Painters have feelings too!

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For the second time on my business website, I’ve let you see Painters have feelings too, while previously I’ve talked about my early beginnings, Knowing your history makes you stronger.  here we discuss more recent history and something that could happen to all of us out of the blue.

Generally I’m not a superstitious person, my mum is but something strange did happen 12 months ago today which did make me think.

Thursday 23rd of June 2016 around 5.45am, I was awoken by a loud tapping noise, unsure of where it was coming from I peered out of my duvet only to see a young Magpie sitting outside the bedroom window tapping the glass with its beak.

Thinking at the time it was unusual but I wasn’t the slightest bit flustered, I laid back down for half an hour before getting ready for work. Now this is where my mums train of thought enters the equation, (one for sorrow, two for joy and so on) during the days work I started to get pains in my stomach, I put it down to trapped wind, early start, quick breakfast, longer drive to job all those things where in my mind.

After work at home I mentioned to Michelle, (The wife) I’m going to lay on the bed as my tummy will ease its self *cough, tried to word that as delicately as I could. It was only the fact I decided to take a paracetamol which triggered her into action, “you never take tablets, so I there must be something wrong with you” she said.

By this time it was after but we drove the 7 mile to the local access center to get checked, the duty doctor did examine me, and gave me two tablets saying trapped wind which would ease by morning. Sadly it didn’t and by Michelle was on the phone to our surgery. A locum doctor visited and immediately said I was to go to hospital 35 miles away, for tests, there would be a bed waiting, so once again off we went.

Arriving at hospital I was greeted by the registrar Martin, who tried to ease my mind that it would just be some simple procedure to “free” the pressure if that failed they intended to investigate with the camera the following morning. I did say to my wife after the procedure, that she could take me home that night rather than taking up a hospital bed unnecessarily, but she insisted I stayed.

So on the morning of the 24th June 2016 after a reasonably comfortable night on the ward, the registrar came to explain the next steps, quite simply it was just to investigate. I was gowned and taken to the procedure rooms, In my mind I knew Michelle would be waiting for me as soon as I got back on the ward, I thought I could do with a cuppa as I’d been nil by mouth since early morning.

The nurse and radiologist where talking to me and he began, next thing I knew my stomach ballooned and I was rushed into another room surrounded by about ten nurses and doctors all working on me as I drifted in and out of consciousness. I remember entering through some doors, I now know into theatre and a fairly tall man saying “Don’t worry we have got you” or words to that effect….

I didn’t know at the time I awoke how long I’d been under, a nurse was standing beside me and explained I was on a ward, my wife came, my daughter was with her, my son had caught the first train from Glasgow as he had been to celebrate his girlfriends birthday, Mum and Dad had came through too.

I was extremely grateful to see my family, my wife had rushed through as soon as the hospital phoned I was going into theatre, my sons girlfriend wouldn’t let him travel alone and despite her due to go out for her birthday, she had told him “family was more important” as all he just wanted to “be there for his best friend”, my daughter was the bravest showing no sadness in front of me, my little hero.

After an emotional reunion I must have drifted back to sleep, dozing on and off till morning. That morning I learned that I had to have two thirds of my colon removed due to it being four times the size it should have been and a restricting growth around it, the surgeon Mr.Avalapati had discussed this at length with Michelle following my surgery. He reassured her the operation had been successful and that I currently had a storma bag, which my wife replied “he wont really like that” then Mr Avalapati had mentioned if I had got my way and gone home that night and the colon had burst, that would have been it….I would not have made it out of Workington let alone 35 miles to hospital, so having a bag is a small sacrifice, although it had been done in such a way to be reversed at some point in the future. Obviously I’m very grateful to my wife for being so stubborn and loving.

Coming around the following morning I too discovered I had been fitted with a colostomy bag, this did concern me at the time, I was an active 49 year old and I wasn’t sure what this meant. After a few days on the ward and several discussions with nurses including the Storma nurse who’ s role is to assist, teach and support those with the variety of bags fitted during surgery, my mind was a little more at ease. A new gentleman was brought into the ward, just having had his Storma removed a few days previous. Roy’s advice to me was “You’ll cope no bother with it, just get it inside your head and its not a problem” those words stuck in my mind and Roy and I became friends who still speak to this day. Thank you mate.

Over the coming weeks I made a slow recovery, after a week in hospital I was allowed home, unaware how much this operation had taken out of my body, the first four weeks at home needed lots of help, even washing myself was so tiring I needed help. again Michelle was my rock…naturally my family rallied around, if Michelle was at work my parents came to sit with me, I can’t thank them enough.

Also Michelle had put basic information on social media, to inform friends and family further a field I wasn’t well. I was overwhelmed by the support we received and messages. Everything from offers of help from decorators all over the country, who would have assisted getting through jobs to keep my business going, to friends offering to collect shopping or run errands to save Michelle, one special friend offered financial assistance, should I needed it I am so grateful to everyone who kept in contact with us, your kind words, and acts of generosity will never be forgotten.

Regarding the business Mark who has been with me for 14 years now, was in constant contact with Michelle during my hospital stay, the first day I was home he visited and basically said my first priority was to get well, he would manage the jobs, all I had to do is send them to him. Over those first six weeks when I was mainly house bound that’s what we did. I could text and email jobs out, or Mark would pop in. He would manage each job sending me progress reports and pictures as he went. I couldn’t have asked for a better work college and friend.

Over the last year finances have been tight but we muddled through, I have always known health and family are far more important that money. Yes you do get basic assistance from the government if you fight for it, perhaps more on that another time.

Please if your self employed look after your health naturally, don’t be afraid to ask for help, you might be pleasantly surprised who will jump to your aid. You can of course insure yourself for these events, which is everyone’s personal choice, many don’t as they think it will never happen.

The biggest thing for me is the amount of kindness shown, in person and via all forms of social media, not just from friends and family but from the wider painting and decorating community. In total I had about 9 months away from the brushes, two operations, various tests, was house bound, relied on family taking me to see jobs at first until gradually I could drive myself and do the estimating side. The important thing is I got though it, and should you be unfortunate enough to have similar circumstances you will too. Oh final thought, remember to say “good morning Mr Magpie” just in case….






  1. Barry Blackwood  June 23, 2017

    Hi Sean, it has been good to read your blog today, and catch up on what has obviously been a difficult year for you and your family. My thoughts are with you and Michelle and your family, and hope to catch up with you soon. I don’t get down West much these days, due to changing jobs, but when I do I will give you a call and hopefully catch up like old times. Take it easy and look after your health and family.

    • Sean  July 23, 2017

      Hi Barry, Thank you I’m glad you liked it, hopefully it may inspire. Anytime your our way please do give me a ring, catch up over a coffee anytime

  2. Mark McCarthy  June 24, 2017

    Brilliant Sean and very sound advice. Glad you’re now back fighting fit and back on the brush !

    • Sean  July 23, 2017

      Thank you Mark, yes I have returned, happy, healthy and brush wielding once again


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