Covid Swab and Blood Test 4 Jan 2021

Up to London today for a Covid Swab Test and a Blood Test at UCLH

The reason for the Covid Test is that I am due back at the Hospital on Wednesday for an Outpatients Appointment following by Zoledronic Acid treatment and because of the treatment I need to have the Covid Test and so I thought I may as well have an up to date blood test at the same time so we can see how I am doing.

Given the Covid situation in London I listened to advice and took a car up to London, mostly to avoid the tube but also the train as well.

London was fairly quiet, there were cars around and some pedestrians but nothing like you would expect on the first day back after the Christmas Break.  There was a notable exception at Costco on the North Circular which had a long queue; people stocking up before the next lockdown I guess.

A fairly quiet Tottenham Court Road.

And so we arrived early for my booked time for the Covid Test.

The same as last time, the Covid tests were done in the Phlebotomy Department however there was a little confusion as when I arrived at reception I said I had a Covid Test and a Blood Test booked and was told to take a number on a paper ticket, there were 21 people in front of me so I found somewhere to sit.

It took about 45 minutes for my number to come up and in I went.  The phlebotomist listened to my advice to try a vein in my hand and was soon drawing blood.  It flowed well initially but started to dry up after a couple of the tubes were filled, I was also giving blood for research so there were additional tubes to be filled.  These last few proved a little troublesome and the phlebotomist wiggles the needle to try to improve the flow, it stung a little and I winced.

She apologised but i said there was no need, but it did sting!

And soon I was done only to find out that I needed a sticky label type sticker before I could have my Covid swab and so it was back to reception!

Fortunately I didn’t have to wait long before I was called again.  The nurse started to say that I was late for my slot.  I told him that I had been there since before my slot and that I had been misdirected.  He gave a knowing shrug and took the swab.

So now it is waiting time, hopefully I will get the Covid result tomorrow and find out about my PSA and bloods on Wednesday.  Hopefully the PSA will be stable and the rest OK.

I look forward to finding out on Wednesday.

Blood Test Results 26 November 2020

The great thing about todays technology is you can now access your test results online and so I now have my test results from the 24th November although I have not had a phonecall from the surgery yet and indeed I may not get a phone call as the test results for the most part are normal.

This test is the mid point test between my ocology appointments and the main thing I am interested in and the main thing they are interested in is my PSA which has risen slightly to 93.04 which is abnormal (as it states below) but is expected, it was previously, 6 weeks ago at 85, so while it is way above the range it should be (0.0 – 4.5) it is fairly stable and it is stability that we are looking for.

That and my general health which for the most part is good so I believe that when my Oncologist sees these results he will be pleased and will wait to see me in January 2021.

A copy of the blood test results are below for those who might be interested, I have highlighted things of interest.

Clinician viewed24 Nov 2020
Result typePathology
TestsSerum prostate specific antigen level
Filed by
ResultAbnormal, but expected
What you need to doOther (copy to oncology)

Pathology Investigations

Serum prostate specific antigen level 93.04 ug/L [0.0 – 4.5]

Above high reference limit

Please note: From 09/10/2009, age related ranges are reported — Afro-

Caribbean reference ranges:- Age :

40 – 49 Up to 2.0g/L —

50 – 59 Up to 4.0g/L —

60- 69 Up to 4.5g/L —

70 -79 Up to 5.5g/L ~

Clinician viewed24 Nov 2020
Result typePathology
TestsLiver function tests
Filed by
ResultNormal
What you need to doNo Further Action

Liver function tests

Serum albumin level 36 g/L [35.0 – 50.0]

Serum total bilirubin level 8 umol/L [0.0 – 21.0]

Serum alkaline phosphatase level 66 iu/L [30.0 – 130.0]

Serum alanine aminotransferase level 18 iu/L [10.0 – 37.0]

Result typePathology
TestsRenal function tests Bone profile Full blood count
Filed by
ResultSatisfactory
What you need to doNo Further Action

Renal function tests

Serum sodium level 143 mmol/L [133.0 – 146.0]

Serum potassium level 3.9 mmol/L [3.5 – 5.3]

Serum creatinine level 80 umol/L [62.0 – 115.0]

Glomerular filtration rate > 60 mL/min [60.0 – 150.0]

GFR COMMENT Interpret eGFR with caution for people with extremes of muscle mass.

Note: CKD staging would not apply in Acute Renal Failure.

If your patient is an Afro-Caribbean, multiply eGFR result by 1.212

For general guide www.renal.org/eGFR

Bone profile

Serum calcium level 2.19 mmol/L [2.2 – 2.6]

Below low reference limit

Calcium adjusted level 2.27 mmol/L [2.2 – 2.6]

Serum albumin level 36 g/L [35.0 – 50.0]

Serum inorganic phosphate level 1.36 mmol/L [0.8 – 1.5]

Serum alkaline phosphatase level 67 iu/L [30.0 – 130.0]

Full blood count

Haemoglobin concentration 116 g/L [130.0 – 180.0]

Below low reference limit

Total white blood count 6.2 10*9/L [4.0 – 11.0]

Platelet count – observation 237 10*9/L [150.0 – 450.0]

Mean cell volume 87 fl [76.0 – 96.0]

Red blood cell count 4.16 10*12/L [4.5 – 5.5]

Below low reference limit

PCV 0.360 /L [0.4 – 0.51]

Below low reference limit

Mean cell haemoglobin level 27.9 pg [27.0 – 32.0]

Neutrophil count 3.8 10*9/L [2.0 – 8.0]

Lymphocyte count 1.3 10*9/L [1.0 – 4.8]

Monocyte count – observation 0.7 10*9/L [0.2 – 0.8]

Eosinophil count – observation 0.4 10*9/L [0.0 – 0.4]

Blood Test

Today I have been over to the GPs surgery for a blood test and I have to say that it went very well.

The doctor was very good and got into the vein first time and got the blood out and the vacutainers full. I was also quick to be seen, I barely had time to sit down.

This blood test is roughly at the 6 week point between my last appointment at UCLH where they are now seeing me every 3 months when I have my Zoledronic Acid treatment for my bones and the next one at the start of January.

Fingers crossed that the results will come back and show no major increase to my PSA and also nothing else to worry about.

Overall I feel fit and well and am getting around a lot better although I still use a walking stick when I go out walking.

I have tried to reduce the amount of morphine I take for the pain in my back, I now take 10mg in the morning and 5mg at night.  The are slow release tablets and cover me all day.  I did try stopping the nighttime dose but found it a little painful in bed and it interrupted my sleep so I have started to take them again.

I also take 10mg of Amitriptyline at night and wonder if I could get away with not taking this any longer. I think I will discuss it with my Oncologist in January in case there are side effects coming off it.

The Acupuncture that I had has been going well but I think it was more effective when I was having 3 sessions a week rather than one a month. So I am thinking of stopping them.

As I say I am feeling a lot better and what I really need to do is continue to build up my strength and endurance by walking more. I still need to be very careful with my back and in particular with bending and lifting as the vertebrae above and below T12, the one which partially collapsed and I had cement put in are both very vulnerable to collapse as well although I hope the Zoledronic Acid is helping to strengthen them 🤞.

X-Ray showing my damaged vertebrae.

So I am hoping the results for the blood test come back soon and show good news.

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.

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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]

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 😉.

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🤞

Blood Test 29 April

Blood test, gloves and mask, doctor, one way system, waiting now

Today I had a Blood Test and perhaps more importantly I had a little trip out. I am due to have my Oncology Outpatients appointment on the 6th of May and instead of going to UCLH in London it was said that I should have it done locally to reduce the need to travel and therefore the risk of exposure to Corona Virus.

So I contacted my GP a few days ago who had a whole bunch of questions and in the end asked me to get the team at UCLH to email or write to them. So I emailed the UCLH team who were very good and were quickly in contact with the GP.

Don’t get me started on the ‘one’ or ‘joined up’ NHS thing, although I might write a post about it in the future 😉

Anyway, back on topic, I got a call from a doctor on Tuesday at the GP surgery who arranged a blood test for me for today. It would seem that the Herts and Essex Hospital where I would normally go for a blood test was taking in Corona Virus patients and so the blood test would be done at the GPs surgery instead.

So come this morning I was faced with a serious dilemma! What was I going to wear?  After being confined to the house the dress code has been very casual and comfy and today I will have to wear socks!

Anyway I overcame this mental hurdle and got myself dressed, packed some rubber gloves and a face mask and I was off.  The roads were very quiet as you can imagine and so I got to the surgery in no time at all.

20200429_104136

After parking at the surgery I donned my face mask and gloves and went to the door of the surgery.  The door was locked but I could see a doorbell had been fitted to control access.  I rang the doorbell and the reception came and let me in after asking me a couple of questions.  The waiting room was empty and I went straight into see the doctor who was masked and gloved up as was the nurse who was assisting her.

After a brief chat where I discovered that the doctor had had to revisit her basic training as a young doctor on how to take blood given the crisis and that generally GP’s do not take blood.  Good thing I was not her first patient from whom she took blood, she was very good.  Straight in first time with no pain, result!

20200429_114058
Soon I had a plaster over my wound, I exited the surgery via the backdoor as they were running a one way system so that patience didn’t meet each other on arrival or leaving.

And then I was home again, I drove through the town which was very quiet and as such was a very pleasant drive.

20200429_104210

Fingers crossed now for a positive set of results.

Blood Test

Here I am sat in a queue at my local hospital, the Herts and Essex, for a blood test.

I am trying a different approach to save me an extra trip to London next week. The plan is to get a blood test now, locally, and to take that with me to my Oncology Outpatients appointment next week and while it maybe a few days out of date it will allow a relevant conversation with the oncologist where we can talk PSA etc. And if they want their own blood test I can do it on the day while I am there.

In the meantime there are only 15 people in front of me.

The actual blood test was quick and painless although it took two attempts as she couldn’t get into the vein in my left arm.

Just need to pick up the results next week when I get the clips/staples removed from my back.