Archive for the ‘Health’ Category
Hullo to everyone and best wishes for the year ahead . My apologies for being late in posting news on this site but the truth is I am feeling a little jaded and have been, since the beginning of January.
I have included a terrible photo of my head and nose that should explain why news of my treatments, ( Yes it is now treatments plural) have been slow in being published. To put it simply “I am feeling pretty lousy lately” and I do not expect it to become any better for a few more weeks.I completed the radiation therapy for the prostate cancer on the 20th December and was due to report back with news and advice to this site as soon as I was able. However while I was being treated I was also referred to a dermatologist here at the Sunshine Coast in regard to my many unresolved skin cancers. The dermatologist removed almost twenty of them but my nose was a problem. I have had several previous surgery procedures over many years on my nose, the most recent surgery and skin graft in June 2011. This surgery has been unsuccessful and my nose it seems is one huge BCC. My options had been narrowed to complete amputation followed by a prosthetic nose or radiation therapy. Guess what I chose?????
I begun radiation treatment on my nose at the beginning of January just two weeks after completing radiation treatment on my prostate cancer. At this time of writing I am half way through the 30 sessions needed and I am feeling pretty ordinary. I will finish treatment on the 19th February which means I have spent almost 4 months away from home receiving radiation treatment at the Sunshine Coast Queensland. My time here has been great, the area is a sub tropical paradise with much to see and do. The accommodation has been first class with a two bedroom two bathroom apartment overlooking the Maroochydore River and Beach. However I have had enough and want to go home.
I had a PSA blood test done today, which is the first since July last year and should be a marker for me on how the IMRT stuff has gone as it is over a month since I completed the prostate treatment. I will be publishing the second part of radiation treatment for anyone interested in due time as soon as I have the PSA results and when I am feeling OK.
For those that may be interested, the treatment for the BCC on the nose has caused the following effects.
The whole nose, cheek and eye areas are inflamed and swollen.
The cancerous areas have been revealed and are clearly visible as crater like sores with scabs that keep lifting.
The nose is bleeding from time to time, both on the outside and inside.
The eyes are swollen, painful and itchy. I am trying to treat them with special drops. Keeping them open in any sort of glare is nigh impossible. They cement shut each night and need to be sliced open each morning.
I have special bedding sheets and pillow slips that need to be serviced daily.
Otherwise everything else is just fine and dandy, If anyone would like specific information on the radiation treatment for faces and noses let me know and I will be happy to pass on my experiences to them.
The radiation people here in Nambour have assured me that my nose will turn out OK and I will be suprised at how well it should look. I can only look forward to that.
Lee aka Popeye
In my case, this led to getting double pneumonia and pleurisy back in March from which I almost died. When it became complicated with a blocked small bowel, I was not expected to survive more than a couple of days. Somehow, I did … but at a cost!
In hospital, they had me on an intravenous infusion of antibiotics followed by a course of antibiotic tablets. Between March and June, I was on antibiotic treatment for more than a total of eight weeks.
Antibiotics, by design, kill bacteria … all bacteria … not just the pneumonia but also the good bacteria – or flora – needed to digest food. As a result, I lost about five kilos in weight. I thought it was the wasting away disease we see in people just before they die. However, it was because my food was not being properly digested. The District Nurse came to the rescue and educated me about probiotics.
Probiotics are live microorganisms – such as bacteria, yeasts and fungi – which in adequate amounts may have health benefits. Studies have shown they can improve digestion, help protect against disease and enhance immune function.
- Strains of lactobacillus and bifidobacterium bacteria are the most commonly used probiotics as they can survive the passage to the gut.
- Probiotics are most widely available as dietary supplements in tablet, capsule and powder forms or as a component in yoghurts and fermented dairy drinks (Yakult).
- Prebiotics are non-digestible food ingredients that can increase the activity of select “good” bacteria. Prebiotics naturally occur in bananas, asparagus, leeks, onions, garlic, chicory and wholegrains like wheat, rye, dark chocolate, barley and oats. Savvy marketers are spruiking their benefit in foods from breads to infant formulas
For healthy people, probiotics aren’t necessary, but eating probiotic foods like yoghurt aren’t going to hurt and are generally well tolerated. Probiotics are not advised for people with severe illnesses or who are immunocompromised.
When CHOICE asked people about probiotic use, positive messages abounded: “Yakult, every day. No ill effects. Actually think they are part of me beating Crohns”. Another said he used kefir (an eastern European probiotic drink) and “never had any ill effects, just the opposite in fact!”. One fan of Inner Health Plus wrote: “It helps my partner who suffers with MS and often has problems with candida (a yeast) overload in his throat and a bloated tum”, while another commented: “I also have an irritable bowel and a bloated tummy at the best of times… It helps but has not solved the problem completely”.
I know I harp on about looking after my immune system but that is all I have to help my cause. With a depleted ‘good bacteria count’, that is going to be all the harder to improve. Whilst I use Lactoferrin as an immune booster, using probiotics is hoped to make things easier. They say it takes at least a month before you can determine if they are helping. So, here’s hoping!
- Probiotics and Enzymes Strengthen The Immune System for Flu Season (prweb.com)
- Mrs. Money: Frugal Probiotics (savings.com)
- Got Good Germs? (livingbeyondorganicmom.wordpress.com)
- 4 Essential Differences Between Probiotics and Antibiotics (stevepaxson.wordpress.com)
I thought I would update my recovery progress from the TURP procedure I had in May 2012 the story of which appeared in my post on the 14/05/12 and titled “A T.U.R.P Experience for anyone interested”.
In that post I summarised that I was glad I had the procedure. It has been five weeks now since I had that surgery and I am not so sure that my initial confidence still holds true with me. While most men who have the procedure appear to respond favourably there are a few who experience ongoing problems and I am begining to fear I might be one of them for the following reasons.
While it is true that my flow has increased tremendously I am still experiencing incontinence problems and rely on small pads to take up the slack. I suffer leakage at times when I bend over, cough, sneeze, pass wind etc etc. My nocturnal habits are the same as prior to the procedure and I am up several times throughout the evening. I have urinary urgency more often than before and I have had a few accidental moments.
By far my biggest concern is the pain associated with urination throughout the day. The flow generally starts fine then before the bladder is completely emptied the flow suddenly stops and pain begins in the pubic region spreads to the pelvic area and builds in intensity for approx 30 seconds before a feeling of backflow occurs and the pain subsides. This issue does not happen throughout the evening in my nocturnal visits to the toilet.
I figured that the reason I was experiencing these painful episodes throughout the day and not throughout the evening was because of the following. I am only five weeks out from the procedure and during the day I am more active which may be inflaming something in my pelvic area constricting the urethra through inflamation and swelling. In the evening during sleep and low activity this inflamation settles down.
Now that I am back home I have backed off as much activity throughout the day as I possibly can, stopped having a beer or two, coffee and tea and generally behaving myself trying to see if this may correct my problem. At the time of writing this there is no change. My next appointment with the urologist is on 6th July and I am hoping to see some improvement otherwise I will have to declare this to him. I am really dreading having to have some other procedure done down below to fix up whatever may be amiss.
There are many things this could turn out to be and include bladder issues, scarring, strictures, blockages so I will keep updating in my posts as new information becomes available.
On a slightly different issue regarding my original T.U.R.P the surgeon removed 14 gm of prostate material and this was sent to the pathologist. The results confirmed the original biopsy results in March of gleason score of 4+5=9 with 80% of the prostate material cancerous tumour.
For anyone wondering where I have been over the past three weeks, here is the explanation. For the past two years pre my diagnosis, my son Matthew, my wife Lynette and I had planned a camping trip gold detecting to Queenslands northern goldfields based around Georgetown in the gulf region.
There is a cattle property just southwest of Georgetown whose owner is a conservationist and allows limited camping on the property. It is a lovely property that just happens to include the historic site of MacDonaldtown a roaring gold town in the 1880’s. The property is also home to rare and endangered bird species such as the gouldian finch.
After my diagnosis my son made it number one on the bucket list for us to carry out our previous plan before I drop off the perch, How could I have refused? So off we went with my wife and son carrying out all the preparations and making me promise I would take it easy. Two of my wifes sisters joined us from Cairns for a week and brought along a large telescope fitted with a sun filter to capture the transit of venus during their stay.
The camp was set up superbly, the transit of venus was observed to the delight of other campers nearby and my son found two small nuggets during our stay. We spent most nights around the campfire telling yarns and having the odd drink or two and listening to the dingo’s howling in the distance. Days were spent walking through the magnificent bush listening for the telltale tone of the detector where every hit was met with anticipation and usually ended up being a piece of wire a horsehoe or a spent bullet.
Now my reason for posting this delightful travelogue does have a meaning and is related to my prostate cancer in the following way. It wasn’t until we were travelling home that talk slowly started back to the subject of my cancer (next Dr’s appointment etc etc) The closer we got to home the more we talked about the bloody thing and I suddenly realised that for the past two weeks we had not discussed the issue at all. I had just put up with the urinary problems and never gave it much further thought. I participated as I could and rested when I needed to . Butttttt !!!!! the big thing was, for that TWO BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL WEEKS I CEASED TO HAVE CANCER AND I WILL ALWAYS BE GRATEFUL FOR THAT.
If I can manage another trip I will be taking it using what long service leave I have left.
Lee aka Popeye
The green laser beams are aligned with inked tatoos that they put on you so that they can relocate you exactly each time you receive the treatment. The alignment procedure takes about five minutes and the actual radiation is about five seconds top and bottom. There is no feeling associated with the treatment – all you hear is the buzz of the monster machine.
After the top has been done, the whole machine pivots on the wall and can be directed throughout the full 360 degrees to get to the area to be treated. (see next photo)
And, you know, this treatment costs you nothing – as does the daily transport to and from the clinic by ambulance – or the accommodation required for your stay in the city.
Show me another country where terminal or chronic illness is treated by the government’s national health scheme without out-of-pocket costs to the patient. A friend, who spent many years living in the US was telling me today that she was rushed to hospital with a suspected heart attack. After an overnight stay and being told it was a false alarm, she was sent home with a bill for some thousands of dollars.
Whilst we are down in Melbourne for radiation treatment at the Peter McCallum Cancer Institute, we took the opportunity to visit my fathers sister, Lorna, the last survivor of my fathers generation. She turned 99 last July and is so fit and well she will undoubtedly outlive me.
Widowed seven years ago, she now lives in a retirement unit but still cares for herself in every way – she even takes the empty dinner dishes back to the kitchen.
Lorna has fought off a couple of cancers, including having a breast removed, and is currently working on a melanoma on the side of her nose. Is she complaining? – not bloody likely! Her mind is as sharp as can be and she shows no signs of boredness or frustration.
She is a lovely old lady that makes you feel good just being around her.
PSA or Prostate Specific Antigen is a protein which is secreted into ejaculate fluid by the healthy prostate. One of its functions is to aid sperm movement. Normally, only very low levels of the enzyme are able to enter the blood stream. However, because in cancer the normal structure of the tissue is disrupted, considerably more PSA is able to leak into the blood stream, and for this reason, a raised level of PSA in blood (or serum) can indicate the presence of prostate cancer.
The PSA level in a healthy man should register between 0 and 4 as determined by a blood test. One test does not make a diagnosis and the validity of the test itself is currently being questioned by the medical profession. A reading above the normal range is cause for investigation of potential prostate cancer.
I was diagnosed (April 2008) with an aggressive (Gleason score 9), stage 4 (terminal) tumour which had escaped the prostate and had developed tumours in the skeleton (metastases) with the only treatment available being palliative. At this stage, my PSA measured around 1,000.
Over the next nine months, androgen deprivation treatment (Zolodex + Androcur) brought me to remission with a reading of 0.6. The objective of this hormone therapy is to reduce the production of testosterone which is billed as the food supply of the tumour. First time around, it worked as anticipated although I reacted badly to the treatment destroying my quality of life. One often hears that the treatment for cancer can be worse than the disease itself. After that treatment, I agree with that belief.
In July 2009, my pain receptors were reset with ketamine (a detox program) and the remission lasted til the new year (2010) when the PSA readings began their inevitable rise again. The androgen deprivation was started again but this time it could not prevent the PSA progressing from 3 in Feb 2010, to 15, to 40, to 53, to 75, to 115, to 214, peaking at 957 at the end of July 2011.
So, how high can the PSA reading go and what are the consequences? Extensive inquiry indicates that the ever increasing level indicates the relative activity of the tumor which continually grows inside the body until all the available space is taken up. At that point, the tumor will likely attack the vital organs (liver, lungs, etc) but more importantly will consume all the nutrients that are taken in effectively starving the rest of the body which will wither and die. In my case, the bone cancer (metastases) has degraded my bones which appear to be ‘moth eaten‘ as shown on CT scans with the left hip bone socket fractured without any event having taken place. With the potential for fracture being like that, one has to remember not to move suddenly in case another bone gives out.
Obviously, this restricts my movements and threatens to cripple me if my bones can break that easily. The accepted treatment for this condition is the regular infusion of ZOMETA which can strengthen the integrity of the bones. One of the side effects can cause lockjaw if ones teeth are not healthy. Consequently, I have been to the dentist to have this checked out. To my pleasant surprise, I qualified for the federal Government dental program for chronically ill patients and have been able to undergo over $3,000 worth of dental procedures giving me access to the Zometa procedure should it become necessary.
Common side effects for patients with multiple myeloma and bone metastases due to solid tumors include bone pain, nausea, fatigue, anemia, fever, vomiting, constipation, shortness of breath, diarrhea, weakness, muscle pain, anorexia, cough, joint pain, lower-limb swelling, worsening of your cancer, headache, dizziness (excluding vertigo), insomnia, decreased weight, back pain, numbness/tingling, and abdominal pain. These side effects are listed regardless of any potential association with the medications used in registration studies of ZOMETA in bone metastases patients. So once again, one has to ask, is the treatment worse than the condition? How do make such critical decisions?
The most recent blood test (Oct 2011) returned a PSA reading of 440 which is a reduction of more than half that of that three months earlier. What caused the drop? The doctors are not prepared to speculate because I have not been on any treatment program designed to reduce the level of testosterone – they have nothing to hang their hats on. From where I stand, I suggest it could be related to the radiation I had in early June successfully destroying some of the tumour or the progesterone cream might have contributed to the decline. It doesn’t really matter … what is important is the reduction itself. If the continuing rise in PSA is a bad sign, this reduction has to be a positive.
The Peter McCallum Cancer Institute operates to the “World’s Best Practice” and every patient is offered the gold standard treatment for the category of the disease being treated. But then, some of us stretch the limits until the successes we may have achieved are then incorporated into the gold standard.
As part of that world’s best practice, the oncologist at Peter McCallum wanted me to return to the androgen deprivation program in an effort to slow down the spread of the cancer. He suggested that I might get an extra month or even two added to my longevity. So I asked the question, “Would that be an extra couple of months of breathing … or playing football?” Unfortunately, the answer was breathing. I cannot justify compromising the quality of life that I had to fight so hard for (when I was on the hormone therapy before) for the possibility of ‘breathing’ for an extra couple of months. At this time, I have refused this offer of treatment.
Having explained the loss of quality of life I had undergone on the androgen deprivation program, the oncologist volunteered the comment that palliative chemotherapy rarely benefits the patient as the side effects are so severe – and the hormone therapy is a chemical (chemo) process.
Update 17 Nov
The crisis with the King Valley losing their medical clinics has been brought about by a ruling by the Taxation Office that Community Health Centres can no longer operate as Non-Profit Organisations and the requirement that they all must become Corporations.
As Corporations, they no longer have access to government funding to subsidise private medical clinics in areas not otherwise serviced by the medical profession. In this case, Ovens and King – under corporate law – believe subsidising these two clinics ” ... has a negative impact on the long term viability of OKCHS”.
Ovens and King will continue to provide part time District Nursing, Allied health and Maternal & Child Care Health Services as these personnel are on the O&K payroll for which they do receive government funding. The nurses provided to the medical clinics are permanent employees of O&K and would be subsidised by the government. That leaves the receptionist to be funded with about $96 provided by the doctors. How much more is required to pay her wages.
It seems to me that this crisis could be easily averted by O&K using current fully funded personnel to operate one day a week at Moyhu and Whitfield instead of abandoning these communities over a bookwork entry. Better still, they should employ the receptionist on a 2/5 permanent wage and everybody would be happy.
In abondoning doctor’s services in the King Valley, OKCHS are in breach of the mission statement: “ensure equitable services to those most in need;“