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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Reality Bites. Part One. 2017.96.

Reality Bites.Part One. 2017.96.

Today, 6 August 2017, as I write, it is exactly ONE month since my cancer surgery on 6 July 2017.

I am calling this post ‘Reality Bites’ as the consequences of the diagnosis of cancer, the pre-op visits and treatments and then the ultimate ‘reality’…. the complex and major surgery in my mouth and on my right leg have truly ‘bitten’.

I am writing it out so I can honestly tell you, my readers, that I am NOT doing so well in that emotional sphere at the moment.

This is despite my previous posts where I appeared to be going so well. I was/am in a physical sense.

Readers who want to read more about what this surgery was about can go here:

my diagnosis….my updatesmy grateful post #1my grateful post #2.

Reality has bitten in the form of a heightened emotional response (and IBS frequency) to what has happened to me…my feelings are catching up with what I have been through – from date of diagnosis 17.5.17 till now. (less than 3 months!)

Here is how it is for me NOW as I recall memories that are not great and are affecting me somewhat even though I know things will get better over time.

  • Wow, it’s been one month since the huge operation which I  knew was going to (hopefully) take all of the cancer out of my mouth and leave me with a reconstructed mouth using tissue and bone from my right leg.
  • I recall my feelings of being totally overwhelmed when the surgeons began to describe how they would ‘fix’ this cancer in my mouth only one day after I found out I HAVE cancer.
  • I got through the drive home after that with my hub on my least favourite road (M1) as I tried to wrestle the past 24-48 hours into some sort of sense for me. It was surreal.
  • At home I ‘tried’ to go on with ‘normal life’ but that is impossible when the word C A N C E R shone like a red light in my mind constantly.

“last smiles” were/are treasured but under those false teeth it’s cancer

  • I made  plans and prepared for hospital,  making meals for later,  and making sure I had sufficient clothes and activities ready to take to the hospital but it was surreal. I was doing this BECAUSE I have cancer. It still did not make sense to me.
  • I know that I saw my GP and psychologist about the surgery and what is meant to have cancer and yes, I cried sometimes but other times I was just numb. THIS could not be happening to me!?
  • My mouth and its discomfort and smell were the source of the cancer and I began to ‘hate’ it.
  • I also knew this surgery was going to take away 3 things that were and are precious to me: smiling, communicating and eating. Made me sad and quite stressed.
  • I was resigned to what the operation was but I truly had no idea of how it would impact me because it was like I was somewhat detached.
  • I knew that the surgery would be within 4-6 weeks of our consultation with the surgeons but oh how those weeks dragged on as I wanted to surgery to be over…but I also did not want to have it. So horrible. It  ended up being 7 weeks after diagnosis.
  • It took me weeks to finally get out the hospital forms and complete them. I just couldn’t before. I had to make myself do them. Filling them out meant, of course, I HAVE cancer and HAVE to do something about it. 
  • I made a decision to stay in a ‘cheap place’ the night before surgery and I so regret this as we were uncomfortable and I spent some of the time ‘feeling guilty and responsible’ because I have cancer. 
  • On the day of surgery, at 6.00 a.m. we  presented yourselves at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse, and then once ‘checked in’  I undressed and got into the paper gown which meant THIS is about to happen. O.M.G. 
  • I said goodbye to my husband and was off….the journey into the unknown…the operating theatre.

I’ve written two posts (see above) which described how things went for me in hospital so I will not outline any more here today.

The next post will outline what happened emotionally in hospital and then my homecoming. I have chosen to write about it all from an emotional perspective as life as a cancer patient post-surgery is affecting me and writing it out is to help me.

At home in my first weeks.

Have you had cancer?

Do you have an experience of having a life-changing event for you where things caught up with you later on?

I appreciate your comments and support. I am not looking to ‘get advice’ as I think that in recognising what is happening to me and letting it happen is probably the healthiest way I know how.

Thank you for your support!

Denyse.

Joining with Kylie and friends here for I Blog On Tuesdays and here with Leanne and friends on Thursday for Lovin’ Life linky.

 

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