Christopher Young – Strider Story

This is my story……My journey began back in the summer of 1996. I was bleeding from my back passage, I was scared, embarrassed, worried, I didn’t understand what it was or why it was happening. I told no one and this went on for months. My mum went to toilet after me one day and noticed some of the blood in the toilet and questioned me about it. It was in the Autumn that I finally went to the doctors where they referred me to a gastroenterologist, they admitted me to hospital for my first endoscopy. It was then diagnosed in Nov 1996 that I had Ulcerative Colitis (UC).
It’s an inflammatory bowel disease that affected the lower part of my colon with very painful cramps, ulcerations & bleeding, I also had lots of blood tests as well as a mix of weight loss and some times weight gain from prescribed drugs.
My life was toilet to toilet, living a life of unknown certainty, any journeys would have to be planned with toilet stops, not knowing if I’d make it on time!

After suffering with this disease for 19yrs, I have taken a concoction of prescribed drugs to try to control it and keep me in remission. I’ve had steroids & anti-immune suppressant drugs to name a few. Although I have had some relapses within this time period including hospitalisation, I had a long stand of remission where things seemed under control.

On each endoscopy check they would measure the diseased part of the colon and search for any polp growths as well as any signs of cancer. Before each of these inspections I would have to make sure I had a bowel prep, this was not an easy task! I had to drink 1ltr of a solution over a 2hr period that tasted absolutely vile, although you could flavour it with a cordial it still did not mask the flavour. I had to force it down which made me feel sick, this in turn would work its way through until I was permanently on the toilet until it had completed it process!

In autumn 2014, the results of these checks, showed a sudden & rapid growth of the disease, this was now affecting more of the colon and had spread quicker than ever before. There were also lots more polps than usual which they removed for further tests. It was at this point that my specialist advised to try, as a last resort, infliximab infusions. This has been reclassified as a chemotherapy drug which was infusion based given over a 4hr period, which would take 12weeks to complete, with each dose being slightly more than the last. This was tiring and also made me nauseous, generally unwell. After completing this I went for my final bowel inspection to see if this last drug had made any difference in my health at all.

Finally, I lost my battle, my only option now was to have surgery otherwise the chances of colon cancer was now massively high! Although this was eventually inevitable it came sooner than I had expected, I was shocked, upset, scared, I knew things were going to be very different but this gave me fear and uncertainty of having a bag. The fact that this was permanent was a huge step and I was worried on how I would cope both mentally & physically.

I was now referred to a colorectal bowel surgeon at QMC, Nottingham. I met with both surgeons and stoma nurses to discuss it all in more detail. They not only went through the procedure but also the after care including all of the stoma appliances. This is where I saw the very first pouch and things suddenly felt very real.

So the day of surgery finally arrived, Friday 2nd Oct 2015. After 12hrs of laparoscopic surgery, not only had they removed my large intestine but also they had permanently closed my rectum!

My new journey began with a permanent ileostomy, things were very different and difficult to adjust to at first. I was in hospital for 15days, to not only make sure I was well but also to give me the help & guidance on how to manage & rehabilitate to the new me. I decided to donate my diseased colon for medical research to help medical science and for testing.

At this point of time I had entered a very dark period where I felt very depressed, I was in constant pain & vomiting, i had insomnia due to the nurses having to move me every few hours and on top of all of this I had permanent hiccups to the point that they were considering doing a lung tap, luckily for me the hiccups suddenly stopped and they agreed I would recover quicker at home. I had daily nurse visits initially until the swelling had gone down and I had healed well.

After numerous weeks of recovery at home, I could see a progression & improvement to my health and after 3mths I returned to work. My consultant saw me at his clinic and he sat me down and told me whilst having the surgery he and his team thought there were dealing with a cancer patient from a visual point of view. My disease was too thickened but thank god my results came back negative! I was one of the lucky ones! This procedure had helped change my life for the good, no more planned toilet stops, my life didn’t now evolve around toilets and worrying if I would make it on time and finally no more medication. I felt free!!

A few months after returning to work I got a Parastomal hernia, this can be caused in many ways including a simple cough or sneeze.

Just when I thought things were going great, 15mths after surgery, whilst looking after my children on the evening of 22nd February 2017, whilst my wife was out, I collapsed at home to the distraught of my boys. I was in excruciating pain! I managed to get my wife home where she rushed me into hospital over at Kingsmill in Mansfield which is our nearest A&E. she remained in the car with the children who were sleeping, while I slowly & painfully walked through the doors, thinking I had a simple blockage. It was then that I vomited & after an hour they admitted me as an emergency onto a surgical ward. I advised my wife to go home. A CT scan was performed which showed adhesions had attached themselves to my bowel, causing a strangulation which had stopped it from functioning and could cause a bowel rupture, which meant an emergency surgery hours later.

I was totally disheartened that all I had already been through I felt like I was back to square one. This time was no keyhole surgery, my abdomen had to be cut, recovery was just as long as the first surgery but came with it own difficulties.

To top this off I got an infection 2 days after and they had to partially open the wound to drain off the infection with a machine pump. This prolonged my hospital stay and recovery. Once again, I started feeling depressed, although my family & friends came daily my spirits were not lifted.

After 2wks, they finally agreed I could be released home to help with my recovery still with the machine pump attached for a further 10 days. Again, daily visits from nurses to change dressings and check on the healing process and infection. Finally the pump was removed and the nurses agreed to sign me off and any dressings could be completed by my wife. Once the pump had gone, I felt i was getting back to a kind of normality. My recovery took 3mths again and my return to work was much slower, doing laptop work from
Home etc. After my recovery my consultant did mention that there is a small percentage chance it could happen again. Which didn’t give me any confidence at the time.

My fitness levels were improving, so I gradually got back into power walking, to jogging, to finally back running with my Club Newark Striders and back to my best. After being rejected from London marathon ballet last December 2017 I’ve decided to enter for the Manchester marathon. Yeah I’m mad but I’m currently training for this so I will be conditioned and physically fit for this. It’s a big challenge but I wanted to give something back for all the help and support I received which had save my life!

Now I lead a positive fun filled life with my wife Laura and my boys Dylan and Ethan and I live for today!

I will be running the Manchester marathon in April in order to raise money for two charities that are close to my heart. These two charity’s mean alot to me and to some of my friends who are still going through treatment and for those who have unfortunately had passed on.

If you would like to sponsor me please follow the licks below:

Bowel Cancer UK

Crohns & Colitis UK

Thank you for reading my story