves every day. I meditate, exercise or practice yoga, cycle or walk to nature, altogether 6x/ week and have one day/ week with no activity planned. I also spend time on my choices of leisure such as reading, music, language learning, photography, etc. #lifethisweek

    • I needed to read that Natalie, a ‘gift of health’ we give ourselves each day.

      So helpful and true.

      Thank you.

      I admit I have become very protective of my self care routine and know when I cannot follow it all, I feel the difference negatively.

      Denyse.

  3. ‘Self care’ was something we oldies never ever contemplated – life happened and we just got on with it usually putting everyone else in front, our needs coming later. We ‘knew’ we had to look after ourselves but it came way down the list of actual daily tasks
    I will admit I’ve thought at times the newer younger ‘breed’ of bloggers have gone on a bit about ageing and looking after themselves (mentally and physically) but in the end I’m glad it took a change of attitude for us to say thank you to some of the younger ones for bringing it to our attention.
    Take care
    Cathy

    • Thanks for your insight and interpretation of the origins for us as we age, Cathy.

      I have tended not to group myself other than as a blogger and got quite the surprise to read posts from people talking about ageing from 50. My daughter is 50 this year! I think I am, typically of me, a baby boomer who, with my Dad still around aged 97, someone who can kid herself she is younger!

      In terms of self-care I did not know how important it would be for me to manage my emotional health most of all until all of my work/family/familiar places were stopped and we moved to retire.

      It was, and has been a few times since, a rocky old time, which I blogged about this week and last: both posts, Part One and Two of Telling My Story and the significant year of 2015 are here now.

      I hope you are being kind to yourself and allowing all that is needed to be comforting to surround you right now. Of course COVID lockdowns are not helpful but let’s hope that you can and do find comfort too.

      Denyse.

  4. Hi Denyse, I learnt the hard way how important self care is! It really is about understanding and knowing yourself and learning and doing what you need to do to feel calm, soothed, happy, etc. I know myself much better these days. I know when I need self care and I know what kind of self care I need at different times. I also make self care a part of EVERY day – it can be a simple thing like sitting outside quietly with a coffee listening to the morning birds – giving myself that time before I start doing the morning chores. Later this week we’re going to the beach on holiday for 6 nights. This is self care! I crave the beach, nature, salt air, the whole beach holiday vibe. I’m a bit worried though because bad weather is predicted … lots off rain! Don’t mind so much as long as its not for the entire time we’re away. I’ll be sure to take a lot of books to read! Have a great week! xo

    • Ah Min, like soul, as we know don’t we what is the importance of self care…. having shared our emotional health stories quite a bit especially relating to work imbalance and what that did to us.

      Longing for the warm beach adventure is high I see and then hoping it happens for you is my wish!

      I look forward to seeing photos and words of both the change of place and pace!

      Denyse.

  5. Hi Denyse! I have just finished commenting on last week’s link up and here we are again.
    So happy for you to have your health under control now. You have had an extraordinary journey. You are an inspiration to us all. X

    • Thanks so much Jody. Bit worrying when each week goes so fast!!

      Now you are back in lockdown at least your babies are home!

      And I might be a person who inspires you but I say “right back at you!” xx

      Denyse.

  6. My self care is not up there right now – barely getting through the days and collapsing. Am getting support from the GP but I’m back to plain old worn out, and mostly unable to exercise again due to a virus lingering. (Not the plague, I was tested.) Trying to give myself space that my body needs but also bored out of my brain.

    • I so feel for you Vanessa because whatever is going on in your body just doesn’t want to let go. Of course, every part of us “IS” connected and it seems just when one thing goes right, up pops something else.

      I am pretty pleased that a new GP is listening. So important.

      I hope, as always, slowly things get much better as time passes. You are putting all you can into recovery from what you write and share. Hard yards alright!

      Denyse.

  7. Denyse I think you’re amazing in the way you can pick yourself up so quickly after an upset. I aspire to be like you in how kind you are to yourself. I’m just starting to realise that I’m not as young as I used to be and probably have to slow down a bit.its not easy to get your head around. I loved reading about your daily care routine

    • Well Jennifer, I had to really work on this. Thanks for your kind words.

      The self kindness in words to myself and taking parts of time for me. I have always put others first. I am pretty sure most women, married and of a certain age do.

      Taking charge of your own physical health is something you have done, so why not self care.

      It is not selfish nor self indulgent but it took me a long time to be able to offer myself the time and kind ness to do this for me. It also makes me more independent.

      I do rebound quickly NOW but I do have to recognise that I am “slipping” and pull myself up. This is me after 4 years of doing so…you can do it too…and no unkind words can be uttered!!

      Denyse.

  8. The best take away from all this, is that while you are ageing and these things are happening to you, you are taking control to ease any issues and taking charge. I think that’s a great thing to relish! We are all captive to what our bodies (and minds) do as we age, but we can be an active participant in the process.

    • Thanks Lydia. There is no guidebook to this ageing in life (there are but I mean metaphorically) other than allowing yourself some kindness, some timeout and eventually learning that you (I) can be first on the care list.

      It comes after a lot of practice and I often forget. But I am getting there. That is mostly what I can say about all of it.

      Denyse.

  9. I am so glad to read that you are in a good place right now, Denyse. As my mom always used to say, “Getting older is not for sissies!” She was still going strong, taking trips, and living independently until she was almost 90. I must remind myself to live in the present too. It’s where I am happiest. It does not good to look at the past with regret or with longing. It does no good to look ahead in fear. As you say, avoid the rabbit holes of negativity. I am learning the same lessons as you. I think most of us are in the same boat! 🙂

    • I like that from your Mum. Laurie.

      Yesterday I had my 97 year old father giving me some tips on how to keep your life active mentally in retirement. Never stops being “Dad”.

      I spent far too much time being sad and longing for that past that could no longer accessed in the first two years of this new life as a retiree in 2015-2016 but I also learned a lot from many of the buddhist based teachings, CDs, books and mindfulness that it’s something I do far less.

      In fact I can reminisce without that longing and that is a good bit of progress.

      My husband is the one who sets off the first warning about the rabbit hole if I haven’t caught myself early enough. Married to a good man! Annoying at times but my best friend of course.

      Life as we age is a curious concept because I am pretty sure I still see myself as young(er) because Dad is still around..baby boomer thinking!

      Have a good week, hope it gets warmer soon.

      Denyse.

  10. Hi Denyse, Your daily routine sounds lovely and I love how you incorporate Calm into it. Is that the App Calm? I found it fantastic for meditation and helping me with my insomnia. I have upside-down T scars too, on my breasts, from my 3 surgeries last year. I know the feeling of disappointment when complications leads to more surgeries.
    I agree with your approach to self care – we need to focus on it every day for our mental and physical well-being. My daily self care routines revolve around a daily walk with my dogs, an exercise routine that my Exercise Physiologist prescribes for me, yoga, writing in my gratitude journal and colouring in (my son bought me a colouring book for Christmas and I love it!). Regards, Christina

    • Thanks Christina. Yes Calm (the app) is my morning and evening meditation. I swapped over from Headspace with Andy Puddicombe in 2018 as I was getting bored. Luckily for me, I took up a lifetime offer from Calm and now I have endless opportunities to learn, listen and grow.

      Yes, it is hard when surgeries we expect to go well do not. Often nothing to do with anyone, just the way our bodies work. Happened for what was to be my 3rd and final mouth surgery and of course, the wound dehiscement.

      I wonder how you are going in terms of now “wanting” to go back to work now that you have had this lovely (and not always wonderful I know) time to explore life without a job every day.

      Denyse.

  11. It is so important to take care of each and every aspect of ourselves. My favourite line: “I look at myself with a kinder eye and a warmer heart”.

  12. Hi Denyse, I’m so glad you’re keeping an eye on yourself and being proactive in self-care. I think you’ve done amazingly well at staying positive through some quite horrendous physical issues over the last few years. I also think taking an anti-depressant during a high stress period of life is an excellent idea – a friend of mine did so during her breast cancer treatment and she coped remarkably well with the surgery and chemo because it helped keep her mind in a more positive place.
    Once again I think we need to remind ourselves that “Ageing ain’t for sissies!”

    • Thanks Leanne, you have been and continue to be such a caring ‘cheerleader’ and that helps a great deal.

      Whilst I was on the anti-depressant to help calm my IBS (it did eventually) I have stayed on it with my GP’s approval because it helps me with sleep and he feels it does play a part in dealing with much of the emotional stress around having cancer. He gives me credit always for making significant strides in my mental health because he often reminds me “you are so different to the person I first met in April 2017″…and I say “I know, and I love that!”.

      Your support and kindness is very welcomed. Thank you for consistently linking up and adding a post here too.
      Denyse.

  13. I learn so much from your weekly life stories. My self care is limited to 3 miles daily walk, reducing unhealthy food and 6 monthly medical check up.

    • Oh thank you so much Shiju. That is very kind. I think a 3 mile walk each day sounds terrific. I hear you on reducing unhealthy food too! I reckon taking photographs is an aspect of well being for you!

      Denyse.

  14. I loved reading this! It sounds like you are doing really well in all areas of health right now and that is just fabulous.

  15. A lot of us don’t remember to treat ourselves kindly and to focus on self care. It sounds as if you’ve been through a lot in the past few years but you’re outlook is better than most peoples! I loved reading about your self care routine. And I’ve joined up for this week’s prompt. My self care this week involved redecorating. It might be a weird ‘self care’ routine, but it brings me peace and keeps me centered.

    • We tend to put everyone else first and us last, right?

      I was a victim of this and in fact it made me resentful over time because I realised that no-one noticed this as much as I did. So, it was up to me to make some changes. They were not huge but there were of enough significance to me to lose my “woe is me” mantra.

      Thanks so much Kristin for your comment and I find art/craft very good in terms of mindfulness and self care and I say redecorating is definitely that too. Using our hands and eyes is a great way to be self-centred for that time. IN a good way!!

      Denyse.

      • ah! Agreed on all fronts. I don’t think I ever really associated the ‘woe is me’ mindset with not putting myself first! That is some really good food for thought on how I can change that in my own life.

        I’m glad I found your blog through Leslie over at Once Upon a Time & Happily Ever After.

        Take good care!
        Kristin

        • Thank you, I am so glad you popped over and joined in. Great to see you and your kind words, and thanks for sharing how you did find my little place online!

          Denyse

  16. As always your insights are honest and reflective Denyse and very interesting to read, no matter the age of the reader. I am impressed, like others have commented, on how you stay aware of what is going on in your body and how important a self care routine is to you. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and this series is very much needed as we are all ageing. I continue to learn from you and others and the comments always provide interesting reading too! Thanks for the #lifethisweek linkup, we can all learn from each other as we move through the years.

    • Thanks Debbie for your words of connection and compliments too.

      I guess only “I” and perhaps my husband know how much I have had to grow, change and develop new habits of self-care because my old ways which were kind and giving to others, ended up depleting me. Lesson for us all I reckon.

      I do feel better within myself if my day is balanced with care for me, others and of course being active.

      We all blog to connect and this is great to see others making comments about themselves and insight into their life choices.

      Thanks for your 100% support too.

      Denyse.

  17. Denyse… I greatly admire your determination and perseverance! I have been blessed with good health (so far) but I do not want to take that for granted. I know how important it is to take the time to put self-care front and center. Your summarizing statement is eloquent. I plan to print it off and put it in a prominent place where I can be reminded on a daily basis… especially the bit about comparisonitis!!

    • Thanks so much Molly. Keeping well and fit is a great way to age I reckon. I probably did not pay enough attention to “my” needs in terms of wellness for much of my career and then as a carer for grandkids. In the end, “it” wore me out. Then of course, along came a very rare and unexpected cancer diagnosis.

      Funnily enough, that diagnosis helped centre me mentally and emotionally even though days and nights could be hard, that getting well and following the instructions of my surgeons was my one focus. I complied and tried to be more patient…hard when you are not usually…and it has paid dividends in getting to know more about my qualities and capabilites.

      I am chuffed you would like to print that summary out. A teacher is a teacher is a teacher…me!

      Denyse.

  18. Glad to see how you are going and yay for the next check-up being in a year’s time! I love that you still have a routine and I find that I need somewhat of a routine as well to stay grounded. I have recently downloaded Calm but am yet to use it! Need to get to it stat! Interestingly, this week, I have sort of written my post in response to your prompt! Have a lovely week ahead!

    • Thanks Sanch, I can still feel my reaction to my Prof…”what…” and then, “I will miss seeing you both” to him and my nurse…still we stay in touch (at least they see what I am up to) thanks to SM.

      I hope you do get something from Calm. Sticking with it at the start would be my only suggestion, no matter how much you think you have heard this before. A friend from the US just started in Jan and is loving it. Good on you for considering it.

      I cannot do well mentally over time if I do not follow that loose routine. So it’s important enough for me to follow.

      Denyse.

  19. I was in a bit of a flurry earlier this week so didn’t get to it, but think I’d like to write about ageing – from my point of view and my perception of my mother as well….

    • Oh Deb…would you like to do a guest post? Or rather keep it for your blog. I think that is a terrific idea. Happy to chat if you want. Love that you are considering this. Not the ageing stuff but more than that…it is happening. I still find it hard to believe my daughter will be 50 this year, yet my Dad is still alive.

      Denyse.