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Prostate Cancer Info

+ Update

I was lucky enough to be able to stop working in 2012 - up till then I was usually too darn tired to enjoy life and the pleasures of "Gitting about" - since then I've taken a more active role, now acting as GOG webmaster, self-appointed electrician & lighting bodger. I am ridicuclously proud of "Lil Genny" and my 6 foot illuminated erection!

I've done a few jobs in my 46 years at work - started as a Merchant Navy Radio Officer on Shell tankers, moved to home trade Sealink ships working out of Harwich, took voluntary redundancy and opened a health food shop in Wareham (where I met my wife-to-be), did QA inspection and rework on surface mount electronics, moved into hand-held computers & mobile radio data transmission at Telxon, worked my way up to senior RF engineer, made redundant, spent 4 years in purgatory at a call centre (mobile phone data), rejoined some of my old Telxon colleagues at Ensign Communications in Wareham, made redundant again, and finally worked 4 years as admin assistant at Cooltec (aircon + refrigeration) in Wareham, before voluntary redundancy one last time, after I discovered my mortgage was all paid off - now that was a VERY happy day!

I usually carry around more electrical gear than kites! This may sound daft, but for the purposes of lighting up the "Git Gazebo" for after-dark drinkies and other silliness, folk seem to like the resultant beacon in the night - but if the low-noise genny keeps anybody awake, there is a self-imposed curfew around 11.00pm (or later by general agreement), when the Git Gazebo switches over to battery power.
November 2016 - Celebrating being alive by "sharing the love" with my wonderful GOG chums,
also buying & making toys for the kids in local hospices Julia's House + Bluebells Holiday Home
(part of Sebastian's Action Trust) + a children's play therapy team in Poole Hospital
+ another team in Bude, for children with behavioural & emotional issues.

The Minions Fart Blasters were a great success at Dieppe 2016 - I hope the staff and kids
have fun with them and the "minion style" goggles with all Lexan safety lenses & black "googly eyes".
The Whizzers are a relatively new idea - looking forward to hearing how they are received.
A gallery of more bought & donated toys may be seen HERE

This was the payload I took to Gittesden 2015 - and no - I did not take the kitchen sink!
"My mind is aglow with whirling transient nodes of thought"
(well done if you recognise that quote!)


Recently (2015) started messing about with Steampunk goggles after seeing them for sale on a certain "prestige" website at a ridiculously high price. They are quite cheap to make, so I am pleased to be able to donate them as raffle prizes, but equally pleased if somebody wants buy a set off me!

Basic Git Goggles:- Original lenses + 5 optional colours of gel filter & 3 options of metal mesh grille. - this means you can mix & match colours and grilles for dozens of different looks!

To keep everything tidy, I am putting all the bits in a suitably daft kid's plastic lunchbox!

Quality Control & Product Testing - the grand-children seem to like them! - smallest one reported that they were "too big for her nose" - which can be adjusted luckily! - though it looks as if she was wearing them upside down...

As those grilles have sharp edges, I have put together a "Junior" version with soft plastic grilles and a large selection of paper & card cut-outs to customise & decorate, including metallic and light-reflecting cards. I have replaced the glass "welding lenses" with safe gel filters. I have also sourced Lexan & perspex lenses to replace the clear front glass.

LED Git Goggles:- as per Adult Git Goggles + LEDs & external battery pack + power cable.
with a choice of relaxing slow fading, or disco fast colour changing 10mm rainbow LEDs

Now got ideas for MkIII Git Goggles with movement sensor & twin circuits!


Also keeping busy up-cycling empty booze bottles (only the pretty ones) with a variety of flashing & colour changing LEDs, AA battery pack and then stuffing in a selection of cellophane & mylar ribbons to add to internal reflection & refraction - They make popular raffle prizes!
   
Keith provides a steady supply of Grey Goose empties,
and the Bombay Sapphire Distillery let me have as many bottles as I want!

and then there are other strange devices...
 
For more details of GOG gadgets, please click HERE

Prostate Cancer Info
2014 was a traumatic year for me - not only losing my best friend and seeing my youngest (and only) daughter married off in some style, but also dealing with a cancer scare. Being "of a certain age" I was experiencing some minor waterworks problems, which were occasionally a bit annoying, but caused me no great concern. It was only after my very good friend Ron Dell died of prostate cancer, and his daughter told all the men at the wake "Get yourselves checked out boys!" that I began to think about my "little problem".

I booked an appointment with my GP, explained the problem, and asked for a PSA test. I was quite taken aback, when he said "No" - but then he handed me an IPSS Questionnaire , told me to fill it in and let him have it back. Only then would he decide if a PSA test was appropriate.

DOWNLOAD THE IPSS FORM & FILL IT IN NOW -  IT MAY SAVE YOUR LIFE

I took the questionnaire home and did some on-line searches, trying to find more information. What I found left me very confused - one authoritative website stated "The PSA test is a life-style choice" - which struck me as stupid & unhelpful. I found an informative film clip HERE , and listened to Samuel L Jackson One For The Boys - The silent Interview, then I quickly filled in the questionnaire, and took it back to my GP, who then agreed to a PSA test.

The phone rang late that same the evening, after the PSA test, and it was my GP on the line - another surprise! He said the PSA test result was "abnormal" and that I needed to come back to his surgery for "further examination". This is known by doctors as a DRE and if you are curious you can look it up yourself [sic].

That examination gave my GP cause for concern, and he then referred me to the Urology Department at Bournemouth Hospital. I saw the main man there (Mr. Weddeburn) who heard my story, confirmed PSA test results and did another DRE. He straightaway booked me in for peak flow test, MRI scan, isotope bone scan and biopsy - I could not help but notice he rubber-stamped all the paperwork in red with the words FAST TRACK which was both reassuring and alarming.

Peak flow test - easy - drink a load of water - ultrasound scan to see how much is in your bladder - pee in a bucket hooked up to a digital scale that graphs your flow rate very accurately, then another U/S scan to check your bladder is empty.

MRI scan - easy - don't worry about claustrophobia, as they put you in feet first and only go up as far as the area of interest - but you will have a needle in your hand or arm so they can inject contrast medium half-way through the scan.

Isotope Bone Scan - easy but weird - they give you a radioactive injection, you sit about for an hour (avoiding small children & pregnant women) and I felt quite drunk - then into something very like the MRI scanner as before.

Biopsy - essential procedure, but not one I'd care to undergo again. Details Here (if you REALLY want to know)

Then you wait... not many days, while they collate the results, then back to hospital to discuss treatment options with the surgeon. In simple terms, it was a choice between months of hormone therapy + radiation + chemo (with numerous side effects & no possibility of surgery later) or surgery (radical prostatectomy) followed by regular check-ups and all of the other stuff later if necessary. That was a no-brainer for me - surgery please!

That was in June - and the first available surgical slot would clash with our planned (and paid for) holiday in Sorrento - surgeon was happy to postpone action until we came back - and the date was made for early October. In brief, I had a close-up and personal encounter with the Davinci Surgical Robot (with Mr Weddeburn at the controls) which did a very thorough job, and left me with 6 small "bullet holes" across my tum. That was October 8th 2014, and apart from a few niggles, all is well, and I am very glad to be alive. If you want to know more, please email me richard(at)nourse.org.uk or send me a private message on Facebook.

Useful Links:- NHS PCRMP FAQs + PCa Support UK + Graham Norton + Love The Glove + One For The Boys + Ben Stiller
Prostate Cancer Statistics for UK:- Cancer Research UK
Travel Insurance Info:- Cancer Research UK + Macmillan + Staysure Insurance + Fish Insurance

Top Tips:- 1. When you go in for the biopsy, have some strong pain-killers ready to take immediately after the procedure and for the next 6-8 hours. Do not imagine that you will feel like driving your own car!

2. When you go in for surgery, take a supply of the best throat lozenges you can get - immediately post-op you are liable to have the mother and father of sore throats where you were intubated. I was on the table for 3 1/2 hours.

3. Unless you love hospital food, take some emergency rations, like bananas, grapes, apples, oranges & soft cake or chocolate bars, because when you wake up, your tummy will be empty.

4. The large bore "bendy" plastic drinking straws will make it easier to drink from your water glass (or cup of tea) if you cannot easily sit up immediately post-op. A 500ml water bottle is also handy.

5. If your surgical ward is as hot & noisy overnight as mine was (N.B. EARPLUGS), get yourself mobile ASAP and then home to a proper bed and blessed peace & quiet! - Remember, you are not allowed to drive for several days post-op!

6. Starting the day after your op, you will be on a 3 week course of heparin (anti-coagulant) injections. The needle is so fine & short (about 1cm) that you barely feel it, and the dose is only about 1ml. The jab is only sub-cutaneous (very shallow) and needs to be more or less in the area of the keyhole incisions. If you can't manage to do this for yourself, I'm sure you can find somebody willing to do it for you!

7. For the first week post-op you will have to put up with a catheter and pee bag. They give you a small "leg bag" which allows you to walk about freely, and a "night bag" that goes on a stand by your bedside. You just have to get on with it - personal hygiene is also important, and be aware that there is no such thing as a leak-proof catheter!

8. In the first few days post-op you may be very constipated (after stomach muscles cut & bowels pushed around) - make sure that the "Goody Pack" which is your parting gift from the Discharge Nurse contains a good laxative (not just Milk of Magnesia), along with post-op care notes and "man pads".

9. After that first week, the catheter is removed by a specialist nurse at the hospital where you had your op. Make sure you have a supply of "man pads" handy! From now on you will hear constant reminders about "Pelvic Floor Exercises" - which may come as a bit of a surprise if you thought that was just "for the ladies". If you ignore that advice, then don't be surprised if you have occasional "accidents" - so the "man pads" are a good idea - right?

Now... If you have 18 minutes (and 5 seconds) to spare, please watch this film - Father's Day (about PCa)

UPDATE - August 2016 - coming up to 2 years post-op - another routine PSA blood test - expected to be the last time I had to see my surgeon... Wrong! ... The last 3 tests have shown a small but steady increase in PSA score - 0.08, then 0.09 and now 0.1 - so something may have started to re- grow in the area around where my prostate was.
I have now been referred to the oncology department at Poole Hospital, where they may decide that I need a course of radiation therapy to zap whatever it is that has caused the PSA to rise. Presumably it's a case of "the sooner the better" if the growth rate is like most things in nature, which is exponential.

September 2016 - Oncology appointment didn't go quite as expected... When asked what I thought would happen next, in light of rise in PSA results, I said I expected tests and/or scans to identify any hotspots so they could be zapped.
I was surprised and disappointed to be told "there are no tests to pinpoint hotspots" - this because it only takes a small number of cells to give a raised PSA level, and they would not show up on any scan until they reached a significant size, by which time it would (presumably) be too late
Furthermore, they expect the guilty cells to be in the region of the "prostate bed" - but they might be anywhere else - lymph nodes being the next most likely location.
So... the plan is now for a "diagnostic scan" where they pinpoint the location of the prostate bed, and mark the spot with a small tattoo. Then I will be booked in for six and a half weeks of radiotherapy sessions - 5 minutes every weekday - with the expectation of feeling "unwell" after 2 or 3 weeks until about a month after the last session, possibly with a new range of side effects, which may dimimish, or may be permanent. (Just felt weary for a month or so)
This will then lead to a further series of PSA tests, to see if they hit the jackpot. If they missed, then hormone therapy is next on the list!

6 October 2016 - Assessment scan completed, and I now have 3 little blue tattoos (just dots) one of which was very close to "home" - RT team consisted of 3 very pleasant young ladies and I felt quite relaxed as they drew marks on my nethers... can't say I enjoyed the tattoos!
I also learned the ritual to be performed every time I go for one of my 33 appointments with "Varian 1" at Poole Hospital. Arrive an hour early, micro enema, wait 30 minutes, "go", drink a pint of water, wait 30 minutes and then "Zap Time".

28th October 2016 - 1st treatment - nervous because I did not know what to expect... All pretty straightforward - only problem was that I had not drunk enough water prior to treatment, so that pint of water had not filtered through to fill my bladder (helps keep it out of the line of fire) so had to drink more, wait another 30 minutes, and it was "all systems go" - the wonderful machine zapping me from all directions, following the same path as my waistband.

Day 2 - all went smoothly this time - discovered how much water I need to drink, and when!

So this is the routine for the next 6 weeks - every weekday in for 60 seconds of zapping, and weekends off
- should be finished mid-December - a grand total of 660 miles travel!

My fellow RT patients are a mixed lot, young & old but all friendly, and most of them happy to chat
and compare stories. The waiting room has a good supply of sweeties, magazines & jigsaw puzzles
- and even a hot drinks machine! This is the Varian equipment where it all happens - quick and painless!


1 December 2016 - 22 sessions done, 11 more to go - had a couple of cancellations due to machine breakdown
- at present, it looks as if I should be all done just in time for the GOG Christmas Bash on 17 December.

16 December 2016 - all done - 7 weeks - 33 sessions - 66 journeys - 66 Grays - about 150 hours and 660 miles
- friends and family have been a constant & comforting support throughout, and I have been touched by the kindness
of strangers - from the local pharmacist, the postman, the bus driver, the receptionists and staff at Poole Hospital
Varian Suite - thank you all - and in case you were wondering... What is a Gray Fraction?

With Christmas coming, and feeling even more happy to be alive, I was delighted to give some toys to the children's ward at Poole Hospital, and some Santa hats and GOG lighted bottles & LED strings to the RT staff, as well as topping up the sweetie bowl in the waiting area several times!

Interesting to see proposals to reduce the number of sessions down to 20 - thus saving travel time
and number of visits to hospital (and NHS costs) - but does "one size fit all"? Click Here to see!

25 January 2017 - Post-treatment PSA blood test - result "undetectable" - which equates to "less than 0.03" -
which is a relief - all clear for fun, love & GOG shenanagins, with a test every 6 months for the next 5 years.

2nd June 2017 - next PSA test booked... Result = 0.03 ... Good enough!

January 2018 - next PSA test scheduled already...

--- End of Prostate Info ---


Dieppe was my last GOG outing for 2014 - so I made the most of it - thanks to my GOG friends who persuaded me to go AND coughed up the ferry fare! I then had a lovely week relaxing in Sorrento, before coming home for my hospital appointment.

I was determined to get to the GOG Xmas dinner, so I could repay them properly for all the love & support they showed me. See what happened HERE - it was QUITE an evening!

So who needs booze to have fun? Dicky looking good on parade in Dieppe - September 2014


2nd August 2014 - After dark at JU15 - Lil Genny struggled to power a small vodka freezer...


as well as the much vaunted 6 foot glowing erection - with a fat bloke enjoying one of Sandra's cocktails!

NB - for Health & Safety bods out there, 240V connections are in that IP54 weatherproof box

See!!! The Gits and their chums need to be able to see to find more drink!


First Outing - 12th July 2014 at Brighton - can you guess what it is yet?...
(it does not look quite so strange after dark - honestly)

Tests showed that extra bracing was needed, as it bent alarmingly in a modest breeze.

I can't resist a bargain, so when I saw several "Chauvet Bob" cold flame lighting effects going for a song on Ebay... They needed very little fixing up, and look very pretty at night, scattered around the Git Gazebo. Then I got the notion to use one of them as the basis for an inflatable structure... Then that idea evolved... Why not put a bright LED floodlight atop the Bob unit (inside the inflatable bit) to create a "Pillar of Light in The Darkness" - and so this thing was invented, created, modified & improved.

Here being completed at the WHKF Drum Kite workshop in Swindon, March 2014

Without Keith's sewing skills, this weird thing would never have been completed...
and now goes with me on my travels to any overnight shenanigins that I can get to!


30th May 2014 - The proudest day of my life - that's all there is to say.


Dicky and the Gits had a lot of fun at Houlgate in April 2014


This seemed quite hilarious at the time - probably due to tippling at Houlgate


5th October 2013 - at the Purple Lady's Banner Workshop in Swindon
When everybody else was busy making a lovely banner, Dicky (being quite unable to sew),
was cooking up something much more modest - ripstop light diffusers for his LED floodlights!


13th July 2013 at Brighton - Dicky does rather like "getting all lit up"


Dicky helping Ron Dell & Keith to decorate the Git Gazebo, Teston August 2012

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