Archive for the ‘Medical’ Category

Half way

May 9, 2018

Roy is halfway through his treatment regime, we are getting good at this routine of me dropping him off at the station, he trains into town, buses to the hospital (when he doesn’t fall asleep and miss his stop that is!!), has his treatment and then reverses the process.

I went in with him on Monday as he had his checkup with the Oncologist, and yes, it’s all going well. But I also went with him to see what happens with the treatment. It’s a fascinating process that is amazing to see.

First he hops onto a bed where they line up his tattooed dots with laser beams, then whilst he lies still on the table we retreat from that room and go next door where there is an array of computer screens.

the machine looks a little like this.

or this.

A CAT scan is done to make sure everything is lined up and in position, with the technicians making adjustments to Roy’s position by remotely tilting and twisting the bed. There are cameras in the room as well so all the time the patient is being monitored on one of the computer screens.

The technicians show me on their screens the prostate and the area within that they are focussing on, around it are a couple of different coloured margin lines which are the safety margins.

Once they are satisfied everything is ok, the treatment begins with the machine rotating in one direction for a full rotation and then back the other way for one full rotation. It takes all of three minutes and it’s done. They tell me that it is accurate to within a millimetre and whilst the machine is rotating and sending the beam of radiation, it is constantly changing its intensity and direction to completely line up with the area they are targeting. Very clever stuff.

Roy’s last treatment will be on the 7th June and after I went to the orthopaedic surgeon yesterday, I will have a pre op check on 8th June with hip replacement surgery done on the 18th June at Ascot Hospital. During the consultation yesterday the surgeon answered the great long list of questions I had prepared before I had a chance to ask them!!! How did he know what I would be asking? Anyone would think that he has done this all before!

And guess what? Yes, I will be a little taller after surgery, anywhere between 6 and 11mm taller….does that mean I will walk in circles afterwards 😉

Advertisements

Hip hip ….away

March 30, 2018

It’s official, my left hip is a match for my knees……… buggered pukarood kaput not looking good. Although my hip is not as bad as my knees, as yet, the surgeon assured me that it is prudent the hip is replaced first otherwise when he comes to do the knees the alignment and recovery would be compromised and I certainly don’t want that. He tells me that there are two reasons for this;

Pain from osteoarthritis in the hip joint can spread to the knee (referred pain). Replacing the hip first gives you a better idea how much of your knee pain is actually from osteoarthritis in your knee.

Recovery after hip surgery does not require as much rehab so a painful knee will not interfere too much with recovery. On the other hand, a painful hip may interfere with successful rehab after knee replacement surgery.

One thing at a time then.

The timeline was sorted with Hugh, the surgeon, but we (Hugh and I) agreed that we would delay things a little to wait for Roy to complete his radiation treatment first before embarking on my surgery. At this stage, I will see him again at the beginning of May for all the pre op stuff, and answer the gazillion questions I will have thought of between now and then, with a view to doing the hip replacement in June. The first knee replacement will be done once I have recovered from the hip replacement.

Meanwhile, Roy had his set up appointment last Monday which meant we had a very early start to the day to try and beat the traffic. We had a reasonable run through but even at 5.30am the traffic is still very heavy and slow in places but we got there in plenty of time. The rest of the morning was spent with Roy going in and out of the CAT scanner to try and align things and get everything optimal (I won’t go into details), but in the end after 4 goes, he was all sorted and tattooed in the appropriate spots. Then it was across the hospital site to the MRI scanner for the final check. He starts his treatment on 11 April and will be five days a week for 7 weeks. They tell us that his only side effect will be tiredness and the worst bit of that will be after it’s all finished hence the need to plan carefully.

And I have to say that my painful hip and knee pale into insignificance after seeing some of the other patients in the oncology department at Auckland hospital on Monday, I count my lucky stars I only have painful joints.

That’s the situation at present, interesting times for us over the next few months. Now I wonder if Hugh can make my legs longer? I could do with being a few inches taller 😂

Life in the fast lane

March 25, 2018

We seem to have slipped back into our Camp Host mode at Shakespear Park all too easily so it seems. People come and go, we try and help those who need assistance with everything and anything from directions, to equipment, to booking enquiries and to top it all Roy has been lawnmowing the last couple of days! A ride on lawnmower I must add, but the contractors have not mown the campground for ages it seems, as every time they come to the park, the camp is full of school children so they leave the mowing for another day. Well, that day never seems to arrive, so Roy decided that it really did need doing and this past couple of days has been an ideal opportunity with hardly anyone in the camp.

one man went to mow, went to mow a meadow….

That’s a good job well done and at least it will be tidy ready for the full camp at Easter.

We seem to manage to keep ourselves busy and out of mischief and there is always something to be done either dealing with people or just keeping on top of tasks in the van. There are always chores to be done and more ideas to implement. Roy has put in two USB ports at either side of our bed so that we can charge iPads and phones etc overnight. As well they came in useful over the hot summer days as I bought two small USB fans, $5 each from that store where everyone gets a bargain, that I mounted at either side of our bed to keep a bit of cool air circulating on those very hot, still, humid summer evenings. And they worked a treat as well.

Roy is also putting in two 12v outlets in either side of our big back lockers, the wiring is already there as there were originally lights inside the locker that we never used, so they are being removed and replaced with the sockets. The 12v sockets will be useful as when we pump rain water that we have collected into our tank, we use a 12v bilge pump that we currently power via an extension cord through the bedroom window, across the bed to the nearest accessible plug. By having the outlet in the locker it is right next to the inlet pipe for the water and filter so there will be no cords running everywhere.

We also could have used the cigarette plug with our compressor which we use to top up the airbag suspension and also to check the air pressure in the tyres, however, our old compressor decided to stop working last week so Roy bought a new one, and this one definitely can only be run by jumping it off the car battery.

The compressor at work topping up the airbags.

We haven’t done any fishing for a while now, or so it seems, and I doubt if we will get a chance to do any over the next couple of months. Just as well I have a good supply of vacuum packed fish fillets in the freezer to keep us going.

I had a Dentist appointment last week as I broke a filling, I have to admit that I was not particularly looking forward to going, but I have to say that I think I have discovered a gem of a Dental Practice, Stanmore Bay Dental Studio. I was made to feel at ease by the Dentist Amanda and her assistant, I have to admit that the whole experience was painless, efficient and overall pleasant – not a term usually associated with going to the Dentist!!!. I can highly recommend them.

Tomorrow Roy has his “set up” appointment at the hospital so he can begin his radiation therapy. The treatment will last for 7 and a half weeks for 5 days a week which means going into the hospital daily. The treatment itself will begin on 11 April and we shall be moving from Shakespear once this begins to be closer to the hospital. Then on Tuesday I find out the results of the MRI I had last week and a plan of action will be put in place once we discuss the options, it will be either a hip replacement first or straight onto the knees, depending on the outcome of the scans. Then we begin the juggling act of hospitals, recovery, and rehabilitation as of course our respective hospitals are on opposite sides of the city! Oh well, keeps us on our toes I guess.

Happy anniversary ‘gift’?

March 21, 2018

It’s that time of the year again, our wedding anniversary. Actually it was on the 13th March and yes, I’m a little slow in getting this blog done.

that’s us, with my sister Hilary and brother John, and no we haven’t changed a bit!

And what did I get for an anniversary gift? I went to see the specialist about my knees (finally) and he confirmed that they are completely buggered shot kaput had it and I probably should have had them done 11 years ago when I first planned it have them replaced before chickening out! The upshot is that I need two new knees BUT WAIT, there’s more.

Affter checking me out he thought that he should get a quick X-ray of my hips as one is very sore, which I presumed was just from walking weirdly to compensate for my knee. Half an hour later I was back in his office with X-rays in tow, he looked at them and said. “Hmmmm, these look abnormal, I think we had best get an MRI done”. Apparently, if the hips are not good and also need replacement then they need to be done first before knees for best results. The following morning I had the MRI scan done and next week I go back to put a plan of action in place. I will be the bionic woman with all these replacements. The thought of surgery is daunting but it has to be better than what I am putting up with now.

And what did Roy get for a present? Cracked ribs and torn cartilage is what he got after falling over when a bank gave way on him! He’s recovering slowly, he just has to avoid coughing and sneezing as things become rather painful.

We are a right pair aren’t we?

Plan B

July 1, 2017

After all the dramas of the past few weeks, it was with some delight that we headed back to the van where we have enjoyed relaxing and listening to the waves crash onto the beach at Uretiti.  The weather has been fine and pleasantly warm for this time of the year and with little or no wind which has made sitting out in the sun rather a rather pleasant activity.

Walking down to the beach
Parked up in the sun 

Looking south (top) and north along the beach.
We are now onto Plan B, or is that C or even D now with Roy.  We had a good meeting with the cardiologist who is happy with the way he is progressing on medication to keep everything ticking over nicely (pun intended).  Then we had a very long session with the Urologist/Oncologist and have come up with a plan.  

Roy is now NOT having major surgery, apparently after playing around with the heart they prefer patients to have a 6 month stand down period before major surgery.  So instead there is plan B.  Now he has had his first hormone injection yesterday, with another one due in 3 months.  This will reduce the size of the prostate as well as the cancer then at the end of the second three month period, the surgeon will probably do a TURP (rebore) of the prostate as this surgery is less invasive and does not require a full anaesthetic.  Then he will have radiation treatment on the remaining cancer.  All in all much less invasive and with better outcomes in terms of possible nerve damage  of full surgical removal.  

This has tied in nicely with our plans to head overseas, the planets are all aligning beautifully.  The second injection is due just a couple of days before our planned departure at the end of September and we can be away as planned with the next procedure not due until after our return in mid January.  Finally things are looking up.

Meanwhile, we are expecting a visitor later this week.  We are very excited about her arrival, so much so, there is a ticker tape parade due along Auckland waterfront just as she arrives!!!  Can’t say that we don’t pull out all the stops……..

Heart throb

June 24, 2017

Just a quick update folks, we have just been to the cardiologist where he is happy with how Roy is tracking and just wants him to continue on meds and he will see him again in three weeks time.  By then he will have discussed with the Urologist the pros and cons of the various types of surgery and options from his perspective and we can move on from there.  

It looks as though the Atrial Fibrillation may have been around for longer than we knew about it and is probably something that Roy will have forever but hopefully it will be kept under control by medication.  It is just getting the balance right, and fingers crossed it appears to be under control now. 

This hiccup is well and truly behind us, and we can move on with more positive things.  

Last weekend I snuck out for a few hours of fishing with Steve in his boat.  It was a glorious day. 

Launching the boat off the beach
We whizzed across to Rangitoto 

Captain Pugwash!
Where we happily fished in the sun for a few hours, and yes we caught lots of baby snapper and only a couple of reasonable size 

You may be able to see the Auckland Sky Tower in the  background, with Rangitoto lighthouse on the left.

As you can see it was a perfect day, Rangitoto island 

Life can now return to some semblance of normality as we head back to the van tomorrow -Sunday. 


Are you ready for the next episode?

June 22, 2017

Yes indeed, there is a next installment! Just a day after the angiogram, Tuesday afternoon to be precise, Roy says, “I’m having chest pains, we need to get to a doctor…..now!”

 Into the car we get,  luckily I remember that there is a White Cross Clinic just along the road, probably less than a kilometre away.  With hazard lights flashing, I overtake the long queue of traffic banked up from the lights (yes, it’s just after the 3o’clock school rush) and drive the last 100metres along the wrong side of the road and into the car park at the A&E. We get Roy inside and they immediately spring into action, taking him straight into an emergency room, hooking him up to an ECG where I can see that his heart is racing and blood pressure is very high, the Doctor looks at all the readouts, listens to his history and what’s been happenening over the past few days and says he’s calling an ambulance. 

The ambulance arrives, Roy is loaded aboard and I’m in the passenger seat in the back with one of the ambulance crew.  They professionally go about their work quietly and efficiently, all the time talking to us whilst we start on our way to the hospital. 

We strive at North Shore hospital where we are handed over to the lovely staff there.

Roy in A&E waiting to see what happens next

Over the next hour or three or five, tests are done, bloods taken, lines put in, X-rays taken,  information  is gathered, and yes, you guessed it, he is staying in overnight for observation as they cannot figure out what is going on.

By the time Leslie arrived to pick me up, his pain was nearly gone, and he was looking very comfortable.  

He remained in hospital until later Wednesday afternoon, and the result? Well, your guess is as goood as anyone’s, it could have been a spasm in one of the arteries as a result of the angio, it could have been a reaction to the new meds he had started the previous day, it could have been something as simple indigestion. 

We are due back to the cardiologist on Friday to see what changes, if any,  the new meds have made.  Hopefully the AF is under control and we can then reschedule the prostate surgery and get on with recovery.  Fingers crossed.

Angiogram Day

June 19, 2017

A relatively uneventful drive across the harbour for the mornings appointment at Ascot for Roy’s angiogram and we arrived in plenty of time.  Next came the waiting……and waiting……

Roy all dressed up with nowhere to go!

First the check of the blood pressure, temperature etc and an ECG, and guess what? 

Yes, his heart was back in Atrial Fibrillation …bugger! But still the angiogram is going ahead.

Showing off his shaved chest post surgery!!

Results? 

Angiogram done and no stents required but no idea why AF is still in play so a new lot of drugs and another check on Friday.  Fingers x.

The next exciting installment

June 17, 2017

We were up at the crack of dawn, well, to be fair it was even before the crack of dawn. We had to travel across the city from Torbay to Ellerslie for Roy’s appointments as we had to be there by 6.45am and you just never know what the traffic is going to be like.  We arrived with plenty of time to spare.  

We were quickly escorted into the procedure room where two nurses were waiting to prep Roy ready for the Drs arrival, they do the usual checks; temperature, blood pressure, pulse, a cardiogram, you know the usual, and yes Roy’s blood pressure was very high (for him) as was his heart rate, which is to be expected I suppose.

First on the schedule was the  T.O.E. (transoesohageal echocardiogram) which is a scope (or should I say a very long, mean looking piece of pipe) shoved down carefully inserted down Roy’s  throat so that an internal scan of his heart can be performed to look for any clots particularly in the back of the heart.  If there are any clots, then they would not be able to do the next procedure.  And yes he would be sedated for the process, but not for the chest shaving that was part of the prep!!   When I left to go to the waiting room at 7.20 the anaethestist and specialist had arrived and introduced themselves.  Soon they were starting to put the needles in ready to administer  sedation drugs….time for me to exit! By this time Antony had arrived to keep me company.

 By 7.45 the anaesthetist was out saying it had all gone well and they had not found any clots so they could then go on to do the CV (shock to the heart) with that process being successful with the heart restored back to normal rhythm. The specialist who did the procedures then came out to say all was good and that the cardiologist would see us once Roy was up and about in an hour or two. Which is exactly what happened.   Roy came out an hour or so later to join us in the waiting room.   They served  him a light breakfast, to make sure he could swallow OK, and said to relax as he needed  time for everything to settle.  

We saw the cardiologist later in the morning, who went thru everything from the days tests, and then went on to explain the procedure scheduled for Monday.   This will be an angiogram which is used to check to see if the arteries are ok and if necessary they put in stents at that point. The cardiologist did say that Roy’s  heart valves and the heart itself appeared ok, so this just the final check to rule out the physical anomalies that can result in Atrial Fibrillation……. otherwise we put it down to the fact that it’s  just one of those things that happen. Hopefully this has fixed it, but apparently it can recur in some cases.  

 Once Mondays procedures are done with they will then reschedule the prostate surgery for 4 weeks time. The cardiologist and Urologist have been communicating, and as the cancer is minuscule and it is the size of the prostate that is the real problem, then another 4 weeks to wait is not an issue and we are still well on schedule for our trip.

Stay tuned for the next exciting installment.

A glitch or two…

June 9, 2017

Life for the Vanninis ticks along nicely most of the time with only the odd minor hiccup along the way, you know, things like the odd flood, slips, high wind, brakes needing repair, parts for the van, the little things in life.  But occasionally life throws us a bit of a curve ball.  Some of you may have picked up on the fact that recently Roy has been having a number of appointments to attend all around Auckland.   Well, make a cuppa, take a seat and read on…

It started a month or two ago when Roy went for his annual check up with the Urology specialist.  Previously he had a hiccup with his kidneys, which you can recap that story here.  As part of the checkup the specialist does the usual blood tests, flow tests etc, and he said hmmmmm, Roy, your PSA levels have gone up a bit, lets check things out further. So off he went for an ultrasound scan. The scan showed that his prostate was very enlarged and warranted further investigation. So off for a full MRI to see what is happening.  I have to add in here that in between all this Roy also had hearing tests, scans, an auditory MRI, more tests and hearing specialists, as well as eye tests, eye specialists, more visits, laser surgery, checkups.  It’s been a busy old time with lots of appointments all around Auckland.

Then came the results, he needed a biopsy so we went off to have that done at the specialists. 14 samples were taken for testing.  We only had to wait a few days before the results came back, and you hear those dreaded words …”sorry, but you have prostate cancer”.  Knock us down with a feather.  

Regather and press on, we need to discuss options and also get a better idea of what is happening. The next step is to have a Gallium PET scan, which shows if the cancer has spread anywhere else and gives a better idea of what we are dealing with. You can read about this amazing technology here.  Up until just over a year ago this scan was only available in Australia and we would have had to go there for one, but Mercy hospital in Auckland now has the only machine in NZ so off we went there for the scan last Thursday.  Thank goodness for medical insurance as these things are costly and as well as with all the specialist visits, MRI’s etc over the past few weeks we have had our monies worth from our medical insurance already this year. 

But back to the tests.  We came away from the Gallium PET scan with a copy of the CD and of course we just had to have a look at it ourselves….bad idea…..as we stared intently at the computer screen all we could see was that every organ appeared to be glowing and as far as we could tell things did not look good.  However, a bit of googling and research helped alleviate those fears, things were not as bad as what we thought. Best we wait for the experts to fill us in as give us the official report.

We were scheduled to get the results the following day on the Friday, however the specialist had been called away for urgent surgery so our appointment was deferred until the following Tuesday.  Meanwhile, we had already scheduled a visit to our GP for the Monday.   Our doctor has been a very good sounding board and we trust her advice and we wanted to discuss options with her from her perspective, in particular her experience with other patients and their aftercare specifically any problems associated with the different options available. She had the results from the PET scan and could finally put our minds to rest and tell us that Roy was all OK, apart from a very small spot of cancer in the prostate, obviously caught very early.  Phew.   Well that’s a relief.   We came away from our GP armed with lots of good questions for the Urologist.

The folllowing day, Tuesday,  we went off to the Urologist where he confirmed that there is indeed a small bit of cancer in one part of the prostate BUT the size of the prostate was more of an issue at more than twice the normal size.  What was good news was that the cancer is completely contained within the prostate AND the PET scan showed that apart from that he is all good.

I could bore you all here with the details of all of the various options for the next step i.e. do nothing, have radiotherapy, have radioactive seeds implanted or have surgery, all of which have their individual pros and cons but I will spare you all the details of each. However, if anyone wishes to know the ins and outs then give us a call. 

The best and only real option for Roy is to have the prostate removed which will be done on Thursday 8th June. Again, thank goodness for medical insurance as things wouldn’t have been happening this quickly I am sure. The surgery will be done via Robotic Keyhole  Surgery.

We rock up to Southern Cross Hospital yesterday morning at some ungodly hour ready for surgery.  Roy is prepped and tested and is soon ready to be wheeled off to theatre as he is first on the list.all ready to go!

I head off to get some breakfast and to do some shopping as he is scheduled to be in theatre for 4 hours.   However, I soon get a phone call from the anaesthetist saying that they will not be operating today as they found a bit of an irregular heartbeat so they need us to get that sorted.  Knock me over with a feather.  So back I go to pick him up.  By the time I get there they have arranged a cardiologist to see him over at Ascot Hospital, so we head straight on over. We are there by 10am.

Next comes a barrage of tests, upshot? Roy has Atrial Fibrulation which mean his heart beats irregularly and needs to be sorted as the consequences could be dire.  By midday we leave the cardiologist with our heads reeling full of information and with more appointments scheduled.  Next week he will be going in for a CV and a TOE.  What do these mean?  Well a CV is a Cardio Version  which restores the heart to its natural rhythm by shocking it, and a TOE is a transoesohageal echocardiogram whereby a fibre optic tube will be position in the osophegus allowing an ultrasound of the heart.  All will be done under sedation.  The following week he is booked in for an angiogram depending on the results from the previous two procedures will determine what is to be done.

So the next step is to get this sorted, then they will reschedule the prostate surgery and we can then look forward to our trip to the UK & Europe in September.  Stay tuned for the next exciting instalment.