I Almost Died If It Hadn’t Been For This!

Two minutes worth of thoughts on my way home from the surgery. Don’t forget to comment below and please don’t forget to share!

Buckets, plumbing and pipework.

A few days ago Diana and I were waiting in the reception area of the consulting suite at The Alexandra Hospital for a meeting with my consultant surgeon Mr. Vijay Ramani for the definitive results of the pathological examination of my prostate after my radical robotic prostatectomy. This was going to be the day that we had been waiting for. I had a nervous weekend and had neither of us had slept well for a couple of nights and now we were both waiting, sat on a sofa to see Mr. Ramani. Other consultants appeared from time to time calling out their patients names and we waited. Mr. Ramani suddenly appeared and acknowledged our presence and beckoned me forward. He shook Diana’s hand and then mine and as we walked down the corridor to his consulting room he put his arm around my shoulder and my heart sank to my boots. Having duly taken our seats we looked at Mr. Ramani expectantly and he asked me how I was doing. I responded that I felt that I was doing well but I really wanted he to know what he had to say. Mr. Ramani said that we would get to that later and he wanted to know how I was. I then had to say that Diana and I really wanted to know what the results were of the pathological examination of my prostate. Mr. Ramani then asked what I thought the results would be worth and after discussing “a good dinner” he let me have it! It was probably the best news that my wife and I have had in a long time. To cut to the chase and leaving out all the technical stuff it was confirmed that the cancer had remained in the prostate and was now, as Mr. Ramani put it, in the bucket! Obviously, I will be monitored over the next five years but nothing untoward is expected.

Mr. Ramani then delved into the detail of my daily plumbing habits since the operation and expressed delight at my progress. Diana and I then received a lecture on the pipework that had been hacked about and rebuilt during the operation and how there will be a period of time that will pass by before my bits and pieces properly fuse together. Consequently, I was urged not to exercise too much but to build up very slowly and I’m not allowed to fly for three months. It was at this point that “She Who Must Be Obeyed” asked with a knowing look and a smile, whether it was to early for sex! I thought that the poor man was about to choke and after he recomposed himself he felt that this subject should be discussed at a later date. I was obviously relieved at his news and of course his comments. Later in the day “She Who Must Be Obeyed” claimed that her question was in jest but I will never forgot the look of horror on Mr. Ramani’s face.

So, dear reader, it would seem that this time I have dodged that particular bullet but to be serious for a moment the outcome could have been very different unless Diana and I had decide to undertake a private yearly health screening process just over four years ago.

I’m sure that my next post will be on a completely different subject. Until then, toodleoo!

I have been rocket propelled!

I have been rocket-propelled! Well, briefly. Read on and my story will unfold. I’m now at home and have been for a couple of days but today is the first day that I feel that life is starting to return to normal! After my surgery which went very well I was discharged and started the convalescent process at home. Unfortunately, some blood started to appear in my urine together with some spidery clots and then I awoke at about four in the morning and discovered that my catheter had ceased to drain. After a quick telephone call to the Christie clinic and I was in the car, chauffeured by She Who Must Be Obeyed and back on ward three, just half an hour later. One of my consultant’s, Mr. Sengar, had been called in and he proceeded to wash my bladder out. This was an unusual, although not an unpleasant experience. Mr. Sengar decided to keep me in the clinic for a few days during which time I had a couple more bladder flushes. On top of this rather unpleasant experience my bowel had decided to cease to flow and consequently I was becoming increasingly uncomfortable as the days flowed by (or not as the case may be). Last Saturday, I was becoming desperate. Apart from the laxative the clinic gave me, my wife Diana, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed, descended upon the ward in full force and fed me with a double espresso, six dosages of Movicol, a quantity of fresh fruit salad, four packets of prunes and then the staff nurse inserted a couple of gelatin suppositories for good measure. Everybody decided to take cover and the result after an excruciating twenty-minute wait was, nothing!

I awoke on Sunday morning feeling as if I would burst and was examined by Mr. Sengar again. It was decided that the gelatin suppositories would be attempted again and if they were not to have the desired effect then there was dark mutterings suggesting the use of phosphorous suppositories which mentally suggested a picture of Hades itself. It was but a short time when the staff nurse reappeared with the said gelatin suppositories which were duly inserted much as I expected a soldier would load his musket with a vigorous quantity of black powder, wadding and lead shot, all of which was strongly tamped into the muzzle using the longest and straightest of ram rods. I then waited and waited and waited some more. Suddenly I heard and experienced a gurgling sensation from my lower abdominal area and I moved with alacrity from the bed to the throne and there I sat as the gurgling increased its intensity. I felt as if I was sitting atop a Titan moon rocket and it was T minus 10 and the engines had been ignited. At T minus seven torrents of steam were exploding across the launch pad and then it was five, four, three, two, one, lift off! I swear, that due the full force of mother nature, I hovered above the toilet seat for a fraction of a second. Then, gravity reclaimed my body together with the spent fuel that had duly been emitted by my personal rocket motor. For those of you who can remember, the jubilant scenes in mission control after a successful rocket launch, that would be but a vicarage tea party, compared to what happened on Ward 3 at The Christie Clinic! Now, dear reader, I will be returning to the Christie Clinic tomorrow and all being well my catheter will be plucked from my body and I will no longer have an external plastic bladder attached to my right thigh gently swishing as I stroll around the estate.

Until my next post, Toodleoo!

Six and a half hours in surgery and I didn’t feel a thing!

I had my surgery yesterday (August 28) and I must admit its a bit of a blur. I arrived at The Christie Clinic at about 6.30 am and as my appointment time was before regular hours I was received by the cheerful security team and shown to my room on the third floor. I had just unpacked my bag, pajamas, toiletries, slippers,two novels, MacBook Pro, iPad, 2 external hard drives, internet telephone and a portable scanner when Sister Vicky welcomed me. After a spot of paperwork, my BP, temperature and pulse was taken and then my calf and thigh were measured for some very attractive white tights that I will have to wear for the next 28 days. Needless to say it won’t be the same pair of white tights just in case you were wondering. I was then visited by my anesthetist  and I signed my life away yet again. He then went on to explain the procedure in detail but the short version is that I would be operated in an inverted position on an inclined board so my head would be lower than my legs. Thankfully , I have no memory of this as I was fast asleep. I was then greeted by my consultant, Mr. Vijay Ramani, and walked me through towards the preparation room. There was a slight delay in entering the preparation as the fire alarm went off and rang for what felt like a considerable time (apparently there was a faulty sensor in one of the path labs at the far end of the complex in another building!). You could say that they were “Ringing out the bells for me and my prostate” but it doesn’t seem to scan that well!

On entering the preparation room  I was positioned on a level board and duly anesthetized and then my arms and legs were bound to stop them getting in the way. It was either that or the nurse had been reading “Fifty Shades of Grey”. Obviously, I have no memory of the procedure or being taken into the recovery room some six and a half hours later. My next memory is a somewhat drowsy recollection of being back in my bed and my good lady wife, Diana, a.k.a. She Who Must Be Obeyed helping me to drink water and then later a cup of tea. I was reasonably comfortable even though I had a drain in from the operation and a catheter fitted but I was exceptionally thirsty and drank copious quantities of water and tea. I was then fitted with a pair of compression “boots” which gently compressed the calfs in an alternate manner. I was also hooked up to a morphine pump which was really good! The idea was and it worked very well in practise, that as the anesthesia wore off and I became slightly uncomfortable I just had to push a button and get a shot of some really good stuff! Diana a.k.a She Who Must Be Obeyed, was particularly happy to press the button often. However, the pump was set up in a controlled manner so I could not overdose on on the product no matter how hard Diana tried!

I don’t remember too much about last night other than I awoke a few times feeling very thirsty but having drank some water and hitting the good stuff I quickly drifted off the sleep.

This morning I came round which is probably a better way than saying I awoke. Today has been a busy day and started with a very early visit from the urology team who announced that my operation had been successful and so I’m now in the recovery phase. The prostate has been sent to the laboratory for analysis. My cannulas have been removed and I’m now on oral pain medication and I’m feeling fairly comfortable and getting used to the attached bag which shouldn’t be there for too long a period (probably about a month). It reminds me of an old Billy Connelly story of two family members on holiday and one said to the other “I’m sure that I can here the surf beating on the beach” and the reply was “Nah! That’s just granddad walking down the corridor!”

It’s amazing who you meet here. I was talking to Ibrahim who was cleaning my room earlier today. He lost his entire family in war torn Somalia including, he thought, his one year old son, some fifteen years ago. However, The British Red Cross found his son eight years ago and they have made a new life for themselves here in England. I went for a walk with Ibrahim along the hospital corridor and we were looking at the photographs that adorned the walls of Manchester scenes. Areas of the city centre that I take for granted but Ibrahim was radiating pride in his city and his new country. In turn it made me proud to be part of Great Britain.

I have to have an injection in the subcutaneous layer of my stomach every day for the next 28 days. She Who Must Be Obeyed got very excited by this as Diana will have to this when I’m at home. So, this evening, with an excited gleam in her eye and under the watchful supervision of the lovely nurse Roxanne, Diana duly approached this task with some vigour. Diana approached with arm raised high and duly plunged the needle into my stomach where she quickly depressed the plunger andministering the chemical that will help me to avoid clotting. I must say that She Who Must Be Obeyed appeared to hugely  enjoy this procedure and is already looking forward to tomorrows administartion!

Finally and on a more serious note. It is my beleif that early screening is a major key in the battle to beat Prostate Cancer. So, who do you know that’s male and is aged between 45 and 120? If you feel that its appropiate please share this blog with them.

Until my next post, Toddleoo!

I have Prostate Cancer!

I have Prostate Cancer and you have no idea how lucky I feel!

What! Do I hear you say. Let me explain. Just over four years ago my wife, Diana a.k.a She Who Must Be Obeyed, and I decided to buy a holiday home. The final decision was between southern Spain and south-west Florida in the USA. We elected for Lakewood Ranch a small town which may become a city just outside Sarasota on the Gulf of Mexico. Having moved in we were able to create a network of friends very easily for the following reasons:

  1. “She Who Must Be Obeyed” is a very chatty individual.
  2. I, am windswept & interesting.
  3. Most Americans speak a type of English which is relatively easy to understand.

The important thing is this as our friendships grew and after dinner conversations became more than just superficial we became aware that many of our American friends took health screening very seriously indeed. Therefore, for the last three years both She Who Must Be Obeyed and I have elected to be screened privately. I have to say that in my case the word elected would have to be considered advisedly as any suggestion made by She Who Must Be Obeyed would be ignored at one’s peril.

Now please don’t start sending sympathy messages to me about my condition. Please read this blog as I hope that it may just help someone if I share my ongoing experiences as I travel this road and on the way, I hope to make people aware that this disease is treatable. Right at the outset I need to make it clear that I have no medical qualifications of any description. The only connection I have with this disease is that I currently have a cancer residing in the left hand side of my prostate. So how did I find out?

A few short weeks ago we sadly lost a dear colleague who passed on at age 53. This came as a shock and Diana reminded me that I had not had a PSA test for just over 12 months. I had recently read in The Daily Telegraph that PSA tests were now available to those over sixty years of age free on The National Health Service and as I qualify (I’m sixty four on my next birthday), hard to believe I know, I decided to visit my local GP (for the benefit of my American readers, Primary Care Physician). Having presented myself and announced my request, my doctor started to explain that the PSA test is somewhat controversial. I’m afraid I had to interrupt him and remind him that I had already had two previous tests and he then relaxed down and I duly had my blood test. Let’s not misunderstand my doctor. Here in England the PSA test is deemed controversial as it can bring forward false positives (indicating you may have cancer) and lead to unnecessary further investigation. However, as far as I’m aware it’s the only blood test that will give an indication if something is going on. Needless to say when my results came back my numbers were higher than the previous year (2.3 increased to 5.6) and although still considered low because of the large increase within a relatively short period my GP referred me to Mr. Vijay Ramani who is a consultant specializing in this area and related matters.

A couple of days later Mr. Ramani gave me a physical examination at The Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle, Cheshire including the dreaded rectal examination. This is not the most pleasant experience that I have ever encountered but it’s very rapid lasting about fifteen seconds. From this examination Mr. Ramani was able to determine that my prostate was quite hard on one side and therefore I was booked in for a biopsy which took place at The Christie Clinic in Manchester on July 24.

My biopsy was my first experience of the Christie Clinic which is a private hospital attached to the NHS hospital. My arrival time was at 7am and having duly parked my car in the private patients area and walking through the main hospital I arrived at the Christie clinic. My appointment time was before the official opening hours so to get into the ward was a little more complex than I had envisaged but I eventually arrived at the ward and was greeted by the very pleasant and friendly staff and shown to my room. I’ve stayed in worse hotel rooms (see posts about my Vegas trip elsewhere on this blog). My room was spacious with a hardwood floor, cream colored walls and had the most complicated newfangled entertainment system I’ve ever seen! The ensuite bathroom was big enough for communal bathing and everywhere was absolutely spotless. Shortly a nurse appeared and having gone through the usual admission paperwork I was asked to disrobe and put on a “Theatre Gown”. Whenever I have had to wear one of these not so chic items of apparel I’m always reminded of that magnificent film “As Good As it Gets” starring Jack Nicholson and the scene where he’s walking down the hospital corridor and the rear of the gown is open to sufficiently expose his butt. Not long after this ritual dressing ceremony my consultant Mr. Ramani came to my room and escorted me a short way along the corridor to the theatre room where my biopsy was due to be carried out and was introduced to two very jolly nurses. This procedure was carried out under local anesthetic so I was completely aware of what was going on and able to chat with the two jolly nurses while the procedure was carried out. In layman’s terms a probe is inserted up your bum that has a camera and a hook. Every now and then I felt the hook scratch my prostate when it took a sample. Although I was aware of the sensation it was painless. After the sample was taken there was an immediate loud “crack” which was reminiscent of a child’s cap gun going off. The sort of gun I used to have when I used to pretend to be Marshall Matt Dillon while I made my hapless friend play the part of Chester who had to have an authentic limp. If you’re to young to remember “Gunsmoke” on black and white TV you may have no idea what I’m writing about! The noise was made by the machine as it pulled the sample that was taken through the tube and was duly labelled and packaged by one of the jolly nurses. For more information of this test have a look at http://www.royalmarsden.nhs.uk/cancer-information/types/prostate-cancer/pages/diagnosis.aspx The procedure didn’t take very long and I was returned to my room. After an hour had passed and I had been fed and watered, been to the bathroom I was discharged and I returned home.

I then had a couple of weeks to wait for the results so Diana and I journeyed to our vacation home in Lakewood Ranch to relax and wait. The waiting, up to now, has been the hardest thing that I’ve had to do. There was one day when I felt so low that I have to admit I had a bit of a cry but my good lady pulled me round and we got on with the day.

When Mr. Ramani telephoned me to say that the biopsy showed that I had prostate cancer and that it was “eminently treatable and curable” I felt releived as the wait was over and now we could get on and make a plan. Flights were re-booked and we returned to the UK and sat down with Mr. Ramani on August 20 to decide upon a course of treatment. While waiting for our flights I was able to speak with Patricia and Jonathan who are a couple that we know in Sarasota. Jonathan is in recovery from Prostate cancer and I’m indebted to him for sharing his experience and to his wife for lending me a marvelous book “Prostate Cancer for Dummies” (authored by Paul H Lange, MD. ISBN 978-0-7645-1974-1). The conversation that I had with Jonathan, coupled with my reading and our consultation with Mr. Ramani led Diana and I to decide upon a Radical Robotic Prostatectomy. Have a look at http://www.christie.nhs.uk/the-foundation-trust/treatments-and-clinical-services/clinical-services/surgery/robotic-radical-prostatectomy.aspx which gives a very good overview.

The wheels were now set in motion with a date fixed for the operation for next Tuesday August 28. Yesterday August 23 I had to attend the Christie Clinic for a pre-operative assessment.

On arrival at the Christie their car park is being rebuilt and the code number that I had been given to access the private patients car park was incorrect. However, by the time I had actually found the reception area of the Christie Clinic not to be confused, as I did, with the main hospital reception I was duly greeted by the receptionist, Wanda (pronounced Vanda in a strong Germanic accent) in a very pleasant waiting area. Very modern, light wood floors, leather chairs, cream walls which generated a pleasant airy feeling. Paperwork being duly completed and  after a very short wait I was duly welcomed by Nurse Jed who radiated good humour and took me down the corridor to an examination room for the beginning of the pre-op assessment where I was asked questions about my diet and general well being. During the questioning Nurse Jed asked me if I had any hearing problems. I, of course, responded with “Pardon” and then Jed repeated his question at a higher volume. He then realized that he had fallen for the oldest gag in the book which I think he enjoyed as much as I did.  While Jed was going through the questionnaire his colleague, nurse Patricia, took some blood (painless) and swabs from my nose and throat. I was then asked if I needed to go to the bathroom to self swab my groin or should they just draw the curtain. This seemed a bit silly to me so we went for the curtain option which then jammed in the track and duly tore. Hilarious! A discusssion then ensued as to where a support strut should be installed to allow the curtain to glide freely. My next task was to give a urine sample which is always something I find difficult to do at the drop of a hat, so to speak.  While waiting I then had an ECG and afterwards nurse Patricia removed the pads from my slightly hairy chest that suggested to me that Nurse Patricia had been reading “50 Shades of Grey” which she denied vigorously but I’m not so sure.  We went on to discuss the admissions procedure for next Tuesday (suggested arrival time of 7:15) and I will have the op on that day and may be discharged on Thursday but more than likely Friday and if not then it would be on Sunday. After a cup of tea and a biscuit and several glasses of water I produced the required specimen. I then had a conversation with the duty doctor who introduced himself as Iqbal and we went through my medical history and he answered a number of questions that I had, such as what happens with my current medications etc. It was during this conversation that I learnt that this clinic performs about 5 robotic radical prostatectomies a week!

This morning, August 24 I attended the Nuclear Medicine Department at The Alexandra Hospital in Cheadle, Cheshire for a bone scan. At 9 am I was injected with a radioactive marker and then told to go away and come back three hours later when my photographs would be done. Having left the Alexandra Hospital after a hearty breakfast in their canteen I took my newly radioactive body for a walk down the high street. I had this vision that as I walked past shops and offices, lights would flicker and clocks would stutter in the fashion of that fantastic magician Dynamo. Of course, what actually happened was nothing. So, at 12 noon I returned my radio active body to the Nuclear Medicine Department for my photo shoot which took sometime. I’m pleased to say that nothing untoward was discovered in this process and my body will lose it’s radioactive powers by tomorrow morning!

This weekend, provided the weather is clement, I intend to visit the Cheshire Show. So, if you see a slightly glowing body it might just be me!

If you feel this blog is appropiate please circulate it to all the men that you know and all the ladies that you know,

who know men!

Until my next post. Toodleloo!



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