Northamptonshire man survives three times to see his own memorial garden

Desborough open garden: Stella and Stan Freeman, in their garden.'28/06/12
Desborough open garden: Stella and Stan Freeman, in their garden.'28/06/12

A man who almost died three times is looking forward to welcoming people to his garden.

Stan Freeman, 81, who almost died of after a gut operation went wrong and then suffered two life-threatening bouts of pneumonia, will open his garden in Breakleys Road, Desborough, with wife Stella on Sunday.

Mrs Freeman, 68, said: “It will prove that however much you go through, if you set your mind to it anything is doable.”

Parkinson’s Disease sufferer Stan was taken ill after his bowel buckled while on a cruise to Corfu last September. He spent much of the holiday in his cabin or hotel room.

Mr Freeman said: “It was pretty rough.”

Doctors at Kettering General Hospital removed part of his bowel four days after they returned but within days he started experiencing breathing difficulties.

Waste gas was escaping from the part of his intestines operated on into his chest cavity, pushing up on his lungs.

Doctors needed to operate but Mr Freeman, who also suffers from type two diabetes, takes medication to thin his blood and he could not go under the knife until the medicine left his system or he faced bleeding to death.

Mrs Freeman said: “They were trying to keep him alive long enough for the blood thinning agents to get out of his body.

”It was horrendous.

“We were told the operation was the only way to cure it but the chances of survival were thin.”

Mr Freeman almost died a second time after a lung infection he contracted while recovering in hospital caused one of his lungs to collapse. It had to be re-inflated by pumping oxygen in with a machine.

After spending so much time in hospital with tubes down his throat Mr Freeman lost the ability to swallow.

Doctors tried to encourage him to re-learn the action by feeding him solid food, but some got into his lungs causing a second infection that almost killed him again.

After five months in hospital the couple’s plan to show their garden as part of a Desborough group of open gardens organised by the town’s heritage centre and wildlife trust in June looked impossible.

Mrs Freeman said: “I made up my mind then that whatever happened I would still open the garden.

“If Stan survived it would be good for him to meet and greet, if not I would do it alone as a memorial.”

When Mr Freeman returned home in early March he was unable to walk, his Parkinsons disease had got out of control and he was unable to swallow safely, so Mrs Freeman was trained to administer his drugs and nutrition through a naso-gastric tube.

But three months later he could walk with a zimmer frame, put on weight, could eat a little of his favourite food and on June 10 sat in the garden to meet and greet visitors once again as part of the Desborough group.

And on July 8 he plans to do it all again, when the National Gardens Scheme yellow signs announce to visitors that the Freemans garden ‘Hostellarie’ is again open.

As well as the many charities supported by the NGS with the garden entrance fee, the home made teas will benefit local branches of Parkinsons UK and Coeliac UK so there will be a selection of gluten free cakes on the tea table.

The garden at 78 Breakleys Road will be from 1.30pm to 5.30pm.

Admission costs £2.50 but is free for accompanied children.