In 2010, I went into hospital for a routine ERCP procedure to remove gall stones. In short, I then developed choledocholithiasis (stones in the bile duct), acute pancreatitis, biliary peritonitis and retro-peritoneal abscesses leading to sepsis.
I was in ICU for 6 weeks on mechanical ventilation and cardiac support. I lost 3 stone in weight and my wife was telephoned by the hospital to say I was not likely to survive. Luckily I did. A further 6 weeks on the ward (by now I had also developed MRSA) and I eventually got home. I couldn’t sleep, I had real bad night sweats, horrendous flashbacks and I could hardly walk- but at least I was home!
I’m a self employed photographer and so I had to get back to work- my critical illness insurance said I had the wrong type of illness- sepsis, as a critical illness, is not recognised by insurers.
I set myself a target of 3 months to try and get a routine back and eventually back to work. This I did and within 6 months of leaving hospital I’d managed to complete the Lincoln 10k followed by other running and cycling events throughout the rest of the year, raising money for Lincoln’s ICU (and for which I was nominated to carry the Olympic torch which was an incredible experience). It wasn’t easy and I wasn’t the fastest but I did it. By now, I was also undergoing counselling for the flashbacks and I was also having mood-swings… the full PTSD thing had kicked in. My exercise was helping but I needed counselling too. I’m not out of the woods yet. It’s something I have to live with and my scars are a constant reminder, but with the help and support of my family, I’m getting there.
Now 2 years on, I have to go back for more surgery as I now have an incisional hernia caused by the previous operations. To say I’m scared stiff of any more procedures is an understatement. I know I have to do this and I’m working through the demons with my counsellor. If anyone says any operation is straightforward again I don’t think I’ll believe them.