OVERDUE DAD: ‘I’ve waited TWO YEARS to have hernias repaired that make me look PREGNANT and give me
I spoke to Mark who's been labelled 'pregnant' in the past, when in fact he has a life-threatening hernia that he desperately needs medical help for. Read his story in this week's Chat, out now #hernia #health #cryforhelp
A dad-of-six has been left fighting for his life while waiting for surgery to repair his hernias, which not only make him look pregnant but give him contractions.
Mark Webb, 39, who sports a large bump under his t-shirt claims it’s no surprise people think of him as ‘pregnant’. But the reality is no laughing matter.
The dad from Bodmin, Cornwall, told The Sun: “People call me pregnant and it’s clear to see why - I look like I’m carrying a baby under my top. It’s actually five protruding hernias in my stomach creating a large mass, which my wife Maria and I refer to as my bump.”
“I know it sounds funny and I know people don’t actually mean any harm when they say I look pregnant, but living this way is absolute hell. I have been waiting for a hernia operation for almost two years and despite my health problem not being seen as an emergency, the longer I wait the more my health is deteriorating. I have come very close to dying on more than one occasion and I can’t bear the thought of leaving my family.”
Mark’s wife Maria Webb, 37, finds it heartbreaking to watch her husband go through such an ordeal.
She said: “Mark is literally disappearing in front of my eyes. He has lost seven stone in less than 12 months due to not be able to eat without vomiting – and he’s 6ft 3in so he looks very drawn for his size.
“He has been in hospital three times in the last three weeks because of all of this and because the doctors were so concerned for his health, but he has still not been given the operation he so badly needs. If he doesn’t have it soon the kids will end up being left without a dad.”
Maria added: ‘It wasn’t long ago that after Mark had been discharged from hospital, I found him half-dead slouched on the sofa. He had been throwing up all night and was struggling to breathe. When I called the ambulance, the paramedics couldn’t believe he had been allowed home in that state. If I hadn’t have called for help that morning, he’d be dead.’
Mark, who has been suffering with hernias for more than ten years, has had numerous hernia repairs in the past and also had to have a testicle removed due to an error during one operation.
The dad has been passed from doctor to doctor and was told by one to lose weight - but nothing close to the seven stone he has lost without even trying.
Maria said: “It really affects Mark because people are always staring at him. He regularly gets strange looks and negative comments too, which is upsetting – mainly about him being pregnant and asking when’s it due.
“He wore his coat most of last summer to cover his bump, even though it was boiling hot. It’s not right. I have to buy him the baggiest jumpers I can find and even those don’t go over his bump properly.
“It also affects our children. Mark can’t physically pick up the youngest or be active with any of them.
“Mark used to love swimming with the kids, but he had to stop last year. There’s no way he can physically swim anymore and even if he could, he would be too embarrassed for people to see his hernias at the pool.
“He gets unwell and weak just walking across the living room and the hernias cause him a pain very similar to contractions in labour. He can be walking down the street and have to stop while his hernias cramp up."
The couple’s children, aged 16, 15, 12, 10, five and two, worry about their father’s health.
“Our youngest child wakes up in the night panicking about his daddy and he is always asking where he is and if he’s okay,” Maria said.
“It makes me sad that all of our kids have to see their dad as a frail 90-year-old man. They see him fighting for his life, see him being rushed to hospital and see the ambulances that come and go. They don’t know if each day will be the last they will see him. Mark turns 40 this month but there is no way we can celebrate when he’s so unwell.”
Mark, who has to take strong painkillers including morphine every day, has been ruled unfit to work.
“All I want is for this to be dealt with so I can get on with my life and work again, so I can give my wife and children what they deserve - they are feeling this just as much as myself,” he said.
Back in January 2017, Mark had to have a hernia repaired in his stomach but unfortunately by May the hernia had returned.
He was referred back to a consultant and eventually seen in October, only to be told it was too complicated and he would have to be referred to someone else.
In April 2018, Mark saw another doctor who told him the surgery for his hernia would be extremely dangerous.
Mark said: “That’s when I was advised to lose 10kg and was told the doctor would see me again in 10 weeks. During this time two more hernias appeared and my stomach became very large.”
In January 2019, Mark still hadn’t heard anything, so he contacted his doctor’s secretary only to be told his doctor hadn’t been working for months and it was uncertain when he would be returning, if at all.
“I was then forgotten to be referred to someone,” said Mark. “In the meantime I lost seven stone in less than 12 months because I struggle to eat and can’t keep food down when I do.”
Mark has previously worn a hernia belt to try and hold the hernias in, but it now falls off him because of his significant weight loss.
Maria said: “We asked doctors why some intestine couldn’t be cut away and re-stitched and got conflicting answers. As far as we are concerned that would be the best method because Mark’s organs are clearly now too big for his slender frame.
“We understand it would mean he would need a colostomy bag but his quality of life would be so much better than it is now.”
Finally, Mark said: “I just really want all this to be dealt with so I can get on with my life and so we can be a normal family again. I want to feel like myself again instead of feeling abnormal. This has gone on for far too long.”