My Prostate and Me – Part 3


Template Biopsy !

Monday was one of the longest days of my life. I was scheduled for a “Template Biopsy” which for the un-initiated is described thus …..

The template biopsy is carried out using an ultrasound probe which is passed into your back passage and samples of the prostate gland are obtained through the area of the skin between your scrotum and back passage called the perineum. The procedure is similar to a trans rectal biopsy which you will usually have had.

Let me tell you, from the recipients perspective, it is nothing like the TRUS (Trans rectal biopsy).

To start with my TRUS was carried out fully conscious by a specialist nurse, the lovely Vanessa. The main difference though is that I was in and out of the hospital within an hour or so. But that was 18 months ago or more.

Mondays procedure was to be carried out under general anesthetic, for which I am truly grateful. But lets scroll back the clock a little.

Early Monday morning, Very early

I was awake, some time in the wee small hours. Either I am worrying about the procedure, or this is the residuals of jet-lag acquired on our return from Oz just over a week ago. Perhaps a combination of both.  I checked the clock at 04:00 and thereafter approximately on the hour until I got up just after 07:00. I was not allowed to have anything to eat but was allowed clear liquids to drink and had a black tea around 08:00. The taxi was due to pick me up at 11:30 so I was pottering around in the house killing time. It’s amazing how often I found myself by the bread bin thinking “I’ll just have some toast” or over by the cupboard staring at a packet of peanuts. My last eats had been around 21:00 the previous evening. Going without food for that length of time is not natural for me.

Eventually the taxi turned up, although not at my house but three doors away. Luckily I saw him out there. It could have been worse, the dispatcher at the taxi office misheard my address as Sistine and, had I not corrected him, the taxi would probably have been well on his way to Rome and the Vatican. Still, having ascertained that he was there for me I boarded and we set off. Twice I had to correct his directions back to the main road before I was sure we were going to the hospital.  Mentally I was crossing my fingers, hoping that the surgeon had a better sense of direction than my erstwhile pilot.

Tedium Begins

And so, at 11:50, I checked in at the QA Day Surgery Admissions Reception. And thus began the long wait.  It’s a bit like being on a long haul flight, hours of tedium broken up by announcements from the flight crew. In this case there was no food or drink.

After thirty minutes or so I was taken along to a small room. Here I was visited by the anaesthetist  who interrogated, sorry, checked my details and gave me a brief summary of what to expect. He also arranged for some initial meds.

Shortly thereafter, around 13:00, a nurse arrived with my lunch. A cup of water and four tabs, 2 x paracetamol / 1 antacid and 1 stop you feeling sicky pill.

While I was downing this feast another nurse arrived, interrogated me again and checked my blood pressure and heart rate. My heart rate was right down at about 55 which I queried but is apparently normal for “someone of our age”. She later demonstrated her own readings which were similar, so that was alright then.

I was then left alone to my own devices. I read for a while, played hangman on my phone, read some more, got up and walked around my room, looked out the window , read some more. Well you get the picture. I believe I even had a nap for a few minutes. The window looked down on the back dock but there was nothing happening down there.

Around 16:00 a yet another nurse informed  me that I was Mr. Hodgsons last patient and that I would be seeing him soon. Well I saw his registrar who introduced himself but I have no idea what his name was. His accent, he was English I think, was as indecipherable as his signature on the forms that he got me to sign. He went through the now familiar interrogation, during which Mr. Hodgson popped in, shook my hand and disappeared again.

Oh The Indignity

Twenty minutes later I was invited to go and get changed, by yet another nurse, who led me down to a room full of changing cubicles. This is where all dignity ends.

I am not a small guy at just over six feet tall and way over twenty stones (280lb / 127kg). The nurse threw me a smock and left the room. Needless to say the smock, of the tie at the back variety, did not fit well and I struggled to secure it. Although there was no mirror available I could tell by the cool air that most of my back and all of my bum was pretty much fully exposed. The nurse popped her head in and asked how I was getting on. When I explained that the smock didn’t fit and I was having trouble tying it she assumed a sympathetic air and replied “I shouldn’t worry, the first thing they’ll do is undo it”. I then settled down to fight with the compression stockings which when battle was over were rolled up to just below my knees. Wonderful!!

So there I am with my pale blue smock reaching from just below my chin, down to about two inches above the knee. Struggling to meet my sage green stockings, some two inches below my knees. All with my bum exposed to the rear.

The epitomy of sartorial elegance ? Nope, not a pretty picture.

Not to worry, I thought, I have my dressing gown which should bridge the gap. No such luck. To make sure that I was all bright and shiny for the hospital, my wife had washed and tumble dried it. I hadn’t worn it until now and yes, you’ve guessed, it had shrunk. At least it still closed at the front but the length was a sadly lacking being just a tad longer than the hospital smock. At least my back & bum were covered and therefore a little warmer.

I gathered my stuff and found the nurse, who then gathered up another guy (John) and led us through the hospital. Imagine my feelings as we passed through the first doorway into a public waiting area. I’m dressed like a freak and as we entered the waiting area all heads turned to see who had arrived. I thought later that it must have looked like me and John got dressed in the dark and swapped dressing gowns. His gown reached from neck to ankles and wrapped around him properly while mine was way too small. So, we made it through the waiting area without the gales of laughter I was expecting. Next we traversed the hospital to a stairwell where we descended to the floor below and were left in a new waiting room with one other guy and a TV. Here we waited for what seemed like ages but must have been about thirty to forty minutes. John and the  other guy got the call and then eventually so did I.

Kim, not sure if she was a nurse or a doctor, arrived to lead me to the Operating Theatre suite. Once again I had to traverse the hospital through the public corridors and climb to the upper floors via the stairwell. At this point a cold draught, not Guiness, reminded me about the negative aspects of my attire as I climbed the stairs. The stairs with the open railings to the centre, the railings that gave a not so glorious view of my nether regions to the several people descending these same flights of stairs. One glance up by any of them and they would be scarred for life.

Nearly There

On arrival I am sat in another waiting area, just for few minutes, but my apprehension levels are rising. This is not how I imagined the process would work. All this walking and waiting followed by more walking and waiting. And then an assistant anaesthetist comes and interrogates me one more time and I am on my way. One more surprise was that I had to walk into the theatre and get on the table myself. A green bag is held out for me to dump my shoes and dressing gown into. As I take off the gown a nurse rushes across the room to shut the doors to the outside, to prevent my blushes or those of any outsiders I’m not so sure. Then I am on the table.

And They’re Off

When I entered the theatre there was a group of folks gathered in the corner. Presumably they were in a pre-scrum huddle discussing my procedure. Or maybe they were just discussing Pompeys abysmal record. As I hop on the table I suddenly become the centre of a hive of activity as the anaesthetist and his assistant close in to prepare me. Cannula in the back of the hand, heart monitors etc. then the anaesthetist is telling me that I will feel a coldness in my hand as he injects the first of two concoctions. I felt nothing  and then he informs me that I may feel a little dizzy. I’m staring at the ceiling and the light panels suddenly seem to displace and the next thing I know is a voice over my shoulder is speaking and inviting me to cough.

Job Done

I open my eyes and I am in a different room, apparently job done. This is like taking a shot with an SLR. You look through the lens, focus, shutter release, view goes blank as the mirror lifts, then the view is clear again when the mirror drops. All in the blink of an eye. I’m not feeling dopey or dizzy, just wide awake. Once the nurse is happy that I am OK I am wheeled through to a recovery area.

As I enter the new waiting area I pass John and the other guy from the pre-op waiting area. They are sitting up in their respective beds eating toast which they both wave at me.

After a short time and a cup of water I was invited to get dressed and was led outside to a seating area. The nurse asked if I had eaten anything or had a drink to which I responded “No”. I was offered coffee or tea and I was expecting toast but was in fact offered eggy or corned beef butties. John was already out there so I sat alongside and we compared notes as he had the same procedure. When my coffee and butties arrived he was rather envious since he was only offered toast and like me he loves corned beef. My wife was brought in and she eyed my butties hungrily too. She had been waiting outside since just after five and, as it was now gone seven,  was very hungry.

The purpose of this little tea party is to ensure that you are OK, that you can keep down food and drink and most importantly that you can have a pee. If you can’t keep your food down or you don’t make water they won’t let you go home. Worst still an  inability to pee can mean catheterisation and / or an overnight stay. Luckily I was able after a short while to produce a dribble. Oh but it burned. I’m guessing that I was catheterised during the procedure although nobody said.

Freedom

Anyway, based on my meager performance I was allowed to go and  my daughter came and drove us home. Once home it was more tea and everyone seemed amazed, not the least of which me, at how alert I was. Also that I was in no pain. Well apart from when I had a pee which I was having to do with ever-increasing regularity.

Today, Wednesday Morning

Well the good news is that I have not had any pain. Two nights sleep, although still not sleeping all the way through so blaming the jet lag.

It is now nearly forty-one hours since the procedure.  Any residual pain blocking by the anaesthetic must have worn off by now. The burning sensation has all but disappeared and I have a slight soreness in the perineum, like when you have a bruise, which only makes itself known when I sit on something hard.

Now I have to wait for approximately four weeks to hear the results. That brings us to Christmas week I think, so it is likely that my appointment will be after the holidays. We shall see.

Hands Off Our GPs – NHS: A serious threat


I received an email from 38degrees and have pasted the entire message below.

Having paid into the NHS via taxes for over forty years. I have had little or no need to call on the NHS throughout my early life. So, as you can imagine, I am disgusted to find, just when I am reaching an age where I may need to the services of a GP a little more frequently, the government has an eye to limit my access and make me pay, AGAIN !!.

It is hard enough to get to see a doctor at the best of times. The last thing we need is a limit on the number of visits you are allowed.

Take a read and see if you don’t feel the same way. If you do, add your name to the petition.

This could be very serious. The Conservatives are floating plans to cap the number of times we are allowed to visit our GP. [1] If we run out of visits – because we’ve got a sickly child or long-term health condition, for example – we could be forced to pay to go elsewhere.

At the moment it’s just a proposal. [2] But if the Conservatives don’t see a big public backlash, it could soon be a grim reality. So let’s raise an outcry as quickly as possible and push them to drop the idea immediately.

Please sign the urgent petition now: tell health minister Jeremy Hunt to rule out limiting our access to NHS GPs:
https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/dont-cap-GP-visits

Jeremy Hunt will be watching the public’s reaction carefully. He is an ambitious politician with an eye on his own popularity. If he sees a huge petition growing fast, he’ll realise this is damaging his ratings. So if enough of us sign, we could play a key role in getting this idea dropped.

Being able to visit the family doctor when we need it is a bedrock of a decent health system. GPs are often our first port of call when we’re ill. [3] Limiting access to GPs could mean a dangerous illness is left undetected until it’s too late – unless of course you’ve got private medical insurance…

But this isn’t just about GPs. This is about a principle at the heart of our battle to protect the NHS. Since the NHS was created, everyone in Britain has been able to rely on visiting a doctor as often as we need to. Limiting access would undermine the NHS at its very foundations. So let’s send the Conservatives a strong message: drop this terrible idea.

https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/dont-cap-GP-visits

Thanks for being involved,

David, Rebecca, Travis, Blanche and the 38 Degrees Team

PS: Here’s what the chair of the Royal College of GPs said about these proposals: “This was obviously written by someone who has never been unwell, or has never met people who work in the health service.” Let’s not let the idea get any further – please sign the petition now: https://secure.38degrees.org.uk/dont-cap-GP-visits

NOTES
[1] Daily Mail: Fury as Tories look to limit the number of times you can see your GP each year:
http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2331068/Fury-Tories-look-limit-number-times-GP-year.html
Independent: Cap on number of GP visits being considered by Tories:
http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/cap-on-number-of-gp-visits-being-considered-by-tories-8632396.html
[2] The proposal is contained in a “Conservative Policy Forum” paper on NHS policy, you can see the whole thing here:
http://www.conservativepolicyforum.com/policy/local-health
[3] See for example this campaign on the importance of going to see your GP early if you could have symptoms of bowel cancer:
http://www.macmillan.org.uk/Cancerinformation/Cancertypes/Colonandrectum/Symptomsdiagnosis/Symptoms.aspx

Bloated ?


Just over two weeks ago I set off to France on vacation.

Every time I go away I make several promises to myself. I’m not going to overeat, I’m going to eat lots of salads, I’m going to lay off the bread and I’m going to get some exercise.

Of course I jettison most of those within about two nano-seconds of arrival. Salads are easy and I’ll always eat plenty of salad stuff, box number one ticked. The exercise one is sort of easy too since we are going sight-seeing and maybe swimming so that’s tick number two in the boxes. So that leaves the overeating and the bread.

As it happens I find that I actually pick less, no meals between meals if you see what I mean and when I am sightseeing i.e. busy then I don’t get hungry. So the overeating box is lightly ticked as I will go for the full three courses at the main meal and of course I’ve probably had some kind of breakfast.

Which leads us neatly to box number four.

BREAD

How can one go to France and not eat bread ?

Every morning the ritual was to get up and head down to the nearest boulangerie, just three kilometers. The joy of walking into that shop with the fresh loaves displayed behind the counter and the smell, Wow !!

Getting the still warm loaf back to the gite, cup of tea or coffee and then slicing through that crust unleashing more fresh aromas. Slapping on the local charentaise butter and taste buds all jumping for joy.

I can taste it now.

Now, I failed this promise in a big way. Bread (toast) for breakfast, bread before and during meals. So many different styles of bread. Many times I started of the day full of bread. Full but never bloated.

So why is it that after just two slices of Hovis, I feel both full and bloated ?

I know the style of the bread is different and this Hovis stuff is effectively production line, factory bread. What do they put in it that has this bloating effect.

I am seriously thinking that I must take up bread making again even if I have to do it by hand. No Kenwood Chef and Dough Hook, No Kenwood Bread Maker.

I don’t like this bloated feeling.

The Thing


In case any of you are wondering how come I’m posting at 06:00 I’ll tell.

This damn cold, man flu or whatever “The Thing” is, it’s pushing me to the extreme.

I can’t lay down and sleep because when I do I cough. And when I cough I can’t sleep. So you see, it’s easier to get up and read or, as at the moment, blog.

“The Thing”, whatever I have, its been going on for three weeks now. Started with a few days of a mildly sore throat which eventually seem to turn into a cold but without the sneezing. Just when that started to fade away “The Thing” came back with a vengeance. Fresh sore throat, different from the first phase, and everything moved down onto my chest. Since then I have felt like shit.

Headaches, presumably caused by obstructed sinuses, temperature going up and down, eyes watering, nose constantly switching between bunged up to dripping like a leaky tap. Now I have the, previously absent, sneezing. Oh, and did I mention the coughing. The irritating dry cough that no medicine or liquid seems to touch. I have been coughing so long now that upper body from waist to chest feels like I’ve been used as a punch bag.

My wife is exasperated and who can blame her. The explosive coughing must be really irritating to listen to. So far she seems to have avoided “The Thing” although she has been coughing too ….. ?
Fingers crossed that is all she gets.

And today we should have been going to my great-granddaughters first birthday but of course we will stay away. Can’t have either her or mum going down with “The Thing”.

Russell Brand: Addiction is an illness not a crime


Addiction should be treated as a health problem rather than a criminal matter, comedian Russell Brand has told a committee of MPs.

The 36-year-old former heroin addict described addiction as an “illness” and said that those suffering from it should be treated with “compassion”.

He advocated an “abstinence-based recovery” approach, telling MPs this was how he overcame his addiction to drugs, which he said was caused by emotional, psychological and spiritual difficulties.

He said he thought the money spent on arresting drug addicts would be better spent on treating them, as he gave evidence to the Home Affairs Committee on 24 April 2012, as part of its inquiry into drugs policy.

Brand may well be right that addicts should receive treatment rather than be arrested and locked up. But that doesn’t address the real problem.

Drugs is big business and all the while it is lucrative to the criminal elements then there will be people willing to supply to the weak-willed who are willing to buy.

We still need a solution to the source and supply of drugs in this country. Only then will the cost of addiction be reduced. Whether it be by reducing the number of addicts arrested for the crimes they commit trying to fund their habit or by reducing the number of addicts that end up in our hospitals as a result of bad drugs, overdoses or drug related illnesses.

BBC – Democracy Live – Russell Brand: Addiction is an illness not a crime.

Heart attack patients receive best treatment in south at Queen Alexandra Hospital


No wonder the authorities keep trying to skim the QA skills and move them to Southampton.

QUEEN Alexandra Hospital’s heart attack unit is the best in the south, the latest figures show.

Patients have a better chance of surviving than any other hospital in the area and victims from as far away as West Sussex and the Isle of Wight are being taken straight to the Cosham super hospital because of the advances services available.

Of course this means that the work levels have risen.

Figures revealed in the South Central Cardiovascular Report show since QA was given permission to use the helipad 24 hours a day in September the number of heart attack victims admitted has gone up.

There were 288 admissions between April 2011 and December 2011, compared to 269 in Oxford, 229 in Southampton and 165 in Reading.

Despite the increased workload the QA shows that patients have a better chance of survival than if they are treated in any other similar hospital in the region.

The death rate for patients treated for severe heart attacks is 5.8 per cent at QA compared to 9.1 per cent at Southampton, 5.7 per cent at Oxford and 6.4 per cent in Reading.

Heart attack patients receive best treatment in south at Queen Alexandra Hospital – Local Health – Portsmouth News.