It was to be three weeks later that Ollie would be back in front of the unnamed consultant to go over his results. As the door closed and they sat him down to deliver the results and they didn’t get quite the reaction they may have been expecting.
He told the consultant that he already knew that he had prostate cancer and he didn’t spare any details or emotion in telling them how Mr Admin had callously shared the details with him.
They all looked at each other in silence, eventually one of them went ‘Excuse me’ in disbelief. Did he know who it was? Could he tell them the time and day that this happened? What did Mr Admin sound like etc?
And they were livid.
Ollie, bless him not one to turn down an offer of petrol at the BBQ added that the consultants were very hard to get hold of, to talk to and he had no one else to speak to. Could they imagine what it did to him at that time? They greedily wrote down all the details he could give them and promised to get back to him.
Of course, they never did but let’s continue.
They gave him the all the details about the PSAs and the Gleason’s and numbers and all that kind of stuff (but they never gave him his own PSA number). The good thing was he was still only stage 2 so it could have been much worse. Then came the information overload regarding all the treatment options.
They mentioned the usual suspects of radiotherapy, hormone treatment and prostatectomy. However, this key group of wise men also were the only ones doing brachytherapy. So far, I would not trust this merry band to make me a cheese sandwich, but this is not my story.
For those not in the know, brachytherapy is a type of internal radiation therapy in which seeds, ribbons, or capsules that contain a radiation source are placed inside the prostate itself. It avoids many of the side effects associated with the other common prostate cancer treatments. Only a few lucky patients meet the criteria required for this type of treatment. A few that I know of are if there is a good urine flow, the likelihood of surgery complications using another method and being childless as you will become radioactive for the first few weeks afterward the procedure. Additionally, Ollie suffers from sleep apnea, where he can stop breathing while asleep at any time and requires a CPAP machine to regulate his breathing at night.
This brings us to the other big chunk of this story.
Brachytherapy was Ollie’s treatment of choice and he met the criteria. However, they could not proceed without the sign off from the anaesthetist. They would be sending Ollies notes to him to ensure everything would be all right. Four weeks go by and at the follow up appointment Ollies asks if they have heard back from the anaesthetist. They had written to him, but they had not heard anything back. Of course, you can imagine how much more anxious Ollie was becoming.
It was a few more months of waiting and just before Christmas that Ollie decided that he would take matters into his own hands. You have probably heard the expression ‘Not only superhero’s wear capes’ in describing members of the health service. Well Ollie didn’t have a cape but he had a NHS lanyard as he works for the NHS. On this occasion while he was having some more blood test’s it was visible to the nurse and he enquired if she had any idea why it was taking so long to get a reply from the anaesthetist. When he had finished with the blood work the nurse called him into a room and spun around the monitor.
The consultant had lied. He had not written any letter.
Ollie replied with the simple expression ‘Oh.’
Now men who have been married a long time, you know when you didn’t do something when you said you had. Or you said you were out mowing the lawn and it must be some mutant weeds to grow back so fast but CCTV shows you sleeping in the chair? You know you messed up and you know you have been caught but you are still hoping that you have not been caught.
Tell me I’m in trouble, tell me I’m not getting none until I learn the error of my ways. Throw something at me. The dreaded and deadly ‘Oh’ is as conclusive as the kitchen knives going missing and telling us not to sleep too sound tonight.
“Oh” he repeated. “Can you let the consultant know please that I have seen my own records.”
“If you can put it in an email that I will be complaining if this takes much longer.”
It didn’t take 3 weeks.
He had another telephone consultation setup. This time however he decided to turn up instead. The consultant was shocked to see him of course. Not the good ‘This Is Your Life’ kind of shock. More the glad I didn’t have that chicken curry at lunchtime shock.
He writes up some notes, shuffles some paperwork and announces that Ollie has been cleared now and the procedure will be done in April.
“April, Oh”, Ollie replies gently rubbing his chin before adding,
“I’m not prepared to wait that long.”
I would have loved to have been a heart monitor attached to Mr Consultant’s heart at that precise moment. Ollie continued.
“No letter was written to the anaesthetist, when it should have been. I’m a cancer patient and I have been a cancer patient since the 15th of November.”
“Do you know how many core breaches they’ve been? I’m NHS staff. I work for the NHS. I deal with patients. So, I know what the turnaround is supposed to be for cancer patients.”
And there was a little silence and Mr Consultant said, “Leave it with me. Okay”.
Mr consultant (I’ll just call him Dr T for Twit, less typing). Dr T comes back to Ollie the following morning.
“Good news. We can do the 30th of March. We’ve had a cancellation so a slot is open.”
“Thank you very much” said Ollie and put’s the phone down.
He went on to have a seminar about the procedure and what to expect. He had 10 pellets inserted and it’s a three year journey to shrink the cancer. He was beginning to winge a bit about having to wait three years with nominal side effects (rolling my eyes here) and he caught himself before I was about to roll up my shirt and tell some war stories, jabbing at my scars and put the young fortunate pup in his place.
Other than being warned that he could go to the toilet and actually shoot out one of those pellets the procedure went very well. There is mental and physical healing to occur due to what he has been though but he is dealing with that very well.
A couple of months down the line now and he reports the king is back on this throne.
He is also taking his place informing men of their responsibility of taking care of their health and prostate cancer.
I felt quite proud, when he said that. I almost felt like I had passed a baton on.
I say almost. It was more of a soft squishy, neutral coloured baton with a couple of sequins stuck to it that makes a squeak when pressed if we compare procedures.
But a baton none the less.