Editor's Note: We received the following by email from Jimmy Durrett, who was the first patient of Norma Gill-Thompson -- the founder of Enterostomal Therapy who died in October last year. Mr. Durrett, who is a double ostomate, was moved to write after finding our article Lavenia's Two Ostomies, which appeared in our March 1997 issue and is still on our Website.
I was born at Magruder Hospital in Port Clinton, Ohio on August 1, 1953 with multiple abdominal birth defects. The doctors said I would only live a few days at most, so they pushed me off to the side and waited for the inevitable. I was the first person born on record with the multiple defects that I had. The doctors didn't know what to do. I was born with my bladder outside where my pelvis should be. The bladder seeped urine constantly because of the holes in it. Most of my urine routed through my rectum with my bowel movements. I had a large opening from my rectum to my navel. My left kidney was not working properly. My hips were offset. My legs were pointed outward instead of straight.
A few days after my birth I was still alive, so they had me transfered to a hospital in Toledo, Ohio. There they were able to keep me alive. They put me in braces to try and draw my legs the best they could. Finally, early in 1958 I stood up for the first time. Before that I was always lying flat on my back so the back of my head grew flat. In 1958 my left kidney stopped working, but with all the other problems I had, they were afraid to do any more for me, so they transferred my case to the Cleveland Clinic. There in 1958, Dr. Higgins removed my left kidney and my bladder. He rerouted my urine from my rectum to a ureterostomy and closed the opening in my stomach. I was four and a half.
Over the next fifteen years I had a lot of plastic surgery to rebuild my pelvis. Because of the location of my bladder, my penis was split down the middle. They were able to pull it back together over time. I have had 71 surgeries over my lifetime. I always had a real hard time controlling my bowels. If I were out somewhere and had to go, I couldn't hold it. This caused a lot of problems at home because my mother thought I could help from going in my pants and I would be punished. I knew I couldn't help it, but couldn't get anyone to listen to me.
In 1974, I was in the Cleveland Clinic for some routine surgery when Mrs. Norma Gill (I was her first patient) came in to give me an enema for surgery. She saw that I could not hold the water in and that it was very painful. During the surgery they decided to check my rectum. They discovered that I was born without a sphincter muscle. Dr. Rupert Turnbull gave me a colostomy. Since then I have had both revised. I wear a pouch on both. I empty the ileal conduit about every four hours depending on what I am drinking. The colostomy is emptied often. Every thing I eat goes through very quickly.