Richard’s Story

I came home from work one evening & like every other day, made myself & my wife some tea. After tea, I settled down with my wife & dog for a normal evening. Little did I know that this would be my last “normal” evening for a long time.

Shortly after dinner, I started to get stomach pain, I figured it was just a stomach bug or dodgy tea, I then went up to the toilet for obvious reasons. After this, I have to rely on my wife’s sayings as I don’t remember a lot for about a month. In short succession, I started throwing up blood, passing in & out of consciousness & an ambulance was called very quickly. What happened next, I know nothing about it as I was in a coma for a month. I was rushed into hospital, straight into an operating theatre, apparently, my bowel had herniated & been blocked, splitting feaceas into my body cavity, then causing sepsis. I was operated on & all did not go well, my heart stopped 4 times, it was then my family was called in to say goodbye to me as I wasn’t expected to come off the operating table alive.

After a few hours, I stubbornly refused to die, they closed my chest & stomach up as they didn’t bother just in case, they needed to shock my heart again & put me in the intensive care unit. I stayed there in a coma on the edge of life for 4 weeks. My poor wife had to juggle her work, our dog & our grandkids all on her own & I will be forever in her debt for how good she did. After 4 weeks I woke up, I found I couldn’t move or speak, after panicking & was returned to an induced coma. Then after another week I woke again, this time I was delirious & thought everyone was angels as I was dead. Slowly I regained my mind back & then had a very long learning curve of teaching myself to talk, eat, move & the big one, learning how to operate a high output Ileostomy with limited movement.

I was also contending with an infected operation wound due to my stoma leaking into the 6-inch wounding my belly. I had a team of physical therapy people helping me to regain as much movement as possible as my brain was damaged due to lack of oxygen. My speech eventually returned to normal but even after 7 plus years, I still look at an object & know what it is but can’t match it as it comes out of my mouth & my mobility is strictly impaired.

Jump to 7 plus years later, I have a good life thanks to my wife, who is now my carer & the NHS who never gave up on me & got me back to as good as I could be. I have 7 wonderful grandkids who keep me & my wife busy. I can still drive an automatic car & am no longer able to work but are settled & above all I never lost my sense of humour. I now use a mobility scooter & wheelchair, but the grandchildren love to go for rides with me & my wife. I would say to people who end up with a stoma for whatever reason, keep going, it will get better, take loads of advice from your stoma nurses, use samples until you find a bag that suits you, never be too proud to accept help, you will eventually develop your own new normal.