Monday 1st March 2021

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. Jan-June. 2020. 25/2021.

One Year Ago: So Much Change Happened. Jan-June 2020. 25/2021.

Yes it did. So what? Isn’t everything constantly changing anyway?

The only thing that is permanent is impermanence.

2020 was to be my year of Gratitude…and here I was in my first instagram post of 2020.

And I can tell you that I DID keep to that routine of finding gratitude every day and wrote a post here last week.

Things were still pretty grim on the east coast of Australia where bushfires had been wreaking havoc, causing death, property loss, and much much more from late Spring. Here we were in January 2020 and things were still every grim. Hot. Unrelenting. Smokey skies…but where possible,  LIFE for us/me, and as this is my version of the changes, had to go on.

First for me, and that had knock on changes for my on-going eye health was a visit for a regular check in early January 2020 where the optician was sufficiently concerned for the cataracts he could see appearing, I brought my specialist appointment forward and attended her rooms in Sydney.

Right, she said “time for cataract x 2 surgeries” and we can do them 2 days apart in Parramatta. The big changes occurred instantly early March but took a while for my vision to be ready to adapt to simpler reading glasses. The best part? Lining up at the local NSW Service Centre to have “glasses for driving” taken off my licence.

In February there was the most welcome relief of all from the unrelenting heat, smoke and fires…in the form of pouring rain, flooding roads and more but the fact is most of the fires were now put out thanks to this change. However, changes of all kinds ARE indeed mixed in their blessings!

And from January onwards we heard from time to time about something called Coronavirus that had been found in Wuhan China. We saw news items with many people covered from head to toe in what we now know as PPE. Personal Protective Equipment: masks, boots, face covers, and scrubs…

But in February and March, for my experiences as a patient visiting my head and neck surgeon for a post-cancer check, attending a charity fundraising function and for being part of a head and neck cancer video, there was just one mention at the entrance to Chris O’Brien Lifehouse in early March…and none at all in February. I had a prosthodontist check at Westmead where there were no restrictions. Glad I had that because it suddenly had to stop all bar emergencies and did not come back until the latter half of 2020. Fortunately I remained OK and my regular dentist was able to see me for a check in May.

We had our first Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support Group Meeting in February 2020 and then…we had to cease all meetings. We were not alone. Hospitals and other organisations were affected. We were not to meet again until close to Christmas for a luncheon and then last week, February 2021 we got together like this:

 

February saw me take a solo drive to Newcastle and attend an event at the Civic Theatre. It was Chat 10 Looks 3 with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales and neither they, nor the audience knew it would be a last gathering in large crowds….and as I write, in February 2021, there is a return to concerts, theatre and live events but with some Covid-based restrictions.


I also took part in a video being made for head and neck cancer patients and families at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse. We were, as they say, so lucky to get that kind of event before the greater restrictions were announced.


Already though, on-line and in person there were warnings that we should not visit under any circumstances if we were unwell or had travelled from certain countries.

At my day surgery for my eyes in early March (9 & 11 March) some restrictions commenced on the first visit – some questions were asked on arrival. By the day after that, I had to have a temperture check, answer a series of questions and have no-one accompany me. I didn’t anyway. I could feel the tension levels rising.

By the next day after that when my husband drove me to Morisset for post-cataract check, even more restrictions were put in place. I spoke to my Opthalmologist a few months back when she finally started seeing patients again and she said to manage “the many changes, and the ways in which services had to be offered, they were in a constant state of readiness for change and being flexible. Every day brought some new measure”.

And Then More Changed. Where We Could Travel. What We Could Do.

16 March onwards.

Our eldest granddaughter, already immuno-compromised, “left home” where she may have been exposed to any part of this very scary and unknown virus because her mum and young sister attended schools. Still schools remained open..but then they too had to adapt. BIG time.  Ms J. came to the Central Coast to stay with her paternal grandparents and in those months I think the generations made it work well for them. She did have a sneaky day trip to see us and we agreed: HUGS were happening. She said “I so miss hugs”.

About Schools. Teachers, Principals and The Students. Parents Too.

When announcements were made by our N.S.W. Premier, the Health Minister, The Police Minister and the Chief Health Officer,(and sometimes others)  those announcements were many fold.

Every state and territory managed the matters of education, transport, health and so on and there were/are continuing conflicts about Aged Care and Quarantine/Border Matters being state or federal. It truly has been very trying all-round. Schools, because of the close contact via their very nature of operation, had to make swift, educationally-sound and major changes of day to day operation.

It was non-negotiable for public schools. They had to stay open for vulnerable kids and those too of workers in essential industries. They also had to provide quality and consistent work at school for students and for those who could stay at home. I only read about this and viewed how it was via my teaching contacts. Our daughter, a teacher-librarian then at her school found it huge as a shift but like all, they got on with it. It would have been a logistical issue of huge proportions for all schools. I was a very understanding and empathetic cheerleader where I could.

Life As We Knew It…Mostly Changed! 

We here in N.S.W. learned to live with:

  • daily updates of covid cases, diagnoses, tests, and sadly deaths. This happened most mornings at 11.00. a.m. I kept up via updates in social media.
  • sad stories of what was happening in aged care facilities. So many stories that have had to be managed via (I think) a Royal Commission
  • mixed messages from different levels of government. By mixed I meant it was inconsistent because of our way of being governed.
  • shortages…in supermarkets. The first time I visited a supermarket post our levels of restriction in those early months: only leave home for essential shopping, health reasons, exercise and essential work, it blew me away. I wondered what had happened….

“this” item most likely to have been bought AND to have run out!

  • I missed my daily drives and had to re-invent how to take care of my emotional health and form some routines that worked for me at home.
  • I did still do shopping, but was in & out as soon as possible.
  • Our GP practice offered telehealth appointments and we knew they were early days for them too, my husband in particular found a challenging medical issue very difficult to manage via phone. The doctors at that stage were saying no-one over 70 attend the surgery.

Getting Accustomed To The Changes.

  • It was all about being safe. We recognised that. We could not (and would not) disobey the then rules around being out of the house. We saw many more people in our neighbourhood walking past as part of their day.
  • We could not just go out for fun at all in March into early May.
  • I was incredibly relieved when, following the strict rules, my hairdresser was able to re-open and I got a much needed psychological boost of a haircut and a connection with my caring hairdresser
  • Over time, of course, we saw the emergence of Covid Test centres and I had a temperature and a bit of cough so went through the then procedures to got to my local hospital test centre. It felt weird but knowing i had to do the right thing because of this invisible virus, I self-isolated at home and was glad to get my results within a day and a half. Negative.

Changes Happened Regularly.

April – June. My commentary related to New South Wales, and what I recall specifically affected me/us.

  • Covid rules went up and down in severity depending on where clusters of cases had been found and so on
  • Where we live, is an hour’s drive to Sydney and then another 45 minutes to either my Dad’s on the Northern Beaches or our Kids’ in the North West.
  • For quite a few weeks, into months, we could not travel at all, other than locally.
  • It meant no visits for celebrations or care. We did not know how long this would last but fortunately in time for Mother’s Day – May – we could drive to Sydney to see our family and later in that month to visit dad.
  • We also could see via media reports from around Australia that where we lived, we were doing OK relatively. It did not stop our feelings of sadness and concern for many who did lose their lives and the fact that families could not be with loved ones as they were dying.

 

My Health Also Needed Better Solutions.

I have written about this here before but will just summarise, I needed to have a colonoscopy once my G.P. determined how severe my rectal prolapse was in earliesh May. I did get to the colo-rectal surgeon and he very quickly sorted out my thinking do I have to….with yes, how else might we know what’s going on “up there”.

  • Meant to happen late May. Local Private Hospital where he worked one day a week for these procedures accepted my forms for procedures …psyching myself up was the hard part…and then promptly cancelled/postponed because of Covid restrictions on surgeries. They were now a quater of what was before Covid.
  • Waiting not my best thing, but had to. Had my flu injection…sitting outside G.P. surgery while he came out to give me the jab.
  • Finally late June “had the dreaded” colonoscopy. Findings: you need rectal prolapse surgery. Stat. No cancer though.
  • Stat: in Covid times, meant when larger regional private hospital could book me in and I could have relevant pre-op checks. I did. My surgery date was late July.

 

Regular Health Checks Continued.

  • We still saw our podiatrist
  • I had a physio session for my shoulder
  • We eventually went back to choice of face to face at G.P. with mask and social distancing.
  • Saw screens go up at all facilities over time.

Getting Out and About.

I missed my going out for coffee but even when I could return, there were very strict rules for being seated. Over time, and now, I have stopped having a coffee anywhere unless it’s outside. It’s not somewhere I want to linger any more. Perhaps that need has shifted. We do not miss going anywhere as a couple as we stopped that way before this anywhere. Even our get together for a morning tea out has stopped.

I could get back to driving to the beach and walking. There were, in winter, loud hailers and even a police helicopter above the sands, telling us to keep moving, no sitting…it felt big brother ish.

I did do some shopping on-line, like many, but missed actual shops. Sad to say, many of those I enjoyed frequenting for clothes have closed some local shops and the value is no longer there.

That’s it for now.

I will be back soon with July to December.

How was your first half of 2020?

Stay safe, everyone…we are almost at Covid jab time here. Phew.

Denyse.

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 One. Part 2/2. 2015. 19/2021.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty One. Part 2/2. 2015. 19/2021.

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 One.  Part Two 2015. Part One was published here.

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.

Well, it seems I survived my first half of 2015 living at the southern end of the Central Coast but wait, there is more, much much more.

Are you ready?

Here we go:

June and July.

Emotions Are Tricky!

We had some reasons for visit Sydney: my gastroenterologist who was happy to see me and with a positive outcome from an MRI done back in May he believed my insides were OK but that I.B.S. was just a part of me that needed my management.

Neither he nor the GP had any reason to be concerned about my weight loss over time which was in fact because : I really couldn’t bring myself to eat much at all as almost always it would result in some kind of stomach reaction.

It was truly horrible for me who WANTED to be social but could not go out for lunch or entertain for a meal. I stuck to coffee and cake – if I could even do that and most people who cared about me understood that.

I on the other hand was very self-critical. And would continue to be for years. Seriously. Yes, I was blaming me for things that were probably needing compassion and kindness but “black and white” thinking Denyse had not quite given up her harsh words.

We had grandkids who we love dearly come and stay for a couple of nights and whilst I love their company I got myself overly worried about things and them and found the stress bothersome. I did not like that either.

Yes I was doing meditation. Every day. I was seeing my G.P. pretty often too. She was running out of ideas for my emotional equilibrium and on one occasion when I was at breaking down crying point, put me onto an anti-depressant. I agreed to it. My husband was sceptical but went along with it. I took it once. I had such a physical reaction to it that I declared “never again”. Suffice to say, after days of diarrhoea my G.P. wholeheartedly agreed.

I blogged. Every day. By this time, I was now joining in link ups and that helped me have some conversations on line.

I joined in a private group where we supported ourselves trying to Flourish. There were some great programs in there and from there I added to my repertoire of mindfulness by doing an on-line MOOC course from a Uni in Melbourne learning about Mindfulness and Stress. Excellent work.

I had already begun my large collection of writers, scholars, and more who I would learn more from and about and this helped me feel less alone.

My post here on Calm Days and Calm Nights has all of the titles I found useful to grow and learn.

My husband was, when he could be, an amazing support. I did however, have very few people to talk to and with and this contributed to more isolation.

Dealing with family news was hard on me. I simply did not have the emotional capacity to support as I might have now because I had no skills, and I was totally trying to deal with myself.

Sigh.

August, September and October.

Dear readers, assume that I continued with my health care and seeking answers.

  • These also included things like going for a drive,
  • watching the waves,
  • walking on the beach and near nature.
  • Whilst I did (do) enjoy going to shopping centres, I am afraid to say I felt lonelier there when I saw people with their grandkids and/or friends and chatting.
  • I wanted that. I also knew, intellectually I had had that and now it was no longer happening. Sigh. Again.

We celebrated our daughter’s birthday at our place.

She took some images of us for a TV program called Compass about married couples. Our shots were part of the promo.

Family time was always welcomed but I had become hypervigilant and that did not help my stress and I.B.S.

I had my last role in education. I was invited to be part of a Teach Meet and it was to be held at my former High School. Last visited by me in 1967! It was a thrill to present there and to get to have a tour of the school to see the many changes. Grateful and proud of doing this one last talk of my career.

We had a short stay in Parramatta while my husband attended a compulsory course for his degree and I was alone for some of that time and did catch up with our family. My level of anxiety staying there and no longer being in our home rose and I would not do that again. I did see one of my granddaughters for a play and we went to tea at our daughter’s house but I was not great. Tried to look it..but…

By this time we were certain we were not staying on…in this overpriced rental nor in the area. It was a strange place. A town like no other. We have lived in country towns but this was not friendly. Sadly. I began the search on-line and then in real time of the northern end of the Central Coast and it seemed like a place and area that would suit us more.

As luck would have it, on a drive past the house we saw on line in October, the owners (former, actually) were around and asked did we want to have a look inside. Oh, yes please. Totally not supposed to do this of course, but we did and knew, if we could, this would be the one. It was to become that indeed! But more to come…

November into December. Big Months but Better Ones! 

The House. We got the new house to rent and it would be…over $150 less than what we were paying and it was a one level ducted air con, 4 bed, 2 bathroom house…very similar to what we had sold. Suddenly things were already looking better. BUT…

As we were breaking the lease of the other place, and they could not find anyone to re-lease it too, we did DOUBLE ups till the end of December. Not great.At all. However, the emotional relief was worth it.

Now instead of being separated from each other at night, as he went upstairs to bed, study and TV and I stayed downstairs, we would both be on the same level.

The move itself was OK. I took the chance to do more culling and all that but we still had a lot. Probably still do.

Nevertheless mid November we were northern end of the Central Coast inhabitants and pleased to be there.

For my 66th Birthday I tried something challenging and whilst I did it I know it was hard for me because of …..you guessed it…I.B.S.

  • I drove to see our family at our son’s place for an afternoon tea catch up and small birthday celebration.
  • I was in heaven to be with all of the family but it was tense.
  • I now know from this many years vantage point, it was not something from anything I had done. Nevertheless I feel things. 
  • I then joined our daughter’s family in a crowded and busy household for Christmas decorating day and dinner.
  • The next day, my actual birthday they all went to work and school and I saw my son’s two little ones and their mum and then drove to my Dad’s for a morning tea with my brother, sister in law and Dad.
  • THAT was a very full on couple of days for me. But, I did it.

 

Coming up to Christmas I was determined to see Dad if I could and drove down with some goodies and we said we would not travel to anyone on Christmas Day. I think that was because I was thinking about me, traffic and….you guessed it I.B.S. Truly that IS how much it affected me.

I stayed with the same doctor I had started seeing when we lived closer, and between us we always hoped things would improve for me. I began seeing a fantastic psychologist who challenged me and my often-critical thoughts and gave me assignments to help me learn by observing. She was keen for me to continue my art which grew hugely by the time we moved to this newer and better house because I had a dedicated area for my creating. That was so good. I also had space for private meditation and listening to some of the many people who helped me, eventually, find my way.

I.B.S. would continue to challenge me. It affected all I did. I could not plan to leave home unless I was pretty sure I would be OK. I had to know of toilet locations. I carried spare clothing and clean up items with me. I hated it but I did that. I did, though, find more to help me via another book and a course. All are too much in detail to outline here but they gave me an understanding that my emotions were in my gut and it was telling me how I was.

In the next couple of chapters, 2016 and 2017 I.B.S. continues to get a lead role…even though I hate admitting that.

And into 2016 here is what I hoped would help me.

And whilst it may not have worked like a charm…this did.

I got right back into blogging getting help from my kind friend Tanya (who still does my images) and with her help and my ideas I began 2016 rocking the blog with categories, and more. I blogged daily until around September 2016. More on that next post.

Phew.

Re-living this was a challenge as I wrote but I also got to congratulate myself for coming through. Little did I know, of course, that much more was in store for 2016. No, the family issues and my health ones did not go away. And then we will come to 2017…and many readers already know about that BUT we can wait, right?

Thanks for your kindness in reading these posts…if indeed you are here, then you must have!

How was 2015 for you?

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky here.

 

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Decision. 6/51. #LifeThisWeek. 17/2021.

Decision. 6/51. #LifeThisWeek. 17/2021.

Decision making is a process of choosing between alternatives. Problem solving and decision making are distinct but related activities. Time pressure and personal emotions can affect the quality of decisionmaking outcomes.

What are the 7 steps of decision making?

Step 1: Identify the decision. You realize that you need to make a decision. …

Step 2: Gather relevant information. …

Step 3: Identify the alternatives. …

Step 4: Weigh the evidence. …

Step 5: Choose among alternatives. …

Step 6: Take action. …

Step 7: Review your decision & its consequences.

Source: various. I have included these only because of the steps.

I had no idea just how much theory there is to decision-making. I have learned something new!

D E C I S I O N S

When I first began mulling through my ideas for this post, I listed some decisions I have made in my life: here are four.

To Become a K-6 Teacher.

 

To say “yes” to my now husband.

 

To apply for a K-6 principal’s role and accept it.

 

To see our Sydney house and move to the Central Coast.

Then as I thought through some of my decision-making processes it became apparent, it is NOT always easy, nor even ‘wrong or right’ in an outcome.

Oh gosh.

What next?

Perhaps for me, it is more about understanding what goes into decision-making.

This helped me see that at times we who procrastinate ( I do at times) can perhaps look more deeply into our why!

Decisions

  1. Address the fear of success. If being constantly late with your obligations causes you to risk losing everything you’ve worked for, consider the possibility that self-handicapping is keeping you from going full tilt to reach your goals. Challenge your beliefs that those who love you don’t want you to succeed because chances are that they will rejoice in your accomplishments.

  2. Build your self-efficacy to self-regulate. Convinced that you can’t handle your responsibilities in a timely manner?  Discouraged about your ability to organize and manage your time? Practise taking on small tasks that you know you can manage, focusing on jobs that are due in the not-too-distant future. Once you see that you can plan successfully, you can extend the range and time frame of your due dates, increasing both your sense of accomplishment and belief in your own abilities.

  3. Find your thrills in ways other than procrastinating. Stop flirting with danger by working too close to deadlines.  Instead of thinking about the times you managed to avoid disaster by coming in with your work at the last minute, focus your attention on the times you actually miscalculated and got into trouble. If you know you’re a hopeless deadline-pusher, though, then force yourself to adopt your own, internally generated deadlines. Eventually, you should be able to stretch those out over the longer term.

  4. Moderate perfectionism with an action orientation. It’s great to want to achieve the best outcome possible, but not if it comes at the price of missing out on an opportunity or seeming to be no more punctual than the careless procrastinator. If you feel that you can’t overcome this tendency on your own, find a work or study partner who is strong on “locomotion” and can help you learn ways to focus on getting the job done well and quickly.

    https://www.psychologytoday.com/au/blog/fulfillment-any-age/201204/the-paradox-procrastination

Looking more deeply into my decisions from my present view  i.e. at a distance from the decisions made at the time.

To become a teacher

I always enjoyed the company of kids under the age of around 6 and found I could help them learn skills and had fun sharing their lives via stories, activities and more. I like being in charge and I felt an affinity to kids’ education in the age bracket 5-12. I did want a professional job which required training after school and nothing appealed to me even though I gave others some consideration. I thought of being a librarian or a film editor. I did try learning shorthand thinking an admin role might be good. OK, I did it because my father thought it was a good skill to add to my typing. Fortunately, the Teacher’s Scholarship Offer finally arrived and I could resign from my office job post HSC. I loved teaching. Still do. There are parts of it that can be tedious and test my patience but overall a decision that was 100% correct! For me.

Telling My Story Chapter Three has more about this here.

To accept my now-husband’s proposal

I fell in love with this man at first sight. He says the same about me. At around 8.00 p.m. on Saturday 17 October 1970 when we were at opposite ends of the table at an after conference dinner. He asked me to dance. Our longing to be together was strong. He asked me to marry him only a few weeks later and I have never felt so sure about anything. Yes, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him. Yes, it’s been full of many great times, sad ones, worrying too but overall, these past 50 years have shown me I made the right decision!

Telling My Story Chapter Four has something about this here.

To choose to apply for principal roles

Oh this one was not a straightfoward decision at all. I had years of experience at relieving principal roles (at two schools) in my 10 years of being a deputy principal. There were instances of parent interviews where I was so verbally threatened I wondered why “anyone” would want the role. There were also some good memories, over time and so, when faced with a difficult choice: stay as a deputy in a school where I had just been relieving principal for 2 terms or seek my own substantive principal role. It became an inner discussion of what would I want to say on my death bed...you know that one about what do you wish you had done that you didn’t. And I realised I did not want to die with regret I had not given it a go. These links below share to stories of how hard it was for me as my health suffered but I remain adamant: I did it and I tried my best…at the time.

Telling My Story Chapter Thirteen is about what happened here.

Telling My Story Chapter Fourteen shares more here.

To sell our house in Sydney to move to the Central Coast

I was unwell. I could no longer find the energy or motivation to work part-time to help keep our mortgage payments going for the Sydney house AND I had, sadly, lost my mojo for caring for our grandchildren. The obvious solution was to sell the house (we had been pondering this for some time AND my husband had been renovating room by room (and outside) for over two years. We would be mortgage free and we could move to rent to a nicer area on the Central Coast and have fewer worries. For me that is. I agreed. We did that. However, it was not a decision without many challenges for me, and even now I feel the insecurity rise from time to time about that choice for me. My husband has never waivered from the choice.

Telling My Story is in two parts (this week for part two on Wednesday) and goes some way to share how it was for me in part one. here. 

How To Make Hard Choices.

This video was eye-opening to me when I first  watched it some time back. The notion of needing to be “right” or “wrong”….or “yes” or “no” is a myth that is dispelled by Philosopher Ruth Chang in her Ted Talk “How To Make Hard Choices”.

Thank you for reading, commenting and linking up this week.

Denyse.

Link Up #226

 

Life This Week. Link Up #226

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!

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

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Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty One. Part 1/2. 2015. 15/2021.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty One. Part 1/2. 2015. 15/2021.

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 One. Part One.2015.

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.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty One. Part One. 2015.

As I have noted in previous chapters, the memories from some years remain strong, and often are sad ones. However, despite this being true for me, I must push on, as they say, and share how life was for me…in 2015. Back then.

Time To Move (on) and More.

As mentioned in Chapter Twenty, we sold our house and were ready (I thought I was anyway, he was!) to make this big move in our lives.

January.

After new year, we continued our packing up AND memory-making. My husband was very keen to leave the house, the gardens, the grounds and the pool in tip top shape for the new owners as settlement loomed for mid-January.

I on the other hand was keen to enjoy what I would not be able to in my future,  and that meant some grandchildren sleepovers and swims and get-togethers. My Dad had his 91st birthday with all of his then family around him at my brother’s house. We made trips to and from the Central Coast house we were about to move into and I guess being THAT busy helped to block the emotional pulls that would eventually wound me.

And we were off…kind of. I went in my car, fully laden to the Central Coast house. My husband stayed back to oversee the removalists. This was not a great day weather-wise and the person we booked the move with was on holiday so he sent another team. Nevertheless most of everything that could be packed up and moved on that day was. The remainder was collected by my husband when he returned on settlement day to be with our agent and the new owners.

A note on the house we rented.

IT WAS UNSUITABLE in so many ways and I will admit this was chosen in haste, and in deference to me, my husband went along with it. Sigh. Everything I thought I needed to be for a change of residence was not to be.

Remember too, I am writing with the benefit of both hindsight and a much clearer state of emotional health.

  • I did not need to be closer to Sydney 
  • I did not take enough time ….knowing there was a rush before Christmas….to consider how this house’s structure would affect us
  • I was in a highly emotional state for the month preceding the move and could not really see any other options (then) than this house.
  • It was over-priced
  • Its two storey nature was awful. A spiral staircase led upstairs
  • The ‘only air-con comfort’ was in one part of the living area downstairs and a part of upstairs
  • We paid more than our budget told us…and literally over-paid till the end of the lease when we had moved out early. Story about that ahead.

And then it happened. Done. Settled. 

Originally we were selling to be debt-free and I was not able to continue working from a health perspective so it was the plan to sell up, pay out the mortgage, use some house sale funds to purchase new cars (both of ours were in a bad way by the end of 2014) and to have some savings behind us to maybe help buy a new house ONE DAY.

That was how it worked out. However it was not without its moments! After settlement we were able to go grocery shopping and yay for me getting a coffee too. However, at the checkout our card was declined. Oops. We had a few dollars on us. So, once home I was able to tell our conveyancers what had happened and because ‘funds are released into accounts over some days’ and we had a weekend without any $$, she arranged a transfer of the original deposit from the new owners. Phew.

Cars. We had already earmarked a car for my husband and it was ready once the funds had reached our account. My choice of a car however, should have been a heart one…but instead I made it a head one…and regretted it as soon as I drove it back up the coast. In a story of generosity and forgiveness…my husband determined that I could have the car I should have bought in the first place, and we traded in a car I had for less than a week. Lost money? Of course but lesson learned. Again.

Love my Nissan XTrail

Some family fun. January and February.

We were keen to live close to the water in this retirement life of ours and had chosen the Central Coast for both its proximity to water – still and ocean – and again, to Sydney for any family needs such as visiting my Dad and any connections with our adult children and their children, our beloved grandchildren.

Because we went back and forth a few times until school was back we entertained two grandchildren  twice and they had been coming to use for care since they were babies so it was great to have those connections still.

What Happened Next?

My husband got back into his studies for a degree in counselling and was doing two subjects on-line. He also offered to help his brother who lived nearby with some landscaping and renovations. He continued to do lifeline crisis support counselling by working shifts in a place on the central coast. He was active, productive and busy.

I was not. Well, in some ways I was but none of what I was doing helped me feel in any way settled into this new life of ours.

  1. I thought I would be driving back and forth to our family to help out, to be there and to catch up. I did for a while. I was happy to be on-call for our son’s family as they were expecting their fourth child in early 2015 and I could come down to help with picking up kids from school etc etc.
  2. I thought I would be continuing my education specialist role with the early childhood centres
  3. I thought I would drive to see my father on a regular basis
  4. I thought having made this move as a choice to change lifestyle, it would be fine.

No it was not for me.

March, April and May.

I was not well in an emotional sense and that affected my physical health. My I.B.S .(irritable bowel syndrome) reared its ugly head over and over. I would not be able to simply get in the car and go anywhere without having to medicate myself (which I HATED doing) or suffer the effects of having diarrhoea on a car journey.

We tried a little get away to Port Macquarie – a place we always loved – but I found the trip stressful due to I.B.S. and like I felt, nothing is the same.

I lost weight. Yay. But not for the reasons it happened. I was unhappy but trying to hide it. I continued to see my Sydney based G.P. who oversaw my handling of my I.B.S. and decided I needed to see a gastroenterologist. But before then we had a new granddaughter arrive.

Emotions were high and a bit low because of my sadness at no longer being around the little people I love so much.

We went back to Sydney to celebrate a granddaughter’s 3rd birthday and I was intensely happy to be with all of our family again, but sad once the inevitable farewells took place.

We literally weathered an awful East Coast low storm situation that had us without electricity for almost 5 days after the birthday party visit. I was very stressed during this but, my husband did what he could to make us a bit more comfortable going out in awful conditions to buy a generator and a portable gas stove. At least we could run our little fridge. All freezer food was ruined. We would go out in the car once the roads cleared to charge our phones. I managed to blog too.

I went to TedX in Sydney and thought that would be enjoyable. Usually enjoy learning. I did on some ways but now Sydney, where it was held was no longer where I lived. I felt that immensely.

I re-commenced my work as an External Observer with then Institute of Teachers doing an observation in a Sydney school. That was to be my last as the system changed.

I went back to my role as an Education Specialist, speaking at a couple of the pre-schools on different evenings and then one day, on my way back to Sydney to do this, I was overcome by the worst bout of I.B.S. diarrhoea ever. No details but suffice to say, I decided then and there, no job and the money along with the drive to and from Sydney at night was worth it and I resigned.

I was never sure where I fitted any more after that.

  • I was no longer the active and on-call Grandma
  • I was no longer employed using my NSW Education role
  • I was no longer working to help families in pre-schools
  • I could see my husband was content in all he was doing but I was not.

It was very confusing but I did my best to act as if it was OK. It was not.

Add to how it is to change where you live is “finding a hairdresser” and that was interesting. I got a few cuts from a person near where we moved but it never seemed right. Finding a dentist proved easier. He was “OK” and whilst I did not know it then, I would be getting insight into my mouth and what may have been causing some white spots on the gums. Mmmm. A story we do know more about but will leave it till 2017. I found a physiotherapist who was good for some back and arm issues I had. And, a podiatrist. He was lovely. Still, it does take some research. In 2016 I will share how I found my best hairdresser!

I was searching for answers to WHY….as I am a ‘help myself’ person and I found something which was a catalyst for change:

A Meditation Centre running a course on Anxiety and Teaching Meditation.

Then What Happened?

Into the next few months I managed a lot of change in and for my life.

It did not always go well.

In fact I face quite a few disappointments, some challenges and some days where I knew I was making progress with my health. Onward…and the months may get a bit mixed up so I will add points rather than months!

I tried a few of the so-called Retirement Activities:

  • An Art Class
  • Making Up a Mindful Colouring Class & hosting it
  • Going to Places for Coffee and Chatting
  • Training for a role as a Volunteer

They did not suit nor last the distance for me.

Meditation. 

The day at the Meditation centre taught me quite a bit and I felt less lonely as someone finding the new life quite tough. I met some people there and mostly the talk was about where do you live, etc etc. One person gave me a card about a great G.P. practice she liked and said that I would find a doctor there she was sure. You see, I was still making my way back to Sydney and it was no longer easy to do so with I.B.S. and generally ill-ease at returning.

I also decided to download a meditation app called Headspace and liked it very much. I am an early adopter too and it had only been on the market for a while.

I made a time for meditation each day, set up a space in my bedroom overlooking the water and waited, over time, for my cure from the ill-ease I felt emotionally. Reader: it never came.

Finding Medical Help Locally.

From the middle of the year this was helpful. I found the personable female G.P. at the recommended clinic. She and I ‘clicked’ and she was 100% understanding how hard it is to move from Sydney to the Central Coast..because she was living that life too but about a year before me.

The rapport and her understanding that my emotions needed time to work themselves out helped me a lot. To have a good listener and one who suggested ideas which might help me. Sadly nothing offered helped my I.B.S. but she was very supportive of me continuing to use immodium (I had been afraid to do so after being told off by my former gastro guy after a pancreatitis attack in 2014) as I needed. She offered the idea of seeing a psychologist. I was not clinically anxious nor depressed but I was finding the reactions and responses from all the changes very challenging.

I saw one. She was incredibly judgemental and I did not return. I then was referred to another one. So much more professional and I can share more of that later. Let me say this, it was from her that I learned this:

feelings take a lot longer to catch up from actions.

Part Two will follow. I have undertaken quite a bit sharing this so far.

2015 was a hugely significant year in my life so this is Part One, essentially till the middle of that year.

I do hope there is something of interest to you readers too.

Have you made big changes in your life and wondered about some of the emotions you have experienced?

Thanks for your interest.

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne for Lovin’ Life Linky here. 

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Retrospective In Photos: Our Life in 2020. #SundayStills. #1. 3/2021.

Retrospective In Photos: Our Life In  2020. #SundayStills. #1. 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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Calm Days And Calm Nights. 2/2021.

Calm Days And Calm Nights. 2/2021.

Yes I now have these: days and nights of calm.

I have found the secret to inner peace…forever and ever.

Actually that is so not true …..do read on!

Waaaay back in 2015 I was in transition. From my former to life to the life we had chosen. From work, family near by, security of home (until end of 2014) to retirement, no family nearby and no home other than a house to rent. It was not great YET it was the life we chose to have after turning 65.

 

My husband, above, who is of a much different disposition to me, was fine. In fact, he LOVED the change, except for the awful house we selected to rent, and was busy studying counselling on-line, doing volunteer work with Lifeline and building projects at his brother’s.

Me? I missed company, some work,  friends, going out for coffee and yet…..I knew that I could not get my old life back.

We HAD moved on.

When I get to write Chapter  Twenty One of Telling My Story for 2015 there will be much more revealed but right now, I am leading up to what started to make a difference for me….

Meditation.

I first found it in person, at a Buddhist Centre, in the first months of 2015, and then via an app called Headspace. This helped me from 2015 until into 2018 when I changed my meditation app to Calm. Now I am a life time subscriber and what a difference it makes for me:

EVERY

SINGLE

DAY

& NIGHT.

In 2019 I shared more about Calm and its help for me over here.

These thoughts and views are formed by me, over time, as I changed and grew to understand what I was doing….I was practising meditation. I was practising being still and I was/am continuing to do this every day and each night. It’s called Meditation Practice for a good reason.

What Meditation Is Not.

  • a clearing out of your thoughts
  • a way to get to inner peace easily
  • a place & way of being seated to best meditate
  • perfection found
  • silence

What Meditation Is.

  • a regular 10-12 minutes in my morning, and then in my evening which is just for this.
  • lying in my bed…yes, not sitting nor kneeling, because I can still concentrate, relax and take in what I need to being comfortable on my back with my hands by my sides.
  • a gift to my inner health
  • a space & time which I value that is MINE
  • something I can come back to over and over again
  • being curious about myself
  • learning something a new and refreshing my previous learnings.

How Did I Get Here?

Even before 2015 I was seeking help and information on how to help me calm myself inside and accept more readily what “life” is about. As a teacher and always a lifetime learner I sought much information, learning and help and got it via CDs, courses on-line and podcasts. I have added some images of some of my kept resources.

The first real introduction I had to becoming mindful and helping with the sadness I was feeling, even though I was not clinically depressed was this book and I still listen to it from time to time. These two men, Mark Williams and Danny Penman, are pioneers (after Jon Kabat-Zinn) of Mindfulness for Wellness and Using Mindful Practices for Stress Release.

Some were purchased on-line directly from Sounds True, others via my (then) favourite book selling site, Book Depository. Others I found directly on-line or at my local books sellers.

Some of the authors who helped me “get me” are:- are found here and in my messy but lovely photos of my books and CDs. On display for easy reading….for you, the reader.

Pema Chodron  Tara Brach    Jack Kornfield    Brene Brown  Sharon Salzberg  Clare Bowditch     

Elizabeth Gilbert   Andy Puddicombe  John O’Donohue   Jeff Foster  Judson Brewer

Megan Devine    Martin Seligman     Steve Peters    Andrew Fuller   Kristin Neff    Glennon Doyle

Rick Hanson   Christopher Germer    Lori Deschene    Paul Gilbert  Claire Weekes  Anne Lamott 

Yes, that IS a list and yet, not the end of it. The reason each of these people helped ME and form part of many meditation practices that I know of is that they mention common ideas:

there is only one moment: now

that we can only control one person, us

that we forget the above two often so we need to practise

AND, that it’s human to be like this.

This image is my iphone locked screen.

Calm Days And Calm Nights. What Is This About?

Regular readers of this blog know I was diagnosed with a form of head and neck cancer back in 2017. Full series of blog posts here. I learned so much about myself then, about what I could cope with, about how I could, with support and practise, learn to deal with hard things. I wrote a post or two about exposure therapy as I learned I HAD to do after seeing a psychologist back in 2016.

Changing from Headspace Meditation to Calm Meditation for me was about just that…change. It did turn out to go well for me in 2018 I was offered a great price for a lifetime subscription and being on a pretty fixed and low income that helps a lot.

I liked and still do the ways in which I can pick and choose the meditation for a particular reason*, for example, if  I sense I am being overly self-critical I will choose to do the series on that to learn and learn again (practise remember) the various ways in which I can pull myself up in terms of self-talk and gently guide myself forward.

Each day now, at the time of waking…and in retirement days this can vary from 8.00 am to 9.00 am and I LOVE that luxury, I open the Calm App and settle back in bed (loo stop first) for my morning Daily Calm. Following it, I reflect via the suggestions and may choose to keep and share the quote and image of the day. Then I get on with my day.

Oh, I do not write about Calm because I was asked to or I was paid to do so. I just like to share what works for me.

At the end of the day, again in bed, when I am ready to settle for the night, I select a meditation via need*. It does not matter if I have done this one before, there is always something new to learn and focus on.

If by the end of this one, I am still wide awake – not often – I may choose a Sleep Story. They are awesome and have great narrators and stories to share. It’s much better for me than music.

As we know and admit, we are all “works in progress” and I decided to share my thoughts in this first week of blogging 2021 with you and in joining a couple of link ups.

  • May you find peace.
  • May you be content.
  • May you be well.

When I am here…I am the most mindful I can be outside of practising meditation!

And may you never stop learning!

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne and friends here for link up called Lovin Life.

Now on the weekend I am joining here with Natalie and friends for a Coffee Catch Up.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Five*. 2020. Pt.2/3. 51/51. #LifeThisWeek.102/2020.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Five*. 2020. Pt.2/3. 51/51. #LifeThisWeek.102/2020.

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 (her story is here) 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 Five*. Part Two of Three.

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.

 

*Rightio…how DID I jump from my last chapter..Telling My Story which was Chapter Twenty to here?

No, I did not secretly write the posts and then not publish them.

But I did have a brainwave…do 2020’s chapter while it is fresh in my mind.

So, here I am with the second four months of “THAT” year we won’t forget in a hurry: 2020. Last Wednesday I published the first four months here.

This is the last post of #LifeThisWeek I will publish the final one of Telling My Story 2020 on Wednesday 23rd December.

Then, over time in the first months of 2021 I will write:

Chapter Twenty One (2015),

Chapter Twenty Two (2016- mid May 2017),

Chapter Twenty Three (later in May 2017 – 2018),

Chapter Twenty Four (2019)

In this, the last post for Life This Week, I want to thank each of you who has linked up, read and commented this year. You are very much valued as a part of this community. I am posting again this Wednesday to conclude this series (the Chapter for 2020 I mean!) and will be back on board for:

MONDAY 4 January 2021. 1/51 Word of The Year. Optional Prompt.

 

Part Two of Three. Chapter 25. 2020.

Now, on with the months of May, June, July and August of 2020.

I have to warn you whilst there are no gory photos there may be some details of the ailments I had that are not pleasant to read. Nor, of course, were they pleasant to have!

MAY 2020.

Family.

Our second granddaughter turned 21 in the early days of May. On the same weekend when the Premier of NSW announced, during a COVID update,  that families could visit each other in their houses, S had her ‘lockdown ISO’ party which she shared with us,  around 2 hours away, via facetime. Her Mum, boyfriend and siblings made it a special night and I am told, she got the cake cooked by her mum as was requested! Congratulations, S!

We actually saw her and the family the very next weekend as it was Mother’s Day and my daughter invited us to her house for Morning Tea. That was the first time we had ventured to Sydney since March. It felt strange being on the M1 and it was not too crowded. Delighted of course to see our family. It was lovely.

On the Tuesday afterwards I drove back down again, in a different direction, to see my Dad on the northern beaches. I had not seen him for at least 3 months as we were being very cautious in making contact with such an older person in an independent retirement place. I took all precautions and they had strict protocols for me and paperwork. I admit, I did give Dad a few hugs. He had missed human  contact other than generally on the phone.

 

My Self Care In May.

My emotional health took a bit of a battering as COVID struck with all its limitations, rules, changes and moving of goal posts. I am not great with change but do accept it’s needed and so I offer myself more kindness, easier inner talk and times out (if possible) by myself in the car and to possibly enjoy a coffee. I was delighted to find a takeaway stall on one of my Sunday drives, and then over time, with limitations some of my fave coffee places which had stayed open, could have a small number of people sit for coffee.

I kept up my art and craft practices and set myself small goals and got immersed in fulfilling those. With the Index Card a Day Challenge starting in June I was ready for that. I did some treat cooking for me and for my local GP practice as the doctors and front office staff went through a LOT in terms of dealing with the regulations and patients!

I continued with drives over to the water once COVID regulations about exercise meant you could walk where you went. I did. Sort of. To take photos. Noticing things in nature always helps me and I really needed it because I had health matters to deal with that were significant.

I also acknowledged that it was 3 years on 17 May 2020 since my oral cancer diagnosis. Important to remember, reflect and be grateful.

Health Matters. May, June, July and August.

I will do my best to use short and helpful sentences..and as my husband suggested: dot points.

MAY:

  • I needed to finally, and actually rather urgently see my female G.P. about the bothersome rectal issues. When I saw her, it was “do this, go here, see him” and “YOU have your whole life ahead of you” Get this sorted. She “IS” that kind of doctor and I love her for it but that day I got a bit scared.
  • She sent me to the Colo Rectal Surgeon and to my embarrassment (not his) I was very reluctant to go through with what he suggested first. A colonoscopy. Why? Rectal bleeding and obvious (he saw, not me, I just knew) rectal prolapse.
  • THIS was a condition I had lived with, tried to anyway for well over 2+ years, and I KNEW it was not good. I blamed IBS for my sometimes incontinence and ageing..but as I have found out no, it was the rectum being very lax and ‘falling out’. Sorry to write that.
  • Off home with the news, and the Colonoscopy pack. It was mid COVID restrictions at private hospitals and I opted for mine at the place 5 minutes up the road. No can do. Till June.
  • Waaahh. That is me who does not like to wait.

JUNE:

  • OK, people, with me it was nerves and more that put me off the colonoscopy but I also knew that without doing that nothing would change.
  • Facing up to it, hating the preparation and the aftermath at home, my dear husband took me to the private hospital up the road and left me.
  • The nurses were kind, the prep sure had done its work and….
  • The outcome, as told to me by the surgeon, was no cancer..but a pretty awful rectal prolapse which he strongly suggested needed repair and to come see him very soon.
  • We did, it was very helpful to have my husband there. The surgeon explained how he would perform an abdominal rectopexi. He would go in via my very old hysterectomy scar, pull up the rectum and sew it onto bone low on my spine near the coccyx.
  • Recovery would be in hospital for at least 4 nights and he predicted success. I was ready to trust him.

JULY:

This post tells something of what was to come for me.

  • Testing, testing. Bloods needing for the major abdominal surgery coming up.
  • Then to the private hospital in COVID times for booking in. In actual fact, it was a phone pre-op consultation but I needed to attend the hospital some 45 minutes away for ECG and pick up pre-operation info and prep. No not the awful prep. Phew.
  • I admit the nerves did play up a bit but I have dealt with 4 cancer surgeries AND I trusted this doctor and his goal for me and my GP too.
  • On a freezing late July morning my husband drove me – bag packed with nighties, all I needed for entertainment i.e. phone & ipad, and loose pants – because coming home my abdomen would be swollen & tender.
  • I was literally dropped off because of COVID.
  • Interestingly the prep I had to take at home before surgery was a drink of electrolytes and I had to have an all over shower body wash with their particular sterilising skin liquid.
  • The worst part for me …is always the waiting before going into theatre but this time was made worse as my surgeon insisted on a series of enemas. OMG. Not happy, in fact I got teary with the kindly nurse. She understood but the back and forth in a gown to the loo…made little better by being on a bed close to it. Sigh.
  • Anaesthetist was very thorough with his questions and also had to give me a spinal. Not impressed by the anaesthetic nurse who was very stressed about my veins. Shout out to him: not good to show frustration in front of patient who is already nervous.
  • Then I was GONE. Out like the proverbial.
  • Recovery: very aware of the pressure boots keeping my legs active, the fact that I could not feel from my waist down, catheter in and to be honest, felt well because “it’s over”.
  • Hiccup in communication between staff in recovery – it was busy – COVID restrictions were easing for capacity – meant I stayed in recovery about 2 hours longer than needed…grrr. Could have been in my room.
  • Something unexpected as my surgeon told me the morning after: he did the horizontal cut as planned but when opening me up, there was a hernia which would need repairing. It required a vertical cut to access it, from the first cut to my bellybutton. All stitching was internal with tape holding the outside wounds. I literally had an upside down T wound area.
  • Fast forwarding: I had an OK time recovering but not comfortable at all. My eating was hampered by my mouth and whilst I could have anything to eat, I was worried about …diarrheoa. Trust me, it didn’t happen but I needed reassurance and my surgeon was prepared to let me go home a day early even before bowel movement because I was needing home. He was lovely. Still is!
  • Saw him at a check up about a week or so later and he told me I was a star patient. Oh, I needed to hear that.
  • No driving, but that was OK. I was just so relieved that all was well  and miracle of miracles, no incontinence. Yay. Unreal.

AUGUST:

  • But. It was not to continue as a star recovery.
  • Around 2 to 3 weeks post-recovery, and I was still not able to drive, there was some redness appearing on the surface near my bellybutton. Husband took me to GP who advised ‘could be a ‘haematoma’ …we’ll keep an eye on it. I did, with photos. BUT….the area of the upside down T was needing greater cleaning by me. At shower time. Sigh. OK.
  • Whilst I am not great with complications, I also understand they occur. Even with ‘me’ doing everything right. I wrote here about what happened.
  • Then I wrote in detail here of the timeline, the circumstances and why it took me till October 2020 to be fully recovered!

 

What a Four Months That Was! 

But wait, there is MORE.

Daily Life with COVID19.

No, we did not have it..phew and all that. But we had to, like everyone, live around its restrictions and rules, and to be safe. For us, who are pretty conservative and intelligent people in their every day lives, it was fine. Really. You see, due to our health matters and not much income, it was never on our agenda to have overseas holidays, or even interstate ones so, unlike many, being home-bound in some ways did not bother us.

I made it work for me, the person who enjoyed her daily outings, by varying what I did at home and combined with my cooking/baking mojo returning, I found I could enjoy a coffee and treat at home some days. I also re-discovered reading the women’s mags. I did! Some got ditched soon after buying, but I have been reasonably surprised by the quality reading in the Australian Women’s Weekly so I buy that now. We gave up our physical paper delivery ages ago and get the Sydney Morning Herald as a digital subscription. All the local newspapers, which I used to love, are gone to digital land…except for one free community paper each week. I still enjoy something physical to read.

I continue my audible subscription each month and listen to some books in the car, and others at night in bed. I have taken to reading along in some cases with the physical book when accents become too hard for me to fathom which character is who!

My art is always here for me. I have, as many know, a dedicated area near my computer for all things creative. Making designs and mindful mandalas is the g0-to for me when I need to ‘concentrate’ or be mindful on just one thing!

Cooking now has a rhythm for a meals each week and we tend to use our batch-cooked meals a couple of times a week, and eat meals made from scratch on others. My dad is the recipient of some of the frozen home cooked meals.

Head and Neck Cancer Awareness and Support.

In the weirdest year ever…. COVID …to date…all things meeting-wise and catch ups were off the table. Therefore the organisation for which I volunteer had to re-think what it did to get messages and support out there for patients, families, carers and professionals.

The June Patient forum at which I was to speak was cancelled and morphed into an on-line program over many days and weeks. My part, on line as recorded by me here, was to respond to my psychological reactions to and management of having head and neck cancer.

The usual fundraising event for Beyond Five was Soup for the Soul and the physical events were not happening, nor were there any of our local Central Coast meet ups. Nevertheless, we worked on getting messages out there via You Tube, and of course, Zoom Meetings. I was not great at zoom so not that involved but as mentioned last time, my interview was on line about nutrition.

More from COVID Year 2020 for Me To Remember!

Apart from hospital homecomings… THIS was a big day and much needed..our son and his four kids came for lunch. Ahhh that’s better!

Grateful for Family Visits.

Thank you for reading..if you got this far. I am incredibly grateful to my readers and commenters.

Denyse.

Link Up 220

Life This Week. Link Up #220

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! Have a great break from now till the New Year. May You Be Well! 
The next link up will be Monday 4th January 2021. Optional Prompt: Word of The Year.

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Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Five*. 2020. Pt.1/3. 101/2020.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Five*. 2020. Pt. 1/3. 101/2020.

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 (her story is here) 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 Five*. Part One of Three.

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.

My 7th image for Telling My Story.

 

*Rightio…how DID I jump from my last chapter..Telling My Story which was Chapter Twenty to here?

No, I did not secretly write the posts and then not publish them.

But I did have a brainwave…do 2020’s chapter while it is fresh in my mind.

So, here I am with the first four months of “THAT” year we won’t forget in a hurry: 2020.

Posts to date are here.

Next Monday for the last post of #LifeThisWeek I will publish the next part & then probably the final one on Wednesday 23rd December.

Then, over time in the first months of 2021 I will write:

Chapter Twenty One (2015),

Chapter Twenty Two (2016- mid May 2017),

Chapter Twenty Three (later in May 2017 – 2018),

Chapter Twenty Four (2019)

JANUARY 2020.

On the gratitude path. I chose ‘gratitude’ as my word of the year. I love the idea and have a small bracelet I wear, glancing at it most days where is said ‘gratitude’ on one side, and ‘for life’ on another. I do follow through with what I say and writing this now in mid December I can tell you some days it was harder to find and feel gratitude but I managed it.

The Weather.

From October 2019 most of Australia was already in Bushfire Season. So much of the Eastern side, where we live, was as they say, tinder-dry and ready to start a bush fire. Over the time from then well into January 2020, we (Australians) lived with the actual or almost threat of fire taking property nearby or being affected in some ways. The temperatures outside were high. It was very unpleasant to go outside due to smoke which had arrived thanks to the winds also bringing black, fire-damaged leaves.

We did not see clear skies for many weeks. Fortunately, the amazing work of rural fire services, and of those who live in the communities affected went OK for those of us locally. Other places, including rural & coastal South Coast NSW and parts of Victoria did not with massive evacuations of crowds of holiday makers needing to get safely out of there. Some went literally into the water, others stayed to fight fires and some, in long carparks on single lane highways made their way home. It was awful.

Late January. No blue skies to be seen.

Family.

We have 3 January birthdays in the family. All male from my father who turned 96 on the 11th to our son and his nephew our grandson on the same days later in the month. We did not catch up to celebrate but as is usual sent greetings. I know I would have visited Dad sometime that month for sure. We had a grandson start high school, and other grandchildren go back to school or work as applicable.

Dad is 96. OLD…he agrees

Health.

It was time for my annual eye examination and that occurred pretty early at the local OPSM where the ‘on the ball’ optometrist picked up changes that were likely cataract-based and that his recommendation was to see my opthalmologist I see annually as well. This visit to Castle Hill, where we used to see her, also took me in Castle Towers shops some 5 years after my last visit, and like any stranger in town, I was gobsmacked at the changes, many made because of the light rail. Met my daughter and two granddaughters for lunch before the opthalmologist.

Well. That was a bit of news. Yes, I needed the surgery for cataract removal. Both eyes. Yes my husband was right, health stuff happens more after turning 70…And, yes, she would kindly bulk bill us but we would need to come to Parramatta Day Surgery. Check. Booked. Early March 2020.

Finances.

Without going into details, finances are always tricky in January for us and it is not related to spending from Christmas nor birthdays…it’s CARS! When we sold the house in Sydney in January 2015, we immediately bought new vehicles…the other ones were literally falling apart…and so, that means now annually the cost of CTP insurances x 2. Still, we are safe in our two vehicles and we are both independent having two.

Love my Nissan XTrail

And as always when January draws to a close this happens:

1. We celebrate our Wedding Anniversary. 49 years in 2020.
2. Australia Day happens.
3. Teachers and Kids in the family return to school & one grandson started high school.

The end of January is ALWAYS like this and I often feel it should be me too! Old habits and all that.

FEBRUARY 2020. 

This of course, made 2020 different!

After the awfulness of the fires and the altered ways in which families were forced to find housing, let alone anything they owned, there was on the news something about a virus from China called then CoronaVirus. There were half-hearted jokes relating the beer brand and to be honest, not much attention was paid other than..”oh, that seems pretty awful”…and “hope it stays away from us”. Of course, we hoped that.

The Weather Changed.

After the drought…comes the flooding. Of course. Massive rain fronts and more saved some of the land and its inhabitants from the awful threat of the fires. Still, it did not help the many, many animal casualties and deaths. So much was lost. There is a lot of bush regeneration happening. And we saw blue skies again, eventually, after the rain.

Birthdays.

A most important person has his birthday this month and he is my husband. He does not go all out to celebrate so I do that for us both! He did not do anything at all for his 70th last year so this year, we had a small family get together and his wish for a chiming clock came true.

 

Head and Neck Cancer Support Group Meeting.

2020 is my third year of being part of this group of head and neck cancer patients, their carers and sometime guest speakers. I attend in a dual capacity. I am a patient and the Ambassador for Beyond Five. More about ‘that role’ further on in my memoir.

It’s always good to gather with this crew. We are located here on the Central Coast and our commonality is having a head and neck cancer or being a carer/family member. It’s an open type of meeting and all sure are welcome. We usually share our stories and health updates and at times we have a guest speaker as we did at the first meeting for year in February.

Self-Care Rules. 

My routine for self-care has been mentioned in my regular posts via the Life This Week link up, and I note here what continued into 2020.

Most days I dress with purpose and go somewhere for a coffee. I do this too after I have been to the meetings in Erina, often taking time to drive around the Terrigal area as we now live much further up the coast. I was glad I did this on that February afternoon, and stopped for a coffee and cake at Long Jetty because none of us knew what was coming.

Getting Confident Again.

The persona that was Denyse some years back…way back into say the early 2000s to around 2013…loved to get out and about. To go to the theatre, the movies, meet up with friends. Have lunch, have a coffee. Getting together with friends and family was really important to me. BUT, over time, in this memoir of mine you will see the start of how my mood and other issues affected me. It started here. There will be more to come about the not-great-years-for-me of 2015, into 2016 and the early parts of 2017 in 2021. However, this is me recounting 2020 and I became more inclined to say YES to ideas like this…instead of usually NO, thank you.

Tickets to a Show and Driving to Newcastle and Back – Evening Time.

I have found that with my declining confidence what I needed to do was to challenge myself. In fact, that IS the essence of the theory called Exposure Therapy which I reluctantly took on board in 2016. More about that in posts here and here. Yes, some of it was related to potential IBS and some to ‘I cannot eat outside the home’ because of my mouth’s limitations but more than anything I HAD to give things a go.

I did.

I drove to Newcastle, about 45 minutes away, late afternoon in February, found a secure park in the street near the Civic Theatre (I already knew the place from 2019 attendance at Newcastle Writers Festival) and wandered over, then inside to be part of the audience for Chat 10 Looks 3 with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales. It was great. I talked to people next to me. I found the car safely in the night time streets, and drove home the coast road way in the rain. So pleased with myself too!

 

Head & Neck Cancer News.

I had an excellent visit to my prosthodontist in February and he declared all was well with my upper prosthesis and that was it. See you in May he said. Sure thing said I. Neither of us know of course..what was to come! OK..we know it was COVID but let’s  not get ahead of ourselves.

Ambassador Role.

As a patient of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse and of Professor Jonathan Clark AM, Head and Neck Surgeon, it is always a privilege to ‘give back’ in a way to help others. I was invited to be part of a new video series that would be made at “my hospital” as I call it, and I would be interviewed about nutrition following head and neck cancer diagnosis and surgeries. I was initially reluctant but when encouraged by the CEO of then Beyond Five, I said yes. It meant a day at Chris O’Brien, and lots of waiting around for film segments to be completed. However, I got to meet some special people, including two other head and neck patients, and dietitians too. My interview went well after an initial  false start. It can now be found here.

MARCH. 2020. A huge month!

The very next week I was back at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse for my then 6 month check up with my surgeon. I took the chance to do quite a tour of the place as I was not in a rush. In fact, it was the first time, in a formal setting, I saw pamphlets about COVID 19 and restrictions of entry into the hospital and of course, that made sense. Those signs had not been there the WEEK before. Things were moving faster. There were sanitisers at the door as well.

My visit was awesome. See you in 6 months! I got to say good bye to Deb who was leaving the art program I had supported, and I drove home. I did not know I would be back in 6 months but under far stricter protocols….that needs to wait till part 3/3.!

Remember the Confidence Growth?

I was invited to be the guest speaker at a fund raiser for head and neck cancer, hosted by young doctors in training on the Central Coast. One doctor, Caity, knew of me from my Beyond Five story and she too had a story there. Her father, only in his 40s, had died from a head and neck cancer. Knowing the importance of awareness raising and the importance of sharing the messages via the Beyond Five site, there was an evening function – a charity ball they called it- on a delightful, balmy evening at Avoca Beach. I was happy to share my story and to help share my information at my little table where I was talking to various attendees about head and neck cancer.

Little did any of us know, on this first weekend in March, that this would be the end of events such as these, thanks no thanks COVID. Feel really fortunate this went ahead and they raised some thousands of dollars. I remain in touch with Caity and colleagues too.

It was a big boost for my confidence. I used to speak off the cuff as a principal many times, and once I had that mic in my hand it was fine. I did have to find something suitable to wear and I did…and to drive myself from one end of the coast to the other. I did.

Eating remains an issue. But I am OK with that.

What I couldn’t do…was actually eat anything there. I did not pay to attend. I could drink water and that was it. You see, despite my normal appearance eating anything other than some cake with coffee, eating anywhere other than home is problematic.

And Now…Cataract Surgeries. Yes, x two in 3 days!

As a couple we had a rhythm for driving together to Sydney for my cancer treatments initially and then I became Ms Independent and as kids say “I can do it myself.” But not for this.

Monday 9 March 2020.

My dear husband drove us to Parramatta for my midday arrival at the Day Surgery. We were booked to stay just down the road at a new to us Meriton apartment. Fortunately he could access the room, and bring up our food supplies and clothes. Meanwhile I had a LONG wait as many people were there for similar types of eye surgeries. On this day it was my right eye. There were some COVID type precautions including questions about where I had been. No restrictions on other people being with waiting patients.

It is a LONG wait with weird stuff in your eyes but eventually I was ushered in to the next room, given a shower cap, no change of clothes, and onto a trolley. Saw the anaesthetist and his nurse. All checked out OK. His wife is my opthalmologist. I don’t know what he gave me but I have no memory of seeing her or the surgery but waking up, cover over my eye and for some reason I took a lot of selfies. Husband collected me, back into the apartment. Rested up and finally ate something and slept until the next morning when we needed to go back to the Day Surgery for check and drops. Then off home! Yay. Thank goodness for sunglasses (as recommended) because EVERYTHING was bright.

Wednesday 11 March 2020.

Despite having a successful outcome on Monday, for this day trip I was anxious. Maybe my mind is remembering what surgeries are about. Nevertheless with a confidence boost chat to my GP and a wee bit of valium on board, we went. This time the only place my husband could ‘hang out’ was at Westfield Parramatta as I was going home the same day. On arrival, only 2 days post the first surgery, the protocol was already ramped up thanks to COVID. More questions on arrival and a temperature check. Settled down to wait “after the drops in the eyes” and then BOOM..OK, what is that? Oh. A Fire Alarm and no it’s not a practice. Evacuate the building.

Down some 3 flights of stairs, in single file, I admit I started to remember what 9/11 people had done only SO much worse. Outside on the street, we were guided away from the building and waited. The firies came. In an engine and we waited. I was pre-op and whilst the anaesthetists was already there, his wife, my surgeon, arrived just as we were all coming onto the driveway near the Ferry Terminal. So, all we could do was wait. Eventually, thanks to my phone I texted my husband from a concrete set of steps where I sat and we waited. Probably about 45 minutes. Then, all clear. A faulty something or other and we traipsed up the stairs again. Lift was out for a time. The wait was not too bad and I was called in, and this time, saw my surgeon and even “saw some of the coloured lights” as she was inserting the lens. Wow I said. She said “no talking”. So I didn’t. No silly selfies, husband got me and off back up the M1 we went. The next day checks were at rooms closer to our house.

Updates on my eyes. As of December 2020. I see very well for distance and no longer need glasses for driving. Yay. I use a much weaker script in glasses for reading. At the shops I use a $2 plastic pair with 2 vision. I have had a recent check and despite some issues that annoyed me as I already have itchy eyes at times my opthalmologist says all is looking good and these should last me 10 to 15 years. Grateful too that she bulkbilled for these surgeries.

COVID19  GETS SERIOUS. 

On the weekend after my two surgeries above, there were a number of changes to how we here in Australia, and in our state, would now lead our lives. The Prime Minister, used Sunday 15th March to announce a raft of new rules on how we would live and interact day to day and why. He was often flanked with the then Federal Health Person,  and in our state, Premier with her Health head honco, Minister for Health and Police.

It began very seriously from Monday 16 March.

I am using some calendar reminders here!

  • I know that I needed to have both food supplies in for us and I admit it, toilet paper was a high priority.
  • I think I went, as carefully as I could, probably wearing a mask and gloves – whatever we had here at the time – to local supermarkets
  • I could not always get what I sought nor what we wanted
  • I remember feelings of insecurity in me that I may not be able to cook all the meals – for us and the freezer – to have on hand.
  • I know I felt the weight of responsibility

Meanwhile my husband was negotiating seeing his GP and going through medication changes and it was not easy. In fact, it was tough. Even though he could talk to the GP on the phone, some things are far better managed in person.

Our eldest granddaughter has come to stay indefinitely with her other grandparents who also live on the Coast as she has an autoimmune condition so did not want to be at her Mum’s. Mum is a teacher and going to school at that point each day was a risk that she, and her youngest had to take. It got a bit worrying. She popped up to see us…and for a much needed hug…just because she needed to as did we to see her.

Of course, we know now that schools did an amazing job of being flexible and eventually on-line learning worked..hard as it was…and teachers need congratulating along with their leaders.

So we did OK really I guess. I found it hard initially that my practice of going out each day for a coffee was curtailed but I found alternative solutions at home with a strong coffee and my ISObaking  took off!!

Dear Miss Five. 

Our youngest granddaughter, born five years ago at almost the end of March spent her fifth birthday….having her broken arm re-set. It was one of those small accidents but when it’s a little person it is always hard. Staying with her Dad, along with her siblings, when it happened, she was driven to the local public hospital where, as our son said, they could not have been kinder. Her Mum met up with them there. They stabilised her arm, she came back to her Dad’s to open the presents from us and share a facetime even though it was pretty hard…and then next morning, her actual birthday, she went back in to find the nurses had remembered her birthday and she was treated very well indeed. She was fine, and is fine. And as her Dad told her, you just wanted to be the same as me when I was four. True!

April 2020.

We became accustomed to daily updates on COVID numbers of cases in our state and country. NSW was not doing well. Sadly it was where older people lived such as in Nursing Homes that things went downhill rapidly. Each day seemed to bring worse news and added restrictions. Already we knew there would be no Royal Easter Show. Definitely no-one going anywhere on the roads except for essential reasons: work, medical or supermarket.

I find change hard but did my best with this one because we had to do the right thing. Even going for a casual drive to nowhere..or the beach was BANNED and police could pull you up to ask where you were going.

I did immerse myself in busy stuff for my mind, like blogging, art, craft and cooking. I had my cooking/baking mojo back. In general too I was able to source ingredients and do my best to cook for us to have a meal stash in the freezer. Toilet paper was OK. We celebrated Miss 8’s birthday via facetime. I was able to attend some ancillary medical appointments in person. That was a relief…my feet needed it.

Eventually too, my hairdresser was back in a very limited way when they got the OK to do so and my usual 4 weekly hair cut had blown out to 8 weeks but I lasted and I was very relieved to have my back to normal look.

And then on a Friday at the end of the month…oh, there were no ANZAC days services or ceremonies anywhere either…I got slight sore throat and a mild temperature so rang the COVID hotline and my GP and both said, report to local COVID test centre. It was in local hospital grounds 5 minutes away. Not much of a wait. Test was OK. Mask on from the get go….and back home to self isolate. I got my test Friday afternoon and result in wee hours of Sunday morning.

COVID COLLAGE.

And that is that.

2020. Part One of Three.

Denyse.

Did you read it all? Wow. Thank you.

Joining here with Leanne and friends for what I guess will be the last Lovin Life Linky in 2020.

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