A keen cyclist and hiker who became unable to walk due to a debilitating illness is back on his feet following vascular surgery at Glan Clwyd Hospital.
Holywell resident David Pearson is on the road to recovery after undergoing reconstructive surgery on a blocked abdominal aorta.
David, who lives with severe anxiety following the death of his wife Paula seven years ago, was coping with the effects of from intermittent claudication, which is muscle pain caused by a lack of blood flow due to obstructed arteries.
By the time of his surgery, blood flow in David’s legs had become severely blocked, causing great pain and difficulty walking.
He was treated at Glan Clwyd on August 7 this year, with vascular surgery continuing to take place at despite the impact of COVID-19.
He spent a week on ITU following surgery, and is now recuperating at home.
David said: “I’ve always been a keen walker and a cyclist. I noticed while walking my two dogs it was beginning to feel uncomfortable and hard work.
“Within a minute of setting off it felt like walking through mud, and I started to feel complete numbness at the top of my leg to the point where you would feel nothing at all.
“I’d have to stand for a couple of minutes to wait for those symptoms to subside, and then the distances you could walk before it happened again became shorter and shorter.
“It got to a point where it was difficult to walk across the supermarket car park, or even the car park at Glan Clwyd. For someone who is 47 years old and otherwise fit and healthy, it was destroying me and having an awful impact on my mental health.
“I have severe anxiety and depression, and hospital wards are a difficult place as you twitch at every noise and bleep you hear.
“My depression and anxiety was brought on by severe grief after tragically losing my brave wife, Paula, to a rare cancer seven years ago, and therefore found it difficult to return to a hospital setting as it brings back so many difficult memories that have been part of my anxiety and depression.
“But the team working in ITU were instrumental in not only managing the post-operative side of things but my mental health as well. They’ve been magnificent.”
David’s six-hour operation took place in the hospital’s hybrid theatre, which opened last year as part of the concentration of complex vascular procedures at Glan Clwyd Hospital.
The hybrid theatre allows Interventional Radiologists and Vascular Surgeons to work together to perform both traditional, open surgery and minimally invasive endovascular procedures on the same patient, at the same time, in the same place.
Mr Aidas Raudonaitis, part of the team of vascular surgeons recruited by the Health Board to provide the revised service, carried out the operation.
David said: “I live on my own and am reliant on being self-sufficient, so can’t thank Mr Raudonaitis enough for making this happen for me.
“I was fearful that a second wave of COVID-19 would close that door of opportunity for me, so took the opportunity to have an operation. Within a week I’d heard that there was a chance of being operated on, so went in at Friday 7 August.
“I was obviously frightened as any normal person would be, with the anxiety I suffer from, but the nurse in the Day of Surgery department was great and really put my mind at rest.
“The next thing that I remember was arriving on ITU and being assigned a nurse who pretty much provided one-to-one care.
“Their ability to put your mind at rest is phenomenal. They were all so humorous and warm, I was actually worried they would make me burst my stitches at times.
“They made me feel like I was part of a family. The whole team who were on the ward, they were all great. It didn’t matter what time of day it was or how trivial your issue, they were always looking out for how I felt or what I needed.”
David is continuing his recovery, and is aiming to get back up Moel Famau as soon as he feels well enough.
“It’ll take me some time to make a full recovery, but I’m really impressed about how quickly I appear to be recovering.
“My goal now is just to be able to walk my dogs as I promised my wife I would, and head up Moel Famau as soon as possible. I think that day’s coming fast, and I can’t wait for it.”
“I want to extend my thanks to everyone in ITU, I’m forever indebted to their care. The same goes to Mr Raudonaitis and the vascular team as well, and my GP Dr Bala for referring me in, who I wouldn’t be here had it not been for his care and compassion.
“I would like to emphasise to any patients who are nervous and frightened of hospital or major surgery, not to put their surgery off.
“Talk to your GP, your surgical team, and support staff, so that they can help provide the additional support you need to help you prepare for your treatment and surgery and not to be frightened by any recovery that requires intensive care as it is first class, you couldn't ask for anything more.”