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I am 42yrs old, married with 3 kids. Diagnosed with Crohns Disease (an incurable inflammatory bowel disease) aged 12 and have had 22 operations and my intestine failed 2years ago. Last October I underwent a small bowel transplant in Oxford. I was the 11th person to go through this procedure. Recovery may take up to a year but I am determined to lead a full life and will never let my issues get in the way.
For my story please go to www.beingapatient.blogspot.com. In hospital my wife continued to blog about the transplant, all those details on www.the-transplant-wife.blogspot.com. Both blogs are linked.
I hope that my experience can help any family that maybe going through similar difficulties.
Posted at 8:42am Tuesday 7th May 2013
Posted at 7:18pm Friday 15th March 2013
My journey has a bowel transplant patient has taken me off in a number of directions over the last couple of weeks. Some have been great some not so good but again all paths lad back to The Churchill Hospital in Oxford and the transplant unit and my surrogate family. The route to this particular visit has been interesting though and as I sit in room 11 having just ordered a take away pizza (sorry no free advertising of any pizza chains on this blog that is unless free pizzas are on offer) for some hot food at a decent time I thought that I would tell you about the latest instalment of being a patient, bowel transplant style.
Posted at 3:12pm Monday 25th February 2013
I have tried hard this week to get my head out of bowel transplant mode and in to the space reserved for “rest of my life.” I just figured that with my head still spinning with so many things it was time for a mental clear out, a kind of spring clean of the mind. As I write this I have visions of a mini me with duster and polish sitting inside my head polishing lots of bits until they are all shiny. Just hope mini me doesn’t drop anything, that is if there is anything to actually drop.
Posted at 4:24pm Sunday 10th February 2013
This last week seems to have typified my journey through bowel transplant. When I was told that having a bowel transplant was swapping one set of problems for another I knew what I was being told but never really appreciated what that actually meant. I went in to the surgery knowing the risks and complications but at that time I hadn’t eaten for 3 years and had intestinal failureso for me there was no choice.
Posted at 11:09am Monday 28th January 2013
Sunday, 27 January 2013
Posted at 5:57pm Wednesday 9th January 2013
As the clock chimes midnight it is out with the old and in with the new except as a patient that one chime doesn’t actually make a difference does it? Or am I wrong? The turn of the year gives you a chance to set new goals, make new plans and start up new things but the one thing that doesn’t change is being a patient. Does that mean your mindset has to stay the same though – I think not! My Christmas was a bit like santa’s relationship with chimneys – lots of ups and downs. I picked up what I assume was a virus and ended up back in hospital for a few days. With me a virus seems to always lead to dehydration and with my kidney function going off quicker than a turkey left out of the fridge I soon found myself on antibiotics, a drip and with an abscess on my leg from all my injecting that has now turned in to a lovely great big hole. All of this and I just wanted to be out ahead of celebrations that had been planned. Frustratingly I missed two major deadlines, my daughter’s 13th birthday and my 21st anniversary but I did get out in time to share New Years Eve with my wife. I also managed to be around for my daughter’s bat mitzvah & disco – although not eating for 2 days to ensure I could make it through the disco was an interesting challenge. I then managed to appropriately embarrass her with my speech, which I thought sounded cool, it contained a twitter hashtag, references to facebook and everything else teenagers use these days. Perhaps it was the fact that I have more twitter followers that upset my little lady. I hadn’t really appreciated the effect that my back and forth to hospital was having on the kids until this holiday. I stupidly assumed that they took it all in their stride and that it was almost part of life yet this time it really hit them hard. I saw the odd posts that they put up, heard the reactions on the phone and then saw the look in their eyes and it really made me realise the massive affect this all has on them. I think that some of this was due to the fact that I hadn’t been an inpatient for a few weeks so they got used to having me at home and some of it was the fact that I went for routine bloods and ended up staying in so it was unprepared. Finally there was the time of the year so it was no wonder the kids and my wife got very down over the whole thing. So you see the journey of being a patient or the trials and tribulations of being the loved one of a patient doesn’t alter based on the change of a number. In essence those elements are out of your control, what can change though is what you wish for and what you are going to do to try and make those wishes come true. For 2013 what will I be doing to make my wishes come true? My biggest wish is for stability in our lives and for my wife and kids to have a year free of the upheaval that has been there for so long. What can I do to make these things happen? In simple terms I can make sure that I do everything possible to give them the normality they deserve when the times are good and just hope that when we have a few blips they remember many more good things than bad. To deliver on my wish though involves so many things some in my control and some not. I guess that herein lies so many lessons for so many of us. These are my thoughts for what they are worth. I can’t guarantee that I can follow everyone though so I would welcome your thoughts.
Posted at 10:22am Monday 17th December 2012
Well this is the first time since August that I have been able to write a blog post with my football team QPR finally having won a match and secured 3pts. Fulham fans, this one is for you http://youtu.be/YE2XSm5-xRk Yes the QPR revolution is off and running and into phase 2 of the season. My own bowel transplant journey is also probably now about to go to the next phase and whilst that is hugely exciting it has thrown up more questions than answers. In essence it mirrors the lives of many patients so just because I have had a transplant why should that make any difference? Last week saw me have a full review of all my blood results and a detailed discussion with my dietician Marion about next steps. (as it is Christmas please say hello to her on Linked In she needs more connections so I’m on a recruitment drive) http://www.linkedin.com/profile/view?id=82754883&locale=en_US&trk=tyah whilst the transplanted bowel is generally doing ok the principle remains that if it goes wrong it will somehow get fixed as long as I remain totally focused on keeping everyone updated on any new symptoms. With other levels it isn’t so easy. My lack of absorption has meant that I am deficient in a few areas such as iron, magnesium and vitamin D but infusions should sort them out. What do most people do before Christmas, they shop – me, I get my infusion. Mind you it is holiday season so I am expecting a buy one get one free offer from the NHS. The other issue remains hydration and ensuring that there is no damage to the kidneys. The issue there becomes a lot harder to sort out as it is the anti rejection meds that can, in some patients, really cause havoc with the kidneys. I pretty much know the levels I need to be at and to stay in the safety zone I will need to stay on fluids about 5/7 days of the week with them going through my Mic Key button in my stomach. It isn’t a disaster I know. I mean real disaster would be QPR relegated but what it does do is bring home the fact that a bowel transplant is not your ticket to easy street. You replace one set of problems with another and it is how you cope with these new issues that I think determines what the future holds. So why is this guy mentioning all of this I can hear you say. Well it is simple. It means that you have to either continue or become and engaged patient, an empowered patient, an educated patient. All of that seems to fall under the term E-patient and when you mention the word e-patient most people thing; what is he droning on about? Actually I would argue we are all e-patients as let’s be honest when we are a patient we are usually engaged in what is happening to us and we become educated either ourselves but finding things out or simply but listening to what our doctors tell us. So as I enter my own personal phase 2 I would like to think that I have become an i-patient. What the hell is he on about now? I-patients are in my view, interactive patients. Patients who interact with all aspects of their healthcare. From the doctors and medics to the hospitals, the pharma companies and above all directly with other patients using and sharing their experiences for the greater good of everyone. These days the world is as small as ever and social media makes it even smaller. There is nothing a patient cannot find out if they choose too and to use the well spoken phrase “no decisions about a patient without a patient” put patients right at the centre of healthcare for perhaps the first time ever. So to take advantage of that position a patient has to be interactive. To use their data, to get another opinion, to share a thought or a story patients, in my opinion, have to be proactive and not reactive so from now on perhaps i-patient is the new e-patient. With that interactivity in mind I want to end by mentioning one thing. I have the huge privilege of being the patient advisor and speaker at the up and coming Doctors 2.0 & You in Paris, France. http://www.doctors20.com/ . You can join me too. Calling all i-patients, if you want to come to this conference check out our video on the crowdfunding site http://www.medstartr.com/projects/113-doctors-2-0-you-funding-epatient-travel-scholarships and if you fancy having a coffee with me in the beautiful Parisian sun then apply or contact me for more info. Till the next time
Posted at 3:00pm Sunday 2nd December 2012
I have only really heard of the term “flip flopping” in connection with UK politics; in other words when a political party keeps changing its mind on policy. However at the moment I think it best describes the challenge that lies ahead in getting to grips with my bowel transplant. It is not like my new bowel is flip flopping but it is what my brain and my mind set has to do. You see the trouble with long term illness is that you can forever be a patient and forget what it’s like to just be you. I have really only not been a patient for 11 years of my life and now, here I am having gone through one of the rarest transplants, being told to get on with my life and try and adjust to not just being a patient but being Michael. And that is flipping hard. For most people the moment you are out of hospital you are fine and there is nothing wrong with you. They don’t see the accidents at 3am and they are not there when from literally nothing I start being sick and it doesn’t stop which is exactly what happened last night whilst watching I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here. So for me there are parts of every day when I feel a patient yet I need to train myself to get out there, do all the things I want to do, put being a patient in a box and get on with life. How do you do this? How do you flip flop from patient to non patient and back again? For me when I have the good spells and feel great it gets much harder to revert back to patient mode when I get sick. I find myself getting frustrated, even angry yet that is totally irrational as I am transplant patient and that doesn’t leave you. Often the easiest things to say are the hardest things to do and lead to silly reactions from me. I fight very hard not to be treated as someone who is ill; yet quite naturally the first thing people want to know is are you ok. I would probably be very upset if they didn’t so why get angry. So as you can see training the brain to flick a switch one way or another constantly is not so easy. I mean take one of my favourite programmes right now Homeland. How does Brody cope with playing both the terrorist and potential Vice President? Is Carey in love with him or has she trained her brain to be able to simply tease him in to doing all she wants? Hey I know it is only tv but it would be so cool if I could have a script writer come in and just write my week out for me. I could go from one scene to the next, ill patient one minute, recovering patient the next then on to normal dad and hubby before ending the episode back in hospital. We could then all sit down and have a cup of tea in between takes. That would be so much easier that having to do this in real life. So as farfetched as it may sound I am on a mission to change the world that I live in. To try and make an impact on the lives of patients undergoing similar experiences to me but at the heart of that my brain then flip flops in to patient mode, I get unwell and think what the hell is going on. Hey I would love to emigrate and live in a warmer climate and have a better quality of life. One side of my brain is like, for goodness sake get on with it you lazy lump; the other side is like – yeah right who do you think you are? And there you have a typical patient dilemma in 600 words. Can a long term patient ever truly stop being a patient in some shape or form? All I know is that if you keep going on about how ill you are then you will probably stay ill and that is a mindset you can do something about. I mean take my 95 year old Grandma. She is one truly amazing lady but every day she will moan about an ache or pain somewhere yet we know that if you talk to her about something else she will forget about it. Then she gets diagnosed out of the blue with breast cancer and brushes it off with the bravery so many wish they could have. What is it inside your head that says ok I am going to moan about a bit of trapped wind (mind you that can be painful) yet when I get a really bad illness I am going to be a strong as anything about it? Whoever said that being a patient isn’t easy was a genius (yes it was me ) but being a patient then flipping to being well and then flopping back again, well that is a whole new ball game. Till next time
Posted at 8:24am Monday 26th November 2012
Sunday, 25 November 2012Patient/doctor relationship, is it the ultimate trust you can have in someone? I talk a great deal about what it is like for me being a patient and specifically a bowel transplant and inflammatory bowel disease patient. Actually being a patient though isn't just about me the patient it is about finding a doctor then building a relationship like the one that I have with my transplant team and specially with the guy who is at the top of the tree my transplant surgeon Anil Vaidya. You see when you go through chronic long term illness you build up a relationship with your doctor that is quite different to most people who go to hospital. Then when you go through transplant and require long term care that relationship goes up on to an even higher level that you can imagine. It is not like a routine bit of surgery where you can often feel like just a number on a list here you really build a one to one connection and that is as scary as it is fantastic.
Posted at 5:58pm Friday 9th November 2012
Wednesday, 7 November 2012From QPR to patient compliance & a bowel transplant It was never a sending off, I mean not even the home fans around me called for it and then there was the goal. Don't get me started on the goal. I mean not only was he offside once but actually twice - the referee is a w...........onderful guy the QPR fans chanted or something similar. As you could tell I went to football last weekend. After 3 years of no live matches I went to Arsenal to see them play the mighty QPR and yes you guessed it we lost. we could clearly see offside from here :)