Friday 22nd October 2021

Remember. 32/51. #LifeThisWeek. 97/2021.

Remember. 32/51. #LifeThisWeek. 97/2021.

Remember? Oh yes, that’s right. We had our daughter 50 years ago last week.

“50” years …wow. Indeed.

We became parents at 21. Mind, you back then 21 meant we were already working and in permanent employment with the N.S.W. Department of Education. My husband was in his 4th year as a teacher, I was in my 2nd. Now, I look at our granddaughters who are older (just) than 21 and in different employment and life-style situations than us. Not a judgement at all. It shows the ‘gap’. Our daughter was around 25 when she became a Mum and did not get permanent employment in teaching until some years after that.

 

Our daughter does not like the spotlight nor this amount of attention but I sense given it’s her 50th we are celebrating, and it’s lockdown, then all on-line I get some leeway! On the day, she was teaching remotely, supervising her grade (she is a relieving Asst Principal at the moment) and making sure her youngest stayed on task for home-learning

During the weeks before her birthday I posted a care pack of favourite biscuits to savour at home, and some presents and a card for the day. I also sent later on the two blog posts relating to her birth year and some memories in photo collages.

 

More times to remember…

We celebrated with a family zoom….can’t can share the  one image &  we did have fun.

She LOVED her birthday that was at home…with her whole school staff, arranging a staff meeting (all on zoom) to sing her Happy Birthday and they delivered little cakes and a huge bunch of flowers. I made her smile…with a beautiful message via instagram from our fave author Trent Dalton. He mentioned how much he values teachers too. Aww.

A few more photos to remember her stories before 50th Birthday.

1991. K at 20, with Mum & Me.

 

With her brother’s family and hers, our daughter managed this magical photo shoot. Always remember the sweet surprise when I got the big photo on canvas and book for my 70th birthday.

 

18th Birthday for only son. We enjoyed being back celebrating too. With the fam!

 

Thank you for our Anniversary Cake, K.

My Birthday cake made by my daughter.

 

Glad I got this shot! Thanks KT, I know it’s not your fave thing to do. Brunch by ourselves in Jan 2021. A rarer than rare occasion in covid.

 

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

We love you and always remember how it was to become YOUR parents back in 1971!

Mum and Dad.

Link Up #252

Life This Week. Link Up #252

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.

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Self Care Stories #3. 21/51 #LifeThisWeek. Gratitude, Meditation & Ageing. 64/2021.

Self Care Stories #3. 21/51 #LifeThisWeek. Gratitude, Meditation & Ageing. 64/2021.

 

I am grateful.

This was made a year or so ago…

  • I thought to make this list of gratitude
  • I can see why I need to change my mindset to accept gratitude works
  • I sense that feelings this week have been oldies which tend to resurface when threatened
  • That by noticing this I can detach from the old ways better
  • I am loved
  • I am, generally, very well
  • I have a very kind, loving and caring husband
  • When I offer him my love and care and it is accepted with grace
  • I am almost 70 and truly going well
  • My life is enriched by my memories
  • My career was an amazing one
  • I am grateful to have contributed to education in NSW over 40 yrs
  • I love that I share teaching as a passion with many
  • I am grateful that teaching led me to my now husband
  • I like that I am well-respected within teaching circles and am always glad to help
  • I am pleased though that I no longer have to work in schools and education as it is so much more accountable and different
  • I love that I got to have 2 children.
  • I am grateful to have a daughter and a son
  • In the end I am glad of their age differences
  • I am grateful that it was found in 1978 that there was a physical reason for not having him earlier
  • I like that I have now made peace with my children in terms of how I mothered
  • I am grateful both of them accept the ways in which I know I faltered in being Mum as I told them in letters 3 years ago
  • I am always grateful to have been born into my family
  • I am more grateful now of the ways in which my forebears lived their lives so I had the more broad and cushy life I did
  • I am forever grateful my father championed me getting an academic education

At my teacher’s college graduation.

Try Making Your Own Gratitude List.

No-one else needs to see it.

Start small and let it grow

I made this in notes on my phone and added to it.

I did get to 100 but I did not want to bore my readers 

What started as a daily list in 2020 has continued into a more integrated way of seeing things. “Feeling” the gratitude helps me change things.

Why I Can’t Stop Meditating.

I learn something new most days about myself and being human

I listen to Daily Calm via Calm App with Tamara Levitt each morning before getting out of bed. Yes, I meditate in bed. There is no rule you need to be uncomfortable. Just awake. And to absorb the messages.

I now do the daily written reflections after the Calm meditation and have kept those private.

I often share the daily calm photo with a quote. Really enjoy adding my views to those words.

Now, I listen to Calm at night with this man talking Jeff Warren and it’s called The Daily Trip (I didn’t like the ‘trip’ initially as it had old-connotations for me about tripping on drugs but now I see how it works. Really good having different people guide me.

I am quite a record keeper and like that but I wouldn’t want to stop calm at all now.

It is part of my day (and night)

Self Care Socially.

I missed social interaction when I retired and I know I tend to do more of this on-line now

But, I still have my goal of getting out somewhere every single day. I may no longer have a coffee out (it was getting expensive!) but I chat to people and walk in areas that are nature-centred too. Going out to take photos is a wonderful way to enjoy myself.

And, in a way of celebrating greater inner confidence I am continuing to meet up with people for morning tea. On Thursday, I am meeting a journalist for that very reason. Socialising. She has followed my on instagram and we live relatively close. Excited to be doing this.

I met another friend from social media too. She works in the area. Great to finally meet.

And I recently drove myself to Sydney – no problems with that – and saw the musical Hamilton at the Lyric Theatre. Booked in Covid times we could not be sure it would go ahead, but it did. I wore a mask. Not a problem to enjoy the performance!

 

How I Manage Aspects of Ageing.

I ignore them…not really.

It is far better that I notice them.

Some include the nuisance of not being able to recall names and events whereas I used to be so GOOD at that. It’s not anything nasty but another developmental thing about being in my 8th decade (group of 10 years). Notice I am 71 but when our first decade is 0-9, that IS our first decade. So, if you are 61 you are in your 7th decade.

I am very pleased my cataract surgeries have left me with great distance vision and still, after my 12 months check, the same good reading vision – with glasses.

It sure has been a time of catching up on regular and planned (with the GP) checks.

I have recently had:

bone density scan: next in 2 years

  • mammogram & ultrasound: screening mammogram was due in November 2021 (I use my even numbered birthdays to remember) but some symptoms I had recently prompted this being brought forward (result: all fine) 
  • I have had a shingles vaccine. If you are an Australian aged between 70 and 79 you are eligible for a free vaccine. My husband got his at 70. I paid for mine in my late 60s as I never ever wanted to have the debilitating pain again.
  • We have had our first doses of Astra Zeneca – 2nd one due in June. No issues for either of us.
  • We have also have our flu vax and no side effects.
  • Haven’t needed another Covid test since late last year. All negative for all tests in 2020.
  • I have had a 12 month skin check with just some small cancers burned off my cheek. Not so happy with the skin doctor and may seek another referral.
  • I am going very well since my rectopexy and subsequent 2nd surgery for wound issues and happy to say, I have not (fingers crossed) had any I.B.S. since then. Yay!! Life changing. 
  • I remain emotionally pretty well but having a couple of sessions with a psychologist as I have noted some post-retirement (2002 from school principal role) and other events (transition to retirement and cancer) are rising up as traumatic memories so it’s better to deal with those than hide behind pretending I am OK. Getting help is important.
  • My left index finger – am left handed- has two areas of arthritis and GP sent me to cortisone injection in near each joint. One done, one next week. Still sore from process but hoping over time it helps.
  • Each time I smile, I remind myself of how grateful I am that I can smile properly!

Head and Neck Cancer Update.

Over four years ago I received the news of the rare cancer inside my upper gums and under top lip. The story is here. As this post goes out one week after that anniversary I wrote this good news update on Wednesday 19th May on Facebook. I had been for my 6 month prosthodontist check. Last September my head and neck surgeon told me he didn’t want to see me for a year.

Just over 4 years ago I was told I had a rare cancer in my gums & under my top lip. I came here, as I had at other times, some days later in May 2017 to reflect & to wonder as well as to try to lessen my anxiety about what would come.
Over those years of 4 surgeries, many trips to the prosthodontist & lots of TIME to heal in between this place remained a favourite to reflect. Mackenzie Reserve Budgewoi.
This week I am immensely grateful to be well. Entering my 5th year. On Tuesday my 6 month mouth/upper prosthesis check at Westmead along with CT scan indicate all is well. My care of my mouth needs a small upgrade! Twice a day with waterpik, micro brushes & piksters to help my 8 remaining teeth stay OK.
Having this news, I wanted to share here how good it is to be this well, living with the after effects of my reconstruction as well as I can.
Thanks to my husband, family & friends along with my health professionals who buoyed me along the way.
With My Prosthodontist on Tuesday. I said to him, I remember crying through some of my first appointment with you (May 2017) and he said “I do too”. Now, look at us!!
That’s my rather significant wrap for Self Care this time round.
How are you going?
Denyse.
Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

Link Up #241

Life This Week. Link Up #241

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, sales 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: 22/51 Leaving. 31 May.

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Bright Blue Sky & Sea & Me. 49.1/2021.

Bright Blue Sky & Sea & Me. 49.1/2021.

Now I am back! Again. Loving BRIGHT as a Squares Challenge!

Becky encouraged me to do this too, after I saw the challenge elsewhere  and it didn’t have to be every day…so here I am.

https://beckybofwinchester.com/2021/04/01/bright-square/

Being Square is Fun!

Join in this lovely challenge and post a photographic square daily for one month every quarter. The theme changes every quarter and is announced on this blog a few weeks, occasionally days, in advance of the challenge month. The challenge months are January, April, July and October.

Today Was A Picture Perfect Autumn Day.

We live on the northern end of Central Coast, N.S.W. Australia. Our suburban living is offset by being very close to parts of nature that I never tire of viewing and being part of when I can.

Today was THAT day!

Over the past few day, I had been too concerned with lots of thinking, and delving into the past…and also seeing a pyschologist for the first time in years to help me through another life transition.

So, I escaped…not really, I have permission these days in a relaxed retirement life style to choose my day’s activities.

I wanted to get out of my head and into a space much larger!

Here’s what I saw and did!

From the headland overlooking the sea at Norah Head.

 

Norah Head Lighthouse. Working 24/7.

 

Venturing down the steps to the beach area below.

 

On the sand. Looking south.

 

Closer view of the rock platforms. The reason for the Lighthouse!

 

Great spaces to walk, discover rock pools and just G A Z E in wonder

 

Rock platform required careful stepping but I did it and was rewarded

 

Bright-faced me in blue..having challenged myself to walk out to here.

I came back up those steps wearily but grateful to have been down to the platform after more than a year. “I Do Hard Things” is one of my life sayings now and today, when I ventured further than I might have, I lived up to my mantra.

Hope you find some brightness in your days too.

Denyse.

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Bright Mandala… A Bright Idea. 48.1/2021.

Bright MandalaA Bright Idea. 48.1/2021.

In April I have posted a couple of times for this challenge of squares using the word: Bright. Here is my first post and here is the second.

Now I am back!

Becky encouraged me to do this too, after I saw the challenge elsewhere  and it didn’t have to be every day…so here I am.

https://beckybofwinchester.com/2021/04/01/bright-square/

Being Square is Fun!

Join in this lovely challenge and post a photographic square daily for one month every quarter. The theme changes every quarter and is announced on this blog a few weeks, occasionally days, in advance of the challenge month. The challenge months are January, April, July and October.

What IS the Bright Idea?

Last week I was upset by a person. It was quite a shock to my system as often is when we least expect it. However, in recovering from this unpleasant encounter, I was able to draw upon my knowledge and practice of ‘Loving Kindness’ which I have used many times for myself and others since learning about it from Sharon Salzberg initially and over time with others, including my Daily Calm practice.

Why Do This?

I did not want to hold onto the sadness I felt. I also wanted to send loving kindness to this person, and anyone else, whose life may be affected in sad ways which can engender anger in responses to others.

So, I did what I now do to help me heal…and to send out loving kindness to the world ….and with hope this person would also feel some settling of the emotions.

I Draw and Make Mandalas.

I Love Them To Be Bright.

I Often Incorporate the Rainbow Colours.

I Deliberately Chose Hearts – healing LOVE and Black/White in contrast to remind us we need not be “in black and white” thinking or doing mode.

Here is the final BRIGHT Square:

The words I chose:

May All People Be:

At ease with what cannot be changed

Content within themselves

Living with a loving heart

Safe from harm

Happy within

Well As Can Be.

 

Credit: Denyse: My words (can be shared with permission) and To Sharon Salzberg for Teaching Me (and Many!)

L O V I N G       K I N D N E S S

Do you practise loving kindness?

The first person to offer it to, is ourselves!

Try it.

Happy 21 April all.

Denyse.

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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!

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.

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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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Self-Care Stories #6. 42/51. #LifeThisWeek. 84/2020.

Self-Care Stories #6. 42/51. #LifeThisWeek. 84/2020.

Last time I wrote about self-care, I was about to have some more surgery. It was a success and it was wound debridement then application of a VAC system to help health both faster and cleaner. More about this as the post goes on.

Self Care: the Mental Story.

I cannot lie. Knowing that I needed more surgery on August 24th to fix the wound from the first abdominal surgery some 5 weeks before did not make me a happy camper.

It also was a messy situation. Literally. I had no idea that a wound could ‘dehisce’. I had also never heard of the word. My GP mentioned it as I anxiously awaited the result of her examination of my very messy & leaking wound area the Wednesday before. I literally could not see it as it was at the junction underneath my tummy where the upside-down T incisions met.

To better explain: from my search:

Dehiscence is a partial or total separation of previously approximated wound edges, due to a failure of proper wound healing. This scenario typically occurs 5 to 8 days following surgery when healing is still in the early stages.

Wound dehiscence is a distressing but common occurrence among patients who have received sutures. The condition involves the wound opening up either partially or completely along the sutures – basically, the wound reopens to create a new wound.

 

Our urgent appointment to my colorectal surgeon the next day confirmed that whilst the wound (stitched internally) was opening up, it was NOT exposing the inside of my abdomen nor impacting on the surgeries I had just had. Phew. I guess.

Trust. I had to have trust in both the surgeon and his work (along with the support of the specialist wound nurse) to come through this second surgery. I had to have an additional surgery post head and neck cancer and I remembered the disappointment very strongly. I also remembered that “if it had to be done, I needed to accept that”.

Relieved patient and doctor!

This time, it was a shorter surgery where he cleaned out the wound area (debridement) as I was under a general anaesthetic, leaving an area of 8cm long x 3cm deep and 3cm wide to be covered with the VAC system dressing, tube and ‘me attached’ to the VAC machine itself. I woke with all that done and by the next day, had the lessons in how to care for it before I would have my first ‘at home’ nursing. This was new to me and I was incredibly grateful. Our private health insurance paid for the equipment (each wound change used a new section of the VAC and was approx $80 each in value). Her travel and services for 7 visits (as was needed  by me) were paid by Teachers Health who would have paid for 10 but by 7 my wound did not need the VAC system anymore.

About the VAC system: Mine was on me, next to me as I slept, 24/7 from 24 August until 17 September. No showers but I could wash myself in a limited way.

Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT), also called vacuum-assisted wound closure, refers to wound dressing systems that continuously or intermittently apply subatmospheric pressure to the system, which provides a positive pressure to the surface of a wound.Jul 22, 2020

Negative pressure wound therapy (NPWT) is a method of drawing out fluid and infection from a wound to help it heal. A special dressing (bandage) is sealed over the wound and a gentle vacuum pump is attached.

I Found It Quite Confronting. 

I admit all of this physical attention by professionals for a part of my body rarely shared with anyone other than my spouse, was hard on me. I knew the ‘why’ and the ‘what’ of the reasons. The confrontation I guess for me was about not only the wound itself – not good with them at the best of times – but that my husband or the nurse took photos of me. My body, there, where it is fat and bits of it have weathered a lot – big surgeries for example AND child-bearing. The photos were valuable because they were the proof everything was healing. I just found it hard to ‘see myself’ from this angle. I still have the photos as do my doctors as it is an important record. I have shown a couple of progress shots to family but they are not something I can nor would share publically.

 

Self-Care: the Physical Story.

In the normal scheme of things I can say that I should have been well on my way to full recovery at about the 6-8 weeks mark post first surgery. This would not be the case with the second surgery. It put me back another 4-6 weeks. I had to learn (again!) to live with:

  • physical restrictions with a tube attached to my wound, which was then wound around the bag, which I had to wear on my shoulder. It was quite heavy too, so I could leave it on the desk while I blogged or did some art. I did have to remember to take it with me though…I did have a couple of times over the 3+ weeks where I almost forgot but the dragging of the tube on my wound soon let me know
  • pain. Not much from the wound itself as it was covered and pretty numb from 2x surgeries. The skin around the wound – and some hair in the area – got itchy and a bit painful but managed with cream. Interestingly I was warned I might have needed a very strong pain killer for dressing changes initially but fortunately panadol was enough
  • recovery from wounds from surgery #1 inside and outside made for (and still does as I write) so stinging, aching and pulling sensations from my belly button area and down and across
  • I need to get some help via an arm from my husband or nurse to easily rise from lying down (when wound was being changed) as stomach area feels like I have overdone sit ups. I haven’t. Apparently it can take another 4 months for this to be better after all the cutting and stitching that went on inside
  • less resilience for staying on my feet and walking. I turned down my Apple Watch walking goals initially and over the past 4 weeks have been increasing them slowly
  • being able to drive again took about 3 weeks post first surgery…and I had just become used to that independence when the 2nd surgery happened. By 2-3 weeks post that one I had the OK to drive again. My husband has been and continues to be the main grocery shopper now and I am loving that!
  • getting more distracted by art, some reading, magazine browsing has helped while away the time during a COVID recovery
  • still doing my best to dress with purpose each day and going out for a walk somewhere or a coffee.
  • now that I have NO MORE visits to the GP for wound care – that ended last week as the wound healed fully, I have been able to drive to Sydney to see my Dad.

Self-Care Lessons.

  • I can do this
  • I have done this before
  • I have strategies I can draw on
  • I have a loving and supportive husband
  • I know this is temporary
  • I will learn more about myself by coming through this.

That’s it. A much longer self-care post than usual, but I did think it worth sharing.

Getting over anything health-wise always brings up more than we are perhaps prepared for.

I hope you are doing well.

Denyse.

And a lovely P.S. from me!

On Saturday 17th October it was 50 years since we met. As this post goes live, we will be travelling to the north west of N.S.W. to the city of Tamworth where we met, and then 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 may not be on-line to comment or write on your blog until I am back home. 

 

Link Up 211

Life This Week. Link Up #211

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!

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* 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: 43/51 Inside. 26.10.2020

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