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A walk on the mild side

07/05/2015

Heroin … will be the death of me. – Lou Reed

I don’t regret my time as a heroin addict. It taught me a lot about mood altering drugs, pleasure and pain, myself and the society I live in. It sure led to some adventures. But it left me with a little reminder I’d sooner forget. Hepatitis C.

In 1981 I contracted what was then called non-A, non-B hepatitis. They didn’t have many tests that could distinguish one virus from another back then. Now we have hepatitises A to G, many divided up in to several genotypes. My HCV genotype is ‘1a’ – the most difficult to treat.

In the pre-AIDS era it was hard to get clean needles in Sydney. A handful of pharmacists sold them – some for outrageous mark ups – but the police were known to stake them out and search anyone leaving who looked suspicious. If you weren’t a doctor or a diabetic just possessing a needle and syringe could land you in prison.

I worked at a pathology lab in Surry Hills run by very humane and dedicated doctors who weren’t particularly concerned about the law. One group of clients were the girls (and occasional boy) from the expensive Touch of Class brothel nearby who were required by their employers to get regular STD checks at the lab. When I explained my situation and that of my friends to kindly old Dr White he immediately offered to supply me with clean needles for free. Unfortunately there was little education to hand about intravenous drug hygiene back then and though we all stuck to our own needles we sometimes shared mixing spoons. That’s likely how my microscopic guests arrived.

Since the 1990s things have been much improved in NSW. Prostitution has been decriminalised, information about controlling the spread of blood-borne disease is easily accessible, and cheap or free needles and syringes are widely and legally available – except in prisons, where they are needed the most.

After its initial acute phase, my hep-c settled down to become a fairly non-intrusive companion. My liver functions were slightly out of whack, but not so as to make me feel ill. Maybe I was more easily fatigued than I would otherwise have been. But that was about it.

On the other hand, available treatments were unlikely to help someone with my HCV genotype, took six to twelve months to complete and had devastating side effects. One of my friends probably died of the treatment for hepatitis C, though he suffered no discernible symptoms from the disease itself.

My personal circumstances make the standard interferon and ribavirin based therapies particularly intimidating. Common side effects include severe depression and a host of autoimmune related problems. On top of my pre-existing bipolar, asthma, hay fever, iritis and ankylosing spondylitis the cure would have been many times worse than the disease has been so far. I decided on a wait and see approach.

But in recent years things have changed.

Rowland S Howard (pic by Adrian Cook)

The deaths of some of my favorite musicians from hepatitis C – Lou Reed and Rowland Howard being just two examples – didn’t really shake me much. I’d expected some other lifestyle related catastrophe to take them out years ago. The loss of sensation steadily creeping up from my toes is a bit more of a worry, but no-one is sure that’s due to the hep. The liver scarring is less ambiguous though. Even though I’ve gone from very moderate alcohol consumption to teetotal my fibrosis levels have steadily risen from zero to three over the past twelve years. Four is cirrhosis. There is no five.

More positively, there has been a revolution in the treatment of hepatitis C. The toxic, interferon-based Rebetron and Pegasys therapies are no longer the only options. Drugs that narrowly target the virus itself have become available. Not only have side effects been greatly reduced, efficacy has leapt from less than 50% to more than 90%.

But there’s a catch. 87,000 of them actually.

The new drugs are hellishly expensive – way beyond my means – and so far our government has declined to subsidise them. It’s a typical bureaucratic false economy. The old therapies cost the government around $30,000 per course – not counting the costs of side-effects – but only work for about one in three people infected with genotype 1a – the most common type in Australia. So the price per cure is as high or higher for the old subsidised drugs than it is for the new ones. I resigned myself to keeping my fingers crossed for a policy change while watching my liver slowly turn to wood.

But last year my neurologist made a proposal (no not that sort unfortunately – she’s very intelligent and attractive). One of her colleagues was getting around the prohibitive prices by running a series of clinical trials. Not on the pills themselves – they passed their phase III trials with flying colours several years ago. He was trying to pin down the more obscure health effects of chronic hepatitis by comparing pathologies of someone when they had the disease to the same person when they didn’t. As it wouldn’t be very ethical to infect healthy subjects for the comparison he was curing infected ones instead. The cost of the drugs would be covered by the funding for his research. After a series of assessments he put my name down as a volunteer for his next trial.

For nearly a year I’ve been waiting to hear whether the trial had been funded and today I got my answer. It wasn’t good. He only received sufficient backing to treat five patients and I wasn’t one of them. But I’d barely had time to register my disappointment when he broke the good news. The drug manufacturer has recently set aside enough free doses for four hundred people worldwide to receive ‘compassionate’ therapy. Almost ninety of those people are in Australia. Thirty-nine are outpatients at Newcastle’s John Hunter Hospital. One of them is me.

So in a week or so I’ll be commencing a three month, twice daily drug regimen that has an excellent chance of completely clearing the virus from my body. What a bargain! It took a two year course of three or more injections a day for me to catch it. Because of my advanced fibrosis the doctor has decided to supplement the basic quadruple drug therapy with ribavirin, which means I could be dealing with headaches, fatigue, itchiness, nausea, weakness, jaundice, bloating, sore muscles, stomachaches, joint pains, rashes, lesions, anxiety, congestion, insomnia, diarrhea, depersonalisation, fever, chills, sweating, tachycardia, mood swings, paranoia, forgetfulness, inability to concentrate and anemia for the next twelve weeks. Hell, that’s practically normal for me. Nothing compared to what interferon would have done over the course of a year.

If this program was really compassionate it wouldn’t be going to middle-aged, first world ex-junkies like me. There are plenty of young, third-world single parents infected with HCV who have poor prognoses due to co-infection, indifferent nutrition and lack of access to healthcare. If the drug company must distribute its largess to Australia it should probably go to prisoners. Prisons are the main loci for contagion in this country so each cure behind bars would result in a greater reduction in future infections. Also, shock jocks would loudly speculate that people might deliberately commit crimes in order to get their disease treated, putting pressure on the government to make the new therapies accessible to all who need them. Still, when I look at recent ultrasounds of my liver it’s hard to put altruism and pragmatism ahead of my own self-interest.

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From → autobiography

37 Comments
  1. Good luck with the treatment.

    It’s very sad what happened to Rowland S. Howard. I saw him play in Sydney about two months before he died – he looked dreadful, but my god that voice! He was better live than on record. RIP.

    Like

    • Ah, a perfect excuse for an old guy to expound on how much better it was in the old days.

      You reckon his voice was better live than on record? You should have heard his live guitar playing with The Birthday Party!

      I’d guess that even at 50 the audience made him perform Shivers. He wrote that when he was 16.

      Like

      • Of course. I’ve always thought I was born a generation too late. I mean, I can’t believe I missed the 80s!

        Like

  2. For Fox Sake permalink

    The treatment is going to first-world folks because the indifferent nutrition, barriers to accessing
    health care, etc for third-world folks would not yield the positive statistical percentages the
    boffins want so they can dazzle the stake-holders and pump their wallets for more dough.

    But you know you’re still part of the propaganda machine, yes?

    As for me, I just caught the Stage II cancer express.
    Destination: Bowels of Compassion.

    Like

    • But you know you’re still part of the propaganda machine, yes?

      Yeah. Still, I think a fashionably emaciated African woman holding a baby would make a better pic than I would. You don’t need stats for this sort of thing. Anecdotes and happy snaps work better.

      For once I’m on the side of the Big Pharma propaganda machine. I figure Australia got the lion’s share of free pills as a way of pushing the government towards a PBS listing. Even without the obvious vested interest I’d reckon these pills should be subsidised.

      As for me, I just caught the Stage II cancer express.

      Oh choice. That probably means a huge dose of interferon for you after they’ve hacked away the bits they don’t like the looks of.

      So are you looking at wigs, headscarves or scalp tattoos?
      How about a tat of a big crack across your head with a scaly claw coming out?

      Or are you going to keep your hair and shop for a stylish coffin instead?
      One with a mirror over your face so when mourners look in they see themselves?

      If you’re having any probs facing your mortality just drop me a line and I’ll try to say something that makes you feel much better about dying.

      BTW, if you’re still interested in the psychopathology of my uncle you might enjoy his recent post explaining how wonderful it was for him to kick a bunch of grieving old people in the guts at his father’s funeral. He calls it his ‘coming of age’. I kid you not.

      Like

      • Well, my fine feathered friend, I am thinking of getting a nice tattoo for
        my open right hemicolectomy scar – a ribbon in Bright Side pink, to lace
        up the dot-scars the staples left. Kinda like a French corset.

        Forthcoming attraction is a conversation with an oncologist regarding
        adjuvant therapy. As a heretic homeopath & former therapist in the
        wholistic medicine arena, I might just head north and feed myself to a
        saltie. Reincarnate as a Prada handbag.

        Found this gem by an award-winning cancer counsellor:
        ….cancer is a socially accepted form of suicide….

        Before I pop my clogs, I intend to purge the Temple of sCAM of
        all these well & meaning so-called healers… I think the career
        anticipation light on my latent Messiah Complex just went into
        high gear…

        Don’t mind me, I’m under the influence of Coloxyl.

        Always fascinated by the psychopatholoy of Uncles. I had one
        just like yours. He also used to be triggered by funerials. I almost
        feel sorry that he is going to miss mine.

        Thanks for the offer to coach me on eyeballing Mortality. Make
        a deal? Who ever goes first, puts the kettle on.

        BTW everything you write, makes me feel a whole lot better
        about living in Melbourne. By the beach.

        I just pretend to be a troll…good at it, I am.

        Like

        • So you’ve already been scaled and gutted. I guess that means there’s not much I can tell you about the delights of quaffing an interferon cocktail at sunset. It sounds like you’re already getting one of the common neurological side effects. The yuck centre of your brain relating to the colour pink has been knocked out. Are you suffering cravings for teddy bears yet?

          I suppose it’s too soon to say whether they nailed it in the lymph nodes. No news is the only good news from the big C.

          I might just head north and feed myself to a
          saltie. Reincarnate as a Prada handbag.

          Eat as much blackpepper and rosemary as you can first. A local cafe does croc sausages and I’ll check whether I can taste you in them.

          ….cancer is a socially accepted form of suicide….

          I used to get cancer envy when I was suicidal. No shit. Maybe the counsellor meant the treatments they give you are the closest thing to legal euthanasia in most countries.

          If you feel yourself succumbing to the relentless whistling-in-the-dark positive psychology of counsellors and support groups I’d prescribe a full dose of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright Sided. If nothing else it should provide bountiful inspiration for ways to tell the smiley brigade to go fuck themselves.

          Before I pop my clogs, I intend to purge the Temple of sCAM of all these well meaning so-called healers…

          That’d be the Samsom Option, no? Worldwide radiotherapy for that healthy global glow. Now that’s what I call holistic. Do ICBMs come in pink?

          Always fascinated by the psychopatholoy of Uncles. I had one
          just like yours.

          You’re kidding.
          You shot him I hope.

          I don’t think it was so much the funeral that set Don off as being on stage with a captive audience too frail to lynch him. When trying to describe my uncle even my most vicious insults fail me. So I turn to the term-of-abuse bible, the DSM. Narcissistic Personality Disorder hits home with a satisfying splat. Mind you, he should be pretty good at NPD by now. He’s been studying the instruction manual for decades.

          Who ever goes first, puts the kettle on.

          Where we’re headed it will already be well and truly boiling. Bring marshmallows.

          BTW everything you write, makes me feel a whole lot better
          about living in Melbourne. By the beach.

          Do you think that’s distant enough?
          I must try harder.

          I just pretend to be a troll…good at it, I am.

          Shit. I forgot.

          Look, ring your oncologist immediately and tell him it’s vital that he saves your life. Otherwise my blog will become irredeemably boring. Even the other trolls find it too tedious to bother with.

          If you can keep sending your cynicism by ouija board I promise to type it in for you.

          Oh look. You’ve given me a little tear now (rhymes with ‘deer’, not ‘bear’).

          Like

  3. I have already been primed, nickle & dimed by Babs Ehrenreich and following in
    the wheelchair skid-marks of my favourite ghostrider in the sky, Stella Young, I
    will be artfully dodging all attempts to fluff me into the latest centrefold for
    the inspirational cancer porn collective.

    Uncanny you asked about teddy bears. I just donated a grouch of rescued
    teddies to the local flea-shop.

    I will be getting the results of a chest CT scan when I pow-wow with the
    oncologist. The finding of the tumour was a happy byproduct of the
    emergency surgery for an ileocolic intussusception. Went under the knife
    on Good Friday. True dinks. BEST Oestre evah! Oh yeah….and I
    was transfused with 2 units of blood and discovered I am allergic to
    IV contrast dye. When the nurses wanted to give me more anti-spew pills,
    I told them to call an exorcist.

    Totally off my face on the morphine and I had hallucinations. There
    was a green girl and a talking raccoon. Imagine my relief, when I
    realized it was the fillum on the hospital movie channel my rumi was
    watching: Guardians of the Galaxy.

    Phew…..I cancelled the psych consult.

    Ya know…it was futzing with an ouija board that brought us the timeless
    wisdom of Seth. I’m half-disembodied already, so maybe I can came
    through on a Monopoly board; I’ll be the shoe token.

    In all serious-ness…..nah, I’m still taking the piss….I prefer to see myself as
    ahead of the times; a pathblazer as a prototype for the future big chimp evolutionary
    adaptation of streamlined large colon sans the cul-de-sac (caecum), ascending colon
    and appendix, (which does tries to kill you if you swallow orange pips and who needs
    a 50cm Inner Assassin). Not this little Black Duck.

    Indeedy-do. I tore my uncle several new arseholes….and there may be some
    karmic blowback if I end up losing my donut; hence the saltie contigency plan.

    Check on the blackpepper and rosemary. OMG!!! EUREKA!! What if that is the
    cure for the Jimmy Dancer!!!! (slap a patent on it…QUICK!)

    Typical male privilege. Where the fuck is the Delilah Option or do I have
    to sex-bomb you with some Tom Jones?

    Regarding your new drug regime; I found this for ya:

    Marketing strategy “relentlessly promotes a collective guilt” about the allegedly
    second class service (Adams et al., 2006), which the older inexpensive drugs give.
    Kendall (2011) tells “a tale of the triumph of profit over patient benefit, of marketing over
    ethics.” A favourite device compares the new generation with an older […]
    which has the most obvious adverse side effects of all. To compound the
    illusion, they give the new drug in a comparably lower dose. The comparison cannot fail
    to make the new drug seem more appealing. Manufacturers employ leaders of the
    profession to compare one new drug with another. A string of papers establish that one
    drug excels another, which in its turn excels yet another until the sequence ends with the
    first, now reduced to the bottom of the pile. Which drug a paper favours depends largely
    on which pharmaceutical company sponsors the study. Drug companies assist by
    arranging ghostwriters for busy academics, who put out an unbelievably large number of
    papers. The academics earn big bucks, trips overseas, research grants for their
    institution, kudos and promotion. The drug manufacturers get the time to make hay while
    the sun still shines on a current patent. They made enormous profits before the final
    verdict revealed that the new were no more effective or better tolerated than the old
    (Lewis & Lieberman, 2008).

    Clickum my name for the direct link to the source I tea-leafed it from.

    You forgot I iz a troll? D’awwwww….you say the sweetest things..

    How about marshmallow chocolate snowballs? My mum loved them,
    god bless her little diabetic cotton sox.

    Like

    • BEST Oestre evah!

      I’ve heard there’s worse places to hang out at Easter.

      God, I hope I’m never relieved to see Guardians of the Galaxy. If I had a roomie like that I’d be paging Dr Nitschke. Or swapping his drip with his colostomy bag.

      I prefer to see myself as ahead of the times; a pathblazer as a prototype for the future big chimp evolutionary adaptation of streamlined large colon sans the cul-de-sac (caecum), ascending colon and appendix, (which does tries to kill you if you swallow orange pips and who needs a 50cm Inner Assassin).

      It’ll never catch on. How many people know how to use a semicolon?

      Those are pretty nasty spasms TJ suffers in his right arm in that clip. Notice how freaked out the audience is whenever his hand gets near his face. And who but TJ could do a hyperbolic finish on the word “nose”?

      A band I was in (Indecent Assault) once lost a 2JJ Battle of the Bands contest to a cover of TJ’s homage to bestiality (or should that be ‘fromage’ – he’s pretty fucking cheesy) performed by Jeffrey, Jeffrey, hysterectomy (I kid you not). But that was fine. The vocalist with JJH was an old mate and my then girlfriend got to do backing vocals (“Meoww-owww-ow-ow”) and booty shaking in the resultant film clip. Not only that, one of the DJs much preferred our song (The Shit Song) and gave us heaps more airplay than the winner got.

      Yeah, I know how drug companies and clinical trials work. It’s actually worse than your extract suggests. It’s not too hard to find a series of trials proving that drug A is better than drug B, drug B is better than drug C and drug C is better than drug A.

      The trials proving reduced (often irreversible) extra-pyramidal effects from atypical antipsychotics used overdoses of the older comparison drugs to get the results (sorry about that trial subjects – you suckers!) while similar trials claiming better efficacy for the new ones under-dosed with the comparisons.

      When they wanted to prove the Pegasys treatment for hep-c was better than Rebetron they doubled the course length from six to twelve months and introduced stricter screening for patients due to the increase in cumulative side-effects. Viola! The 30-40% of people most likely to drop out were now excluded from the trials and the ‘efficacy’ rose from around 20% to 40% for genotype 1 (most trials did a bit more statistical hanky panky to push the result slightly above the magical 50% mark).

      And don’t even get me started on publication bias, data-slicing and multiple surrogate end points.

      But I’m pretty confident the new hep-c drugs are the real deal. Let’s face it, they’d have to work really hard to find something worse than interferon.

      Like

      • For Fox Sake permalink

        It’ll never catch on. How many people know how to use a semicolon?

        hah…………you’re terrible.

        Like

  4. So you’ve already been scaled and gutted.

    Funny you should say that. Whilst in hospital, I was pondering on how surgical medicine
    has really made ye old torture device of disembowelment far less painful. Morphine is
    a wonder-working substance. They gave me enough to drop a Burmese timber elephant!

    Are you suffering cravings for teddy bears yet

    I am a one-teddy woman. I do rescue orphaned and dumped teddy-bears I find
    adjacent to the road, bathe them and deliver them to the Op shops. Sent a
    sleuth of teddies on their way right after I came home from hospital. Too much
    unbearable cuteness.

    I’d prescribe a full dose of Barbara Ehrenreich’s Bright Sided.

    Already been nickel and dimed by Babs. I don’t have the ‘on trend’ breast or ovarian cancer; just
    bog-standard bowel variety. Taking a cue from the Carry On Doctor movie, when I attend for
    my first colonoscopy, I will lie on my stomach and stick a daffodil in my date.

    You shot him I hope.

    Nope, waste of lead. I did something more approprate. I pointed the bone and let the ancestral spirits deal with him.

    When trying to describe my uncle even my most vicious insults fail me. So I turn to the term-of-abuse bible, the DSM. Narcissistic Personality Disorder hits home
    with a satisfying splat

    I had the same challenge, then I recalled the term maggot which is universal, cross-cultural and intergenerational. He was also a scab Traditional Aussie terms-of-abuse are better fits for the descendants of whitefella Colon-ists. I wholeheartedly reject americana.

    If you can keep sending your cynicism by ouija board I promise to type it in for you

    Oooo, how tempting. Now if you make that a Scrabble board, we’ll have a pact. You
    do know to read the small-print, yeah? Caveat emptor

    I meet with the oncologist on the 19th. Going to wear my Star Trek badge, which I
    plan to tap intermittently and whisper Bridge. One to beam up. The hospital
    is in Frankston: Land of the Feral Bogans. Memo to self: avoid wearing red cardie.

    Like

  5. For Fox Sake permalink

    Seems like WordPress is eating comments.

    Like

    • That’s the Akismet spam filter.

      Must have spotted “I iz a troll” in your comment.

      Like

      • For Fox Sake permalink

        Aaah…..well, I just feel all embarrassment now posting two almost
        identical waffles. But I did get to figure out how to do code I
        can cross that off my Fuckit List.

        Like

  6. Already been nickel and dimed by Babs. I don’t have the ‘on trend’ breast or ovarian cancer; just bog-standard bowel variety.

    So do the support groups sell packs of lollies with brown ribbons instead?

    Nickel and Dimed was good (one of my cancer-terminated ex-cronies did an Australian version called Dirt Cheap) but I reckon Bright Sided is her tour-de-force. Being a skeptical rationalist who sees goddesses also attracted me to Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything.

    Hasn’t Paul Keating still got exclusive rights to ‘maggot’?

    And you know what ward you’ll be beamed up to if you pretend to be a refugee from The Enterprise. Then they’ll inject you with stuff that’ll turn the rest of your life into Guardians of the Galaxy.

    Like

    • For Fox Sake permalink

      And you know what ward you’ll be beamed up to if you pretend to be a refugee from The Enterprise. Then they’ll inject you with stuff that’ll turn the rest of your life into Guardians of the Galaxy.

      I’m going to Frankston Hospital: they won’t blink an eye. I’d have to do something that
      threatened the safety of the public to be escorted upstairs. Like throw a loaf of bread
      to the toddler-eating seagulls whose great-great-great-grandgulls took crib notes
      from Hitchcock’s The Birds when it showed at the Dromana Drive-In.

      Or wear the hospital gown with the ties on the front. That really messed
      with their minds at Sandy.

      One of the mysteries of the universe I have been pondering over lately is :
      should I be taking the advice from a specialist in malignant neoplasms who canna see the pragmatism in my donning the hospital gown on *ahem* backwards.

      Them: Do you know you have your gown on the wrong way?
      Me: All the better to palpate my abdomen, my dear.
      Them: Oh……yeah.
      Me: One to beam up……them, not me, you arsewipe!

      Like

    • For Fox Sake permalink

      Being a skeptical rationalist who sees goddesses also attracted me to Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever’s Search for the Truth about Everything.

      I didn’t know about that book. David Tacey’s Gods and Diseases: Making Sense of Our Physical and Mental Wellbeing and Honey and Dust: Travels in Search of
      Sweetness
      by Piers Moore Ede are worth a look.

      Like

      • I’ve got Ede’s All Kinds of Magic on my e-reader but I haven’t read it yet.

        I’ll keep an eye out for the others.

        Living with a Wild God was a little disappointing in that Ehrenreich sort of fluffed it in the end. Decided it was too hard.

        Mind you she was trying to to find the meaning and significance of mystical experiences that had mostly happened to her decades earlier so it would have been a bit surprising if she’d come up with the goods. The autobiographical side of it is well written and interesting though and she makes a mighty effort to approach her questions with an open mind. Not as good as Bright Sided but well worth a read.

        Like

        • For Fox Sake permalink

          Ede’s All Kinds of Magic was disappointing. It read like the book a publisher
          wanted to capitalize on the mystic-pilgrimage of Honey & Dust

          Oh course, Ehrenreich couldn’t get to the vinegar stroke with Wild God When
          you have a genuine mystical experience, the last thing you do, is package it
          into a commodity, place it in the marketplace, and ask the mob for its approval
          or to decide on its value or legitimacy. The seppos just don’t get it;
          they Kant Fucking Contemplate.

          My touchstone of memoirs is The FUll Catastrophe by our very own
          aussie sheila, Tracey Leonard. Read it 25 years ago and doing so gave
          me a deeper paradigm through which to approach the interface of
          the legacies of colonialism and the fluidity of songlines. Her brother, Richard,
          writes as well.

          As an australian with our unique landscape and memory, while it is entertaining to
          read the experiences of others, in the real world, I was grown in land down under
          where women glow and men chunder…

          I shall mosey along now.. You take good care of yourself and those bunnies.
          Don’t make me come and teach you how to fricassee.

          kia ora

          Like

    • For Fox Sake permalink

      So do the support groups sell packs of lollies with brown ribbons instead?

      I did ring the Cancer Council. They have offered me financial support:
      $200 worth of Coles & Telstra vouchers. Not just party planners for
      teddy bear’s picnics, eh?

      Like

      • So what Stage do you have to be at before they give you vouchers for White Lady’s?
        Or do our mob get sent to Boong’s Backhoes?

        Like

        • For Fox Sake permalink

          End stage gets you a half-price bus ticket to Snowtown, free 44-gallon drum
          and 18 months lease at U-Store.

          Like

  7. I was transfused with 2 units of blood and discovered I am allergic to
    IV contrast dye.

    A few years back a technician spotted something exciting while he was giving me a barium enema. Hardly surprising they find some interesting growths after they’ve shoved radioisotopes up your arse.

    The hospital was already softening me up for gutting and chemo when the cowboy colonoscopist saw it was just a whopper of a serrated sessile polyp. So he rassled it out there and then.

    Needless to say the cauterisation didn’t take and I was doing Dracula craps for over a week. Frankly I was more worried about what was going into my bloodstream than what was coming out.

    Like

    • For Fox Sake permalink

      When I turned 50 a few years back, I got sent the kit from Bowelscreen the
      same week that a truck ploughed into my car, pushing me into a brick-wall.
      Kinda forgot about sending my poop off so I’ll never know if the malignancy
      was in play then, or still ‘dwelling’. The caecal adenocarcinoma was
      poorly differentiated. The pathologist couldn’t tell what it had been as a tacker.-
      sessile polyp, alien implant, tubulovillous adenoma, mummified gerbil….

      I was a bit worried about what was going into my bloodstream too. My ex was
      a regular blood donor and I flashed on that as I watched the blood inch down
      the IV getting closer and closer…..I sent up a prayer: Oh please, mary, jaysus
      and all the fluffy angels….anybody else’s blood but not hiiiiiissssSSSSSSSSSSS.

      The first unit went down a treat. The second unit felt like a bad batch.
      I look forward to transforming into a werepossum next Full Moon.

      Like

      • I chucked my Bowelscreen kit out. Not because I reject occult blood tests for asymptomatic semi-centenarians. Unlike PSAs for prostate cancer or mammographies for breast cancer I reckon risk:benefit comes out pretty clearly in favour of presumptive occult blood screening.

        Mainly I was pissed off at the coercive nature of the blurb that came with it and uneasy about the amount of medical data-sharing proposed. But also I’d been suicidal for nine years by then and bowel cancer didn’t seem like such a bad idea.

        They found the polyp when I was undergoing yet more tests to find out why I’ve had a pain the region of my ileum for almost forty years and why my organ B12 levels keep dropping away despite the fact I have no problems with diet or intrinsic factor.

        I really don’t know why medical science impresses so many people. My experience is that they usually can’t work out what’s wrong with you and if they can they still often can’t fix it. They can sure waste a heck of a lot of money on useless tests and therapies though. They’re pretty much the same as sCAM but with Big Pharma backing and nastier side-effects.

        Mind you, if they hadn’t stumbled across the polyp while looking into my still undiagnosed ileum problems my guts might have ended up in a slops bucket too.

        Like

        • For Fox Sake permalink

          Mind you, if they hadn’t stumbled across the polyp while looking into my still undiagnosed ileum problems my guts might have ended up in a slops bucket too

          My guts have not ended up in a slops bucket. I worked in the pathology labs for a decade
          and my guts were carefully placed in a Large Specimen Collection Container to be
          marinated in Formalin over the duration of the Easter public holidays.

          They they were reverently removed by the Histopathology Medical Scientist who
          followed defined protocols for taking samples of the tissues, using his initiative
          and experienced to sample any tissue that met with Uh oh

          Then the colour-coded plastic blocks containing the samples are placed in the
          U-Beaut Tissue-Tek machine to undergo a process of petrification, in which
          the liquid is replaced with wax (hello Vincent). Once that process is completed,
          the wax-embedded tissues are sliced razor-thin and fixed on glass sides.
          The histopathology scientist, then places all sides (12-50) into a presentation folder,
          maybe two, and respectfully places it on the Chief Pathologist’s desk before
          skedaddling back to the bilges to rejoin the other swabs.

          Each laboratory has it’s own ways, but usually the remaining specimen is kept in
          storage for at least six months so further tissue samples can be taken. A right
          hemicolectomy specimen looks like a giant cuttlefish. It is an awesome piece
          of evolutionary engineering.

          When you consider the gut-brain axis (GBA) and the concept of the ‘little brain’,
          I have just had a lobotomy. Pass the Jack.

          Like

      • The second unit felt like a bad batch. I look forward to transforming into a werepossum next Full Moon.

        Considering the unsavoury sorts you pick up in the street you’re probably in more danger of becoming a were-teddy like Humphrey.

        Like

        • For Fox Sake permalink

          The Humphrey is a Highlander!! D’ye no take notice of his tartan
          waistcoat, laddie?

          Ya got The Humphrey confused with that Sassenach, Winnie the Turd.

          Like

  8. You forgot I iz a troll? D’awwwww….you say the sweetest things..

    You know how it is when you get to our age. If you don’t sew tags into your clothes you forget your own name.

    I only wish Mrs Instructions would acknowledge my Mother’s Day cards. I want to ask her why she named her son “Washing”.

    At least I think I’m her son. Hang on a minute, I’ll just check …

    Yep, I’m definitely not her daughter.

    Like

  9. Histo everything from your ileum to your transverse?
    I don’t think so.

    Next time you’re at the butcher’s check out the supersized sausages.
    You may spot a family resemblance.

    BTW, which lab did you work in?
    I was at Dr Hunt and Partners in Surry Hills (not the defectively spelled southern Surrey Hills).
    Preferred by two out of three celebrities and whores. Well, bits of them at least.

    Like

    • For Fox Sake permalink

      The better question is: which lab (in Victoria) didn’t I work in? Starting in 1999 with
      a regional lab of Dorevitch (now Mayne Health), then temped through all the major
      hospitals (Royal Melb., Alfred;, Royal Children’s, Monash (Southern Health Group);
      then a couple of small private labs (one didn’t even have running hot water). They
      got gobbled up by the corporate labs. My time at Dribbles was great because
      I did veterinary pathology and met some true humanitarians. Was with a medico-legal
      group but missed the smell of formaldehyde clinging to my clothing and the quirky
      humour of scientists. Last lab was a boutique wanker outfit in Gardenvale. One of
      the partners has a prick connection via marriage to Dorevitch.

      The only outfit I haven’t been on the payroll with is Melbourne Pathology. I miss
      the workplace culture.

      Like

      • Yeah, I gotta admit the path lab was pretty much the best workplace I’ve ever had inflicted on me.

        Lots of fringe benefits apart from the picks too. One of the partners even fixed a bail hearing for a friend of mine. Went to school with the beak, doncha know. The piggie little prosecutor never saw it coming. Ha!

        I recently ran into another Dr Hunt alumni during one of my increasingly frequent visits to Douglas Handley Moir and we got all nostalgic together as she leeched out my elbow pit.

        Like

        • For Fox Sake permalink

          and we got all nostalgic together as she leeched out my elbow pit.

          …ta for that visual imagery, A progression I intend to avoid is having my
          social network relocate to that of the outpatient’s clinic. I am selecting
          a table for deux at mangrovewatch.com

          Like

  10. For Fox Sake permalink

    Ask and ye shall receive….
    Wilderness, accomodating crocs and guardian whitefella spirits who
    already have the kettle going. On a 44-gallon drum.
    Olive River, here I come.

    http://cropp888.blogspot.com.au/2013/10/olive-river-cape-york.html

    Like

    • They only think he got eaten by a croc. I reckon he probably ate some local tree fungus and transformed into a swarm of those psychedelic jellyfish. Happens to me all the time.

      So are you really headed up to Olive River? Looks good. Reminds me of Cedar Bay when I used to visit in the late 70s. Of course there’s probably been a couple of big cyclones through since those photos were taken and the whole place now looks like a lumber yard dumped in a swamp.

      It seems the crocs are used to getting their long pork stuffed with oysters so you might have to do a bit of shellfish slurping if you don’t want them to turn their noses up at you. Those aspiring Gucci shoes and yuppie entrees can get pretty snooty you know.

      Like

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