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.

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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.

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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………….

 

 

Neurologist Appointment & Scan

Today is a two hospital day, first stop is the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery to see a consultant about my back and then I am off just down the road to The London Clinic for my post treatment scan for the Lutetium treatment I had on Tuesday.

So after a train ride and a taxi I arrived at my first destination and checked in. I didn’t have to wait long and I was told to go and get an X-Ray done.

So back outside and down the road to another entrance where I sort out directions to the X-Ray department which like in a lot of hospitals was downstairs.

On arrival I wait a few minutes and was then asked to change into a hospital robe which I did.

The X-Ray was to be of my whole spine and so I would be standing for the X-Ray. After some careful positioning I was given the thumbs up and the room emptied and the machine whirled. First picture done I was then turned sideways and another image was taken.

Then it was a quick case of getting dressed again and I made my way back to the waiting room.

Two minutes later I was called and met my the consultant’s CNS (Clinical Nurse Specialist). She would be carrying out the consultation.

She started by asking lots of questions about how I was, what had happened and so on.  She showed me the X-Ray of my spine, please see picture below with the circle around the damaged (Wedge Shaped) T12 vertebrae.

Spine Close Up

I must say that it was a little scary seeing how compressed the vertebrae was and while she said it would reform it’s shape a little and that the disc’s above and below would grow to fill in the gap it still causes me great concern.  As does the fact that the vertebrae above and below are at high risk of a similar type on fracture.  I need to be very careful.

The CNS gave me an examination and a check over.

She went on to say that the approach to healing was time and rest and that I would need to wear the spinal brace for at least 3 months.  There was no surgery that could be done and to some extent I am relieved that surgery is not on the agenda.

I will just have to be patient.

After the consultation was finished I made my way over the Devonshire Place and the London Clinic for my Lutetium Post Treatment Scan.  I am getting to be an old hat at this now and knew exactly where to go.

I didn’t have to wait long to be called in.  Getting on the scanner bed was a slow process due to the pain in my back but it was nothing like getting off after 30 minutes of lying on my back.  I needed help from the staff and I asked them to move me slowly.

On my way out I bumped into my Consultant who said she had seen the blood test and was pleased with the results.  She was going to review the image from the scan.

She later text me and said that the scan image was even better than last time and that some trouble spots shown previously have disappeared completely.  Together with the fall in PSA she felt this was really encouraging.

This is of course excellent news and the best Christmas present I could get and really this is only after 2 treatments and hopefully treatments 3 and 4 will help even more.

Merry Christmas Everyone.

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.

Late Night Phone Call

Out for a curry on Friday evening and I got a phone call from UCLH, the duty Oncology Doctor.

They said my XRAY and MRI had been reviewed by the neurosurgery team and that I would not need surgery but I would need a brace to support my spine.

So good news that surgery is not needed but so many other questions.

They said I would get another call on Monday to discuss things further.

They also mentioned a place in Stanmore, after a quick Google I discovered that the Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital is based here, so I might be looking at a quick trip here to have the brace fitted?  I suspect I have a lot to learn yet about this aspect of medicine!

Last Minute Xray

All go this morning, got a call from a doctor in the oncology team asking if I could go in for an XRAY.

So I quickly had to sort a dog sitter for Teddy and drop him off before catching a train.

This will be my third visit to UCLH this week and all that entails.

Blood test Tuesday, Outpatients Wednesday and Xray Friday.

Well that was painful but had to be done. I found it painful standing up straight for the few minutes it took to get the images done. Especially when I had to have my arms folded and lifted in front of me. It all put a lot of pressure on my back.

Still it’s is done now and so for me it’s just a case of waiting for an appointment with a neurosurgeon to see what can be done in terms of treatment.