Month 123 – Surprise PSA Test

“How the hell did you have a surprise PSA test?” you ask. “Didn’t you feel the needle going into your arm?!?”

Yes, I did.

I was a bit overdue for the normal tests that you have for your annual physical, and my doctor’s office called a week ago and told me I needed to come in for some blood work and a urinalysis. So I did.

I was going through the results online today, and the very last test listed was a PSA test. I was a bit surprised that they ran it considering we just ran one in December. The result? It came out 0.16 ng/ml.

Obviously, that’s a step up from the December result of 0.13 ng/ml, but I’m not overly concerned about it because it’s relatively in line with my other recent results. The other reason is that I didn’t follow my usual routine for this PSA test.

When I know that I have a PSA test coming up, for a week before, I will abstain from activities that could cause it to read a little higher than normal. Because this was a surprise test, I didn’t do that and that may account for the bump up in the number.

Another reason not to be too overly excited is my PSA doubling time is 65.3 months.

Of course, because this was an unexpected test, I don’t have an appointment set up with the urology department, so we’ll just stick to the plan and see what happens when I retest in late June for an early July appointment.


On an unrelated note, because I work in a hospital, I was able to get both doses of the Pfizer COVID vaccine.

For the first dose, my arm was tender at the injection site for about 30 hours after the injection, but it wasn’t bad enough to warrant taking any pain medication like acetaminophen or ibuprofen. I had a mild headache late in the evening, but I may attribute that to just being up too late the night before.

The injection site for the second dose was less tender and for a shorter period, but I was pretty fatigued later in the afternoon and early evening (I received the injection around 10 a.m.). Nothing a good nap and a good night’s sleep wouldn’t cure.

It will be two weeks since the second dose this Friday, so I should have full resistance built up by then. I’ll continue to wear a mask and socially distance, as is recommended.

Stay well!

Month 122 – Doctor Consult

Last week, I completed my 63rd trip around the sun and had my appointment with my doctor. I tried arranging a tele-appointment, but that didn’t happen, so I had to go into the office for the visit.

I was brought back to the exam room by a staff member, and was told that they were running a bit behind schedule after a post-holiday surge. “No problem,” I said and pulled out my phone to do some mindless Internet surfing as I waited for the doctor to come in. About ten minutes later, the doctor rounded the corner and came through the door, and I’m thankful I was wearing a mask to help hide some of my reaction. (I’m sure my eyes and eyebrows betrayed me to a degree.)

It was Doogie Howser. (Photo from the hospital’s website.)

“Damn, I’m old,” I thought. Well, that, and he was really young. Both can be true. But, as the old adage says, you can’t judge a book by its cover.

Once we began talking, it was clear he was knowledgeable and had a great bedside manner. As predicted, we agreed that the wisest course of action right now, given my PSA level and my PSA doubling time is to continue to monitor. We’ll do this again with a PSA test in June and a follow-up appointment in early July. He was pretty emphatically against radiation. “If you were my brother or uncle, I’d tell you not to do it.” I chuckled at the concept of being his brother.

We also chatted about the PSMA imaging available at UCLA, and he was in the loop on that. He agreed that my PSA is too low for us to get a reliable result right now and also cautioned about false positive results. Right now, that imaging isn’t approved by the VA, so I would have to pay for it on my own if I had it (about $3,000 USD).

I have to admit that’s one thing that I like about having a younger doctor—they seem to be more current on the advances in the field than some of their older counterparts. I asked an older doctor about the PSMA imaging a year or two ago, and he barely had any idea of what I was talking about.

The appointment went just about as expected, so we’ll wait another 6 months and do it all over again.

Here’s hoping for a better 2021 for all of us!

P.S. Along those lines of a better 2021, because my office is in a hospital, I was able to get the first dose of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine last week. There were minimal side effects: a mildly sore injection site for about 36 hours and a bit of a headache later in the evening. Nothing bad at all. I go back to get the second dose at the end of January.

COVID-19 and prostate cancer management — THE “NEW” PROSTATE CANCER INFOLINK

They’re looking for someone in the U.S. whose treatment has been impacted or delayed by COVID-19.

Do you live in the USA and believe that your prostate cancer care may have been seriously affected by the COVID-19 pandemic?

via COVID-19 and prostate cancer management — THE “NEW” PROSTATE CANCER INFOLINK

Checking In

So how’s everyone doing?

Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic has had me cooped up in my house since last Tuesday, working from home doing my job as best I can. In some ways, I’ve been quite productive without the interruptions that I would have in my office. But, as a volunteer manager who suspended our entire volunteer program until further notice, there are limits to what’s available for me to do. Next project: clean up our database of 4,500 volunteers. After that, work on writing standard operating procedures for what I do (at the moment, it’s all in my head).

Here in California, restrictions were slowly tightening until our governor came out with the stay at home restrictions last Thursday. Fortunately, I saw the writing on the wall about a month ago and began slowly stocking my pantry and freezer over time. I’ve got a good 2-3 weeks’ supply of food (lots of chicken breast and soup on the menu), but I’m about out of fresh produce and bread, so I have to figure out what I’m going to to about that. Head to the store myself and risk exposure, or order groceries online for delivery for the first time?

At the start of this COVID-19 pandemic, I would describe myself as concerned, but certainly not panicked. I’m certainly not panicked even now, but my level of concern has increased considerably.

I spend more time on Twitter than I should (don’t judge me), and the first-hand accounts of what it’s like to have COVID-19 are frightening, to say the least. That has made much more cautious about going out now than I was at the beginning of this (hence the possible online ordering of groceries).

I’m lucky enough that, even though it appears that I have recurrent prostate cancer, I’m not taking any medications or treatments that compromise my immune system. Still, I’m in that over-60 years old higher risk group. Minimizing risk just got a lot more important to me.

Speaking of risk groups, in my copious amounts of spare time, I’ve taken the daily San Diego County COVID-19 updates and plopped them into a spreadsheet to make graphs. (You know me. I gotta make graphs.)

The media and experts talk about how COVID-19 impacts the elderly more, but I was surprised to see that, here in San Diego County, many more younger adults have tested positive for the virus. Granted, the sample size is small compared to the global data; still, it was revealing. It was also revealing that men are infected at nearly twice the rate of women. (You can draw your own conclusion as to why that is.)

SD COVID Cases 20200323

Even with all the social distancing we’re doing here in California, I’m guessing that we’re still a good two to three weeks away from “flattening the curve” (especially seeing as there were so many boneheads out on the beaches and in the parks this weekend violating the social distancing/stay-at-home order that the city decided to shut them all down!). I expect these restrictions will last a while longer. Fun.

So that’s about it from here. I hope that you’re doing well and that you’re taking appropriate precautions for your own situations.

Stay well. Stay healthy. Stay sane. Stay home!!

—Dan