Sunday 24th January 2021

Scenes From Nighttime. #SundayStills. 6/2021.

Scenes From Nighttime. #SundayStills. 6/2021.

After the warm welcome I received to the #sundaystills blogging community I am back! Last week I posted here.

Every 5 weeks on my blog, I offer the optional prompt to #shareyoursnaps for the Monday link up called #LifeThisWeek and that is why I have also included my image from there.

When I saw this prompt for week commencing 10 January 2021 from here: 

These are remaining prompts for January.

NB: these are from the Northern Hemisphere, I will need to be imaginative here in the Southern Hemisphere in Summer.

And yes, I changed the spelling in two words. My computer told me to!

Jan 17 Colour Challenge: Glacier Blue
Jan 24 Fog and Clouds
Jan 31 Your Favourite Landscape

I was not sure I had any photos to fit as I do not typically take photos at night nor at night time…but then I remembered these!

In early March 2020 before COVID restrictions began, I was the guest speaker at an evening function at Avoca N.S.W. Australia to help raise funds for a head and neck cancer charity where I am a volunteer Ambassador. I shared some of my story with the audience. It was just on dusk in daylight saving time and the beach looked so tranquil as did the view. I remember stopping on my way up the stairs to take this photo.

And here’s what I did and the audience reaction to my story, along with the host (in white) a young doctor and a member of the board, a radiation specialist.

The very next week saw me, at night, out on a balcony of an apartment we stayed in post-cataract surgery, taking photos of evening-time arriving in Parramatta!

So good seeing familiar places from when we used to live in Sydney from a different perspective.

Looking west, across Parramatta Park, the western suburbs to the Blue Mountains.

 

Urban Parramatta at night. Old hospital to the right, and police precinct in the middle.

In 2020 I sure did get some time in medical and surgical facilities….Gosford Private Hospital twice! This is from the first stint. Four night stay. Night time really is the ‘worst’ time in hospital.

Not in chronological order but in May, it was the COVID night time 21st Birthday of our second granddaughter. Only her nearest & dearest allowed at her home. Still have restrictions now unfortunately.

Birthday girl is 3rd from left. A Butterfly balloon seen here is because she has always been known as “our beautiful butterfly” from birth!

So I found images and used my imagination too.
Great combination for a blogger I reckon.

Please follow this blog via Bloglovin  see my home page for link in which to add your email address.

You may prefer to follow the updates from here on my Facebook page for the blog.

I am on twitter as @denysewhelan1

My instagram account is private: ask for follow @denysewhelan_blogs

Each Monday I hosted a link up called Life This Week. There are optional prompts. They can be found on the home page too.

Have a great weekend and week ahead everyone,
Denyse.

Linking up here for Natalie’s Weekend Coffee Catch Up this week.

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Announcement. 2/51. #LifeThisWeek. 4/2021.

Announcement. 2/51. #LifeThisWeek. 4/2021.

Life This Week post for me is a series of announcements. 

  • Today is Monday 11 January and my father, here with me on my 71st Birthday, is 97. He has no idea why he is still around. But he is reasonably well, independent and now been a widower for almost 14 years. Interestingly he is a child of the Great Depression…around 6 when it started and he has known very tough times but his longevity is amazing. Mind you, given some of his limitations I have told him I hope I do not follow trend this myself! I am now visiting him today, under the COVID19 restrictions for Greater Sydney.

The two of us.

And about 69 years earlier…look “no smile”.

I Looked Back at My Previous Years’ Word of The Year And Thought…..

  • I really knew what I wanted to do and say for each of the years and set out with great intent but really, until I got to 2018 I felt like I just could not apply what it was I meant to do and be. In saying that, I did OK really but was not great in terms of my emotional health. I mentioned that in this post last week.

2015:  Acceptance

2016:  FEARless

2017:  Kindness

2018:  B.O.L.D. Be Brave Optimistic Loving Learning Determined Denyse

2019: Integrate: Head & Neck Cancer & Me

2020: Gratitude. For Life

2021: Smile

The Posts Where I Announced These.

2015 & 2016 posts are  now gone. I remember thinking those words would be ‘easy’. Nah. Not a chance.

Here is 2017. Kindness.

Then after that was, in my first full year as a person with head and neck cancer,

2018: B.O.L.D. Be Brave Optimistic Loving Learning Determined Denyse

My “message to me” bracelet.

2019. Integrate. This word emerged as I made efforts to see myself as whole person, not “just a patient with head and neck cancer”.

However I was not quite sure of what I wanted and as usual I wrote about this and here’s what emerged  this post. 

Last year’s word needed on many days, LOVE in between, and this year’s word. All where I could see them and be reminded. It really helps me.

What Did Having These Words ‘on my arm’ Do For Me?

  • I knew I liked something to distract me a bit when I was waiting for something to happen, say in an appointment or that I could touch and ‘play with’ in times of boredom, stress or a combination of the two.
  • Those little words on bracelets did so much more for me in 2018 and 2019.
  • They were talismen I carried on me at all times. OK, not into surgeries of course, but 24/7 when I could.
  • When I felt less than confident, less than brave and perhaps in need of a reminder in tougher times that I COULD put up with this, do this and so on, these tiny and relatively inconspicuous bracelets with their words did that.
  • I had to spend a lot of time…up to 4 hours in a dentist chair at the prosthodonist in 2018, less in 2019 and along with my ear buds in use with a story or music, I could when feeling more ‘over it’ reach down to my right wrist and touch the metal. It was (and still can be) soothing and a reminder that I CAN do hard things!!
  • 2018 memories…before my upper prosthesis was finally fitted, I had many, painstaking (but not painful) appointments here to get my mouth right!

And then in 2020 I chose Gratitude and I am announcing it’s coming into 2021 with me! 

Revisit the gratitude word from last year’s first post and know that I lead into the year with a whole month of gratitude leading up to my 70th Birthday at the end of November 2019. My bracelet about gratitude has on the back “for life” and that resonates. So, I am now wearing it on my left hand. I still need and will always, I believe, to remind myself of gratitude daily.

This post about my smile: very important for my self-esteem and progress with oral cancer recovery.

These are pretty average shots of my bracelet…it’s too awkward for my husband to undo and I sure cannot. Ooops.

I wear it above my Apple Watch which is on the right hand. I am a leftie so that suits me best. The other side marks ’50’ years of marriage in 2021 using “L” and then there is the Tree of Life representing us and our family.

 

As for my word in 2021, SMILE, I have this to say:

  • I like to smile but I won’t smile without feeling it….(small exception if it helps me through something that needs a smile more than a frown)
  • I won’t be told by anyone to “smile” unless it’s in good humour!
  • No-one can force us to smile, I think.
  • Smiles are universal
  • A gentle smile can start a kind conversation
  • A broad smile might get back another broad smile, especially in close and friendly/familiar situations
  • There is often something to smile about if we look with care
  • Smiling is from the heart

What about you?

What makes you smile?

So happy with my new avatar

 

Another Announcement! The Last One.

For the last few months I have wondered about continuing to post more than once a week.

Yes, I know many are reducing their blogging days.

Here’s a small statistic from my history of blogging: 2015 and into 2016:

1 Nov 2016 I stopped Blogging every day

At 671 posts from beginning of 2015

Those who have followed for a long time will remember we had a link up on Mondays, Tuesdays, sometimes on Wednesdays and Thursdays and one for the Weekend on Fridays. Many people have stopped blogging we know that, and some who ran link ups let them go over time.

I remain committed to mine each Monday for all of 2021.

But….one thing I am considering is adding a topic for posts for me.

  • You see, I believe I am one of the older bloggers in terms of age and years of blogging.
  • I have begun to feel alone within the various facebook groups and pages I follow.
  • Why? I am, from what I see, the one who is at least 5-10 years older than the groups’ cohorts.

So, I am thinking it’s time “I” contributed posts which may be of interest to others here about the realities, good news and not so about  the inevitability of  ageing.

Do you think there might be any interest?

I am going to do this anyway, because it’s time I had a voice that is heard in this area: Stories About Ageing. 

I will post something this coming week and link up and see how it is received.

And a footnote, I blogged last weekend and joined in the #sundaystills community. It was fun and I loved it. Looks like I am blogging more!!

Cheers,

Denyse.

Link Up 222.

Life This Week. Link Up #222

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt: 3/51 Back To. 18 Jan.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

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Retrospective In Photos: Our Life in 2020. #SundayStills. 3/2021.

Retrospective In Photos: Our Life In  2020. #SundayStills. 3/2021.

Nothing like a new year to try new ideas.

Deb from Deb’s World here, shares her #SundayStills via this blog which I am now following, a photography challenge hosted by Terri  and I am giving it a go. Here is her wrap up for quite the year of 2020.

As we in Australia say, “you never know till you give it a go”.

The prompts for January 2021, should you wish to follow as I am are:

Jan 3   Your 2020 Retrospective (share your year in images)
Jan 10 Night
Jan 17 Color Challenge: Glacier Blue
Jan 24 Fog and Clouds
Jan 31 Your Favourite Landscape

I think for me, I will be kind of a week behind…but let’s just see!

Looking Back: Moving Forward!

2020. Here We GO!

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Great way to recount the “year that was” and surprisingly to me, the positives have far outweighed any negatives!

  • Gratitude being ‘my word’ for 2020 helped me see life from a different lens from time to time.
  • We felt safe here even in COVID times
  • I had successful surgeries – to my eyes and for rectal prolapse and even with a wound debridement later and longer recovery I feel well and glad it has all worked out for me.
  • I got the news that my head and neck cancer surgeon did not want me to return for a check for a year. Unbelievable.
  • We may not have seen as much of our extended family as we wished but so many are also restricted so the few catch ups we had made us even more grateful.
  • Both of us have been well supported by our local GPs and their crew even in telehealth times
  • The roof we have over our heads in this rental house is very strong and we enjoy living here.,
  • I got to visit my Dad a few times and he has remained well. I will be seeing him on Mon 11 January for his 97th birthday.

We are about to celebrate our fiftieth, Golden Wedding Anniversary and despite, COVID limitations, we are hopeful some of our family can visit.

 

Please follow this blog via Bloglovin  see my home page for link in which to add your email address.

You may prefer to follow the updates from here on my Facebook page for the blog.

I am on twitter as @denysewhelan1

My instagram account is private: ask for follow @denysewhelan_blogs

Each Monday I hosted a link up called Life This Week. There are optional prompts. They can be found on the home page too.

 

Here’s to 2021.

Denyse.

 

 

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Word Of The Year. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek. 1/2021.

Word Of The Year. 1/51 #LifeThisWeek. 1/2021.

W  E  L  C  O  M     E    V   E   R   Y   O   N  E    2   0   2   1

Welcome to Life This Week in 2021. I am so glad you are joining us. Every Monday for 51 weeks this is the place to connect, to share, to add, to comment and to meet-up virtually with many! Love this community. Thank you for being one very important part. If you are new here, extra big welcome. The optional prompts for the weeks ahead are found on the home page. Denyse.

 

For the past three years I set a word of the year for me to live by. I admit I found this both a blessing and a curse. Ha! It was more the former than the latter. I did say to myself in November:I think I will leave trying to live with a word of the year in 2021′

Then on 30th November for my 71st Birthday my dear husband wrote this to me on the card’s envelope:

There it was. A word to live with and by, and as many who read here know I do love having my smile. So now you know!

 

Why “SMILE”?

  • A smile is a valuable form of communication and connection.
  • I know for some people smiles can be hard to manage depending on the time and circumstances and not everyone is a ‘smiler’. That is what makes the world go round, we are all different.
  • I too do not like being told “smile!!”. Umm. No, unless I have the emotions that warrant a smile, I may be able to slightly fake it but truly I prefer the genuine smile.
  • I know there are many more muscles used in the face to frown and far fewer to smile and that can be a suggestion as a mood lifter.
  • In fact, the old adage of ‘fake it till you make it’ can work as a psychological tool at times. Try it.

Some Thoughts on Smiling.

“A simple smile. That’s the start of opening your heart and being compassionate to others.”

– Dalai Lama

– Thich Nhat Hanh

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

– Dr. Seuss

“The greatest self is a peaceful smile, that always sees the world smiling back.” – Bryant H. McGill

“https://www.keepinspiring.me/quotes-about-smiling/ecause of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”

My Friends Shared Here About Smiles and Smiling After This Request From Me.

  • Reading random acts of kindness
  • My dog Lucky makes me smile all the time
  • You make me smile. Especially now with your beautiful new smile x
  • At this moment in time, seeing (and hearing) the delight as my 2 year old granddaughter experiences the beach. It starts as we prepare, then as she sees the water in the distance and then peaks as she plays in the water. Her pure happiness and joy at life in general makes me smile.
  • My adult kids, watching them live their lives makes me smile x
  • Snowflakes Music Ice cream Love Energy
  • Babies laughing
  • My garden

 

The Story of My Smile.

It’s said we often don’t know how much we appreciate something until it’s gone. I agree.

Regular readers here will know that I was diagnosed with a form of head and neck cancer in the top area of my mouth and this page tells the whole story.

The loss of what I counted on as something unique to me and special, oh so special, my smile was something that I came to terms with over time. I had to.

However, the length of time it took for me to get my smile back was fourteen long, arduous, surgery and treatment filled months.

The day I got to see what  my new  smile would look like nearly brought me to tears. It was like being reunited with an old but changed new friend.

Under each of the photos here I have added some commentary connecting the word S M I L E to:

  • why I smile(d)
  • the story behind the smile
  • what can make me smile
  • appreciation for my team who gave me back my smile

 

That’s the story of my smile and why I chose the word for 2021. Actually I now think the word chose me. In a way, it was from my husband’s compliment and then this. I found a letter he never sent but he sure did proudly share with me and I have permission to share now here.

From B about my smile: written in 2018.

ABC Recording Studio, William St., SYDNEY.

I would dearly love to record a song for my wife of 48 years. I first encountered her at the Tamworth RSL Club where we were attending a Teacher’s Conference. Seated at the same table that evening, I was immediately struck by her smile. Since then, we have combined to produce two great children and eight adorable grandchildren.

Two years ago that smile was seriously threatened by a most unusually rare squamous cell cancer in her mouth. However, thanks to the brilliant intervention of an unusually rare surgeon at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in Camperdown, Prof Jonathan Clark, she now has a new palate hewn from leg flesh and bone. Now that unusually rare smile has returned even more vibrant than before.

So, the song I would like, with your wonderful help, to dedicate to her is the Carpenters’ “Sweet Sweet Smile”!

 

Of course, smiling is contagious and I do this as much as I can when I am out and about to show my appreciation for others.

It is made harder by the addition of the mask thanks (no thanks) to COVID19 but I will still smile with my eyes and use words of appreciation where I can.

I hope your year has begun well.

Do you choose a word for the year?

I will review the word I had for 2020 in a future post.

Thanks for being here!

Denyse.

Link Up 221.

Life This Week. Link Up #221

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next Week’s Optional Prompt is Announcement. 11/1/2021

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Click here to enter


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Lucky. 49/51 #LifeThisWeek. 98/2020.

Lucky. 49/51 #LifeThisWeek. 98/2020.

In the third last post for the year on this Monday 7 December I wanted to offer my appreciation for you!

Yes, you….and you….and never forgetting Y O U.

I hope that the images I have included mean I haven’t missed anyone as these were images from my Women of Courage series. Not everyone blogs right now but they have and are supportive of the blogging community and some people who add their posts and comment were not part of the series. And from me: I am very grateful !

Thank YOU all.

Why?

Well, dear blogging friends, without any of you this link up would shrivel and die.

Sad.

I love opening up the blog on a Monday morning to see who has visited, left a comment and added their blog post.

I could be calling this “lucky” but I am not.

I say I am very fortunate AND grateful to have you here.

My deepest appreciation for you and your lovely words and comments which resonate help me and many go through whatever is part of our world this week.

My husband and I had a discussion recently about why he finds it a challenge to use the word lucky, preferring to use the word fortunate. I asked him his reasons and they stemmed from luck being seen as coming from a win, a reward or something outside of him. Gambling was one such place. In determining that I see his reasons we came up with fortunate coming from inside us, a place of appreciation, contentment and deep caring of ourselves and one another.

Optional Prompts for Life This Week 2021

1/51 Word of Year.  4 Jan.

2/51 Announcement. 11 Jan.

3/51 Back To. 18 Jan.

4/51 Cannot. 25 Jan.

5/51 Share Your Snaps #1. 1 Feb.

6/51 Decision. 8 Feb.

7/51 Self Care Stories #1. 15 Feb.

8/51 Explore. 22 Feb.

9/51 Taking Stock #1. 1 Mar.

10/51 Share Your Snaps #2. 8 Mar.

11/51 Floral. 15 Mar.

12/51 Good. 22 Mar.

13/51 Heroic. 29 Mar.

14/51 Self Care Stories #2. 5 Apr.

15/51 Share Your Snaps #3. 12 Apr.

16/51 Interesting. 19 Apr.

17/51 Joyful. 26 Apr.

18/51 Taking Stock #2. 3 May.

19/51 Knowing. 10 May.

20/51 Share Your  Snaps #4. 17 May.

 

New Photo Collages on My Blog Page: 

May you be well.

May you be safe.

May you be content.

May you be…….add your own words.

Thank you all, see you next week.

Denyse.

Link Up 218

Life This Week. Link Up #218

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt: 50/51 Share Your Snaps #10 14.12.2020

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Self-Care Stories #7 48/51. #LifeThisWeek. 96/2020.

Self-Care Stories #7 48/51. #LifeThisWeek. 96/2020.

The seventh optional prompt for #lifethisweek: Self Care Stories. Sometimes with a hyphen and sometimes not. New image though!

Every 7th Week

Today I am 71.

And yet it seems like just a few months since I was getting myself prepared for 70. In fact, I had a lovely series of gatherings for my 70th and this one brings back smiles…and gratitude for friends made via social media and blogging!

Today, as you may be reading this, I am driving to Sydney with my husband to visit my Dad. Dad is getting more physically frail but very much mentally ‘on the ball’ and I thought it might be a way to brighten his day, share some of my home made cakes and for him to chat with my husband in person as I tend to visit solo. After that we are popping into Uberkate at Willoughby to collect my chain with an added mini-ubercircle which I won’t wear until it’s our Golden Wedding Anniversary in January.

The original 3 Ubercircles I have worn since 2013.

What I Have Done To Continue Better and More Effective Self Care Practices Recently.

  • limiting time spent at my computer in a physical way as I had advice that my sore right shoulder was the effect of too much use of the trackpad and sitting for too long. I have a sign above my screen which says “Ready…Set 15 mins…Go” and oops, I best do that now on my watch. It is a break time which reminds me to move away, and change my posture.
  • using social media feeds of instagram, twitter and facebook ‘just to scroll.’ I now tend to use any one of them for a purpose. For example, twitter is ‘news based’ for my education and health needs, instagram to see if my two posts are actually live and sharing my likes for others, and facebook – personal and the page – to check in on groups where I am a member.
  • I now do not stay for long. If I feel my emotions change i.e. getting cranky with politicians and the like, I am more prone to leaving or retweeting than to respond. Not always but I am getting better!

Self-Talk is SO Much Better.

I do not give myself too hard a time about anything any more and this is a huge shift. Of course, I will say something like ‘oh that was silly’ but I get over it. I no longer dwell, berate or use much negative talk at all. How come? Well, more than anything becoming AWARE. This is my way…I notice much much more what I do/say and I pull myself up on it and move on. I have done so much of this thanks to my previous years’ learning, wanting to know more and via my Calm meditation and reading over 2 years.

Kindness Is King. 

I used to say the words “be kind” and “kindness makes the world a better place” but I did not really believe it nor practise consistently it until this past year. I think, adding to my learning about the benefits of gratitude and needing to cope with all the COVID threw at us earlier in the year, I have had to deliberately step back when managing my emotions and with another person where I may be challenged…and think “kindness.”

  • I took our real estate property manager and team a card of appreciation for their five years of caring for us along with some treats to eat.
  • I also thanked the lovely cafe owner who has cared for me for all of my time getting over cancer surgeries and treatments.
  • I had my 6 months check with my dentist – the one who helped me find the cancer – and he kindly charges me no gap fees at check ups
  • The huge donut story. I sometimes feel deprived of some foods and this local place has been hammering social media so I visited and bought a creme brulee donut home. Ahhh. No good for me. It was delightfully crunchy toffee on top and with MY mouth and teeth no way would I risk it. Boo. So, I had some of the custard with some of the dough and then threw it away. I learned that I cannot have treats like these and wondered, now my appetite has changed how anyone actually eats one or more!
  • My Sunday coffee is always perfect and here is where I catch up on my Kindness book and its snippets of wisdom.

 

Realisation that Choosing  Gratitude as My Word of the Year Helped Me. 

I just reviewed my January post about my selection  of the word gratitude and why. I set myself a goal of posting an image each day (366!) of 2020. Little did any of us know what lay ahead. Days and weeks (months even) of uncertainty thanks to COVID. In fact, I remember a few times thinking to myself ‘sure picked a good word for 2020…not’. And then I turned it around. Often.

  • I became grateful for small things.
  • Learned that I could cope with restrictions better than I may have imagined
  • Found gratitude in a daily coffee AT home rather than going out.

So much to be grateful for.

I had health challenges and a recovery that went a bit pear-shaped but I was grateful for the technology to aid healing, our private health insurance and my body for being a good healer.

So, yes it IS possible to be grateful. 100%.

And to Keep Me More Mindful These Help:

Each morning after my Daily Calm Meditation practice, an image pops up connected to that day. Some I like, others not so much. Here is a range of one whioch not only resonate but are beginning to be embedded in me! I like that.

How Self Care Helps Me Gain Confidence and Strength.

It may surprise some readers but for quite some time my confidence was low. It was, in some ways, to do with my focus on physical and emotional health before cancer was diagnosed. More about that when I do more chapters in Telling My Story next year.

One very special day recently I drove to our son’s house in Sydney after asking if I could spend some time with his youngest before she starts school. He was fine with that and last week, I loved being with her, chatting, drawing and sharing. Being with her, helped my self-care as I watched her totally absorbed in this little Christmas counting book I gave her.

And that is my self-care catch up for now.

How are you self caring these days?

Denyse.

Link Up 217

Life This Week. Link Up #217

You can link up something old or new, just come on in.

* Please add just ONE post each week! NOT a link-up series of posts, thank you.

* Feel free to go with the prompt for the week to add your ‘take’ on the prompt. Or not.

* Please do stay to comment on my post as I always reply and it’s a bloggy thing to do!

* Check out what others are up to: Leave a comment on a few posts, because we all love our comments, right!

* Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere, or on your sidebar or let others know somewhere you are linking up to this blog’s Life This Week.

*Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog & the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. These may include promotions, advertorials and any that are overly religious or political or in any way offensive  in nature.

* THANK you for linking up today! Next week’s optional prompt: 49/51 Lucky 7.12.2020 & I will share the first optional prompts for 2021. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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One Year Ago. Head & Neck Cancer. October 2019. 87/2020.

One Year Ago. Head & Neck Cancer. October 2019. 87/2020.

For the past two weeks, and now concluding this week, on a  Wednesday I am posting a ‘review’ blog post mostly to remind ME of how far I have come in terms of the changes brought about in my life thanks to the diagnosis of head and neck cancer on 17 May 2017. The whole story is here. 

Using some photos I am adding my memories from the time.

Here I go:

October 2019.

 

 

I was very well by this time one year ago. I did have a cancer check in September 2019 and all was good and I was told, see you in 6 months. That brought me to the early March 2020 appointment which was held in “just before COVID times locked down”.

 

 

I was getting myself ready to celebrate my 70th Birthday at the end of November 2019, and had a little look at young Denyse who began loving cake…waaaay back. Mum would have made this. She did not really enjoy eating sweet things but she knew how to bake them for the rest of us.

 

 

 

Just before October 2019 I found out about two other patients with head and neck cancers who also had the privilege of sharing the care and treatment of “my” Professor too. These people found me via formerly Beyond Five..now Head and Neck Cancer Australia, and then read my blog posts here. They reached out to me. One I got to meet in person. The other, another teacher, and I will catch up once we are on some kind of holidays at the same time. Head and Neck Cancer, is as I read recently a lonely disease. It is always good though to meet up with others who understand. The health professionals too as they get to see progress within us.

 

 

 

 

I did have a special and kind friend from my world of art die in early October 2019 and on the day of her funeral, I went to a favourite place of mine that she also loved me sharing, the ocean and thought of her and her family.

 

 

 

 

My gratitude for having an open space by the ocean is well-known. I have, since moving nearer the coast, found solace and a great sense of peace walking on the beach and in the water. The beach I loved doing this has, thanks to the ways of the ocean, become almost inaccessible to people who are older and with a compromised right leg (fibula-less) I won’t go there unless I can access it with ease.

 

I drove to Sydney’s Dee Why to visit Dad in his independent retirement unit in October. He must not have wanted a photo that day. Here I am before leaving home.

 

Later, I drove as I often do, past South Curl Curl beach and stopped to have a little walk. It was a magnificent day. And when I did see Dad in October 2020 he agreed to this photo! He turns 97 early next year.

 

What have I learned in doing this series?

That for me, things got better and better.

They also were very hard on some days to tolerate. Many of those days were long, boring, painful and challenging as so much depends on T I M E to heal.

Yes, that old adage is true…time heals all wounds.

So, as of NOW: October 2020, I am a very well person. Go me.

Actually, also ‘go my husband’ who has had to listen to ALLLL  of the stories from me.

On Saturday 17th October it was 50 years since we met. As this post goes live, we will have travelled to the north west of N.S.W. to the city of Tamworth where we met. We plan to have a couple of days going to towns that were of great significance in our early single, then married lives. There WILL be a post about that you can guarantee it. 

 

I have had a very challenging year in some respects in 2020 with – as for everyone:  COVID 19 and its various means of changing our lives….

  • specifically for me it has been a year of ‘getting more medical and surgical things’ done. I had to concentrate on head and neck cancer until late 2019 so in 2020 there are no more excuses.

 

  • In March 2020 I had both eyes cataracts removed and no longer need glasses for distance or driving. Still for reading but at a lower prescription and I need sunglasses out in the sun.

 

  • In July, and then into August 2020 I had a rectal prolapse surgery (planned) and hernia repair (unplanned). There was a wound healing complication after 5 weeks and I needed further surgery to debride the wound and then  T I M E and a VAC machine and wound changes till all finally healed by October 6. BEST news ever!

 

  • Well, there was more too! Early September, when I was still attached the the VAC machine, my husband drove me to my Cancer Check with my surgeon and nurse, and all was so darned good, I got the news that floored me…”see you in a year.” And….

 

  • On 15 October my prosthodontist checked out my upper prosthesis and declared I am maintaining the area very well indeed! I don’t need to return to see him till April 2021.

I love these images…me with my health professionals. I love that they agree to having their photos taken too.

Check Up with ColoRectal Surgeon

Head and Neck Cancer Surgeon & Me.

With My Prosthodontist

This is why I blog. It is so helpful to share with others and it is a great record for me and my progress.

Thank you for your interest, I appreciate it.

Denyse.

Joining Leanne and friends for Lovin Life Linky here. 

 

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Healthy. 39/51. #LifeThisWeek. 78/2020.

Healthy. 39/51. #LifeThisWeek. 78/2020.

When I was blogging more frequently, health and mindfulness were a category for blog posts. These days, like many, my posts are limited to twice a week.

This is good for my health in some ways as I am not feeling too much pressure to perform, aka write posts, and can enjoy the writing of the two I do more.

About Me.

  • Being healthy is a relatively new idea for me…I was raised to be healthy and was…I am talking about lifestyle & choices
  • For many years I balanced my life …in a not so good way…with eating for comfort and doing less as I was quite worn out by life
  • I knew limited ways in which to care for myself because…as many do…I was too busy caring for others: at work, and in my family life.
  • I do much much better now in the self-care and health stakes as I have learned much in my years living following head and neck cancer.

Then I Was Diagnosed With Cancer.

Those who have followed me before and since this diagnosis know that I found out I had a head and neck cancer, specifically squamous cell carcinoma of the top gums (maxilla) and under the top lip. All about that, and many more posts outlining the years of surgeries and more are here: Head and Neck Cancer.

But Before Then.

My emotional health was at an all time low from 2013 into early 2017 for a number of reasons:

  • ageing and becoming somewhat disenchanted by some of its effects
  • retirement from all of my meaningful and paid work over this time
  • my weight was the highest it had been and with encouragement from my GP and my own determination, I lost some kilos over a year with greater awareness of why I ate, and ensuring I moved more
  • finishing up grandparent care at our house and actually being glad because I was finally tiring and becoming worn out by it
  • making a move from all I knew: Sydney, our family, friends….to the Central Coast
  • this move was one I thought I wanted (and still agree it was the right move) but my emotional health brought me down into spirals of anxiety and fear along with the dreaded Irritable Bowel Syndrome
  • the health professionals I saw then all said it was reactive depression and anxiety was part of the transitioning. Not a diagnosis of either. I do take a low dose anti-depressant now to help with IBS more than anything and getting off to sleep
  • I admit I am one of what is known as the “worried well”.

SO….in some ways I was not surprised that I had cancer diagnosed in May 2017 …I can see that others may have felt stress was a cause. That it is not a direct link, but from what I know about cancer, it is random.  Some people thought my immune system was down due to the appearance of my mouth. THAT,  was actually the beginning of cancer…but no-one thought that till April 2017 when I insister my dentist remove the bridge from my upper gums.

This quote sums cancer up. From an Australian surgeon:

Head and Neck Cancer Requires Frequent Checks.

From the diagnosis on May 18 2017, to the big reconstruction surgery on July 6 2017, through to further surgeries for skin grafts and checking inside my mouth, glands in neck area and many visits to the prosthodontist, I had:

  • post-surgery checks after a few days to a few weeks to see my head and neck surgeon and his surgical assistant, nurse specialist
  • three monthly checks for the first year
  • any time where I may have seen/felt an issue, such as additional skin forming, and my surgeon saw me within weeks
  • four monthly checks for the next year
  • weekly and fortnightly visits to the prosthodontist as he continued to work on the making of the upper prosthesis
  • then monthly to two monthly visits to him, until COVID. Last time I saw him was February 2020 and I am returning in mid October as he is now doing regular checks again
  • this year, the visits to Sydney’s Chris O’Brien Lifehouse were at 6 month intervals.
  • THEN, at my recent early September visit, after clear CT scans of my head, neck and chest, and after visual examination and more, I am now on:
  • a 12 month check up..so will not be back until September 2021.

“MY” Prof…as I call him, Professor Jonathan Clark AM recently became chair of a new program at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and Sydney University where this grant will enable him and his team create software and 3D models for head and neck surgery on the spot. My surgery, over 3 years ago, meant a delay as my team here in Australia  and the software developers in Europe made the program for my surgery and the model for my  mouth which had to be flown in from Belgium. Here’s the announcement of the donation for the funding so this program goes ahead.

ALWAYS happy to have a photo….

How I Manage My Health Now.

Interestingly with greater ease, thanks to a limited ability to eat a lot and to a better attitude to moving more.

Photos tell that story too. It is a way of keeping myself accountable too.

However, I never feel that I am missing out either. I have a better understanding of my need to nourish this body and to also enjoy the treats when I can.

And Then I Had to Do These Things.

Have both of my eyes’ cataracts removed and lens replaced. This happened on the cusp of COVID restrictions and I was glad to be done. In Sydney, over 3 days. Then of course, I had recovery but my opthalmologist has rooms up here so visits for checks were OK. I was quite shocked that from one annual visit to the next, it was cataracts time. This turning 70 was not quite what I thought. Now 6 months on, I use readers of a lower strength and no glasses for driving. Love the clearer views everywhere.

Left Eye Cataract Done

After hiding FROM myself and my problems with rectal prolapse* and the ways in which it impacted my day to day life, in May 2020, I was forced to face the matter as I could no longer live in pretend land. I look at it this way though, in managing my recoveries – physical and emotional – from those years of head and neck cancer I could not face more investigations into what is wrong. But dear readers, there was a lot wrong. Google rectal prolapse and what it means. Let’s just say, I paid a small fortune for incontinence aids, and suffered a great deal from shame about this condition.

Grateful to be ‘out of’ another surgery.

Getting One of the Things* Above Fixed…and Added Complications. 

Again COVID changed a few things but from my GP’s referral to a colorectal surgeon who insisted on a colonoscopy “no cancer or polyps but def need rectal prolapse repair”…and then needed surgery I became resigned to what needed to be done. From early May to late July I waited for the  surgery called rectopexi. The surgeon did a great job, especially complicated by my inners where he also found (surprise) a hernia needing repair. This necessitated a horizontal incision AND, the best (not) news, a vertical incision. Meeting in an upside down T at the bottom of my abdomen. The surgery, has worked. He took the slack inner workings of my rectum and has stitched them to a bone low in my back. I have no prolapse and normal (for me) bowel movements for the….first time in perhaps a decade…and…

My recovery in hospital and at home was slow as expected but at my first post-op appointment he told me I was a star for recovering in exactly the way it was best. I liked that. Especially as I did not quite hit it off with him at my initial consult…I was scared.

Three weeks into post-surgery recovery I noticed a section of the upside T section of the wound was kind of not staying together. I showed my GP and he thought it would be OK. But take this anti-biotic and apply this cream…and let’s hope it resolves.

It did not.

Within 2 weeks of seeing my GP, I was ‘astonished to see and feel liquid forming over my nightie as I got up out of my chair. Eeek. Got an urgent appointment to the GP, who was ‘so sorry, Denyse’ but…It was called wound dehiscence and sometimes a wound will not stay together. My colorectal surgeon saw me the next day, and pronounced “can fix, back into hospital for wound debridement and we will put a VAC system on to help heal the wound over less time.”

Wound Debridement and the VAC. 

One month post first surgery for rectopexi I was back in the same hospital and cared for very well. Surgery was less than an hour. I stayed overnight so the surgeon and wound nurse could see I understood how to live with the VAC system. The best part of having paid for our private health insurance since the late 1960s it means either of us can get the best care, when and where we can. I know this is a two-part health system in Australia but I am very grateful.

Each week I was visited two days a week by the Wound Nurse. This was all covered under ‘Hospital at Home” care from our Teachers Health Program. A machine was supplied, each of the changes of dressings and the costs of visits from the Wound Nurse. This lasted just over 3 weeks.

Since then, our GP and his practice nurse is taking care of my wound dressing. The progress is amazing on the wound. I have so many photos, none of which I will add here but they give me and my husband (the photographer) updates. The medical and surgical teams appreciate my dated photo collages.

Is that IT?

I don’t know but I sure would like to be free of appointments for  the above. This is likely to occur in the next two weeks or so. At least I have no VAC on me and have full independence.

I am back to my prosthodontist in October but I am pretty sure my mouth care will be praised.

Emotionally I am getting there. I know I have gained a great deal of resilience through much of these past 3+ years but am looking forward to a some respite from health professionals for a while,

THANK you…if you got this far.

I hope you are healthy and well.

Stay that way!

Denyse.

Link Up 208

Life This Week. Link Up #208

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