Op­er­a­tion over­load

I had to go un­der the knife again and again – and then things got even worse... Leigh Wil­son, 42, Couls­don, Sur­rey

Chat - - CONTENTS -

Af­ter surgery, I felt like l'd been hit by a truck

Ly­ing on the couch in the GP’s surgery, I waited pa­tiently as the doc­tor ex­am­ined my stom­ach.

It was Novem­ber 2013 – and days be­fore, I’d no­ticed a lump pro­trud­ing from my belly.

‘I think it might be a her­nia,’ the doc­tor said.

She ex­plained this is when an in­ter­nal part of the body be­gins push­ing through the mus­cles in the stom­ach, and I’d need an op­er­a­tion.

‘It’s a rou­tine pro­ce­dure,’ I was told.

But I went back to the home I shared with my dad Les, 62, and sons Cal­lum, 14, and Theo, 8, feel­ing wor­ried.

I was Dad’s carer, and had my boys to look af­ter, too.

I didn’t have time to be ill!

‘We’ll cope, love,’ Dad re­as­sured me.

I was re­ferred to the hos­pi­tal three weeks later for an ul­tra­sound scan, but was still wait­ing for the op­er­a­tion to be sched­uled.

But on 27 De­cem­ber 2013, I was clean­ing out the sta­bles where I kept my three horses, when I dou­bled over in agony and fell to the floor.

My son Cal­lum called an am­bu­lance, which rushed me to East Sur­rey Hos­pi­tal. There, I was told I’d need to have my her­nia op­er­a­tion right away.

I called a friend to pick up Cal­lum from the sta­bles.

Ter­ri­fied, I quickly texted Dad to tell him, then I was rushed to surgery.

When I came round, I learnt that the sur­geon had found two her­nias, and that they’d been re­paired with mesh.

‘We’ll need to keep you in for a few days to re­cover,’ the doc­tor told me.

The hos­pi­tal wasn’t far from my home, but in­volved two bus changes – too many for my boys to visit.

So I called to tell them how it had gone.

‘I feel rough,’ I said. ‘But I should be bet­ter soon.’

I was dis­charged five days later and told to rest.

‘Eas­ier said than done with my lot,’ I laughed to the nurse.

The fol­low­ing morn­ing, as I gin­gerly padded down­stairs for break­fast, I felt some­thing damp against my skin.

The bot­tom of my top was soaked through. Hitch­ing it up, I found the dress­ing cov­er­ing my stom­ach was drip­ping, too – with hor­ri­ble, yel­low pus.

I went to the GP, and then back to the hos­pi­tal, where the doc­tors found

I had an in­fec­tion.

I was given a Medi-Vac – a small ma­chine that sucks in­fec­tion through a pipe into a bag, to keep the wound clean.

I was un­able to drive, to pick my kids up from school, or look af­ter the horses.

It was so frus­trat­ing!

I longed to be bet­ter.

But then, in Au­gust 2014, I found an­other lump next to the wound and had to be taken in for an­other op­er­a­tion. Night­mare!

When I woke up af­ter the op­er­a­tion, I felt like I’d been hit by a truck.

‘Your body’s been through a lot,’ the doc­tor said.

Dis­charged five days later, I col­lapsed into bed as soon as I got home.

The next morn­ing, an aw­ful smell jolted me awake. I felt some­thing cold and damp press­ing against my body.

Oh my God, I’ve wet my­self,

I thought.

But as I peeled open my eyes, I re­alised it was much worse.

My screams brought my sons charg­ing to my room.

Blood and a yel­low­ish liq­uid cur­dled to­gether in a gi­ant pud­dle around me, seep­ing into the mat­tress.

It looked like a mur­der scene. Look­ing down at my wound,

at least three of the 20 sta­ples hold­ing the gap­ing hole to­gether had van­ished.

I gin­gerly put a hand to my stom­ach as I stood up, ter­ri­fied my in­testines might come tum­bling out.

‘Call an am­bu­lance!’ I yelled. In A&E, the doc­tors found I had an­other in­fec­tion, and it’d eaten away at the mesh used to re­pair the other her­nias. I had to go in for an­other op.

With each op­er­a­tion, I spi­ralled fur­ther into de­pres­sion. My stom­ach looked like a hot-cross bun from all the surg­eries, and ev­ery­where I went, I had to carry the Medi-Vac.

I felt help­less, in so much agony I couldn’t even walk up my own stairs.

I hoped that would be the end of it, but in Au­gust 2016, I was back again with an­other her­nia.

‘Why is this hap­pen­ing to me?’ I wept.

The surgery was booked for two months be­fore I was due to fly to Dis­ney World in Florida with my boys.

I’d booked the trip a year in ad­vance, and I’d been re­ally look­ing for­ward to it.

Luck­ily, in Oc­to­ber 2016 – just a day be­fore we were due to fly – I was cleared to go.

‘Dis­ney World, here we come!’ I cheered to Theo and Cal­lum as we took our seats on the plane.

But as soon as we took off, some­thing didn’t feel right.

Sparks of pain shot through my stom­ach re­peat­edly.

‘Mum, are you

OK?’ Cal­lum asked, con­cerned.

Not want­ing to worry him, I gave a weak smile.

But af­ter we landed, the pain got worse. I could barely move – the only way I could get around the park was in a wheel­chair.

I knew I needed to go to a hos­pi­tal, but I was in a for­eign coun­try and wor­ried what would hap­pen.

As soon as our plane touched down in the UK, I was rushed to hos­pi­tal.

‘All we can do for you is ex­ploratory surgery to see what might be caus­ing the pain,’ the doc­tor told me.

Soon, I was be­ing wheeled back through those all-too-fa­mil­iar the­atre doors.

I came round to the kind face of a doc­tor. He took a deep breath and broke the news to me.

‘One of the sur­geons found a piece of VAC dress­ing foam in­side the wound,’ he ex­plained.

‘How did this hap­pen?’ I asked, gob­s­macked.

I learnt how it’d been left be­hind three months ear­lier, af­ter my Au­gust op­er­a­tion.

Squeez­ing my eyes shut, I held back tears.

My faith in the hos­pi­tal had been shat­tered.

Re­luc­tantly, I had to go back for a fur­ther two her­nia oper­a­tions.

But af­ter I lodged an of­fi­cial neg­li­gence claim against the NHS, I had to con­tinue my treat­ment pri­vately at St An­thony’s Hos­pi­tal in Cheam.

I had my last her­nia op in June last year – and, fin­gers crossed, that’s the last of it. But, when I look in the mir­ror, the night­mare con­tin­ues. An­gry pur­ple scars criss-cross my tummy where my belly but­ton should be.

My con­fi­dence has been shot. Be­fore the op­er­a­tion, I’d been think­ing

about dat­ing again, but now the thought fills me with fear.

I am look­ing into plas­tic surgery, to im­prove the way my tummy looks and erase the re­minders of my four years of hell.

I’ve missed so much, not be­ing able to be there for my son through his GCSEs and hav­ing to sit on the side­lines at Dis­ney World.

Mo­ments I will never get back.

I was ter­ri­fied my in­testines might tum­ble out

Ed­ward Cetti, Med­i­cal Di­rec­tor at Sur­rey & Sus­sex Health­care NHS Trust, said, ‘We con­firm that Ms Leigh Wil­son has made a claim against the Trust. The Trust has in­ves­ti­gated and ad­mit­ted that there were short­com­ings in Ms Wil­son’s care, and we would like to re­peat the apol­ogy made in the Trust’s re­sponse to her on 30 Oc­to­ber 2018. Our so­lic­i­tors con­tinue to li­aise with Ms Wil­son to try and re­solve her claim.’

I spi­ralled into de­pres­sion

My poor stom­ach gaped open... SHOCK­ING PIC­TURE!

Dis­ney World with the boys – but I was in so much pain...

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