This story is part of Guts UK's Pancreatitis Awareness Campaign.
Written by Jo Lisgo, Gordon Lisgo’s daughter.
Monday 24th June: My Mam rang 999 for the first time in her life. My dad got up around 11pm to visit the toilet and found himself in excruciating pain and vomiting. The first response doctor arrived and stayed with them until the ambulance arrived 2 hours later. The whole time my dad was rolling around – grey with pain. This is unfortunately a feeling I am well familiar with after suffering from gall stone attacks back in 2013. First thoughts were that his bowel was twisted but everything was unsure and the main thing was to get him to hospital. After arriving at the local hospital and receiving morphine for the pain, he was moved onto a ward.
Tuesday 25th June: I visited him Tuesday afternoon when he and the hospital were still unsure of his diagnosis. He said he was struggling with toilet visits and still in pain. Before leaving I soaked cloths in cold water to try and control the hot sweats and asked for more pain relief from nurses.
Wednesday 26th June: At lunch time, he called my mam from his mobile to say he was going to be having his gall bladder removed later in the afternoon and to pack more clothes. 4pm came when I was packing my desk up at school when my mam called to say my dad had rang and he was being moved to Cristal care ward. The confusion, stress and anxiety was overwhelming as we frantically drove to the hospital. After waiting 2 hours to see him, we walked in to a pale, tube-covered man with no energy and so short of breath he was relying on support. We were told he was suffering from acute pancreatitis caused by a duct blocked by a gallstone. 11pm came when we left my dad to try and rest, watching him struggle to even say goodnight. He was put on a new machine, very similar to a dialysis which they hoped would cleanse the toxins in his blood.
Thursday 27th June (the day my life changed forever): 5.30am came and the hospital called to say he had been so unsettled during the night and the machine had not been as successful as they hoped. They had decided to put him to sleep to allow them to concentrate on the other issues beside his breathing. We rushed to see him before this happened and I told him we would be there when he woke up and just to rest and not to worry. It was so surreal that I was saying this but I know he wanted the rest just as much as the doctors thought he needed it. He, in true Gordon style, showered me with jokes about how he couldn’t make Callella at the weekend with uncle Gary but definitely next year! After cuddles, kisses and even a good old laugh together, we walked away just as the doctors came over to start the procedure.
After a quick shower, I drove back to the hospital. I was greeted by the ward nurse who asked “Where is your mam Darling?” Which I replied with “She suffers with Tummy problems and she needed her tablets and rest as the stress was making her worse so she would join me in an hour”. To which I was told, “Love, you need to ring your mam, she needs to get here”. Confusion engrossed my whole body, as no one had called, it couldn’t be THAT serious, surely? I walked in to 9 staff members around his bed and machines beeping like crazy. I sat down in the mist of it, alone and 20 weeks pregnant, trying to make sense of the situation.
This was when my mam arrived and we were taken to the relatives room. The doctor joined us and calmly said, “His condition has worsened and unfortunately his body is not responding to the treatment. It is all about making him comfortable now.” I had been up all night, read every article possible, I knew what was happening and what the result of acute pancreatitis could be but to hear my mam ask, “So what does that mean? What is next?” Will stay with me forever. It was heartbreaking. It was at that moment we were told, in black and white, my dad was not going to survive and there it was… within 3 days acute pancreatitis had taken over his organs and he now solely relied on the life support machines. Together, we said our surreal goodbyes and my dad slipped away from us gently and peacefully.
I found it difficult to understand, not only because it all happened so quick and the fact that 2 weeks before he was in Disneyland with his only grandchild BUT because I had lost my 60year old Dad; at the age of 30; 20 weeks pregnant, as a result of a disease I knew nothing about!
I have since read articles and research on this horrific illness and so much want to be part of helping raise awareness and helping people understand the symptoms sooner.