Monday 2nd August 2021

Self Care Stories#4. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 85/2021.

Self Care Stories #4. 28/51 #LifeThisWeek. 85/2021.

Self Care Stories are a regular feature on the optional prompts selection for Life This Week, occurring at 7 week intervals. Keeping myself accountable to me…and for your interest as readers and commenters is what my posts are about. I am also doing my best to respond under a few of my chosen categories.

Every 7th week

Covid 19 and Lockdown.

At the time of writing this post, where we live is included in a lockdown for two weeks. Of the school holidays! Grrr. No family visits. However, I am not one to be annoyed for too long these days and am grateful that we are both fully vaxxed against Covid, I had a Covid test because of a slight sore throat and it was negative. I gave myself a project/challenge to do for the lockdown period and here is a group of the photos. I hope you are well wherever you are living right now.

Gratitude.

I have gone back to being more regular at writing some things to be grateful for each day.

I am also noticing that if I have some days which do not feel so agreeable emotionally, when I call on gratitude I can do a pretty quick change of pace and attitude.

It surprises me how much I remember this now, so I guess I am integrating it better than I thought.

Health and Mindfulness.

I never need a reminder to be considerate of my mindfulness practice as doing a Calm meditation each morning, the Daily Calm, then ending my day with the Daily Trip, pays me dividends each day. I have now completed over 555 days in a row. This image from that day.  Not all days have an original meditation but that’s OK too…and why it’s called practice. We keep on doing it to learn.

 

 

And add to that practice is my art and playing with materials creatively.

Photography Shared.

There is no doubt about it, for me, have an eye into the world around me and using my iphone to capture it gives me so much joy each day.

When I review the photos I am kind in my self talk and I now have a pretty good photographer’s eye. Thanks to lessons way back in Sydney, AND now having a wonderful iphone ProMax 11. 3 lenses!

I also am glad I took so many photos and movies (little vids on the phone) of our grandchildren when we cared for them and when they had little holidays with us. Those days have passed now but my husband and I do enjoy some reminiscing and it’s a great time we share(d) together.

Mind you, we have few ‘easy to access’ memories of the pre-iphone times of the older grandkids, and I must, at some stage, get a quote on having some old video cassettes converted. We do have photos in albums, but listening and looking at the fun the get up to is priceless.

This is from a recent post. I only just noticed the HEART shape in the tree.

Stories About Ageing.

I am old(er) than I was. Ha! That is a fact.

I am more accepting of some of the physical changes happening to my skin  that cannot be “fixed” but can be better cared for, so I have some good quality sunscreen, moisturiser with tint to wear every day.

And, I am remembering more to actually add some moisturiser to my scaly legs. And I have some hormonal cream to use as well. Not stating the obvious  about where it’s applied.

My hairdresser and I agree my ‘thinning’ hair has stopped and we put it down to the 5 anaesthetics in 2020 as did my G.P. but it is still a part of ageing so I will be grateful for what I have. Brilliant hairdresser who does such a symmetrical and pleasing haircut every 4 weeks.

We are also getting to enjoy life as older married people. By that I mean we actually LOVE the times we are having now. Not 100% concerned with work anymore, care of little kids, worried about family members…we are loving and living our life mindfully each day. Lots of laughs, time for solo interests and shared time each evening talking and relaxing after our day.

We had morning tea out again recently, before lockdown, and used the NSW Government Dine Out Vouchers.

Neither of us can manage a meal out anymore so morning tea is ideal. As we have aged – and it’s not just my post oral cancer restrictions, we eat smaller portions.

Relevance is something I think about these days. Back in years of education, I had a title. I knew my role. I did it well. However, I am retired from that role as a school principal. But I am still relevant to my friends and colleagues via social media and in real life. This image of me here with a colleague at a Sydney primary school is when I was Relieving Principal there. Now, over 22 years later, someone I have known in school education since 2013 is the newly appointed principal. I am so proud of him. He’s invited me to visit too once Covid is calmer!

What I Wore.

Goodness me, it has been a long time for one of these. I have stopped doing daily photos but every so often I might ask my husband to take one.

I know now, and this might sound weird, but bear with me….that I actually look ok.

I used to scour my daily photos for ‘what’s wrong’ and that is/was a problem for me.

I have had to accept that whilst I may not like my large upper arms and my double chins, they are are much a part of me ..right now…as my hazel eyes, and great nose and ears.

To pick on parts of my body is something I am doing all I can to reduce. I am never dieting again. I am accepting that I have actually remained around the same weight now for almost 3 years. I still “can’t” believe this at times but each of my clothes tells me that’s correct.

I am a work in progress here. I am proud that I can let the voice of criticism go much more than I ever could.

Word of The Year.

Well… leaving best to last is a good plan.

I smile most days a great deal.

In fact of course I have reasons to smile.

I am well.

I am alive.

But mostly, I smile to connect and communicate with others.

And my reconstructed top lip looks much better as a smile!

That’s my self care post done.

How is your self care progressing?

Denyse.

Link Up #248

Life This Week. Link Up #248

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. It’s a kind connection I value as a blogger! 

* 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: 29. Please. 19.7.2021. My Post Is About Head & Neck Cancer Eating & Drinking Challenges.

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Click here to enter

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

 

 

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Taking Stock #3. 27/51 #LifeThisWeek. 82/2021.

Taking Stock #3. 27/51 #LifeThisWeek. 82/2021.

I wrote about the changes I have made to how I will blog when it’s time for Taking Stock. You are, of course, welcome to use my new version of the prompts or ones initially devised by Pip Lincolne. This optional prompt occurs every 9 weeks. Before I start, some information:

July: World Head and Neck Cancer Day. 27.7.2021.

As we move into July, I will be publishing posts relating to Head and Neck Cancer as 27 July is World Head and Neck Cancer Day. It only started back in 2014 I think, with Michael Douglas the actor making the speech to open the world congress for all Head and Neck Professionals. Michael has had #hnc as its often abbreviated. In my role as an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia, I will share more on-line and links about it too. In fact, the only fundraiser held by the charity where I volunteer (HANCA for short) promotes  Soup for the Soul events for people to arrange and then with any funds raised, to donate back to HANCA for the continuation of the support of supplying materials and information to GPs and to Dentist.

My local cafe BluJ’s has agreed to hold a Soup for The Soul Day and will be donating 100% of their takings on two soups. This place is one which I have been doing to for my much loved coffees since 2017 and I am stoked they are wanting to help raise awareness of Head and Neck Cancer along with me. Update: still hoping to go ahead once lockdown is over.

Now: Taking Stock for July 2021.

Admiring: those I see going through really tough times themselves supporting others. Examples I see: from cancer groups, from women in need of assistance and generally those who seem to need it most, reach out to help others.

Becoming: better at self-talk. I know, I know I know. By 71 I would have thought it may have gone completely but the good news, she has a much more gentle and compassionate voice and only every so often goes down what my husband calls the slippery slope. I know enough about my health and moods to recognise this so much more quickly.

Curious: about the ups and down of the blogging world. By that I mean what has obviously happened to many here in Australia there is reduced interest and reduced if not curtailed following of blogs. Maybe I am still naive enough to still think getting my words out there is good for my health…and I am always….

Delighted: that those words are often of interest to fellow bloggers who link up, and others who sometimes read and comment because….

Excited: is how I still am when I see something I have written and shared has a positive reaction.

Feeling: that I am well. It’s an amazing feeling alright and I am loving it.

Going: nowhere in particular beyond our normal neighbourhood and for good reason as we believe it’s….

Helping: to reduce our contact with any Covid 19 clusters and so we are….

Imploring: people to take this whole Covid 19 pandemic and its health and economic reactions and responses seriously even though we still see people….

Joking: about its impact. Maybe I am being super sensitive (yes indeed I can be!) but we Aussies have a tendency to make light of most things. May this time, we need to be serious and conscientious in taking personal responsibility.

Keeping: my life in perspective these days as much as possible and trying not to take on new ventures even though I can be tempted. 

Loving: the ways in which I can find simple joy in my day. It might be one colourful flower amongst a pile of weeds spied as I sit in the traffic queue at the lights or it might be turning the sound on when a friend’s baby LAUGHS with delight and it is shared via Instagram.

Making: the usual batches of meals and cakes and the like, because I only have to do that amount of cooking and baking once and get some nights off as a result. We often cook an individual meal or snack type meal for ourselves and we eat far less in quantity now we are…O L D er. It’s true!

Next: is probably what many of us are thinking about Covid19. There is so much uncertainty despite vaccinations going ahead around the world. And as I wrote above: we are still in Lockdown. 

Observing: that there are some things I notice more when I look down: a tiny leaf in a beautiful red, or a wee shell with a heart shape, or…what do you observe I wonder?

Pleasing: that my inner-self talk border far more on the forgiving and understanding side rather than its predecessor in black and white.

Reading: price labels on everything much better now I have my reading glasses with me in my bag. I don’t need glasses to drive, walk around but when it come to details I do! 

Staying:here as renters of this comfortable for us house as long as we are allowed to by the owners.*

Trying: to understand that even if we had to move (again, she says!) that our real estate agency would always take care of us. *In fact, they have told us that. 

Understanding: that years ago I could not have been this accepting of change. In fact, when….

Viewing: my posts for Taking Stock a few years back my constant refrain was about being housed securely.

Welcoming: your comments on this post.

X- You Choose! I am choosing to add some excerpts from previous Taking Stock posts as I can see that…

Yes: I have changed and for the good in term of my equanimity.

Z – You Choose! What say you? Have you noticed changes in yourself in recent years?

 

I have added these excerpts from 2017 when I was posting about taking stock. The dates are indicators of what was happening to me in 2017! A big year indeed. Interesting to look back.

Feb 2017: unwell with high levels of anxiety.

Waiting: to have enough money to buy a house

Liking: that we do not have enough money to buy a house (yet) because it gives us more time to consider

Needing: to be as kind a friend to myself as I am to others and I am getting better at it

Questioning: why…about quite a few things that I now realise is futile

 

May 2017: just before I was diagnosed with head & neck cancer.

Trawling: Realestate dot com dot au with NO hope of buying anything but getting sad about how big the prices of houses are. Bad news.

Wanting: To be settled in our own affordable house one day. I hope.

Looking: Up at the sky every single day. It never fails to impress me.

Deciding: That going for a walk is better for feeling anxious than sitting feeling anxious. So I do.

 

July 2017: days before my first cancer surgery & reconstruction

Wishing: that my surgery was over, that I recover very well and that my year ahead will be a smooth path to have my mouth reconstruction over and there is no cancer found anywhere else. (quite a few wishes I know, but that’s my focus!)

Loving: the enveloping of care, concern and attention from many people since my cancer diagnosis and even though many of these people have never met me I know I am loved

Hoping: that Sydney house prices eventually settle as it’s a cray-cray scenario there (and in other cities I know) and I fear for those with a mortgage who are living  week by week

 

 

Sept 2017: waiting to heal & be ready for surgery #2.

Trawling: the internet for houses that we might buy ONE day …I think it is an obsession but I always want to be prepared.

Wanting: not much at all. No, that is a lie. I want to be planning something like a great holiday in my  our future.

Looking: quite self-conscious because of my mouth – post surgery – but….

Deciding: that is a small price to pay for being as cancer-free as any doctor can predict. 

 

Late November 2017: after surgery #2.

Thinking that the surgical team who care for me are very competent in their roles.

Feeling a lot more confident than I used to be about getting out and about up here and even taking myself to Hornsby recently.

Bookmarking all the wonderful comments that people make to buoy me up when I am feeling a bit down.

Waiting as patiently as I can for my long recovery and reconstruction of my mouth to be finished sometime in 2018.

Liking that I am learning, from my cancer experience, to be more patient than I was.

Wondering from how much my grandchildren have special memories of us, their grandparents.

Loving the blogging community I am part of and follow.

 

And to right now….happy and well…and ageing gracefully, I think, here we are: The Two of Us.

Do you think you’ve changed over the years too?

I guess it would be boring if we did not!

Denyse.

Link Up #247

Life This Week. Link Up #247

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. It’s a kind connection I value as a blogger! 

* 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: 28/51 Self Care Stories. 

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter

Copyright © 2021 denysewhelan.com.au – All rights reserved.

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Taking Stock #2.18/51 #LifeThisWeek. 55/2021.

Taking Stock #2.18/51 #LifeThisWeek. 55/2021.

I wrote about the changes I have made to how I will blog when it’s time for Taking Stock. You are, of course, welcome to use my new version of the prompts or ones initially devised by Pip Lincolne. This optional prompt occurs every 9 week.

 

This time round, I am going to respond to these prompts relating to my head and neck cancer, diagnosis, surgeries, treatments and continued wellness. It will be marking the 4th anniversary of diagnosis on 17 May 2017. May will always remind me of this!

Admiring:  the skills of all those who helped to do my upper mouth reconstruction

Becoming:  such an advocate for spreading the awareness of head and neck cancer because it IS rare but it is also growing in numbers of people diagnosed in Australia and around the world

Curious:  about how I ‘got’ this cancer …at times

Delighted:  to be well in my recovery at almost 4 years down the track

Excited:  that my world is opening back up again for me personally as I take steps towards getting out there to share the awareness news

Feeling:  proud that I have come so far in my emotional health recovery that was at an all time low before my diagnosis in May 2017

Going: out each day as part of my health recovery

Helping: other head and neck cancer patients, families and carers where it may be appropriate

Imploring: everyone to “get your dentist to do a mouth check at your regular 6 months check” please

Joking: not. About the importance of knowing how to check your mouth yourself too

Keeping: up with my 2x daily practice of water pik use and caring for my upper prosthesis

Loving: that I have my smile

Making: changes which are working better for me as I adapt how I eat, e.g. using smaller utensils and remembering my mouth is a smaller space inside

Next: no longer waiting for what is ‘next’ in my treatment, seems all good at present

Observing: that I am a changed person inside thanks to this life-altering event in 2017…

Pleasing: …to note that the change is for the better

Reading: fiction, well, listening to it as I could not concentrate much on anything in recent years

Staying: well

Trying: to be more mindful and in the moment as much as I can….

Understanding:…that is not always possible but forgiving myself when I retreat to old habits

Viewing: my progress in terms of head and neck cancer with awe….still!

Welcoming: the ways I am learning to s l o w myself down to take notice of what I see, feel, hear and smell

X- You Choose! Xtra kind support from my blog followers and social media friends makes my recovery and wellness easier because I do not feel alone

Yes: to letting go of my past thoughts about appearance and….

Z – You Choose! …speaking kindly to and about myself. Always. Almost Always

And some more…

Gratitude to these people including me!

And finally:

Thank you for being part of Life This Week today.

Next week, I WILL be here but the words will not be mine.

The clue is at the bottom of the Link Up instructions.

Denyse.

Link Up #238

 

Life This Week. Link Up #238

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: Knowing. 10 May 2021. Guest Poster: My Husband!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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Taking Stock#1. New Version 9/51. #LifeThisWeek 27/2021.

Taking Stock#1. New Version 9/51. #LifeThisWeek 27/2021.

I recently wrote about the changes I have made to how I will blog when it’s time for Taking Stock. You are, of course, welcome to use my new version of the prompts or ones initially devised by Pip Lincolne.

 

 

But…before moving on I have this update! I am delighted to see new and returning bloggers here linking up in 2021.

This is the 5th year of this link up from me in Australia.

What I want to say is this: do link up and comment on my post (thank you!), share that you found my link up by adding the image on your blog or using it in social media & please find the time to comment on other’s posts BUT limit it to what time you have for.

There is no need to comment on everyone’s at all, I do that, but try to comment on maybe around 2-3?

Thank you…the writing here is a bit small but is directly from the ‘rules’ area under the invitation to link up! 


This post was written on Sunday 21 February 2021.

Admiring: women who are courageous enough to speak up about ill-treatment and unlawful treatment by, in many cases, men.

Becoming: less likely to add my comments on twitter right now as I am getting overly angry about what I cannot control!

Curious: to know how my bone density results will be after being told 10 years ago, they were so good “don’t come back for 10 years”. The ten years is up and I will be having the test this coming Tuesday.

Delighted: that my daughter, a teacher,  chose to give an acting promotion position a go in 2021 and even though I am aware of how much more work will be on her plate, she has so much to share educationally and it’s time for her voice to be heard.

Excited: to know we are celebrating my husband’s upcoming birthday with our two kids and their respective kids (aka the 8 grandkids & one partner to a grandkid) present which we could not do for Christmas or our Golden Wedding Anniversary.

Feeling: well. That is such a good feeling. I will not take it for granted though.

Going: to the local shops is less about stopping anywhere for coffee now and more for getting what I need and coming home again. Sometimes with a takeaway coffee.

Helping: a Year 12 scholar from the Public Education Foundation with some mentoring…advice and conversation, along with goal setting. This person, may be from a relatively low socio-economic  background and may also be a refugee. She/He is supplied  with a monetary scholarship and low cost devices and so on to complete the Higher School Certificate

Imploring: people to ….insert words about “politics” which I won’t but see “becoming” above to know why. And, I did say my blog is free from politics…

Joking: is something I do not always get when my husband tells me he is….

Keeping: some memorabilia from our recent Golden Wedding Anniversary in a special box and some inside a new scrapbook for mark the occasion.

Loving: this set of prompts so far…

Making: a mess on the mirror with my waterpik if I do not keep it inside my mouth whilst cleaning upper prosthesis!

Next: I am not sure, nor so I have any clue what my “next” view from Netflix will be that will possibly make me as  obsessed with as Schitts Creek ended up being (very poorly constructed sentence too)

Observing: that virtually no-one (I put up my hand too) wears a protective mask if there is no mandatory requirement.

Pleasing: to see that my eating, exercise and attention to staying well is being noted by me and my G.P. as OK! Numbers of scale keep me somewhat grounded for record keeping but not for obsessing. I usually weigh myself once a month. I remain a steady weight (for me) which is encouraged for all head and neck cancer patients.

Reading: blog posts. Love the community of bloggers I follow.

Staying: loyal to my friends who blog and enjoy seeing their latests posts as it helps me stay connected.

Trying: to get outside for some more moving most days….

Understanding: that if I cannot, that is OK too. No longer “all or nothing” thinking…most of the time.

Viewing: images from years gone by, especially of our now older grandchildren. Brings me such joy, especially if it’s a little video and there is laughter and words.

Welcoming: the end of daylight saving..I know it’s nowhere near ending but I do like it to be O V E R.

X- You Choose! My Daily Calm Practice is continuing with no effort these days and I am over 420 days in a row!

Yes: to anyone can make changes (big, small or in between) once the mindset can be changed…

Z – You Choose! What Do You Think Of The New Prompts? Did you try them?

Denyse.

I am driving to Sydney today to see my Dad. Unlikely to be replying to your comments here till I am back later in the day. Thanks for understanding.

Link Up #229

 

Life This Week. Link Up #229

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: Share Your Snaps #2. 8 March 2021.

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


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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!

* 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: 43/51 Inside. 26.10.2020

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Taking Stock #3. 27/51. Life This Week. 75/2019.

Taking Stock #3. 27/51. Life This Week. 75/2019.

My Soup for the Soul

For the last two years I have been recovering from cancer. Specifically a rare cancer in my upper gums and under the top lip. Oral cancer is part of the Head and Neck cancer group. It’s not well-known and this is WHY I have continued to spread the awareness news…and WHY I add the link to the fundraiser I have on-line to help the organisation Beyond Five where I am an Ambassador. To date, I now have wonderful donations bringing my current total to almost $300. Thank you. This the link to where you, should you choose, may donate.

Of interest to me is the Taking Stock I did just before my big cancer surgery in July 2017. Here it is...with many caring comments from friends I know here.

Taking Stock #3 : 2 years on! 2019.

Making: decisions about how much time I spend sharing my art time with and for others….and coming up with the response I need to do more that is just for me now.

Cooking: little cupcakes. I think I write this a lot. Cupcakes get me through tough days and having fewer teeth. The current group are tiny ones and being made for the Soup for The Soul event coming up at Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support group’s fundraiser.

Drinking: after water, double shot small lattes. Every day.

Reading: two items: The Sydney Morning Herald which we now have to go and buy as home delivery is becoming extinct here. The late Chris O’Brien’s memoir. He was a superb head and neck surgeon whose skills and vision saw people like my head and neck surgeon trained under him and my head and neck nurse practitioner. His idea too, after seeing comprehensive cancer centres in the US, was Australia needed these….

Wanting: to keep sharing the stories of Chris O’Brien Lifehouse because if not for Chris and his vision, I would not have had such a friendly, comprehensive cancer hospital for my surgeries and check ups and where I feel very welcomed.

Looking: at my Apple Watch. To see how my steps, standing and getting exercise circles (rings) join up.

Playing: for the third time, Boy Swallows Universe by Trent Dalton via Audible, in my car.

Wasting: too much time on thoughts that do not need chasing nor imagining into more/worse.

Wishing: I could achieve (gain?) contentment on a more regular basis instead of striving as much as my personality seems to dictate.

Enjoying: being back to ‘listening’ to books over and over. See above for Boy Swallows Universe.

Waiting: for some appointments where there is a bit of apprehension..one is with a new psychologist as I need to share how the grief of cancer along with ageing is confronting, and visit #38 or #39 with my prosthodontist to see ‘how my upper prosthesis’ is going.

Liking: just being ‘the two of us’. For all those years of a  household caring for kids, working long hours in busy and responsible jobs, caring for grandkids part-time….and part-time work…it’s just US being retired, yes some ageing is part of this, but it’s just us. Married for 48 years.

Wondering: how Dad’s health will continue to be so good for so long. He is 95.5 years!! Still very independent.

Loving: having time as best as I can make it work for me.

Hoping: that friends & family who need to find work/stay in work roles they enjoy can stay employed at the level they choose.

Marvelling: at people who understand anything ‘science- related.’

Needing: to ensure I do not obsess about how many steps I take…which are actually in competition with me…

Smelling: the sea when I get out of the car at The Entrance and always being taken back to January school holidays in the 1990s when we took family vacations there.

Wearing: clothes that I enjoy wearing and that I am much more (literally & figuratively) comfortable in – after some small “panics” about weight gain…which turned out for be good for my health. Who knew?

Following: people on twitter who make me think and also are prepared to have a decent and non-abusive conversation: I follow #education and #headandneckcancer mostly and make a contribution.

Noticing: there is a lot to be more grateful for which makes me actually notice more!

Knowing: I will forget some of my newer behavioural strategies to manage my reactions to potential stress…and give myself a break when I do.

Thinking: that I could do with less thinking…the one I am getting better at ‘over thinking’.

Feeling: Love – for and of others.

Bookmarking: every single page it seems where I save something on facebook. Best I review that.

Opening: my emails and seeing donations to the above cause. Thank you!

Smiling: every.single.day. because I MISSED my big smile for 14 months!

Do you ‘take stock’ regularly? Thanks Pip Lincoln for her original taking stock here.

Denyse.

You can link up something old or new, just come on in. * Please add just ONE post each week! * 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 by leaving a comment because we all love our comments, right! * Add a link back to this blog in your post somewhere. I don’t have a ‘button’ so a link in text is fine! *Posts deemed by me, the owner of the blog and the link-up, to be unsuitable for my audience will be deleted without notice. * THANK you for linking up today!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter


Next week’s optional prompt: 28/51 Self-Care: Share Your Story #4 15/7/19

 

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No (ONE) Word Of The Year For Me. 6/2019.

No (ONE) Word Of The Year For Me. 6/2019.

Dear Readers,

In my earlier post here, I gave a rundown on my success/lack thereof with recent “words of the year”. I said I would be back with what I have in 2019.

Here I am.

I have no (ONE) word of the year at all. I have many and I need to share the story more.

Thank you,

Denyse.

If you have ever wondered why it is hard to come to a decision about something? I have been like this with the notion of a word/intention for 2019.

I have asked myself MANY times why and the response is usually because I want to cover all I need for me in 2019.

This is impractical so I will share the range of words here in this post.

Last year as I went through two surgeries for re-construction and re-modelling inside my mouth after my oral cancer diagnosis in May 2017. In doing that I had a significant need to remember to be B.O.L.D. that is: Be Brave Optimistic Loving & Learning Determined Denyse. It was (and still is engraved on a small bracelet chain I wear day and night. I could ‘touch it’ or read it to remind me of how I wanted to be even in the hardest of situations. Some of these included being told a 4th surgery was necessary and would be a much longer time for me to wear a stent inside my mouth to allow the space to stay open.

I kept my practice going of wearing an outfit, having a photo taken, going out for a coffee and sharing what I got up on Instagram and the on-line support was a boost I always appreciated.

Of course, I did not only rely on the bracelet and already had so much knowledge and experience from the even more emotionally hard days well before my cancer diagnosis. Even though I did not seem to be able to live as I would have liked then I was sowing the seeds within. Many of these titles were listened to in the car and in my then art room as I made patterns and mandalas (another coping mechanism for my anxiety pre-cancer) and meditate along with some of these mindfulness teachers.

I believed I was going well in many aspects as I could face the hard things which I wrote about here and here. I also had greater understanding of what it is to be human! We are not alone at all. My meditation practices helped. Not always. But anything which slowed down my critical voice and over-active mind was a good thing!

In August 2018 the event I had waited over 14 months for occurred. I had the new upper prosthesis of teeth screwed into my new jaw and gums. At last, I could eat more again! So exciting. It was (and still is) and work-in-progress as the mouth I use to eat is so very different to one that has natural teeth attached to a natural jaw.

3 months difference! I like to recognise special days

But I loved trying new foods. Until in the last few months my weight changed. Up. I am continually torn between eating for fun/enjoyment and for nourishment. Sigh. So, not being disrespectful to my professional team at all, I need to take personal responsibility for my eating. I am not 100% confident with that yet (again!) as I have had issues with being very overweight (related to using food for needs other than hunger) and I confessed all that here.

I value honesty and truth-telling and I know some people who read here tell me that they think I am being brave. Well, that maybe the case but I cannot hide. I tried that a long time ago and it does not work. So I must accept my truth is that I am vulnerable and sometimes look to food to be a salve for what I cannot fix. I actually do not want to be like this anymore. I am needing to find the words to help me through and they seem to be based in:

  • self-care
  • self-kindness
  • self-compassion

But even before I can do this well, I have to accept what my ageing body is doing (70 this year) and normalising that is hard! I thought managing cancer was all I had to do. Nope.

  • I have to manage my IBS symptoms when and if they appear,
  • I need to be aware of my regular skin checks, eye sight (I had a wee scare late December which turned out to be floaters),
  • my feet cannot embrace many shoes so I need to care for them better
  • manage my weight. Oh I was so hoping I would not HAVE to go there
  • acknowledge that some foods add weight & were what I used to calm me then I need(ed) to be able to embrace those emotions that are stress/anxiety/worry based …
  • and, in owning up to them, let them arrive, and let them go of their own accord.

This is what I have also learned in my mindfulness, meditation, podcasts and more.

So many wonderful people speaking on these CDs and each has helped (and continue to help) me.

Calm is my latest and the each 10 minutes has something of value to me to shift my attitude and be more at one with myself.

A word popped into my head two weeks back as I considered this topic (where were we….ah, Word or Intention!) and INTEGRATE stayed. I now have this word on a second bracelet and it may look a teensy bit over-done but as a visual and sensory reminder, with the tiny heart bracelet in between I reckon they will help me return to calm(er) waters.

The bracelets don’t stay like this of course but each faces me so I can see them and remember!

What now?

I continue to face what I need to do to live honestly and to embrace the emotions I dislike.

  • To this end, and because I had been learning lots about self-compassion, I have just started on the Mindful Self-Compassion Workbook by Kirstin Neff PhD & Christopher Germer PhD. I shall share progress on this in future blog posts.
  • I remain committed to something creative each day and am exploring different ways of using my small and medium art journal and finding that excellent. I am returning to mandala making. I have, to a greater extent, ruled out Tarot cards. I just am not in a headspace for that right now.
  • I think too, that I have been pretty distracted since Tuesday 8 January 2019 where I had an unexpected mouth check as more skin was growing and it came as a shock that it was done in case it was cancer. THAT in itself is another post. I had pushed cancer to the back and I was jolted back to reality when my surgeon said “I’m a cancer doctor”. Oh.
  • He also mentioned the possibility of further and extensive in-mouth surgery if the lip continues to have reduced room between it and the teeth and when he outlined what they might involve, I was pretty shocked. HOWEVER, nothing is decided yet but it’s there, hovering.

Every 7th week now on my Monday link-up the optional prompt will be Self-Care and I have added this for me and for anyone else who wants to share their self-care. 

I have written a lot and still there is no conclusive one word or an intention  but this is how it is for me in January 2019.

Thanks for reading!

I hope it’s been of interest to you.

It has helped to write it out.

Denyse.

Linking up with Sue here and Leanne on Wednesdays for Midlife Share The Love link up.

On Thursdays I link with Leanne and the crew at Lovin’ Life here.

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Goodbye 2018. 1/2019.

Goodbye 2018. 1/2019.

It’s goodbye, so long, farewell to 2018.

Already it’s 2019 and I am not feeling any different. But wait, what’s that? You are going to be 70 this year?! OH.

But, hey, so what? Many people would envy that, so moving right along!

This is a post I am writing to get me back to the blog in the week before I kick off my #LifeThisWeek series and link-up each Monday. Reminder:

1/51. Hello Again. 7/1/19

2/51. “Word/Intention/Nothing” 2019. 14/1/19

3/51. Best Gift Ever. 21/1/19

4/51. What Is Hope? 28/1/19.

5/51. Share Your Snaps #1. 4/2/19.

6/51. Your Worst Purchase. 11/2/19.

7/51. Self-Care. Share Your Story.#1. 18/2/19.

8/51. Your Favourite Decade. 25/2/19.

9/51. Taking Stock.#1. 4/3/19.

I am sharing the photos I took in the last few weeks as I prepared for the end-of-year posts and beginning of next year. I like to walk on the beach for keeping my mindfulness practice up and the wonder of being by the sea.

 

I also like to visit the bridge near Mackenzie Reserve at Budgewoi to do some reflecting. It has been out of action while they s l o w l y repaired this beloved footbridge and attached new sleepers to the bridge itself.

I love time to reflect, to appreciate, to practise gratitude and also to get out into the wider world. It does me good.

Every.Single.Time.

Let’s move on, with life as it is and with what’s to come, and welcome in 2019.

 

 

My best wishes to you all in 2019.

Denyse.

Leanne at Deep Fried Fruit is leading the Link-Up start to 2019 here on Thursday 3 January 2019.

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