Back in September at Pure Elite, we came across Paul.
Paul was competing in his first show and had come down from Scotland with Bio-Synergy ambassador Mark Mathews, who had been prepping Paul for the competition.
Speaking with Paul we found out that he had been suffering from a serious illness for the past 15 years and with the help of friends and family and the right advice on health and nutrition he had made an amazing transformation.
Below is his story.
• Suffered from Ulcerative Colitis for 15 years.
• Caught a near fatal infection of the Hospital Superbug, C-difficile, in Spring 2013.
• Eventually had my entire colon removed in Nov 2013 leaving me weighing 50kg and using a colostomy bag.
• Put myself forward for further surgery in October 2014 to reconstruct my intestines, removing my need for a colostomy bag.
• Caught C-difficile again and my weight dropped back down to around 50kg.
• Got back to the gym in Jan 2014 and worked towards Pure Elite.
• Continue to suffer from a serious iron deficiency and stomach ulcer.
I suffered from Ulcerative Colitis for 13 years. It’s an extremely painful, life-limiting and embarrassing condition, effecting, as it does the large intestine (aka colon). After several years of extremely poor health, my condition became reasonably well managed with heavy doses of corto-steroids. These work to reduce inflammation but unlike anabolic steroids, they literally disolve muscle, releasing it into the bloodstream to be excreted. Despite this, I started going to the gym on a fairly casual basis and, although it was impossible for me to ever really build muscle, I worked hard enough to be able to hold the wasting effects of my medication in check.
In Spring 2013 things took a dramatic turn for the worse when, during a routine check up I caught the serious hospital acquired ‘superbug’ C-difficile. C-difficile specifically effects the large intestine and kills around 1800 people in the UK each year. The chances of surviving it with a pre-existing serious bowel disease are not good. It took many months for a clear diagnosis and in meantime through the infection itself and the huge doses of intravenous steroids that I was administered during a 3 week stay in hospital, my weight plummeted. One particular weekend, my condition had deteriorated to such an extent that it was hanging in the balance as to whether or not I would still be alive on Monday morning. That weekend happened to include the day of my brother’s wedding so instead of celebrating with him and his wife I was being visited by a solicitor to make my will. Very slowly the cocktail of antibiotics that were being channelled into my vein day and night started to take effect and I was eventually discharged. My muscles were so wasted that I was in a wheelchair when I went to my parent’s house for the few months.
My recovery was achingly slow particularly because the iron levels in my body were so low that my muscles and organ simply were not getting enough oxygen from my blood. My GP prescribed iron tablets and within a few days I was back in hospital.. These had hopelessly overwhelmed by fragile intestines and caused the large intestine to rupture, sticking to my bladder which was now also at risk, and spilling the contents of my bowels into my upper body cavity. Needless to say this was a medical emergency and there was nothing else for it but immediate surgery to amputate my colon. The colon is one of the largest organs in the body, mine weighed 2.5 kg and having it removed is a major operation. The extent of the damage meant that less invasive keyhole surgery was not an option so instead the only option was to fully open my abdomen with all the implications that that brings for length of recovery. The operation too over 5 hours and was not straightforward but the team were able to save not only my life but my bladder too. My colon was not so lucky, it ended up in the incinerator, taking with it my ability to go to the toilet normally. From now on I would expel solid waste through a hole in my side where the end of my small intestine poked out, covered by a bag stuck to my side. By the time I was discharged (again, in a wheelchair) after another long stay in hospital, I was deeply depressed and had lost a third of my body weight. The first time I saw myself naked in a mirror in the bathroom at my parents house I broke down into tears.
Over the winter of 2013/14 I recovered though, very slowly but at least I had turned the corner. The first couple of months are a blur of opiates and excruciating boredom but by the early spring I had moved back home and was graduating from walks to very light trips to the gym. I had decided months before that if I survived, my target would be to rebuild my emaciated body and, finally free of muscle-wasting drugs, get into better shape than before I became ill. I contacted Mark Mathews who I had known from my gym for a couple of years. Mark is in better shape than anyone else I have ever seen with my own eyes. He has entered and won competitions, MMA fights and is simply an all-round King of the Gym. I was delighted when he agreed to give me a diet and training plan and even more delighted when, as the months passed, I saw the results.
By September 2014 I was in the best shape of my life but there was one problem, I still had a bag of my own poo constantly attached to my side. Many people with a bag get on fine with it and live out the rest of their lives with one. You can’t see them through someone’s clothes and you’d be amazed how many are out there. Rightly or wrongly I had always wanted to have a further operation to construct an artificial colon and return me to normal bathroom habits without a bag. Mark and I had discussed this further surgery and that it would hold up my progress a bit but only for a few months. I didn’t even expect to lose much muscle. Wrong.
Although the operation was completely successful, it was again through a full abdomen incision rather than keyhole surgery. The wound became infected but a short course of antibiotics was enough to sort that out and I was discharged from hospital feeling….surprisingly good! My recovery soon started to falter and eventually, after weeks of more misdiagnosis and pushing and shoving with health workers I eventually discovered that the antibiotic for my wound infection had allowed another infection of C-difficile to take root and thrive. I was readmitted to hospital and spent another three soul-destroying weeks in solitary confinement with a constant drip of a powerful antibiotic cocktail going into my veins.
By the time I was discharged (in a wheelchair again) it was nearly Christmas 2014 and my weight had fallen back to 50kg. I was devastated to have gone through all this again but at least I knew that recovery was possible. After treatment for a further serious iron deficiency, in late January 2015 I slowly, very slowly got back into the gym. I started doing a few reps on the machines usually only used by the odd pensioner and the gym management were so unsure about the wisdom of me training that I wasn’t allow to exercise unsupervised.
With Mark’s incredible help and despite a continuing iron deficiency, a stomach ulcer and a few dietary restrictions, I got up to my previous weight and better shape than ever by the summer of 2015.
Not bad considering I’m at an age where a lot of my contemporaries are carrying beer guts around with them!
Paul Walker Transformation Story
Back in September at Pure Elite, we came across Paul.