What a Difference A Year Makes

The past two years have been hard on the family,  I have had many hurdles to get over and many life changing decisions to make. The Year before was fighting emotional barriers, the past year have been trying to gain weight and muscle back from my nightmare hospital stay.

I lost a lot of weight during my hospital stay after the operations and was discharged on the 28th December 2016, weighing under 5 stone. My weight before I fell ill was always between 7 and a half to 8 stone.

A few days after my first operation
A few days after my first operation

During my time in hospital I had days where I didn’t eat or drink, I was told I was Nil by Mouth by a doctor over the weekend and then my doctor would come back on shift and tell me to eat. Eventually, eating and drinking became a chore and I struggled to even take sips of water. A dietician ordered for me to have a TPN fitted; a Total Parental Nutrition. It was administered into a PICC line, through a main vein, as a way of giving my body the essential nutrients needed to stay healthy.

I quickly became weak after my second operation and the weight began to drop
I quickly became weak after my second operation and the weight began to drop

I suffered quite significant changes to my physical and emotional health. I was inactive for over 2 months, just laying in a hospital bed and I could only manage a few trips around the ward. My strength was weak and I struggled to walk without help. Most of the time I used my drip stand for support, other times I was helped by a member of the family. I needed the nutrition to aid the recovery after surgery but also to gain strength. My muscles became weak and my joints stiff.

Christmas Day in hospital
Christmas Day in hospital

When family or friends visited, I covered myself up in my dressing gown to hide away how I looked.

It was hard to recover from my critical illness and 2 serious operations, the process was difficult and slow. Whilst I was in hospital I must have vomited every day. Family and staff believed I was doing it to myself, but it was hard to explain that my body was rejecting it. I could no longer swallow a glass of water, only managing a few sips every hour or so. Every time I ate; I was sick. I was given nutrition drinks called Fortisip but they were too sweet and they didn’t stay down too long before they was being brought back up. I lost my appetite, although I yearned to eat good food. I could no longer taste food.

My bones poked through my skin and hurt. This was just before Christmas day
My bones poked through my skin and hurt. This was just before Christmas day

Nutrition was the key to building back up my body strength and natural defences. I needed to build strength, boost my immune system, gain weight and restore my overall health and well-being. I was losing faith in myself and the doctors didn’t have the answers as to why my body was refusing food/drink. It was down to me. I couldn’t look in the mirror without crying, seeing a stranger looking back at me looking frail and withdrawn

My pain was being managed by 1/2 paracetamol four times a day. I wasn’t allowed anything stronger due to me weight.

A few days after Christmas my surgeon asked me if I wanted to go home. Of coarse I said yes. He signed my discharge papers and I was allowed home. He said that I needed to be home to recover.

Once at home my journey began.

I couldn’t walk up the stairs without being carried up. I had to sleep on the sofa downstairs as the bed was too hard for my skin. I slept on two soft filled toppers plus cushions.

With the help of my family being around me all day long, I began to take regular sips of water. Slowly my intake increased.

I had a choice of my own food, when i wanted it.

I ate every so often.

I wanted to gain weight but didn’t want to eat junk food to do it. I ate five/six small meals a day. Drank smoothies and weight gaining shakes. Ate yoghurt and snacked on fruit.

Gradually with the help of my family, I started to gain weight. It was weird as it was New Year and everyone else was dieting and I was trying my hardest to gain weight. My social media time lines were full of dieting and slimming clubs, where i was doing the opposite and eating high calorie foods to put the weight on. I downloaded an app that counted up the intake of my meals, it gave me a daily run down of calorie and protein.

22 days being home
22 days being home

Now my weight was slowly increasing I had to look at my  strength. I began to integrate exercise into my daily routines. My first was A short walk down the road, just a few hundred metres with the help of my son. It wasn’t long and I was taking longer walks. Even though I could walk, I needed help to sit down and stand up. My joints stiffened after a few seconds. I couldn’t bend down without being assisted. I began to see a physiotherapist who helped with building back my muscles. I was given  exercises to do and after 6 weeks was shown how to use gym equipment to help.

A year after the first operation
A year after the first operation

It has taken some time but I now feel like I am getting there. I still have work on the muscles in my legs, specifically around the knees but it’s a gradual process.

I now attend the gym a couple of times a year. Something I have never done before and I enjoy it. I don’t stand on the scales to weigh myself, It’s not needed. I only have to look at myself to know that my weight is fine.

I am happy with where I am today. I am proud of my development. But, I wouldn’t be where I am without the perseverance and help that I received from my family and friends.

Me now
Me now

The past year has been one hell of a journey.

I wonder what this year will bring?

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5 thoughts on “What a Difference A Year Makes

  1. You have done amazing and you looked a lot better than you had when I last saw you. You keep going and keep fighting, you are an inspiration to many. Here’s to a great 2018 xxx

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