Friday 31 May 2024

Men's things - VII

Now I know the time

Only yesterday, I was writing about waiting for the next appointment to discuss the results of the adult histopathology labs ordered on my last visit after the transperineal prostate biopsy which leaves little room for comfort at the thought of it.

This morning, a new appointment arrived in my mailbox with a link to the hospital trust portal where you can review what is expected of you on your next visit.

It sheds no further detail apart from the name of the consultant I might be seeing and the option to bring a friend or relative along. The reliability of ‘friend’, the one who was to accompany me for the biopsy is questionable and no fault of his beyond the apparently recondite lack of facility.

Needing someone to lean on

I might have to inform my neighbour as she upbraided me sternly for not letting her know I was off to the hospital for a quite involved procedure.

Strangely, in preparation for the other visit, I was informed of the one-stop-shop service, I cannot recall the suggestion to bring someone along, it was loaded with possibilities without indicating any actualities, which makes it seem ominous that I might need a shoulder to lean on.

Obviously, I would be asked to produce a urine sample on demand or under duress before I see the consultant who trained in Manchester and holds several supervisory positions in clinical, educational, and training institutions. In my earlier feedback, I remonstrated about not being given the full details that informed the decision to do a biopsy until I asked questions and asked to see the MRI scans.

In my own time, at my own pace

I have resolved, whatever the outcome, I will take my time to decide on the next steps. For what it is worth, no one would want to lose the efficacy and function of the prostate gland and on one of those sessions where I heard a talk on prostate health, one of the speakers did say there is expertise to ensure it is not totally excised that you become a eunuch blessed with a protuberance.

That thought alone, I should banish from my mind. I already have my delayed biannual checkup scheduled for June and a week later, this one. Better to just think of the summer of love and the beauty of the flowers in fields and meadows. What bliss, what bliss indeed.

Blog - Men's things

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Blog - Men's things - IV

Blog - Men's things - V

Blog - Men's things - VI

Thursday 30 May 2024

Lever whatever forever

Some broken hearts do mend

Sometimes, I am caught in introspection and think about what makes a day significant that I might not recall. As I stepped out of the bath this morning, after my shower, two things came to the fore.

The passage of a week and what might have been a 51st birthday but sadly a posthumous one, and almost 15 years since he passed. You are reminded that there are people who for the time they were in your life, for good or bad, and no matter the length of time, you cannot forget.

Whilst I rarely now think of Christopher Clark and less so of what could have been, for the time that I knew him and the headiness of silly that I acquired in my dealings with him, I know how just the chemistry between people can disarm, that any reasonableness is lost to deep emotional connection.

Let yourself be human

On reflection, I wonder how I got caught out, yet I am glad I allowed myself to be vulnerable, to be a fool in love, to understand that sometimes I need to break away and protect my heart as some dealings reveal the depth of your fragility. You learn tough lessons about relationships and even think you will never let go again.

Never is a funny reaction, it is for that moment most of the time than forever. I rarely ever think in the never, because, if ever something else presents, what you sever out of never is not usually the lever to whatever happens in the ever beyond the present. Putting things behind you for the possibility of being surprised and offered the opportunity to do something new must be one amazing pleasure of life.

With life there must be a readiness to enjoy, to find and understand love, to have that fragile heart handled by such caring hands and to embrace the wonderful that many miss or never see. Any other questions and there are many that course through your mind like dodgem cars in an amusement park, you’ll find the answers to, along the way.

Men's things - VI

The wait, the weight

You find yourself waiting for something, the bits taken out and being processed in histology to determine if there is a case for pathology.

Meanwhile, the men’s things are healing even as you peek at the effluent now and then to note if the colouration is gone or if there are whirls of foreignness visited on the nectar that I sure do not want to explain to anyone.

Issues like this can weigh on the mind but giving it space can distract you from living and the vicissitudes of life. There are things to get along with, and those are better concentrated on.

The pinch of a prick

Even though you do not know what to expect, it has been over a fortnight, and you are hoping for the best. The longer things are you begin to think they cannot agree there is much to be concerned about though I cannot say I will be amenable to another biopsy.

This is one thing you only want to happen once and never again. As I describe the experience as mellifluously, I doubt I am proselytising the necessity to have these things checked. It is just unpleasant, not an unbearably painful and intolerable thing.

Apart from the occasional urethral irritation, there is not much else to report. Until I am invited for a further conversation, I will not be bothered about it. It would appear there is no urgency and so on my part, there is no need for any anxiety.

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Wednesday 29 May 2024

At the vicarage of St Jude's Anglican Church

What a child saw

The St Jude’s Anglican Church from whence my ancestry emanates conveys a great sense of community and service, that I witnessed just over a generation ago. My first view of the church was on our return from the UK, I was a precocious boy full of opinions that never failed to find a voice, as I was observed by many who wondered about this little alien utterly different from his peers.

I had a great-grandmother and she probably had many ahead of her in age and status, it was a village that sat on the hopes that grew from the successes of its many sons and daughters educated for professional lives never stinting in their generosity to improve their town. Electrification, piper-borne water, a new church building, improved school buildings, scholarships, and much else came with their desire to lift their humble village.

A church on the lurch

Being of the Anglican faith, I returned there to be confirmed. Everything our parents did was to encourage our love of the village. The big difference is, that they had their childhood there, we only had short breaks, and what represented our innate childhood was elsewhere.

We could not cultivate our parents' childhood memories of their village; maybe if they had shared some of their hair-raising stories, we might have been intrigued and more invested. Alas!

I have for too long overlooked another issue that had surrounded the church; but a seething rage welled up in me when I caught the glimpse of a missive of mendicancy imposed on the mainly influential octogenarian parish members, many of whom have settled into retirement for decades, but the parson is unrelenting.

Vicar on a venal trail

When a parishioner passes on, despite all the dearly departed might have contributed to the town and the church, a venerable preys on the vulnerable with extraneous and outrageous demands. If the stated requirements are not met to his satisfaction, he devotes the homily that is supposed to honour the departed to excoriating and embarrassing the bereaved for not pulling their weight.

It is a merciless abuse of position that reeks with venality and these expressions are at the most charitable end of the scale. The love of money is said to be the root of all evil, to suggest that he personifies the inordinately untenable quest for filthy lucre at the expense of those in need of succour does not begin to describe the circumstances for some of the recently bereaved that I am acquainted with.

How such manifestly disreputable conduct has been allowed to thrive in that church community where the bereaved are left bereft of dignity or respect under the watch of a thriving bishopric and a congregation that seems to condone, tolerate, or just be resigned to these macabre machinations is daunting and baffling.

He has become a potentate, probably untouchable and certainly unaccountable for his excesses. This is not village talk, the reputation is known and has festered with lascivious abandon.

Better is quite expected

I am a steward at the Manchester Cathedral, at the end of last year, we had two funerals of prominent, if not national figures. The organisation of the events was to the highest professional standard, the Prince of Wales was in the congregation; I did not once see any of the bereaved being put upon, we gathered to celebrate the lives of their dearly departed and they received much Christian comfort and consolation.

They would have felt they had done well by their patron and the clergy did not insert themselves into the ceremony in any way, they gave tribute and honour and showed compassion and understanding.

Obviously, it is my hope that there is an improvement in the conduct of the venerable but by his antecedents, I find it impossible to support any fundraising activity he might champion as he has sown seeds of discord and acrimony, the people he besmirched at the funerals of their loved one still hurt from his villainy. They have received neither apology nor appreciation.

Even from England, who would have thought there was a highwayman at the gates of the temple? Yet, like a Pharisee, he brings the adulterous woman to be stoned and tithes the widows, the widowers, and the poor, to the minutest thing while preventing the adherents from the kingdom of heaven.

If anyone might have the thought, they should not remotely be persuaded of it. This is written that it might be on record. The spirit of Pontius Pilate compels me. Thank you.

Monday 27 May 2024

Pour the wine and don't you whine

Fill the glass, I say

I am neither a glass half full nor glass half empty person because it has no context. As I have written before, I need to know what is in the glass, whether it is tasty or poisonous, and either way, it must be something I want to drink. For instance, if the glass is filled with good wine, I would suppose my glass would be empty or half empty, because I have downed the wine.

Then, I am reminded of one wine estate we visited in the Cape Winelands of South Africa, none of the wine we were given to taste passed the muster, we poured it away, not into the spittoon, but as an inadvertent libation to the trees behind us, wetting the roots for the occasion of woodland inebriation. Though you can never tell if a tree swaying in the wind is pissed, pissed off, or pissing happy.

Every good thing to see

However, if I have a disposition, it is generally to find opportunity and possibility, this with an element of assessing the risk-reward situation so issues can be anticipated for. What I cannot appreciate to any extent is negativity, a totally pessimistic view pretending to a form of realism that is the better part of horror, terror, and a predilection to the foreboding.

Sometimes, it is just a total lack of facility and with it comes the inability to take any advantage even when it literally slaps them in the face screaming, I am here for the taking. Obviously, one should not make a judgement on singular events. Yet, any singular event can be defining, your spirit finds and gives your mouth the words you speak and the outlook you have.

Add it to your experience

If you train yourself on the hopeless, it is unlikely that any hope would feature in how you review a situation. Rather what you have in store is a big bag of excuses, every doorway opened for you to escape from the prison of your acquaintance with everything bad is shut by one; your comfort in the place and then; an unwillingness to leave the place.

I want to believe I am always in motion living through all sorts of experiences that I have determined would be positive regardless of the circumstance. I make the best of the situation and I am both educated and educating. Places where I would never have imagined I would be have given perspective to the privileges I have enjoyed in life and I am full of gratitude that the experience is fulfilling. 

From stage to stage

On a stage of pain

When I ended up in hospital on Tuesday, the 22nd of September 2009, I was in so much pain, I found no facility to cry, and I was already on some of the strongest painkillers that could be given you without constant medical supervision.

Blog - In hospital to kill the pain (September 2009)

Indeed, the pain of cancer is so totally otherworldly, the fact that anyone can even sleep through the pain is a wonder of human nature probably not fully understood to be appreciated. Pain then comes in many ways, the physical can be visible, but the emotional is less so, you can put on a face and veil how you feel, even that façade can soon shatter.

I find myself accessing the Kübler-Ross model on the Five Stages of Grief which I came upon as I was writhing in unbearable pain when I could not tolerate the morphine as it was one or the other, throwing up food I needed for sustenance or managing the pain enough to have my faculties delivered from a madness that was bordering on delirium.

The five stages of the Kübler-Ross Grief Cycle (ResearchGate)

Blog - Seeing hospital meals again (September 2009)

From stage to stage

For a long time, I was in denial, I was dying even as I was taking each day as it came, I was already aware that the presumably Athlete’s Foot was at least a type of cancer, but I was also bargaining for a miracle cure, my reality was seeking a supernal intervention that I had not convinced myself of. My denial was a reality I was not ready to accept as real.

In almost an instant, I woke up after my fifth night in the hospital with a sense of acceptance, I was speaking to myself in the first person, “Akin, you have cancer, what next?” That was when I began to see beyond the cancer and this was days before my consultant in his prognosis said, if I could not tolerate the treatment that included gruelling chemotherapy, I only had 5 weeks to live.

Blog - Getting off the pain train (September 2009)

In my spirit and in my mind, I was ahead of that kind of medical prognostication, I knew I was coming through, I just did not know what kind of life that future held. It took almost another 6 months for my body to catch up with my acceptance. The battle is always in the mind. I have used the model sometimes consciously but more unconsciously to understand many other aspects of adversity and infirmity that I have encountered and what stage I might be in.

Other words to stage

There might be synonymous feelings  and emotional responses that are not fully expressed in the starkness of Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance. I might not have been in shock, but I would have been winded or blind-sided, this is a perspective of the feeling of anger. Where I would not suggest that I am depressed, I might well be sad, lacking in motivation, or even indifferent, it is important not to boil down the emotion to fit a construct.

When I was told my baby sister had chronic kidney disease, that situation was immediately overwhelming for me, I was in grief and mourning, my acceptance of the situation was one of resignation. Sadly, I had no faith or hope for a future, I was preparing myself for the end, it came almost 3 and half years later. She had a life-long illness than medicine only seemed to ameliorate on occasion, other factors playing in adherence and discipline exacerbated matters. Her death was a release, difficult as it was.

Yet, I am not always at the point where I am seeing beyond the situation, acceptance is a process some never get to, just as denial is sometimes a defence mechanism. Why dwell in your reality when there is safety in avoidance? Some truths are difficult to assess; you would rather not be acquainted with it.

Stuck in a stage

I suppose unpredictability is one characteristic feature of our humanity, you cannot predetermine how you would react to an event. Much of your experience might equip you for what is ahead, and help you process the news you hear, but the effect is impossible to chart, it is on review that you might see how you have been affected.

As I filled my weekly pillbox yesterday, it seemed more like a chore than the routine it was, an indifference creeping in that I needed to counter because my stream of consciousness and expectation had been interrupted. I guess on the processing of this new grief, I am still in denial.

Friday 24 May 2024

We stand assured

We stand alone

For the Lord GOD will help me; therefore shall I not be confounded: therefore have I set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be ashamed. [Bible Hub: Isaiah 50:7 (KJV)]

Some of the challenges we face in life, we almost always face alone; when we receive the news of a terrible diagnosis presenting a dark realisation of existential mortality, the thoughts that run riot in your head are a Babel of incomprehensibility captured in a moment that seems like an eternity.

For me, I can only say that I have been blessed as I hear the prognosis and seek to appreciate the import of what has been said. Then from within wells up a fight, my face is set like a flint, unflinching in adversity and refusing to be defined by the immediate incapacity.

We stand assured

It makes sobriety feel like a curse, all your faculties are engaged, you are in no doubt that you seek a repetition of the situation, you heard right the first time, you do not need a confirmation. However, you seek a place to reflect, the quietude of a lonely moment before embracing the healing succour of slumber.

Indeed, sleep does stop the mind from wandering into the wilderness like a marauding prophet of doom bedecked in anything but the finery of the acceptable, mad beyond any redeeming quality, except to instil fear.

We are saved from the situation and saved from ourselves. We are strengthened with resolve to face adversity and to emerge with stories and testimonies that blow the mind. The spirit that is the engine of our sustenance continues to drive us forward with the clear reasoning that as long as we live, we will live well, thrive, and do good. In that, we know, we shall not be ashamed.

Wednesday 22 May 2024

Thought Picnic: We will not be deprived of our memories

I beg to differ

Under the guise of misremembering with the advantage of being caught unawares in the heat of the moment or a discussion, you hear things that on reflection you know for a fact were never the situation when what is being referenced is recalled differently.

Oh, that we had the presence of mind to call out those things before they become the new narrative presented as the truth it never was. You do wonder if you are being taken for a fool or if the recollection is working in the assumption that you must have forgotten the reality that you experienced in full living colour.

How it really happened

The capacity of my memory sometimes amazes me, books and records of the senses in motion left apparently gathering dust in the shelves of the mind, at moments of deep thought and reflection get dusted off and leafed through to pages of an instant relived unmistakably as it is real.

It is against that vivid recollection that some seek a revision of the fact to suit a new narrative and press a point of view that is entirely invalid. If one were to look at this charitably, how we are being lied to and taken for dullards is expressed in their talking out of both sides of their mouths.

Our silence buys peace

The lasting effect of that sometimes-inadvertent deception is distrust and anger, for once again, you are discounted in the equation of things as inconsequential and irrelevant. Your restraint or occasion to the unfortunate absence of mind is taken as agreement and acquiescence. It ultimately comes to my writing to redress the false impression, it matters little whether it is read or not.

What we have been witnesses to, remains an aspect of our participation, that no one thought to ask how we were affected by it lends itself to certain cultural norms that appear to infer that time resolves things and children forget things. Nothing could be further from the truth. We compartmentalise and put things away to save ourselves from trauma, it is a self-preservation mechanism more than anything else.

We saw it all even if we did not offer an opinion then. When they think they have pulled the wool over our eyes, we see through it all, that the perfect is as imperfect as it is given to wilful corruption. What we excuse is for the sake of peace and de-escalation of the confrontational, the day we decide to challenge the presumptions, no one can be prepared for the shock of our clear perceptions.

Thought Picnic: That honour rarely comes

We live for others

We grow and yet we do not grow up in the eyes of some usually out of proximity and familiarity or distance and estrangement. We seem to be caught in the amber of time, fossilised in the peat of an eternal past that has never changed. We are seen in the prism of light that no longer reveals or reflects who we are.

For all the journeys and experiences of life we have acquired, it is meaningless as those who never really journeyed with you through the wildernesses and the triumphs are totally unaware of how you have changed and who you have become. Jesus Christ painted that picture clearly; “A prophet is treated with honour everywhere except in his own hometown, among his relatives, and in his own house.” [You Version: Mark 6:4 (The Passion Translation)]

With achievement and recognition garnered from many endeavours, appreciation and praise greeting you as you navigate the fields of toil away from home, you are to them the boy, the kid, the child, the son, stripped of all standing and respect, reviled and contemned with belittlement and contempt, if you crave it, your disillusionment and disappointment will be great with the pall of disconsolation.

Continue in what you know

Yet, you must stand, if not to be heard, at least not to be stymied in the expression of who you have become. Be unrelenting in the resolve that has brought you the success you have earned through the sprinkled ingredients of example, training, experience, guidance, or even indifference.

The thought I started with as with many of my blogs has been lost in the flow of this snippet of self-appreciation. When you realise how impactful the little you do is to others, it matters less whether your kith and kin acknowledge you. If they eventually do, it is a bonus. If they never do, do not let your goals be defined by those who only see you in the past and have never moved beyond it.

Sunday 19 May 2024

Men's things - V

The aftereffects of the aftermath

I have put it down to the shock the body has felt to the nicking of bits down there with regards to the transperineal prostate biopsy I had on Tuesday. Nary a discomfort, just sometimes one of the awareness of vulnerability more than anything else.

There has been the occasional tinge of pain in the perineum, and the bloody discolouration in the urine continues, but not as much, it is in the clean-up with tissues that I might notice the obviousness. The quantity that is passed during the night has increased slightly, however, besides that, I feel well, and I have returned to doing the things I enjoy.

Amongst men I have discussed this with, there is a knowing, that no one talks about it, but I introduce it with humour that even the ladies might interject with their experiences of childbirth. It brought to mind again my first biopsy almost 15 years ago. A deep biopsy of the fungating tumours in my left foot, that 5 injections of Lidocaine did little to contain the feelings the nerves conveyed to my brain.

Blog - The looming abyss of a deep biopsy (September 2009)

Please take note for yourself

Even during the apparent start of this experience, an advocate has been won, I want to stand before a group of men to make them aware of a few things.

  1. The need to have regular checkups.
  2. Having an appreciation and knowledge of the results of their bloodwork, so they can ask good questions for useful answers.
  3. Understanding when any result is out of range and immediately discussing this with their medical personnel for a pathway to remediation.
  4. Speaking up for yourself regardless of the preponderance of medical expertise around you.
  5. Pressing for the best outcomes whilst always seeking prompt action on the situation.
  6. Follow through with the advice you get along with the additional tests suggested, remembering at the back of your mind that it is your body first before you are their Guinea pig. Seek a second opinion if you need more clarification or are unconvinced of the recommended pathway.
  7. Do not leave anything to chance, act immediately and get full assurances and information about everything, if there is nothing else to be done, schedule your next screening, else, consider your treatment options and stick with the plan.

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Blog - Men's things - IV

Thursday 16 May 2024

Men's things - IV

Men’s showing

The number of ladies who have accosted me and commended my dressing would suggest our womenfolk do appreciate men being well turned out. The refrain I hear quite often as I heard this afternoon was, “I wish men dressed up more like you.”

My fashion; somewhat formal and neat still matters even as the casual and informal have become the trend. The common, while nice, does not stand out or attract notice, as how I have been greeted with compliments over the years. I blushingly thank them and go on my way.

Men’s issues

After my transperineal prostate biopsy on Tuesday, there are quite some people who would have expected me to stay at home yesterday, if not for the rest of the week. Brian, especially, was annoyed with me, when I called him yesterday morning as I boarded the tram. He put it down to stubbornness, a trait I do not recognise in myself, even after much reflection. [Manchester Urology: Transperineal Template Prostate biopsy]

The pain in the perineal area had subsided by Tuesday night, I have felt no further discomfort since then and there has been no further need for analgesics. However, since yesterday afternoon, I have had blood in my urine, an expected side effect of prostate biopsies that could last up to 10 days. This seems to happen in all cases. [The British Association of Urological Surgeons (BAUS): Transperineal Ultrasound-Guided Biopsies of the Prostate Gland (PDF)]

Then, for up to 6 weeks, one can expect to have blood in the semen, though, it is not supposed to affect one’s partners. The risk of infection with sepsis is lower with the transperineal approach than with the transrectal option. I fortunately do not have any symptoms of the other side effects that occur less frequently with patients.

Men’s things

Having this procedure under local anaesthetic is useful from the fact that your reaction to the nicking activity can prevent damage to the gland and associated organs. Under general anaesthesia, the doctor has no additional guidance beyond the ultrasound probe and their dexterity.

I used a public urinal earlier against my better judgement, a stream of yellow nectar interspersed with splashes of red, then at the end, in the shake out, more red than I could be comfortable with. I waited for the urinal to flush, but it did not clear everything. Someone would have observed my leaving the place and wondered what I had. [Note to self: Use the cubicle, next time.]

How do you throw up your hands and blurt out, "Alright, I had a prostate biopsy 2 days ago and that is one of the side effects?" Then, it might be an activist opportunity to remind menfolk that men’s things need checking up regularly and frequently. Experience can make an unexpected prophet of a cynic.

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Tuesday 14 May 2024

Men's things - III

Gibbering not to the wreck

I suppose it was in a flux of apprehension that I forgot my notes, notepad, and pen as I made for my early consultation. Fortunately, I had printed out the Canadian paper that gave a cautionary note on avoidable biopsies and that was my reference document as I boarded the luxury Uber BMW that dropped me off in the maze of the Manchester Royal Infirmary buildings unsure of where I needed to go, until a nurse gave me directions.

At the reception, I was asked to give a urine sample which might well have been under duress as I waited to see the consultant. He had decided I must have a Transperineal Prostate Biopsy, but I had questions, his approach was quite paternalistic even as he implied there was no pressure to go ahead with the biopsy. It was my decision to make, only if I had the essential data, for that purpose.

Decision time truncated

However, my PSA reading was high, increasing dramatically over a 7-week monitoring, the DRE (Digital Rectal Examination) suggested an enlarged but smooth prostate organ, the next thing I needed to know was the PI-RADS (Prostate Imaging Reporting and Data System) score pertaining to the mpMRI (multiparametric MRI) scan I had, just over two weeks before. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being benign and 5 suggesting cancerous lesions, the assessment was 4. [Radiopaedia: PI-RADS]

With that conclusion, I guess I had no other alternative than to go ahead with the biopsy. No time to waste with that kind of assessment. I opted for the biopsy even as the life-or-death implications dawned on me with the sudden realisation of the loneliness that accompanies decisions like this. Your mortality becomes a smorgasbord of conflicting thoughts, you seek a resolution and a determination, with no time to reflect on the import of the moment.

Let’s do this thing

Soon, I was with the doctor who was to do the biopsy, his computer was acting up, and his pen not inking the paper. I lent him my pen that the receptionist had given me to take notes of the questions and points I needed to assess my understanding of the situation, and he explained through drawings what was to be done.

I still had the option not to go ahead with the biopsy, I asked to see the MRI scan, and he zeroed in on the T2 scan explaining the abnormalities on one side that presented the need for a biopsy. [Radiopaedia: Prostate MRI - T2 Weighted Imaging explained here.]

Then, I was prepped for the biopsy, I changed from shoes into my slippers and only had to take off my trousers and underwear to wear a hospital tunic gown.

Ouch! And much else

I swallowed 3 antibiotics Ciprofloxacin 250mg tablets and about 15 minutes later, I was invited into the biopsy room. splayed out as if to be examined by an obstetrician in the most vulnerable state in stirrups, a digital inspection, then an ultrasound probe, a cold antiseptic wipe, and an icy cold spray even so painfully close to beyond endurance, a light introduction to discomfort as I looked up at the scenery of a tropical beach, psychology that was good for the imagination, but I felt better closing my eyes.

I grimaced and let out a shriek, once or twice as the local anaesthetic was injected, I was probably given 6 injections.

Again, the ultrasound probe was inserted and then the doctor began taking the biopsies, I felt much unease and on two occasions pain, the biopsy needle sounded like a stapling gun, and that happened about 9 times.

All done for now

I did not feel at all woozy, and when it was done, my blood pressure was taken with what looked like an old mercury sphygmomanometer with a dial and a stethoscope; the memories of the traditional ways flooded back, before I was chaperoned back to the dressing room.

As I left the biopsy room, I was offered tea and biscuits. I had my first urination which was clear, dressed up and filled in a survey. Results in 2 to 3 weeks, an ordeal in some way and probably a lifesaving act of catching something early.

My advice is not to be too coy about men's things, better to be under medical supervision with knowledge of what needs to be done, than leaving it out of fear or machismo.

It may not be a rite of passage, but I was first at the urology department this morning, and then more chairs were set up, it was like the Church of the Prostate Screening, many men come to worship there, in silent contemplation of what life ahead might be. I had humour to offer that made some laugh. God help us all.


Diagnosis of prostate cancer: the implications and proper utilization of PSA and its variants; indications and use of MRI and biomarkers [Canadian Journal of Urology] February 2020. (PDF)

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Saturday 11 May 2024

A reflection on delaying instant gratification

The many gigs I overlooked

As I was walking around Manchester last night, I realised that Take That was playing at the AO Arena for 4 nights, having been moved from the unfortunate poor launching of the Coop Live venue in Manchester.

When they launched in 1990, I thought the 5 boys were some of the sexiest boys on the scene, I appreciated them more for their ability to dance and bringing such great energy to their performances. In those early years, they played the gay clubs in London and elsewhere. Indeed, Madonna, Kylie Minogue, and Anastacia among others have played at these venues too. Gays were probably their first big fans.

I guess I was not too keen on attending overly crowded venues. The music in Heaven and Bang was also too loud, you could hear and feel your eardrums beating, and it became unbearable after a while.

Fixing the issues happily

However, what came to mind was the memory of how I refused monetary reward for helping fix computer problems which even led to greater appreciation and gifts. In Nigeria, as I worked for IT Systems on the ground floor, there were occasions when Deji Sasegbon Publishers upstairs who were in the race to publish the Nigerian Supreme Court Cases would have an issue and ask for an engineer to visit and resolve it.

I would go up, fix the problem in 5 minutes and be on my way when Deji or D-Shash, as he was known to all, would dip in his pocket to give me 50 Naira, which was a quarter of my salary, I refused the offer, waving it aside that the issue was hardly worth anything. This happened a few times and I think he took my gesture to heart.

I left IT Systems to go into self-employment that everyone around me thought was crazy, yet, I was comfortably earning 10 times my salary from IT Systems, just teaching people about computers and even so, desktop publishing.

The result of delaying gratification

Before long, word got around about this desktop publishing whiz kid and Deji invited me for a conversation about being a desktop publishing consultant for his firm. His offer was broad and generous, not offering employment, flexible hours, attending a few days in the week, guiding, and teaching his team, whilst taking on some projects. The remuneration was a stipend and my ticket to the UK was paid for, whenever I was ready to travel.

The stint got me a few other jobs along with a directorial partnership with a legal firm that veered into desktop publishing from traditional printing, we called the outfit NextStep Limited, and I had 30% of the firm. I made my first visit to the UK in a while under the auspices of our firm to acquire equipment and software for our fledgling firm. Sadly, our venture did not last because my partner was not accustomed to the personality and confidence of a self-assured young man. I got on better with Deji, in all respects.

After returning from my business trip to the UK, I began to plan for my return as I saw opportunities to thrive and succeed, despite the odds and the impressions others had for my lowly academic qualifications despite my rather advanced computing skills.

Free tickets as great reward

In any case, I found myself fixing what in my view were minor computing problems for friends and acquaintances, never taking money from them because I felt those issues were insignificant. This laid up store for other rewards. Two tickets for Micheal Jackson, Earth Wind & Fire, and Bryan Adams, amongst many along with tickets for innumerable West End shows, none of which I could normally afford, but I would receive as gratitude for my help.

Then there were gifts and presents, even offers to spend as long as I wanted at villas by the sea that I never took up because I did not appreciate the value of such gestures. I know better now. It made me reflect on how delaying instant gratification does lay in a store a greater reward from the appreciative and many never forgot to extend that generosity at any opportunity they found to so do.

Life matters more than work

Invariably, while money does matter, it is not everything. It informs why I have preferred working in Europe where we have workers’ rights baked into any contractual agreement including the right to holiday and much more. I appreciate that Americans might earn a lot more for the kind of work I do, but none of them can take up to 10 weeks off a year and still have enough for the enjoyment of a work-life balance that emphasises life helping work be more productive.

Building goodwill helps networking and references that make for the essential connections in work and life. I am thankful that what I have gained from many of these relationships has been worth more than money can buy. Cultivate relationships over remuneration, and the rewards will always follow.

Keep on keeping on

The Gift of Today

"Yesterday's the past, tomorrow's the future, but today is a GIFT. That's why it's called the present." Bil Keane

The quote above in full or in part is usually credited to many people, though the consensus suggests it was originally by Bil Keane, who was a cartoonist. This gives life to the idea in a Yoruba saying “Ibi eré la tíí mọ òotọ́ ọ̀rọ̀.” This translated to, it is a play that you get to learn the truth. You wonder how a cartoonist might have come to write something so profound.

The gift of today is a moment of reflection on the journeys completed in the yesterdays of the past, the blessings that I remember today of goodness, mercy, and favour that nothing has been in vain, and the hope that tomorrow brings.

Holding back from doing

A poor anticipation of the future has sometimes impacted my reasoning for things of life and experience, the things I have held back from doing or considered too onerous because I felt such limitations of infirmity and uncertainty, now leave me amazed at how the passage of time has revealed that I need not have been apprehensive. I should have used the opportunity when presented to do what ability and facility offered.

Recently, it has been the spirit of perseverance and tenacity that has undergirded me even if through adversity you feel the pain as any semblance of winning or success seems even more distant as each day passes.

Yet, I had to keep believing and pressing forward using every help and support that I could access to get beyond the struggles that defined the recent past in the loss of confidence, the disappointments, the failures, the rejections, and the nearly-there situations that fell through.

Keep at it, keep on moving

At a conservative estimate, there have been over 600 applications from someone nearly 60 years old, a veteran of my industry who should be considering retirement, but still has the energy and passion for the career that has given me opportunities to walk into places I could never have imagined possible with the trajectory I took.

As you live, you have to continue living, striving to be the best you can be at what you do until those who will appreciate, honour, and respect you come your way and take you on. Having a long-term condition should not be definitive and the conclusion of ambition or goals. I have mostly resisted the tendency to accentuate any vulnerability in the face of the gifts of compelling ability that I possess.

Believe in yourself above all

Something in the example and the observation of my parents has given me that sense of self-esteem and even projection that is a grace in my life opening doors, hearts, and hands. I am blessed. You cannot faint, but you have to chart your own course, working at your own pace, avoiding the pressure of fulfilling the requirements of other apparently vested interests who usually mean well, but are not at particular times helpful.

Keep on doing what you know to do because you are the best at knowing yourself and what you can do. Stretch yourself as best you can to the challenge that presents and believe yourself enough to be up to the task either in the ability to do it or in the facility to find the wherewithal to succeed.

Remember to appreciate your journey

The history of yesterday bears in its passing the gift of today, and cherishing the gift of today prepares you for the mystery that offers the surprise of what that next gift is. 

Never forget those who have carried you on the journey that in its difficult and wilderness times did not falter or sway. The many promises others made but could not keep only come to show how much you had in store without believing in the arm of flesh that fails you when you need it most.

It should not be held against them, for as we know, human beings are of such limited resources and abilities, for me, Almighty God has sustained me and brought people and angels my way, too numerous to number. I am loved, in love, borne in love, and overwhelmed by love. This is my story, and this is my song.

Nothing stays the same, the glorious morning will eventually set the night on its way into the eternal past; the present gift of today lets you know that you have everything to go for, and by pressing on, you are getting on to winning too.

Thursday 9 May 2024

Snippets caught of things said absently

In conversations badly recalled

In the fiery breast of a pigeon,
Burning with a life of Tabasco excess,
You forget to remember what had been,
The Vaselining of the throat for redress.

Suggest a remedy of salting your tea,
Deception wrought with a pocket full of ink,
Would the plumbing at midnight be,
With a pair of legless glasses as you blink?

Saturday 4 May 2024

Nobody Does It Better

The music to my ears

Against all the odds, there is a spirit that drives us to that point where we are selflessly committed to something that matters. To me, there is so much music that I am familiar with, but I have not given myself the time to listen fully to the lyrics and appreciate the quality of songwriting and expression that went into the song.

Yesterday, I was listening to the music of James Bond films with orchestral support that was performed about two months ago and being broadcast on BBC Three. This was just after I had returned home from a long day, I even took the tablet into the bathroom to listen as I took a shower, I was enthralled. [BBC: Bond… James Bond] Only available to listen to in May 2024 before it is archived.

Indeed, a James Bond song

The many performers of James Bond theme music, going back to 1962, I began wondering and thinking, I did not know this was the original sound as they played through the repertoire of amazing sounds rearranged and performed by contemporary artists.

Nobody Does It Better, the theme song to The Spy Who Loved Me, written by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager, the latter who suggested this was such an incredibly vain song that it naturally fell to Carly Simon you had sung You’re So Vain to give this ballad the full rendition it deserved.

If I remember correctly, we had a film night in boarding school, probably in early 1978, and that was when I first watched, The Spy Who Loved Me, I can only remember the last scene if anything. But we were and maybe remain lifelong fans of James Bond and the James Bond spirit.

Having the joy of the best love

Yet, as I have found out, whatever the inspiration behind any creative work of expression, how it is listened to, understood, and appreciated by others cannot be accounted for. It was written about the apparent sexual prowess of James Bond, I listened to it intently yesterday as a narrative of how the unexpected blossoming of love becomes a story of deep gratitude for having met someone to whom saying, “Baby, You’re the best”, doesn’t even begin to describe the blessing you have encountered.

That is how I feel towards Brian, “I wasn't looking, but somehow you found me”, that first embrace told me peace and comfort, I knew I would never love this way again because what I have is perfect. Thank you for loving me so unconditionally and so very supportively. I never say that enough.

Thought Picnic: Know when the conversation is no longer helpful

Be careful with how you listen

I can understand how people can be wearied by situations, circumstances, or adversities affecting others, especially in situations where they are somewhat unable to help.

Then, in those settings, some try to contribute to the general narrative and outlook in the hope of better outcomes, and that is what we all wish for.

However, how that contribution and support is delivered might have other unintended consequences. Having grown up in a setting that was not as effusive with praise as it could be of criticism, rebuke, admonition, and comparison, advantageous to one side of the argument that believed in right and might, you begin to grow a thick skin to the negative.

Notice when the tone begins to change

For a while, I instituted a weekly conversation where I relayed issues affecting me in the hope that helpful and supportive counsel might ensue from the experience and knowledge of life that far exceeded mine. Indeed, it was very useful until it was not.

Laced with the encouraging words of concern, love, and affection were the inadvertent slips of candour that began to negate the purpose for which these conversations continued. The slow drip of weariness at a situation not changing began to take its toll. I endured it for a while until the cumulative effect called for a termination of this conversational construct.

Cut off the negative promptly

It was no longer helpful for me, I needed to sequester myself from the unhealthy even if it all meant well. It behoves us all to constantly review and assess the kinds of conversation we engage with, curate the people who speak into our lives and circumstances, cultivate the supportive, discern the disruptive, and close out the negative.

An emotional detachment regardless of the relationship is called for, it is something that I have found necessary to do, even from childhood. For all that we aim to cherish, never adhere to that which might perish.