STUCK in hospital for life suffering with a rare bowel condition patient Chris Cole is hardly ever seen off a ward.
Moving between up to 30 different hospital across Britain throughout his life, Chris has undergone 92 operations with clinicians trying different treatments since he was a baby.
Now in his longest continuous stint in hospital, notching up three years, he can only leave the grounds for up to two hours at a time due to his medicine needs.
The 29-year-old, who is currently waiting for a multi-organ transplant as a last attempt to solve his situation, has spent his days missing birthdays and Christmas parties, and the opportunity to be best man at his best friend’s wedding.
But now he has something to smile about – having managed to spend six hours celebrating his birthday with family and friends.
Kindhearted and dedicated staff on E3 ward at Queen Alexandra Hospital in Cosham put in the effort to take him out, with a pharmacist dispensing his medicine at home.
Chris, who was schooled in hospital and is now a digital marketer from his ward bed, said: ‘Until you go through something where you have to be in hospital for a long time, I can’t really explain what it feels like.
‘You just don’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. But with that one day at home, it felt like I could forget about hospital for a few hours and think about what my life would be like outside of hospital.
‘The staff on E3 are like my family and I can’t thank them enough for what they do for me day in and day out and especially organising a trip out for my birthday.’
The longest time period he has ever spent out of hospital in his life is two months but medics helped him have extra time with his family.
Chris added: ‘All in all it was about six hours away from the hospital, which was amazing. It was nice to not be a patient for a few hours.’
Chris’ stepfather Kevin Honeyread said the family, including mum Sylvia Cole and Chris’ three brothers and his sister, were ‘beyond pleased’ to have him home.
The 45-year-old said: ‘It was only a few extra hours but just having him at home relaxing with all his friends and family was amazing.
‘The hospital staff worked so hard for him to be able to have quality time with us that not in a hospital ward. They are more like friends and treat him so well.’
Chris’ condition Hirschsprung’s disease means his bowels become blocked.
He is currently waiting for a multi-organ transplant operation that will take more than 20 hours in order to replace his stomach, spleen, pancreas, gallbladder, small bowel, large bowel and stomach wall.
He also suffers from a serious bowel infection enterocolitis, an intestinal pseudo-obstruction, another rare condition with symptoms that resemble those caused by a blockage, or obstruction, of the intestines, and is additionally being treated for gastroparesis, a long-term chronic condition where the stomach can’t empty itself in the normal way.
Chris, who turned 29 on April 20, said: ‘I’m at risk of a lot of things at the moment, so my future is trying to be healthy enough to have this transplant.
‘When you’re in hospital, you’re scared and nervous. You look outside or you look at social media and see everyone going to the pub or having a barbecue, and it’s not easy.’
Staff are trying to keep Chris in high spirits and have got him a PlayStation 4 in his room.
He added: ‘The team here make me as comfortable as possible, and they help me mentally by coming in and speaking to me. For my birthday they bought me presents including one nurse who bought me a fluffy blanket because I don’t like the hospital ones.
‘I’ve always said that the E3 ward in particular is just brilliant for support, compassion, empathy, individuality and the way I’m looked after. I’ve stayed in 20 to 30 hospitals, and this is the best ward I’ve ever been on.’
STAFF are this week celebrating working together.
Chris Coles’ story comes as part of Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust’s bid to celebrate their values including ‘working together with compassion’ where the trust is highlighting compassionate acts.
Patient Chris said: ‘When Josh Tonks, the care group manager, found out that it was my birthday he said they were going to see what they could do. Between him, Charlotte Winsor the ward manager and the rest of the team they managed to get me out of the hospital for a longer period of time.’
Charlotte added: ‘It is great that the compassionate acts that happen every day in our hospital are being highlighted and I am so pleased for Chris.’