Irene Cryer (Jill) is recovering in hospital after her rare illness.
Irene Cryer (Jill) is recovering in hospital after her rare illness. Warren Lynam

'I should have been dead': Aus Zoo worker's grim illness

AN AUSTRALIA Zoo worker has revealed the grisly details behind a stomach-turning medical ordeal that saw her lose 20kg, have her organs removed from her body in a gruesome surgery and her heart stopped.

Irene (Jill) Cryer, 51 started noticing symptoms of the extremely rare condition chronic ischemic colitis one year ago.

Doctors couldn't diagnose the cause of Jill's constant nausea, cramping and pain, which up until late January she was able live with.

But when the Mooloolaba mother began to vomit after a single drink of water or bite of food, she realised she would have to leave the job she loved.

Without a steady income, Jill and her daughter Abby, 18 were unable to pay their bills. The pair received an eviction notice a week before Jill was rushed to the emergency department in early March.

"It was then that I was finally given the diagnosis," Jill said.

"It was such a rare condition that only 1 per cent of the population have it.

"Basically, all of my arteries to my organs were blocked and only a tiny amount of blood was being pumped to my heart."

Six months ago, Jill weighed a healthy 60kg. She weighs under 45kg now.

 

TERRIBLE PAIN: Irene (Jill) Cryer in ICU after major surgery.
TERRIBLE PAIN: Irene (Jill) Cryer in ICU after major surgery.

The condition meant Jill had to have her abdomen cut open, her arteries removed and cleaned and her heart stopped.

She awoke from surgery in the intensive care unit at the Sunshine Coast University Hospital. Jill suffered an 'indescribable' pain for the next six days.

"I should have been dead," Jill said.

 

TERRIBLE PAIN: Irene (Jill) Cryer in ICU after major surgery.
TERRIBLE PAIN: Irene (Jill) Cryer in ICU after major surgery.

"I would never wish that on anyone, what I went through in those days at ICU; it was absolutely horrific."

Jill said she was given medication to help with the pain but it 'froze up' parts of her body and she was unable to move.

"Losing bowels, the embarrassment of not being able to control myself..." she said.

"...I wouldn't wish that on anyone.

 

Irene Cryer (Jill) is recovering in hospital after her rare illness. Pictured with her daughter Amy
Irene Cryer (Jill) is recovering in hospital after her rare illness. Pictured with her daughter Amy Warren Lynam

"I also had to be moved every 20 minutes so I didn't get bedsores.

"I would scream because they had to pick me up, roll me on my side and then flip me over, there was no other way around it but it hurt so much.

"But oh my god, the nurses and hospital staff were just amazing, I couldn't speak highly enough of them...the things they have to do."

Jill is now recovering in hospital.

It could be anywhere between six months to a year before she can work again.

Her daughter Amy, 29 created a Go Fund Me page to help with ongoing costs.

"I love working at the Zoo, I work in the Croc Lair serving at the shop," she said.

"I was told they would keep my job for me there and I am very grateful."

Jill said she burst into tears when she saw Bindi Irwin had donated $200 to the cause.

"I am very grateful for all the support I have received. And I can't thank my family enough for being by my side."



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