80. Medicine from Both Ends

NeedleThere are two un-nerving things about training other companies staff in the middle of a pandemic. One is when they decide that they are not going to be on camera for the whole duration, that could be for one or two days. The second thing is while they are wrapped up safely at home you are venturing out into the dangerous unknown just to give them a bit of training.

While they are sitting or sleeping there behind a static video screen, as the tutor you have to wonder what’s on the other side. Are they dressed? Are they nude? Are they watching daytime TV and just have you on in the background? Has lockdown turned them into friendly unkempt troglodytes? Every now and again I would ask for confirmation of understanding, from the delegates. From some I would get an instant response and for others I would have to wait longer than expected to get a response. I know that I might not be far off the mark. Those thoughts and the frequent head turns at the slightest noise in the far reaches of the darkened office, certainly kept me on my toes.

I had just spoken to a friend about an hour earlier who asked if I had received the Covid vaccination text. I said I hadn’t and believed that was still months off. Then a couple of hours later the phone pings and there it is, the Covid vaccination text. I can only imagine that being ‘de-prostrated’ had bumped me up that vaccination ladder. I followed the links and booked a slot for the weekend. I had still not made up my mind if I was actually going to have the jab, let alone which one of the three versions of it.

Just like the rest of the population I had seen all the conspiracy theories that you can imagine.

It’s a government tracker

They are made from aborted fetal tissue

They will change your DNA

The final decider for me was a video that my friend had sent to me. He was also a sceptic at first but  as he is still suffering from long Covid he needed to think hard about getting the jab. In the video the speaker, a top immunologist, had answered all of my concerns and all of the most popular conspiracy theories one by one.

Getting the jab was quite a slick and well organised operation I have to say. They have a big tented area on the grounds of the hospital. Unlike getting a Covid test, there where smiles and laughter amongst the staff here and not the air of pending Armageddon. The queue was short but a helpful nurse came over and took us over to the other tent where she promised the queue was non-existent so we could get through quicker.  It turned out she was wrong on both counts when we got there but I let it slide. Another confirmation of name, address and date of birth and then to a seating area, where we were all nicely distanced from one another. It was now a race to find a chair that was ‘dry’. As soon as someone was called into the next room for the injection one of the cleaners would sprint up and wipe down the seat with disinfectant. They had obviously slept through the part of the instruction that said you need to dry the seat afterwards so people can actually sit back down on them. I furrowed a brow when one cleaner pointed to the chair that was still wringing wet and found a dry one myself.

It was about a ten minute wait and then I was called to the desk, another name, address and DOB confirmation and another waiting area. After a few minutes I was called over into one of the actual injection pods. Another confirmation and then they were all set to go. The nurse is going over the procedure with her trainee and once they have finished their checks the nurse asks me which shoulder I would like the injection in. I roll up my left sleeve.

“Oh that’s a big arm”

Covid, extra eating big fat git in lockdown or impressive Schwarzenegger big, I wonder to myself.

“I think we should use the bigger needle”. They both nod and agree. I’m taking the latter of the two choices.

“Don’t worry, we just don’t want the needle to bend” The nurse turns to me to offer me reassurance.

After shish kebabbing the King on many occasions, needles are not really going to hold any fear for me.

They finally did the deed and pointed me out to the final waiting area. This is the fifteen minute ‘pit stop’ area. If you are going to have a serious reaction to the vaccine it should be within that window.  Now this area is more packed that the others and I was lucky to get a seat straight away. At the other end of the room some bright spark had the idea to have a selection of teas and coffees available. Yeah, that was really well thought out. Are you really that greedy that you are going to take off your mask in a room full of potential Covid people to drink a tea and eat biscuits? Once my fifteen minutes were up, I grabbed my biscuit from where the tea was and off into the world. The only side effects were a sore shoulder and a tiny bit of a headache. By Monday both were gone.

Roll on the second jab.

As I previously said I have not ventured out to do a proper talk for over a year and boy do I miss them. Anyway, a guy from a zoom talk that I had during lock down contacted me and asked me if I would talk to a friend of his that is about to have an operation.

Lemmy, is a sixty six year old black man and has annual health check-ups and last year there was a flag raised on his PSA level, which was 4.7. He went for an MRI scan and they saw something suspicious and recommended a biopsy. The biopsy led to a stage 2 prostate cancer diagnosis and Gleason score of 7 (4:3) and the hospital recommended radical surgery. Covid cancelled his first operation and this was rescheduled to just a few days before he called me.

He wanted to talk to someone that had been through it and could tell him what to expect. He was joined by his partner Anya.

Only more than ready to help.

Starting from the differences between radiotherapy/hormone treatment and the radical surgery, I could feel myself flicking through my blog. I went into detail about the surgery, incontinence,  impotence and the aftermath. They asked about the catheter, mobility, stitches and the aftercare. Even though the surgeon had spent forty five minutes telling him about the operation and the differences I could still tell him much that he didn’t know.

It just reminded me of one of the biggest motivators for writing this blog – giving men all the information that they could need in the most straight forward and honest way that I can.

I left them with one of my favourite quotes,

“Men of colour are the most affected but the least engaged”

Well I could think of a lot of other quotes or sayings but that was the most PC.

Just the medicine I needed.

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