Saturday 21st May 2022

2 Years Of Change & Uncertainty In Covid 19 Times. Pt. 2/2. March 2021-2022. 18/2022.

2 Years Of Change & Uncertainty In Covid 19 Times. Pt. 2/2. March 2021-2022. 18/2022.

Recently we clicked over to the third year of having Covid 19 affect so much of our lives as we knew them…from any days, months and years before.

It was a gradual process in some ways and I wrote about some of it here.

Messy writing…from calendars: 2020. 2021 & 2022

However as time went on, and into 2021 we here, in our part of Australia, New South Wales, we lulled into a type of life that resembled one we remembered well.

March to June 2021.

I drove to Newcastle for the first “in-person” event in Covid safe conditions for the Newcastle Writers’ Festival and heard Julia Gillard interviewed by Rosemarie Milsom, who is one of the women of courage, here.

We had high hopes that the 2021 Festival would happen. Sadly, it did not but was an on-line one. All fingers crossed for 2022 as I already have my tickets to see and hear Jane Caro AM,a woman of courage who started my series, here,  Trent Dalton and Kate McClymont.

In our case we did this:

  • I visited my father in Sydney and left him set with more meals and treats.
  • We had school holiday visits (April 2021) from our son and his family.
  • School had been going pretty normally for many and there was a good atmosphere seeing children back at school.
  • Parents often chose to work from home and that did help when there may have been some reported cases of Covid in schools and in workplaces.
  • We had the daily updates from NSW Health and the Premier.
  • Many people did find these stressful. I learned to check the summary rather than watch.
  • We wore masks, we were careful about where we went, but we generally felt safe.

Our granddaughter celebrated her 9th Birthday in April 2021 with a family and friends picnic in a large regional park and it was clear how everyone relished being out again, and meeting with others as well as enjoying the outdoors.

A.N.Z.A.C. Day came, on a Sunday, and there were small and large ceremonies in N.S.W. I chose to go to Norah Head and watch the sun rise on this very big day.

I went to see my father again, and he was staying well. Life seemed good.

I had already returned to meetings of the head and neck cancer group on the Central Coast, and after the May meeting took the chance to walk around the Boardwalk at Terrigal.

 

 

Mid May 2021 I celebrated four years since my head and neck cancer diagnosis with a trip to Sydney to see Hamilton on a Sunday afternoon. I had not been back to the harbour area for some time and I enjoyed a joy-filled walk around Pyrmont before the 1 pm. show. The Lyric Theatre was well-organised for social distancing, we had to wear masks and obey the Covid Safety instructions.

I met up with friends when we could, as social distancing was fine in the shopping centres. It felt so good to do that again.

I also go to Sydney’s Westmead to have mouth check by my prosthodontist in May. So glad I could.

As part of my role as an Ambassador for Head and Neck Cancer Australia, I met with N.S.W. Senator, Deborah O’Neill in her Central Coast office and when we parted said we would see each other at the Parliamentary Breakfast, being hosted by Sen O’Neill and Dr Katie Allen, in Canberra in June 2021.

I made plans excitedly to meet up with blogging friends when I was to come to Canberra, and booked accommodation.

Sadly, over three separate periods, until the end of 2021, the Head and Neck Cancer Awareness Parliamentary Breakfast was postponed….and there is no plan for a 2022 one..because….well, there is likely to be an election soon….

I needed to continue some kind of regular daily routine and the blog helped greatly here.

I also decided to invite more women to share their Stories of Courage on the blog. I had a few women who kept promising me their stories, but the weight of covid restrictions on them in the latter part of the year saw them drop out. They were under a great deal of stress…just managing living alone and working too.

In this household we got excited in June.

We got our second Astra Zeneca vaccinations.

The latter part meant our second youngest granddaughter was turning 8 and we had fun ideas celebrating here with her dad and siblings and were ready. Until.

This.

Lockdown.

It was announced on the last weekend of June.

June – October 2021.

The Premier called on us all to manage with the strictest of conditions to date. It was OK for us, as we were already used to being at home as retirees.

It was not good for:

  • travelling
  • visiting
  • going to another person’s house
  • working other than at home, or in a health facility or a school/childcare where kids of essential workers could attend with minimal staff, and careful supervision.
  • having surgeries that were non-urgent
  • visiting ANYONE in a care or hospital-like place as well as hospitals
  • connecting
  • giving birth with a partner
  • getting married
  • having a funeral

so much just had to

S

T

O

P

and it felt the right thing to do at the time.

But it crippled so much business, and affected people’s health.

I can only write about our N.S.W. and Central Coast experience. 

Other places were either not affected (other than no-one could come and go) or had already been in lockdown before.

I found myself at a bit of a loose end on that first day. A Sunday. I went for a drive into Wyong, and walked about a bit taking some photos. I would not be back for months.

How We Managed This Lockdown.

  • Once my husband and I knew what we could and couldn’t do, we set ourselves up as only going out once a day in the car (and that was legal, once a day) and for essentials.
  • He could go to Bunnings but rarely did.
  •  He visited the chemist and did a weekly grocery shop at one Woolies only.
  • I went out once on a day he had not been anywhere and usually to a stand alone Coles, using the QR codes, wearing a mask and getting in and out fast.
  • I made a daily photo record. It helped give me something to do.
  • Blogging still happened but I needed more focus to get me out of boredom.
  • I could still visit some areas of nature within a certain boundary of home.
  • Later, I realised I could have gone further but I waited till September/October.

I was able to see my dentist, but not my prosthodontist at Westmead because they were deployed for other health services. My dentist did a great favour for me and my progress by taking photos inside my mouth and they were used by my head and neck cancer surgical team to determine how I was going via a telehealth call in September. We had in-person visits to GP and telehealth with some other doctors.

Honestly sometimes it is better not to know how long something will go for….

 

School kids did not see each other, except via zoom.

Families were separated for a long time.

Teachers and schools had to continue remote learning systems and programs for a VERY long time

Mental health professionals were concerned for many people in different settings and professions. Telehealth services for psychologists expanded.

No travel between state or territories unless for approved reasons. Many were not approved.

Very few could travel overseas, even for urgent and humanitarian reasons.

Our daughter turned 50 and she had a lockdown zoom birthday. She was given some special gifts including a cameo to her from Trent Dalton.

The lockdown went for 106 days.

In that time my hair grew more than I had ever known since I was about 20 years younger and I hated it…so occasionally B would cut some off. I returned the favour.

The Premier of N.S.W. resigned…and yeah, OK, we all said. Next?

Seriously, we (us) were over it and longed for more guidance and commonsense.

I’d like to say that happened but it didn’t.

We got our haircuts eventually. B before me as my hairdressers had to wait till the staff were fully vaccinated.

Our daughter and her youngest drove up to see us. Happy times! No photos. I look shocking…lol.

I got back to see Dad. He found it so lonely but remained well and was double vaxxed. Took him usual food packages. At least I could still cook and I did.

I was saddened to know a friend of mine died from an awful cancer. I attended his funeral via a link.

We got down to see our son and his crew and that was special too.

Mid- October – December 2021.

I also found that I was determined to get out and about once I could and that proved to be not as good for my emotional health as I may have thought.

We did do our morning tea thing on my 72nd Birthday and that was fun. Heard from our family and made feel very special on social media too.

THIS matters the most: Love.

It was in the period late November 2021 to February 2022 that I became aware of doing too much. And with Covid around, there was/is all the more to be concerned…is it Covid??

I had a virus of sorts..not covid and my health affected my confidence and my ability to meet others or travel to Sydney because I felt drained. I had covid tests. All OK. But in having to have covid tests (P.C.R. ones) and await results this took FAR too long for return of results. That is why we missed Christmas Day with all our family in Sydney….and then, as I felt worse again in January, my father’s turning 98. I did eventually get to see him. Our family all came here in January but Covid sure does make planning challenging impossible.

One friend, and her husband and kids drove to  Canberra from Sydney to see their family but on their way, got a covid positive notification and boom holiday cancelled, presents left with family, and a turn around back to Sydney. In the end, only that ONE family member got Covid.

New Year’s Day I drove to West Gosford – about 45 minutes from our place – to pick up a click and collect parcel and then to Coles to get bananas and see if the rarity (then) of RATs tests were on sale. They were. I grabbed a pack of 5 for $50. Used two of them on me during January and still had one PCR rest as well. Negative.

There are stories like my friend’s  in our family too. Some get Covid, others not. No rhyme nor reason. RAT is negative, PCR confirms, then later its positive.

January into February and March 2022. 

We had almost all of the family here late January for lunch and the most important getting our daughter’s and son’s signatures on our updated legal papers.

and 6 of the 8 grandkids came too…what fun!

By February 2022 the Australian Government and State Governments were able to get in sufficient Rapid Antigen Tests for pharmacists to stock them and eventually for those like us, on a pension, to receive them for free. There are far fewer line ups for PCR testing at local clinics but they are still operating at time of writing. We celebrated B’s birthday with morning tea out…and no photo but a week later, his older brother visited and that was very special. I made this collage…B is from a very large family, and these two are less than 2 years apart.

At present, we are still choosing to mask up at the shops and inside shopping centres. The doctors’ rooms insist on it. The QR checkins have gone. There is travel between states and territories and overseas too…not as much as before, but it is growing.

Then at the end of February into March 2022, the eastern states of Australia fell victim to an enormous rain event, leaving people homeless, and with no work prospects. Australia’s response to this “never before event” was not great. And those of us watching on felt helpless. We were not directly affected. However, it was unprecedented and many places had waters come in where they never had before. Once it was safe, I did venture locally.

Lakes Beach erosion

Wyong River at Milk Factory.

Keeping as healthy as I can.

I have already mentioned I was not 100% well for a few months and so did the right thing, for me, and have cut down rather than cut out what is important to me: connecting with others. The blog has been quite a lifeline to others, along with social media connections. I never felt too lonely when I could ‘chat’ or ‘comment’ to friends on-line. I have taken stock of my health, and still mid some check ups but going more slowly to help me first.

I admit that Covid 19 took its toll emotionally with its uncertainty, and constant change.

Along with the second year being so much more political it made me decide that arguing back on social media was hurting me, not anyone else.

What now?

I have no idea. Most of our family who are in daily contact with the wider world are fully vaccinated but have also had covid. Go figure.

I am doing my best to live as peaceful a life as I can, with my greatest responsibility to keeping well, mentally and physically.

My day consists of great interactions with my husband, a visit to a local area and/or shops. I start with meditation and gratitude practice and finish the day similarly. I am actually reading a book of fiction right now…The Mother by Jane Caro. It’s a thriller of sorts. I am making my way slowly through Brene Brown’s Atlas, and listening to a variety of books on audible, the one I am finding the most fascinating is The Body Keeps The Score.

Take care, friends and readers.

I hope this missive has not been too onerous to plough through.

I blog to connect…and also to keep the stories alive!

Thank you all,

Denyse

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

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2 Years Of Change & Uncertainty In Covid 19 Times. Pt. 1/2. March 2020-2021.16/2022.

2 Years Of Change & Uncertainty In  Covid 19 Times. Pt. 1/2. March 2020-2021.16/2022.

I’m composing this post getting close to the 16 March 2022 which marks the 2nd anniversary of “covid bringing change to the way we would be living our lives”…as announced by the Prime Minister of Australia.

There was already much happening in the media as we watched what was happening in other countries….and from where it all seemed to start in Wuhan, China in the latter days of 2019.

My post is about how it affected me, and our family and in some indirect ways, many of those who read here too because of the state-based restrictions and federally based ones.

Dear readers, we are a complicated country for rules and governance and it all goes back to 1901 when we became a Federation of States & Territories: Australia.

The short story is money comes from the Federal or Commonwealth governments (Australia) and is filtered to the States via government of the day policy AND State decisions are made for Health and Education.

Look, sorry, it’s hard to get a handle on this at times….I know. I lived with it as a school principal. Nevertheless, here’s my post, mostly with photos, marking the two years of:

CHANGE

and

UNCERTAINTY

2020- continuing into its third year…2022.

March 2020 onwards….

I was so fortunate to have had both my eyes surgically operated on for cataracts in the week before EVERYTHING changed. Phew. I was also able to get to have an in-person head and neck cancer surveillance check, attend a head & neck cancer  charity ball as the speaker, and to be WELL!

 

And then, over time, we knew we had to stay at home as much as we could. Necessary outings were to:

  • the supermarket
  • the pharmacy
  • the doctors

I could no longer follow this: going out each day to have a coffee and browse at the shops. 

On occasion, when safe, we used “click and collect” for stores such as Big W, Target and Bunnings. We did not do click and collect groceries as it became unreliable, and expensive. I was prepared to take the risks. I shopped quickly, with plastic gloves on, and a mask. However, many food and other items became rare or not found.

Yes, there was such a thing as a toilet paper blitz (I confess, we got in plenty) and not many choices, if any, in fresh meat etc.

So much changed because of panic buying, employment changing as people got covid and…the whole supply chain was affected: truck drivers, distributors too. Anything that might come by plane was not easy to come by because flights changed significantly, and ships were also not allowed to dock if anyone on board had covid.

We all watched the updates on T.V. with the N.S.W. Premier, the N.S.W. Minister for Health, and the Chief Health Officer….for a while, then in our case, we stopped.

It was far too worry-inducing.

It was, for some people, a compulsion to watch and then tweet about it but in my case, I decided better to stay away from those kinds of updates.

Of course we did as requested, and at the doctors’ we had to comply with questionnaires about symptoms (still do) before being seen OR as they preferred then, via telehealth.

April into May 2020.

We were surrounded by neighbours not normally seen as everyone worked from home, and schooling was remote learning.

Every day we saw many people strolling around the neighbourhood. Gyms were shut.

We got through a very quiet Easter.

And as one way to remember “A.N.Z.A.C.” Day 2020, people around Australia held their own driveway Dawn Ceremonies.

Our granddaughter turned 21 early May and there was still travel restrictions from where we lived to Sydney and vice versa…but by Mother’s Day 2020 we got to see family.

We did a socially distanced photo!

Close for this one: Mother’s Day 2020

June, July and August 2020.

I needed surgery (and had probably put it off for too long) so that consumed the next months for me. Even though I had had 4 surgeries for head and neck cancer, this particular surgery: repair rectal prolapse was not a great prospect. I know, however, it WAS a great one to have but I was a scared woman before it, and not because of covid. I admit though that with doctors and hospitals I did it mostly alone because of Covid. My husband was allowed to visit me in July but not for the wound debridement in August.

Covid Meant Rules Changed A LOT.

September to December 2020.

It was not like the world we knew before Covid.

Doctors and other health professionals took a lot of care to see that no-one with any cough/temperature etc came to their rooms.

I still got my September 2020 Cancer Check at Chris O’Brien Lifehouse…lots of safety measures and most of the place were the public would normally be present were closed. Patients with cancer have low immunity and that was the reason such strict measures were in place.

There was talk of vaccines being developed.

Economically, we were OK. We are retirees, and receive a part pension. Many others I know had to ask for supplemented income and in the first year of Covid, it was pretty stable, getting people paid, able to stay at home to work. Remote schooling continued on and off. It was very hard socially on many.

Kids really missed their friends. As did most people who enjoyed socialising. Some though, I know, loved being at home working and would like that to continue! We managed our trip back to Tamworth in October 2020 and that was a special one.

Sadly, we did not get to have Christmas as planned with our daughter and her family as Covid ramped up just before Christmas, on Sydney’s northern beaches. Although she does not live there, I had seen Dad who lives at Dee Why AND visited Manly, so I had to have a test, which proved negative and I had to come to Sydney for a mouth check so rather than both of us risk a Christmas Day travelling…I dropped off the goodies and gifts on my way.

Little did we know that the NEXT year’s Christmas would also be affected. Sigh. Next post!

January 2021 – March 2021.

I like to plan and have good things come together well.

So, I did get to see my father for his 97th Birthday. I did not get to see some family for their birthdays just because nothing was planned and we would see them soon.  The restrictions into January were very tough on visitors to the home.

We could only have 5 and that meant our PLANNED Golden Wedding Anniversary on 23 January 2021 for 13 had to change. We held a lunch for our son and his 4 on one day and then on the actual day, for our daughter and her family. It was a lovely time….and I have written more here.

By February things were less restricted and we were able to have ALL the family together for a morning tea celebrating my husband’s birthday.

And then school was back…I think…in a very restricted way over time. Our youngest granddaughter started school and then, later in the year, was part of remote learning for what seemed forever…more next post.

That was the twelve months…March to March …about Covid in particular.

 

I dealt with the uncertainty by keeping as many of my daily routines as I could.

  • I always got dressed each day before having breakfast.
  • I made sure my exposure to social media was less over time as I knew it affected me.
  • I gave myself little inner talks most days about what I COULD control and what I could not…I admit, I do this most of the time.
  • I also had faith in how the country was being cared for at this most unusual and uncertain time.
  • This slowly changed, but not in the first year.
  • I learned that I can get over things I have planned that cannot work out.
  • I also knew that gratitude found on the hardest of days was a help.
  • I know getting somewhere most days into nature was important and we have such a range of places here….and I know I needed to record photos and videos to share.

And the BEST part: March 2021, we received our first Covid Vaccinations: Astra Zeneca. 17 March 2021, the day booked once they opened.

I also wrote posts here here and here for 2020, as part of Telling My Story:

Telling My Story. Image #8.

How was March 2020 to March 2021 for you, Covid wise?

Take care,

Denyse.

Joining in with Natalie for Weekend Coffee Share today

Thank you Natalie.

https://natalietheexplorer.home.blog/

 

 

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Telling My Story. Ch 26. Final. Sept-Dec 2021. 6/51 #LifeThisWeek.  8/2022.

Telling My Story. Ch 26. Final. Sept-Dec 2021. 6/51 #LifeThisWeek.  8/2022.

Telling My Story. Image #8.

The backstory first:

Nearly FIVE years ago now ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at

Chapter Twenty Six. Telling the story, Sept-December 2021 for the final time.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, a photo in March 2021…taken overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.

September 2021.

Introducing September 2021. It was the third month of lockdown for us here on N.S.W. Central Coast which was part of Greater Sydney and restrictions. No hairdressers, no shops open for browsing, keep close to home, exercise away from home within Local Govt Area is Ok….and for me, the telehealth annual cancer check.

This image here sums up my desire to ‘keep it real’ for my appearance as well as to record the various places I visited. I got great news from my head and neck cancer team, via the phone, and that is unless anything changes for me, my NEXT visit in September 2022 will be my LAST visit. I am still recovering from that news! “I will miss you” I said to them. Apparently that is very normal!

The remainder of the images that form memories as part of Telling My Story, will have information under them.

To keep us as safe as possible, during this particular lockdown we approached going outside/away from the house, following the rules.

  • Only one of us went out for whatever that purpose was (shopping, doctor, exercise) once a day.
  • And we deliberately limited our exposure to potential Covid by only visiting two local stand-alone supermarkets.
  • We (I) missed some chances to shop for crafty items and gifts to send in care packages (we did this twice in September) and for that I visited a Reject Shop.

 

Instagram has been problematic for me since I moved to a new Iphone. And this year, I went from two accounts to one. Made it easier to keep track too.

On this day, I stopped the car and took photo after photo of Flannel Flowers.

October 2021.

Oh my goodness, it was getting  closer and closer to “opening up” again here in our part of N.S.W. and in Greater Sydney.

  • We still could only travel inside the local government area of Central Coast.
  • However it goes from the M1 at around Mt White in the south  to Lake Munmorah in north and across to the coast at many places.
  • Even so we decided to stay close to our ‘local area’ comprising of Wyong, Norah Head, Hamlyn Terrace and Toukley…until I had enough and did a couple of solo road trips south to where we used to live.
  • To pick up some items, and to have a look around again at where we lived from January-November 2015.

On 11th October 2021, we were free again to drive to Sydney. However, my Dad suggested I come a couple of days later. My husband was fortunate to get his HAIR CUT this week, and I still had a rather agonising two more weeks’ wait as my salon needed to have all working there to be double vaxxed.

I enjoyed that experience in late October, and could actually show my face with pride when we visited our son’s family. I was too embarrassed by my LONG (for me) locks when our daughter and her youngest visited pre-hair cut. No photos….

So, here are my memories.

Head and Neck Cancer is never far from my mind…even though I am well.

  • I assisted in the promotion of the submission by Head and Neck Cancer Australia to all Federal M.P.s by sending my story with head and neck cancer (page is here) too. I heard back from several, and some invited me to meetings, along with CEO Nadia Rosin.
  • Unfortunately I was unwell for one face to face meeting but did get to the Zoom meeting with one M.P.
  • It is hoped that we will be invited to Canberra (after 3 postponements due to Covid in 2021) to share more in 2o22.
  • I will not be attending. See *further in post
  • However, there will most likely be a federal election too…so we will await not only that outcome but to see how the future government might be in terms of financial assistance to this Australian head and neck cancer charity.

And by the end of October, the best thing happened. We got to drive to outer Sydney to see our son and his four kids on the acres where he lives.

 

H is 14, we cared for him from 4 months a few days week till school, R is now 12, off to HS and we cared for her for a similar time. E, is 8 and we cared for her for one year & Miss M, we got to know her from visits to us. LOVE these kids

November 2021.

We are now into my birthday month…but I seriously only celebrate on ONE day. However, because of my history with anxiety and head & neck cancer I tend to look back and recognise my developments and changes. Here’s what I mean as an example:

 

We continued our plans to have a drive somewhere each second Friday and here’s a couple of photos from those times.

And some excursions of mine…locally to beaches, the lake and more:

Visiting Dad means frozen meals made by me for him, and morning tea I bring. He enjoys the chat and the company and I feel better for having helped him too. Sometimes I do a trip back down MY memory lane living near Manly and the Northern Beaches.

Whilst it’s been good to be out of lockdown, Covid19 risk remains and we wear masks inside any building, and the shops, and use our phones to check in, and show our vaccination status. I started having a coffee out, we enjoyed John Doyle’s book. Me via Audible, B via the book. Flowers from the garden to make into dried flowers, over time. Our serious and grown up day of signing new wills and Powers of Attorney and Legal Guardianship, and two pieces of furniture made by Bernard.

And now: love capturing nature and then making collages.

And I enjoy making collages of all the people I love too….question, where is the one with eldest Grandson?? DONE! And I enjoyed another coffee catch up with my friend, and the 3 eldest grandkids’ Granny too. They asked, “do you talk about us?” No, not much, we talk about how it is getting old(er)!

Joining in with The Big Hug Box for a packing day.

  • I last did this in 2018 and Lisa Greissl’s ambition to help others when she was recovering from a very rare cancer is an on-going project with success after success.
  • She was a recipient of a local large shopping centre grant of $10,000 enabling over 200 Big Hug Boxes to be donated to those with cancer in the Hunter region of N.S.W. Covid restrictions changing but still with rules, meant she could have around 12 people join her at the cafe she & her husband now run.
  • Info about The Big Hug Box can be found here. And Lisa’s story as a Woman of Courage here!

Lisa Greissl was a runner before her cancer surgery which compromised her left leg. Determined to be fit and well via exercise, she has become a rower and now, after completing events in NSW she is determined to be a Para-athlete and will be seen trying her best to become an Australian rep in the sport.

Happy 72nd Birthday, Denyse!

I was very grateful to spend a quiet and lovely day having morning tea out with B, and receiving texts, phone calls and a card (thank you to my bro and SIL) along with Facetime in the evening with our kids and their kids…separately! Knowing you are loved and cared for is a blessing and I am grateful for their presence in my lives. Dad always calls too, and he rang later in the day.

December 2021.

This month brought weather that felt like Autumn or Winter. Accompanied by heavy rain at times, we were OK locally but many around N.S.W. were not. Flooding, flash floods and wild storms caused a lot of havoc. At the time of writing, it is 20degC and not at all summer like! However, as I edit this in early January, we eventually got to summer weather but with added humidity and rain. Not great beach weather.

Mum’s Birthday: 6 Dec. She’d have been around late 70s here.

Christmas creeping up on us. And we don’t mind as it tells us the year we’d perhaps like to forget much about, it nearing the end.

And it’s time for school presentation days, graduations, formals, exams and farewells…each needing to be done within Covid restrictions.

  • So tiring too. I felt for teachers and principals as they had so much to do and then it could all fall in a heap if there was a case of Covid reported.
  • Despite teachers and those who work in schools required to be fully vaccinated, and masks being mandatory, it does not stop people actually getting covid and at the time of writing a new variant has been found and case numbers are rising.
  • So far, fingers crossed, no-one in our family has been affected. By January, there were some with Covid.

Keeping the memories happening for me by making photo collages….

My find for learning and reading..is Brene Brown’s latest. Loving Atlas of the Heart so much.

Head and Neck Cancer: My work, my condition and more is never far from my mind.

I had been part of the inaugural Choir: Raising Our Voices for Head and Neck Cancer Australia and whilst it is elsewhere on my blog, I am leaving the video here too.

As a result of putting some information about my story, and how I can share about Head and Neck cancer Awareness, I have my first invitation*  to speak to a Probus Group in Sydney’s west in late April 2022. If this goes well, and the news is something that helps others, I will seek more opportunities to do so. It’s free of  course but it’s a distance to travel so I will see how much I want to do this. I now have a “Speaker’s CV”.

*Since writing, I have reviewed my ‘doing’ ideas and they are being stopped..in fact, I am doing to stop most if not all plans for travelling to be a speaker or participant. I have been not taking into account how much my inner health is affect, and that I cannot eat well at all unless I am at home. So, that’s it. Learning to BE. Again.

And still, even more news from Head and Neck Cancer Australia when A/Prof  Bruce Ashford, Board Member and Head & Neck Surgeon spoke on Sunrise about the rising numbers (no known cause) of young women being diagnosed with cancer of the tongue. Not HPV either.

My own cancer site was a bit sore, even though I care for it as much as possible so managed a late December appointment to see my Prosthodontist in Westmead. I was relieved all seemed well and there is no sign of any disease (as he said, but it implied cancer). Phew.

I came home on a relieved ‘high’ and with so much gratitude which was tempered within 24 hours to hear news of its return in a dear friend. I won’t name her.

Late December including Christmas. 

We got our planned boosters for Covid earlier than we thought thanks to our kind pharmacist.

We were on target for visiting our daughter’s house for Christmas Day, where we would see all of our family: kids and their kids…for the first time together at Christmas since 2014…until…

23 December, late in the day, I began to feel unwell. Like a “virus”. Lethargy, cough, aches. With a virulent strain of Covid called Omicron seeing a HUGE spike of case numbers daily in N.S.W. from the hundred to the thousands in a week, that meant a covid test. I drove from home very early to one centre on Christmas Eve, and despite it showing it was open on the website the night before, it was closed. Those of us who lined up in our cars for over an hour, had to leave and find another place.

These photos are from late December, early January experience of mine.

That time I went where I probably should have in the first place, to Wyong, and had a long-ish but not intolerable wait of over an hour, and got my test done. Still feeling so unwell, our plans for Christmas were abandoned and we stayed put.

The last week of December 2021.

It was boring, predictably, because of Covid and the need to be mindful everywhere we went (or did not in the end). I enjoyed, just on two occasions, a coffee sitting down at a cafe …after a short browse for books…until I stopped doing that because of ‘getting pinged’ by the NSW Service App. Obviously it was working but I had no symptoms therefore no need to test.

Testing…testing ….was a ridiculously awful time for many thousands of us here in N.S.W. as the pathology places buckled under the huge numbers of tests, and their drive-in and other places closed early or did not open due to lack of staff.

Whilst I detest ending the year on a pretty negative note..hey, Covid negative is a good result for anyone…I would like to hope, that in 2022 we can see ourselves coming out of it with the notion of ‘living with Covid” one that is possible. As my husband says ” we live with the flu viruses, and we have our annual shot but it doesn’t always work but we take that chance”.

Here’s the collage of my new blog photos for 2022. Changing the subject!

The posts for Telling My Story end today…..

But before finishing I want to remind myself of a few things. Where I began to feel changes happening within me that seemed strange and yet I  kept on thinking  the professionals I saw knew more than I did. Not re-telling my story but remembering the WHY and WHEN of beginning this process of sharing words and photos from my life, at age 65.

Acknowledging The Shock of My Cancer Diagnosis & Challenge of Brutal but Necessary Surgeries. 

I have taken till this post to share with you all how hard it was to both acknowledge and manage my emotions with the shock diagnosis of a rare cancer back in May 2017.

I also took me some time to learn more about the qualities of the cancer as was found, removed and sent to pathology. Nothing like having the full pathologist report but it took me some years to look at it. I just kept going because I was 100% confident of my professional team. I even called my cancer #squamouscellcarcinoma of the upper gums and under the top lip. But it was not quite like that. It took me till year 5 since diagnosis to read more, and to now share here what it was:

T4N0 verrucous carcinoma upper alveolus: is on my report. T-tumour 4 – cm area N nodes 0 none found with cancer. 

Verrucous carcinoma is a relatively uncommon, locally aggressive, clinically exophytic, low-grade, slow-growing, well-differentiated squamous cell carcinoma with minimal metastatic potential.17 Dec 2017

The alveolar ridge (/ælˈviːələr, ˌælviˈoʊlər, ˈælviələr/;[1] also known as the alveolar margin) is one of the two jaw ridges, extensions of the mandible or maxilla, either on the roof of the mouth between the upper teeth and the hard palate

I now have greater understanding of the ‘where’ the cancer was and that it has ‘cauliflower’ like appearance because I could see that under the top lip. Knowing I was female, non-smoking and non-drinking made me “rare of rare” my Prof told me once. It appears that other reasons a cancer like that could form in my mouth as that I had a bridge attached to the upper teeth and over time that could have caused severe irritation and I was often told I had candida. I prefer to take my Prof’s word that sometimes we will never know.

Doing this here makes me proud of how far I have come and how much my life as altered due to this cancer being found in the weeks after I decided to Tell My Story. And why there was a year’s gap.

Thank you dear readers and commenters. I have been delighted to see how my life story is of interest.

Yes this is the end but no not quite. Given that as a blogger I am choosing what I write about I am planning now to do a month-in-review post each end of month so, yes, in some ways life, like the stories, goes on.

Denyse.

 

Life This Week. 7.2.2022.

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35/51 #LifeThisWeek. Telling My Story. Ch. 26. Part 2/3. May-August 2021.106/2021.

Telling My Story. Chapter Twenty Six. 2021. Part 2/3. May – August.

The backstory first:

FOUR years ago now ….I thought it was time, seeing I had a blog, to start writing my story. It was on advice from a blogging friend, now published author that I did. Then, for a long time I did not. Because cancer was diagnosed.

Nevertheless, I eventually returned to the story and now I am at Chapter Twenty Six. Telling the story as 2021 progresses in three parts. Today is Part Two. May-August 2021.

So, in keeping with my ethical approach to all things, I am making the chapters about MY recollections to various changes in life for me, and us, and life as we knew it. I hope I can continue sharing the story without any intentionally negative or hurtful references to others who are in my life as friends and family members. All of the stories to date found here.

And with this chapter, a recent photo…taken overlooking the harbour at Dobroyd near where I grew up close to Manly N.S.W.

 

May 2021.

We had pretty good weather in May. We got outside even more. The covid ‘stuff’ had settled. However, we could never be quite sure of its whereabouts so we did “wearing a mask” when asked inside, and I know I was pretty casual about signing in using the State Government QR code. No-one was really practising social distancing but living on the coast, we did not have too many concerns.

We did not travel to Sydney for Mother’s Day this year even though I could have. It just wasn’t happening.

I got to celebrate my 4 years since my Head and Neck cancer diagnosis with a much anticipated visit to Sydney’s Lyric Theatre where I saw Hamilton.

Yes it was everything I had hoped and more. Wonderful.

That week I also came back to Westmead for a 6 month mouth check with my prosthodontist. All is well.

I stopped on my way home at a cafe in a nursery where I used to meet up with friends in Sydney days. It was lovely but it had changed as had I.

June. What happened?

We were continuing to be lulled into some kind of normality, living without too many restrictions and life was pretty good.

I visited my Dad to celebrate his 10 years living in his independent retirement Unit. He is going well.

I had my 6 months check with my regular dentist and he was very pleased with how well I care for my mouth and 8 teeth now! It’s always a treat going to him because we have such a history and he is a great cheerleader too.

I was delighted to recall that my head and neck cancer nurse, Cate, was a Woman of Courage on the blog too. But….the head and neck cancer group getting to Canberra was not able to happen because of Covid restrictions in Victoria and I took a reality check. The reality check for me was about how I would be able to eat when away from home over 3 nights and it was literally something I need to accept. A future post on eating and drinking challenges post head and neck cancer was planned.

But, we were going OK. In fact we had morning tea out twice using our government’s ‘dine in’ vouchers and I was excitedly planning the Soup for the Soul event with my friends from BluJ’s in Toukley.

 

And then late June 2021, just as the school holidays began, and we got excited about seeing our son and his family to celebrate our newly minted 8 year old’s birthday it was OFF. Back to Lockdown. Because of Covid 19 and ONE person’s infection from the newly seen and very nasty delta strain….it was not a good news day or week. So much changed in a very short time. STAY home. STAY safe. And as I write this ready for 30 August publication we are STILL in same lockdown. It’s actually become much more serious. More on that as I try to recall August! OK, we live on N.S.W. Central Coast, around 2 hours from centre of Sydney the capital of N.S.W. On 27 June 2021 we were declared to be part of Greater Sydney, along with Sydney and all its suburbs, Wollongong and Shellharbour to the south and the Blue Mountains to the west. NB: the Central Coast where we live was declared a regional area mid August.

The Hawkesbury River and Bridge. From the side where I took this photo it’s Central Coast.

July 2021.

July holds many memories for me since 2017. It marks the anniversary of my first head and neck cancer major surgery and reconstruction on 6 July (4 years this year) and 27.7 each year – since 2014, is World Head and Neck Cancer Day.

I met other people who were also head and neck cancer patients, carers and professionals in July 2018 at Central Coast Cancer Centre and in 2019 was part of the group called Central Coast Head and Neck Cancer Support who held a Soup for the Soul Event. And, each year the charity for whom I volunteer as an Ambassador, Head and Neck Cancer Australia, has awareness activities on line and encourages communities and individuals to host Soup for the Soul.

I was one who was going this with my friends at my local cafe but once lockdown came and they chose not to open as takeaway business was not a large amount of their trade, the event could not go ahead. So, I made it a virtual event and kind friends and professionals donated to a total of $305.

Some other memories and more from July 2021.

And August Arrived!

Of course we celebrated our daughter’s birthday. Post in detail here. We continued in lockdown which felt endless. I admit I did sometimes get very cranky on social media and then had to stop using it.

I tended then to spend more time outside, or doing something creative. I know preparing and sending off little packs of bookmarks was a positive experience.

Of course, Women of Courage continued on the blog but I was planning to bring it to a close soon. I stayed in contact on line with friends and family as much as practicable but also remembering people at work (even at home) are much busier than I am.

I had successful dental checks – of the regular kind. I am doing well after the surgeries I had in July and August 2021 and I am very grateful for that. I talk to Dad once a week. He is OK and finding the visitors restrictions within his unit complex quite frustrating. He is a sociable person. My brother and sister in law help him each week with shopping and some company. I haven’t been to see him since mid June because of “lockdown”.

I try to get out each day somewhere to notice nature – walking locally or driving somewhere near the water and that helps regulate my mood.

And to do this often:

 

What’s ahead and what other news is there?
No-one knows.

However, I know I am going well and have quite a few choices of art and creative ventures at home. B is making a new TV cabinet and has numerous small projects on the go. He is doing some on-line music lessons and I have similar ones for art. We would not be happy if the NBN stopped working!!

My dear husband has enjoyed writing his 3rd blog post, with another one to come. We are very well suited…different interests but shared common history, love of kids and education (not always the formal kind), and connecting with people. It’s the first time in our marriage of over 50 years that we have spent so much time together at home and for the most part…at least 99% …it’s going well.

Our next door neighbours have two little ones, one born just before Easter and when our family visits were curtailed and I had excess of mini cupcakes in the freezer, it’s been great to share (safely!) a couple of little boxes of treats. Their family cannot visit just as we cannot have ours come. Still, for the greater good.

We have made a promise, once new restrictions began for lockdown, to only go to two stand alone supermarkets, the doctors and chemist and (before they became more restricted in entry) Bunnings on occasions for B. On one day, only one of us goes out (for essential reasons) and we stick to that. I recently made a trip to the local Reject shop…the only place open in a large super centre to buy a stash of cards for upcoming birthdays and celebrations. I also got some fun items which have been sent to Sydney to two families for the school aged grandkids…a care package…costs more to post by express but I would rather they got them! Australia Post employees tell me they have never been busier.

Here’s  two days of contrast (weather and condition wise) at Soldiers Beach.

 

Mon 23.8.21. Warm weather

Great day but look at those clouds.

Windy & wet. Tues 24 August.

Same ‘area’ where person was snorkling on Monday!

 

 

UPDATE: In late August I heard very sad news. Two friends had both died of cancer. One of whom was a Woman of Courage. Her name is Tracey Fletcher King. Here is the link to her story:

The second person is Fergus McCulla, a young man I had the pleasure of meeting back in 2019 as he had questions to ask me about my surgeries for cancer in my mouth. Fergus’s cancer was a very nasty one, and despite “everything” he eventually left behind the pain and suffering, that as his Mum said, he never spoke about. On Tuesday, I will attend his funeral service which will be streamed on-line.

 

Sending my love to the  families and friends of both of these special people. Vale Tracey and Vale Fergus. I am honoured that our paths crossed.

 

 

 

 

And so the second of three parts of 2021 is done. I will of course, be finishing this year’s story. However, I am no longer going to update here as I have found it hard(er) than I imagined in the midst of other life stuff…meaning, I am reducing some of my ‘have to’s in 2022 and keeping Telling My Story going won’t be a blog post. I might do a summary one time, but the recall and record keeping is less appealing than when I committed to starting!

 

Thanks for reading. And maybe just skimming but looking at the pictures. That is cool too. I am grateful I have used this blog to make me accountable.

Last one will be published as the last blog post (and Link Up) for 2021. 51/51….but we have a few weeks to go to that, and I am not wishing the year away!

Denyse.

Link Up #255

Life This Week. Link Up #255

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Next week’s optional prompt: 36/51 Self Care Stories #5. 6 Sept. Link Up #256

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