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.

Prostap Time Again

I have a Prostap Hormone Injection every 12 weeks and it’s amazing how quickly it comes around. The prostap is a hormone injection which restricts the production of testosterone which in turn helps to feed the Prostate Cancer so it is important that I have this although I am not sure how much it is doing in terms of fighting the cancer.

What I do know is that it gives me lots of hot flushes, some mild some pretty intense.

I arrived for my appointment on time and discovered that the surgery now had a video doorbell! I donned my mask and pressed the button, there was a fairly long pause before a voice asked me if I had an appointment, I said I did and they then asked my name. I could hear the clicking of the keyboard as my name was typed into the computer. Another pause and then the voice said OK I will be with you in a moment and the connection to the doorbell was severed.

In my head I could hear the footsteps of the person walking to the front door!

I was allowed in and asked to disinfection my hands and then directed to take a seat.

Within a minute or two the nurse appeared and called me into the treatment room. The injection had already been prepped and she told me that last time I had the injection I had it in the right side of my stomach and so this time I would have it on the left side.

Although I was prepared for the injection I managed to jump as the nurse touched me, I think it was her cold hands! My jump caused her to stratch me, my fault as I had moved.

Second time I was ready and the needle was in and the fluid was pushed into me. Then it was over and a plaster was put over the hole where the needle went in.

The prostap injection uses a larger needle than a standard syringe and so only certain nurses can administer this injection and so they get plenty of practice with it and are very good at giving the injection.

The nurse looked up the date of my next injection in 12 weeks and so I would be back on the 27th of January 2021. Not my first medical appointment for 2021!

This was my 14th Prostap Injection, 13 have been done at the GP’s surgery and one at UCLH. I think I will continue to be on Prostap for the foreseeable future which I don’t mind although I could do without the hot flushes.

Flu Injection 28th September 2020

I normally get a flu injection but have had to organise it myself but this year has been different due to Covid and to my mind it has actually been better.

I received a letter a few weeks ago with the appointment time on it and scheduled it into my diary. Then a few days ago I got a text reminding me of the appointment.

The appointment was to be at Bishops Stortford Football Club and not at the GP Surgery.

The football club is only a few minutes drive away and so I arrived about 5 minutes before my allocated time.

I was met by a man who gave me some simple instructions to follow and soon I was parked up and someone came to my car and told me where to go.

I headed into the building and was guided to a desk where my details were checked and then into a short queue for the injection.

I didn’t wait long before I was sat down, my name was checked again and the injection painlessly administered.

And then I was on my way out and back home.

Overall I have found this to be very well organised and very quick and simple.

Well done to all those involved for making it so easy.

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.

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!

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.

Prostap Number 14

Back at the GP’s Surgery today for my 3 monthly Prostap Injection. The surgery is very quite today because they have suspended the ‘walk in’ clinic due to the Corona Virus.

There are two of us sat in waiting room when normally there would be about twenty.

The Prostap or hormone injection is a pretty straight forward procedure which just involves having a large needle stuck in my stomach.

Today the injection was done by Bonnie, one of the nurses.  There was also a trainee nurse in attendance who was learning what was going on.

So a quick and easy procedure today, hot flushes will follow no doubt.

A busy week this week as I have an oncology appointment on Wednesday and an appointment with the Neurosurgeon on Thursday.

Watch this space!

Three Years On

I can’t believe it has been over three years since I was first diagnosed with Advanced Prostate Cancer, it has been a fairly tough time with lots of up’s and down’s. I think the main thing that has kept me going is a positive attitude and the support of my wife and family and to them I say a big thank you.

The diagnosis I was initially given was.

  • Carcinoma of the Prostate T3b N1 M1 PSA 226 Gleason 9

Since then my PSA has been as low as 1.6 and as high as 1585.

In summary here is a list of the main cancer treatments I have been through. Alongside these there have been a number of other treatments to treat the side effects of the main treatment, Steroids for example.  Side effects have been tough at times and diverse, from minor to visits to A&E.

  • Hormone Therapy – Prostap Ongoing
  • Chemotherapy – Docetaxel
  • Radiotherapy – On Spine and Shoulder 3 times
  • Enzalutimide
  • Immunotherapy – Nivolumab and Ipilimumab
  • Chemotherapy – Cabazitaxel
  • Dexamethasone
  • Lutetium 177 – Current Treatment

Below is a list of the different scans and tests I have had over the past 3 years. For the blood tests I have written 42 at least, this is how many blood tests I have had at UCLH, on top of this I have had loads at PAH and with the GP, I would estimate that this figure is closer to 70 blood tests.

I believe to rest to be more accurate.

  • Blood Test 42 at least
  • Bone Scan 10
  • CT Scan 7
  • MRI 1
  • Ultrasound 1
  • Radiotherapy 12/3
  • Prostap Injection 10
  • PET Scan 1

And of course on top of this there have been the regular outpatients appointments and other trips to the hospital.  At times I have been to the hospital everyday for a week and at other times just a monthly visit.

Perhaps the worst trip was when I was hospitalised earlier this year with concerns around spinal cord compression.

I am really appreciative of the hospital staff and the service and support they provide, there have been hiccups but for the most part the service has been excellent and I feel lucky to be able to have this kind of service.

I am hopeful that the Lutetium is working as it should and I look forward to the future.

Prostap Number 13

Off to the GP Surgery today for Prostap injection number 13, hopefully lucky number 13!

The appointment went smoothly with me arriving just before the appointment time and I was soon seen by Bonnie who has done the bulk of my injections.

The injection was fairly painless and administered while I was in a seated position into the left side of my stomach.

I am still surprised at the size of the needle!

I was also asked to complete a short questionnaire and book a review with a pharmacist to go through the medication I am on which is a telephone call booked for next week.

The next injection is booked for 17 December.