Thursday, September 29, 2011

Abdominal surgery

The Royal College of Surgeons says poor access to facilities like operating theatres and scans means some abdominal emergencies are not spotted in time.

Emergency major gastrointestinal (abdominal) surgery has one of the highest mortalities, which can reach 50% in the over 80s, the report says.

I was cycling to the House on October 4, 2001, to wind up a LibDem emergency debate on Afghanistan. A few minutes before 10.00, when the debate was due to start, I was knocked off by a motorist who did a u-turn on Millbank without looking. It was a hell of a bang, and bystanders offered to take me to hospital, but as I was due to wind up for the Liberal Democrats I staggered to my feet, waved them all away, and walked the remaining 100 metres to the House, where I put the mangled bicycle in the rack and went into the Chamber. 

After a couple of hours I began to feel very odd and I told Shirley Williams, who had opened for us, and was sitting next to me on the bench. She urged me to get a medical check, so I went along to the Commons nurse, who called a taxi and took me to St Thomas's. We waited there four hours, and they did an ultrasound scan which showed nothing. The casualty doctor gave me some painkillers and told me to go home and rest.
The next morning, Friday, I felt worse, and called my GP. He came out and examined me, couldn't find anything, and prescribed stronger painkillers.

Saturday I felt worse still. Our lodger, who was a doctor at Guys, examined me and called a doctor friend for yet another opinion. They still couldn't find anything.

That night I couldn't sleep and felt really ghastly. At 04.30 my wife Lindsay called an ambulance and I was taken to St Thomas's A & E for the second time. After a five hour wait they did a CT scan, and found that I had a burst colon. The contents had been spilling into my abdomen for the previous three days. After a further wait to get the theatre ready and call in the anaesthetist, I was operated on at 17.00 for a colostomy - removal of about 20 cm of colon, and the creation of an exit from the upper section of the colon in the side of the abdomen. Not a bundle of laughs.

I was three weeks in hospital, and after that convalesced at home for four weeks, gradually back to 95% normal, 5 kg lighter.  

Posted April 11, 2002

On March 14 2002 (the 40th anniversary of the Orpington by election!) I went back to St Thomas’s for a reversal of the colostomy, and was there until April 1. This time I lost only 6 kg, and am still languishing at 63 kg.

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