Updates from November, 2011 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • nbrightside 12:42 pm on November 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Wireless access point 

    Initially, I met with my oncologist at the (private) Parkside hospital in Wimbledon but he quickly recommended that my subsequent scans, treatments, procedures and consultations were all handled by The Royal Marsden who have hospitals in Chelsea and Sutton so all my data and records were available on one single computer system for all medical staff who ever needed to review my medical history.

    After the PET scan (which didn’t reveal any hidden small mammals up my back passage), I met with another oncologist at Sutton on Wednesday 5th October together with a couple of nurses who explained about the lengthy list of potential side-effects and counter measures.

    Having been initally diagnosed on 26th August and although lots had happened in the intervening six week period, I was getting slightly frustrated that the elephant in the room was this malignant tumour in my bowel. While we knew how large it was (7.5cm) and where it was (low down), we didn’t know how long it had been present nor did we know how fast it was growing.

    For all the tests and procedures, we still hadn’t done anything directly to start attacking this pesky lump that was fermenting away, sub-dividing to create more cancerous cells, and without being overly dramatic, threatening my existence on this mortal coil.

    So, just as I was looking forward to being told the date of the first chemotherapy session, another hurdle was placed on the running track in front of me.

    ‘Before we can start chemo, we’ll need to put a portacath in which will make everything much easier for you and for us’.

    Chemotherapy involves lots of blood tests – before every treatment, blood is taken to check your white blood cell count. In addition to the chemotherapy drugs, steroids and anti-sickness are also injected into the body.

    For aggressive, intensive chemotherapy, doctors prefer to administer all these drugs via a portacath as it saves the hassle of trying to locate a suitable vein on the patients arm or wrist. Chemotherapy can also recess the veins which make conventional injections more difficult.

    So, the portacath procedure is done under a general anesthetic but as an outpatient and I was duly booked in the following Monday with the first chemo treatment two days later on Wednesday 12 October.

    My initial, brief consultant with the surgeon wasn’t overly inspiring – he hauled me into central London for a brief (but presumably lucrative) 5 minute consultation which mostly reiterated what I already knew. He rudely interrupted me as I gave a brief medical history and told me of the three possible side-effects (‘infection – but that happens down the line’, ‘puncturing the lung but as I am a specialist with 15 years experience that won’t be a problem’ and ‘line getting clogged which is why the nurses flush it every fortnight’).

    Another day, another hospital – this time, the Cromwell in London. The facility appears to serve a lot of foreign people – not clear whether it’s embassy staff or rich businessmen but I can report they show Aljazeera TV and have copies of Arabic newspapers in the reception area.

    The surgeon went up a little in my estimation with his pre-op visit by showing some humility and kindly answering my wife’s questions.

    The procedure lasted 3 hours and I came home with a square dressing just below my left collar bone and felt absolutely fine.

    Again, I found myself reflecting on the wonders of medical science. Last year, my father-in-law and I wall-mounted an LCD in my son’s bedroom. We had all the parts and tools ready and the simple instructions to hand. Inevitably, one hole went into ropey plaster and the screen was not horizontally aligned to my perfectionist’s workmate’s satisfaction so we drilled another hole. The whole process took us 3 hours 15 minutes and our lunch was lukewarm.

    A skilled surgeon took less time to make a very neat incision into my chest and insert a short piece of thin rubber tube into my bloodstream. Amazing, just amazing.

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    • Scott Evans 12:52 pm on November 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Welcome to the world of silicone (port) I really miss mine although it now resides on my computer desk! Oh did you get the MAC address?

    • Ruben H 11:56 pm on November 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      You are being assimilated into the Borg collective. It starts with your own IP address and next thing you’ll be flying around in a cube shaped spaceship.

    • John E. Bredehoft 2:00 am on November 18, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      The reason for the surgeon’s ease is that this is something the surgeon does on a regular basis. I assume that your father-in-law and you don’t mount LCD TVs every day.

  • nbrightside 10:24 am on November 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply  

    Edging towards Chemotherapy 

    After the ileostomy operation, I spent six days in hospital recuperating.

    Just as I was on the verge of being discharged, my colorectal surgeon paid me a visit and announced that he was going to give me a couple of enemas to fully evacuate the bowel to isolate it further and reduce the risk of infection.

    So one morning an nurse squirted some lukewarm liquid up inside my bottom. I asked ‘How long before this will take effect as I’m going for a shower ? Will it be minutes or hours ?’ ‘Oh – it could be quick or it could take a while. Just leave the shower for a bit’.

    As she left the room and asked whether I wanted the door open or shut, I felt something moving and had to rapidly hoist myself off the bed and make haste to the toilet.

    I sat there and opened my bowels for the first time in a week. It wasn’t clear to me whether this was simply the same liquid she’d just squirted but it seemed like gallons.

    Simultaneously, I noted that the ‘stoma was working’ (discharging into the colostomy bag) and gratifyingly, I was also urinating. I grabbed a cotton wool bud and wiggled it around in my ear. I later submitted an entry to the Guinness Book of World Records for ‘The Most Concurrent Outputs From The Human Body’. Unfortunately, Mr. Norris McWhirter kindly replied to inform me that I had been pipped by a Mr. Henry Rollins from Arkansas who had matched my superb effort back in 2008 but, in addition, also managed to force a simultaneous nose bleed.

    The day before I went home, I had another infection flare up in my backside and my friendly colorectal surgeon said he would quickly drain the abscess to relieve the pain. Unfortunately, that meant another general anesthetic and another night in hospital.

    I finally got home and the following week saw my first consultation with my oncologist from the Royal Marsden Hospital. He recommended a PET scan to gather more information about the state of my tumour before the treatment plan was finally confirmed.

    The PET scan involves the injection of radioactive material that attaches itself to cancer cells and was quite amusing. The male nurse entered the room with a metal box clearly marked with the classic radioactive symbol. My wife looked a little nervous and asked whether she should leave the room. The scan was pretty similar to the MRI scan and took about 45 minutes. The nurse told me I was ‘radioactive and I should avoid contact with children under 5 and pregnant women for 24 hours’.

    The results of the PET scan confirmed what the oncologist already knew. There was ‘signs of spread to the adjacent lymph nodes’ which, to be frank, frightened the hell out of me as I viewed the lymph nodes as the ‘gateway to all the other organs in the body’ but the specialist reassured me (sort of) but telling me that these lymph nodes were ‘going to be removed anyway’ and ‘any spread to the distant lymph nodes would be sorted out by the chemotherapy’.

    The treatment plan was changed slightly – originally I was going to have 6 weeks intensive radiotherapy followed by surgery but now we were going to embark on six cycles of chemotherapy (fortnightly) followed by the radiotherapy at the Royal Marsden Hospital in Sutton.

     
    • Scott Evans 11:24 am on November 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Hi Andy, (I must remember that these events have already passed!) Ok well glad to hear that the treatment has commenced as now the preventative measures are done. The main concern will be if that infection flairs up wile you are immunosuppressed as that will knock you about while you are fed up with antibiotics (most likely make you feel ill) then just as your body recovers from the chemotherapy you have another dose (my treatment was 1 dose of chemo every 3rd week)

      I hope that you are coping with all the stress and that your family are managing as well 😉

      Thinking of you buddy!

    • Ed Morgan 12:17 pm on November 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Andy, I can only echo what Scott’s said. Hope you’re holding up alright and the family’s keeping positive.

      Ed

    • Jonathan 1:46 pm on November 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I’ve been quietly reading your posts – you know, if a publisher saw these you could easily sell the book.

      • nbrightside 1:49 pm on November 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

        Those are kind words. I’m not entirely sure I’m going to get a book published but if it provides any comfort to others in the same boat or raises a smile, that’s enough for me 🙂

    • John E. Bredehoft 6:03 pm on November 15, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Regarding your statement about a communication from a Mr Norris McWhirter – all I can say is that YOU’RE A LIAR! YEAH YOU’RE A LIAR!

      However, I’d gladly give you a medal for your achievement, provided that it isn’t accompanied by a re-enactment.

    • lnxwalt 3:58 am on November 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Andy, thank you for sharing all these very intimate details. Hopefully, it will persuade more men to be more aggressive about seeing doctors.

    • Michael C. Harris 9:27 pm on November 16, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      I didn’t know David had a hospital. Nor that he was royalty.

      I always look forward to reading your updates, they’re so honestly gruesome and explicit. Now I’m going to be imagining titles and sub-titles for the book.

    • Darce 1:34 am on November 17, 2011 Permalink | Reply

      Cowlers,
      Good to see an update and that the treatment is going to plan and that you’ve been discharged home, The other blogger is right, when this is all out of the way, you should publish it or at least share it with others as it’s inspirational, but not mawkish or self indulgent apart from the Norris Mcwhirter reference – it also shows our age, mate. I would add that “you are the wind beneath my wings”, but after your last semi scatological blog that might be tempting fate and I’ve just bought some new jeans. And in any case, Mullins can give you chapter and verse on enemas, if req’d – I’d skip it, if I were you.

      Anyway, is it possible for a meet up in the smoke with the Soft Southern Hurlers (and Northern Hurlers marrooned “dawwn Sauffth”) shortly for the usual crimbo meet up in town, etc. I promise not to wear my chav Lonsdale hoodie or to sing “Bubbles” and I assume that Sir Les will sort it, if it’s possible.

      Regards to your family and I hope they are keeping well and strong and that your girl is enjoying Brighton, my girl is always out on the lash, according to updates on Facebook. Her brother shows me, I am not about to join FB – do me a favour?! I can barely type this thing.
      Love, Peace and Footy, Darce

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