Acupuncture

Today I am off on a mini adventure!

It’s an adventure in two ways, firstly because it’s a trip out and secondly becsuse Acupuncture is something new to me. So looking forward to the drive to Harlow and to the experience of Acupuncture.

The reason for going is that I am still experiencing back pain from my fracture last year that gets worse as each day progresses i.e. I start not too bad but by the end of the day I am in pain, and I had been speaking to a neighbour who had had success with Acupuncture for easing her back pain.

And so I had been in contact with the Acupuncture Therapist and she thought she could help and so the appointment was made.

The drive to Harlow is only about 20 minutes and it was good to be behind the wheel and to see what was going on in the big wide world. The M11 was fairly quiet so I was surprised at how busy Harlow was, where was everyone going?

Anyway before long we arrived at the business park where the therapist is based and as part of the avoidance strategy she had suggested that I use the Fire Escape to enter the building to avoid bumping into anyone.  This I did, although it felt like I was sneaking into the building for some more nefarious purpose!

The therapist was waiting at the top of the stairs, we said our hello’s and she showed me to her consulting room which was close to the fire exit so it made sense to enter the building this way. I was masked up and wearing gloves as was she.

We had done a video call on Friday which covered all the questions she needed to ask and so it was straight down to the acupuncture. I stripped off my t-shirt and was asked to lie facedown on the consulting bed.

I made myself comfortable and she was quick to start sticking the acupuncture needles in me. She placed needles in my back, my ankles, my wrists and two in my head. I never felt a thing apart from the touch of her hands as she positioned the needles. She used a total of 18 needles.

Six needles in my back.
Three in each ankle.
Two in my head, I hope you can see them.

And remaining 4 were in my wrists.

And now there was nothing else to do apart from lie there and trying to relax. I was still wearing a facemask and so my face felt really hot but apart from that I closed my eyes and enjoyed the time of enforced relaxation.

One other thing happened and that was she cut my ear to let it bleed a little, she said this would help with controlling my body temperature and so help with the hot flushes that I experience.

One observation she made was that my back looked quite red, she asked if I had had the heated seat on in the car which I hadn’t. The picture below shows the redness around my lower spine. I can only assume that this is caused by the Lutetium treatment I have had or the Vertebroplasty procedure, perhaps it’s some kind of bruising. You may also be able to see a reddish square in the middle of my back, I think this is where I have had radiotherapy in the past, although that is nearly a year ago now do surprised it is still there.

The blue square shows the faint red outline of the radiotherapy square, you do need to look carefully!

Then soon it was time for the needles to come out and once more I never felt a thing.

A quick chat about my bowels followed and a warning that I might feel tired and I was ready to go. I booked another appointment for the following Saturday and I was off. I felt relaxed and at ease, my back felt less tense and only time would tell if the acupuncture has brought any benefits.

The therapist is also a herbalist and so I will be talking to her about that and where it might be able to help. She thought that it would help with my bowels which are a bit mixed up due to the steroids that I am on and she thought it a more natural approach than taking the Movicol which I take every evening.

Well it’s a few hours later and we are back home, just taken Teddy for another walk. The back certainly feels less tense and I felt less pain (or is it all in my mind?). I was puffing a bit by the end of the walk and was stooped slightly but I am so out of practice, more walks needed!

I am Iron Man!

Am I referring to that classic Black Sabbath song or a modern film? Well neither, I am talking about a man trying to increase the iron levels in his body and blood stream and move away from that Anaemic level that I was given after my last blood test.

So what am I doing?

I have a two pronged approach, the first being to take Iron supplements and boost my Iron levels in that way and the second and more interesting is through diet.

So today I dusted off the nutri bullet and made myself a smoothie, nice and simple, just orange juice and spinach. The orange juice gives it a nice flavour as well as the vitamins that come in orange juice while the Spinach brings in the Iron as well as even more vitamins.

I am also trying to eat more Iron rich food and so this evening I had some liver for dinner, in fact it was Liver and Bacon with Onions, Tomato and Apple served in Onion Gravy and I have to say that it was very very tasty.

20200606_191703

I had slightly over catered and will be having leftovers for lunch.

Below is a list of the different blood measurements that I am looking to improve by changing the diet. They are all just below the recommended range, which are the figures shown in brackets.  I will of course need to wait for my next blood test to compare them and in the meantime I will continue to try and eat more iron rich food.

Haemoglobin concentration 117 g/L [130.0 – 180.0]

Red blood cell count 4.11 10*12/L [4.5 – 5.5]

PCV 0.367 /L [0.4 – 0.51]

Lymphocyte count 0.8 10*9/L [1.0 – 4.8]

Lutetium Treatment No 6 and a Swab up my nose!

So I was up bright and early today for my ride into London and my appointment at the London Clinic near Regents Park. The roads did seemed a little bit busier to me with more traffic on the roads and definitely more pedestrians in London although the journey was much quicker than normal the city did feel busier.

My room showing the screens to protect staff from radiation.

I arrived at the hospital just before 9 a.m. and went inside to see that all the Covid precautions were still in place, with hand sanitation stations near the door and screens around the reception staff. I was soon checked in and directed upstairs to my room although before heading up I headed off to the coffee shop for a flat white, a nice treat for me to have and a decent coffee made by someone else.

Coffee and a Pain au Raisin

I got to my room and settled in and soon the nurses turned up to do my observations, my blood pressure, temperature and weight.

Two different blood pressure results, it amazes me how it can change so quickly.

Another nurse came in and fitted the cannula and she also took some blood for the blood test. Things were going quick this morning as she was followed by the catering lady who took my breakfast order.

The nurse did a good job of getting the cannula in my arm.
Breakfast

And then it was time for something new, it was time for the Covid 19 Test. The nurse that was doing it was not a fully qualified nurse but a nursing assistant although I was happy for that person to do the test as they need to get the practice in.

The Covid Swabs ready to be sent off.

The test consists of putting in a swab up and to the back of your nose and another swab into the back of your throat, not a very pleasant experience but very necessary. Hopefully the results will be back shortly and will tell whether I have coronavirus or not.

I was then informed that treatment would not start until after both the blood test and the Covid test came back from the lab which takes about 90 minutes. I kind of understand waiting for the blood test although I did have one only a week ago. But the Covid test seems slightly out of sequence, surely part of the reason for doing that is to protect staff and I have already seen a number of those and even more if you include reception staff and those at the coffee shop?

Only one thing for it, I will have a snooze 💤💤!

And then suddenly everything changed and it was all systems go, the nurse was in to hook me up to the drip and start introducing the saline solution, I also had add a visit from the radiography consultant who asked me a few questions before saying we could go ahead with the treatment.

Treatment only takes about 30-minutes but today it took three people although one of them was just here to see what happened and you can see a picture of the trolley with all the equipment on it it although they were visiting another patient after me.

Once the treatment was over I had a chat with the consultant about future steps. The feeling is is that the next step is to have a PSMA PET scan in a couple of months time to see how things are inside. Because the PSA is continuing to drop she is confident that the treatment is working well but the scan will help to clarify that so we just need to wait and do it at the right time for this latest treatment to have had time to take effect.

She is effectively handing me back to UCLH who will continue to manage my treatment going forward and make decisions as to what the further treatment will be. Typically lutetium treatment consists of six treatments and this was my 6th treatment. Although in some countries and institutions further treatments have been given but they may be held back until they are needed .

So now it’s a bit of a waiting game while we just let time pass, they will continue to do blood tests and monitor my PSA. I am due to have my next oncology outpatients appointment in about 6 weeks time and I guess by then we will have had another blood test and know where the PSA is at.

One piece of good news from today is that the Covid-19 test came back negative so I know that today I do not have Coronavirus which is nice to know.

So is this my last visit to the London Clinic in the short-term in that I will not be back here for at least a couple of months. I suspect I will be back for treatments 7 and 8 at somepoint.

That said I need to have a good chat with my consultant at UCLH and discuss what other possible treatments may be available.

Oncology Outpatients 3 June

Today I had my oncology outpatients appointment via a telephone call with the same doctor that I spoke to last month. The appointment was quick and efficient and to me it seems like a good way to do these more routine type of appointments and is something I hope they continue to do going forward.

The doctor was pleased with my PSA result as was I, 88 is a good number to be at and a good leap down from last month’s figure of 144.

We also discussed whether I was Borderline anaemic and he felt that there was nothing to worry about and that no treatment was needed as it was very borderline. I accept what he says but I will modify my diet to include more iron rich foods, I may also start to take iron supplements to give me that extra boost.

We then then went on to discuss whether I should have Zoledronic acid ( this is to strenthen my bones) at the start of July and he said I should go ahead with that appointment so that will be a trip to UCLH for that treatment. I will need to consider how I get there.

So with the appointment coming to an end and I was given the all clear to go ahead with the Lutetium treatment on Friday. I did ask a cheeky question as to whether the treatment was available on the NHS yet but the answer came back that it wasn’t yet available. So going forward I will need to continue with the London Clinic.

So being given the go ahead I am looking forward to my day trip to London and seeing a little more than just the view from the house and the garden, and of course it will be a little adventure 😁👍.

Great News – PSA 88

One of the good things that has happened recently is a number of Apps and ways to access your GP and NHS data have been introduced so you do not need to wait for the doctor to access information like blood test results.

And so I used one of my new Apps to look at my blood test results from the test I had last week and was very pleased to see that my PSA had dropped to 88, I have made it back into double figures 😁👍.

It’s actually quite a big drop, down from 144 last month and clearly a massive drop from 1,585 where it was last year.

On the downside the blood test also showed that I am borderline Anaemic which means a lack of Iron in my blood and other things which I still need to find out about.

While I wait to find out if either the GP or my Oncologist will prescribe Iron tablets and of course identify the underlying cause of the Iron deficiency, I can add more Iron rich food into my diet such as the following.

  • liver
  • meat
  • beans
  • nuts
  • dried fruit – such as dried apricots
  • wholegrains – such as brown rice
  • fortified breakfast cereals
  • soy bean flour
  • most dark-green leafy vegetables – such as watercress and curly kale

So I will be looking at some liver recipes, I have not had liver for years!  Liver and Bacon sounds good.

Pig's liver with streaky bacon | Tesco Real Food

And I’ll be getting the blender out and making those lovely green drinks with curly kale and spinach!

But such good news about my PSA, I feel it sets me up for my Outpatients call tomorrow and Lutetium treatment number 6 on Friday.

Can I Cope With This Much Excitement?

All this excitement two days in a row.

Today I have been out for a blood test at The Rivers hospital in Sawbridgeworth so a longer drive than yesterday and a pleasant drive it was to. The roads were pretty clear and it took no time to get to the hospital.

Once again I masked up and with my gloves on I made my way to reception. They were practicing social distancing with markings on the floor to help us with social distancing.

I was directed to the blood test waiting area where they were three people waiting. We looked at each other over our masks, it was a little strange just seeing people’s eyes.

I waited about 10 minutes before being called forward.

The nurse was experienced but it still took her two goes to get the needle into the vein.

And then it was over, my blood will be sent to Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow and the results will be sent to the GP. I will be hoping for healthy results across the board and especially anything to do with bone marrow function which helps with immunity and the production of white blood cells. And of course I will be looking for a reduction in my PSA, I would love to be back in double figures but cannot imagine it will come down that much.

Last time it was at 144 which is great as it was at 1,585 before I started the Lutetium treatment.

The drive home was pleasant, I was so tempted to go to the supermarket or something but managed to resist!

Now it’s a waiting game for the results.

Oncology Outpatients next Wednesday via a telephone call and then Lutetium treatment on Friday.

Oh that’s a day trip to London 😉.

An Exciting Trip Out

Well today as been full of excitement, well not really that exciting but exciting for me.

I have been out of the house today and visited the GP in Thorley for my three monthly Hormone Injection.

It was good to get out and see a small part of the world.  It was also good to get behind the wheel of the car and do a bit of driving.  They have resurfaced the main road through the village which we had seen from our house but hadn’t driven down, looks like they have done a good job and now all the potholes have gone.

I arrived at the Surgery with my mask and gloves on and like last time I needed to ring the doorbell to be let in.

I actually feel this system works much better as there was no waiting around and I was straight in to see the nurse.  Although I guess less people are going to the surgery and that is why it is more efficient but I am sure there are lessons to be learnt!

The nurse was very good as well as quick and efficient, the injection is done with a big needle and I never felt a thing which is always a good result.

And before I knew it I was off home, I made the most of the drive and went through town to have a look around.  The roads were quiet and driving was a pleasure but I can’t see that lasting!

Soon I was home and looking forward to my next adventure which is tomorrow when I go out for a blood test!

 

Next Lutetium Treatment

My next Lutetium Treatment is scheduled for the 5th of June and is due to take place at the London Clinic.

This afternoon I have had a phone call from one of the radiology team to tell me that they have updated their Therapy Pathway and that I needed to go into isolation for 14 days prior to the treatment!

Fortunately I am already in isolation and so this should be no big issue.

She said that I would need to have a Covid 19 test done 48 hours prior to treatment.

Which again shouldn’t really be a problem!

She then asked about when my last blood test was and when the next one would be. Luckily I had just been sorting this out (see my post ‘A Right Palaver‘).

And so I told her.

She said she would write to my Oncology Consultants and ask them to write to my GP to ask them to do the Covid test.

This all sounds simple but you can see where this is going!

She said she would copy me in on the email to the consultants so I would be kept in the loop.

She then recapped what I needed to do.

I then asked a question and as the words came out of my mouth I was regretting it.

I said that I could stay in isolation but would need to go out for the Covid test.

There was silence!

I could hear the brain whirring as this was worked out! Clearly a new problem had been presented.

And so she uttered those words.

‘I will call you back!’

And so now I wait to hear how the GP’s Surgery will handle the Covid test request when they get it and I wait to hear how The London Clinic think Covid testing can be done while staying isolated?

Watch this space!

A Right Palaver

So two simple things need to happen, I need my three monthly hormone injection and I need to have a blood test in time for my next Oncology Outpatients Appointment on the 3rd June.

It would make sense to have them both at same time and have them both done by the GP’s Surgery. After all I normally have my Hormone Injection done by them and I had recently had a blood test done at the surgery.

So last week I started making enquiries about getting this done.

First of all I had to convince them that this was the best plan!

Then they couldn’t access the nurses diaries as they only release appointments 2 weeks in advance.

The person I was speaking to said she would speak to the practice manager and get back to me.

And true to her word she called me back and said that the practice manager had said that I should be referred to the District Nurses who would come to my house and do both the Hormone Injection and the Blood Test.

What a result I thought, I was happy with this outcome.

A few days passed and then I got a call from one of the District Nurses who asked if I was housebound. I said I was as I was classed as Extremely Vulnerable. She asked if I was housebound prior to the virus and I said no.

She said then I wasn’t technically housebound and that they couldn’t visit and I would be referred back to the GP.

Great?

So I messaged the surgery who got back to me the next day, it was the same person that I had previously spoken too!

We discussed the problem and she tried to book me in. She managed to book me in for the hormone injection but couldn’t access the calendar for booking the blood test.

She would call me back!

And she did, to tell me there were no available slots for blood tests and so I would need to go to The Rivers Hospital and have a blood test done there!

The surgery would post me a blood test form to take with me.

I was straight on the phone to The Rivers and managed to get booked in.

So I now have my Hormone Injection on the 27th and the Blood Test on the 28th! One woth the GP and one at The Rivers!

What should have been fairly simple seemed to become very complicated. It’s a good job I am pretty robust and can work through these situations but I can see a lot of people finding this very stressful.

I feel more needs to be done to make these things simpler and less of a palaver!

Fingers crossed🤞