My Uninvited Lodger

Neal Bloom

Neal is a member of our patient community. In this blog, Neal shares his own no-holds-barred account of being diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer in 2018. Each individual’s cancer journey will be different and it is important to remember that the experiences described here may not resemble your own. This blog explores Neal’s personal experiences and may include content which some readers find upsetting. If you are looking for information on prostate cancer and its treatments, you can access our free information booklet here or download the Vinehealth app. For further information and support, visit our Prostate Cancer Help page.

On the 25th July 2018, I was diagnosed with advanced prostate cancer which had spread to my bones. My tumours are currently controlled by hormone therapy. I was told by my Oncologist that my current situation lasts on average for 3 years from the date of your last chemotherapy- that is until January 2022. Tumours eventually mutate and further treatment will be dependent on the rate of increase in PSA level. My only symptoms were aches and general pains in my back and pelvis which I thought was rheumatism.

23rd July 2018


This evening, I went to pass water and there appeared to be more blood than urine.

24th July 2018


Repeat performance so I booked an appointment with GP. Sample was taken and I was diagnosed with a bladder infection and given antibiotics. Warned by GP that if I became unable to pass water, to go immediately to A&E.

 

Unable to pass water so went to A&E (another unsuccessful attempt despite turning on the taps full blast in the sink and almost flooding the area). My bladder examined by a doctor, who attempted to fit a catheter but not a word was exchanged. Despite several painful attempts, it was unsuccessful and a different catheter was fitted by a colleague. According to my discharge notes, the problem appeared to be several blood clots blocking the catheter.

 

Transferred to a ward and had a cannula fitted to my wrist for drips etc.

 

Telephoned my wife, explained the situation. It was decided by her friends that she shouldn’t be left on her own and so she temporarily moved out of our house.

 

Lights out in the ward at 9.30pm and sleeping was difficult due to a noisy night shift and an airless atmosphere. I was woken at 3.00am for “OBS” observations (every 3 hours, nurses take your blood pressure, temperature, pulse and oxygen levels).  During the night, a blood pressure machine had been placed in my area, very reassuring!

If you would like to speak to someone who has had similar experiences to yourself, Tackle Prostate offer a free helpline on 0800 035 5302 run by prostate cancer patients.

25th July 2018


Lights were switched on at 6:30am and I was introduced to Kevin “the trolley person not to be upset unless you want to starve”. Hot drinks were served before the ward’s version of the “full English” was delivered.  Breakfast consumed, trays cleared away, all patients washed and gowned (the one size fits all version, no wonder M&S clothes sales are in decline), before the consultant arrived with his entourage, to complete his daily round.  The first blood sample of the day was taken by a lovely lady who despite describing my veins as “bent” took great delight in finding a suitable juicy vein at the first attempt.

 

A porter arrived to take me down for a CT scan. I was told to keep still by the staff and to follow instructions, (they obviously hadn’t met me before). I was eventually released and transported back to the ward.

 

Consultant arrived, requested a pair of Marigolds and proceeded to commence a digital rectal examination (considering suing due to an invasion of my private parts). The only audible comment was a description of my prostate as being hard.

 

My wife arrived and I related in graphic detail the day’s events and after a couple of hours she was taken to her lodgings.

 

At 7.00pm, the consultant reappeared to inform me that following all the tests and CT scan, my PSA was 907 but there was no explanation of what these letters signified.  I enquired what should be the normal range for my age and was told between 4 and 5. I asked whether I should be telephoning the Guinness Book of Records (in the immortal words of the late comedian Frankie Howard, “not a titter”).

 

‘Mr. Bloom you have Advanced Prostate Cancer, tomorrow morning at 10.30am you will meet a cancer nurse who will supply you with more information and later tonight, we shall be transferring you to the Acute Urological Surgical Ward’.

 

I telephoned my wife to break the news of my diagnosis. Surprisingly, I was just stunned. She was in shock, having only been home for 6 months following 17 weeks in various hospitals, to treat a benign brain tumour.

 

Transferred to my new abode, the end bed in a bay of six men with a lovely view of the sun shining on the concrete side of the building and the car park (I am not using this travel agent again). I was introduced to the nurse and paracetamol was dished out for evening consumption. Lights out at 9.30pm and once again, I was unable to sleep.

26th July 2018


At 10.30am, my wife appeared with a friend and both were allowed to attend my meeting with the cancer nurse.  I was told I had advanced prostate cancer which had spread to my bones (rib, pelvis and spine) and was provided information on Prostate Cancer UK and Macmillan.

 

I was informed that I must drink 2 litres of water per day. Oh boy, am I going to need that catheter! Initial treatment to be hormone therapy injections conducted at three monthly intervals (first injection whilst in hospital the rest at my surgery – Prostap 11.25mgs) No discussion of the prognosis or how long to be spent in hospital. I was also, to take a prescribed pill (Bicalatumide, a hormonal drug, for 21 days commencing in hospital).

Macmillan offers confidential support to people living with cancer and their loved ones. Call their Support Line on 0808 808 00 00

27th July 2018


Saturday, questioned by two medics as to why I had consumed breakfast- “nil by mouth” not on my whiteboard. I was told that I was supposed to be having an exploratory operation today because of the possibility of internal bleeding between the prostate and one of my kidneys. Must be serious as usually no operations are performed at weekends, something else to worry about.

28th July 2018


Staff nurse informed me that as my haemoglobin level was dropping, I was going to have a blood transfusion (no explanation of why a haemoglobin level would fall or its significance). My wife arrived with friends, I explained the situation and waited to be transported to theatre. No further action and “nil by mouth” now on my whiteboard.

29th July 2018


“Nil by mouth” still on my whiteboard, waited for any signs of action. Several episodes of intense bladder pain. A nurse had the pleasant job of disconnecting and reconnecting me to my catheter and inserting a large syringe into my …. to relieve a blockage and remove a quantity of blood- if I thought fitting a catheter was a problem, it was nothing compared to this new level of pain. My wife arrived and at 5pm a surgeon informed me that due to a couple of emergencies, there would be no operation today and I could eat and drink again until midnight.

30th July 2018


“Nil by mouth” still on my whiteboard, no action or any communications regarding the exploratory operation, no sustenance apart from fluids being pumped into me via the cannula. Waited all day to be told what was happening, the nurses appeared to know as much or in my case as little as I did but nothing forthcoming. I had more episodes of intense bladder pain.

31st July 2018


Awoke during the night lying on the floor with nurses staring down at me and helping me back to bed (I am such a drama queen). Apparently, I blacked out and I was wired up for an emergency ECG.  No signs of a heart attack or any other heart defects.  “Nil by mouth” disappeared from my whiteboard and the Registrar later informed me that I would no longer be requiring an exploratory operation and could order my cordon bleu meals as normal.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in Neal's blog you can find details of organisations that offer support and advice here:

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