Pat Merchill

This story is part of the Guts UK Pancreatitis Awareness Campaign.

“We (Ian & Louise) are sharing this story about our mum, Pat.

On Tuesday 10th Sept 2019 mum woke early morning with severe abdominal pain and vomiting. This continued throughout the morning.

We joked with Dad how it was probably just food poisoning, dad even joked how she was probably just ‘constipated’.

With the pain not subsiding, mum decided she would book a Dr’s appointment for the Tuesday lunchtime, so off she and dad went.

The GP examined her and felt that appendicitis was most likely the cause and that dad should take her to hospital straight away. From seeing the GP to getting Mum to hospital was all within 1 hour.

When they arrived at hospital Mum was taken to the surgical assessment ward so that further investigations could be carried out for the suspected appendicitis.

Later that evening blood tests showed that it wasn’t appendicitis but the cause was not confirmed so pain killers were mums only medication at this point.

Early Wednesday morning she was taken for an ultrasound scan which finally showed pancreatitis and she was started on IV fluids. The pain Mum was in was unbearable. On Wednesday lunch time she was yellow in colour, sweating and her hospital band had to be cut off her wrist she was swelling up so badly.

Even after seeing her in so much pain and looking so poorly, never did we think that pancreatitis was as serious as it was. We’d done the usual look it up on ‘Dr Google’ and as far as we could see, people were in hospital for a week or so and made a full recovery…how naive were we!!

Between us leaving the hospital at 2 pm Wed lunchtime and 4 pm, mum was moved to ICU. We were told By Dr’s on the lunchtime that pancreatitis patients are sometimes moved to ICU as it can turn to sepsis pretty quickly.

We went to see mum at 6 pm on Wed evening, although not looking great, she could just about hold a conversation and was aware of her surroundings. By this time the pain killers had well and truly kicked in and she was very drowsy. Mum was still clearly in discomfort as she whispered ‘this is horrible’.  The main concern for nurses at this point was her blood pressure, as it kept on dropping. She was also being assisted with her breathing (although she hated it being up her nose!) We left at 8 pm and during that time they had increased her fluid intake and were monitoring her closely. We said goodbye and arranged what time we would be coming the next day. Even at this stage, we never imagined what the next few hours would entail.

We returned home, hoping and praying that mum would have a good night and things would improve in the morning. Unfortunately, we then got a phone call at 10 pm saying mum was going to be put on a ventilator. We all rushed back to the hospital and just missed the chance to see her before they put her under. We were then met by the consultant who explained what had happened, mum had deteriorated rapidly since we left the hospital at 8 pm and we were told its highly likely she wouldn’t make it another two hours let alone until the morning! Over the next few hours, mum’s condition worsened and slowly her organs began to fail and eventually it became too much and she passed away at 4.15 on Thursday morning.

The most shocking thing for all of us was how quickly this all happened, and the fact that none of us knew the severity of pancreatitis and the devastating affect it can have. Since mum’s passing, we have tried to gather as much information as we can about the disease and unfortunately it seems there isn’t an awful lot out there. Guts UK is  at the forefront of supporting some of the issues we’ve faced & funding research, we can only hope that awareness of this disease is raised and other families can be better prepared to what we were.  

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