Category Archives: Health

Thinking She Was Fat, It Was Cancer

After several weeks of my youngest daughter thinking she was getting fat around the stomach. She finally took my advice to see our family GP, who at the time wasn’t available and she ended up seeing another Doctor.

Thankfully she did as the Doctor knew it wasn’t her just getting fat it was more concerning than a bloated stomach. He organised an immediate scan and blood tests.

The results weren’t good it was a tumor mass coming from her right ovary and it needed immediate attention. During the consultation about the results he said: “I am going to expedite making an appointment with the gynecologist and I am going to wrap cotton wool around you”.
This was all too daunting for us, my eldest daughter came up for a few days to hear the results and be involved in the appointment with the gynecologist.

Action was swift, more blood test, CT scan, and appointment with the gynecologist then waiting for the hospital booking. It all happened from early November 2021 until 22nd December when she was admitted to hospital and operated on. This included a total hysterectomy was performed together with appendix and some omentum.

Being in hospital on the 22nd December during ‘COVID Code Red’ in all hospitals throughout NSW wasn’t great. It was her Birthday on the 25th December and despite all attempts to be with her even on compassionate grounds I wasn’t allowed to see her at all. We could talk on the phone and message one another, but it wasn’t the same. Although with the nature of the operation she had tubes coming from her, which as her mother that wouldn’t have been too great to witness.

I felt from the initial consultation with the gynecologist she was in excellent hands; her gynecologist is a specialist in her field and the Director of Gynecology and Obstetrics on the Mid North Coast.

The nurses were incredibly attentive and had a great sense of humor. They even blew up surgical gloves into balloons and sung happy birthday to her on the 25th December.

The gynecologist contacted me while she was in hospital advising what had been removed and that she was waiting on reports regarding cancer results. She advised me that it was going to be a long road to recovery and that she is lucky to have such a caring family.

After five days of hospital care she was able to come home, where she basically slept to help with her recovery.

The six weeks follow up post surgery included discussion about her having to have chemo as with the size of the mass tumor there could be spillage of cancer cells.

Next stage was seeing the oncologist; more blood tests and PET (positron emission tomography) scan to reveal both normal and abnormal metabolic activity. This was followed the following day by commencing chemo a 5-hour infusion of chemotherapy to kill any fast growing cells in her body. She would undergo these chemo session over 3-week span for approximately 4 to 6 times.

As a mother living in Coffs Harbour Regional City I can say from the moment of seeing the GP to hospitalisation and chemotherapy together with all the blood tests, scans I can not fault the medical system here on the Mid North Coast.

We still have a challenging road ahead; with the continued medical support and staying positive all the way will gain a good outcome.

How Has COVID-19 Pandemic Changed Me?

This is an interesting question. How indeed has it changed us, namely me?

First above all it has made me think seriously about my own health and how if indeed I was unfortunate to contract this deadly virus.

Having a compromised immune system, it would put me into the serious category of survival. Hence taking all the precautions that are necessary to ensure that I don’t leave myself vulnerable to this deadly virus.

Living on the Mid North Coast we have basically had minimal cases of the virus, which is surprising as we are a tourist destination, between two major cities Sydney and Brisbane.

There has been a certain benefit that has come out of the pandemic for me. It has allowed me to concentrate on my finances. Having gone through complete lockdown across New South Wales has taught me valuable money lessons that will benefit me in the future, including researching and installing solar on the roof and replacing old fans with ecological reduction fans.

Not being able to attend any entertainment, including catching up with friends for that coffee, lunch or dinner has enabled me to save money. I have also questioned my needs versus wants at the checkout and basically asked myself “do I really need that top, skirt or shoes”.

As much as I like to travel, this was also affected. Again another question I posed on myself, would I really like to travel to locations that didn’t have control on the virus? Certainly not! No travelling gave me another opportunity for savings.

During the early stages of COVID-19 a writer colleague asked if I would be interested in taking up a board position on the newly formed Mid North Coast Writer’s Centre. I accepted with pleasure, as the nearest writer’s centres are located in Byron Bay and Newcastle. The writer’s centre was Officially Launched by the Mayor on 3rd September in Port Macquarie.

If you are in lock down and you don’t want to get bored, there are just so many hours one can spend on cleaning out cupboards before you realise, this is not for me, I am bored.

I, together with many thousands of others saw the benefits of online Zoom webinars. At first I registered for almost everything that I came across, until I realised there must be a real benefit for me to listen to presenters, who in some instances were dreadful at presenting online. I became weary of the various companies offering these Zoom webinars. Taking the time to research the type on online knowledge I wanted to endue became a priority.

It was at this stage that OWN NSW was alerted to me by one of my colleagues, who at that time we were collectively researching information about older women in our LGA.

The statistics in Coffs Harbour LGA for older women aged 45 to 80 is enormous with over 17,000 recorded by ABS in 2016. This represents 24% of the total population of Coffs Harbour LGA.

We realised, together with two other businesswomen that there was an opportunity to commence a Coffs Harbour Older Women’s Network Group.

Discussions occurred with OWN NSW in August 2020 and on 17th November 2020 the Mayor Denise Knight Officially Launched, socially distanced of course, Coffs Harbour Older Women’s Network Group.

How has the pandemic changed me? I value my health, gained valuable money lessons to save money, question myself about do I need that? And most importantly there are always opportunities out there even in a pandemic.

What is Normal?

The human brain is the most amazing untapped part of our bodies. Most of us sail through life not even giving our brains any credit for how it processes everything our bodies do every second of the day.

It is at a time when we overstretched our bodies by filling it with stressful situations that the brain triggers ‘enough is enough’ and has a meltdown.

I witnessed a scary meltdown with my youngest daughter recently and it was the most difficult thing I have had to endure. Through mother’s instinct, I felt that something was wrong with my daughter and phoned her.

Immediately on speaking with her I knew something wasn’t right to the point of dropping the phone and driving over to her place running up her stairs and instantly grabbed her and asked “what is wrong” she replied “I want my mummy” “I am your mummy and I am going to take you to hospital”. She burst into tears and I knew that the prognosis wasn’t good.

The ten-minute drive to the emergency section of the hospital seemed to take hours. Thank goodness the assessment by the triage nurse was almost immediate, her blood pressure was extremely high, she wasn’t speaking or concentrating adequately. The doctors and nurses’ actioned blood, urine samples, brain scan, lumbar tap and MRI, drips and heart monitor. This was overwhelming for my daughter and myself, things like meningitis, epilepsy was mentioned without actually definitive result. Two days in the emergency, then two days in the medical assessment unit and finally transferred to the well-being unit where she was finally diagnosed as having had hypomania episode.

All of this hypomania came out of the blue, with no previous episodes experienced by my daughter, all right she may have been anxious from time to time, but this was more than anxiousness. Due to her working two different high-level technical jobs it was inevitable eventually her body would show signs that she is overstressed and stop coping. Her brain finally said “enough is enough we are stopping” and that is what happened.

My knowledge of such an illness was limited to knowing that people suffer mania episodes, however, after reading heaps of information on suitable websites referred to me it was too complex and there were many unanswered questions from my perspective. My daughter now as an inpatient is learning how to be good to yourself, not to allow any part of your work life gets overbalanced, which obviously her work life was totally out of balance. She hadn’t had any ME time for her nor a holiday for more than eight years.

During the psychiatrist review he mentioned to my daughter; her older sister and myself that she had suffered a mild hypomania episode and left unattended it would have had a devastating effect on her. She listened politely to the psychiatrist explain her situation, a psychiatrist who happened to be wearing woolen socks underneath a pair of leather thongs shoes, how very odd! Could you actually take him serious was our immediate thinking as we looked at one another!

My daughter responded with “so I am not normal” his immediate response was “what is normal?” This prompted all our minds to go into overdrive, as who and what is actually normal, especially when we put too much stress on our bodies and expect our brains can just keep taking large amounts of pressure without some type of consequences.

Some lessons learnt for all of us, treat the diagnosed condition with the correct medication, education and most importantly well being, something that both of my daughters need to adhere too especially the well being, giving yourself some special ME time and not to let any part of your life get out of balance – work, family, personal relationships, and friends.