Allan Edward Wokes

In April and May of 2002, my wife and I were vacationing in Australia. She has friends from many years ago living there and it was nice to meet them, stay for awhile, see some of the cities and countryside, to travel about, visit wineries and farms. To also see some of the man made things such as the Sydney Opera house and the bridge over the entrance to Sydney Harbour. Anyway having done the Gold Coast, the major cities, and some of the wine country, we were driving North on the Great Ocean Road after visiting friends in the Ned Kelly country. We had rented a car in Melbourne and the planned to motor to Adelaide, catch a train in Adelaide and have a leisurely ride across the desert to Perth, visit other friends for about a week, then fly back to Sydney and on home. Backing up a little...we are Canadians. At the time we were living about an hour North of Winnipeg, on the shore of Lake Winnipeg. Lake Winnipeg is the tenth largest fresh water lake in the world. Our Australian friends had and have difficulty comprehending a body of fresh water that is 500 kilometers from end to end. Oceans they understand. Big lakes are not part of the natural order in that country It was in Melbourne that I started to feel unwell. At the time I thought that it was a flare up of hemoroids I had had some problems before and was treating them with otc suppositories. On the driving trip the condition got worse quickly. Fever, pain in the rectum, swollen testicles. The last day and a half of driving my wife drove. I have very little recollection of that portion of the trip and none at all of actually driving into Adelaide. I can recall only vaguely checking into a hotel. The hotel concierge was wonderfully helpful and was able to arrange a doctors office visit for within an hour or so. The doctor suggested that we go to emergency clinic as test results would be more readily available than from her office. Here again I have only the vaguest memory of walking into the hospital. But, nobody waiting in emergency waiting room and I was taken into an examination room almost immediately."OK" what seems to be the matter"? " I have a bit of diarrhea" A bored look ''And I'd like you to take a look at my backside" I dropped my pants and the last thing I remember is hearing my wife Karen say "Oh Allan". What I was told later is that inside of four hours I was in surgery. In the following days from what I can read from the invoices at least seven debridement sessions, four or five hyperbaric chamber sessions. massive doses of antibiotics, the whole nine yards. The cause. An abscess in the bowel that became septic and evolved into the near fatal necrotizing fasciitis. The result...a permanent colostomy, most of the scrotum removed, the gonads surgically relocated into the body. The anus removed, a fair bit of the maximus glutumus and during a "clean up session" about a month after the initial surgeries to remove dead tissue the tail bone was removed. (I forget the correct name for it) but man was that painful. By the time I had recovered enough to start walking again, something that had to be relearned, I was weighed and was at least 80 pounds below my normal weight. Two and a half months after first going into hospital I was well enough to send home on a stretcher for final treatment and skin grafting. I left the Royal Adelaide Hospital on July 13, 2002, in the early morning escorted by two ER nurses from Canada. Five ambulances and four airliners later I was checked into the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg in the early evening of July 13, 2002. A further two months of treatment, some skin grafts to get me well enough to send home. Then an additional five months of home care nursing plus occasional clinic visits to the plastic surgeon plus regular clinic visits for inr levels while taking warafin that was necessary after the pulmonary embolism This pretty well took a year out of my life. Today...I will have the colostomy for the rest of my days. It's something that can be lived with. It just takes a little planning to be sure supplies are handy. Plus the Provincial Government covers the cost of necessary approved ostomy supplies and there is a local association of ostimates that I have joined who provide support, advice if needed and companionship. My wound is mainly healed but the skin graft is very thin right in the crease of my buttocks and occasionally breaks open. The plastic surgeon tells me that this will be an ongoing problem for the foreseeable future. It may be possible to surgically improve it but would be risky.