Your Mindset Determines Your Future
When did it start? I am 63 and started smoking at age 17. It was about March 2021 that I experience some blood in my urine, but it disappeared. It was only in December of 2021 that the blood in the urine returned together with a slight cramping pain while urinating. It, however, quickly become more painful with blood and blood clots, to such an extent that I visited the doctor (GP), in January 2022. He indicated that it is cancer and immediately referred me to a specialist that did a sonar and identified a tumor on the sonar scan. I was scheduled for an operation at the Unitas Hospital where the tumor was removed as well as another area of about 5cm in its diameter. A biopsy was taken which confirmed Stage 4 cancer. The prognoses were that people with bladder cancer pass away within a few months up to five years.
Preparing for the worst
My mindset at the time was to accept the worst and that I would have limited time left. This must be seen in the context that of all the people in the world only eight out of every hundred exceed the age of sixty-five years. I accepted that I would not be one of the eight people. I had a blessed life by the grace of God with my children and grandchildren living in the same town. They are all healthy and doing well. The specialist advised an operation to remove the bladder and chemotherapy. A CT scan of the intestine and lungs as well as a bone scan was clean. This option seems very drastic at this stage, and I was of the view that I will continue without the operation and let time pass. My major concern was pain which became more severe as time passed. The pain was mainly situated on the spot where the invasive cancer tumor was cut out, and when urinating. I also had to urinate more frequently. By night it was about every hour which directly influenced, having a good night's rest.
Surgery and treatment
After the surgery, during the next few months, I switched to a diet excluding all meat, sugar, etc., only eating vegetables and a so-called cancer diet. My weight dropped by 20 kg. At the same time, I use Rive treatment for cancer and some related programs to boost my immune system. I also took some homeopathic immune boosters and cancer pills. (Some 8 to 9 different capsules every morning and evening. The pain however become more intense, and I requested the Doctor (GP) to prescribe pain pills and sleep pills to at least reduce the pain. Most the days especially in the late afternoons the pain become unbearable to such an extent that I crouch on my knees next to our bed. This forced me to make another appointment with the specialist around the end of May 2022. He again indicated the removal of the bladder. My main concern was that they are going to cut a piece of my intestines to create the stoma (opening in the stomach for dispersing of the urine in absence of a bladder). It still seems drastic to do the operation and I postponed it again. He referred me to another specialist in Nelspruit that was nearer to me staying in Sabie. Nelspruit is about 70km from Sabie instead of 367 km to Pretoria.
"Living pain pill to pain pill..."
I still procrastinated and was living from pain pill to pain pill (Declo-Flam, Targin Act). A friend developed kidney stones and was operated on in Nelspruit. On his follow-up appointment, I also made an appointment with the specialist to discuss the progress and way forward. I was still of the opinion that time must run out if one could get the pain under control. He took a sonar which indicated more tumors had grown which now nearly filled a third of the bladder. If I do not intervene, the tumor will ultimately fill the total bladder to become a blood mass and I will not be able to urinate. My kidneys will stop functioning and I will be subjected to frequent dialysis and blood transfers, irrespective of the pain associated. He admitted me to the Mediclinic for pain relief, CT, and Bone scan. The CT and bone scan were still clean, and the bladder removal operation was scheduled for 12 November 2022. He indicated that when opening it might be that the cancer had spread to the adjacent areas which will only be visible when operating. As preparation, I had an appointment with a Specialist to confirm that my health is still intact to undergo the operation. I also went to see people that provide support to the public after they have undergone a bladder removal operation. The implication was explained in detail.
Arriving at the hospital at 7:00 Monday morning, I was booked in and prepared for the operation. The doctor that handled the narcotics explained the whole process in detail and what is going to happen during and after the operation. I was taken to the operating theatre and soon was not aware of anything. Only when I came back my wife told me the operation took about six and a half hours before I was moved to the ICU. After three days I was transferred to a normal hospital room. I was constantly on extensive pain-reducing drips. My wife booked into one of the guesthouses and came to visit me during the first days, where after she drove back and forth from Sabie to Nelspruit. It was on Sunday morning that I got some hallucinations, seeing crawling insects on the roof and all over. Also, experience going into an emergency operation due to a connection error whereby the kidney pipes were connected incorrectly. Not realizing what is reality or imagination I called up my family to come and help me as I believed it was time to say my final goodbyes. Soon the whole family was at my bedside, and I become relaxed and the hallucinations subsided. This was an experience that I never want to repeat. The doctor came by and later indicated it could have been from a side effect from the pain medicines in the drip.
Recovering at home
I was released from the hospital on the Tuesday, and going back home. The first two weeks were a major adaption to sleep on my side or back. Previously I always slept on my stomach. Every night I link up the night urine bag that takes a bigger volume that the day bag accumulating urine during the night. Before the operation, I had to urinate at least every hour during the night which now does have its advantage, and there is no pain involved. I only have some pain pills during the first two weeks after coming out of the hospital and since then I have not had any.
I went back to see the specialist for the post-operation appointment and the removal of the stitches. He indicated that to the best of his knowledge, he was able to remove all cancer, however, there might be some microscopic sells that prevail. This will only become evident at a later stage. The next appointment is scheduled for January 26, 2023.
I however have difficulty falling asleep and need to use sleeping pills. Hopefully, this will also pass. Still getting used to the urine bag at my side. It was about one month after the operation that my kidneys suddenly started to pain and the color of the urine was much darker than usual. My wife convinced me to visit the doctor in Sabie. She tested the urine and indicated that I have inflammation in the kidneys. After some antibiotic doses the inflammation disappeared. Meanwhile, I only have two incidents where the patch over the stoma started to leak but luckily with no serious cleanup afterward.
"Try to keep your mindset right"
Still weak but getting better and recovering each day. At least I regained my appetite and am now eating everything like before. Have missed the meat, biltong, coffee, some sugar, etc. It is still the early days, but hopefully, I will get used to the urine bag and sleep better. One of the most important things is to try and keep your mindset right to accept the impact that cancer has and its implications. I could have much less pain and agony if I sooner realized the final implications. I am still of the opinion that chemotherapy would do more harm to my body than good – time will tell. Due at the end of January for my next check-up to determine if all cancer had been removed.
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