Day 7 - Still active and alive! – Paul’s story

I’m now aged 62 and 25 years ago I was treated with extensive radiotherapy for oral cancer. I also had a stroke eight years ago and, as a result, I had surgery on my carotid artery. My swallowing was affected by the stroke and the historic radiotherapy damage. I have had a Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) for five years. At first it was to supplement my oral intake. Now I have all my feed through the PEG.

I have been married for 34 years and am the father of two grown-up children – a boy and a girl aged 32 and 29 respectively, and one grandchild aged four. I took early retirement at 58 as I was finding it increasingly difficult communicating with people over the phone. There was an early retirement package available, a few of my colleagues of a similar age were taking it, so it made sense for me to take the offer as well.

Since retirement I keep busy by looking after four gardens for elderly people. I also clean a local village hall. Unfortunately, my life-time hobby stopped after my stroke, I used to play lead guitar in a band. I found that I had a slight delay in the timing of my playing. I had a lot of other things to contend with at the time so guitar playing took a back seat. I never really got back into it.

I still play badminton once a week and have been doing that for 41 years; I also go to the gym and enjoy walks and visit National Trust gardens. My wife and I also spend a lot of time with our grandchild.

When it comes to holidays, my wife and I have a touring caravan and have been away several times since I became totally dependent on PEG feeding. I have travelled abroad twice since having a PEG – both times on cruises. On the cruises I was still supplementing my oral intake. I think cruising is the easiest way to travel if you are PEG fed. However, we plan to travel to Australia next Easter to see our daughter. I have contacted my nutrition delivery provider. They have confirmed they will deliver to our destination address in Australia (although I will double-check with them closer to the time before we book anything).

I’m not going to lie, feeding via PEG has its challenging times - the actual mechanics of my feeding is now relatively okay, although I still never get that feeling of being totally full and satisfied. However, I’m still able to live a relatively active life, enjoying some of my hobbies and gardening.

Living on home artificial nutrition (HAN) means a complete lifestyle change, which affects not only you but your nearest and dearest! The main thing I choose to remember is that this treatment has saved my life.

HAN Week