Hello, my name is Sam Loud, I’m 38 years old and work as a children’s nurse. I’m married to Kevin and we have 3 beautiful children who are now 13, 10 and 7 years old. I wish to share my ‘Souls with a Story’, following a traumatic period in our lives. On September 20th, 2014, our lives as we knew it changed forever.
It had started as a normal week, Kev had not been feeling great for a couple of days, however we put it down to some sort of a bug. Never would I have imagined what was to happen next. In the early hours of Saturday 20th September, Kev woke in excruciating pain in his abdomen and he was vomiting repeatedly. I knew just by looking at him something was seriously wrong. My first thought was that he was having a heart attack. I was wrong.
He was rushed to hospital and admitted straight into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). We were told he was suffering with acute pancreatitis that had been caused by obstructive gall stones. Kev was very poorly, and for a couple of days, he slipped in and out of consciousness and was on morphine for the pain. The medical staff were hopeful that they’d caught the illness in time, and although it would take a few weeks, they said Kev would make a full recovery. Nothing prepared me for what would come next. Kev started losing his battle to fight this incredibly cruel disease, the pancreatitis took over his organs and his body was being destroyed. Doctors then changed the diagnosis to necrotising pancreatitis. Unable to breathe for himself, Kev was put on a ventilator, and doctors performed a tracheostomy; his kidneys had failed and he needed dialysis. Surgeons operated on Kev and removed as much of the necrosis (cell injury)as possible.
The surgeon came to see me while Kev was still on the operating table. I will never forget the look on his face, or his words: “he is still alive, but if I’m honest I don’t know how!”. Kev had countless operations from then on; he had part of his bowel removed and an ileostomy performed. My husband was given a 10% chance of surviving, and every time I spoke to the consultants, they told me he was most likely going to die. There were a few occasions, that haunt me. I was approached by doctors who suggested I should bring our children in to say goodbye to their Daddy. I never did this. He was not going to leave us.
Kevin spent 3.5 months in ICU and was placed in an induced coma for around 9 weeks. When he finally came round, he had to learn to do everything again; swallow, eat, walk, talk etc. The most amazing NHS staff took care of my husband, and on 23rd of Dec, I was finally able to hear Kev’s voice again.It was music to my ears. We spent Christmas and New Year as a family in ICU and Kev was discharged to the ward at the start of January. Despite all the odds, my husband came home on February 4th, 2015. This was when the real battle started.
Kev still couldn’t walk and he needed a lot of care at home, I was finding things very difficult with three young children to take of too. We received great support from the community support team who allowed Kev to stay motivated, never did they give up on him, and helped him to be fully mobile again.
In February, 2016, my husband had an 8 hr surgery to reverse the ileostomy and plastic surgery to rebuild his abdominal walls. I can say, with pride that this surgery was a success. It has now been 21 month since my husbands illness; life is now slowly returning to normality. Kev is independent and can drive again, he can look after our children while I go to work, he is the best Dad.
There is no doubt that this experience has been life changing in so many ways. There are still daily battles; Kev is diabetic and has mobility and malabsorption problems. People ask me “how did you do it?, How did you cope?”. To be honest, I don’t know how to answer, other than “I had to”. We had three, young children who desperately needed their Daddy, and so, I did it for them. I refused to believe that my husband would die. I knew we were going to get through it together. The children saw their Daddy in hospital, and I believe this gave him a reason to fight. I am very proud of my family, and together we are fighters. Positivity has played a big role in getting us through, I wanted nothing but positive talk throughout this terrible time. I never gave up ‘hope’, and I never gave up ‘faith’.
I could not have coped through this terrible time without the overwhelming amount of love and support I received from family, friends, the NHS, the children’s school, my work place, and many more. If one suffers, we all suffer, and togetherness is strength.
The future is looking bright for our family. We are still the family that we once were; we argue, we moan about trivial things, and the children squabble. We do however, take the time to enjoy and cherish life. The little things that we took for granted are certainly important to us now. Kevin is doing very well. He has plans to return to work and is taking on a year of fundraising for Southmead hospital.
I feel that a once doubtful future is now a hopeful one. Whatever the future holds, our family are a strong one.
Thank you all for reading my story.My hope is by sharing my story, others will feel inspired to share theirs, and feel that they’re not alone.
You can donate and support Kev’s fundraising here: https://southmeadhospitalcharityfundraise.everydayhero.com/uk/kev