Wednesday, 20 September 2023

Six Down #5

It’s five weeks now since the 6th instillation.  The burning wail as you pee has almost gone.  So, too, has the urgency, for the most part.    That high speed rush to the toilet only to be disappointed on getting there by the peeing  of just about enough to fill an egg cup.  That’s mostly stopped happening.  What’s left is draining tiredness accompanied by a cold that won’t really start and won’t really go. 

So how was your BCG experience Mr Finch?  Well, you don’t die.  And you can still mostly go to sleep at nights but it’s not something you’d wish on your friends.   My next step is going to be the biopsy.  This is a scraping of the inside of the bladder done via inflexible cystoscopy and under general anaesthetic.  The scrapings will show if the BCG has worked.  Has it held the cancer back?  Has it reduced its intensity?  Or are the multiplying abnormal cells still the same, or worse, on the rise.

Given the importance of this test result the Welsh NHS are surprisingly casual about letting me know how and when it will be delivered.  “Two weeks or maybe three,” says the nurse.  “If you haven’t heard then give me a ring.  I’ll do some chasing.”  Hell’s teeth,  I want to know immediately I come round in that recovery room full of people in robes and masks  asking me if I’m alright.  You want me to tell you if I’m alright?  It should be the other way around.

But there you go.  Human bodies are not computers where a swift scan by AVG would immediately identify the Trojan horse Sub epithelial Connective T1.  Humans need to have their samples examined by the lab and the results evaluated by a qualified person before prognosis is offered. 

I zoom into the Urology clinic in order to leave with them a requested urine sample.  This is “to be given at the clinic” in order that they may test for residual BCG delivered infections.  It’s about the fastest in and out of the hospital I’ve ever managed.  Into Clinic #18, enter  toilet, pee into bottle, deliver bottle to nurse at reception desk, then back out again to the car.  Ten minutes tops.  If only all appointments could be as swift as this.

the sample bottle

On my previous visit the turnaround was nearer two hours.  Wait, finish the book you have with you (in my case The Life Of Pee by Sally Magnusson “The story of how urine got everywhere” - David Bowie refrigerated it to ward off evil, apparently,  and there were even containers of it left on the moon) and then a scour of the notice board displays which mostly detail support groups for variations of bladder issues you don’t have and, then,  finally count the number of cracks in the tile flooring. 

To be fair my appointment was delayed to allow for bad news to be imparted to another blameless soul who’d drawn a straw far shorter than mine.  I saw him leave, grim faced, hunched, so slow walking. 

My final instillation was no better nor worse than the 3rd, the 4th or the 5th.  But all that’s deferred now, shoved forward into the future.  I’m actually in the position of wanting more of it.  If the cancer is responding then you get what’s called a maintenance dose of three instillations followed by several months off , another cystoscopy and then, all being well, more.  BCG, my old friend, if my luck holds I’ll be getting to know you well.

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