Friday, October 30, 2015

Singing at the local Hospice

Image result for eolc nzMy GP phoned this morning to tell me about my PSA. I was a bit ahead of him, having asked one of the nurse practitioners to look up my file and let me know. She was supposed to tell him that I knew but he rang anyway and we had a good chat about the situation. He'd like to feel that something was being done about it but we agreed that the routine three-monthly oncology interview in December would be soon enough.. I will have had another bone scan by then and we'll also have a more detailed record of the ups and ups of my PSA over recent months.
But his call has prompted a little more thought than usual and this morning I turned back to the draft of my submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee on Health. I'll support any change in the legislation that recognises that the right to life includes the right to be able to end life if it has become totally unbearable and meets some specific criteria.
This rush of fingers to the keyboard, and the wrong time on my computer clock, made us a little late for our Barbershop Chorus's departure to the local Hospice to sing to them. There were more of us in the chorus than there were of them but it was a good time and we did pretty well for a bunch of oldies with a rather wide range of ability and concentration.
With my rapidly rising PSA in mind, it was a little ominous for me to walk through the Hospice and meet staff and patients, carers and volunteers. Whatever the outcome of the debate about Physician Assisted Death, nobody can detract from the fantastic work that they do and will continue to do. If that is where I am going to finish my days in the not so distant future, I couldn't imagine a better place.
But I am aware that a recent fund-raising appeal for Hospice was based around the lack of government funding for some vital pain-relieving drugs. The argument that nobody needs to suffer while dying seems to be not yet true. If our government continues to refuse to debate the End of Life issue, it must revise its budgets around total pain management.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Hanging in there with prostate cancer

The second of my regular monthly PSA tests shows 24% increase on last month but the average doubling time since March is still about 3.6 months. The slowdown since the horrific jump earlier in the year seems to be continuing.

It's about a year since I had the small dose of radiation on my lower spine and my PSA is now well above what it was when that was done. It looks as if the nett effect of the radiation on my PSA's progress is to knock it back for about nine months. That has to be a good result, considering the quality of life I have been enjoying over that year. My worst discomfort is still being caused by the medications, not the disease. After some 14 years, that's pretty good.

So life is continuing on its busy way. The book of Family Budgeting history is now online and I am starting some slow work on a print copy in case there is enough interest to justify a modest printrun. The Barbershop Chorus and especially the quartet is developing some very satisfying results and both of us have been contributing quite a bit to local church life as well as making our presence felt in the 360-strong Village community. Bev's set up a proper system of some mysterious nature for the indoor bowls group and I've coordinated a review of the audio system and its operation. I've done three CP patrols in the last few weeks and produced some good newsletters and a recruitment handbill. At home I've upholstered a rather worn dining chair and converted several hundred old colour slides for computer viewing and fitted a pair of novel but dubiously legal reading lights above our bed. But we've also been getting out and about a good deal, seeing a few good shows locally, doing some interesting walks and exploring some new corners of the region. Gosh, this is beginning to look like our annual newsletter - perhaps we'll be too busy to do one this year!

The Family Budgeting Story 1960-1978

About ten years ago five of us ancient family budgeters agreed to start work writing up the first decades of Family Budgeting Services in this country. But there was no money for a publication and, for various reasons, the project lapsed.
At the beginning of this year I decided to try to get it going again. On-line publication with free distribution could give the project some point.
Almost immediately I found I was the last one left standing and the experiences and memories were going to be lost. Head Office of the Federation came up with a modest collection of archives and also a remarkable thesis on the topic by Yvonne Burns, now of Melbourne.
It hasn't been the collaborative effort we had hoped for but at least there have been no editorial arguments. And yesterday the book went on line at Smashwords and is now a registered publication.
Considering the ups and downs of my prostate cancer journey during these eight months, it's been a pretty satisfying achievement. You can get it for nothing here.