Been a while no excuses but here goes on me March 2020 Blogg. The off-road site I look after, Happy Valley 4X4 in Kent, is closed until further notice, but before the virus arrived some of us did manage to get out and do a trip down to Wiltshire to drive on some the by-ways etc. On Salisbury Plain the army have been very busy with their training there, and after nearly 20 years of going there I have never seen it so torn up by what is clearly tank tracks. It was like a moon scape and you could see where they had done figure of eights in places. In the summer when it dries out these huge tank ruts they have left behind, I would think it will be very hard driving in any 4x4 on the legal rights of way there.
What a nice surprise it was yesterday when I had to fill the Discovery up with diesel. It was £1.9p a litre, It’s still much too dear but if only it would stay like this for a while, but I suspect OPEC will soon whip it up as soon as Covid is beaten, and their greed and the government tax rears its ugly unnecessary head once more.
I have not seen on the road one of the new Defenders yet, come to that not seen one in a Land Rover Dealership either. But I have noted that now it’s with us a lot of the movement seem to dig it. I did see some film of one off the road though, and it looked very capable in some thick gunge being driven very robustly. My posh car the Ford Edge when I got it in 2018 it had been registered by my Local dealership Trust Ford for a customer in 2017 who pulled out at the last minute. So, it stood about outside for about a year until I came along, and I bought it. Mileage was very low and a few months ago at 6000 miles I started to hear nasty noises at the rear. It turned out where it had been outside for so long the rear discs had rusted so badly that after the few miles, I had done it had worn the copper disc pads to nothing. I went to Trust Ford and the works foreman looked and told me I needed new discs and pads. So, I booked it in and on the day, I pointed out at reception that this should be done under warranty. The scruffy guy nearly choked and went around the corner out of my site, and I could hear mumbling, until he came back and told me “we will put it up on the ramp and inspect it and then see if it’s under warranty”. I told him it had already been inspected by the works foreman, but he said it had to be seen by others first. I said to him you are not going to do it under warranty are you, and he said no. So, I said, “cancel the booking” and walked out. I worked at Trust Ford and I retired from there to give up work, and it’s the second car I had bought from them. But I will never darken their doors again that’s for sure. I went to a local garage near me and they must have felt a bit sorry for me as they did the job for £200 and when I got the receipt the parts were £199. If I had have bit the bullet and had it done at Trust Ford with their hourly rates it would have been double that. So, you might guess where the Edge is going for all future work and servicing, because they have the computer software.
This Covid virus has certainly brought a lot of things and activities to a temporary end, so what about cycling for exercise? I have read a lot of advice from British Cycling and others including the medical experts, and it seems that solo cycling is ok if one is careful about it. What I do is I load me mountain bike onto the back of my car and drive into the countryside. I pull over and unload and put the rest of me gear on helmet, backpack etc, and off I go. I am lucky in that my local council have developed on and off-road bike routes, and I ride the one they call The Heron Trail. On my last 27-mile ride I hardly saw anyone. The Lycra guys when they are out on the race bikes swoop past me as I ride slowly lugging my heavy Ebike bike along, and on the whole ride I only spoke to a poor lady from across the road that had a puncture to try to help her by giving some advice. Apart from the riding, like everyone else we have been housebound and picking up on all the jobs that we had on the back burner. More on cycling on my Facebook page at over 60 still riding uk.
MY CANCER JOURNEY
I have been thinking for a long time whether or not to share this very personal thing with you all, but I have become a bit of a disciple about it, and if I can tell my story and just get one person to get tested if they are worried that they may have cancer, then it’s worth it. Prostate, bladder cancer and penile cancer in men is a silent killer. You feel on top of the world and this awful disease is beavering away inside you, until it gets so bad it takes your life. Prostate cancer deaths in men are around 11,700 a year that’s 32 every day, second most common cause of cancer deaths. In 2017 around 12,000 died this way.
My own journey on the cancer pathway began one Sunday in end of August 2018, when I came home from a day out in the countryside and urinated blood as I was getting ready for bed around 11.30. I got up around 3am and again there was blood in my urine, and again at 8.30am and that was it. It was only those three times I never saw blood again. I rang my doctor on Monday, the receptionist spoke to him and told me to come to surgery to give blood to the nurse, and to come to see him on Tuesday morning. The doctor on Tuesday told me that he thought it was likely an infection, but to be sure he said he would put me on the cancer pathway. It’s a scary word when you are first confronted with that horrible C word, but like anyone else back then I was hoping for the best outcome.
THE TREATMENT BEGINS
Soon I had an appointment and I drove into Medway Maritime Hospital for an inspection of my bladder. To do this a fine tube was inserted into my bladder with a mini camera on the end of it. It wasn’t painful I would say though, but it was uncomfortable. As I lay on the gurney the doctor was looking at a screen way over my head. At the end the nurse told me to put my clothes back on and to go and sit down at the doctor’s desk with him so he could speak to me. He was busy filling in a form of which he gave me a copy. When my wife and I got home the first pages were medical speak, but there was a square at the end where it said something like likely diagnosis, and in it he had written suspected cancer. Of course, it was a bit worrying, you think cancer happens to other people not me. Sometime later I went into hospital for a short 2 day stay for a cystoscopy and this time I was anesthetised on the first day PM so that a larger tube could be inserted into my bladder with a larger camera and lights and some tools to take biopsy’s, which were sent off for analysis. I was a little bit sore after this for about a day, but it was not too bad.
This was followed sometime later by another cystoscopy, and a few weeks after this one I was called in to see one of the consultants of the urology team, to be told I had bladder cancer. Next, I was given a course of treatment called BCG. This entailed driving in for a day for 6 weeks, to see one of the nurses who passed a fine tube into my bladder, and filled it with living TB virus, the idea was that it would eat the cancer away. This didn’t hurt at all, after it was done, I drove back home. I had to hold my water for 2 hours. I could then sit at the toilet pee and fill the bowl with bleach then shut the lid and flush 20 minutes later. At the end of the 6-week course there was a 6-week break before I went back to see the consultant to see if it had worked, sadly he told me that it had not. I was given the option of another 12 weeks of treatment or major surgery. I asked the consultant “what was the chance of another round of BCG working” he said it worked the second time in a little less than 30% of cases. I didn’t think this was a good bet so to his surprise I chose the operation, because if it was not very likely to work to rid me of cancer, it would be 12 weeks wasted while it got worse and started to eat through the wall of my bladder, and then get really bad.
THE BIG DAY ARRIVES
On the 28th of May 2019 I was front and centre at the Medway Maritime Hospital at 6am and by 7am I was in theatre. Four days before I fell over heavily in my front yard and came down with all my weight on my right knee, and it hurt like hell. All thru my stay in hospital it hurt more than the surgery. Even now it’s still giving me trouble and I now have a Blue Badge for parking etc. I am so lucky, aren’t I? Anyway, luckily for me there are 8 Davinci Robotic Surgery suites in the UK and one of them is at MMH. Although I was 75 years old at this time, I was passed as fit for this surgery, because I am a keen serious mountain bike cyclist. By having this procedure with the Davinci Robot there was no large incisions in my stomach, and no hands were put into my body. Thus, lower chance of infection, no large incisions and scars to heal afterwards, and faster recovery. Come the evening 10 hours later I was in a high dependency ward, and the staff and nurses were just brilliant, they really took care of me. Day 2 I was out of bed dangling a few tubes behind me, but I didn’t feel so bad as I thought I would. Slowly I got better every day until at day 6 I was moved into an ordinary ward. After 3 more days I was discharged and after all the paperwork was done and the drugs, I had to take home with me were sorted out, I was let out to go home at last at 9pm.
I now have a Stoma bag to deal with for the rest of my life attached to my right hip, which is where urine is discharged from my body. This is because after surgery I have no bladder, no prostate, no appendix and the lymph nodes in and around the bladder etc were also removed. There was some weight loss and for the first couple of months, I had to take it easy and I used to have an afternoon nap if I felt tired, but it soon passed. My Daughter gave me the details of a member of the Urology Support Group, and as I was feeling a bit down I called Michael, and he spent a long time talking to me and reassuring me and he invited me to a group meeting at MMH one evening. So, I can see the benefit of having friends who have lived through cancer treatment. I have had regular check-ups with the Stoma Nurses and the consultant’s, and all’s well. It was a bit tricky at first changing the Stoma bags but now it’s a doddle and it just takes less than 2 minutes. Nobody knows I have this unless I wish to tell them. I do not regret choosing surgery over more treatment as I am cancer free. It’s done and dusted it’s all over. I’m alive I’m doing fine and a few months after my surgery on the 28th May I was able to cock my leg over my bike and I went for a hard 12-mile ride thru the woods and fields. Not bad after 4 months following major surgery. There is life after cancer and I am here to prove it, I’m 76 years old now living life to the full every day and loving it. As a way of paying back for all the help and medical treatment I had, with Hazel my wife’s help we developed a website and we are the administrators of it for our local support group which is at westkenturologysupport.co.uk So please guys get checked, especially if you see any red spots, blood or blackness in your pee.