Patient Experiences Show How Our Local Health Centre Helps
Most residents of the Parish will be registered with the Byfield Medical Centre. The Centre has compiled a number stories from patients about their treatment which should help reassure those that are faced with unexpected or worrying medical conditions.
These “Patient Experiences” have all been published on the Byfield Medical Centre’s web site (search under “News”) but the Signpost is happy to make them available here too. Thanks to Gill Pitt, who sits on the Byfield Medical Centre’s Patient Participation Group, for suggesting we publish this and to Tracey Rymer, the Practice Manager, for permission to use these experiences.
Just click the links to each or scroll down to read them all…
Thanks to Brigid Hurn, Jenny Vandries and John Grindlay for sharing their experiences. You can find links to other sources of information on the Signpost too: Local Healthcare
I’d been told 2 years ago that I had cataracts, but had decided that they weren’t a problem so I wouldn’t have them done! What changed my mind was being told that my sight was now on the limit for driving! The thought of not being able to drive just beat the thought of someone messing with my eyes!
I had to stop driving at night because headlights just dazzled me.
I must have spoken to about 60 people who had had treatment, and about 58 were delighted with the results, but I found it easier to believe the 2! I admit it, I was terrified! But it had to be done.
The day of surgery (after very little sleep) I met the other 7 being operated on that morning, all the first timers looking anxious, the second eye people looking calm. The pre-op was simple, it was then just waiting for my turn. Fortunately there is a nurse to hold your hand, my poor lady must have had a numb hand for hours afterwards!
The actual operation took about 10 minutes, I couldn’t see or feel anything, then it’s cup of tea and biscuit time. My vision improved gradually over the next few days, until I could see more clearly than had been possible for about 20 years! My big problem then was one good eye, one bad! I couldn’t wait for my other eye to be sorted!
Now I no longer wear glasses, can see everything around me, and would recommend having treatment to anyone with cataracts. But be warned, colours change! I discovered I’d been wearing clashing colours for years and nobody had told me!!
Some personal experiences
I was in the habit of having regular annual blood tests, on the advice of my doctor at Byfield Medical Centre.
On 21st January 2015, I had my “annual”. To my surprise, Dr Bone wished to see me, urgently.
Saw him on 29th January, and he said my PSA level (Prostate Specific Antigen) element of the blood test had increased from a “normal” level of 4.0, to 10.4 in the previous 6 months. He went on to explain that this level in itself was not necessary of concern, but for the fact it had increased significantly in a short period of time (10% per annum is not unusual).Dr Bone at once referred me to a Consultant Urologist in Oxford (in my case Dr Jeremy Crewe, but I should add that there is an extensive excellent team in The Churchill in Oxford).
I saw Dr Crewe in Banbury, on February 11th. He questioned me about my waterworks; I explained I did need to pee often at times, and not always emptying the bladder. He gave me a “rectal examination”,. This wasn’t a very exciting moment, and I have to admit it was a bit uncomfortable, but no after-effects.
He explained he then needed to carry out a biopsy in order to take small samples of tissue for examination. This procedure would be carried out in hospital, under clinical conditions.
On March 4th, prior to the biopsy samples being taken, I had an Ultrasound Scan on my prostate, then a urine flow test. On the same day, I was in hospital for a short time, for the rectal biopsy. This wasn’t as bad as I feared, as some anaesthetic cream was used to relax the muscles, and reduce the sensation. Dr Crewe took 10 samples from me, 5 on each “side”. These were like having some pin-pricks up the backside. The process only took a few minutes. I was given 48 hours of anti-biotics, to suppress any possible infection.
Dr Crewe then explained he was going away for a couple of weeks; did I mind waiting till March 18th for the result, and we made an appointment for that day (my wife’s birthday, as it happened!).
I have to admit, I was happy in my own mind that my problem was not severe & I was sure I had no cancer.
So, I booked a window table with a bottle of bubbly, for lunch at “The Trout” at Godstow, to celebrate the birthday and my expected happy consultation with Dr Crewe, accompanied by my wife, on the morning of March 18th.
What a mistake I made…
I quote Dr Crewe’s words, “There are signs of prostate cancer on the left side of the prostate. On the Gleeson scale the score is 7 (3+4). However, the right side is completely non-malignant. There is a sign of perineal invasion, but not outside of the prostate”.
So, I asked him in simple terms what all this meant.
He said I did have prostate cancer, and the Gleeson score rated the aggressiveness. My scale was moderately aggressive. Most likely, this did not warrant surgery but he needed me to have a MRI scan for confirmation.
I asked Dr Crewe what the options were.
Three, he explained; do nothing, operate for removal, or undertake a course of Radiotherapy.
I said we would think about it (this had now become a joint decision), and as we were due to lunch together, we could discuss it fully. I questioned Dr Crewe in detail about the options. He did not recommend surgery in my case, and I wasn’t suitable for “seed brachytherapy” (where a radioactive seed is implanted in the prostate), as my prostate was the wrong size.
We were left with options of either radiotherapy, or doing nothing.
I have to admit, I was immediately in favour of doing nothing, and let nature take its course, whatever that may have been.
We didn’t decide over lunch that day.
I am lucky to have a supportive family, and it so happened that children and grandchildren were all due to visit the following week-end for family Sunday lunch. My prostate became the lunch topic…not the most favourable subject over roast lamb.
I was outnumbered, and it was unanimous that I should elect for radiotherapy.
So, on March 27th I visited Byfield surgery and asked Dr Bone to arrange a course of treatment. He sensibly agreed and observed “you will die with it, not of it”.
I saw Dr Crewe at the Horton on April 16th, and he arranged for me to have a MRI scan on April 29th. This determined the exact position of the tumours.
On May 12th, I then saw a urologist (Dr Ami) at the Churchill, where I had the procedures I was to undergo, all explained. I was then overtaken by events;
May 19th, “gold” implants shot into my groin area. These accurately mark the exact line of fire for the radiotherapist. This was a more uncomfortable procedure than I expected, but very rapid.
May 27th, Byfield Surgery. 1st injection of Triptorelin (by Dr Harrison), a hormone injection, followed by 6 weeks of tablets. This hormone treatment is to stop the production of testosterone, and so helps to stop the prostate cancer from growing.
July 24th. CT scan at The Churchill.
July 29th. Blood test (Byfield), to check finally on PSA level.
August 10th. Second hormone injection at Byfield. My PSA level had dropped, as expected, from 10.5, to just over 1.0.
At this stage, I was tempted to walk away and drop the treatment. The doctor said this was normal, and not to halt treatment, the cancer was still there.
August 24th. FIRST DAY of radiotherapy treatment, of 37 sessions, until LAST DAY on October 13th. All at The Churchill, Oxford.
So, from first visit to Byfield Medical Centre on January 29th, to last day of treatment on October 13th, it took 37 weeks. But that was not quite the end.
November 11th. Blood test, for PSA levels. Saw Dr Ami, and levels down to PSA 0.12
After effects? Apart from blood tests for PSA levels every 6 months, and some pain killers for immediate after-effects of the radiotherapy, the long-term after-effect is still the urgency to pee at short notice and more frequently than of old. But these are insignificant when compared to coping with possible terminal cancer….
I made my visits to Oxford as pleasant as I could. My treatment was all through the summer months, so I took picnic lunches most days and got the train from Banbury. At Oxford, there are regular buses to The Churchill (do NOT get the JR bus!). I often went via the city centre, and had my picnic visiting most of the old colleges, before re-joining a bus to the hospital.
As for the radiotherapy treatment itself, the zapping is over very rapidly, but the preparation procedure and time is wearing. Do read a booklet about it all (see below).
One final tip for you men with a concern: do talk to others who have had or are having treatment. A trouble shared is a trouble halved.
Suggested reading matter for those with a concern:
“Treating Prostate Cancer, Questions and Answers”
From: Prostate Cancer Research Centre, Britannia House, 7 Trinity street, London, SE1 1DB
020 7848 7546
Surprisingly, it all started with my knee giving way occasionally when I last expected it! At my annual MOT, I mentioned this and the doctor sent me for an x-ray. “How’s my knee?” I asked the radiographer. “There’s nothing wrong with your knee it’s your hip!”
So it was then that the process started, along with the pain in my hip! Next step was physiotherapy. “It is not going to cure my hip so why waste the time?” “Look at is as pre-hab, getting your muscles ready for when you’ve had the op”. I’m not sure why, but that satisfied me and I did what I was told after that! (there’s a first time for everything!)
Next was the on-line Oxford Hip Score Test, which grades you from ‘lose weight to do more exercise’ to ‘go straight to the surgeon, do not pass go do not collect £200’! Sad to say I was the latter.
Then a trip to the Ramsey Treatment Centre in Banbury to see the surgeon, when they actually booked the operation date! The depressing bit was reading the letter he wrote to my GP saying what the problems were – I had to look up a lot of the words, and hadn’t realised how badly I was walking.
Before the operation I made sure my home was ready for me – no bending or stretching, getting a cushion to raise the height of a chair, glass by the washbasin, easy to put on trousers and shoes. This came in really handy later. A friend had told me that it was a wonderful when the arthritic pain just disappeared, but it still hurt from the wound, and this was very true, but it was no more pain that I’d had before, and I knew it was going to decrease.
Having a new hip means learning to walk again, and not lurching or limping: learning to dress yourself using a grabber and a long shoe horn; sleeping flat on your back for six weeks, and using a loo when you mustn’t swivel!! But once six weeks have passed, oh the joy of walking distances again without pain, putting your own socks on, and going up and down stairs normally!
It was SO worthwhile!
It can be a very scary time when you are told you have cancer. From the moment of diagnosis to hearing you will have to attend daily radiotherapy treatment must evoke all kinds of emotions. I hope by reading this I can put your mind at ease and hopefully answer some of those nagging questions you may have.
What is Radiotherapy? Radiotherapy is the use of high-energy x-rays to destroy or damage cancer cells. Along side surgery and chemotherapy it is one of the major treatments used to treat most forms of cancer. Below is a picture of a Linear accelerator used to deliver radiotherapy.
Before you can start your Radiotherapy, your doctor will ensure you have a CT or some form of scan. This gives the radiographers and doctors all the information they require to plan your treatment. Often during this process, the radiographers need to make tiny permanent marks on your skin (often called tattoo’s), These are done by putting a tiny prick of ink under the skin. If, you require these a member of staff will explain them to you thoroughly and check you are happy to have them.
Some people may need to have a mould made of clear lightweight plastic or mesh (see picture below). This is usually for the head and neck area but sometimes they are made for other parts of the body. They are used to ensure you are in exactly the same position for your treatment every day.
Also, before your treatment begins you will see either a doctor or a radiographer. They will explain about the treatment and make you aware of any side-effects you may experience. You will be asked to sign a consent form. Before you leave you will receive a list of appointments for your course of radiotherapy. If you have any special requests or requirement’s, please let someone know and staff will try and adjust these for you. The number of appointments you must attend is very individual. A course of treatment can be anything from 1 treatment up to six or more weeks of daily treatment.
On your first day of treatment you will be given a lot of information. It is worth taking someone with you to help take it all in. If this isn’t possible then ask the radiographer to write things down for you. The treatment itself will be explained so you are fully aware of what will happen. Generally, treatment takes approximately 10-20 minutes and you don’t see or feel anything. The radiographers do have to leave the room during the treatment, but they are not gone long and will constantly be watching on the CCTV cameras to check you are OK. Once treatment is finished you are free to go home.
You will usually see a doctor or a radiographer most weeks throughout your course of radiotherapy. They will monitor you and check you are coping with the treatment. There are side effects to the treatment, and these tend to be localised so only effect the area you are having treated. The radiographers will give you full instructions on how to deal with this and any other side effects.
Things to be mindful of:
- Allow extra time for parking at the hospital.
- Most hospitals will provide you with a parking permit for your course of treatment so just ask a radiographer when you attend your 1st appointment.
- The linear accelerators used to deliver the radiotherapy treatment are extremely complicated and because of this they do sometimes break down. Every department has its own technicians and physicist on site to deal with this when it happens. Staff will keep you informed of any delay but please be patient.
- You are attending radiotherapy daily so please feel free to ask questions. There isn’t much staff haven’t seen, heard or been asked before! Don’t suffer in silence!