Saturday 6th March 2021

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

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

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

The only thing that is permanent is impermanence.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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


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


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

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

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

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

16 March onwards.

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

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

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

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

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

Life As We Knew It…Mostly Changed! 

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

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

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

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

Getting Accustomed To The Changes.

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

Changes Happened Regularly.

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

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

 

My Health Also Needed Better Solutions.

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

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

 

Regular Health Checks Continued.

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

Getting Out and About.

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

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

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

That’s it for now.

I will be back soon with July to December.

How was your first half of 2020?

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

Denyse.

Linking up here with Leanne for Lovin Life Linky

Joining with Natalie here for Weekend Coffee Share.

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My Stories About Ageing: My New Blogging Category Is Here! 5/2021.

My Stories About Ageing: My New Blogging Category Is Here! 5/2021.

This image of me: Left: Jan 2006. Right: July 2020. Same person loving the elements. But ageing is definitely showing!

Why this?

Why Now?

It’s time.

I have been considering writing stories about ageing from my perspective and experience for a while.

Back Story.

I am now 71. I still find that hard to believe! It could be because my Dad, at 97 is still well and I am ‘still his daughter’. But…no, it cannot be that I am a kid and he is the adult. He, my friends, is elderly, I am ageing. Oh, who am I kidding!

The catalyst may have been this: a photo of us aged 21 on our Wedding Day in 1971 and a re-creation image in 2015 when we were 65 (me) and 66 (B)….as we ready ourselves aged 71 to share our Golden Wedding Anniversary (50 years of marriage) on 23 January 2021.

Or, it may have been this past year because events took hold of me health-wise in a big and somewhat confronting (for me) way:

  1. I found I had to dig deep into my emotional capacity, and remember how I managed my inner emotional health recovering from head and neck cancer, to do this.
  2. I also found the ‘reasons’ for my rectal prolapse surgery very hard to accept and share.
  3. I now know, of course, I am better without the physical problem and that whilst I waited a long time to admit to needing the surgery, it was a lack of shared knowledge from other women that was part of my resistance.

 

Onto the reasons why I will post about Ageing and Stories About It from Me.

From my perspective: Denyse at 71!

On my 71st Birthday, 30 November last year, I posted this collage of me at 68,69,70 & 71,  and in fun, a ‘this is 71’ photo was taken by my husband (at my request) too.

Groups. People On and Off Social Media. For Me? Not For Me?

  • I love to be social on-line. It is easier for me to be on-line and meet up virtually with a range of people than it is to go out and find a group.

 

  • Before I go on. I did have a social group of sorts when I was in education.However, these were often work-based and even though friendships stayed firm at work, they tend to peter out at retirement time and when moving schools.

 

  • When I first retired I became a volunteer and was engaged in some interesting but mundane work and felt my skills could be better used in a leadership role.

 

  • I found one of those easily and was welcomed with open arms. It was not, however, long lasting as the intent of the volunteer group clashed with my educator’s values.

 

  • I started a small group for colouring mindfully. There was a lot of interest initially until it came time to attend. Very few did. It stopped. Sad to say, the same thing happened just 3 years ago too.

 

  • I am not a sport player nor hobby-mad really and do what I can at home to get my creative ‘fix’ now. I joined a group learning crochet but left as no-one had any idea how to teach an ambidextrous person how to crochet.

 

  • I even joined, not for long sadly, a local community group for women only. It spoke of meeting for coffee and brunches. I liked that idea. I went, I joined in but alas the ages were not close to mine, and again, sadly, the cohort was almost all local to the area whereas we are ‘newish’ here.

My Observations as an Over 70s Person.

Getting older is, for many of us, a privilege we do not always appreciate.

I admit having a cancer diagnosis out of the blue in mid 2017 sure was a wake-up call to thinking “we are immortal” but I whilst never thought I was dying it gave me a new appreciation for health and recovery from cancer.

I know that I am very grateful now to receive a part-aged pension income, which added to my husband’s pensions gives us a reasonable life here as a couple who are renting.

I don’t mind even feeling somewhat invisible as an over 70s woman because it gives me a chance to be an observer and I like that!

What I notice, particularly now, is that on social media: groups on Facebook, communities and twitter and instagram, that I do not see (nor hear of ) people who are close to my age.

Even the groups geared to seniors, older Australians, retirees, generally cater for those from age 50 to say 65.

And, as I found out in COVID 19 times, now that my husband and I are 0ver 70 we are classed as:

  • elderly
  • vulnerable

Why Blog About It?

I feel somewhat left out!

  • By groups even for seniors and older people.
  • The starting age is now 21 years younger than I am.
  • I want to have a voice that matters to others who might want to hear/read stories of ageing….
  • ones that keep ageing  reality-checked to counter balance with the “promises of using certain products to stave off….”

I will continue to write more here.

  • I want to be included but I sense that in my particular social media setting I am definitely older or the oldest of a group’s cohort.
  • In fact many people I love to chat with and catch up with are indeed closer to my daughter’s age and she is turning 50 this year.

But, that is good for me too as I am flexible in how I interact….

Yet, I want to be the voice (here) of reality in ageing as I wish I had known more!

What Do You Think?

Have I gone too far?

Do you every imagine yourself actually ageing with significance?

Every decade I see people bemoaning the zero coming up.

Really?

OK, for some I imagine it is scary.

The unknown perhaps but since the internet is here, maybe “I” can be a better heard voice of wisdom, failures and experiences for turning:

40

50

60

70.

Am I opening up too much?

Would you like to know more about my experience of ageing?

How could my story help you, perhaps?

Maybe you might share your thoughts in the comments.

Thank you.

Denyse.

Joining with Leanne and friends here for Lovin’ Life Linky.

 

 

 

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My Neighbourhood. 11/51. #LifeThisWeek. 22/2020.

My Neighbourhood. 11/51. #LifeThisWeek. 22/2020.

My observations are personal. They are about my thoughts and experiences of living where we do now. I have used some photos but because  I try not to give out too much personal information on the blog they have few identifiers. Nevertheless I am mentioning areas that may be familiar to some readers.

We first thought of moving to the Central Coast in 2014. As the need to change how and where we were living in Sydney became evident through my uneasy health status (sad and a bit anxious) and my husband’s disenchantment with Sydney’s traffic, we sold up and with thoughts of Central Coast holidays here we went to find a place to rent. We moved to and lived at the southern end of the Central Coast. January 2015 – November 2015.

I Live Here.

 

This is a quiet and relatively new part of suburban blocks and community developments in the northern part of the N.S.W. Central Coast region. On a map, it is around here. Just north of Wyong and about 10 minutes drive from the M1 at Sparks Road exit.

When we moved to what I describe as the quieter end of the coast, at the end of 2015, it was for a few reasons.

  • Our first choice, post-Sydney life, was the southern end of the Central Coast.
  • We thought we knew the area better.
  • Turns out we knew some physical aspects but not some of the in-built social ones.
  • In short, we were relatively poorer (i.e. paying far too much in rent) and more disappointed by the closed-off community which often wrote about ‘Western Sydney refugees’ arriving to spoil their places. Hmmmm. Not great attitude is it?

We settled easily into our next rental house that it felt like one we had sold. It was a  bit older but we made it home. From November 2015 until April 2018. Here’s some of the story from living in THIS neighbourhood. We were made very welcome by the property management too. It makes such a difference.

We would have stayed at this house but the owners wanted to move into it. Turned out sometime things work out well. Our real estate property management did all they could to help us secure a new rental place. Our two priorities: on one level and ducted air. They found it. Yes it was more expensive to rent but still way under the atrocious rent in 2015.

Here we still are: from early April 2018….and have already got another year till 2021 sorted as tenants here.

Some of the reasons we like living here.

  • not far from a big shopping centre
  • less than an hour from Newcastle where I have attended some recent events
  • close to a Westfield Shopping Centre
  • about one hour’s drive to Wahroonga…end of the M1. Then if it is a visit to my dad on the northern beaches, it’s another 45 minutes, similarly to the city for head and neck cancer checks and also to Westmead for my prosthodontist checks, and around the same to see family where we used to live.

Our medical needs are catered for very well. We both like our GP and find the service at the centre is excellent. Wyong hospital is literally up the road and less than 5 minutes away. We are bulk-billed and can make appointments. I have a local dentist (many stories about him in the head and neck sections) who has seen me before head and neck cancer in my mouth and since. Bunnings is about 10 minutes up the road for my husband. And I have found more than twenty places where I enjoy my daily coffee.

Our street is a bit busy but we have excellent neighbours and even though the yard is small, the only time it is really noticeable is when the grandkids come up and a soccer ball easily flies over the fence.

BUT…whilst we do love being here, the sad news is that whenever we do get to buy a place of our own, this area is already out of our league. Many people here commute to Sydney. And houses in our estate are selling for well over $600K up to $900K. We will, as they say, cross that bridge when we come to it.

So, that’s my neighbourhood story in words and pics!

Did you write about that today too?

Tell me if your neighbourhood is where you want to stay forever…

Denyse.

Link Up #180.

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