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since May 2004

My name is Sarah Lisa Lorraine Callaghan born Gunton. I am 33 years old and was born in June 1972. My story is a long and unsolved puzzle.

When I was 18 years old (a long while ago !!!) I started to suffer with severe constipation. I was in an awful lot of pain and kept getting bleeds in my eyes causing my vision to blur very badly. My mom took me to the doctors as every time I went they said my diet was not good enough. Off Mom and me trotted to the military doctor on the base where we lived. He argued with my Mom about my diet who told him that I ate 3 pieces of fruit daily and my vegetables but that green vegetables made me sick. He gave me Fybogel to make me poo. 6 weeks later – still no poo.

I eventually got admitted to Wroughton Hospital under another military doctor where they diagnosed that my bottom was not ‘large’ enough to poo so they performed an anal stretch and repaired a fistula. Over the next few years this procedure was repeated over and over again. Problem NOT solved. Eventually my Father left the military and we moved to a local town and I was registered with another GP. I was next sent to Winchester hospital where they performed a cut of my anal passage to make the problem ‘go away’

This did not happen. I started to get sick and constipated all at the same time. Logic tells us that this is my faeces poisoning my body. But OH NO… apparently I am highly strung (why I had no responsibilities except for my job which I loved) and have an under active muscle in my digestive loop. More laxatives prescribed. They monitored me in the hospital and I couldn’t even go for a wee or a smoke without a nurse following me. It turns out that they think I have ‘psychosomatic bowel problems’ and that I am forcing myself to be sick because I am overweight. Yeah right – I may look stupid but I’m actually pretty intelligent. Stupid so and so’s… lol

Anyway after much arguing they decide that it is only IBS. A severe case but IBS all the same. ONLY IBS I ask you? Mom, Dad and I aren’t happy but home I go. Sore bum, sore tum and feeling generally crappy.

Over the next few years things stay the same except that I now manage a poo possibly once every 10 days or so. Eventually they realized that some of the stomach cramps I was getting were caused by Lactulose the laxative they gave me to use. At this point I was on 3 sachets of Fybogel and 4 doses of Lactulose daily and still only pooing once every 10 days. Eventually we decided that I was not going to take the medication but to up my fruit intake from 3 pieces a day to 5 or 6 to make me go more. This didn’t really work. But at least I avoided hospital. Things didn’t improve but gradually the doctors started to ignore my weight gain (all around the stomach) and the fact that my tummy was so swollen constantly. Eventually things started to ‘get better’ or so we thought. I could now not stay OUT of the toilet.

After the birth of JP I had finally found a GP to listen after the move to the West Midlands with my partner James. I started pooing myself on an almost daily basis. I worried at the time that James would leave me as who wants to be with an incontinent woman who cannot stay in bed without wanting to poo herself I asked. James reassured me that this would not happen. JP was born in May 2001 and James and I married in October 2001. I managed to not eat on the day we got married until the reception in case I needed a poo half way through our vows. This worked for me I am glad to say - I don’t know if the vicar would have understood me legging it out half way through. LOL. Later that evening the urge came upon me even though all day I had eaten a cocktail sausage roll and a small square of sandwich. I had to ask my sister in law to be and a friend of the family HELP ME!!! I had to try to get to the loo and do a poo whilst looking like a great big white meringue. I managed it with no problems but they had to help me shift the dress to sit on the loo!! By this point I was on 24 tablets a day. A lovely cocktail of painkillers, Imodium, iron all sorts. Nothing worked. The GP was fighting with the NHS to get me referred to a big wig at one of the best hospitals. I eventually managed to see a female consultant and I explained. She threw James out of the room and started asking me personal questions on our sex life, our domestic life, everything!!! I finally understood what she was asking me and point blank she asked if James hit me!!! I went berserk. I told her that it was another doctor trying to point the finger at me because they could not pull their finger out and diagnose me correctly. They didn’t I felt know their butt from their elbows. I went back that day and demanded to see my GP who also went a bit mental about her treatment towards me. He fought with the local medical authorities and got me sent to Selly Oak Hospital in Birmingham for muscle function tests. Apparently these cost around 5000 pounds. Before this I was sent to see a Professor in the GI field. I was pregnant with Sophie by this point. I had had 4 miscarriages at this point after JP. I lost 2 sets of twins and 2 single pregnancies. I couldn’t function I was so poorly. James and the doctors wanted me to stop trying for another baby but I was determined that I wanted another baby before they finally sorted my bowels out. In my heart of hearts I knew that I would end up with a stoma. Don’t ask me how but I did. Eventually I saw the Professor when I was 6 months pregnant with Sophie. He said as soon as I had had Sophie I was to go and get the muscle function tests done as a matter of urgency.

Whilst all these problems were going on I suffered from anal splits, fistula’s, bleeding, piles and all sorts of nasty experiences.

When the test was done there was no sedative and it was uncomfortable but to my relief it didn’t hurt!!! I had had so many endoscopies, sigmoidoscopies and colonoscopies by this point I had expected this test to hurt but it didn’t. The woman’s face was a picture when she sat me down afterwards. She said she was going to send the results to my GP and a specialist professor in GI medicine ASAP. I asked her what she had found and she said did I understand the back passage? I replied yes. She basically said that between the inner sphincter, outer sphincter, rectum and anus there were over 250 muscles/nerve endings. She then explained that I had lost 95 per cent of them. This shocked me. No wonder I was always pooing myself!!! So off I went to see my GP who gently informed me that this was pretty bad along with my severe IBS.

I felt things couldn’t get much worse as I couldn’t go shopping, make love or do anything without wanting a poo. Talk about a dampener on your sex life. Not what a young couple really wants is it?

Anyway I eventually went back to see the Prof who told me that the loop that he had hoped to make in my back passage with skin and muscle from my leg could not be carried out. It was too far ‘advanced’. I had some options. I could colonically irrigate (not a good idea apparently), have an ileo or a colo. The colo was chosen as the diarrhea that I was having had escalated to over 20 times daily some days. I was physically and mentally exhausted. All the while that this was happening poor James felt useless. He couldn’t do anything except come upstairs with a bag and throw my things in the sink/washing machine when I had an accident and gently help me get into the shower whilst I was sobbing sorry all the time. Fortunately for me James is my soul mate and would move heaven and earth to help me.

Then in July 2004 my stoma was born. The operation took an awful long time and James paced the floors. When I came out they had opened me from top right down just above the pubic area and stapled me up with 52 staples. They had done this because I have ‘a short bowel’. The stoma was quite flat and we worried about this along with the surgeons. Anyway I did the physiotherapy and amazed the nurses and doctors with my strength and was off the morphine within 36 hours. I was in a chair after 24 and demanding to have my catheter removed. By the Wednesday (the op was Monday) I was getting in and out of a wheelchair and by the Wednesday evening walking by myself. I spent 48 hours on the HDU (High Dependency Unit) and then went onto the main ward. After a day I was moved to a side ward with another young girl and the fun began. We wound up nurses, doctors, and auxiliaries and by the following Monday they threw me out to go home!!! WOOOOOHOOOOOOO. A few weeks later I had a blood clot in my stoma, which had to be removed manually by a surgeon, no sedative nothing. Bloody painful!! But again we soldiered on. A few days after this we noticed that I was pooing in a toothpaste style. Just squeezing and very thin lines of stool appearing. Then I started getting a fever and chucking up at every moment. I went to the stoma nurses and the doctors and I was told I had stenosis so on 20th September 2004 I had to have my stoma re-formed.

To this date things are not right. The stoma functions well. The diarrhea is still very bad my appetite is poor and my weight fluctuates up and down. But the main thing is that I am not incontinent any longer. There are health problems and the stomach where the stoma is situated is heavily swollen.

I saw my new surgeon at a new hospital for a second opinion on Tuesday 21st June 2005. We are starting to feel that this is all due to something called short bowel syndrome but we are not sure. Above all I believe that I am lucky to have the life that I do, so many people suffer so terribly. I have a wonderful loving husband and 2 beautiful (sometimes naughty – hahahaha) children and I feel wonderfully blessed.

When I saw the surgeon he said that I now have a large parastomal hernia so along with the severe diarrhoea, stomach cramps, back cramps, dizziness and pain I now have that to deal with. I recently had a small bowel enema where they shoved the tube up my nose, down my throat and into my small bowel and again I did this without a sedative.

So when asked how I manage to stay so chirpy this is why. The support that I have been given by my families – mine and James’ – is staggering. The friends that I have made within my support groups online are amazing and I could not have done it without any of you. But above all I have been able to do all that I have done with the help and care of my wonderful James.

Love always to all

Sarah xxxxx

These are the blisters that form on me.
They not food allergy related.

This recent picture was taken when they were at their worst.

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