PERFORATED BOWEL ANNIVERSARY AND THE START OF MY CANCER PROBLEMS
MY PERFORATED BOWEL ANNIVERSARY
Today, 18 July 2011 marks the first anniversary of the emergency operation to save my life after my bowel had perforated, putting me not only in real agony, but also grave danger of losing my life.
Briefly, for the actual events are recorded in early "I HAVE A LYMPHOMA" Hubs, the details were as follows:
1. We returned to our UK home from Turkey on 15 July 2010.
2. I visited my GP for a routime blood pressure test on July 16 and my Doctor, not having seen me for 6 weeks, commented that Ihad lost quite a bit of weight and not to lose more. For some reason, I did not say that I had lost my appetite over the preceding 14 days or so.
3. On Saturday July, 17, I awoke as usual and started to get up for the day, when my abdomen area was gripped, it appeared to me, by two steel pincers, forcing me to drop down and call out in pain. Subsequently, the pain eased a little and I was able to finish dressing and go downstairs for breakfast. However, soon the pincer pain returned and I realised I was in real pain. I told my wife I had to get to Hospital and as I could not drive, she rang my stepson ,Ryan to take us to A and E.I can still remember every bump on the 2.5 miles of that journey in his ancient Corsa, so intense was the pain and can remember sayimg to Ryan and my wife that I did not think I was going to beat this. A and E was an interminable and painful wait, but eventually I was seen and then given a cursory scan at the bedside. Some time later, the Eastern European Doctor returned to tell me I was constipated, which, as a Ceoliac sufferer I found hard to believe.Liquid Paraffin was advised but as the Hospital Pharmacy was shut, to seek this from a Chemist. Despite a susequent search of the town, we could not locate any, most saying it had not been requested for over 15 years! Thus, all we achieved was to be told to return if the pain got worse.
4. Somehow, we managed through the night, but on arising, the same happened as on the previous day. Ii mplored my wife to call an Ambulance but she was reticent to do so and so once again I was forced to endure the tortuous ride in the Corsa. Once again an interminable wait to be seen but then a variety of tests and Doctors, culminating in a lady Doctor bringing in the REGISTRAR who took the decision to admit me. I remember little of the rest of the day, save for another visit from the Registrar who told me they had a slot to operate later, but that he was not sure what the problem was, though he felt it could be appendix, diverticulitis, or something else that I do not remember. Morphine made the pain pass and the daylight hours also and the next thing I remember is being wheeled on a trolley and my wife kissing me adieu.Then, I was in a well lighted area with 3 men in Surgical gowns around me. I remember asking the time and being told it was 10.00 or 10.30 pm. Then one man said he was administering the anaesthetic and almost immediately the lights went out
5. When the lights returned, I felt ,for some reason ,that I was in bed in a Garage where a Disco was going on by the flashing lights but there was no music or people. Quite soon however, a Nurse happened by, saw I was concious, asked me how I was,. Iasked her the time and was told it was 2.30 am. The nurse then gave me a drink and once more the lights went out again. Later, in daylight, I awoke again ,this time in a small ward, which though I did not know it, was the High Dependancy Unit.I was put on morphine on demand, so I do not have a very clear recollection of the rest of the day. I do remember, a young Doctor engaging me in some amusing banter, then my wife at the bedside. Susequently, my sons arrived from Sussex and Derbyshire and that was when I thought to myself "i AM IN DEEP TROUBLE HERE"
6 The burly but very pleasant Registrar arrived and, morphine fuelled, I immediately began the banter and asked which of his 3 alternatives was the source of my problem.Showing commendable honesty and good humour hr replied, "NONE"! Then, for the first time we all learned that my bowel had perforated. I knew this was not great, but in my morphined state I felt the worst was now over. I was both right and wrong as it turned out.
The Registrar was collared outside by my elder son to enquire of my chances of pulling through. HE WAS TOLD MY STRENGTH, PROBABLY THE RESULT OF 5 WEEKS EXCERCISE DAILY IN TURKEY, HAD PULLED ME THROUGH THE OPERATION AND THE WASHING OUT OF THE ABDOMINAL AREA AND THAT NOW IT WAS DOWN TO THE ANTI-BIOTICS THAT WERE FLOWING INTO ME VIA A DRIP IN MY ARM.
In any event the Registrar decided after our interchange that I could leave HDU and go to a normal ward. Thus, I was moved to a normal ward ,where standards, sad to say, were nowhere near as good, despite the best efforts of the Nurses. I was there from Monday to Friday, and highly delighted to leave then. During that time, I did have morphine on demand and it contained the pain and trauma of the operation but I was glad when I nneded it no more.
On Tuesday, the Registrar came to see me and during our chat, asked if I would like to see the perforation, handing me his mobile phone.I saw the hole but my eyes were drawn to a mass, sponge like, near it. "What is that?" I enquired.. His eyes twinkled, " We will need to deal with that later, but not yet, we have sent a bit for histology" I pressed him no further, but my internal voice told me, "That is Cancer"!
7. As advised above, I left Hospital on the Friday, with instructions to rest but do light exercise and walk where possible. This I did and returned to Hospital to see the Consultant at the Colectoral Clinic on 12 AUGUST 2010.
THIS WAS THE DAY i LEARNED THAT I HAD RECOVERED FULLY FROM THE OPERATION ON MY BOWEL BUT THAT 2 HISTOLOGY REPORTS ON THE MASS I HAD SEEN ON THE PICTURE SHOWN TO ME BY THE REGISTRAR, HAD CONFIRMED A 5 CM PERIPHERAL LYMPHOMA ON MY LIVER. MY BATTLE WITH CANCER WAS SOON TO BEGIN.
Recording those events here, seems almost surreal, as if they had happened ,not to me, but another. The bulky Hospital file at my side proves otherwise of course. The perforation of a bowel is a serious emergency and requires emergency surgery. I often woner about that wasted Saturday and if things would have been easier if the operation, as it should have been, was undertaken 24 hours earlier. Even so, there is nothing to be gained in looking back negatively when there is so much to look forward to positively.
Perforation allows the contents of the bowel to empty into the abdominal area and thus allow the potential for sepsis to develop, infectimg the blood and leading often to immediate death.Symptoms can include severe pain ,which I certainly experienced and also nausea, vomiting and high fever, which in the main, I avoided. The emergency operation sews up the hole, washes the entire abdominal area and can sometimes lead to Colostomy, [a bag outside the body to claim waste} i REMEMBER PLEADING WITH THE REGISTRAR TO AVOUD THIS, AND HIS PROMISE TO DO SO IF AT ALL POSSIBLE. HE KEPT HIS WORD AND I THANK HIM TO THIS DAY FOR THAT AND ALL THAT HE DID FOR ME..
After the operation, it is all down to ant-biotics to get rid of any left over infection and to avoid peritonitis recurrence. Thankfully, it appears that having had a perforation does not make you more likely to suffer another and for that reassurance I give many thanks. I still search for a mother who has also had a prforation at some point for I cannot begin to believe that Childbirth can be more painfull.
So I can celebrate today, survival of the worst pain Ihave ever experienced. "What does not kill us makes us stronger" goes the saying and just maybe, as well as finding my Lymphoma earlier than it would otherwise have been, the perforation, operation and battle to recover may have been key in my Cancer battle which was soon to begin.
PROGRESS IN TURKEY,
8 weeks from May to July 15 2011, have seen my health improve along with my strength and endurance. I can swim 600 plus metres now in 27.5 mins. This is good because it took me 30 mins last year before any of this started. My treadmill work gets more and more comfortable and my upper boody has responded to the multi-gym work.I still have to keep to a strict gluten free diet and still suffer from the remains of Neuropathy and lack good balance at times as well as not yet feeling satisfied with my joint mobilities, but we are getting there and the next milestones I suppose are the anniversaries of both start and conclusion of Chemo, if all continues well I shall be in touch with the Hospital this week and they may wish to check on me soon again. For now, it is time to just reflect on the bowel that started it all and to note that from bad came good in this case for me.