Saturday , October 23 2021

My fear of hospitals made me think I might never vomit again, but NHS doctors saved me


A man so terrified of hospitals and doctors thought he would never again avoid surgery for a decade until NHS doctors intervened with a new, innovative treatment.

John Penny, 76, was traumatized after he nearly died after surgery to remove his appendix at age 18, to the point of avoiding treatment for an enlarged prostate that prevented him from peeing properly.

His condition became so severe that it was preventing a good flow of pee and meant that John, of Thornton, near Crosby, was exhausted after getting up several times each night to go to the bathroom. He had to get out of his marriage bed because of it.

John Penny had been avoiding treatment for years because of fear of hospitals

He said, "I felt a lot of pressure before going to the bathroom, and the flow was bad. I was also waking up to go four to five times a night, so I never had a good night's sleep."

Fortunately, a surgeon at Aintree University Hospital, Mr. Marc Lucky, used a new and innovative treatment to help John, a hospital phobic. It took only 15 minutes and was the first of its kind in Europe.

The condition had previously had a profound effect on John's life since it left him worried about leaving home.

He said: "I also felt constantly anxious. If I were to go anywhere socially, particularly if it was anywhere far away, I would be particularly concerned that I could not find a bathroom. It was very stressful. It takes over your life because it is constantly in your mind. "

The nervousness surrounding hospitals and surgeons was triggered by an incident in which he almost died after an operation almost 60 years ago.

"I'm fine going to my GP, it's just hospitals that I'm nervous about," he said.

"It must be because I almost died with my appendix when I was 18 – I had severe bronchitis at the time, and another patient in the ward told me that I was lucky to be alive, and that many doctors and nurses were surrounding me trying to resuscitate me because I stopped breathing when I was coming back from the operation.

"I was not aware of what was happening to me at the time, but I think it had a profound effect on me."

Things came to a head when the part-time gardener worried that he would be "completely blocked".

He saw his doctor, who asked him to think very carefully about the surgery, but warned him that traditional prostate surgery carries potential side effects, including urinary incontinence and sexual problems.

"He advised me to think about it for a few months, and if I still wanted surgery, he would arrange it for me," said the father of two children.

John was eventually treated after reading about a procedure called UroLift, which involves no cuts and uses implants to contain the enlarged prostate.

The grandfather of six said: "The article said that UroLift was being offered at the NHS at three hospitals in the Merseyside area. Using implants to hold the prostate sounded much less invasive than cutting it. "

John went to his doctor, who had never heard of the procedure, but was referred to Aintree Hospital.

He said: "On the day of the operation, in August 2018, no one did much of the fact that we would not even be getting into an operating room. It was done in a room in the outpatient department.

"I was pretty nervous about it, but the nurses were great, and they kept talking to me, reassuring me all the time. I felt a little scared when the implants came in, I could feel a sense of them coming in – I had three in all – but that was great – all was a great relief. I also could not believe that I only stayed there for 15 minutes. "

Urologist Marc Lucky

Surgeon Marc Lucky said: "We are proud here at Aintree University Hospital to offer the UroLift System for men with prostate symptoms as a proven and effective intervention as a day care procedure with fewer side effects and risk profile for patients."

Now, almost a year after the surgery, John is sleeping well and says he has noticed a "great improvement."

There is more information on prostate urethral elevation procedures and possible side effects here. For more information on NHS treatments for benign prostate enlargement, read here.

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