11 October 2023

My name is Lisa Foster. I’m 35, well 36 on New Year’s Eve and this is how my life changed throughout 2023.

I was diagnosed with IBS at the age of 11 and battled in and out of hospitals, doctors and trialled various medicines to get my bowels to work.

I fell pregnant with our son in early 2018 and started getting longer periods of time when I wasn’t able to poo. I was around 6 months pregnant with George and didn’t pass any bowel movements for 24 days. I couldn’t have any invasive tests as I didn’t want to lose my unborn child. We sadly lost our first child in 2017, through an unknown cause.

Thankfully after very strong oral laxatives and enemas, I finally went to the toilet. George was born 10 days early and arrived on 30th August 2018. I continued to battle with my constipation and couldn’t go to hospitals or the doctors as we went into a worldwide pandemic.

In early 2021 the frequency of not having bowel movements continued into days and weeks. I was hospitalised around 10-11 times in 2021, 2022 and given medications that are prescribed to someone who was having a colonoscopy. I would have to drink litres and litres of Moviprep/Plenvu, Picolax, Laxido. You name it, I drank it and whatever else had to be given up the other end. My longest time of no bowel movement was 49 days.

I finally met with a surgeon in the Royal United Hospital in October 2022 who said my colon was so large and dilated, toxic mega colon, I needed it removing. He told me and my husband he could reconnect my small bowel to my rectum and I’d avoid having to have an ileostomy bag. The surgery took place on 19th December 2022. I was hopeful as I was still young and I’d be back on my feet again living a normal life within 4-6 weeks, his words.

By 29th December, I was passing stools, wind and I was “fit” to go home.

Delighted! I was able to celebrate my birthday at home with my husband, our son and our 2 dogs. Unfortunately, that night I deteriorated and I was back in A and E. 19 hours on a cold hard chair, all alone. I was taken to a SAU, surgical assessment unit, where my surgeon who performed my subtotal colectomy just a few weeks prior came to see me. They performed a sigmoidoscopy and Unfortunately due to scar tissue and adhesions my bowels and rectum were closed shut.

In the early hours of January 15th 2023, I was taken to theatre to have an ileostomy. I rang my husband as with any major operation, things may not go to plan. He rushed in with our son and I kissed them goodbye. George was 4 at the time and said, is mummy going to be okay again?

I had my operation and was in intensive care for 2 weeks. Craig, my husband and George came to see me every day but I wasn’t conscious so I didn’t know they were there. I finally woke up and felt my tummy. This is me now…. I feel ugly, ashamed, and this isn’t the life I want. It would be best if I hopefully pass away and I won’t put Craig and George through any more misery.

After 2 weeks, I was taken to a ward and had 2 PICC lines to give me Total parental nutrition and other medicines. I had sepsis in my central wound and an NG tube draining away stomach contents as the sickness was so severe. I also contracted Covid whilst on the ward.

By March, I was tolerating some foods and sent home on Mother’s Day! But sadly 24 hours later, I was back in as my ileostomy stopped working and stomach contents was coming out my nose and mouth.

Back to Bath where they confirmed I had mesenteric Plexitis, it was found in my colon and likely to be in my small bowel. They couldn’t do anything further for me and so I was transferred to University Hospital Southampton.

I was placed on the Intestinal Failure ward and the consultants there confirmed I had CIPO, Chronic Intestinal Pseudo Obstruction and Mesenteric Plexitis. There is no cure for either of these conditions.

I went to have a Hickman line into my chest so I could go home on parental nutrition and lead a semi-normal life. I was discharged in August 2023.

A consultant at Bath told me I wouldn’t live past my 40th birthday as PN isn’t sustainable long-term. I’ve now been told that isn’t the case and although my life expectancy is unknown, like everyone’s, this is me!

I am here, I am alive and although under my clothes I have a stoma and a central line both keeping me alive, nothing and no one will stop me!!

I had no choice in the path I’m going down but by heck, I’m doing it for me, my family and above all else I will keep smiling.


A picture of me with my Hickman line.

Photo of George in the lift – going home upset as I’m having to stay longer.

The other photos of me and my husband were when I was in intensive care after waking up with a stoma.

Recent pictures of me in a stripy jumper, were me at home embracing my new life and going out with George for his 5th birthday.