An Apple A Day

Cardiac ultrasoundMy dad celebrated his 86th birthday last year, a landmark he has reached in a healthy state in both mind and body.

He puts this down to to a number of things. He doesn’t drink much and has never smoked, other than for the odd cigar at Christmas, and even that not for many years.

He also keeps active through his lifelong interest in dog training and he drives to the club high in the Pennines several times a week to mow the grass and generally take care of the place.

But the thing he attributes his hale and heartiness to the most is keeping away from doctors. Pay them a visit and they’re sure to find something wrong and his theory has been proved right.

Dad saw his doctor about a growth on his back. He’d had it for years, but it was becoming uncomfortable so he wanted it removed. This was a simple procedure and the growth was benign. However, they did other tests and the news was less rosy.

His prostate-specific antigens (PSA) levels were high and an appointment was made with the consultant just before Christmas that more or less confirmed that he had prostate cancer.

This wasn’t the direst of news. If you’re a man and live to be eighty then you’re more likely to have it than not, indeed many elderly men die without ever knowing there was a problem.

And dad was showing no other symptoms, scoring zero on the self-assessment form, but once the doctors have discovered a condition then they have to treat it.

Dad’s worst fear was that this would involve radio or chemo therapy and he became quite relaxed about the whole business once he found out that it wouldn’t and he was immediately put on a course of hormone medication.

That should have been that, but then he was asked whether he would be willing to take part in a trial to compare the effects of the hormone treatment as an injection which is the accepted model, or by using slow-release patches.

He was quite keen on the idea because he much preferred the latter to the former. The trouble was that this involved a whole range of other tests to determine whether he was a suitable candidate, culminating in an early evening appointment yesterday for an echocardiogram.

So what with this and Mrs P’s hip replacement, I’ve spent far more time in hospital of late than I ever did when I worked for the NHS.

And the moral is never visit your doctor unless you absolutely have to!

Nobody’s prefect. If you find any spelling mistakes or other errors in this post, please let me know by highlighting the text and pressing Ctrl+Enter.

10 comments… Add yours
  • rhymeswithplague 17th January 2013

    I’m nearly 72 and my PSA is 0.4 (very low, which is very good).

  • Jennyta 17th January 2013

    My dad (89) was discovered to have prostate cancer about three years ago and always says that if he had not gone to have a hip replacement, the blood tests that revealed it would not have been done and he might never have known. He too is on hormone injections and so far, they seem to be working well.

  • Roger Green 17th January 2013

    My father died of prostate cancer at 73, had it for 3.5 years, so I’m always getting my PSA checked.

  • Iain 17th January 2013

    Grandad is awesome. If I’m half as good as he is at 86 I’ll be very happy. I think it’s a Rhodes thing though, as I never visit the Dr. That’s why it took coming off a mountain bike at 20mph to find out I’ve only got 1 kidney.
    Speak soon

    • Mr Parrot 18th January 2013

      Update after the hospital visit this morning. Your grandad is now on the trial and the consultant said that a twenty year old would be happy with his chest scan!

  • Trevor Rowley 18th January 2013

    Your father sounds very much like my late father, Mr P. Mine was raised in that generation just after the First World War, and long before the NHS, where you had to pay for your visits to the doctor to obtain his (or her) guidance about your health matters (and that was even before he had got round to your medication/treatment. As a result, families only went to see their GP if they could afford it and, in working class Britain in that era, the majority couldn’t. Dad rarely, if ever, went to see his doctor – on one occasion, the doctor politely even asked my mother if Dad was still alive as he hadn’t been to the surgery for over ten years. Not one for fancy (or expensive ) remedies, Dad only occasionally resorted to an asprin or two for his aches and pains and kept himself scupulously clean and well groomed – including washing his hair with Fairy soap (a household soap sold in a green block and generally marketed for getting rid of those stubborn stains in your underwear and the collars and cuffs of your shirts). He gave up smoking in his forties after he had seen the error of his ways but enjoyed a pint or two of mild beer a couple of times a week. Still ballroom dancing in his nineties, he had several lady admirers who always remarked on the pleasant fragrance of his after shaves. If he had still been living, he would have reached his hundredth birthday this year so we’ll raise a glass or two to his good health come December next. God bless him.

    • Mr Parrot 18th January 2013

      The one test that had my dad nervous was the chest x-ray because of all the negative associations it has for him regarding TB. We tend to forget just how far medicine and health services have come in a generation or two and how much we take for granted these days!

  • Katherine 18th January 2013

    Your Dad sounds like mine too! My Dad is still going, he’s 82, just skin, bone and muscle, a member of the local ‘Amblers’ (says they are too slow and talk too much), the local tramping club, the ‘BikeAmblers’ (30 -40 km once a week), and the local orienteering group. He had a heart attack once on a walk and had to be airlifted off the top of a mountain – was in hospital for a few days having a ‘ream out’ (balloon procedure) and doubled his activities afterwards.
    The only other time he was in hospital was to have a colostomy (bowel cancer) and he’s had the bag for 15 years…

    My doctor says we should try and keep out of hospitals. He said ‘They’re dangerous places; people die there you know.’

  • Jay from The Depp Effect 21st January 2013

    I certainly have some sympathy with your Dad’s viewpoint. Every time I see a doctor they seem to find something new wrong with me, or want to ‘adjust’ my medication, usually for the worse as far as my level of comfort in daily life is concerned.

    However. … OH’s brother died of prostate cancer after refusing to have it treated until it had spread and started to cause other symptoms, and then it was too late. Therefore when OH found his PSA rising, he was very watchful and ended up having radiotherapy which dealt with it. That was some 7 or 8 years ago and all has been well since.

    I do know that ‘watchful waiting’ is a legitimate course of action for older men with prostate cancer here in England, and it’s a good one. Chances are that many of them will reach the end of their natural lifespan before the cancer becomes a problem.

    I hope your father does well. I’m sure he will!

  • Baht Pudding 22nd January 2013

    Regards to Grandpa Parrot. He sounds like a helluva guy and I applaud his reluctance to refer himself to doctors etc.. Is he Victor Meldrew in disguise? By lying on his back he will avoid prostrate cancer. If he’s not in any pan – what the hell. None of us live forever.


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