Oncology Outpatients and GFR Estimation 3 Sample Scan and other stuff – 21st July 2021

Well, it’s a full and busy day at the hospital today in preparation for starting chemotherapy on Friday.

Before having any treatment at UCLH you now need to have a Covid Swab Test done at the hospital which is understandable. What I don’t fully understand is why you don’t need the test for scans and other tests.  So, this is another reason to be here twice in a week.

On arrival I headed for the Blood Test department and booked in for my Covid Test, as it was early, I only waited a few minutes before I was called in for my blood test.  The phlebotomist had barely got the needle in my arm when the receptionist appeared and said I was in the wrong place as I was booked into something called “The Pod”.

Just arrived at the hospital.

So, without hesitation the Phlebotomist pulled out the needle and aborted taking my blood which seemed a bit strange as she had completed the painful and difficult part of the process and could have soon drawn my blood as well!!

I was thinking that today I will be a human pin cushion!!

I got myself sorted and made my way upstairs to “The Pod” which was a portacabin type building setup just outside the exit doors.  I was met by the nurse who was going to take my blood and do the covid swab.  He wasn’t quite sure why I was booked into the pod, but I suspect someone had made an error while booking me in and booked me into the wrong place.

Anyway, the covid test and the blood test then went smoothly although by now I had two plasters on my arms where the different needles had been put into my arm.

Then it was off for my outpatient’s appointment, I had my eye on the coffee stand and a Flat White but thought I should head up for the appointment.

The outpatient’s appointment went fairly smoothly and was just a simple check up to see how I was feeling and to get me to sign the consent form for chemotherapy.

Job done it was now time to head for the main building and the Nuclear Medicine department where I was going to have the GFR Estimation 3 Sample Scan.

The Main Building.

Once again, I eyed the coffee stand but I knew there was another one in the main building so off I went only to discover that the coffee stand in the main building was closed!!

It was too far to go back and so I headed up to Nuclear Medicine and checked in and while the procedure is called a scan it’s not.

What happens is that I was injected with a radioactive source and then had to wait 2 hours while the source circulates around my body and then they would take 3 blood samples each an hour apart.  The 3 different blood tests are then compared and from that comparison they can work out the strength of the chemotherapy I can have.

GFR stands for Glomerular Filtration Rate and is a test which measures Urine Albumin which is a protein in that is filtered by the kidneys and so by measuring the amount of Albumin over the 3 different blood tests they can work out how well my kidneys are working and how much chemo I can have.  The radioactive source enhances the test and they can see how fast the radioactive source is being processed by my kidneys.

I hope that makes sense?

This is the first time I have been through this process and so it must be something that they do when using Carboplatin the chemo I was going to have this time.

Back to being a human pin cushion!

What the process also meant was that I was to have 2 cannulas fitted, one to inject the radioactive source and the other to be used to take the three different blood samples.

Cannula One

I was fitted with one in my left hand and the radioactive source was administered and then the cannula was removed.

I was then told I could do what I wanted for the next 2 hours while we wait for the source to circulate and so I thought it was coffee time!  Only to be told no tea or coffee, I needed to be caffeine free!!

Ah well.

I checked the map and looked for a nearby park to sit in and read my book for an hour.  I found a park called Gordon Square which was nearby and found a shady spot to read. 

As an aside the book I am currently reading is “The Stand” by Stephen King, which is about a global pandemic, quite topical for a book first published in 1978!!

Time passed quickly and soon it was time to head back to the hospital another cannula and the first of my blood samples to be taken and then it was a case of waiting an hour for the next sample and so on.  I couldn’t go far and so read and dozed in between the samples being taken.

Finally, the third sample was taken, and it was time to head home, it felt like a long day and I was feeling a little tired, I also had four plasters where the different needles had been.  I call these sympathy plasters as they will get me a few minutes of sympathy when I get home!!

I would soon be home and be able to rest before returning on Friday.

COVID Test 21 April 2021

Today is the start of a busy couple of days, I have Lutetium Treatment on Friday, a Post Therapy Scan and another Covid Test at UCLH on Monday and then Zoledronic Acid Treatment and an Oncology Consultation on Wednesday.

And prior to having Treatment on Friday I need to have a Covid Test and I have opted to go local as it saves a trip to London.

The Covid tests are very easy to book and I would say the only downside is you cannot book them in advance, I could only book for today, yesterday whereas for peace of mind I would have preferred to have had it booked a few days ago.

The test is done locally at a Testing Station that has been set up in one of the Car Parks in Stansted Airport, so very convenient.

So a five minute drive sees me arriving at the site and showing my barcode to the reception guy in the yellow Hi-Viz jacket, he waves me through and I follow the line of cones to the area where at least five testing points have been set up.

I have been here a number of times now and it has never been busy and so I was straight in.

I pulled up at the booth and another guy in Hi-Viz held up a card with a phone number for me to phone, I was of course in the car with all windows closed.

I called the number and was given instructions.

I then pulled forward to where I would do the test and a test kit was passed through my windows that I had opened an inch.

I read and instructions and noticed that I was missing the Absorbent Pad, I put on my four way flashes and another person in Hi-Viz came over, I explained my problem and I was provided with another Pad.

I then went on to complete the test, it is never pleasant sticking the swab down your throat or up your nose but I would think it is something that a lot of us are getting used to these days.

Another new normal!!

Anyway, test done, I made my way to the test drop off point and another Hi-Viz with a grabber took my test from me and I then headed home.

The remains of my test kit.

All I need to do is wait not for the results which I think should be all clear?

MRI and a quick bit about my Covid Vaccination

Back up to London this afternoon for a quick MRI to have a better look at my back.

But before that I would just like to say that so far, I have got away with no side effects from the Covid Vaccinations I had last Friday.    Good news.

The drive to London was quick and non-eventful despite there being snow on the ground and road near home.

Food shops were still open in London

I had a late appointment and it turned out I was the last scan of the day so when I arrived, I was quickly processed and instructed to get changed into a hospital gown.

I sat for a few minutes in the empty corridor thinking about how quiet it was, just the faint whirring of a MRI machine behind closed doors.  It was also slightly spooky as you expect hospitals to be full of people moving around.

No one around to admire my fetching gown!

After a few minutes I was called in to the scanning room and asked to lay on the bed, this was torture as lying on flat surfaces really hurts my back and so I asked for some padding to support my back and it felt a little better.

And then I was slid into the drum of the scanner, some instructions came over the headphones and then it started.

The noise never ceases to amaze me, it like being in a tumble drier full of spanners on a fast spin, and the noises change as the scanner does different things.

It lasted about 45 minutes and by that time I was just about ready to make a full confession 😉

I was slid back out of the machine and struggled to sit back up, but I made it and then off to get dressed and the journey hone.

And of course, the wait for the results!

Covid Vaccination No 1 – 5 Feb 21

It was my turn today for the Covid 19 Vaccination, I had previously been sent a text and had requested my slot by filling in an online form.

The vaccination was at Bishop’s Stortford Football Club, a place I am getting to know well after having my flu jab here and also bringing my mum for her vaccination.

Arriving at the Football Club

There was a queue to get in and someone checked our details. Then in the door and we were asked to clean our hands and of course we were wearing masks 😷.

The queue to get in, although long move quickly.

Another short queue and I was sent to booth number 3 and once again my details were checked along with more detailed questions and one around had I ever had a reaction to medication?

I answered that I had a reaction to chemotherapy and so a doctor was called, he was briefed and told me to wait for 15 mins after the injection to see if there was a reaction.

And then I was told that I would be having the AstraZeneca jab and I was asked which arm I would like it in.

I opted for my left arm and then the injection was done, quick and painlessly.

I made my way to the waiting area and watch as people moved in and out. Overall it looked like a pretty slick operation.

My 15 minutes were up and I headed out, there were less people waiting to go in, I guess they close for a lunch break?

They certainly deserve it.

Well done all.

Covid Vaccine Invite

Well I was busy doing something (or nothing 🤔) when my phone beeped indicating that I had just received a text message.  I don’t get many text messages anymore and so was curious as to who was texting me?

I checked my phone and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a text message from my GP Surgery inviting me to have my Covid Vaccination.

There was a link to a website and I was able to select a date and time that suited me.

Nice and easy 👍.

So next Friday I will be off to the local football ground for my first vaccination. I will let you know how it goes.

Outpatients and Zoledronic Acid 6 Jan 2021

Back to London again today for my Oncology Outpatients Appointment and Zoledronic Acid infusion.

The good news is that my Covid test came back negative so I am all clear for treatment and pleased to be Covid free.

The bad news is that my PSA has risen to 150 from 85 about 6 weeks ago. And so it looks like my PSA is starting that upward move again after being brought down by the Lutetium. Overall I am feeling pretty well aside from pain in my back from the fracture I had.

I was pretty disappointed that my PSA had risen so much in a fairly short time, it would seem that the effects of the Lutetium have worn off.

So the plan now is to have a PSMA PET scan and have a look at what is happening inside with a view to rechallenging the cancer with more Lutetium.

I have two Lutetium treatments left that I could have and although we are entering very much into new territory with the Lutetium it is thought it is better to rechallenge sooner rather than later. Well at least the first one and then see when to use the second one.

I did ask about what might be done after the Lutetium treatment has been used and the answer was that it would be another clinical trial. The clinical trial mentioned was called BiTE, I think and here is a brief descriprion of it.

“a PSMA bispecific T-cell engager (BiTE®) immune therapy mediating T-cell killing of tumor cells in patients with advanced castration-resistant prostate cancer”

If I understand it, it is similar to Lutetium in that it consists of two parts, the first part is attracted to the cancer cells expressing PSMA and instead of using Lutetium to kill the cancer cells it attracts the bodies own T-Cells to attack the cancer cell.
I think I have a bit more to learn about this and will certainly be asking more questions next time around!

Not surprisingly by the time I got upstairs for the Zoledronic Acid Infusion my blood pressure was fairly high at 166/98 so they gave me a few minutes to relax. It also gave me time to think about what I had just been told downstairs and to calm my racing mind.

It’s all done wearing a mask

A few minutes later and I was at 145/80 and they were happy to continue with the infusion.

I had already been fitted with a cannula and while I hate to keep mentioning it, it did take 3 attempts to get the cannula in and its not the needle going in that stings, it’s the wiggling about of the needle that really stings!!!

Just waiting for the drip to be attached.

The Zoledronic Acid infusion itself took about 20 minutes and soon the cannula was being removed and I was told I could go.

Jacket on I made my way outside and made my way home.

By the time I got home I had my next outpatients appointment booked and that is scheduled for 3rd February and so hopefully I will have a PSMA PET scan before that, it could be a busy couple of weeks!

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.