‘I was an hour away from death’

Heidi Readman-Ahmed today and (inset) weighing just six stone in hospital
Heidi Readman-Ahmed today and (inset) weighing just six stone in hospital

A BRAVE mum has made a remarkable return to work just weeks after medics gave her an hour to live.

Heidi Readman-Ahmed, who suffers from Crohn’s Disease, has described a “surreal” past year which saw her spend eight weeks in hospital, have parts of her digestive system removed and her weight plummet to just under six stone. But having made a good recovery and returned to run her own business, brave Heidi has vowed not to let her medical conditions get her down.

The 32-year-old mum-of-two said: “I just stick my morphine patch on and get on my way.

“It’s only when I look back now that I realise what I’ve actually gone through.”

Heidi, who runs the Make Scents shop in The Arches, in Park Road in Hartlepool, was diagnosed with bowel illness Crohn’s Disease when she was just 17 and was also struck down with cholera when she lived in Tenerife.

As doctors treated that condition, she was then told she was suffering with toxic megacolon, a potentially deadly condition that causes widening of the large intestine.

But after returning to the UK over a decade ago, she thought her health problems were behind her until last summer when she was admitted to hospital after discovering a mass in her abdomen which was “the size of a golf ball”.

Experts at the University Hospital of North Tees, in Stockton, told her the problem was likely to have been caused as a result of the Crohn’s condition and she was discharged after a week on anti-biotics.

But there was more drama to follow after a freak accident during a family holiday in Turkey last September.

Her three-year-old son Aqeel accidentally pushed the handle of his pushchair into her stomach, leaving her in constant pain and forcing her to go back to hospital on her return home in October.

She then spent six weeks back in the University Hospital of North Tees, receiving no fewer than eight blood transfusions as doctors struggled to operate as her weight had plummeted to just 5st 13lb.

Heidi, also mum to 11-year-old Manal, suffered internal bleeding and was told she her bowel had perforated.

Medics operated to remove her abscesses along with part of her small intestine, part of her large intestine, appendix and part of her small and large bowel.

But it was not until after her operation that doctors told her just how serious her condition was.

Heidi, who lives with her children and partner Sirf Ahmed, a 39-year-old project manager for Agrilek, in Evergreen Close, Bishop Cuthbert, Hartlepool, said: “The doctors told me to think of my children as they wheeled me into surgery.

“But I said ‘no, I’m seeing them tomorrow’.

“I was later told that before the operation I was an hour away from dying.

“I laughed my way through the whole time in hospital, but the nurses told me ‘you had no idea how ill you were’.”

She was also given a temporary ileostomy, which will be in place for six to 12 months. Similar to a colostomy bag, happy-go-lucky Heidi has called it her “Gucci bag”.

She left hospital on November 14, the day before Aqeel was due to start nursery.

“It took me an hour to walk from the car to the nursery”, said Heidi.

Apart from a four-day hospital stay with an infection just before Christmas, inspirational Heidi says she now feels “spot-on”.

She returned to work full-time earlier this month and is building up her business.