Embracing life-changing medical advancements
Our Swimming All-Stars come from all over the country – they’re your neighbour, your friend, your child.
But to us at Places Leisure, these swimmers are not just All-Stars – they’re heroes and heroines, going above and beyond – showing an inner strength that can only be described as extraordinary. Kim Purkis is not only one of our All-Stars, she’s one of our heroines.
We share her story about overcoming incredible challenges and adversity and embracing the latest medical advancements to get back in the water and get her mojo back.
Before 2015, I was competing both nationally and internationally as a highboard diver and was a keen swimmer, who swam for both Romsey and Totton Swimming Clubs.
Then, in 2015, I was diagnosed with intestinal failure and gastroparesis, which ultimately means I cannot eat food. As a result, I am now fed via a tube which goes directly into my heart. The tube is called a Hickman line, and the nutrition I receive via the line is called Total Parenteral Nutrition (TPN).
When you have a Hickman line, you lose the freedom to do a lot. You’re also unable to partake in several sports due to the risk of the line migrating or becoming infected. The line itself can’t get wet, as there’s a bigger risk of infection so you’re told swimming is a big ‘No’. As a result, I wasn’t able to swim or dive.
We discovered the Cath Dry TM dressings last year while searching online. They’re designed by a consultant in America and are now NHS-approved. They’re the first dressing which changes colour when it comes into contact with water, making it easy to see if the line is getting wet and giving you ample time to get out and dry before the Hickman line is compromised.
We had a box of dressings for months and months before giving them a go. I was nervous about whether or not they’d work, so didn’t rush to try them. Then, we went to Cyprus in the October half term of 2021, and I just decided to give them a go one day at the beach. We spent hours in the sea that day, and I didn’t have a single leak. It was fab! The feeling of being back in the water again was unimaginably awesome. Since then, I haven’t stopped swimming! I’ve been back in the dive pool and even went to a water park last month in Florida.
Being able to swim again has impacted my life in such a positive way that it’s hard to explain. I guess it’s incomprehensible unless you’ve experienced being told you’ll never be able to swim again. Just being able to swim with family and friends again has been life-changing. After my diagnosis, I would just sit at the poolside and watch, but now, I’m in the water with everyone and loving every minute!
I’m also the Founder of a registered Charity called ‘Face Everything and Rise’, which has enabled me to spread the word about Cath Dry TM dressings to families and individuals across the world. It’s been such a buzz seeing more and more people swimming. Hearing all of their stories, and reading their messages is truly heart-warming.
Several children are now learning to swim and can go swimming this summer while on holiday. The dressings have also enabled a lady to swim in the Hebrides for the first time in 10 years, as she has a central line for chemo and hasn’t even been able to have a deep bath. People have central lines for various medical reasons, but the one thing they all miss out on is swimming. Cath Dry TM dressings are changing that.
Wave 105, Cash for Kids has recently donated to our charity to enable us to organise monthly swimming sessions for children with feeding tubes and central lines. This will be of enormous help, especially as our main mission is to get more children (with feeding tubes and central lines) swimming.