Hi, my story about pancreatitis is long, but I will try to be as brief as I can be, a hard task for a storyteller like me!
With a long history of IBS (irritable bowel symptoms) and a more recent diagnosis of food intolerances, I was used to experiencing digestive problems. However, one day, about a year or so ago, I experienced a severe pain in my stomach and back, that was frightening and very painful. My friend Denise was with me, and she thought I was having a heart attack, as I did have palpitations and my heart was racing. She was very worried about me. I was scared too. Big mistake number one was not going to the hospital at that point. I wrongly thought I was having a food allergy attack, which is different and more extreme than food intolerance ones. It lasted for hours and I went to bed in pain. I was to go on to have a further six or seven big attacks over the next year. One episode involved me vomiting. The attacks were severe and I was in a really bad state. My pain level was eight or nine out of ten. I took antihistamine tablets and they helped, which further confirmed in my mind that it was a food allergy. Eventually, I went to the doctor, explained my symptoms and everything that had happened. She also thought it could be food allergy, so referred me to the Allergy clinic.
How wrong I was! The next evening, 31st October 2017, the dreaded, familiar feeling started in my stomach and lower back and I knew it was happening again, the third time in three days. But this time, it was like all the episodes put together all in one go, and I was vomited several times, with my pain level nine or ten. I knew it was serious, and although in the past I was determined not to go to the hospital (for several reasons), the ambulance was called. As I waited for the ambulance, I have never felt so desperate in all of my life. The paramedic said all my vital signs were fine and it wasn’t an allergic reaction. At that point I didn’t care, I just wanted someone to help me.
A blood test in hospital showed what the real issue was. The doctor came into the cubicle and said, “There’s a problem with your pancreas.” I was shocked to say the least. I knew barely anything about this vital organ, which helps our digestion and regulates blood sugar. The doctor told me, “It looks like you have acute pancreatitis,” I had no idea what it was. I was soon to find out! Acute pancreatitis is a serious condition, where the pancreas is inflamed. It is mostly caused by gallstones or alcohol consumption. More on that later.
In a nutshell, I had four ward changes during my eleven day stay (I could write a book/story about that alone), had every scan available, (x-ray, CT, MRI,) and ERCP procedure (Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography), had infections, high temperature, high blood pressure, jaundice and a set back where I was really ill with severe vomiting and had to go back to the original treatment of fluids through a tube for several days, with no foods. I was told by the doctors I was seriously ill, that I had gall stones in my gall bladder and I would need my gall bladder removed when I was strong enough to have it. The condition can be fatal and apparently, 10-20% people in my state don’t make it. I’m thankful that my general health was relatively good before I went into hospital.
The experience was very traumatic and the truth is, I thought I was going to die. One time, I had flashbacks of years of memories throughout my life, times when my three girls were little, happy moments. I’m so glad I’m here to tell the tale! It was mentally hard, as well as physically because I was separate from my family, especially Emily. It was hard not being able to look after her as I do normally, and I felt guilty that I wasn’t there at home to look after her. She was in good hands with Chris my husband, but I knew that the stress and worry about me could potentially make her health conditions, epilepsy and NEAD worse. That was really hard for me.
I came home very weak, a stone lighter, (not my preferred form of losing weight), with a different perspective about life. The experience had a life changing effect on me, and remains to this day. Ten days after my hospital stay, I had my gall bladder out, thankfully this time, with no complications. I’m still recovering.
So why do I share my story? To gain sympathy? No, I share in the hope that it will raise awareness about pancreatitis and about looking after our bodies and our health, as well as asking people to never self-diagnose what they think is wrong with them. With the internet and google, it’s so easy to think we know what is wrong with us. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I’ve been through, in the sense of it lasting so long. If I had gone to hospital sooner when the first attacks started, I could have prevented more damage to my gall bladder and pancreas.
Or maybe I’m the only daft person who does everything else rather than go to the doctors or hospital? Maybe, but I don’t think so.
So how am I doing now? Part 2 is coming soon for an update.
Thanks for reading. Look after your body, it’s the only one you’ve got 🙂
If you enjoyed reading this or any of our other posts, don’t forget to like and subscribe to the blog to receive them every week straight to your inbox. There are also some buttons below if you want to share with your family and friends. 🙂 Thank you so much for taking the time to read! We love and appreciate all of our followers so much!
All our love, Em & Lou x