Phil’s Story – Diverticular disease / diverticulitis

Phil has a condition called diverticular disease, which is very common and most of the time, harmless. Phil’s bowel has developed small pouches throughout. Sometimes though (and we don’t completely understand why yet), an infection can develop in one of these pouches and it can become life-threatening if untreated.

Talk us through the symptoms you were experiencing with your diverticular disease:

I was referred for a colonoscopy by my doctor after I was getting digestive symptoms, one was a stitch- like pain on my left side. After the colonoscopy, I remember being told that I had diverticulosis, but I had just been sedated so I wasn’t fully focussed on what they had to say.

I was never given any information and I was told these pouches were really common, so I didn’t even think to look for information online.

Talk us through the symptoms you had when you had developed an infection (diverticulitis):

One day I started getting a really severe wave-like abdominal pain that would come and go. Then I started with fever, I was sweating and nauseous, but the pain was bothering me the most. It was all-encompassing.

I’ll try not to sound like the “hokey cokey”, but I was in and out of the hospital a fair bit!

I went to the hospital and was given antibiotics, as my diverticular disease had become infected (diverticulitis). I was told if I started feeling worse, to come back.

I returned home and started feeling worse. I was being sick too. I was rolling around in pain at 3am thinking “this can’t be right”. We decided it best to return to hospital. The team did another scan and found that my bowel had perforated (torn) due to the diverticulitis.

What happened in hospital?

I was monitored by a fantastic team for a few days until I was sent home, but I didn’t feel any wiser about diverticular disease or diverticulitis. In fact, I’d been told conflicting information at hospital, so I began doing my own research.

When did you find Guts UK?

I found Guts UK online. I’d been scrolling through the internet and I was becoming so frustrated, as I’d read something on one website, and then another would say the complete opposite! I read Guts UK’s information in full, then called for some clarity.

It was such a relief to find somewhere with evidence- based information that I could trust and follow. The guys at Guts UK really did put the power in me.

Since your diverticulitis, you have decided to fundraise for Guts UK with a collection tub in the sweetshop that you run. What did your customers think?

The tub in the shop has been a conversation starter. I openly speak to people about my guts and the amount of people who have digestive diseases has really surprised me. I think it’s so important that we talk openly about these symptoms and diseases.

Please consider giving £3 a month to Guts UK, so they can continue helping people like me when I was lost and confused. How can we know so little about something that affects so many people? I’m getting to grips with guts – you can too!

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