Gordon’s story, told by his partner (Linda), daughters (Lisa and Nikki), stepdaughters (Jenni and Wendy) and sister-in-law Joan.
In the early afternoon of 7th September 2019, Gordon began to experience severe abdominal pains. The pain came on very suddenly and was so severe that Nikki, who was visiting, called an ambulance. He was given morphine and taken to accident and emergency.
Later that afternoon, Gordon was taken for a scan and moved to the surgical ward. The doctors thought his pancreas could be the cause and pancreatitis was mentioned. Only Lisa, who is a nurse, had heard of this.
The hospital phoned early the next morning to say his condition had deteriorated and he was being moved to high dependency. Blood test results had raised concerns and his blood pressure was high. Throughout the day, one or more of us went in to see him but he was still dosed up with morphine and slept most of the time, though it was clear he was suffering.
By evening, Gordon’s condition had worsened. Tests showed his kidneys were beginning to fail. He was taken to intensive care and put on dialysis. His lungs then began to fail and he was ventilated. At this point, the doctors warned us that he might not survive and asked, what seemed to us, odd questions, such as how much alcohol did he drink and had he been in contact with animals. The scan had showed no signs of gallstones and excessive alcohol and infections are other causes of the pancreatitis. But nothing fitted Gordon’s situation.
The next two weeks were a rollercoaster. Gordon remained in intensive care. Some days there would be small signs of improvement, they would reduce the sedation and he would breathe for himself. But then there were dips. His body build up a huge amount of fluid that had to be removed. We were warned that it could be a long, slow process and he could be in hospital for months. They talked about performing a tracheostomy as they expected him to need help with his breathing. Family holidays were cancelled.
Gordon’s bedside was the brightest of all in intensive care, decorated with photos of his seven grandchildren and handmade cards. Gordon had his 65th birthday on 16th September. Linda (Gordon’s partner) read his birthday cards to him and played videos of the grandchildren singing happy birthday. She swears she saw his eyes react.
On 18th September, Gordon developed a high temperature and the doctors suspected further infection. He became jaundiced, as his liver became affected. Over the next couple of days he appeared to make some small improvements. They took him for another scan but nothing obvious showed up. He then started to deteriorate rapidly. Further infections were suspected. He was given blood transfusions and his heart began to fail. We were told there was no more they could do. On 23rd September, we gathered by his bedside, together with his two sons, to say goodbye.
We don’t know whether knowing the cause of Gordon’s pancreatitis would have helped his treatment and prognosis, but it might have. Even with a cause, treatment options can be limited. This is why we feel it is so important to support Guts UK and research into pancreatitis, so that treatment options and survival rates can be improved.
Gordon was gentle and kind – nothing was too much trouble. He had a mischievous sense of fun and humour, loved spending time with family and friends (especially his seven grandchildren). He enjoyed days out, holidays, golf, football and kitkats!
This year we walked from Gordon’s early to his last house, just over 11 miles, raising nearly £4000 for Guts UK. We hope this will help in a small way towards making a difference to other families. We know Gordon would have been proud of us.
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 by donating to Guts UK today.