Saturday 23rd October 2021

Telling My Story.Chapter Twenty Two. 2016-16 May 2017. Part 2/2. 40/2021.

Telling My Story.Chapter Twenty Two. 2016-16 May 2017. Part 2/2. 40/2021.

The backstory first:

Well over a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at Chapter Twenty Two. And as with other posts, I am making it Parts 1 & 2. 

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, another photo…taken this year overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.

I had a sore mouth.

It was often sore. I had to find a new dentist and did in early 2016. His initial view was that my upper bridge was causing some irritation and maybe I was drinking things too hot. He gave me some ideas over time which he thought, as he saw me regularly that year, and with issues that arose, offered possible remedies: fungalin, for candida. Guess what it did? Exacerbated gut and made I.B.S. worse.

I cannot stress enough how much “I” thought this was about me, lack of good health, mouth care and more. I felt judged and I hated that I was so often impacted by this awful anxiety and then I.B.S. that I could not plan to go anywhere.

“Looking like I was OK but I was not”. Last photos of me with original bridge at top of my mouth.

Anxiety Ramps Up.

In my journal I see entry after entry of me trying to get to appointments to my various professionals and suddenly that morning with an episode of diarrhoea it was impossible. Lucky for me they were very understanding.

I did not want anyone other than immediate family visiting us as it made me very self-conscious if I had to run to the toilet. I was not eating well. In fact, losing weight had never been easier. But it was not healthy.

I made myself meet up with a friend at a cafe but the preparation I made in advance …was there a toilet there, could I just have a biscuit with my coffee…was as I now see it over the top but I had to have reassurance.

It was the worst ever for me in very early January 2017 when, after seeing M1 awful accidents on the news, I decided I could not dare visit Dad for his birthday in Sydney just in case I had to use a toilet and I was stuck in the car. It was awful. I felt the pull of the ‘have to’ and the push of the ‘can’t’.

It worsened over time to the point I could not even drive out to the M1, which was the road to my dentist down at Ourimbah, without the feeling drowning me. I would need to make a few of those trips as it turned out in March, April and May 2017 and I had to take medication, know where the toilets were and allow time to get there.

Finally, after 4 months, and having had the teeth out (the best exposure therapy ever) I drove myself to Sydney to see Dad.

Doing What I Could To Help Myself.

On the eve of my 67th Birthday, late 2016,  I am feeling both reflective and grateful.

This image, selfie on my 67th Birthday, “trying my best to look OK” was used for my first series of Telling My Story.

Dad told me earlier tonight that my birth time was around 4.15 a.m. and that Mum put off going to the hospital until around 11p.m. Brave woman!

I’ve also made a mandala* which notes each of my decades of life and it’s been confronting and satisfying.

  1. I was so fortunate to be born to my parents who loved each other very much and were delighted to become parents.
  2. I was born into a caring extended family and always, always felt safe, secure and loved.
  3. Whilst Mum had some health issues in my early years with deafness and eye sight, these were rectified and I always knew my mum was there for me as a stay at home parent while Dad worked in his profession as an accountant.
  4. Our home was comfortable and we really wanted for nothing. My brother and I were well-fed, cared for and given many opportunities to be part of sporting and cultural groups as we grew up.
  5. When we left our Wollongong home for new adventures in Sydney at Balgowlah Heights I felt both the excitement and the nervousness but knew it would be good.
  6. It was and we moved to a great place, a new school and a whole new group of friends. Life was good!
  7. I got to play sport, learn to surf and swim, join the Guides, become a voracious reader and loved to talk.
  8. My early interest in helping little kids and enjoying playing with them started my interest in becoming a teacher.
  9. I got to be part of the school leadership team in primary school and loved organising events and social times too.
  10. My years at high school were a great and heady mix of new friendships, socialising with the boys from the local school and church groups, going to the beach and more.

  1. Learning to drive was a huge step in my independence and mum was happy to lend me her car when she could.
  2. I enjoyed great freedom to be out with friends and for them to come to our place and some of those friends parents became friends with mine.
  3. I was so fortunate to grow up as a teenager close to Manly Beach, particularly North Steyne, where I could catch a bus from home and stay on the sand or in the surf all day.
  4. Of course we met up with boys there too. It was all part of the fun in the sun.
  5. I eventually got some part time work when I was in my final school year and it continued into my 2 years at teachers college.
  6. It was good working at the jewellers on the Corso, three shops away from the beach and my employer gave me and my future husband good discounts on my engagement ring and our wedding rings.
  7. Teaching as part of my pracs in Sydney schools was great. I taught at my old primary school (even in the old classroom from Year 5) and also at Mona Vale, Neutral Bay and because I got excellent grades in prac, I went to the North Sydney Dam School too.
  8. My social life was awesome and centred on events from my then boyfriend’s Uni mates so we went to lots of parties, 21sts and Formals as well as Balls.
  9. Graduation as the first cohort to do the Higher School certificate was good too. Guinea Pigs in one way though as I am sure the NSW Dept of ed was winging it for a while there!
  10. Once I was 18 going to have a drink in the city hotels and bars was never a problem, as part of the time I was there anyway because I had to find work after HSC and the ABC was where I scored an office job.

  1. Hoping to get to teachers’s college didn’t happen on the first round, but by the second round I was ‘bye ABC, hello kids in classrooms.’
  2. I must have had the knack of teaching because as a late arrival at teacher’s college with only days before first prac, I did very well. I knew I had it in me!
  3. So pleased to have the training that BalmainTC provided but I knew I didn’t want to stay in Sydney after graduation so applied for the Bush.
  4. I was appointed to Barraba Central and independent life commenced!
  5. Shared a house with other teachers and I had to learn fast about sharing. I had been quite a ‘princess’ till then!
  6. My first class. K/1. A classic country town group but I knew what to do most of the time and loved being part of a large school staff.
  7. What fun we had on weekends and after hours with meeting at the Golf Club and Saturday Night dinners.
  8. My boyfriend from Sydney days broke up with me as he was unwell and I was free but a little sad.
  9. Not for too long though as by the time October that year arrived, I had met the LOVE of my life and fallen head over heels with a young male teacher who was a one teacher school.
  10. Our whirlwind romance was exactly that. In love (and lust) and determined to be wed as soon as we could because we were too far apart physically where we each lived.

  1. Luckily our department bosses looked after me, and after we married, I was transferred to a two teacher school just up the road from my now husband’s,
  2. But I was also pregnant. Yep. from carefree single teacher in a country town, to  married mum to be in a small community within 12 months.
  3. I won’t deny that it was hard being pregnant after some words of judgement and unkindness from my parents before we married but we went ahead with their blessing and some days those words still stung. In fact they did for some decades. Something about shame in that I think and my mum and her upbringing.
  4. Our daughter came into the world and brightened all who loved her very much. I loved little kids but was at quite a loss with a baby and being left along all day on a country property did not go well for me.
  5. I needed to salve my emotions and I began to eat for comfort and I know this has been what I do to numb myself and continues on and off now.
  6. Back to school for me was the better plan particularly when we could leave our lovely girl right next door to where I taught with my boss’ wife! She was also her godmother. Win!
  7. After two years, it was time for my hub to find a new position as a teacher in charge as his school was closing and we were keen to get teacher housing.
  8. Off to the Riverina area we went and found what we loved for the next 3 years. A great house for us, where we added a pool, a teaching position for me in the next big town and child care for our daughter.
  9. Social life was amazing, with new friends from the teaching and farming community and we were part of a drama society and entertained most weekends.
  10. Infertility was ironic after falling pregnant so easily with our daughter and for the time there and our next place, I was sad and resigned to never having another child. So sad.

Our first born with a first born Mum and fifth born Dad.

More of the stories about what happened next are found here: Telling My Story

The decades of the mandala*. I put it on social media once and found that it was far too personal to share because a follower told me how she could expand it to read. Oops. I have it somewhere here at home but it’s very personal. And mandalas helped me through all of the times before (and since) my anxiety and pre-cancer diagnosis days.

My Update: April 2016

  • We chose to move to a cheaper rental place in November last year as one of the factors in the stressors I was feeling was the place we lived in was too expensive, very uncomfortable and the community connection non-existent.
  • Happily for us, we found that the northern end of the Central Coast suits us more and the house (a home now that familiar to us from the sold Sydney house) is great.
  • A significant event occurred around this time too when I decided to end all connections with my education work places, including my consultancy. From a career commenced in 1970 to now this was another reason to grieve.
  • I still ‘struggle’ with aspects of remaining relevant! Who am I if I am not a teacher?
  • Nature continued to beckon in terms of photography, beach walks and I added growing flowers in pots to this mix. Nothing like having ‘something’ to grow.
  • The kitchen at this house is more conducive to cooking and making meals for the freezer and treats has been a good sign I am liking life again!
  • Meditation has been the one consistent event every single day. Yes. 10-15 minutes since end of March!
  • Learning more, much more about what it is to have some anxiety (I have not been diagnosed with anxiety nor depression) and sadness because of the significant effects of Life Transitions for me.
  • Reading more books, still can’t find a fiction one to satisfy, is great as is the range of newspapers I love. It is so good to have time for this!
  • Making sure I am well-nourished. I do find this hard some days as I mostly solo cook and eat because my hub has special food needs. But, looking after me shows I am caring well for me.
  • I’ve been increasing my knowledge of my reasons for anxiety and IBS and using Acceptance Commitment Therapy techniques via a number of sources including my counsellor and various authors who use this for clients.
  • This has meant a shift in my thinking and some movement towards letting my life move forward with whatever issues arise.
  • I remain a ‘wip’ a ‘work-in-progress.

My Update: April 2017.

  • My mouth continues to be bothersome: sore, and gums were beginning to grow over the teeth of the bridge.
  • My dentist tried a few ideas ….that I went along with until NO. Sorry, I need to know what is UNDER this bridge. The only way, as we both knew, was to remove (drill it out) the bridge, and the 5 teeth underneath.
  • He agreed and it meant I had the biggest physical and emotional challenge ahead. I needed all the support of my husband and my G.P. to do so.
  • Oh, and in the meantime, we were getting sick of the traipse back south to a G.P. and found one, our current one, in early April. JUST in time…for much, much more to come.

But first I had some exposure therapy in real life to manage.

This is information, after it came highly recommended by my then psychologist in 2016-17,  about what it was I needed (and still do at times) to follow to get myself to the dentist, have the extractions and recover from them

Exposure therapy is often essential if you are to overcome your anxiety disorder. The cognitive behavioural treatment of  conditions such as: panic with agoraphobia, simple phobias, social anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and post traumatic stress usually entails an exposure component.That is, you must subject yourself to the situations you are worried about in order to beat anxiety.

Although this sounds frightening, your therapist will give you the tools to cope with confronting your fears (e.g. rational thinking, slow breathing and isometric relaxation).

The guidelines for exposure therapy are that the sessions must be

  • graded
  • repeated and regular
  • prolonged

Why Getting Those Teeth Removed Was The Best Way To Know What I Could Do. 

  • Early April, I met my new G.P. who not only gave me the flu shot but the advice to help I.B.S. was to take an old fashioned anti-depressant as it slowed the gut down. Four years on, I still take it and whilst it is not perfect, this medication and my changed confidence in how to deal with anxiety about I.B.S. works.
  • I prepared for the long afternoon at the dentist knowing my husband would be in the room, reading a book, and that I could take some valium and immodium to manage myself.
  • I had my iphone with the lovely William McInnes narrating a very familiar tale into my ears, and that was it…
  • I was conscious the whole time and it took quite a bit of novocaine for me to have no pain in the palate area.
  • I was given the chance to have a ‘wee break’ and took it half way.
  • It was over before I realised and the dentist, pretty worn out by it, said he broke a few diamond drill heads.
  • But it was GONE. The bridge, those teeth…..and a temporary denture made the week before, was pushed into my numbed gums.

Whilst I declined the chance to take them home (I was told the Tooth Fairy owed me big time) I took the photo instead.

I DID IT. 

  • Yes it was painful as the anaesthetic wore off, but this anxious me had with all her lessons learned over time, managed what was to be a pivotal time.
  • I’d like to say, that’s that…..but no, it wasn’t.
  • The top of my mouth where the teeth had been continued to be smelly, flappy and  nasty.
  • The dentist seemed to think it was OK and would repair itself.
  • I put up with a very painful and sore top of my mouth for the next 5 weeks because he wanted to see how things went and then he went on vacation.

11 May – 16 May 2017.

  • Last trip back to my old G.P. to say good bye and thank you, and by the way “my gums are very sore”.
  • She raised her hands in horror when I took out the denture.
  • Tests for cancer: a C.T. scan for sinuses and upper mouth. Stat. And as I was seeing the dentist the next day, she knew he would likely order a biopsy.
  • Yes he did. STAT. Oh, this was getting to be familiar.
  • He did raise cancer as an idea but felt unlikely.
  • Off to next door where I booked a biopsy at the Oral Surgeon and she said, I can do that tomorrow, Friday.
  • CT scan and biopsy done on that day.
  • My nerves were….calmed by some valium but my goodness, this was serious stuff.
  • Weekend: waiting but not saying anything to family as it was Mother’s Day on 14 May and we had visitors.
  • Monday: results. CT: all good. Initial biopsy: inconclusive: likely candida. Can probably treat you at the surgery.
  • Tuesday 16th May. Nice day.

And that is where this Chapter ends.

If you have guessed where it’s going, then you are probably right.

I will be taking over my Thursday posts with these now over the next months to enable me to get up to date.

Denyse.

Next Chapter: Twenty Three: 17th May – April 2018.

Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

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Telling My Story.Chapter Twenty Two. 2016-16 May 2017. Part 1/2. 37/2021.

Telling My Story.Chapter Twenty Two. 2016- 16 May 2017. Part 1/2. 37/2021.

The backstory first:

Well over a hundred three years ago ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at Chapter Twenty Two. And as with other posts, I am making it Parts 1 & 2. 

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, another photo…taken this year overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up.

Beginning 2016.

In my recent two-part Chapter 21 here and here, I outlined the emotional and physical health challenges I faced and was doing my best to both manage and understand.

This, for practical me, was very hard as the emotional roller coaster of my life often exacerbated the Irritable Bowel Syndrome and then that played into my negative thinking about myself …..and so on.

Not easy. For Me.

And of course, for my husband who was studying counselling part-time, working as a volunteer for two charities and doing renovations at his brother’s too. When I look at this, and he and I have chatted about it since, loneliness was sometimes part of the problem for me.

I made a change to this blog, and formalised the categories into one for each day, and launched Denyse Whelan Blogs, thanks to my dear friend Tanya and her patience and creativity along with my tech man, Craig. I was determined that staying connected and accountable every day to SOMETHING outside myself would in fact, help ground me in some ways.

It did.

Look, I am still here! And the categories are not used like this so much now but I liked how I got on with the changes! Back then too, there were around 4 weekly Australian based link ups!

A Few Celebrations And Not So Good Times.

We celebrated our 45 years of marriage with our family. Our adult children and their children. It was the first time we had all come together in around a year. That was very special.

We also heard awful news early in that same year that was both shocking and impactful on our family, particularly for two people we love very much. So much I cannot say and would not.

However, I did take it all pretty badly. That’s me. I feel. I was already rather anxious but this news did not help. I also felt conflict about it and used my time with my GP and psychologist to talk more.

Over time, of course, we continued to share the love and support within the family for those people but it still remained a wedge for a while for me. These years down the track as I write, things are better but will never be perfect. Life, hey.

We cared for grandkids on special overnight and holidays stays and whilst I loved it, my anxiety levels being high, I could not relax enough to enjoy things. The little people I had cared for back in Sydney were growing and changing and trying to keep myself well when they were there was fine but anticipation and afterwards would bring on bouts of nasty diarrhoea (thanks I.B.S.)

Travelling to Sydney for a first birthday was a mental struggle for me but we did it. I actually loved it and having time, again, with our grandchildren was always so special. However, there were undercurrents of things not being too well within the families and we tried to let those worries go. They eventually would be made known but not for some time. I cannot add any more than that. However, as I am writing now, matters are far more settled and at ease with us.

With birthdays and Christmas we tried as we could, to entertain during school holidays or a weekend and it was always good to see everyone, and for me, Grandma, to do her best with cakes and spoiling with gifts.

My Health….still a bother. 

All the time, with me, was a tension and anxiety I felt and knew, and even if I understood it, found it a challenge to live with but here’s what I am like. I do what I can, with what I can.

I read,

I studied,

I learned,

I did courses about I.B.S.,

Mindfulness, Self-Compassion, Art, Mandala-Making

and I got out most days (when I.B.S. was quiet) to take photos, walk on the beach and perhaps interact with people at the shops.

I saw my friendly G.P. regularly who tried, over time, with some different medications to help me but nothing did. She was a great cheerleader though and her encouragement was good.

I even wrote this on a community page: I was searching for people who might get what I was writing about and I did get loving support. However as I know too well, we do end up working things out for ourselves.

Long time commenter & poster but first time ‘admitting my troubles & needing some advice/support’ … thanks in advance for reading!

I’m 67, been retired from work (happily) & life ‘should’ feel better than this. I’ve been a pretty anxious person (worrier etc) all my life & at times Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS – Diarrheoa) has been part of life too.

Over 2 years ago, we sold our house in Sydney, paid out mortgage etc, found a rental house we like on Central Coast & left our much-loved adult families (g’kids too) behind. I also stopped all my work in education after 44 yrs.

Now, I “thought” I had nailed this! Yep. What we wanted to do. Freedom etc. My emotions disagreed & that’s where I have been falling down, picking myself up, x 10000 (it feels like) since Jan 2015.

I’ve got a fantastic listening hub who “gets me”, a great GP who helps me manage symptoms of IBS & a psychologist who is working with me on plans of ‘exposure’ therapy to learn to live with & accept IBS.

I am fortunate not have a diagnosis of either anxiety or depression but when IBS lurks (just about every week if not more frequently) then I get both sad & upset because of it. I take no medication other than imodium if I have to.

I do not know “who I am” any more because of my increasing fear to venture out to socialise, drive any distance on M1 or even have a cuppa somewhere.

Everything I read & understand about both anxiety-related conditions & IBS says I have to “accept” it and get on with life.

Right now, this seems hard.. too hard.. and I’m floundering. I do know I have determination & strength because I’ve rallied myself many times.

Do you know that around 20-25% of the population has IBS & it’s a functional condition & no treatment is available? I’m fortunate it is nothing more serious… I know.

What I wondered tonight, is anyone else out there like me and how can we help each other through some of these tough(er) times?

I am/was always searching for how to make me better to understand myself.

Weight loss: a mixed blessing. I was unwell.

Did What I Could To Help Myself.

I have all the books to prove it. And whilst all courses and speaking to professionals helped, the one thing that eluded me was how to live with irritable bowel syndrome and its unpredictability.

I tried writing.

I made hundreds of journal entries.

I did an on-line course twice to help understand IBS.

I read and completed a book with self-help ideas.

 

This List Was Something I Kept for Me in 2016.

Here are 20 things you can control:

1. Talking to yourself positively

2. The way you talk to those around you

3. The amount of physical exercise you give your body

4. The food you nourish your body with

5. Your level of honesty

6. Whether you are a listener or a talker

7. How often you smile every day

8. The time you spend worrying about irrelevant things

9. The amount of love you give your children

10. Whether you see the glass half empty or half full

11. How mindful you want to be

12. How you make other people feel about themselves

13. Having a generous heart

14. Allowing yourself to ask for help

15. Offering help in return

16. Whether you judge people or accept people

17. Having an open heart to receive true love

18. Whether you believe in yourself

19. Your words

20. Your thoughts

 

Self help, not helpless.

I was unwell yet wanted so much to be well. I was caught between being embarrassed about my anxious gut and self and wanting to get out and enjoy this life I had longed for in retirement.

Some things I tried (and still do!) were these:

Our Family Life At The Time.

As at the beginning of this year, things did not proceed comfortably for the remainder of 2016 and into 2017 due to changes in family dynamics and relationships. Again, I say no more. Other than this: my heart may be broken yet mended over time. This, fortunately, is true and for me…so grateful. But living with it and through it was something I found very disconcerting. We had limited contact with family members and I travelled far less to Sydney because of my health and anxiety about I.B.S.

Nothing “I” could do to change anything was a lesson I learn(ed) over and over again. Having some faith and trust that matters can be resolved and worked out did, over time, prove to be true but it took a serious illness (mine) for that to happen. More in the next part of the story. Mindfulness and the works of Pema Chodron, and Jack Kornfield and My Headspace app all helped. I did a lot of meditation outside and inside.

 

And What About That Sore Mouth?

It did not get better. I did all I was asked by my (new in early 2016) dentist. I was given instructions for better cleaning, managing so called candida, trying ideas for eating/drinking cooler food as mouth was red on the roof (palate). I am a compliant patient. Yet, some of the treatments were making my I.B.S. diarrheoa worse. Sigh. My G.P. did not have any more ideas. However, “I” must have because diary entries as the year went on towards early 2017 included:

  • I wonder if this is cancer
  • Sore mouth – gums and possible filling breaking. Know I will have to see gum specialist.
  • GP says “mouth inflamed but it’s not cancer”
  • Dentist: “In two months since I last saw you I see pus in overgrown gums over the bridge of teeth, so off to see gum specialist”
  • BUT I said, “back in early January 2017 I want to know what is under this bridge so can you take it out?”

His answer, in short, was conservative and no. It would as you will read in Part Two of this Chapter, happen.

Thank you for reading and commenting on these Telling My Story posts. Yes, they can raise some powerful emotions for me but I also am aware of how far I have come in this relatively short period.

Next time with be Part Two.

I will be taking over my Thursday posts with these now over the next months to enable me to get up to date.

Denyse.

Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

 

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