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Jan 20th, 2023

Martin's Story - Poole ICU

As we come to celebrate 70 years of the NHS in July 2018, founded by MP, Nye Bevan, for Ebbw Vale, South Wales, I come to celebrate my 10 years of survival of a critical illness in July 2008.

Just to give you some background about me, I have been married to Lyn for over forty years, and we have a son and daughter, who we are extremely proud of. I have worked in the electronics industry all my working life, from design, manufacture, and sales and marketing, the latter as a company director for 20 years before my illness in 2008. Like many people I did not look after myself, eating irregular meals and not eating the correct food, I was travelling extensively in the UK, Europe and North America trying to balance work with my family life.

My life changed on Saturday 19th July 2008 after going to see my GP on the previous Monday morning with a complaint of excruciating pain in my lower abdomen, incidentally this had been getting progressively worse over the previous 6 months and I had been seeing two GP’s. I never went to see the doctor from one end of the year to the other.  On my visit to the doctor on Monday 14th July I was given a bottle of Oramorph and told to wait for an appointment from the hospital for a colonoscopy, the appointment came for the following week.

I have to say I didn’t want to go into hospital as I feared the worst, anyway, to cut a long story short my son came home on the Saturday to see me, he could see the state I was in, I had been in bed all that week only to go to the bathroom. I was getting progressively weak and losing weight as I was not eating.

Lyn and Ian decided to make that call to the emergency services and request an ambulance, it duly arrived, and I was taken to Poole Hospital A&E. This is where my story becomes a little vague as I was given a lot of pain relief as the pain in my abdomen was getting beyond 10.

I can remember being given some transfusions and various X-rays and CT scans on the Sunday, it was revealed that I had a large abscess on my Liver, and I had a drain inserted in the afternoon.

The next 4 weeks are extremely hazy for me as I underwent a Laparotomy which necessitated a Sigmoid Colectomy and ileostomy. I was in ITU for some three weeks pre- and post-surgery.

I had systemic Sepsis, inter Abdominal Abscesses, Diverticular Disease, Peritonitis Pneumonia, Adrenal Crisis and Plural-effusions and Multiple Cerebral Abscesses which were inoperable as they were scattered all over my brain, this was in consultation with the Wessex Neurology Unit in Southampton.

I had a CT scan on my brain, as I managed to fall out of a chair in HDU, this is how the abscesses were discovered on my brain.

Lyn, Ian my son and Clare my daughter received the dreaded phone call late one night and rushed to the hospital to be told by a doctor that my condition had deteriorated, and I was not expected to survive. The next 24/48 hours were going to crucial.

There were some very dark moments in critical care when I thought I was being given drugs against my will, being held hostage, patients’ brains being swapped over, on a train in France that I could not get off.

The care and compassion that I received from Poole hospital was exemplary and also the support given to my wife, son, and daughter.

I have been left with some chronic conditions and the early days of my recovery were difficult, I did suffer some PTSD and luckily my Pain Consultant referred me to the then Dorset Brain Injury Clinic and was treated by a lovely Doctor who was a Clinical Psychologist, and I was treated for about 2 years. She taught me the therapies that I could use to help myself.

One of these therapies was distraction, so I have given much of my time to various NHS organisations.  I am involved with the Dorset Community Brain Injury Peer Support Group which we run on the first Friday of each month with professionals of that organisation.
I am also an Independent Lay Member of Dorset CCG Audit and Quality Group and a Patient Partner of Wessex Academic Health Science Network for Sepsis and the Deteriorating Patient.
I am also an Expert Patient for NHS England Adult Critical Care Clinical Reference Group and also now a representative of the Southern Adult Critical Care Strategy Group.
I am a founder member of ICU Steps Poole, a support group for the ex-patient and loved ones, we receive generous support from Senior Staff Nurses from Poole Critical Care Unit.

I am passionate about the NHS as if it wasn’t for the skills of the Surgeons, Intensivists, Anaesthetists, Doctors, Nurses, Microbiologists, Ward Clerks and many more, I could go on and on, I would not be writing this story today.

Thank you NHS and I will continue my support locally, regionally and also nationally, as the NHS continues to support me with my chronic conditions.

I am a Survivor because of the NHS

Martin Davies