Sunday, 12 July 2015

July 2015 - Latest check and update

Well hello there.

This year is rushing past, I can't believe it is nearly mid-July. I love this time of year and don't want to it move past this point, but such is life!

This Friday 10th July, I had an endocrine MOT - time to go and review my body's performance over the last few months. In the last few weeks I've had some blood tests and an MRI scan to check the pesky tumour is still behaving itself. The short story is that I'm doing fine and everything is doing very well - which to be honest is fantastic news. I didn't really stress about it beforehand, but when your consultant says to you all the good things, you can't help but be a bit relieved. In fact I had probably underestimated how much of a relief it was, silly really but only natural I suppose. There were a couple of main reasons....

1. The eye
As I have reported before, I have slightly more fuzzy vision in my left eye. I noticed this last year when I had some new glasses made up and I think in the back of my mind it was either because the pituitary tumour had damaged my optic nerve previously or in fact because it was regrowing and starting to squash my optic nerve again. Now the latter scenario was pretty unlikely because in early 2014 my MRI scan showed that there was only a small residue of tumour left. The chances of that getting so large in a little over a year that it would once again impinge on my optic nerve was pretty slim, although not impossible. So hearing from my consultant that they had compared the 2014 scans against the latest scans and detected no change in the amount of residue tumour left, was very good news.

I think I have sussed the eye thing out now. It probably was damaged by the tumour pressing on the optic nerve, the damage was done before I even realised. After the operation the focus (no pun intended) was on my visual fields and sorting my hormone balance out. Not my actual vision. So life went on, I had got used to the vision I had. Then during late 2014, I had my eyes checked and changed prescription and at that point expecting better vision realised that my vision was still a bit blurred in the left eye. So only at this point did I really notice it. The good news is that the eye consultant doesn't think it is degenerative, it is just damage that occurred and that's that....and if he is right then it's fine. I'd rather not have the damage, but I have grown accustomed to my eyesight now and it hasn't got any worse since I've noticed it. So I will go back to the opticians at some point and see if they can tweak my prescription to get me a bit better. It is amazing how the brain can compensate though, looking out of both eyes I rarely notice anything. It is only when you cover the right eye up and really focus (pun intended) on my vision that I realise it isn't quite up to par. So now's the time to move on and forget it I think!

2. The fear
I think the fear will always be there, these tumours can regrow. But they are benign and I am being monitored regularly, so even if it does regrow it isn't going to get as big as it did before and cause as much as of an issue as it did. So a valid worry, but not one I'll lose a lot of sleep over

Overall though I have been feeling REALLY well. It is something we all hesitate to say because we perhaps believe as soon as we say it out loud the gods of 'sods law' will crash down upon us and bring in a reality check. Well there you go, I've said it out loud now, although I did wait until I passed my MOT. I'm not sure exactly why, but as soon as I went on holiday in early June, I haven't had one cortisol related energy crash. I was having them fairly regularly ever since, well ever since for is only since mid-2013 I've realised what they are. The only thing I have changed is having my morning dose a bit earlier, as soon as I get up and before my breakfast rather than after my breakfast. It isn't long, probably 30-40 minutes difference in dose time. I try to do the same with my lunchtime dose. Can it really make this much difference, who knows, but I haven't changed anything else. This has spurred me on to get a bit fitter still if I can, I'm not going to go mad, but if my body is up for a bit more then I'm going to push it a bit harder and see what happens. 

Blood test wise I'm also on track. I've been having Testosterone injections since late last year instead of the gel and they seem to be working fine as well as being much more convenient than rubbing gel on every day. Apart from the inconvenience, the gel was also beginning to really irritate my skin, so the injection makes more sense. It does spike my testo levels somewhat, because you go on a steady downwards curve for the 10 weeks the injection lasts, then 'boof' you have the injection and the levels whoosh up. It is a bit sore in the bum-cheek for a couple of days too, but nothing too bad (I have to moan a bit, I'm a man). My latest testo graph did make me smile a bit, I have had 3 blood tests at the end of the 10 week periods to check the hormone levels, and the most recent test was just after the injection - obviously levels were going to be a lot higher. Check out that zero reading back in February 2013!

What man wouldn't want a Testosterone spike like that! It is 'manufactured' of course, but nonetheless the fact the graph is steadily on the rise, shows that my lowest levels are now not so low....and my consultant said that despite how the graph looks I am within the right range. It is most probably also contributing to my feeling of wellbeing. I don't think you can underestimate the effect testo has on mental wellbeing as well as physical wellbeing...being able to build some strength is one thing, but being much more positive is pretty useful too.

So the summary is, feeling pretty epic.

Another thing I noticed was that for a couple of years before diagnosis I had a couple of brown patches on the side of my face and neck, real skin discolouration. It looked like a part of my skin had a sun tan, when the rest of me was much whiter. I now realise this was a symptom of lack of cortisol, more commonly seen in Addisons Disease. The pigmentation has faded almost entirely now, not completely gone but hopefully it will. It was only recently I even realised it was connected. I wonder how many more things will manifest themselves? Me forgetting to bring things downstairs my wife asked me to, forgetting to buy something at the shops my wife asked me to.....they're all getting blamed on lack of cortisol now. For as long as I can get away with it.....which knowing my wife, won't be long!

So I'm off, catch you again soon! Cheers, Carl

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