Drefach dad struck down with illness takes on three charity challenges
AN active Gwendraeth Valley dad struck down with a serious illness recovered to take on three charity challenges in aid of the hospital who got him back on his feet.
For 48 years, Iwan Evans had been blessed with good health, keeping himself fit and healthy visiting a Cross Hands gym regularly.
He started to enter events like the Llanelli Sprint Triathlon as a personal challenge and as motivation to keep fit, and was hoping to take on the Amman Valley Triathlon last April.
But just days before it, he was taken ill with severe abdominal cramps and bloating.
"It took a couple of days to diagnose but it turned out to be a rare condition called a twisted bowel (Cecal Volvulus)," Mr Evans said.
"The consultant said they see this condition about once every five years. If left untreated it can result in a colostomy or can be fatal if the blood supply to the intestine is cut off.
"I needed surgery to remove a section of my large bowel.
"When your health is suddenly out of your control, you immediately start to think the worst.
"I lost my mum at my exact age now to breast cancer and whilst trying to remain positive, it goes through your mind that you don't want your children to go through losing a parent at young age.
"It was a worrying time for my wife, Jo and two children Morgan and Megan.
"Fortunately with excellent treatment and care from the staff at Glangwili Hospital I have made a full recovery."
Before his illness, the dad-of-two had already registered for the Tough Mudder event, the Men's Health Survival of the Fittest challenge and the Cardiff Half Marathon.
And with the first event only five months after his operation, it didn't give the Drefach resident much time to regain previous fitness levels.
But despite being off work for two months, being unable to drive and only being able to do light exercise, he pushed on, and thought up a unique way to talk about his experiences openly.
"I wanted to use these events to fund raise and to give something back to the NHS," he said.
"I called myself Semi-Colon Man after having part of my large intestine removed as it made it easier to talk to people about what I had been through."
But participating in three events over three consecutive weekends was more challenging than he thought.
"After each event my legs needed a few days to recover, so there was no opportunity to do any more training in between events. All I could do was rest," he said.
"The first two events were obstacle events and whilst quite challenging were fun to do.
"The Tough Mudder event required you to jump into a skip full of ice cubes and run through a gazebo with dangling electrically charged wires. A couple of my friends were thrown to the ground when they got an electric shock.
"The half-marathon took the most out of me, probably because of the cumulative effect of the other events but also because I had never run that distance before. My legs cramped up after about nine miles but I managed to keep going to finish in a time of two hours 21 minutes. It will be nice to put my feet up over the next few weekends, but I'm already thinking about what events I can do next year.
"I'd like to thank my family and friends for the support they gave me whilst I was recovering and also the staff at Glangwili Hospital in particular the Surgcal Assessment Unit and Cleddau Ward where I received excellent treatment and care. Thanks to everyone who has supported me in raising nearly £700."
It is not too late to sponsor Mr Evans, visit www.justgiving.com/iwan-evans2