Day 7 - Stay positive

I’m Tom, I’ve been on home artificial nutrition (HAN) since the age of two and a half due to mesenteric cysts in my small intestine, leading to the majority of it having been removed - I’m now the grand age of 32!

I’m Tom, I’ve been on home artificial nutrition (HAN) since the age of two and a half due to
mesenteric cysts in my small intestine, leading to the majority of it having been removed - I’m now the grand age of 32!
 
For the past 8 years I’ve received my artificial nutrition intravenously via an implanted port, prior to that it was via a Hickman® line. When I was very small I had enteral feeding as well as the parenteral nutrition (PN), but this was only for a short period of time.
 
Initially I was under Birmingham Children’s Hospital but since becoming an adult I’ve transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham. I’ve only ever known artificial feeding, although I’m grateful I can eat normally, but that’s more out of habit and because those around me do; I get no nutritional benefit from it. I’ve grown up with PN, and because of it, it’s always been there, and I’ve accepted it.
 
School was normal, and I did everything I could to have as normal a school life as possible. The only difference was not showering after PE in front of the other kids - my peers thought this was an advantage as it was extremely uncool to shower in front of everyone else anyway.  I even went on a residential trip in my early secondary school years with the rest of the year which my mother came along on to administer my feed - only my close friends and roommates were aware of my condition and why my mother was on our school trip!
 
My personal mantra is to live life to the maximum wherever possible. I’ve always wanted to be ‘normal’, whatever that is even though I have HAN. I work full time and have progressed through my career with no special dispensation for my illness with very few of my peers being aware of my condition.
 
I play competitive sport on a weekly basis and train twice a week to maintain fitness. I am a keen sportsman and enjoy playing numerous sports throughout the year.
 
I have always attempted to maintain a positive outlook on illness and it doesn’t impact me living a normal life. I regularly holiday abroad and although it takes a lot of planning in advance, this is by no means a barrier that can’t be overcome with preparation. I believe in being a responsible person who prepares and plans to cover all potential eventualities. Obviously, there is always the potential for the unexpected to happen but let’s be honest everyone is subject to this. It’s a case of juggling the normal with the unexpected and being prepared!
 
A recent trip to Australia was amazing; again; it was all about the planning - the holiday, the feeds, the accommodation etc. I was also planning something extra special during the holiday with my girlfriend. I’d arranged for a helicopter to fly over the Barrier Reef and land on a small sand quay. Once landed, I got down on one knee and ‘popped the question’ to my girlfriend. I now have a fiancée!  We are planning to get married in May 2019, more planning of a different kind.

HAN Week