Comfortably Numb?

The MRI scan was uneventful. It lasted for about 45 minutes and I could choose to listen to music through the headphones provided. I chose the compilation Echoes by Pink Floyd with a preference for the track Comfortably Numb. They got the album right. I never did hear my preferred track but was content to listen to the randomly selected tracks. I was so relaxed they thought I was asleep. Comfortably numb perhaps?



The day finally arrived for me to see the consultant. I arrived early at the hospital to avoid the morning rush hour and after a Costa coffee I went to sit in the waiting room. I had my Kindle with me as I would prefer to read rather than interact with the other patients. The clinic was on a cancer ward and I was trying to block out the horror stories that were being exchanged. Unfortunately I had forgotten my headphones so could not block out everything.

When I was called in to the consulting room I was beginning to feel like a fraud. Those other people in the waiting room, from the snatches of conversation I could not ignore, clearly were sick. I, however, was feeling better than I had in years. I have seldom felt so out of place.

The consultant was not quite so sure of my wellbeing. Although he told me that my kidneys were ok, except for a tiny kidney stone, he pointed out that I had some indicators for prostate cancer. I was given the option of watching and waiting, which meant having regular tests. Or, the option which he favoured, which was to have an MRI scan followed by a biopsy. I chose to go with his recommendation.

I was asked to wait to see a support worker so I returned to where I was seated previously and straight back to my Kindle. Before I could even begin to read, a familiar voice asked, ” are you from Warsash? It’s Pete Cable isn’t it?” The voice belonged to Viv. Someone I had known since we were at school, although we had not seen each other for twenty years or more. A cancer ward was a strange place for a reunion but I hope we get together for a cup of tea and a chat real soon.

Between The Cracks

Next up was a CT scan of my kidneys. This was probably the easiest of all the procedures and I was in and out of the hospital in hardly any time at all. I was told that I was classed as urgent and would receive an appointment to see a consultant within a fairly short time.

In the meantime I had to have more blood samples taken to check my PSA level (Prostate-specific Antigen), following which, I expected to receive an appointment at the hospital. None was forthcoming.

I waited what I believed to be a reasonable time for someone who was told that he was classed as urgent and then phoned the hospital to query the delay. The first two people I spoke to could find nothing relating to my results or an appointment. I was becoming frustrated.

The third person confessed that I had “fallen between the cracks” and he was most apologetic. He made me an appointment for the following week which was confirmed by letter. I was slightly less frustrated.

Scarier Moment

It wasn’t long before I received an appointment at the hospital for a cystoscopy. Apparently they wanted to look inside my bladder. Great!

Well, I turn up cheerfully for the procedure and whilst in the waiting room I read a poster which advised me that survival rate from bladder cancer for men my age is less than 50/50. Not exactly inspirational.

On to the procedure itself. Look away if your squeamish! A camera is passed through your urethra into your bladder . The bladder was also filled with water. From this they can not only check out your bladder but also see if there are any indications of prostate problems. As the camera was inserted into my penis I was reminded of the saying,” it is easier for a camel to pass through the eye ….”

I have to say that any discomfort wore off quiet quickly afterwards except for one thing. The feeling that I was peeing razor blades. That was very unpleasant and lasted a couple of days.

Some good news. No sign of anything untoward with my bladder but they needed to check my prostate now. “Roll on to your side”, said the nurse, “this may feel uncomfortable”. As this was not the first rectal exam for me, I found it neither comfortable nor uncomfortable, I just made some inane comment, which I immediately regretted. My prostate was enlarged she informed me but they still wanted to look at my kidneys, so my next appointment would be for a CT scan.

If you have prostate issues, you will have to get used to Digital Rectal Examinations (DRE). It goes with the territory. I guess this is a major part of why the whole subject is taboo to some people. The point is if you are going to get well, dignity will be the first casualty. Get over it!