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My Story - A battle with Cancer and Brain Tumours:
This article was published at the suggestion of the Editor of "Service", The Western Australian publication of Diabetes Australia. The full manuscript was too large for the magazine, a condensed article of this was published in the November 2003 edition, giving a general outline of the full original version below.
It is published to share the traumas and recovery from several operations and my outlook on life in helping me overcome the many associated problems.
I hope you will gain some benefit or encouragement from reading my story
Why Me? - by David L Smithdale
This is a long story and is originally as written. I have toyed with the idea of tidying it up. But these are the original comments I made at the time they happened.
After school at 15, I ran away from home and joined the Royal Navy and served in several "active" areas in Egypt and Cyprus and spent quite some time in the Persian Gulf region, in fact I spent most of my time on shore installations than ships as my trade was in cryptographic communications. In 1956 I was discharged from the Navy, following the death of my father from cancer and I became a Constable in the Norfolk County Police, serving for 10 years, during this period I was to attend and deal with some grisly situations, eventually I was on the promotion ladder, having total responsibility of three villages, which included part of the Royal Estate of Sandringham. I was selected on many occasions to serve at Sandringham House during the occupancy by the Royal Family. I had married and we had three sons. In 1968, following the economic decline in the UK, we decided to emigrate to Western Australia, being one of the last "10 quid to and froms".
Initially I worked as a radio technician with the then Whitfords Broadcasting Company at their Northam transmitter, 6AM, which relayed the Perth 6PM programmes. Later I joined the Burmah Oil Company as a Radio Operator at their Broome base and served as Radio Officer on the oil rigs, Ocean Digger, Big John and Regional Endeavour . During this period I also acted as paramedic dealing with the numerous minor accidents that occur on these facilities, until one day on the Big John we had a very serious accident resulting in the loss of life and several severe injuries. I received a commendation for my part in the treatment of the victim and the injured of that incident. Later the unions lobbied for and got a full time qualified nurse allocated to each oil rig.
I served 7 years with the Burmah Oil Company, which later was to become under the control of Woodside Petroleum. During this period my first marriage ended in divorce - Absence doesn't always make the heart grow fonder. .
In 1975, I remarried and from this marriage I had a further 2 more sons. Life had been fairly kind to me healthwise to this point in my life and in general I got along very well, having never been out of work. I established myself as a competent electronics technician working with various local companies, including Tropical Traders, CSA and Lou's TV & Radio. I also established my own business, servicing communications equipment on remote farms in WA. A back injury sustained whilst working on a private cruise boat, limited my activities in 1978.
Whilst at CSA (Communication Systems Australia) I was promoted to service manager, a position I lost, together with the manager and sales staff, when the company was sold. The manager set up his own business and I was later to join him as his service manager/technician, and was responsible for designing and setting up the communications network for Channel 9 TV for their coverage of the America's Cup from Fremantle back to their Tuart Hill studios. Later the company, Global Communications, became agents for Nira Teletracer and I was responsible for maintaining the in-house pagers at several of the Perth Hospitals and Hotels.. In all life was good
In 1988, my world took a massive downward turn, initially I was not sure what was happening to me physically. I started putting on quite a large amount of weight and my work was not up to its usual reliable outcome, I was also having problems with my eyes and decided to see my local optician, it was found that the right eye was presenting an indication of high pressure and subsequent tests confirmed something was not right and a CAT scan was eventually called for. This was just prior to Christmas 1988, when the results of the CAT scan were diagnosed, I was called to Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital (SCGH) to see a Neurosurgeon, who advised me that there was a massive tumour (Meningioma - benign tumour) sitting between the frontal lobes of the brain and extending down behind the right eye and was pushing the eye forward. The surgeon wanted me to enter hospital that day, but I said that was impossible as I was on a "two hour parking meter" I am not sure that he appreciated my warped sense of humour, and told me to get back to the hospital in two days time, on Friday 13 January,1989 they carried out the operation, good job I was not superstitious. I also later found out that I did not have too much time left to get the tumour out before it either terminated my very existance or did severe permanent damage. The tumour was over 2 inches in diameter..
The operation which lasted over 8 hours was a success and Mr G Wong, my neurosurgeon was very pleased with the result, but they could not be 100% sure that all of the tumour remnants were removed, it only needed a single cell for it re-grow. I left hospital after 10 days and here my problems started. Like most families, we had a mortgage, youngsters at school and the usual family commitments, I was advised by my employer that my job would no longer be available, due to financial problems, falling off a good income perch to sickness benefits only, was quite traumatic.
My recovery physically, went quite well, but I was not to fully realise the psychological effects of the operation until much later, unbeknown to myself I was going in and out of quite bad depressive stages. After six months I decided I had to obtain employment to survive, my partner was not very helpful in assisting the home budget and I secured a position with CSA again as service manager, the company had changed hands again and the small staff were just about running the place with no control over stock and test equipment. I noted a large amount of the original test gear was "missing". I was able to re-organise the stock control and also recovered quite a bit of the missing stock and test gear. I also engaging new and more reliable staff. However after six months the stress and problems associated with the job were to become too much for me to handle. In December the owner of the company decided to sell the company, as a result of my failing health and declining ability to handle stress and pressure, I decided not to remain with the new owners and my position was terminated. At a subsequent medical examination, it was found I was in severe depression and was placed back on sickness benefits and medication. I was also diagnosed with osteo-arthritis in my hands and spine.
Six months later, I tried again to enter the workforce and received a government sponsored position as a radio technician with a company at Maddington, only for this position to fold as the Government subsidy ended after six months, the work was light and I was managing myself reasonably well. The company also claimed that due to downturn in business they were unable to afford any extra staff. Following this, I was placed into a Commonwealth Rehabilitation Programme, I received excellent support here, but on one occasion when I went for an interview for a position, I broke down under a bad depressive spell and they decided that I should have further medical tests. As a result of these tests I was eventually placed on Disability Support Pension in 1991, my working days over...I was 57.
If this was not enough, at home another crisis was looming. My wife's anti-social activities, were causing problems for myself and the boys, it reached a point where she was ordered to attend a rehabilitation centre, but this was a total waste of time and money.. We had real problems..
I was shortly back in hospital with severe abdomenal pains which resulted in a Cholestectomy at Bentley Hospital.
For the following six years the boys and I were subjected to the problems created by their mother, who was becoming clinically affected by substance abuse, when in 1997, I eventually paid off the home, I filed for and conducted myself, a divorce petition which was granted in November 1998. I gained custody of the boys and the family home. Finances were very poor but I was able to make a satisfactory settlement regarding property. During this period I was almost continuously on anti-depressant and painkilling medication, I was really beginning to believe the mis-used phrase "Life was not meant to be easy"... I believe the phrase continues.... "but can be most delightful at times" I could sure have done with some of those!
I had for the final three years of the marriage, been totally looking after the two boys myself, eventually I managed to gain control of the Family Payments to assist in feeding them and meeting their needs. I had sold virtually all my personal possessions associated with my hobbies to keep our heads above water, on many occasions the balance at the end of the fortnight was no more than 50 cents credit, sometimes not that, but I made it through. One Christmas we were without hot water when the gas heater broke down and I had no money to fix it, eventually I went cap in hand to the Department of Community Services who had the unit repaired. The first and only time in my life that I had ever sought outside or charitable assistance.
My younger son's education had suffered because of the problems at home and I successfully placed them in Canning College to regain their missed exams., the elder son Paul gained entry to University to do a BSc computer degree. he has since gained his degree in IT and now works for a major Australian shipping company. Mark, the youngest completed a rehabilitation course and did a traineeship in Office Administration with the Western Australian Police Force. Unfortunately he still continues to have difficulties in getting into the work force
Despite my own difficulties I tried as hard as possible to support and help them and I get more than a little satisfaction that I have achieved this in certain areas.
At this stage my thoughts were cast back to what my father had said, I was beginning to believe that that "other" person was me, can life get any worse than this?. Following a routine medical test in 2000, saw me diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. initially it was decided to allow it to run under observation, however further tests six months later showed that it was quite active and later that year a Radical Prostatectomy was performed by Mr Hill at Fremantle hospital. This was followed by a further visit to Fremantle hospital after I fell off a ladder and needed a wrist re-construction in 1999. Gee dont we have fun. The operation for the Cancer was 100% successful and tests since, have shown no further indications of any new activity.
As we entered the "New Millenium" I felt that maybe now I could settle down and get on with my life, having reached full retirement age, I also received a small UK pension which made a useful supplement to my Australian pension. At the end of 2001, I was having a routine follow up eye test by my ophthalmologist, when he advised me that there was some high pressure in the right eye... My thoughts were cast back to 1988 and once again I went through the procedures of having various tests done, knowing full well at the back of my mind, that there was another tumour. This was confirmed after a inconclusive CT Scan was followed by an MRI scan which disclosed the tumour located in the frontal, upper sinuses. In early 2002, I was back in SCGH under Mr Wong (Neurosurgeon) and Mr Grey (ENT surgeon) and the turmour was removed after a 10 hour operation which included quite a large amount of skull reconstruction, following damage caused by the tumour.
Once again I was allowed home after 10 days or so, only to be re-admitted a week later with a massive e-coli infection which saw my face blow up up like a huge pumpkin, as I was wheeled into emergency, I heard one of the nurses say "My, now that's a swelling!" My sense of humour was beginning to wain just a bit.
I was to remain in hospital for a further 5 weeks, being treated with high powered intravenous anti-biotics, before being released and continuing treatment with oral anti-biotics. Fortunately I returned to a home without all the problems of before and my recovery went quite smoothly, Prior to entering hospital I had been placed on anti-depressants, but voluntarily came off them some six months later and so far, touch wood, I have managed to keep my life under reasonable control without further medication.
Follow up tests have been carried out on my eyes by my Ophthamologist and high pressures still continue to prevail in the right eye, which is being treated with daily insertion of eye drops, which hopefully will prevent loss of sight in my right eye through glaucoma, the prognosis is good as long as I maintain the regular use of the medication.
Having read this far, one would think that there couldn't be anything else that could go wrong... But yes Folks! there is more... I was having problems with my feet, numbness and tingling, especially at night they were becoming quite stressful, I was referred to and saw a specialist, after being on a "wait list" for 12 months, who in my opinion, did not subject me to sufficient examination and tests, merely referring me back to a Podiatrist.. So in November 2002 I asked for a pathology test to be done for diabetes. The result came back in the positive and have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Since then I have joined DA and aquainted myself with the various needs to manage my life. I even managed to take a three week holiday away at Albany in March of 2003, the first holiday since 1985.
Most recently, I attended the "Living with Diabetes" course, which I found very helpful, I was unable to have the podiatry test as I had another medical appointment on the day. But I later attended a research diagnostic test at RPH, and as a result was referred to a "diabetes podiatrist" at Bentley Hospital for ongoing tests and treatment for peripheral neuropathy in the feet. So maybe I can at last, get on with my life ... Hopefully....Maybe? ... Of course!
At the end of the day I look back over the past years and wonder why? The human body is basically so very frail and vunerable and yet, it has the incredible ability to repair itself and above all, its controlling feature, the brain, can manage the traumas associated with such injuries or damage, even when the very organ itself is threatened. I have never accepted defeat at any time in my life, I have always followed the premise that there is an answer to all things... all it needs is the will to survive, the courage to take risks and above all to have faith in your own ability. I am not what you might call a very religious sort of person, but I have maintained a faith in my beliefs and have received some wonderful support from friends I made at church. As a result of the tumours and the operations to remove them I have permanent "scarring" on the frontal lobes of the brain, this in turn has reduced my ability to handle complex stress and pressure situations. After the first tumour I said to the surgeon I could never go through an operation like that again, but 13 years and 13 days later I did and I went into surgery with a smile and a joke, however I am not going to talk up any more operations! It is interesting how the number 13 keeps popping up. My second divorce was granted on Friday 13th November 1998. And finally, yes, there are lots of people worse off than me and my thoughts and prayers go out to them.
So how did I manage to cope with the past 15 years? I have always held the view that, if something is achievable and can be done, I could do it. Jokingly I once coined a "Family Motto" "If it can be done a Smithdale can do it". In fact I was reminded of this statement quite recently by my first wife, after making a negative comment. I have always held the view, that as long as you try to do your best, you will be pleasantly surprized at the result of your efforts. I have never been afraid to tackle new ground, be it in making furniture or trying a different hobby, maintaining a car, replacing clutches and gearboxes and general maintenance. Most importantly I have endeavoured to maintain at least one hobby as a means to "escape" from stress and daily problems, these hobbies have brought me into contact with other people, with whom I felt at ease to discuss various matters. I found that the saying "A trouble shared is a trouble halved" certainly has a real basis for having understanding friends, be they your neighbour or friends at the local church or across the world.
The biggest enemy with stress and depression is loneliness; it only gets worse if you bottle it up and worry about the situation, it is very important to have someone to talk to to be able to share your problems and difficulties. There are many counselling agencies and services both Government and Privately operated, these can be obtained from your family doctor and CentreLink. It is also why I became involved in scale model ship building and joined a Marine Model Club, I also joined the Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union (Birds Australia), not only did this get me out of the house and into the bush on bird observation walks and weekend campsites, I met some great people and was able to forget for a while, the problems at home. These activities were and still are great therapy. Membership costs of these organisations is generally a little over a $1 a week, a small price to pay for peace of mind and soul.
In conclusion, it is important to set goals, to believe that the clouds will clear and the sun will shine and that the future is there to be enjoyed.. Even the worst storms have to end sometime.
Often your life is controlled by your own activities, your general outlook and by the association with the people you become involved with. When these influences are having a detrimental effect then you have to gain the strength and seek help to overcome the problems, to remove or change them, only then will your life settle down. As I have mentioned, there are many agencies from your local church to government departments and counselling services who can help you. I have been to them all and without exception have received incredible support. I have avoided giving names and addresses, but one such area I must mention are the social workers at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital. Thankyou.
Please take a look at some of my hobby activities in my main web pages. There you will find everything from my first car I built, to oil painting, model making and bird recordings, plus details of my Amateur Radio activities.
Update: 2005 - You just wouldn't believe this could happen
On 23rd January 2005, I awoke to a painful headache and a swelling on the right side of my head, on contacting the Emergency Department at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, they told me to get in fast! The diagnoses? Osteomyelitis of the frontal flap of bone and tissue, the flap which had been removed twice before was badly infected, apparently by an E-Coli cell that had been laying dormant since my last operation in 2002.
The result, removal of the infected bone and closure of the wound and home care by visiting nurses each day and IV application of anti-biotics for 6 weeks. The outlook is good and with a positive mental attitude I am sure that once again I will overcome this latest challenge in my life.
Insertion of Titanium Plate
Six months of being careful and avoiding low flying bridges etc saw me return to S.C.G.H. on Friday 12th August 2005. I think I was more nervous and concerned about this operation than I was was for the previous procedures. I entered at 8am and went straight into pre-op routine, with the usual supply of pills and insertion of a multitute of tubes and plugs, at around 9am I entered the theatre. Not that I was aware of the event as they knocked me out beforehand.
My next awareness was around a couple of hours later in recovery where I remained for quite some considerable time as they tried to get my blood pressure to stabilise, for some reason, during the operation my heart decided to slow down by 50%. Later I returned to the High Dependancy Unit.
The following day, the head drain was removed and I was informed that the operation went extremely well. The procedure known as a bilateral Titanium Cranioplasty, where a metal plate was fitted to replace the infected bone removed in January, this accounted for almost 100% of the frontal bone flap.
My progress was good and late on ther second day I was out of bed and walking, on the third day I was showering and addressing my needs by myself and was moved to a single room, my BP having improved and recovered its original rate. I was also quite active wandering around the floors and took a trip outside to an enclosed garden area on the 5th floor. Day 5 saw me return home, the Drs were very impressed with how quickly I recovered and saw no reason for me to stay in hospital. Now it only remains for me to build up my strength again and once again try to enjoy an orderly and uninterrupted retirement.
Update: January 2006 - Oh No - not again - Three craniotomies in one year
Christmas 2005 saw me back in hospital with another big infection, resulting in the surgeons having to remove the titanium plate. The Drs preparing me are getting quite blase about me now, wheeling me straight into theatre and dumping me on the slab before knocking me out. So I can now claim to have been awake on a brain surgery operating table.(scary). It is understood that the plate will not be replaced. In any case I don't want it back and am happy to live with a "hole in my head"
I was considering re-writing this story, but then it has been written as it happened although a bit messy, I don't think I could do it any better and with the same feeling. An interesting note, I was up and about 20 hours after the operation and my nurse took my PJ's away to keep me in bed! "Mr Smithdale", she said; "We dont have people walking around in the High Dependancy Unit!" I complained to the Dr and he said "Walk around, they will soon give them back" - I was also allowed to go home for a few hours after four days, returning in the evenings. Unconfirmed diagnoses of latest blood test and CT Scan indicate the infection has been cleared.
Update: October 2009
20 years later, I look back at what has happened in my life and feel very lucky to have survived everthing. Needless to say it has left me somewhat devastated.
October 30 2009 a momentous occasion as I reach my 75th birthday, daily I fill myself with pills and potions, occasionally a scary incident comes along like renal colic and some violent attacks of neuralgia in the head, the aftermath of the surgery has left me with considerable scarring of the frontal lobes of the brain.
Currently I am having problems with type 2 diabetes which is becoming more difficult to control and my Doctor has changed my medication, hopefully to arrest the situation, but I continue with my hobbies and most recently I have been called upon to give public talks on the subject of building scale model warships. These have been very well accepted and gives me even more enthusiasm to get on with my life..
On the subject of diabetes many things have changed and recently new research has produced some changes to improve the management of both type 1 and 2 diabetes. Check your local Diabetes Information Services for the latest books.
I would like to thank all the people who have emailed me and who have read "My Story" giving me even greater encouragement to overcome the odds.
This is a story that has no ending. I hope to be around for some time longer adding positive updates.
If you would like a copy of this file you can right click and save the page as an html file.
Extracts and copies of this file may be used, provided source is acknowledged and is not used for monetary gain.
However~~ Any donations to the Smithdale rehabilitation fund are alway welcome :) Thankyou.
PROSTATE CANCERProstate Cancer is now the 2nd biggest killer of men over 50 years old. It has no preferences, rich, poor, tall or short, famous or just the guy next door
In my early 50's I never gave it much thought, until a friend of mine recommended that I should have at least a PSA test every couple of years. I did and later it was noted that my PSA (Prostate Serum Antigen) levels were raised and a biopsy was carried out later. This revealed a marked increase and the presence of Cancer. The resultant Radical Prostatectomy (open surgery) was successful.
It is now recommended all men over 45 to 50 to bear these facts in mind and start monitoring this vital organ. Death can be prevented if it is diagnosed early enough. The PSA test is not the definitive test, so please discuss this with your family Doctor ...It could save your life..
Well, I have reached my 77th year. No one is more surprised than my surgeon, doctor and least of all myself. To put it into real Aussie words everyone reckons I am a "bloody marvel". OK the back is shot with arthritis, I have a dirty great hole in my head, that occasionally gives me discomfort especially in the hot weather. If I stoop to pick up anything from the ground I have to ensure that one hand is holding onto something. I have the propensity to occasionally fall over, that can be a long way down from 197cm (what ever that is!)
My recent MRI shows that there is still plenty of working brain inside the remaining skull and they have even dropped the MRIs to two yearly now.. I have a charming young lady who comes in twice a month to help with housework from the local Silver Chain. Also my youngest son has moved out so I now living alone, I quite enjoy that, I can now play my kind of music as and when ever the mood takes me.
As I write this, Australia is going through a massive heat wave, with Bush Fires raging in the Eastern States and Tasmania.
Western Australia has had its own fair share of heat and fires.
For the past two years I have been in good health and met up with a lady on the internet.Our relationship has grown and in November 2012, she decided she wanted to meet me and travelled to Perth and spent a month with me.Subject to Government approval I am hoping she will be able to return in November this year to be with me permanently.
This has been a huge boost to my life after being on my own for so long. Her companionship and care for me has not only boosted my physical well-being and attitude, but also my mental health and, for the first time in many years I am now off anti-depressants. I still take a swag of pills daily, but nothing too violent!
Looking back through the years and the preceeding story, I have often considered re-writing it. But many people have told me to leave it alone. It is after all a blow by blow accountwritten as it happened. What better testimony to wonderfull surgeons and doctors we have in this modern age. Without them this story would have ended many years ago.
May Peace and Happiness be with all my followers in 2013.
Valentina, my fiancee' from St Petersburg, in Russia is now expected to arrive in Australia in March of 2014. The "Last Prime Minister" (Labor Govt) of Australia moved the goal posts, making it more difficult to obtain a Visa, increasing the fees and extending the application approval time to 7 months. This has added a further four months to our "waitng time" But having now "waited" for almost 3 years to be together, a few more weeks is irrelevent.
Over the past few months my medications have been reduced to only 5 a day, and my surgeon at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital has advised me that he does not want to see me any more and I have been discharged from the "out-patient" list.
I have an excellent Doctor, who has recently put me through a complete and thorough 79 year service and the prognosis is that my future looks reasonable.
2016. The End Of The Road ?
I find it difficult to write what will may be one of the final paragraphs of this "My Story". Throughout the years, I have met untold challenges, along the journey I have often kept back the lesser positive things in my life, the full blow by blow traumas of depression, the financial losses and the fight to get my boys through school and into the world, the battle to keep, run and maintain a home, all on a disability support pension, at the same time giving those two boys all the support I could. I like to think that I did give my sons a chance in life, one of them still remains on Disability Pension and probably needs my support now more than ever before. The other of my second marriage, has decided not to "communicate" any more and as such have not seen my sixth granchild to be born to my five sons. Not sure what I did wrong there? C'est la Vie!
Valentina arrived in Australia and on the 21st November 2014 we married at a very quiet and simple wedding attended by 3 very close friends at the Perth Registry Office. The financial cost in Visas, Airfares etc placed a huge burden on my single pension, plus what Valentina managed to save from her small pension in Russia. It will be two years before Valentina will be eligble for the Australian Pension and health card.
Healthwise I have gone through a number of traumatic health issues since 2012, the Gliosis (scarring) of the frontal lobes has increased and the after affects of my divorce financial settlement and associated costs struggling to keep the family home together, supporting my sons left a situation that I had to address by obtaining a consolidating loan and re-mortgaging my home. Unfortunately because of my age the Banks would not even consider the application and had to obtain help fron a Financial Broker at a much higher interest rate. In over doing things myself, I ended up with a fully torn tendon in the left shoulder and partial tear to the right shoulder. I was then required to see a heart specialist for a heart block and was told to take things easier. OK for the Surgeon to suggest, but difficult for me to do. Regular tests by my eye specialist at least showed that the Glaucoma in my right eye was being well managed, until last year I was then diagnosed with Cataracts in both eyes. These are being monitored 6 monthly and will be operated on when appropriate. Recently the latest test for the Glaucoma has shown increased pressures.
Summer 2016 is proving to be an extremely hot one in Western Australia, my wife is also finding it difficult to come to terms with, coming from the cooler latitudes of Russia. But we are happy together, she accepts that finances are tight and could be better. Love is not about possessions, wealth, health etc. Its about the relationship between two people, the respect and understanding.
As I have mentioned in my story above, I have always been proud to have been able take care and provide for my wife and family, the return of faith and trust, was not always forth coming in either of my previous marriages. I was cheated on and deceived, but my faith in humanity still survived. I will never see the end of the current mortgage, if I do I will probably be the oldest man on earth to have done so. I am now 82 and my wife Valentina 72. She is is giving me incredible physical and mental support at a time when I feel I need it most and my ability to handle things extends beyond my capabilities. One of the greatest fears I have is ending up in a retirement hospital home.
Hopefully, "My Story" will be around a bit longer and that I can add a few more lines in the coming years. I have not thrown in the towel completely. See you next year :) Thank you also to the many visitors to these pages, and to those who have taken their time to share and give me moral support over the past 27 years. Its been a very long road.
December 2016 Update
A fairly quiet year, but capped in November when I returned to hospital for repair of a Right Inguinal Hernia. The operation went well. Also in November Valentina qualified for her Permanent Visa. Unfortunately we now understand that there will be a delay in issuing the paperwork for around 15 months so looking at Mar/April 2018 before that gets issued!
Latest Update By the DIABP (Dept of Immigration and Border Protection.)
The Department has now increased the delay in issuing the paperwork for Valentina's Visa to 2 years. Why, is beyond any one's beliefs. This will now put the issue, maybe, at around November or December 2018. The Department apparently will not entertain any enquiry of any description relating to Visa Issues. They were very happy to withdraw the remittance from my bank to pay the fees. It is not a very nice situation.
2017. Annual update December
Well, another year has passed and I am happy to say that my life has settled down with a few traumas, the delay in issuing my wife Valentina's Visa has also prevented her from obtaining a health card and pension, which, resulted in her having to return to her homeland to obtain Medical Treatment under her Russian Pension. She left in June of this year and was diagnosed with cataracts. The procedure is free, but the wait list very long and has been allocated surgery in February 2018 and she decided to remain in Russia rather than incur excessive traveling expenses.
Apart from a couple of occasions of recurring back issues, my health has remained fairly constant and well managed. I also have been diagnosed with cataracts, but they are too small to be operated on and are thus being monitored by my Ophthalmologist.
Christmas and New Year without Valentina is going leave a gap in my existence, but I am looking forward to her return probably towards the end of February next year. At this point may I wish all our visitors a very Peaceful and Loving Christmas and Happiness for the coming new Year of 2018.
Here again I have updated this situation as of May 2018, it would appears that she has to go through additional surgery to her right eye and that has been scheduled for November 2018. I may also have an important announcement to make mid May, as I am due to undergo further medical tests, which may result in a dramatic change in lifestyle.
STOP PRESS May 2018:Australian Federal Budget announces that there will now be a 3 year wait before any Visa Applicant will receive any Government Welfare Payments or entitlements, following qualification. This means that Valentina will now not get any Pension Payment nor a Health Card until November 2019. We will have to survive on my single pension alone. Most "un-nice!" How I am going to meet my commitments I am not sure. Everything has increased beyond what meagre increases the Pensioners get.
At the beginning of May I had a further CT Scan relating to my back injury which affected L4, L5 & S1. That was followed by bilateral facet joint injections. to relieve the pain and discomfort that analgesics could not cope with. A full analysis of the CT Scan has also shown a lesion on my right kidney. That was further examined by an Ultrasound scan, which was inconclusive and presented no information for any prognosis. Subsequently I have gone through full Pathology tests of blood samples for my Kidneys and also blood count. The Kidneys passed OK but my haemaglobin levels are comparatively low. On the 22nd of May, the Radiology Clinic carried out a further scan of the kidneys with disclosing fluid. My current Doctor is on long Service Leave and my secondary Doctor is fully booked out so it will not be until 28 May that any further results about the lesion will be known.
June 8 From reports on the scans made, the lesions on the Kidney are such as not to suggest as being malignant. It is now case of wait until I can get an appointment with an Urologist for a full analysis and prognosis. However it has been confirmed that the mass below the bladder is a cancer growth and that there are numerous places in the skeletal structure that suggests that Prostate Cancer has returned and is spreading. Despite the removal of the Prostate Gland in 2000, under medical terms it retains that name.
An appointment has been confirmed with an Oncologist at the local Fiona Stanley Hospital Cancer Clinic which will take place on Friday 22nd June. After which an update will be posted here.
Cancer Strikes Again
Subsequent scans have confirmed that MetaStatic Prostate Cancer has returned. It cannot be removed nor treated per se and is terminal. However it can be controlled. In June I was placed on Zoladex, which prevents the production of Testosterone which is the "nourishment" for the cancer cell. My PSA was originally 170 ! Now, in November, my PSA is only 1.4 and Testosterone <.0.3 This means the cancer is now on hold and will not develope more nor spread. It is costly, the Zoladex which is a micro subcutaneously injected tablet is $AU900 per pill and I have to have one inserted every 12 weeks. Fortunately it is covered by the Australian Pharmaceutical Benefits Fund.