Wednesday, 31 August 2016

August 2016 - Pituitary update

Well what's this, an actual pituitary update in my pituitary blog, whatever next.

It is now well over 3 years since my pituitary tumour bit the dust, and I am still under the watchful eye of my Endocrinologist. Making sure that my blood tests, replacement hormones and residual pituitary tumour are still in the shape he expects them to be. That's the thing with the NHS, they spend a lot of time and effort getting you diagnosed, a lot of time and effort to fix you, but then they don't just wave you out of the door and say "go get on with it", in fact I have had so much follow up. Something you can't ignore in the value our NHS gives us. I have had countless blood tests, several MRI scans, visits to my Endocrinologist....all costing valuable time and money. All to make sure that I am in the best health I can be and that the tumour doesn't come back and bite me. I think that we perhaps take the NHS a bit too much for granted, but that's another story.

Here's another 'hidden' cost of my treatment. I am 'lucky' in that I have a condition that means I get free prescriptions - I assume it is because Hydrocortisone keeps me alive. This benefit isn't means tested, it is mine by right in the current system. This means I avoid the £8.40 every time I go to the chemist. I take 2 Hydrocortisone tablets every day, rarely a bit more than that. My prescription gives me 122 tablets every 2 months, there's 30 in a packet. So in simplistic terms, every year I would have had to pay 6 lots of £8.40.....not the end of the world to keep me alive. But unfortunately this drug is one of the one's that went 'generic' several years ago and far from saving the NHS money, it actually costs them a fortune. You can see from the link below my packet of Hydrocortisone actually costs the NHS £78.50

So I pay nothing for my 3.5 packets of tablets each month, I could have paid £8.40 on a prescription, but the NHS pays £274.75 for 3.5 lots of £78.50. Scandalous! I understand on the continent the equivalent for a similar drug by a different manufacturer is only a few quid.

Anyway, rant over, what about me. 

My PSA (Prostate-specific antigen) test was fine, my Testosterone levels are fine, my Cortisol is fine (I'd soon know if it wasn't) and my MRI scan shows that the residual amount of tumour left over has not grown at all since the last scan. So it is all good news. I will still be on 6 monthly check-ups until 5 years since tumour removal and then if all is still well, then I can get less regular check-ups and only go back if something is specifically worrying me, like vision changes or headaches (both a sign that the tumour could be re-growing).

So I don't have to worry about the pituitary side of things. Yes I still have to keep taking the (expensive) tablets and injections, and I still have to carry around my emergency Hydrocortisone injection kit, but that is just part of 'me' now. Fitness wise, I continue to creep ever forward, I'm still doing the Pilates, loads of walking and a bit of light weight training (I think the last one is more for vanity than anything else, but it makes me feel better). I sometimes forget that at my lowest ebb before diagnosis, I couldn't walk for 2 miles in half an hour without feeling faint....probably 2 miles would have taken 45 minutes not 30 minutes. But anyway, looking forward not back.

The future is bright.......


  1. Why is the drug the NHS is buying costing it £275 when an equivalent in parts of Europe is a 'couple of quid'?

    I understand the cost of research and testing which contributes to the prices for drugs, but if there is such a disparity for equivalents,is that due to the testing requirements of NiCE or poor purchasing processes in the NHS?

  2. I've just read you story in the latest pituitary magazine & was interested to see that you are under the same consultant as me, Dr Partha Kar. I had a pituitary adenoma causing Cushing's disease, the tumour was removed last September & I am now on the long slow road, hopefully to recovery. It's not an easy journey & seems to be taking much longer than I'd hoped for. Pauline

    1. Hi Pauline, thanks for your comment. I haven't seen my story in the magazine yet, it will be a bit odd to see my story published....even though I've blogged about it. Glad you are on the road to recovery, but I remember that impatience with wanting to feel better again, it can never happen quick enough!!!

      All the best, Carl