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.

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]

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.

 

Vertebroplasty Day One

Today is admissions day for my Vertebroplasty procedure, it all feels a little rushed having just had the phone call yesterday.

I had a fairly busy morning what with walking Teddy and then getting him to the dog sitter and then before long I was picking up Barbara and heading to the train station.

A comfortable train ride and a taxi saw us arriving at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery where we made our way to the Queen Anne ward, my home for the next couple of nights.

20200108_134300

I was given a bed in a small section of the ward where it looked like there would be four of us.

No real instructions were given on what to do and we were left to our own devices.

Eventually I was given a hospital wrist band and found out that I would have an X-Ray and a CT Scan.

After another wait a porter arrived and I was wheeled to the imaging department, in many ways it was good to have a porter as the hospital was a rabbit warren of corridors and rooms.

We arrived to the chorus of an intermittent fire alarm, which meant stay in place, there was some confusion and fire marshal’s came and went.

Silence.

Thankfully and it seemed the whole hospital gave a grateful sigh!

X-Ray first in the same room I had the X-Ray in December and then the CT Scan and before long we were heading back upstairs to the ward.

It would seem that there was now nothing to be done but wait until the morning so I started to settle in more.

20200108_153803

Barbara headed off at about 6.30 pm by which time I was in my pyjama’s and listening to music.

I had my blood pressure done a couple of times which was a little high, I felt fine but is probably down to pre-op nerves.

I also signed consent forms and so on, blood tests, ECG and there was me hoping for some “Me Time”!

Before long I was ready for bed and hoped for a good nights sleep, alas it wasn’t to be what with call alarms being pressed through the night, my neighbour snoring for England and nurses clomping about it proved to be a restless night!

Still I would get a good sleep in theatre………….

 

 

It’s Brace Day!

I wonder how many of my post start with ‘here I am on the train again’ or similar? I need to get more creative with my writing but it is where I start a lot of my posts as I travel into London which of course is where I am right now, on the train!

And while I am heading to Warren Street I have a different hospital as my destination as I going to the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital on Bolsover Street just round the corner from Warren Street and of course UCLH.

I am looking forward to getting the brace as I hope it is going to help a lot in terms of healing and also preventing further injury or damage.

Just a five minute walk or hobble and I was at the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital which is a nice looking building.

I made my way downstairs to the Orthotics Department, checked in and before I knew it Donna was out to meet me.

We went into a consultation room and I got my first sight of the brace.

I didn’t get my first choice of a Camouflage pattern but got my second choice of Carbon Fibre.

Donna showed me how to fit the brace and some words of wisdom. I need to get used to wearing the brace but ideally should wear it as much as I can.

I put the brace on and pulled the straps tight and could feel myself straightening up which was good.

Not so good was all the softer bits around my tummy and waist (where I had put on weight over the last few months) squeezed outwards! Not a great look but one I can work on 👍😉.

And then I was off, the whole thing only took a few minutes and so I made my way to UCLH where I would get a blood test done.

The blood test is a little early, it’s for my appointment on the 18th, next Wednesday, but as I am getting Lutetium treatment on the Tuesday I thought I would get the blood done today.

As I made my way over to UCLH I found myself a little short of breath, I think this is due to the brace compressing my chest slightly and not allowing as much movement. I guess this is something else to get used to!

Anyway I made it to UCLH and got the blood test done, it was fairly quick and easy.

Then it was time for a quick lunch and then to make my way home.

And so this post ends as it started, back on the train only this time homeward bound.

I am getting used to the brace and at the moment it is quite comfortable. So far so good, let’s see what the next few days brings?