“I’d never heard of chronic kidney disease before my husband was diagnosed”
When Dave Power had a stroke at the age of 41 following an ileostomy procedure, his wife Linda didn’t know if he was going to live or die. But despite being left disabled and battling other debilitating health conditions including latterly, chronic kidney disease, David lived a happy and fulfilling life until he passed away last November at the age of 81. Linda and family have now set up a tribute page in his memory, to raise money for Kidney Research UK.
Remembered for his smile
David was a heating engineer before he had to give up work after his stroke. Reminiscing about her husband of 56 years, Linda says “He was always smiling and a very happy man. Everyone at his wake said the same thing, which was ‘we always remember Dave for his smile’”.
Talking about how his health problems began, 78-year-old Linda explains, “David was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in 1970 and by 1982, he was advised to have a temporary ileostomy procedure (a surgical opening through the belly, allowing the small intestine to be connected to a stoma bag). From the onset of that surgery, things went wrong and after various operations he had a massive stroke. We had four days of not knowing whether he was going to live or die.”
Despite all odds, David pulled through but Linda says, “the prognosis wasn’t particularly good”. She says, “He couldn’t use his left side, he couldn’t see out of his left eye, he couldn’t hear and he’d lost the power of speech. But over the years things did improve. Then in 1983 they had to make the ileostomy permanent.”
David’s shock diagnosis
Years later, after some routine blood tests in 2015, Dave was then told he had chronic kidney disease (CKD) and Linda admits they had no idea what it was. She says, “We got a letter one year after the initial tests saying he needed more blood tests as he had CKD. I said, ‘What on earth is CKD? And how long has he had it?’ The doctor told us he’d had it for quite a while but no one had ever mentioned it. Then at the end of 2021 we were told his kidneys were deteriorating and his function was down to 50%. But they still didn’t do anything about it.”
By mid 2022, the couple, who lived in Clacton on Sea, were told that David was being referred to a renal specialist. Linda says, “He eventually saw the specialist in November and he confirmed the kidneys had deteriorated and said he wanted to do a scan. While we were waiting for the scan appointment to come through we went off to Norfolk for a short break. Two days later Dave said his ileostomy didn’t seem to be working and he was being violently sick. I took him to James Paget Hospital in Great Yarmouth and the doctors were brilliant. They took him for a scan and tried to put a tube up his noise and down into his stomach to drain the fluid off but they couldn’t get the tube in as his nose appeared to be blocked. The doctor said “Your husband is a very sick man” and told me he wouldn’t survive an operation as his kidneys were down to about 30% function by this point.”
Laughing until the end
David passed away just days later, but Linda is thankful they got to share a few laughs together beforehand. “When the hospital told us Dave wasn’t going to last, our daughters Wendy and Tracy came to be with him.”
An avid Arsenal fan, one of the things David wanted to talk about in his final moments was his beloved team. Linda says, “He managed to rally for a while and held our hands and chatted about football and laughed. Wendy face timed our 12-year-old granddaughter Ava, who Dave completely adored, and he got to have a little laugh with her before he went. The girls and I were with him when he passed away which was nice.”
Determined to raise awareness
Since David’s death, Linda has reflected on an article she read making a connection between ileostomys and CKD. “When David died I said to my daughters that it seemed like a good idea to donate money to Kidney Research UK. We want to make people more aware as I don’t think enough is said about it.”
While Linda misses David desperately, she also feels grateful for the wonderful life they carved out together. They loved nothing more than a visit to the Clacton sea front for a coffee, enjoyed playing carpet bowls and both had a keen interest in astronomy. She says, “We were best friends. He was such a lovely man. He looked after me as much as I looked after him and he was such a brilliant dad. He absolutely adored our girls. They couldn’t has asked for anything better. When Wendy had our granddaughter Ava in 2011 she became the apple of his eye. She couldn’t do anything wrong!”
And despite David not having a great quality of life towards the end, Linda says humour got them through. “We just laughed and laughed and laughed. There was so much love between us. When he died Wendy said, ‘Mum I know it’s been traumatic but we had 40 years more with him than we expected to have.’ And I know she’s right.”
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