A DAD-of-six with a giant bump caused by a mass of hernias says he looks pregnant – and even experiences “contractions”.
Mark Webb lost seven stone in less than 12 months as the tears in his stomach have left him unable to eat without vomiting.
Julia Sidwell A dad-of-six with a mass of hernias in his stomach says he’s been left looking pregnant
Julia Sidwell Mark Webb, from Bodmin, Cornwall, has had problems with hernias for the last 10 years
The 39-year-old, from Bodmin, Cornwall, says he’s been fighting for life while waiting for surgery to repair the hernias.
He told The Sun Online: “People call me pregnant and it’s clear to see why – I look like I’m carrying a baby under my top.
“It’s actually five protruding hernias in my stomach creating a large mass, which my wife Maria and I refer to as my bump.
“I know it sounds funny and I know people don’t actually mean any harm when they say I look pregnant, but living this way is absolute hell.
“I have been waiting for a hernia operation for almost two years and despite my health problem not being seen as an emergency, the longer I wait the more my health is deteriorating.
“I have come very close to dying on more than one occasion and I can’t bear the thought of leaving my family.”
Mark’s wife Maria Webb, 37, finds it heartbreaking to watch her husband go through such an ordeal.
She said: “Mark is literally disappearing in front of my eyes.
“He has lost seven stone in less than 12 months due to not be able to eat without vomiting – and he’s 6ft 3in so he looks very drawn for his size.
“He has been in hospital three times in the last three weeks because of all of this and because the doctors were so concerned for his health, but he has still not been given the operation he so badly needs.
“If he doesn’t have it soon the kids will end up being left without a dad.”
If he doesn’t have it soon the kids will end up being left without a dadMaria Webbmark’s wife
Maria added: “It wasn’t long ago that after Mark had been discharged from hospital, I found him half-dead slouched on the sofa.
“He had been throwing up all night and was struggling to breathe. When I called the ambulance, the paramedics couldn’t believe he had been allowed home in that state.
“If I hadn’t have called for help that morning, he’d be dead.’
Mark, who has been suffering with hernias for more than ten years, has had numerous operations to repair them in the past and also had to have a testicle removed due to an error during one operation.Covering his bump
The dad has been passed from doctor to doctor and was told by one to lose weight – but nothing close to the seven stone he has lost without even trying.
Maria said: “It really affects Mark because people are always staring at him.
“He regularly gets strange looks and negative comments too, which is upsetting – mainly about him being pregnant and asking when’s it due.
“He wore his coat most of last summer to cover his bump, even though it was boiling hot. It’s not right.
Julia Sidwell Mark poses next to a pregnant friend to show the similarities in their profiles
Julia Sidwell Mark smiles through the pain as he poses for a picture with two of his children
Julia Sidwell Mark shows the giant mass of hernias that have caused him agony
What is a hernia?
A hernia occurs when an internal part of the body pushes through a weakness in the muscle or surrounding tissue wall.
It usually develops between your chest and hips.
In many cases, it causes no or very few symptoms, although you may notice a swelling or lump in your tummy (abdomen) or groin.
The lump can often be pushed back in or disappears when you lie down.
Coughing or straining may make the lump appear.
There are several different types of hernias; inguinal; femoral; umbilical; hiatus; and other less common types.
See your GP if you think you have a hernia. They may refer you to hospital for surgical treatment, if necessary.
You should go the accident and emergency (A&E) department of your nearest hospital immediately if you have a hernia and you develop any of the following symptoms:
sudden, severe pain
difficulty passing stools (constipation) or wind
the hernia becomes firm or tender, or can’t be pushed back in
These symptoms could mean the hernia has started to cut off blood supply to an organ or surrounding tissue, or a piece of the bowel has entered the hernia.
“I have to buy him the baggiest jumpers I can find and even those don’t go over his bump properly.
“It also affects our children. Mark can’t physically pick up the youngest or be active with any of them.
“Mark used to love swimming with the kids, but he had to stop last year.
“There’s no way he can physically swim anymore and even if he could, he would be too embarrassed for people to see his hernias at the pool.
“He gets unwell and weak just walking across the living room and the hernias cause him a pain very similar to contractions in labour.
“He can be walking down the street and have to stop while his hernias cramp up.”
The couple’s children, aged 16, 15, 12, 10, five and two, worry about their father’s health.
Maria said: “Our youngest child wakes up in the night panicking about his daddy and he is always asking where he is and if he’s okay.
“It makes me sad that all of our kids have to see their dad as a frail 90-year-old man.
“They see him fighting for his life, see him being rushed to hospital and see the ambulances that come and go.
“They don’t know if each day will be the last they will see him. Mark turns 40 this month but there is no way we can celebrate when he’s so unwell.”
Julia Sidwell Mark with his newborn daughter before he got sick
Julia Sidwell Mark with wife Marie and two of their children
Julia Sidwell Mark, his protruding stomach visible through his t-shirt, with his wife Marie
Mark, who has to take strong painkillers including morphine every day, has been ruled unfit to work.
He said: “All I want is for this to be dealt with so I can get on with my life and work again, so I can give my wife and children what they deserve – they are feeling this just as much as myself.”
Back in January 2017, Mark had to have a hernia repaired in his stomach but unfortunately by May it had returned.
He was referred back to a consultant and eventually seen in October, only to be told it was too complicated and he would have to be referred to someone else.
In April 2018, Mark saw another doctor who told him the surgery for his hernia would be extremely dangerous.
Mark said: “That’s when I was advised to lose 10kg and was told the doctor would see me again in 10 weeks.
“During this time two more hernias appeared and my stomach became very large.”
Julia Sidwell Mark in the kitchen with his wife Marie and their daughter
Julia Sidwell Mark taking a selfie in hospital – he has been in and out for the last few weeks
Julia Sidwell Mark sitting down shows the painful hernias poking through his stomach
In January this year, Mark still hadn’t heard anything, so he contacted his doctor’s secretary only to be told his doctor hadn’t been working for months and it was uncertain when he would be returning, if at all.
“I was then forgotten to be referred to someone,” said Mark.
“In the meantime I lost seven stone in less than 12 months because I struggle to eat and can’t keep food down when I do.”
Mark has previously worn a hernia belt to try and hold the hernias in, but it now falls off him because of his significant weight loss.
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Last week, he received a letter with an appointment to see another consultant next month, to discuss the best course of action with regards to an operation.
Mark said: “I just really want all this to be dealt with so I can get on with my life and so we can be a normal family again.
“I want to feel like myself again instead of feeling abnormal.
“This has gone on for far too long.”
Julia Sidwell Mark holding a pint before he got sick with hernias
What is a Hernia? NHS animation explains how a hernia occurs and the procedures used to treat it
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