The "horrendous condition" which left dad on diet of crisps and Lucozade

07 May 2019

A father-of-four from Tamworth who battled for years with a severe bowel condition has undergone surgery to put an end to his "nasty accidents".

Richard Burford was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis at the age of 16.

The condition causes an inflammation of the colon that leads to severe diarrhoea and stomach pains.

The problem became much more severe in his late twenties when he said it became a daily nightmare.

The Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) meant he could not control his bowels and caused him a great deal of embarrassment and upset.

The 38-year-old said: “Everything I did was dominated by my need to have a toilet close by. Foods caused problems and stress was a major issue.

“Once, when I was 28 and had been out of work for two months, I was driving to a job interview. I suddenly needed to use the toilet but there was nowhere to go. I planned to use the toilet in the reception when I arrived for the interview but I didn’t make it – I wasn’t even close!

“I had to turn around my car and drive home in a mess, too ashamed to even pull into a service station."

Similarly, Mr Burford said about another occasion: "I had to present to a small group and on the way to the meeting I had to stop and use the toilet. I didn’t quite make it in time so had to hold the meeting, outwardly looking presentable, without any underwear on!

“I can almost smile about it now, but at the time you will never know how much it affected me - my confidence, my self-esteem, my entire outlook on life."

Mr Burford began living on a diet of ready salted crisps and Lucozade as they were the two things that didn't seem to trigger his symptoms. He dropped to just nine stone in weight.

Dr Mark Cox, Consultant Gastroenterologist at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull, near Birmingham West Midlands, prescribed medicines to control the problem but nothing had a positive effect.

According to NHS figures, one in five people with Ulcerative Colitis have severe symptoms that do not improve with medication and need surgery to remove some or all the inflamed colon.

Mr Burford had the operation after a 22-year battle with the condition. Consultant Colorectal Surgeon, Mr Haney Youssef, also a Consultant at Spire Parkway Hospital, removed his colon and replaced it with an ileostomy bag.

Mr Burford believes that the surgery gave him his life back.

He said: "My life has very much changed for the better. I can spend time with my children without worrying how far I am from the bathroom and I have more energy to spend with them, where before I barely had any.

"They see my bag almost like a comic book super power!"

Q: How quickly could I have a consultation, and how much would it cost? 

A: It depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted to see, but we pride ourselves on getting you fast access to diagnosis and you can often get a consultation within 24/48 hours. Initial consultation fees vary by consultant, but around £175 is a reasonable guide.

Q: If I need surgery, how quickly could I have it?

A: We have no waiting lists at Spire Parkway, but again, it depends on the availability of the consultant you wanted, but as a guide, and subject to your pre-operation assessment, between one and two weeks. 

Q: I don’t have health insurance, can I self-pay? 

A: Yes, you can. Our self-pay team can talk you through this and explain the finance options that are available, should you wish to explore them. Call 0121 704 5530, or send an enquiry.

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