The problem with having several blog websites is spreading oneself too thin. I guess I am guilty of that as I do seem to have neglected this place. I am sorry. 🙁
I have been writing about prostate cancer because, having had that diagnosis myself, I have become aware that far to many guys do not get themselves checked often enough and do not get checked until treatment has become more difficult. May I just emphasise that anyone who takes a long time in the bathroom having a pee, and really any male over fifty needs to keep an eye on his prostate health? Not everyone who occupies the smallest room for longer has prostate cancer. Most will not, but all should get thmselves checked out.
My most recent PSA reading was 0.1, which is very low. I am thankful that I am well and appear generally to have responded well to my brachytherapy a couple of years back now.
I grew my facial adornment quite successfully in Movember, but I was very pleased to shave it off on 1st December. It just seemed in the way when I was eating and I was worried about getting food stuck in it, though perhaps I was just a bit paranoid about that.
A lot of guys are very experienced in the cultivation of facial hair, and in some ways I admire them. It all seems too much like hard work to me, and I would rather my hard work were more productive and in other directions.
This week I saw my consultant following my blood test last week. Apparently my PSA is down to 0.4 which is apparently very good. I am assured the odds of getting rid of the cancer altogether are very good; better than 92% chance, which most of us would take. I need to keep having the regular blood tests because if I did relapse, my PSA would be going up, and is a better post-operative indicator than for initial diagnosis. Still, the PSA test did help get me a diagnosis in the first place.
I will see the consultant again in four months, and will be returning to see him regularly for several years.
I am grateful for the support I have had, and Movember has raised over £200 even though much of this sum is not shown on my Movember page.
I realise that there are a lot of demands on people’s pockets, and in the charity area we have had the Philippines emergency appeal and there is the ongoing Syrian Civil War appeal too. However if anyone can manage a few bob more for Movember it would be much appreciated. 🙂
I am (touch wood) quite well currently and hope to continue that way thanks to modern medicine.
The gap between my hospital stays was not the best of times. On the day after I came out from my first admission Gloria and I had to register her Mum’s death and make the funeral arrangements. It was a very sad time. There were other unpleasant incidents in that intervening period over Easter.
My second admission to hospital was two weeks after the first, and before the funeral. This was for the actual brachtherapy procedure / operation. This time I had a private room in the hospital as with the seed implants I was going to be somewhat radioactive.
Again I went in in the early evening and this time was fed. I had a reasonable night’s sleep despite knowing I was facing another enema, but at least had a private loo.
In the morning I was visited by the anaesthetist and the surgeon and a nurse told me i was second on the list. I was taken down at about nine-thirty. Again I woke up well in the recovery room, was taken back to the ward and fed. I have to say that the hospital food was generally good except that I would not recommend their fish and chips – very soggy.
I had no pain, but of course the waterworks were not working very well, and what I did produce had to be checked in case any stray radioactive seeds had leaked out. I also had to demonstrate that I could at least pee a certain amount, which the staff monitored. I must have passed this test because I was told I could go home that evening if I wanted to. I was not all that confident and felt woozy, so I went for a walk up and down the ward without feeling too faint. Having awarded myself a pass on that test, I said i would go home, and called Gloria to collect me. I think we are all happier in our own beds and we needed each other’s company.
Just before I went, I had a word with a fellow patient, Ian, who had been with me having the same thing done on both stays. He had decided not to go home, but then he had been much further down the list, was back from theatre rather later and had less recovery time.
I had not very much pain from having all those needles stuck in my underneath, but I was very swollen so left with a large supply of anti-inflammatories to reduce the swelling. I also had proton-pump inhibitor tablets to counter the adverse effect anti-inflammatories have on one’s stomach.
Throughout both my admissions the nursing staff were very courteous, attentive and caring. I cannot say I enjoyed myself but everyone made sure I was as happy as I could be.
Two weeks after I made my decision to have my treatment for prostate cancer by way of brachytherapy I went into hospital for my first stay. It was a cold damp day which I had been looking forward to with trepidation. During those two weeks my Mother-in-Law had been in declining health, and on the afternoon of my admission, she died. I felt dreadful for my wife Gloria and terribly sad for her Mum. I wanted to be with Gloria, but was “locked in” to go into the hospital, with my second session already booked for two weeks later. The hospital stays straddled Easter.
When I got to the hospital in the late afternoon having made my own way by taxi, I was very emotional. I was also frightened about the treatment, worried about the early morning enema I knew was in store, and wanting a bed close to the toilet. It sounds ridiculous now, but at the time there was too much going on. I am afraid to say I threw a tantrum with the nursing staff. Later I was quite rightly embarrassed and apologised. Oh, and I had plenty of time to get to the bathroom in the morning as it turned out.
I was allocated a bed, and the procedure (volume study) was the following morning. The one complaint I had that evening was that they did not feed me. They forgot, and I did not realise, I could have had at least a sandwich. I ended up feeling starving hungry.
Nevertheless, despite my earlier temper, the nursing staff did make me feel reasonably comfortable.
Just after five the following morning I had my enema and then was visited by my consultant and the anaesthetist. I had to hang about until mid-morning before i was taken down to theatre. The anaesthetic seemed all OK, I woke up in the recovery room and was wheeled back to the ward. I polished off a pile of sandwiches. still being very hungry.
During the afternoon i felt much better. I had an early evening meal of a quite passable curry and it was decided that I could actually go home. No, that bit wasn’t as hard as I expected.
Of course poor Gloria collected me. In the circumstances we were happy to cling to one another, and I wish I could have been there to give her a big hug the previous evening.
It was a terrible shock to be told I had cancer. I guess it is for anybody. My wife Gloria and I went through a great deal of anguish. I only wish that I had known then what I know now, which is that in my case, things were not as bad as they seemed.
I was told that my cancer was relatively localized. Scans showed that it had not spread beyond the prostate. This meant that I had three choices as regards effective treatment.
The first choice on offer was a radical prostatectomy. This involved removing the prostate gland surgically and re-attaching the plumbing (urethra) through which the urine passes out of the system. This is apparently a favoured option for men with more advanced stages of the disease than mine. It is very effective, but has more side effects and potentially continence problems.
The second choice I had available was external radiotherapy. I was told that i would need to attend the hospital five days a week for seven weeks for a daily dose of X-rays and would have to spend an hour there each time. There are side effects such as urinary and bowel issues and tiredness. Sometimes this treatment is preceded by hormone therapy, though I was told this would not be needed in my case.
The third option offered was brachytherapy, which involves planting radioactive iodine pellets in titanium “seeds” inside the prostate gland using titanium needles. This required two in-hospital stays, the first for a “volume study” which measures you up, and the second to actually implant the seeds. The radioactivity as the Iodine 125 decays is what kills the cancer cells. Again there are potential side effects such as difficulty in passing urine, and those associated with any radiotherapy.
I was required to see three different consultants / doctors, each of whom went through the treatment in which he specialised. This was rather daunting to face up to, but what I did draw quite quickly from my appointments was that they mentioned the word “cure”, or at least a chance of one. As I have said, if I had understood at the outset what I learned over the next few weeks I might have worried less.
After I had seen the three, I had gathered that each of the treatments had the same excellent chance of making me all better. Therefore, since the brachytherapy seemed the least disruptive to my life (as I thought) I chose that option. If it had been seen as possibly less successful I would have made a different choice, but I opted for the one which involved the two fairly brief stays in hospital.
I will tell you next time how the hospital operations or “procedures” went.