CollegeUniversity of Bath
About Tom Pettingale
I’m doing Bike the UK for MS this year for two reasons. The personal challenge, and the opportunity to raise funds for some of the most inspiring people I have ever met.
To really explain this I’m going to take you through my story:
I was first diagnosed with Crohn’s at the age of ten. Crohn's is an immune system related disease, what causes it is not fully understood. What is known, however, is that it can have a pretty profound impact on someone's life. Crohn's is primarily known for causing inflammation of the intestines which can lead to a lot of different health complications. It also causes problems with the joints, skin and eyes.
Through my teenage years I was ill on a consistent basis, there was the odd good spell but I missed much of my schooling and had to spend a lot of time house-bound. To mitigate some effects of the disease my doctor suggested that I should try using something called Modulen. It's a product made by Nestle, it comes in powder form, and when mixed with water it forms a complete liquid diet. Essentially, your whole diet is restricted to water and the Modulen powder whilst on this form of treatment (usually 6-8 weeks before food is very slowly reintroduced). It helped me enormously. And during my school years I continued to switch to Modulen whenever my Crohn's disease flared up badly.
In my first year at University I was once again very ill. Determined not to abandon my degree course, I asked my new consultant if I could try living on Modulen for a few weeks, as it had helped in the past and I just wanted to try whatever I could to get away from the symptoms I was experiencing. That was four years ago. I've been on the liquid diet (just the powder and water) ever since.
There is quite an irony to my extremely restricted diet. Whilst a diet where someone only ate one food would make them an extremely fussy eater, I’ve been able to take it a step further....
Context: Modulen comes in five flavours: Lemon and Lime, Strawberry, Banana, Chocolate, and Coffee. I can’t have the Lemon and Lime flavour because it has citric acid in, citric acid gives me migraines. Banana, Chocolate and Coffee are all linked with being triggers of migraines. I couldn’t have them when I could eat food and despite the flavourings containing no actual Banana, Chocolate or Coffee the association of the flavour with the side effect is enough to make me not want to have them. I only, therefore, have the Strawberry variety. My admittedly dodgy logic tells me that I only ‘eat’ 0.2 different foods – taking fussy eating to a whole new level, right?
Being on the Modulen for the past 4 years, whilst it is an extremely mentally challenging thing to do, has allowed me to experience some of my best health in a long, long time. It hasn't all been plain sailing though. You can do everything in your power to control the disease but it still has a mind unto itself. I’ve had some severe internal bleeding over the past few years and have been extremely fortunate to be surrounded by some unbelievable medical staff who have managed to patch me up and keep me going, or so-to-speak.
Eventually, because of a lot of accumulated scarring (caused by Crohn’s activity of the prior decade and a bit) and the bleeding issues, I had major surgery in December 2013. I’m told by those who performed it that they have not heard of a similar operation on the same scale (at this point I’d like to dubiously claim to be a world record holder, if someone can get me in Guinness World Records then please be my guest!) - the surgeons operated on 19 different parts of my intestines over the course of a day. Estimated recovery time: 1 to 2 years.
Before the bleeding and related surgery I wanted to get into the multisport event of triathlon. Indeed, on the day my most severe internal bleeding started I had just gone swimming. I lay in hospital after being operated on, thinking I might not ever get the opportunity to pursue that goal. I thought it was inevitable that someone like me couldn’t do something like that.
Anyway, after about 7 pretty trying months I started to do some exercise again, and after slowly building up the training and having had a period of reasonable health (touchwood!!!) am now less than 18 months removed from surgery and training approximately 15 hours per week. All this training has lead to me packing my schedule this summer with endurance races, the impact that this will have on my body is somewhat concerning but I’m excited to have an opportunity like this for the first time in my life. After all it’s one I did not think I’d get.
Bike the UK for MS, whilst not a race poses the hardest challenge for me over the course of this summer. With the ride taking place over the course of two weeks, and with 1,000 miles to cover I’m pretty unsure of how my body will be able to handle it and how I’m going to cope with the demands of taking Modulen on the road with me! It’s a challenge which excites me enormously, and one that I’m glad to have been able to choose myself, unlike so many before that the Crohn’s has selected on my behalf.
As the name of the ride suggests, I’m doing the ride not only to fulfil the personal challenge but also to raise funds for the MS Society in the Bath and Bristol area. Myself and some of the others undertaking the trip have met with many of the members of the society in the area. They are some of the most wonderfully inspirational people, and are exceptionally deserving of any support you can help me to provide them. Having heard directly from them what the funds raised do for enhancing their lives and the lives of those they love, I can wholeheartedly guarantee that any support you’re willing to offer will make a tremendous difference.
Tom Pettingale's Fundraising
|Debbie Boother Cash Collections||£225.00|
|Colin Skeen Smith||£25.00|
|Eric and Jean||£10.00|
|Freya de Chastelain||£5.00|