This story is part of the Guts UK Pancreatitis Awareness Campaign.
My name is Matthew Bray, I am currently 38 years old. I have been heavily involved in the fitness industry since I was 17 years old. I was a competitive bodybuilder and lead a very active lifestyle. Some of which included bodybuilding, martial arts, yoga, running several of my own companies and raising a family.
In 2006 two days before my 25th birthday I was involved in a serious motor bike accident that left me at a crossroads. I was told the likelihood of me returning to bodybuilding or doing any kind of martial arts was not going to be possible. I was registered disabled because of the injuries I sustained. Fortunately for me I got to use my insurance payout to build my first gym. I started training again and 1 year later I was back on stage doing what I loved, (competing). I had defied the odds.
In late 2011 aged 30 I became ill, I had a fever and severe bout of diarrhoea, the fever lasted around a week but the diarrhoea continued and I lost around 2 stone in two weeks. I went to the doctors and the test results came back that I had salmonella poisoning. Further tests revealed damage to my intestine and was treated for colitis, I was re-tested every year with several trips to the doctors and hospital in between as I was still suffering and the medication I was taking was not working. I continued my training and did my final completion in 2015 where I placed 1st in the overall classic class, which lead me to the world finals in Sicily where I placed top 10 in the world.
It was at this stage that my family life was suffering, my businesses began to suffer. I struggled with life on a day to day basis, my choices, decisions and actions were out of character. By 2016 I had financial difficulty and divorced, suffering in pain and still none the wiser that I was very ill and it had not been diagnosed yet.
I saw a psychotherapist for years but still couldn’t work out why I was thinking and doing things that I would not normally do. I didn’t care about anything or anybody, I no longer had any desire to have nice things, work hard or generally be a decent human being. I was tired, angry and sick of not being able to make a decision. I went back to my doctor and let him know I couldn’t take anymore, I needed to find out what was going on.
In early 2018 I was finally diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis. My body was in trouble and my mental health was seriously affected. I started Creon which helped me to a point but now I needed to figure out what diet was best to go on.
My life has completely changed, I am now again registered disabled, I have good and bad days, I am on several different tablets per day. I meditate and try not to stress over minor things, I am currently writing my first book and I do intend to launch a successful business once I have a better understanding of foods my body can accept consistently. I am now also looking forward to taking part in fundraising with Guts UK and want to thank the team for taking the time to talk to me and help me with links, information and generally making me feel confident that there is help out there and I am not alone.
What you can do:
Join our community, champion our cause and help us fight pancreatitis. Guts UK is the only UK charity funding a research fellowship into pancreatitis, and we can’t continue to do this without your kind support. If you’re feeling inspired but don’t know how best you can help, read some fundraising ideas here or contact team Guts UK today – we’d be delighted to lend a hand.