"Fit and well after eleven weeks and three..."
About: St Richard's Hospital St Richard's Hospital PO19 6SE
Posted by Peter Edmonds
Recently my surgeon over the past 6½ years since I underwent a procedure to remove a cancer in my bowel in November 2006 has signed me off. This is great news. On Tuesday 29th January this year I was admitted to Wittering Ward in severe pain with a twisted bowel. After an operation on Sunday 3rd February, I seemed to be progressing well and even expecting to go home on the following weekend when, quite suddenly, unbearable pain returned and my condition deteriorated. By Tuesday 12th February I was very seriously ill.. At some point on that day I saw my surgeon attending the patient in the bed opposite mine; he had not been aware of my presence in the hospital. When he had finished, I hailed him. He immediately examined me and within a few hours I was once again on the operating table resulting in an ileostomy. They subsequently described this operation as one of the most difficult he had undertaken. Following the next nine days in ITU I was sent back to Wittering Ward. I spent about seven weeks recovering and building my protein levels until, eventually, the stoma was reversed. A week later, I was discharged. From my questions, and from other information I gleaned, I became aware of the unusual nature and seriousness of my situation. I feel it is most important, therefore, that I should express my thoughts about the treatment and care I received. A long stay in hospital is traumatic but, at all times, I was looked after in such a way that I felt completely reassured and as comfortable as possible. Members of the surgeon’s team visited me at least once a day and often went out of their way to help me when my need was greater than normal. One evening, for instance, when I was on a super-rich diet and feeling low, one of them brought me the largest, chocolate éclair I had ever seen! Such devotion to my welfare cheered me no end and carried me through a most difficult time. The Wittering Ward staff were amazing. Not one of the nurses, health-care assistants, house-keepers, cleaners, phlebotomists, physiotherapists, dieticians and the chaplaincy team fell short of superb. They were there, at the touch of an orange button, to meet my every request. In fact I was told off for not calling more frequently! Many stressful times for the staff occurred during my eleven-week stay. There were staff shortages; in fact three nurses left St Richard’s, another departed on maternity leave and two were on long holidays, all from Wittering Ward. I was aware of several emergency situations and other problems, but I was never out of the frame. During my final conversation with the surgeon, he revealed that it was ten years since he had dealt with a case as complicated as mine. It is to his, and his team’s credit that they handled my problem in a professional and reassuring manner. There is no doubt that they extended my life and for that I shall be forever grateful.