Brad’s story, told by his partner, Amy as part of Guts UK's Pancreatitis Awareness Campaign - Kranky Panky.
In Summer 2018, Brad began to suffer with unexplained stomach pains. He was to and from doctors appointments with no answers.
In Feb 2019 he went into hospital for gallbladder surgery, as they thought that was the cause of all the pain. From then on, things went from bad to worse. The pain continued, the doctor’s appointments continued, ambulances were called and there were multiple hospital admissions.
In April 2019, Brad was admitted to our local hospital where he stayed for one week. He was then transferred to another local hospital, one that specialised in pancreatitis.
At this point, things didn’t appear to be too bad. But later in April (on Brad’s 36th birthday), he got sent to ICU. This was something that none of us could of expected.
From this point on, Brad spent a lot of time in and out of ICU. He had numerous operations and procedures, he was on life support. We were told more than once that it was unlikely Brad would survive. Brad had a temporary tracheostomy fitted, lost half his body weight (he went down to around 8st) and suffered terribly with his mental health.
Neither Brad or us as a family could see an end to this horrible illness. We could see pancreatitis taking our Brad away, not only physically but mentally as well, it was heart breaking to see.
Eventually, things started to change and Brad started to pick up. He gradually started eating, his drains were removed and he got signed off from the physio, after having to practically learn to walk again. The staff couldn’t believe it, he’d defied everything they thought would happen.
In September 2019 (5 months after Brad was first admitted), we got the brilliant news that it was time for Brad to leave the hospital and come home to his family. We enjoyed a great Christmas together and things couldn’t have been better, Brad was nearly back to his old weight and returned to work in 2020.
In the early hours the morning in June 2020, I had to ring an ambulance for Brad. He was suffering with stomach pain and very nauseous. Due to Covid-19, I was unable to go to the hospital with him. When I spoke to someone from the hospital later that day, she said he’s waiting to be transferred to our other local hospital, as they think it’s his pancreas again. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. How could this be happening again, so soon after last time?
Brad went through the same awful process that he did the year before, only this time, he had to do a lot of it on his own, as the hospital wasn’t allowing any visitors at all. It was devastating.
Brad’s still in hospital now (November 2020 – 5 months on). He’s had operations, numerous complications and he’s struggling to eat. He feels so sick and can’t come home until he starts eating. We’re hoping he’ll be home for Christmas and all we can do is take each day as it comes with this terrible illness. Pancreatitis is so unpredictable. No one ever knows which way it will go, but we keep everything crossed and try to keep positive.
Before Brad got pancreatitis, we never even really knew what the pancreas did, never mind how life-threatening it can be when something goes wrong. It was a long road getting a diagnosis for Brad, but once his doctor’s were aware, everyone was great. We now know the staff so well at the hospital, which makes things a little easier. Brad has up and down days, as does our whole family, but we are all always there for each other.
We don’t want any other family to have to go through what we have been through. We want to see more research into pancreatitis and more information available for families like ours, as we knew very little. Alongside friends and family, we’re fundraising for Guts UK by doing the Yorkshire Three Peaks Challenge. We may even be joined by nurses who have cared for Brad over the months!
We have chosen to share our story to show other families that there is light at the end of the tunnel, even when it seems like there isn’t. You will get through it. Support one another. Stay as positive as you can.
Guts UK is the only UK charity funding a research fellowship into pancreatitis.
We are dedicated to finding an effective treatment for this devastating condition. People are suffering, people are dying, all because of a lack of knowledge about our guts. Join our community and champion our cause by donating to our life-saving research today.Be part of life-saving research today by donating to Guts UK.