Sunday 26th June 2022

2 Years Of Change & Uncertainty In Covid 19 Times. Pt. 2/2. March 2021-2022. 18/2022.

2 Years Of Change & Uncertainty In Covid 19 Times. Pt. 2/2. March 2021-2022. 18/2022.

Recently we clicked over to the third year of having Covid 19 affect so much of our lives as we knew them…from any days, months and years before.

It was a gradual process in some ways and I wrote about some of it here.

Messy writing…from calendars: 2020. 2021 & 2022

However as time went on, and into 2021 we here, in our part of Australia, New South Wales, we lulled into a type of life that resembled one we remembered well.

March to June 2021.

I drove to Newcastle for the first “in-person” event in Covid safe conditions for the Newcastle Writers’ Festival and heard Julia Gillard interviewed by Rosemarie Milsom, who is one of the women of courage, here.

We had high hopes that the 2021 Festival would happen. Sadly, it did not but was an on-line one. All fingers crossed for 2022 as I already have my tickets to see and hear Jane Caro AM,a woman of courage who started my series, here,  Trent Dalton and Kate McClymont.

In our case we did this:

  • I visited my father in Sydney and left him set with more meals and treats.
  • We had school holiday visits (April 2021) from our son and his family.
  • School had been going pretty normally for many and there was a good atmosphere seeing children back at school.
  • Parents often chose to work from home and that did help when there may have been some reported cases of Covid in schools and in workplaces.
  • We had the daily updates from NSW Health and the Premier.
  • Many people did find these stressful. I learned to check the summary rather than watch.
  • We wore masks, we were careful about where we went, but we generally felt safe.

Our granddaughter celebrated her 9th Birthday in April 2021 with a family and friends picnic in a large regional park and it was clear how everyone relished being out again, and meeting with others as well as enjoying the outdoors.

A.N.Z.A.C. Day came, on a Sunday, and there were small and large ceremonies in N.S.W. I chose to go to Norah Head and watch the sun rise on this very big day.

I went to see my father again, and he was staying well. Life seemed good.

I had already returned to meetings of the head and neck cancer group on the Central Coast, and after the May meeting took the chance to walk around the Boardwalk at Terrigal.

 

 

Mid May 2021 I celebrated four years since my head and neck cancer diagnosis with a trip to Sydney to see Hamilton on a Sunday afternoon. I had not been back to the harbour area for some time and I enjoyed a joy-filled walk around Pyrmont before the 1 pm. show. The Lyric Theatre was well-organised for social distancing, we had to wear masks and obey the Covid Safety instructions.

I met up with friends when we could, as social distancing was fine in the shopping centres. It felt so good to do that again.

I also go to Sydney’s Westmead to have mouth check by my prosthodontist in May. So glad I could.

As part of my role as an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia, I met with N.S.W. Senator, Deborah O’Neill in her Central Coast office and when we parted said we would see each other at the Parliamentary Breakfast, being hosted by Sen O’Neill and Dr Katie Allen, in Canberra in June 2021.

I made plans excitedly to meet up with blogging friends when I was to come to Canberra, and booked accommodation.

Sadly, over three separate periods, until the end of 2021, the Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Parliamentary Breakfast was postponed….and there is no plan for a 2022 one..because….well, there is likely to be an election soon….

I needed to continue some kind of regular daily routine and the blog helped greatly here.

I also decided to invite more women to share their Stories of Courage on the blog. I had a few women who kept promising me their stories, but the weight of covid restrictions on them in the latter part of the year saw them drop out. They were under a great deal of stress…just managing living alone and working too.

In this household we got excited in June.

We got our second Astra Zeneca vaccinations.

The latter part meant our second youngest granddaughter was turning 8 and we had fun ideas celebrating here with her dad and siblings and were ready. Until.

This.

Lockdown.

It was announced on the last weekend of June.

June – October 2021.

The Premier called on us all to manage with the strictest of conditions to date. It was OK for us, as we were already used to being at home as retirees.

It was not good for:

  • travelling
  • visiting
  • going to another person’s house
  • working other than at home, or in a health facility or a school/childcare where kids of essential workers could attend with minimal staff, and careful supervision.
  • having surgeries that were non-urgent
  • visiting ANYONE in a care or hospital-like place as well as hospitals
  • connecting
  • giving birth with a partner
  • getting married
  • having a funeral

so much just had to

S

T

O

P

and it felt the right thing to do at the time.

But it crippled so much business, and affected people’s health.

I can only write about our N.S.W. and Central Coast experience. 

Other places were either not affected (other than no-one could come and go) or had already been in lockdown before.

I found myself at a bit of a loose end on that first day. A Sunday. I went for a drive into Wyong, and walked about a bit taking some photos. I would not be back for months.

How We Managed This Lockdown.

  • Once my husband and I knew what we could and couldn’t do, we set ourselves up as only going out once a day in the car (and that was legal, once a day) and for essentials.
  • He could go to Bunnings but rarely did.
  •  He visited the chemist and did a weekly grocery shop at one Woolies only.
  • I went out once on a day he had not been anywhere and usually to a stand alone Coles, using the QR codes, wearing a mask and getting in and out fast.
  • I made a daily photo record. It helped give me something to do.
  • Blogging still happened but I needed more focus to get me out of boredom.
  • I could still visit some areas of nature within a certain boundary of home.
  • Later, I realised I could have gone further but I waited till September/October.

I was able to see my dentist, but not my prosthodontist at Westmead because they were deployed for other health services. My dentist did a great favour for me and my progress by taking photos inside my mouth and they were used by my head and neck cancer surgical team to determine how I was going via a telehealth call in September. We had in-person visits to GP and telehealth with some other doctors.

Honestly sometimes it is better not to know how long something will go for….

 

School kids did not see each other, except via zoom.

Families were separated for a long time.

Teachers and schools had to continue remote learning systems and programs for a VERY long time

Mental health professionals were concerned for many people in different settings and professions. Telehealth services for psychologists expanded.

No travel between state or territories unless for approved reasons. Many were not approved.

Very few could travel overseas, even for urgent and humanitarian reasons.

Our daughter turned 50 and she had a lockdown zoom birthday. She was given some special gifts including a cameo to her from Trent Dalton.

The lockdown went for 106 days.

In that time my hair grew more than I had ever known since I was about 20 years younger and I hated it…so occasionally B would cut some off. I returned the favour.

The Premier of N.S.W. resigned…and yeah, OK, we all said. Next?

Seriously, we (us) were over it and longed for more guidance and commonsense.

I’d like to say that happened but it didn’t.

We got our haircuts eventually. B before me as my hairdressers had to wait till the staff were fully vaccinated.

Our daughter and her youngest drove up to see us. Happy times! No photos. I look shocking…lol.

I got back to see Dad. He found it so lonely but remained well and was double vaxxed. Took him usual food packages. At least I could still cook and I did.

I was saddened to know a friend of mine died from an awful cancer. I attended his funeral via a link.

We got down to see our son and his crew and that was special too.

Mid- October – December 2021.

I also found that I was determined to get out and about once I could and that proved to be not as good for my emotional health as I may have thought.

We did do our morning tea thing on my 72nd Birthday and that was fun. Heard from our family and made feel very special on social media too.

THIS matters the most: Love.

It was in the period late November 2021 to February 2022 that I became aware of doing too much. And with Covid around, there was/is all the more to be concerned…is it Covid??

I had a virus of sorts..not covid and my health affected my confidence and my ability to meet others or travel to Sydney because I felt drained. I had covid tests. All OK. But in having to have covid tests (P.C.R. ones) and await results this took FAR too long for return of results. That is why we missed Christmas Day with all our family in Sydney….and then, as I felt worse again in January, my father’s turning 98. I did eventually get to see him. Our family all came here in January but Covid sure does make planning challenging impossible.

One friend, and her husband and kids drove to  Canberra from Sydney to see their family but on their way, got a covid positive notification and boom holiday cancelled, presents left with family, and a turn around back to Sydney. In the end, only that ONE family member got Covid.

New Year’s Day I drove to West Gosford – about 45 minutes from our place – to pick up a click and collect parcel and then to Coles to get bananas and see if the rarity (then) of RATs tests were on sale. They were. I grabbed a pack of 5 for $50. Used two of them on me during January and still had one PCR rest as well. Negative.

There are stories like my friend’s  in our family too. Some get Covid, others not. No rhyme nor reason. RAT is negative, PCR confirms, then later its positive.

January into February and March 2022. 

We had almost all of the family here late January for lunch and the most important getting our daughter’s and son’s signatures on our updated legal papers.

and 6 of the 8 grandkids came too…what fun!

By February 2022 the Australian Government and State Governments were able to get in sufficient Rapid Antigen Tests for pharmacists to stock them and eventually for those like us, on a pension, to receive them for free. There are far fewer line ups for PCR testing at local clinics but they are still operating at time of writing. We celebrated B’s birthday with morning tea out…and no photo but a week later, his older brother visited and that was very special. I made this collage…B is from a very large family, and these two are less than 2 years apart.

At present, we are still choosing to mask up at the shops and inside shopping centres. The doctors’ rooms insist on it. The QR checkins have gone. There is travel between states and territories and overseas too…not as much as before, but it is growing.

Then at the end of February into March 2022, the eastern states of Australia fell victim to an enormous rain event, leaving people homeless, and with no work prospects. Australia’s response to this “never before event” was not great. And those of us watching on felt helpless. We were not directly affected. However, it was unprecedented and many places had waters come in where they never had before. Once it was safe, I did venture locally.

Lakes Beach erosion

Wyong River at Milk Factory.

Keeping as healthy as I can.

I have already mentioned I was not 100% well for a few months and so did the right thing, for me, and have cut down rather than cut out what is important to me: connecting with others. The blog has been quite a lifeline to others, along with social media connections. I never felt too lonely when I could ‘chat’ or ‘comment’ to friends on-line. I have taken stock of my health, and still mid some check ups but going more slowly to help me first.

I admit that Covid 19 took its toll emotionally with its uncertainty, and constant change.

Along with the second year being so much more political it made me decide that arguing back on social media was hurting me, not anyone else.

What now?

I have no idea. Most of our family who are in daily contact with the wider world are fully vaccinated but have also had covid. Go figure.

I am doing my best to live as peaceful a life as I can, with my greatest responsibility to keeping well, mentally and physically.

My day consists of great interactions with my husband, a visit to a local area and/or shops. I start with meditation and gratitude practice and finish the day similarly. I am actually reading a book of fiction right now…The Mother by Jane Caro. It’s a thriller of sorts. I am making my way slowly through Brene Brown’s Atlas, and listening to a variety of books on audible, the one I am finding the most fascinating is The Body Keeps The Score.

Take care, friends and readers.

I hope this missive has not been too onerous to plough through.

I blog to connect…and also to keep the stories alive!

Thank you all,

Denyse

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

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How This Trip To The Dentist Changed Me. 43/2021.

How This Trip To The Dentist Changed Me. 43/2021.

ABOUT Head and Neck Cancer Australia First! 

Before I proceed, I ended up, after a long time. finding out I had cancer in my gums and under one lip. No dentist nor G.P. had even thought of this as being the case. This was not, in many ways, a fault or failing of them and their knowledge and skill set.

I have a “rare of rare” cancer as my Professor told me. I am now an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia and continue to share the ways in which this rare cancer can manifest itself. This link, to Head and Neck Cancer Australia, formerly Beyond Five, will take you to the page about diagnosis. This is a highly reputable and facts-based and checked website. Its content undergoes regular and thorough reviews by professionals in the field.

One of whom is Professor Jonathan Clark AM – my head and neck surgeon who is also Chair & Founder of Head and Neck Cancer Australia.

Visual inspection by Jonathan  as Surgical Assistant and HNC Nurse Cate records my visit.

Back to my post.

Going to the dentist had been a regular thing for me from the age of 3.

I am now 71.

Going every 6 months as suggested.

Going in between when issues arising in my mouth needed fixing.

In some of my blog posts about head and neck cancer, I have outlined the role played by my now (and he was then) dentist in the discovery of oral cancer in my gums.

Before My Upper Prosthesis Went In: July 2018. My Dentist and My Dental Nurse.

I also wrote with detail last week for Part 2 of 2 about the time 2016 to 16 May 2017.

Allow me, here though, to outline exactly how that one trip, on 6 April 2017 changed me FOR the BETTER.

When I was learning about how to deal with areas of my life where I felt fearful…travelling and getting to see people were distinctly challenging because my Irritable Bowel Syndrome (I.B.S) was so unpredictable I just stayed anchored to home. Safe. My then Psychologist who knew I really wanted to overcome this suggested I learn about Exposure Therapy and over time, she taught me that it could be done in stages.

Yet: I still couldn’t see HOW I could do the hard things like drive to the dentist, and see other professionals when I needed to…etc.

Until I literally HAD to!

Message to me before my first surgery

Backstory.

Reading through my blog posts, as some of you have, you will note that my anxiety about I.B.S. and being anxious about travel in particular escalated. This was NOT me being the me I knew and wanted to be …..until I had enough.

Enough of trying to find out what the heck was going on in my very sore mouth

Enough of thinking I was the cause of all the issues because that was how sometimes I was made to feel

Enough of waiting for things to get better

ENOUGH….but first, this is what had to happen.

  • A scaffolding of how I might get to the dentist to have the all the teeth that were part of my bridge removed
  • A new G.P. who offered me a drug (endep) to help slow my gut and prevent some I.B.S. issues
  • A determination within me to get this done…

No Matter What! Self-care helped!

 

On Wed 5 April 2017 I was nervous about the upcoming dentist trip I did go out & do things but the “enormity” of what was ahead overwhelmed me

  • I broke down & just couldn’t see how I could deal with it
  • B was good at listening but I knew that despite the dread & worry & fear IF I didn’t go through with it it would be :
  1. Avoiding
  2. Would make it worse
  3. I’d not get my mouth fixed

So I took steps to make sure I got there:

  1. 1/4 Valium in arvo & then at night helped reduce the internal rumblings
  2. I told myself it was a positive to be getting it done as it’s troubled me for so long I couldn’t let it go on & on
  3. I needed to tell myself the outcome & process had to happen. I stopped thinking there was doubt or other I needed to own this
  4. I ate small because I was scared of IBS but that’s not
  5. I knew I could take imodium if there was a reason
  6. I used the hypnosis from audible in a big way
  7. I had B taking me & he agreed to do it anything to make it work

Straight after the removal of the bridge, I had this denture put in. It was a very painful time and over time, did not improve…

 

How Did It All Work Out?

I did it.

Together with my dear husband, and the team above in the first photo.

I recovered slowly as it was quite a shock to my system, physically and emotionally

I learned that my determination was a quality I had and could call on again (again and again as it panned out!)

I knew too, that I OWNED my actions and thoughts and that I could, over time, even with fears and reservations deal with anything else that was to come.

And I have and do.

On 6 April 2021 I posted this…with pride and gratitude for all I could do…and need to do now when faced with challenges. 

Always Grateful For My Courage.

And, some three and a half years later, getting a check up of how my upper prosthesis was going (great) as in covid times I couldn’t see my prosthodontist and my dentist also looks after my 8 actual and remaining teeth with a regular check and clean every six months. And I am no longer scared about going to the dentist and thanks to my rectopexy surgery and meds, I have not had (touch wood) I.B.S. for over 6 months.

 

How do you feel about going to the dentist?

I admit, that before I had the bridge extracted my dentist already know how anxious I was about all that was going on in my mouth and between him and his lovely nurse I was very well cared for. Now, he and I have a lot of laughs more than anything and he is as grateful as I am that my cancer was found and has been treated as well and my care for my upper prosthesis is excellent.

Do go to the dentist…and do tell him/her if you are worried or anxious. It is always better to do rather than avoid.

And please, check the symptom list at the beginning of the story….and come back to it anytime.

Denyse.

Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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