Conservatory Re-Build – Day 20


Finally !! The day has arrived when “all” the glass is installed. The guys have had a busy day.

First the plasterers arrived and set to work applying the plaster skim over the plaster board.

Conservatory -  Plaster has been applied to the perimeter ceiling and the walls of the utility room
Conservatory – Plaster has been applied to the perimeter ceiling and the walls of the utility room

Soon after the fitters arrived and set about removing our kitchen window and door. No pictures of this stage. During the morning we left the crew working while we headed over to Salisbury to procure some furniture for when the conservatory is completed.

While we were away the plumbers arrived, removed the radiator, capped off the hot water supply and connected the cold water supply for the utility room.

Conservatory - Old radiator removed and pipes capped pending the installation of a new tall panel radiator
Conservatory – Old radiator removed and pipes capped pending the installation of a new tall panel radiator

Removing the radiator will allow the plasterers to cover the wall with plaster board. There will not be any exposed brick this time round. Been there, done that, don’t want to do it again. Ever !!

Conservatory - Old, redundant hot water supply pipe is capped. New cold water supply line is connected.
Conservatory – Old, redundant hot water supply pipe is capped. New cold water supply line is connected.

When we arrived back from Salisbury the kitchen door and window were in place. Not only that but so was the new garage door. That was a surprise as nobody had told us that the door had been made yet.

Conservatory - New kitchen door and window.
Conservatory – New kitchen door and window.
Conservatory - New garage door.
Conservatory – New garage door.

Just when the guys were cleaning up from the door and window fitting another van pulled up onto our drive. Whoohoo !! The bi-fold doors had arrived and were duly installed.

Conservatory - The bi-fold doors are in
Conservatory – The bi-fold doors are in
Conservatory - External view of the bi-fold doors
Conservatory – External view of the bi-fold doors

The doors are in and functional but not finished. The glass is in but not all the seals have been fixed. Just sufficient to hold the glass in place overnight. The sealing will be completed tomorrow and other trim will also be installed.

And, no, that is not our new decking.

Unfortunately, this will be the last of my daily posts regarding the conservatory rebuild. We are away for a few days, going up north for a wedding. Then going further up north to visit with friends. While we are away the work will continue and, I hope, the next post on this subject will present to you the finished conservatory.

Lets hope the surprise is a pleasant one.

Conservatory Re-Build – Day 19


Weatherwise today has been truly awful. It has rained, and rained, all day long. Sometimes with the power of a monsoon. Luckily, since the roof and glazing has been installed it means that the guys doing the plasterboarding can get on regardless. It also meant that the lack of an outside tap didn’t impede their progress and also let them demonstrate their ingenuity.

Conservatory - Water feature. Supplementing the lack of an outside tap.
Conservatory – Water feature. Supplementing the lack of an outside tap.

The guys created a temporary water feature which saved them taking up the flooring to get access to the water pipe since our outside pipe has not been installed yet.

Visually the build has changed again significantly. The guys have almost completed the plaster boarding.

Conservatory - Plasterboarding
Conservatory –  Plaster boarding

The electrician was in attendance this morning and has run his cables and fitted the socket and switch boxes into position. He will be back, when the plastering is completed, to wire in the sockets and switches as well as fitting the down lighter units.

Conservatory - Outside door from the utility room.
Conservatory – Outside door from the utility room.

The guys told me that our kitchen window and back door are being replaced tomorrow.

Conservatory - Kitchen window still to be replaced
Conservatory – Kitchen window still to be replaced

Also the bi-fold doors are to be installed.

We had a visit from the plumbers earlier and they hope to come back tomorrow to remove the radiator and prepare the pipes for the replacement radiator. This will, once the kitchen window is done, allow the guys to finish the plaster boarding. Then the true plaster work can begin.

So, tomorrow should be another huge day.

Conservatory Re-Build – Day 18


Day 18, being a Saturday, is a bonus day. Normally we would not have had anyone on site. However, Craig asked if it would be OK to work and, of course, we said yes. He was here for most of the day and the following photos show the results of his efforts.

Conservatory - Stud wall and sliding door
Conservatory – Stud wall and sliding door

We now have the framework in place for the stud wall which will separate the utility room from the rest of the conservatory. In the background can be seen some of the sheets of plasterboard which will be installed starting Monday. We also have the “hidey – slidey” door installed although not fully functional. Full operation will only be possible after the plaster work is completed and floor tiles laid. At the moment there are two wooden blocks in place to prevent damage to the track which will be subsurface once the tiles are in place.

Conservatory - Stud wall and sliding door
Conservatory – Stud wall and sliding door

Note the stud wall does not reach to the apex of the roof. The stud only goes high enough to continue the same line as the plaster board for the perimeter ceiling. There will be a glazed insert installed atop the stud wall to allow light to pass thru whilst keeping out any noise from the washing machine and tumble dryer in the utility area.

Can’t wait for Monday as there is a hint that the bi-fold doors will be installed which will then make the whole structure truly weather proof.

My Prostate and Me – Part 9


For those of you who are following this saga you will remember that my last post was shortly after attending hospital for surgery. That the surgery was cancelled due to a lack of availability of beds.

I think the fates intervened and the cancellation of the operation was a blessing in disguise. There were just too many risks with the operation and the potential impact to my lifestyle for the following year (at least) were just too much to consider.

So, surgery, which was always my first choice, has now been kicked into touch, and became the option of last resort.

Since December 2014 I have had follow-up appointments with Mr Wilkinson, my consultant. We have discussed fully, my  reasons for not going ahead with the surgical option. As a result I was referred to an oncologist, Mr Nagar who talked me through the alternative radiotherapy options.

  1. External Radiotherapy
    Given in the hospital radiotherapy department,  as daily sessions from Monday–Friday, with a rest at the weekend. The course of treatment would last for just over 7 weeks.
  2. Low-Dose Rate (LDR) Brachytherapy
    This type of radiotherapy is sometimes called internal radiotherapy, implant therapy or seed implantation. This uses small, radioactive metal ‘seeds’ that are inserted into the tumour so that radiation is released slowly. The seeds are not removed but the radiation gradually fades away over about six months. There is no risk of it affecting other people.

So after a full and frank discussion with Mr Nagar I was left with a lot of thinking to do, along with more discussions with my wife. The net of this was that I decided that LDR Brachytherapy was the right treatment for me. The following images show the basics of the procedure.

Image from http://www.oncolink.org

Images from http://www.oncolink.org
Images from http://www.oncolink.org

And so it was back to Mr. Wilkinson who scheduled me for a Flow Rate Test. I mentioned that this was somewhat less than successful last time so he suggested that the fall back plan would be a visit to Urodynamics.

Flow Test

As preparation for the Flow Test I had to keep a diary, over three days, of how much liquid I took on board, the type of liquid (tea, beer, wine etc.) and how much pee I produced. On the day of the flow test I thought I would help things along by arriving at the hospital early and drinking lots of water. I spent nearly an hour walking the grounds sipping at my bottle of water. Twenty minutes before my appointment my bladder started to indicate that it would need emptying soon so I headed up to Urology. I let the receptionist know that I might have an urgent need to perform. I was directed to take a seat and to let her know when things became truly urgent. So I sat there and my bladder went to sleep.

At my allotted appointment time I was called through to another waiting area asked to sit, offered tea and told to shout when I was ready to do the test. My bladder snoozed on. It was perhaps another thirty minutes before my bladder woke up. So I looked for the nurse. No sign. Well she said to shout so I did. After all I didn’t want to waste this opportunity.  Thankfully the nurse appeared and we dashed to the flow test equipment. Basically it looks something like this….

Flow Test Machine - How much over what period of time ?
Flow Test Machine – How much over what period of time ?

After successfully performing I was given a quick ultrasound check to see what was left in my bladder and there it was, job done. Although I had a second appointment set for a visit to Urodynamics it was deemed not to be necessary and was cancelled. Instead a new appointment with the consultant, Mr Hodgson, was set.

Time flew by and once again I presented myself for the scheduled appointment with Mr Hodgson. Sadly, not for the first time, there was a distinct lack of notes. At least the computer was working this time and he was able to access my notes that way. However, what was missing was the flow rate test results. Two sets of print outs were found from that date and I had to choose the chart from my test. Thankfully the graphs were very different and I could easily identify mine.

The results were deemed good and I was informed that I would need another rectal (digital) exam as well as having my prostate vital statistics taken.

So there I was again, trousers round my ankles, up on the couch, laid on my side with my knees under my chin. Different room but the scenery hadn’t changed just a blank wall painted in that neutral paint that all hospitals seem to choose.

First up was the rectal (digital) exam and for the first time since this whole process began I actually felt some discomfort, though not for very long. This was followed by an Ultrasound Scan during which measurements were taken of my prostate. These help to determine the shape and mass of the prostate and would be used during the Brachytherapy procedure.

Soon the scan was finished and I was back in the vertical plane. I almost had my trousers secured when I was informed that some of the data from the scan had not been saved. So it was trolleys round the ankles again, back on the couch and staring once again at the blandly painted wall. This time the scan image was saved and once fully dressed we were back to discussing the procedure and timing.

Apparently hospitals don’t keep a cupboard full of these things around and the seeds have to be procured. I wondered if they went to Suttons, Fothergills or perhaps our local garden center to obtain the seeds. I did not vocalise these thoughts. They implant 80 – 100 Iodine 125 seeds @ £30.00 each. That’s dearer than a packet of Impatiens seeds.

When my consultation was over I had to visit with the nurse for  nasal & groin swabs. She was less than amused when I suggested that I had saved the NHS money by using one swab for both areas. Either she’d had a humour bypass or had heard it all before.

On 13th May I presented myself for my Pre-Op Assessment and was duly measured, weighed and gave up a blood sample.

Before I knew it a date had been set for the procedure, May 15th. This was sooner than anticipated and I will admit to going through a moment of panic.

On the day I presented myself at reception and was shown through to a consulting room. I was measured and weighed again, blood pressure taken and given some premeds, antibiotics etc.. I was visited by the anaesthetic and the consultant and signed the consent forms after having everything explained to me. Thankfully, this time, the wait was not very long between these consultations and being taken through to theatre.

Preparation for the procedure was a surreal experience, what with me being dressed in the wonderful hospital smock and stockings, also the jokey disposition of the theatre staff. We were actually having a good time and that was before I had any anaesthetic.

It was about this time that I started to misbehave. As usual they inserted a canula, except that they had two goes at that. Then they informed me that I was due to have an epidural, which had not been discussed previously. At the same time they administered something through the canula that they said would make me feel like I had consumed a couple of  G & Ts. I remember feeling a little woozy and then nothing more until came to in the recovery area.

I was subsequently informed that the anaesthetists assistant tried on two occasions to set up the epidural. They are supposed to see spinal fluid  come out of the needle and on each occasion I wouldn’t give any up. The anaesthetist  then took over and tried herself, three more times, and still I wouldn’t give any fluid. At this point they decided that they would give up on the epidural and put me under with a general anaesthetic (GA). Once they had me under, and the procedure was underway, that’s when I really began to misbehave. I decided to vomit.

From what I have heard vomiting whilst under a GA is not good. This required the use of dyna-rod and a vacuum cleaner to clear out my tubes and the upper reaches of my lungs.

As a result of this the procedure took much longer than the estimated two hours which would  be normal. A further consequence was that I had to stay in hospital overnight, when I had expected to go home, and I was wheeled up to a ward where I was connected to an oxygen supply with attached humidifier. This was so that they could monitor me and make sure that I hadn’t inhaled any of my stomach contents and didn’t suffer an infection.

So there I was stuck in hospital. Hungry, I hadn’t eaten for over twelve hours. Thirsty, no fluids other than a few sips of water prior to the procedure. Catheterised, for the procedure and for the duration of my observation. Sore throat due to the GA and subsequent rodding out and suction due to my vomiting session.

The nurses brought me a sandwich to alleviate the hunger. A cheese on wholemeal sandwich was the only choice and was so dry that it was very hard to swallow, especially kind to my sore throat …. NOT !!

This was only the beginning of the fun night. Did I mention that I was catheterised ? Through the night I was subjected to hourly obs. Just as I was drifting off to sleep along would come the nurse to take my temperature and my blood pressure. Then, just as I was drifting away again, she would come back and I would feel a pulling at my penis. This was specifically related to the brachytherapy and the catheter. She had to use a Geiger counter type device and scan the contents of bag attached to my catheter then along the length of the tube up to the old fella. Required to ensure that none of my seeds had escaped. Any found would need special handling for disposal. Seeds can escape from their implantation point and move around the body. Supposedly this is not harmful.

Saturday morning arrived and I felt a bit fresher after a strip wash and some breakfast. I was scheduled to go down for an X-ray but someone cancelled it which meant a new booking for later in the day. Hospitals are the most boring places to be when you are waiting to be released.

I was visited by the consultant who informed me that I would need to go for a scan on Monday. This was to ensure that the seeds were implanted in the right place and the right quantity. He also said I could have the catheter removed. Yippee !! His female assistant performed the removal saying “this might feel a little strange”. Decidedly unpleasant would have been my description. Mind you, after my first few pee’s following catheter removal I would have gladly had it back. The sensation is as close to burning as I can imagine and it seems like you can feel it all the way back to your bladder. Thankfully that sensation slowly faded away over the next couple of days.

The consultant also gave me a little blue card, which I have to carry for the next three years. This card informs people that I have “received a permanent radioactive iodine seed (Iodine – 125) implant to the prostate”. This is not because I glow in the dark, but the seeds will show up on various scanners and may even set off alarms at airports.

Back in the hospital, the consultant said he was happy for me to go home but that the final decision was down to the anaesthetist. And he wouldn’t give the go ahead until I had an X-ray.

Well it was nearly 16:00 when I was taken down for the X-ray and it was gone 17:00 before I was finally released. At this time I was given a box of Tamsulosin capsules.

Tamsulosin is used to relax the muscle around the Prostate which, not unexpected, can be a bit irritated following the implants. How would you feel after 80-100 foreign bodies were inserted about your person. Add to the facts that they are radioactive too. The irritation / inflammation can cause the Prostate to swell and constrict the urether making it difficult to pee.

So home I went. What a relief it was to get out of the hospital.

 

Conservatory Re-Build – Day 17


Just two guys on site today placing the joists and fixing them in their final positions, installing the insulation, gluing and screwing the floor boarding.

5J7A0663_1
Conservatory – Insulation between the joists.

The sun came out for a short time while the insulation was exposed. The reflected light into the kitchen was really bright. Gave us some insight into how the final tiled floor will reflect light when the build is complete.

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Conservatory – Flooring is complete

All of the flooring has been laid. Screwed and glued in place. A couple of traps have been created to provide access to the kitchen drain and to the utility room connections. The photo above shows that a piece of flooring has been left out to allow the plumber access to the water pipes.

One of the guys is coming to work tomorrow, Saturday, to build the partition wall. Word is that the bifold doors will be installed on Monday which will be good. The back of the house including the garage will be secure.

Conservatory Re-Build – Day 16


The guys returned en masse this morning and at the peak we had six on site. Focus for the day was to get the sleeper walls built and the electrical 1st Fit underway. Some might call it organised chaos with all these bodies on site at one time.

Conservatory - Sleeper walls with joists laid in temporary positions
Conservatory – Sleeper walls with joists laid in temporary positions

By end of the day they had the sleepers built up, the joists cut to length and laid down temporarily.

Conservatory - Plumbing exposed, ready to be modified
Conservatory – Plumbing exposed, ready to be modified

With this build I am getting to see parts of my home that I’ve never seen before. It’s a bit like a lady lifting her skirts and showing her underwear. Brickwork has been removed to allow the plumber access to our kitchen drain pipe which needs to be modified so that it is sub-surface prior to plaster boarding. The water pipes were the original feeds for the old utility room. They will be replaced by a more modern “plastic” equivalent and will also be hidden.

Conservatory - Cavity blanking strips installed.
Conservatory – Cavity blanking strips installed.

The utility room drain pipe has been reinstated ready for when the internal soil pipe is installed and passed through the wall.

Conservatory - Utility drain reinstated
Conservatory – Utility drain reinstated

The electrician has run all the power cables as part of the 1st Fit. He is due to come back on Monday to continue the installation.

Conservatory - Electrical 1st Fit
Conservatory – Electrical 1st Fit for utility room power sockets and roof vent controls

Cable runs have been made in preparation for the down lighters, the double sockets and for the electric vents which are yet to be fitted in the roof.

Conservatory - Electrical 1st Fit
Conservatory – Electrical 1st Fit Light switches and sockets.

All this power cabling is required to supply six double sockets, an outdoor socket, two roof vents and ten LED down lighters. Not an insignificant amount of wiring.

Conservatory - Side access, the pavers have been reinstated and the gaps to the footings have been infilled.
Conservatory – Side access, the pavers have been reinstated and the gaps to the footings have been infilled.

The side access has been partially reinstated with the broken paving having been replaced. The jagged hole created by the digging out of the footings has now been infilled. There will be more work here when the steps down from the utility room door are built.

Unfortunately the garden has reverted to a building site again with the arrival of all of the floor joists and the flooring itself. Once again the weather has conspired against us and, although it hasn’t stopped the work, has turned the ground into a bit of a quagmire with all the extra feet passing thru.

Conservatory - Builders yard again
Conservatory – Builders yard again

Conservatory Re-Build – Day 15


Each day now seems to bring significant changes. Today the guys have been focussed on assembling the framework, on which the plasterboard will be fixed, to create the perimeter ceiling. The system they are using is Livinroom by Ultraframe. The following photos show the results of their days efforts.

Conservatory - Showing the completed framework at the southern end.
Conservatory – Showing the completed framework at the southern end.

The garage door beside my wife, is yet to be raised, otherwise it won’t open when the floor is raised.

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Conservatory – Showing the completed framework at the northern end.
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Conservatory – Showing the completed framework adjoining the house. This is much wider than on the other three sides as it has to take in the existing roof overhang, the large box gutter and also provide space for the down lighters.
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Conservatory – Stillno bi-fold doors. These are being left until later, to prevent any damage while the raised floor is installed.

What a difference a day makes. Not only did the guys install the framework but they did a huge clean up both within the new structure and also in the garden. It no longer looks like a builders yard.