No more eating ever again as Sunderland man goes 'nil by mouth' for life

Retired journalist Peter Freeman is facing up to a life without food.
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Eating out with friends or trying new food at home used to be his favourite pastimes - but now Peter, 85, is facing a future without ever eating another meal after undergoing life-saving surgery.

Peter was in Sunderland Royal Hospital, recovering from double pneumonia, when doctors presented him with a stark choice – keep eating, and run the risk of dying, or opt for the operation that woiuld allow him to be fed directly into his stomach.

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Tests showed Peter’s respiratory problems were being caused by aspiration – contamination of the lungs as a result of food going down the wrong hole. Continue eating and he ran the risk of the same thing happening again.

The new slimline Peter Freeman and Peter is fed by wife CarolThe new slimline Peter Freeman and Peter is fed by wife Carol
The new slimline Peter Freeman and Peter is fed by wife Carol

"My recovery had been a close-run thing and the future depended on the topsy-turvy choice of continuing the risk of aspiration — which would probably prove fatal — or bypassing my throat altogether,” he said.

Peter opted for the surgery, with his appreciation of food no longer being what it once was after a long illness: “Ten years of Parkinson’s Disease had not only reduced my mobility but also wiped out my sense of smell altogether and my tastebuds had been whittled down to sweet and sour,” he said.

"My appetite had diminished and I had no desire to drink. So it was easy for my wife Carol and I to choose which path to follow.

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"There would be sacrifices of course: Colman’s fish and chips; the daily specials at San Marino; cherry pie and custard at Hilltop tearooms overlooking the sea, the river view from Volare, to name but a few.”

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A straightforward operation saw a tube inserted into Peter’s stomach and he went ‘nil by mouth’ for ever.Now his food - concentrated protein and multi-fibre in liquid form - as well as his Parkinson’s medication are fed directly into his stomach through a tube.After seven weeks in hospital, he was moved to Holy Cross Care Home in Ettrick Grove to start his rehabilitation.He says he does not feel hungry or thirsty but does get an unpleasantly dry mouth.“The biggest gain is a loss,” he joked.

"I’ve shed more than four stone to be at my lightest since my early twenties.”

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