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Biopsy Day

August 22, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Biopsy Day at the RSCH on Monday 15 August 2016

 

I knew that this was the big one for me in these tests, I have never been under a general anesthetic before and I wasn't particularly looking forward to it, I wasn't sure what to expect and was a bit nervous. I was accompanied by Tina and we arrived at the hospital at about 0635 via Megan's taxi, my appointment being at 0700, (Thanks Meg). If any of you have had to attend an appointment at the RSCH the layout can be a little confusing and it took us 10 minutes to actually get to the correct reception point from the main entrance. There were several other people arriving for the same time and the waiting room soon filled up, there was one particular person who had a leg in plaster below the knee and he decided that he needed to take up four seats. There was plenty of room however so not too much of a problem. When we 'booked in' the receptionist indicated that my notes were unavailable at the moment, not a big deal, my appointments had been chopped and changed throughout the week from RSCH to PRH in Haywards Heath. The TV was on and we watched that. It wasn't until 0825 that they were ready for me, during this 90 minutes of waiting I could hear the 'laid out leg man' offering up many deep sighs of discontent.

We were taken downstairs to the prep ward and put in a cubicle with a couple of chairs. I had my vitals taken; B.P., heart rate and had to answer a series of questions regarding my general health, history, allergies etc. Then the Consultant, Drs and anesthetists who were undertaking my procedure came in for a chat, there were 4 in total. They got the camera up my nose for a look down into my larynx and in photographers terms we had a little bit of chimping. For those non-photographers out there: Chimping is a term used in digital photography to describe the habit of checking every photo on the camera display immediately after capture, often accompanied by noises such as 'ooohs' and 'arrrrs'. We all had a quick chat and they briefly explained the procedure to me and Tina that was to be undertaken . Shortly after they had all left one of the Drs returned to my cubicle and went through the procedure in far more detail, what would happen, what they were going to do, how long it would take and invited both of us to ask as many questions as we liked. The Dr explained that the first step would be an anesthetic spray that he would squirt in through my nostril, it would go down the back of my throat and and numb the whole area, he warned me it was unpleasant, tasted disgusting but the reason they were doing it was that I had to be awake for the first part of the process, I would then be given an anesthetic that would keep me semi-conscious, then I would have a breathing tube put in and they would go in for the biopsy after that.

The time came for the procedure and I was wheeled away to the operating theatre, it was smaller than I expected and there were 6 people in total in the room as we had been joined by a trainee anesthetist. After hooking me up to the machines and placing the cannula in my hand we began the process. The Dr sprayed the aforementioned anesthetic up my nose, I felt it running down the back of my throat and was prompted to try to get as much of the liquid around my throat as possible. The Dr was right, it tasted awful but this paled into insignificance when the effects set in. Despite his warnings of how uncomfortable it would feel, this felt like nothing I have ever experienced before, it was as if a large marble had been placed at the back of my throat, I could feel it sitting there but could do nothing to move it, I felt that my saliva was building up and that I would soon be drowning in in it. I was halfway off the trolley aiming for the door when they managed to settle me down, it was still disconcerting to say the least but they kept talking and reassuring me at all times and I began to relax a little. The doctor explained to me that he knew how I felt as during his time of training he had some put down his throat and he was able to talk me down and relax me a little more and eventually I was able to lean back in the trolley and control my feelings, The doctor than shoved some very large cotton bud type things up my nostril and explained that if the anesthetic had not worked, one of two things would be likely to happen; I'd either punch him on the nose or go through the ceiling. I admit that I was focused on his nose at that point. Fortunately I could feel nothing.

They then told me that I was going to have some anesthetic pumped into my cannula and I might feel a bit woozy. 'Bring it on, anything to calm down' was my last thought before I was woken in the recovery room by my Recovery Nurse, Alberto.

So the procedure was over and I didn't feel too bad at that point. About 30 minutes after I was in there the Consultant came in for a brief chat. He explained that he had removed all the samples he needed, and the next step was to collate all the results from my scans and test and they (my Multi Disciplinary Team) would determine the next course of action, unfortunately for me the stuff up the nose is likely to be necessary again, but at least I know what's coming.

After an hour and a half in the recovery ward I was wheeled back to the prep ward I was in earlier. I had my vitals monitored and was kept an eye on until they let me home at about 1620.

Remember, the patient with the broken leg. He was in the cubicle next to me and his procedure had been delayed. He wanted to go outside for a cigarette but they wouldn't let him so he proceeded to call every nurse who tried to explain to him what was going on a 'F**king bunch of cu**ts' not just once but on several occasions. If it was my decision I would have wheeled him outside for a cigarette, I would have wheeled him to the top of the road and I would have let his trolley go, stopping only when it had reached the English Channel and hopefully continuing on for a good few feet. What was even sadder was that my nurse told me it wasn't an uncommon event.

For the record over the two weeks that my scans and tests have been conducted I have been treated with the utmost respect by everybody. The Drs who undertook my procedure see dozens of patients every week, not once did they make me feel like I was, just another patient, I always felt that they looked upon me as their patient if that makes sense. The nurses who monitored me were attentive and you could see they genuinely cared, I have been treated with respect and courtesy throughout. It's a shame that some morons are only concerned with getting outside for a fag.

Today I'm feeling good, I was warned to expect to be sore for a few days but it is nowhere near as bad as I was anticipating. The worst part now will be the waiting but I've been reassured that the time spent waiting will not be adverse to my health at all, so that's a relief.

Updates to follow as and when.


Contemplative Guff

August 22, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Contemplative Guff

After a hectic week driving up and down the A23 for scans and tests last week, I have the weekend off. I did go out on Saturday to meet up with a group of fellow photographers in town but to be honest I wasn’t particularly enthused to be taking photographs and bailed out quite early. Today I’m at bit of a loose end too; I have to be at RSCH for my biopsy at 0700 tomorrow morning, so I’m not in the mood to be doing anything overly energetic or hectic. I’ll watch the footy, Arsenal are on the TV this afternoon (there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll be cursing the TV) but in the meantime I sit here in a contemplative mood and so I’ll put some thoughts down. I’ll try not to get too deep though as it’ll end up as a load of ‘contemplative guff’

When the news was broken to me of my condition, or I should say when it was confirmed, I obviously had all kinds of different thoughts and feelings going around in my head, having said that, there was no swirling maelstrom of emotions; it was more ‘matter of fact’ type of thoughts and one of these was that the primary cause of throat cancer is caused by smoking and drinking alcohol (I’d done my research) and one of the first thoughts that struck me almost immediately, and I actually did bring it up with the ENT consultant and the nurse in the room at one point, was that I was going to be ‘that bloke’. We all know of him, we’ve all heard others tell his story; he is the bloke that didn’t smoke or drink but still got cancer, the bloke that some people refer to when they inform us that their Grandad smoked 30 fags a day and drank 5 bottles of whiskey every week and lived to be 92, so they don’t see the point in giving up or reducing their smoking and drinking habits.

Well I don’t want to be ‘that bloke’; I do not want to be somebody’s excuse to keep smoking. I would rather my adversity be one of the reasons that helps somebody to give up their habit by turning the argument on its head and say that I am proof you should give up smoking. If cancer can strike me, somebody who last smoked about 25 years ago, then the chances of it striking a smoker is far higher. This isn’t news, we all know this, we have warnings everywhere and it has been common knowledge for a gazillion years that smoking is harmful to us, so my little story will not make one iota of difference to those who don’t want to give up smoking, but if you are one of the many people who do want to quit, put my tale in amongst all those other reasons we know about and hopefully it’ll make it a tiny bit easier for you to stop.

In short, don’t let my misfortune be your justification to continue smoking, but if you’re looking to give up, use my story as just one more incentive to quit the habit.

On the other hand once this is all over I might take up smoking, drinking and crack cocaine.

 

HopeHope

 


Family Fun - Making Memories

August 22, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

12 August and the whole family is together, it's a bright, warm sunny day. Time to take some pictures and make some memories. So we all poodled off to the South Downs:

Family Circle Family Circle I sent the drone up and put the onboard camera on self timer then dived to the floor to get the shot.

Drone and familyDroning

Family FunFamily FunOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The following day Tina and I took a trip on the http://britishairwaysi360.com/

TinaTina on the i360Tina on the i360


A Man With a Plan

August 22, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

My New Life Journey

 

Day 3 A.D. (After Diagnosis)

 

I have been overwhelmed and humbled by the many messages of support and good wishes I have received from a whole host of people. I've had messages from people who I haven't seen in years, from people who I've never met, from colleagues old and new and of course from my close friends and family.

Every single message has been read and re-read a number of times, each message and gesture of goodwill, every little emoji and smiley face gives me strength and hope in these new topsy-turvy days. 🙃

I am truly very appreciative for every message and I thank you all for your kind thoughts and words. I will try to thank each person personally as soon as I can.

I have been given a date for my first scan, an MRI. It will be on Saturday at 1800 at the RSCH. I'm trying not to think too much about the MRI, whilst I'm pleased that things are moving forward and I can begin my treatment, I'm also filled with a sense of trepidation about the outcome. In the meantime I have another appointment with my GP and I'll be trying to keep busy and occupy myself for the remainder of the week. I have a plan to take my drone out at some point as I want to get a particular photograph from it.

It's also Pride Day on Saturday so rather than battle through the hoards of revellers who will be in town, I'll make a day of it. I shall probably go and take some photographs of the parade and the participants and then wander around town for a few hours hopefully getting some good shots. I'll meet up with Tina for a light snack and then we can make our way to RSCH when we're ready. A man with a plan.

 

I have several scans ans test lined up after the MRI. Ther is a CT scan followed by an ultrasound and biopsy of the swollen lymph nodes in my neck and the last scan before any treatment can begin will be the biopsy of my throat. This is undertaken under a general aneasthetic.

This was the first photo I took at the Brighton Pride Festival

PridePride


The First Day of the Rest of My Life

August 22, 2016  •  Leave a Comment

Today, Tuesday 2 August 2016, was the first day of the rest of my new life. Today I learnt that there are some things in life that transcend everything. Today I learnt that the little things in life matter and some of the bigger things in life do not. Today I was diagnosed with cancer.

It was not an unexpected diagnosis, I'd already done lots of research on my symptoms and when I saw the consultant at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton I already knew what he was going to do and what he was going to say. Before going in I'd explained to Tina to hope for the best but to prepare for the worst and I wasn't wrong. That doesn't give me any satisfaction to say that but it meant the initial blow wasn't quite so harsh; at least to me. The hardest part for me was telling my children. I tried to be strong for them as they will be strong for me, they will be my rock that I will grasp with all my might and cling to when times get hard.

I first noticed something was wrong about 8 weeks ago, I had an earache and sore throat that I couldn't shift. I visited my GP and after I explained my symptoms she looked in my ear with her 'ear looking in instrument' and told me I have a wax build up. She advised to put some olive oil in my ear for a few days and make an appointment with the nurse to have my ear cleaned out. I was in the examination room for probably less than two minutes. Two weeks later I had my ear syringed and a couple of days after that I went on holiday to Wales. I still had the earache and the sore throat but thought this was due to the ear cleaning out procedure.

It was while we were in Wales that I discovered a lump on my neck. I was a little worried at that point but didn't suspect anything sinister; I thought it was just an infection but to be on the safe side I went to the hospital with the aim of getting some antibiotics. I saw a nurse who triaged me and I explained all my symptoms to a her. Earache, sore throat and now lump on neck. I was asked to wait in the waiting room and I would be seen when somebody was available. After three hours of waiting a nurse called my name and told me that the consultant on duty had advised me to go to my own GP when we got back home. And so that's what I did. A different GP to the last one gave me a thorough examination and referred me to the ENT Specialist. This wasn't what I expected and when I walked out of the surgery without a prescription for antibiotics I knew that this was potentially something more serious than a waxy ear!

I have laryngeal cancer, there is a growth in my larynx and one of my lymph nodes in my neck is swollen, indicating that it has spread to there. I face a series of tests: MRI, CT and a biopsy where the consultant explained I would be 'put to sleep' which made me chuckle once all these are done and the extent of the cancer is established I will have treatment that could include surgery, radiotherapy and chemotherapy. The tests should all be conducted within 3-4 weeks.

The irony is that one of the main causes of this type of cancer is smoking and drinking, neither of which I've done for at least 25 years. 

At the Ear, Nose and Throat clinic at Royal Sussex County Hospital all the staff were very professional, attentive and helpful, they went through all of what was likely to happen and when.

By completing a journal I hope to be able to keep my family and all my friends informed of my progress and my road to recovery.

 

 

RSCHRSCH