Hi I‘m Georgia (left), I’m 21 years old and this is my pancreatitis story.
In November 2015 I was admitted to hospital with severe abdominal pains, which I soon found out was due to acute pancreatitis. I was only 16 when I was admitted so there was a bit of confusion between my doctors, as I didn’t drink alcohol which they explained was a common cause. After many scans, they discovered I had sludge in my gallbladder that had entered the bile duct and caused the inflammation. I stayed in hospital for 5 days. The following April, I had keyhole surgery to remove my gallbladder.
On January 5th 2020 I was admitted to hospital once again due to severe abdominal pain that had begun while I was out shopping. I immediately knew it was pancreatic pain, only this time it the pain was a lot worse. My family and I were all very confused as I had had my gallbladder removed and we couldn’t think why this was happening again. After a lot of scans, I found out I have a ‘pancreatic divisum’, which had caused a blockage in my pancreas causing two thirds of my pancreas to necrotise (die).
For my first week in hospital I was very unwell. Doctors kept a close eye on me and explained to my parents that my body would either stabilize or go into organ failure. My left lung had partially collapsed, so I was placed in ICU.
My consultant explained to my family that because so much of my pancreas had died, we would have to wait until they were able to place a stent and drain excess fluid surrounding the pancreas.
For the first month in hospital, I was in complete agony. I was unable to eat, which did raise the question of a feeding tube, but I didn’t get one thankfully. I was placed on pancreatic enzyme tablets (Creon) to help me digest food, which I will now be on for the rest of my life.
During my fourth week in hospital, I was finally able to have a stent placed. Unfortunately, they had attempted to put the stent in, but I was unable to sit still for it to be safe enough to proceed.
I was absolutely heartbroken. I started to lose hope in getting any better. Thankfully my family were close by to remind me I could do it.
Two days later, my consultant took me in for emergency surgery, as the pancreatic cyst that had formed was at risk of blocking my portal vein ,which could have caused a lot of issues for my liver.
At the beginning of February, I had emergency surgery to remove two thirds of my pancreas. I had a TPN put in place which was a tube into my neck connected to a bag of liquid that provided me with the nutrients I wasn’t getting because I couldn’t eat. I also had an NG tube inserted through my nose into my stomach to continue draining anything out of my stomach. After the operation came a long process of trying to eat and learning to walk again. Eventually, I was allowed to go home at the end of February (8 weeks after I was admitted).
I found out about the amazing work Guts UK are doing through my cousin who (before Covid-19) was intending on raising money by running a marathon to fundraise for Guts UK.
Anyone who has experienced pancreatitis or has seen someone they love go through it knows how painful it is, both physically and mentally. It was the hardest thing both my family and I have had to go through and it does take a lot to come back from, however, I am so grateful for my family and friends because I would have given up a long time ago if I didn’t have them by my side. They always remind me that the road to recovery is never a straight incline, it is messy and hard – but that’s okay.With new knowledge, we will end the pain and suffering for the millions affected by digestive diseases. Guts UK's research leads to earlier diagnoses, kinder treatments and ultimately a cure. Support our work today.
There is no effective treatment for pancreatitis. There is no cure.
Guts UK is the only UK charity funding a research fellowship into pancreatitis.
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.
Georgia set up a Facebook Birthday Fundraiser for Guts UK this year, and requested people donate to Guts UK instead of gifts for her birthday this year. Georgia has already raised £860!