I have also decided to break my own no names policy as I know that most of you already know my family and if you don't well you will now.
My wife Justine has had to put up with me for over twenty years and during that time has nursed me through so many hospital visits and operations that we have lost count. This one though was different. From the moment the call came in her life was turned upside down yet she has been an incredible support to me. Having to endure waiting 10 hours while your other half lies in surgery must have been so hard for her yet she never complained once.
Throughout the 12 weeks at hospital she did not stop but she also never complained. I knew she was getting more knackered by the day and eventually she fell asleep in the chair next to my bed. We both said that from the word go we would try and keep life as normal for the kids as possible. However there was only one person who could make that happen, my wife Justine.
Going through something like a bowel transplant you cannot underestimate the importance of having a support network. Again though this stops and starts with Justine and her organisational skills. Perhaps surprising to hear is the fact that it is even harder for her once I came home. Her routine was disrupted by a crock who needed nursing. I am very conscious of not upsetting all that she had put in place but often I do rock the boat and that must frustrate her enormously. She has been and continues to be amazingly strong, kind and caring. This journey has undoubtedly stretched her to the limit and there is still a way to go.
Then there are the kids. Aaron, Nathan and Lauren. Thankfully Lauren doesn't remember but she celebrated her first four birthdays at my bedside in hospital after more surgery. When they were younger they would be happy just sitting on my hospital bed pressing buttons that made the bed go up and down. It was highly amusing for young kids. This time though they were old enough to know what was going on. Their highlight this time was wheeling their dad around the hospital in a wheelchair and seeing if they could do wheelies with me still sitting down.
Of course we told them exactly what would happen when I went in but again nothing can prepare them for when it actually happens. A few times they had to stay overnight with family or friends and of course had great times but as the weeks went on it became harder for them and they just wanted to be at home. Generally they were very positive but you could tell when they were upset. The texts and emails would suddenly come in by the bucket load. One day Lauren sent me over 30 texts and I knew she was missing me and upset.
Aaron just wanted to be around to see a scope being done whereas Nathan was happy eating the food that people brought me but I didn't eat.
What was so good was that they were able to stay in the room when my surgeon or team members came to discuss my treatment. They heard things first hand and I think they were old enough to at least feel included in the process.
It was incredibly hard for them and still is. I know that there are still things that they would like their dad to do but he can't. Hopefully they are aware enough now to understand that the long term future is bright. Sometimes though its hard for them to look beyond a week ahead let alone a year.
What I do know is that without the love and support of my family thus would have been so much harder. Anyone going through this transplant must have their family around them it is so hard and having the love of your family is so important. In a way that is what I did this for. Forget the fact that I needed it medically I also needed it to get our lives back on track so that I could be a good husband and dad.
I hope that you don't mind me dedicating this to my family but they are all wonderful and I love them loads.