Some of us at Sue Croft Physiotherapy
As I contemplate this last whirlwind 12 months, I feel exhausted just thinking about all that has happened in 2021. I have learned about the Greek alphabet – Alpha, Delta, Omicron – nothing like a worldwide pandemic to teach us some new words. But as I continue to document the course of this pandemic – the effect on my own life and for Australia, I am amazed and bewildered both at the same time.
I am amazed by the tenacity, resilience and sheer determination of my staff at Sue Croft Physiotherapy. It starts at the top with my husband who every day diligently performs duties as our chief practice manager (which mostly involves battling every piece of electronic/ technical/ and technological apparatus/programme in the rooms that take turns to stop working for absolutely no apparent reason) as well as simultaneously being an extraordinary architect in his own practice. (You can check out his website here).
Bob Croft Techno-machine whisperer and Architect
It is followed by my physiotherapy staff who every day, with every patient, strive to improve the patients’ health status by problem solving, critically thinking and inspiring them to tackle their symptoms head-on in an evidence-based way.
Of course without my extraordinarily patient secretaries, we physios would not be seeing anybody. They literally go above and beyond the call to triage patients, to fit patients in and to keep us all (but actually mostly me) remembering to do the important things like letters, answering emails and other endless tasks.
Jose looking cool,calm and collected at the front desk
The weird thing is that, despite the pressure-cooker environment we have had for the past two years, everybody at work is always pleasant, happy, obliging and caring. For this I am grateful, for this I am blessed. To absolutely everyone at my practice – thank you for your amazing contribution in 2021.
This year was also marked by my first ever prolonged time off work having some lip surgery. In 44 years as a physio I have probably taken off 10 days total in sick leave. When the specialist dermatologist said: “Sue we have to do a laser villiemectomy on your lips and you have to have 3 weeks off work” – I just couldn’t believe it. But as the nurse explained, apart from the pain (and the ugliness – thank goodess for a mask mandate) you need to dress the wound every two hours in the beginning to ensure there is a great result. So I dutifully complied and had to do some appointment reshuffling and reorganising – which I absolutely hate doing, I hate letting patients down – but it had to happen.
Now about lips.
Never take your lip health for granted. Your lips are a vital part of your anatomy. They are the portal to your mouth and all those taste buds that savour the flavour of chocolate and Prosecco, the magic of mango and the delight of delicious Mooloolaba prawns. When you suddenly find out that your early years, back in the 50’s when there wasn’t sunscreen, have come back to bite you literally in the lips, then you start to take note about the sensitivity of your lips, how they can cause pain with every single mouthful of food if it is salty or spicy or hot.
Lips also are prone to being exposed to our extreme Aussie sun with its beyond-extreme UV rating even with a hat on (especially your bottom lip).
After 65 years of no lip issues, I suddenly had 3 months of non-healing, painful lips. Doctors variously diagnosed cold sores, shingles and dermatitis, but finally a biopsy was done by a dermatologist and the diagnosis was severely dysplastic changes which needed urgent laser surgery, otherwise skin cancers may mean ugly chunks of lip being removed.
I saw a patient the day before I went in for surgery who also swore by a product called Repairase which is concentrated Vitamin A and is recommended for wound healing and decreasing inflammation. I thought it sounded like a great idea, but I doubted I had the time to source it. Next thing, the patient arrives back at the rooms two hours later with a gift-wrapped bottle of Repairase. Her kindness and thoughtfulness brought a tear to my eyes.
Repairase: Concentrated Vit A
What follows is a series of small photos documenting what has happened over the course of the past few months. I’ve kept them small because they are pretty ugly, but I am hoping, if I display my ugly photos, one or two people may realise they need help earlier rather than later and seek an intervention.
Pre-op not-healing lip Three hrs post-laser surgery
The procedure is done in a hospital because of the necessary supervision of the laser – but you are awake and it is quite noisy and you do have a little awareness of ‘burny flesh’. The secret to getting a good result is dressing the lip every two hours which is really why you need the time off work. I was diligent with this and between the Repairase and the bathing and cleaning of the lip wounds and applying the vaseline-soaked dressing, my lip started to heal quite quickly. Despite the initial pain, I did manage to eat much sooner than I had expected, because due to my sheer love of eating, I quickly worked out how to do it without pain. Straws, food cut into little pieces, no spicy food, drinks and food luke warm only and that was the day I stopped eating any salt in my food.
Straws and tiny morsels of food Vaseline-soaked dressing material changed every 2 hours
Day 4 post surgery Two weeks post surgery
10 weeks post surgery at our Christmas party.
So whilst I am over the moon with the result of my laser villiemectomy, can I re-emphasize the importance of applying Zinc SPF 50+ daily on your lips and wearing a hat with a broad brim in your earlier life to avoid the need for this procedure in your later life.
Now about home-comings
The past few months have been filled with the lows and highs of my daughter and her husband trying to make it to Australia for Christmas. With the uncertainty around COVID border restictions it has been a topsy turvy time, but miraculously and wonderfully, Soph and Jimmy have arrived in Queensland for Christmas in Brisbane and then on to the Sunshine Coast for a well-earned holiday. As I write this blog, the sunshine is missing from the Sunshine Coast but as Sophie says ‘It may be raining, but at least it’s warm.’
The Long Awaited Arrival
Christmas with the whole family gathered together has been a surreal experience. The only barriers to seeing Soph and Jimmy BC (before COVID) was the size of the bank balance and the scheduling of patients, but to have been physically barred from seeing family by international border closures – well that’s a whole different emotional roller coaster. It does expose the barriers that the tyrranny of distance and a pandemic creates when your children are living overseas and makes home-comings even more special.
Cricket and four generations of family enjoying Xmas Eve (Gma turned 96 this year)
Christmas Day pressies, food, swims in the pool and sneaky kid-cuddles for Aunty Soph
The year’s end
COVID continues to be the lead story on the daily news and also continues to present new dramas and dilemmas to those in business. I have spent the last few days sourcing Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) for my staff to ensure they are clear of COVID if they are in any way symptomatic (even if they are sure it is hayfever); buying goggles, face shields and aprons for the physios to wear if needed; and updating the website for the latest COVID News. It has helped to do all this work (while on holidays) to the constant crashing of the waves and the vista of the beautiful Coral Sea (yes that is correct) out of the corner of my eye as I write.
Wild and woolly Sunshine Beach overlooking the Coral Sea
It must be an absolute nightmare for all the health staff working in hospitals, vaccination hubs and COVID testing centres over the past few months/years. The monotony of getting up every day and doing their sometimes thankless work, to keep us healthy and safe must be exhausting for them.
What must also have been terrible is being the butt of angry, ungrateful people who like to vent and spew their vitriol over these hard-working employees. It must also be distressing to watch Superspreading Events like protest marches of people who are unvaccinated and wonder what this means for their upcoming working week. As for seeing the politicians vacillating, flip/flopping and refusing to lead consistently to guide our nation safely through these turbulent times – this must be so confusing.
I also know I have had patients who work in hospitality and retail who have copped their fair share of rubbish from customers who don’t believe in vaccinations or rules and take it out on the messengers – people who are just trying to earn their living.
We have had just a few times when our staff have had to endure difficulties, but I know they were shaken by it and so my message to everyone for 2022 – please try and dig deep into your kindness stores and think before you erupt/explode/be rude/be ungrateful/ be unkind because my staff (and myself) have worked our guts out this year to keep our practice open and continuing to help people with their pelvic floor dysfunction and more. I do fear that 2022 may well be the most complex yet!
Another shout-out goes to the unsung heroes of Coles Delivery and Click and Collect (and of course Woolies).
What would we do without Coles delivery?
Since the borders have opened I have stayed away from the shops and getting everything delivered is an absolute miracle. I hate shopping at the best of times and to get these deliveries is a life-saver. I have even had groceries delivered to Manly, so that when Sophie and Jimmy first arrived in Australia they had something to get them started. All this for a puny delivery fee of as little as $2 to the most I’ve paid of $10. Unbelievable.
THANKYOU to all the workers and to Coles and Woolies for providing the service to us – especially during the pandemic.
Finally, I know much more has happened this year, but I just can’t remember it all. Everything is a bit of a blur and maybe that’s a good thing, because a bit like childbirth, if you remembered everything, you may not front up and go again.
What I do know is that having the whole family together this Christmas has been incredible and I am grateful to the miraculous aligning of the planets that have enabled this to happen.
Borders opening in NSW
Qantas starting up flights again
Jimmy and Sophie’s workplaces both allowing them to work from Australia for two weeks while they ‘quarantine’ prior to coming to Qld
Pricing of the flights not being totally exhorbitant.
Negative COVID test before getting on the plane
Negative COVID test on Day 1 after landing
Negative COVID test on Day 5
Negative COVID test before crossing the border
Border pass being issued
The flight wasn’t cancelled due to flight staff illness (like the 80 that were on Xmas Eve)
The flight took off (after a medical emergency delay mind you)
Oh the relief and joy of seeing them walking up the corridor from the plane.
Welcome home Sophie and Jimmy
Please let 2022 be happy, healthy and safe. Saying Happy New Year these days definitely requires a little finger crossing.