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Steve’s story

Steve's journey began with flu like symptoms and a spot on his bottom. This is Steve's story.
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May 1998 a Saturday, I had just watched the Arsenal clinch the Premiership by beating Everton 4-0, I felt great dancing on the green outside my local pub, my friends have mentioned this as the last thing they remember about me before hearing that I was hospitalised.

That evening I went home and my partner Linda asked me if I would be able to take her to Heathrow airport on the Sunday morning as she was going home to see her family in Ireland, this, I told her was not a problem.

Linda woke me at approximately 07:00hrs and although I did not feel well, I put it down to all the celebrating the previous day and took her to the airport. I returned home and went back to bed with what I thought were flu like symptoms and a sore backside (I thought I had an abscess.)

Later that morning Linda telephoned to advise me that she had arrived safely, I remember telling her that I did not feel at all well, she advised me to go to the hospital, I refused this.

That evening a good friend of mine called round to find me still in bed he asked me what was wrong and remarked that I looked pale and grey, I asked him to go to the shops for me to buy some bottled water as I had a terrible thirst, when he returned he again remarked how bad I looked and advised me to go with him to the hospital, again I refused stating that a good nights sleep would do me the world of good and if I still felt bad in the morning I would go to the hospital.

I slept through Sunday Night, Monday day/night, Tuesday day/night and for whatever reason (and it still amazes me to this day) woke in the early hours of Wednesday morning, I immediately knew something was wrong, my bed clothes were soaking with a brownish substance that was oozing through my skin, my scrotum and penis had swollen at least 4 times normal size (I’ve heard all the jokes) and I was obviously in a lot of pain.

I remember having all my wits about me and got up had a shower and changed the bed covers, I then telephoned Northwick Park hospital (Harrow) A & E and asked them if they were busy, the lady asked me what was wrong, after advising her of my symptoms she advised me that I should attend ASAP and asked me if I required an ambulance, I declined this and said I would make my own way.

I put on a pair of shorts tee shirt and training shoes and phoned for a taxi which arrived after a couple of minutes, upon arrival at the A & E and booking in I was called to the triage room where a nurse was unable to get a blood pressure, she asked me to stay where I was and a trolley duly arrived and I was despatched to a side room where a doctor attended me, checked me over and put me on an IV drip and advised me that I was in shock, at this time I lost consciousness.

I remember waking a little later and speaking to two doctors who advised me that I was not well (no shit I thought) and urgent surgery was required, they then asked me to sign allowing them to operate which I had no hesitation in doing.

I remember being in a room with the doctors and laying on a bed, the doctor told me that he would count to three and I would go to sleep, he counted 1….2…I then remember one of the doctors pointing at my penis and saying gangrene, I then went to sleep.

I awoke two weeks later and remember a nurse talking to me I was obviously still half asleep and not knowing were I was, a little later a consultant came to my bed and spoke to me, I remember what he said to me very clearly “hello Steven, we have saved your penis and testicles but we have had to remove your scrotum and skin from your penis and due to the severity of the wounds you also have a colostomy bag fitted”, hold on I thought, “I’ve only got flu and a spot on my arse”.

My family, Linda and other friends have since told me that the doctors told them that I would not make the week-end after I was admitted and that I was minutes from complete renal failure and that if I had not come in when I did they would definitely not have been able to help me (what made me wake up?)

I spent the next week in the ITU at Northwick Park hospital when it was decided that I would be transferred to Mount Vernon Hospitals burns unit for wound care and plastic surgery.

I remained in the burns unit for four months and had skin grafts to my penis and my testicles were put into pockets in my thighs.

I was finally allowed home in August of 1998 and into the care of the district nurses.

Unfortunately I kept on getting infections and had to be readmitted to NPH on two further occasions, during these further visits I contracted the so called hospital bug MRSI. I was again sent home with half the hospitals pharmacy under my arm.

In February of 1999 I was readmitted to hospital and had the colostomy reversed successfully and after two weeks I was again allowed home.

After about a week of being home I noticed a swelling and redness around the area of the repaired stoma site. I attended the hospital and was advised that I had a para stomal hernia and was placed on the waiting list for it’s repair.

The repair was carried out in June 1999, the repair took eight (yes 8) hours due to it’s size.

Unfortunately the repair was not successful and the hernia returned and I was again put on the waiting list for repair.

Somewhat against doctors orders I decide to go back to work in April of 2000 as I felt I was going brain dead.

March 2002

I am currently convalescing at home after the repair of the massive hernia and a few nips and tucks.

I am taking things very carefully and I hope this is the final leg of the saga.

Although this was an horrific experience I could not have gotten through this without the kindness of my family, Linda’s family and all our friends.

Obviously I would like to say a special thank you to Linda who spent nearly as much time as me in hospital, thanks Linda, I love you.

I would also like to thank Consultant Chadwick at NPH and consultant Harrison at MVH and their teams, Christine and all the staff in the burns unit and everyone else who helped me come through this horrible illness.

Thanks also to my employers Rentokil Initial Security Limited, who kept my position open for me (I must be irreplaceable!!)

One other good thing that came out of this, is that while I was comatose the Arsenal beat Newcastle in the FA Cup final the following Saturday and clinched the double, go on you Gunners……

Thanks for listening to my inane drivel…

Steve Canwell

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