Anxious

It is just six weeks since I began hormone therapy. Not exactly a long time and yet it seems an eternity when I think of the range of emotions and the variation in the intensity of pain I have felt. It’s fair to say that at the moment, I am not a fan of hormone treatment. I may change my mind when I start on a different drug in June and of course, the ultimate test is, how successful is it?

I am still suffering pain at times but fortunately, not everywhere at the same time. Also, my physical strength is way down compared to a few months ago. I struggle to do things which were fairly easy and I despair at the thought that I may not ever run again. I comfortably ran 5km just before Xmas.

I have been told that I will be on hormone therapy for at least two years. At the moment it seems more like a punishment than a treatment. On the up side, I will be having a CT scan at the end of the month and Radiotherapy will start about a month later. I am now anxious to get on with it.

In my idea of Utopia, radiotherapy would entail laying in a darkened room listening to tapes of all the old Fluff Freeman radio shows. Conversely, radiotherapy hell would be the same darkened room and being forced to listen to Chris Moyles. That would be worse than the real radiotherapy.

While I’m in a good mood, a Limerick.

Men Only

I wanted to know the answer
To, "why have I got Prostate Cancer?"
When I asked a nurse,
"Why must I suffer this curse?"
She replied, "Just because you're a man, sir."

Floodgates

The penultimate scan, prior to commencing treatment, was a CT scan on my chest, abdomen and pelvic region. Not too time consuming and nothing sinister to worry about. Except maybe the injection of dye, which is used to improve image quality. Except also, the insertion of the canula through which the dye is injected.

During my limited time as a season ticket holder at Southampton General Hospital, I have already made numerous visits, many of which I have recounted in these posts, What I have not mentioned previously, is that frequently, when you turn up for your appointment, you are asked if you mind having a student present or perhaps a trainee carrying out part of the procedure.

I always say yes. How else are the next generation of doctors and nurses etc. going to gain experience? It’s never been a problem to me. Well, except for the two occasions when it has been a problem.

The first time was when I was having my blood sampled and an overenthusiastic trainee, despite my bulging veins, had difficulty in inserting a needle into me. So much so that one attempt resulted in the needle being bent. “Too much iron in my blood”, I quipped. This was ignored by my tormentor as she moved to my other side and prepared to launch an attack on my other arm.

Fortunately, the qualified nurse/mentor stepped in at this point and deftly inserted the needle and extracted the samples with such expertise that I barely noticed. Thus saving the trainee from further embarrassment and me, I might add selfishly, from sustaining further damage.

The second time as you may have guessed by now, was when I was being prepared for the CT scan. “Hello. My name is ******, I’m a trainee and I wonder if you would mind if I inserted the canula for you?”.

“Not at all”, I replied, trying to suppress the memory of a needle being bent against my arm. Not that I was able to suppress it for long. I have a very prominent vein situated in the crook of my right arm. It is almost as if it was put there specifically for people collecting blood samples or for the insertion of a canula. Needless to say, the trainee homed in on it straight away.

In the space of a nano second, the needle was in my arm and then out of my arm, followed by a great arc of my blood making its way across the room. “Oh no!” cried the trainee.

“What are you doing?” demanded her experienced colleague.

“You’ve opened the floodgates now. Could this be life threatening?”, I asked. I was doing nothing to alleviate the situation, as I watched this fountain of an essential part of me, exit my right arm.

Well, life threatening or not, the flow of blood was quickly stemmed and the expert, in almost the same way as in the previous incident, stepped in and inserted the canula into my other arm, which still had blood left in it. It was hardly noticeable. I could not help but wonder, how many cases of projectile bleeding there might be between leaving the level of trainee and arriving at the level of expert.

The scan then proceeded without further complication. Just one to go before starting my treatment.

Diagnosis

The day finally arrived to visit the hospital to find out exactly what was wrong. All I knew up until then was my prostate was enlarged. It could be benign or not be benign.

The information was given to me by a specialist nurse. The same one who had previously inserted a camera into my penis and a finger into my backside. Mercifully, not both at the same time. She explained the state of the cancer and what it meant in terms of types of treatment available to me. Assuring me that the intention would be to cure it.

I have a grade 2 cancer with a score of 7 (3+4) on the Gleason Score. It was mostly still contained within the prostate but there was a small section which was close to spreading and so it is classed as Locally Advanced. Not exactly a death sentence but not really a cause for celebration.

I was given a large and comprehensive information pack covering diagnosis, treatment, help and support. I will be doing a lot of reading and research in the coming weeks.

Next stop, appointments with two consultants on the same day to discuss the treatments available to me.

Scary Moment

Following on from my HGV medical in October I made an appointment with my GP and had blood samples taken and was warned there may be a problem with my kidneys. Two days later I had a missed call from the surgery and when I phoned back, the receptionist had no idea what the call was about but said she would find out.

I decided to call in to the GP’s surgery on the way to work the next day and was told that the doctor had tried to call me but they did not know what it was about and that he was now on holiday. The receptionist kindly voiced her opinion that, “it must be urgent”. So I put 2 and 2 together and concluded I must have a serious problem with my kidneys. This being the case I would be unable to drive a truck.

I made an appointment to see another doctor a couple of days later and took the time off work, due to not knowing if I had a kidney disease plus the process had messed with my head somewhat. I had a scary moment.

Once I saw the doctor, things became calm and organised. He explained that because my PSA levels were up he wanted to have my kidneys checked but was referring me for investigation for Prostate Cancer.