Tag Archives: #menshealth

Health check

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 will write more here soon.

Moustaches and good progress on the health front

More hairy than I expected
More hairy than I expected

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.

Movember the First

Me in 1973 with the hair
Me in 1973 with the hair

So many of us are reluctant to trouble the doctor with what we may think of as minor ailments which we think we are bound to get as we get older.

I am pleased to say that I am fairly well after treatment for prostate cancer and (touch wood) that should be the end of it. However the fact that I had cancer in the early stages would not have been picked up if I had avoided going to the doctor. I had thought of several excuses not to go before I finally came down on the side of thinking there would be no harm in seeing my general practitioner.

If you are interested, I am joining the Movember campaign to improve men’s health worldwide by getting them to take notice. I am committed to growing a moustache for the thirty days of November. It will my first ever moustache and I did not even have one when I had the bushy curly almost Art Garfunkel hair in the Seventies. Oh that I had some of that hair now!

Here is my Movember page.  Please forgive the all upper-case motivation section. That is the website format, and I did not mean to shout. If you feel able to help I will be grateful, but if not (because there are so many “good causes”), then that is OK too.

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The hospital stays Part 1

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.



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Choosing my treatment

"seeds" used for brachytherapy of pr...
“Seeds” used for brachytherapy of prostate cancer (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.


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Amber lights and health issues

Sony Apr 10 09 084I guess I was as guilty as many others in taking my health for granted. I had a couple of pills to take daily for what I always thought of as minor irritations, though one had been a major irritation when my blood pressure was so high way back. Towards the end of last year we had rather a lot of personal pressure. Of course the issue was not about us (my wife Gloria and I) but about the illness of her sister; what turned out to be her last illness because we lost her before Christmas.

I was feeling pretty rough and I guess it was the stress of everything (nothing to compare with Gloria’s) but I did go to our GP. She ordered the usual blood tests. It turned our my PSA was higher than a year previously; only slightly raised but enough for my doctor to refer me to a consultant. She said that at my level there was only a one-in-three chance I had prostate cancer.

To tell the truth, there was so much going on in our lives that although I collected my GP’s letter for the consultant before Christmas I did not make the appointment to see him, a urologist, until the end of January. Of course I had a lot of work on in January too, and I was by then feeling a lot better.

When I did finally go, the consultant thought I should have an MRI scan. I went along with this of course, and even when he told me there was “inflammation” of my prostate gland I still thought I might have an infection rather than cancer.

A biopsy was suggested. When Gloria and I went for the result it was a total shock for both of us when I was told I did have cancer. We never think it will happen to us. Gloria and I didn’t take in much of the rest of the consultation. I was feeling numb.

I expect we were told that we were not looking at a complete disaster, but we missed that, being rather stunned. We did recover at the end to hear that we would be scheduled to see several different doctors to hear what options I had in terms of treatment.

There will be a lot more to tell as I bring you up to date.

I may even be lucky. I am feeling much better about myself and my health, but if you are a guy of fifty-plus I think you owe it to yourself to get yourself checked out with a blood test. Then you can make an informed decision as to whether to take further medical advice if your PSA is a bit out-of-line.

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