Easing steps to recovery

Written by Kerrie Alexander

A simple stomach-ache turned into a life-threatening illness and months of recovery for Maryborough’s Anna Pittard.

The mother-of-four’s world was turned upside instantly; not being able to care for her children or go to work to bring in an income.

However, some of that financial stress was taken off the Maryborough family’s shoulders when Rally for a Cause stepped in to help.

Anna’s story was nominated to the committee, and they didn’t hesitate to assist.

So, to all those individuals and business that donate or sponsor the Dunga Derby, the RFAC biggest annual fundraiser, this is the amazing way your funds are making a difference.

A total of just over $1.8 million has now been raised for the Dunga Derby, which has helped 140 local families and individuals affected by life-limiting medical conditions or who have had their lives turned upside down by sudden death or disability.

Anna’s story

Sunday, November 1 was just a normal Sunday afternoon enjoying an afternoon beer and swim at a friend’s place. We returned home later, feeling great.

During that night I started getting stomach pains and just dismissed it as something I ate. Come Monday morning I was still experiencing discomfort which gradually got worse throughout the day and come 3pm, I struggled to pick my kids up from school and could barely walk by the time I got home.

My partner arrived at my house around 5pm and insisted he take me to A&E at the hospital. I was put straight through for further testing. I was then transferred to another local hospital for a CT scan and ultrasounds and once I was there, I was given antibiotics an ultrasound and sent home the next morning.

On Tuesday, November 3, being Melbourne Cup Day, I attempted to go to work but was sent home due to being too sick.

Two days later the pain in my stomach became so severe that I was taken to my local hospital again, but by an ambulance this time. Minimal tests were done, no scans either when I requested it, and I was told I was better off at home than in hospital as stress can cause pain. I was told to see a counsellor!

Unhappy with the outcome, I went to my own GP the same day and was given some pain relief and continued taking oral antibiotics. A week later I was still feeling terrible and in pain. I struggled to complete my shifts at work. So back to my local GP where he sent me for a CT scan, once the results came in, my Dr rang me, told me not to go to work but straight to hospital in which I was admitted with an infection in my stomach. I was started on intravenous antibiotics, and a stomach drain was put in four days later.

I then spent three long weeks in hospital with a suspected perforated bowel and was told by doctors to wait as long as possible for my body to heal before they operate. After three weeks in hospital, I was sent home still with the stomach drain.

During my time back at home I was still in enormous pain and struggled to do daily tasks and care for my children. I could no longer work. I presented at A&E numerous times during the next three weeks and was sent home with more pain meds and antibiotics. I was still not getting better. Finally in January I had an appointment with a surgeon at the hospital.

By this point I was in so much pain I had trouble standing or sitting. I was taken for emergency surgery that same day. Numerous parts in my stomach were removed due to infection and a stint was put in my kidney. The infection had now caused a blockage. During recovery in hospital the stint dislodged, and I was sent to Brisbane for a replacement. At this point I thought I was on the road to recovery; little did I know the worst was yet to come.

The next day I experienced the worst pain of my life, I was given everything possible for the pain, but I had no relief.

Further testing was done and later that night I was taken into emergency surgery again. Turns out I still had a perforated bowel caused by diverticulitis and had infection everywhere and by this point I had gone septic. I spent eight gruelling days in ICU and was extremely sick and lucky to be alive, but my fight wasn’t over yet.

The amazing doctors worked tirelessly to find the right treatments to get me better. During this horrible life changing time in hospital, I was contacted by Rally for a Cause asking how I was I managing financially?

The honest truth was not good. After already being off work for a few months and no idea of when I was able to return, I was starting to get stressed out. It was hard being away from my beautiful family for so long, nearly losing my life, not being able to work, it was all very overwhelming. I was approved by Rally for a Cause for short term financial support during my recovery. I was so emotional I couldn’t believe how lucky I was to have such a wonderful caring organisation wanting to help me through this traumatic time of my life. Words cannot describe how grateful I was then and still am now.

Without their help I would have suffered severe financial problems. I then spent another six weeks in hospital in Brisbane before I could come home to my family. I then had a long recovery ahead, but it was great to be back home.

The stress of not being able to keep up with my bills were lifted of my shoulders thanks to Rally for a Cause and the Dunga Derby participants and supporters.

I have had time to recover at home without having to rush back to work and ease back into normal everyday life. This would not have been able to happen without this amazing organisation and I am beyond grateful.

To find out more about the charity and how you can help families like Anna’s, head to http://www.rallyforacause.org.au or http://www.dungaderby.com.au. Find them on Facebook under ‘Dunga Derby by Rally for a Cause’