They first began when I was around 29 years old, with really bad snoring. I thought nothing of it at the time, though my girlfriend thought it was terrible. Then gradually, over 15 years or so, symptoms began to build up. My hands began to get bigger, then slowly my jaw began to grow, so the lower teeth were coming outside the upper teeth – I noticed that because I’d had a lovely bite, so I thought that was weird. Then I began to get very tired and very sensitive to temperature, but I still did nothing about it.
I was an artist, but my inspiration seemed to have disappeared (this is apparently common with acromegaly), so in 2009 I began to retrain as a staff nurse – a complete change of career.
In my second year of training as a nurse, I was working one day in the emergency room, when across the room, I was spotted by Dr Mike Flynn, an endocrinologist. “Come here,” he said, and after he took me aside and examined me, he said: “You’ve got acromegaly – go look it up.” The very next day I had blood tests and I was up at King’s College Hospital within a week.
Dr Flynn was a colleague of Mr Bullock’s, and he referred me.
After blood tests established that I had acromegaly, I had MRI scans and we very quickly established when the operation would be. I went through about seven months of injections to reduce the production of IGF hormone, which is overproduced when you have acromegaly, and as soon as I had the first jab, the tiredness immediately went, my energy came back and my artistic inspiration returned. Being a student nurse is tough, and I had all that to contend with, but I was fine.
Because I’m a nurse, I watched a video of the operation before undergoing it. I’m not sure if that’s a good idea if you haven’t got a clinical background, though! I came round from the actual op with my mum feeding me and I was soon back home.
I’m fine and I have been cured of the acromegaly. I’ve continued my studies and I’m now a qualified staff nurse.
I only have the highest praise for him. He’s an extraordinary guy – outstanding, frankly. Obviously, there’s his clinical ability but his understanding and humanity – well, I don’t think that should be underestimated, because a kind word goes a really long way, and he’s really got that. He’s very human – I just adore him.