Martin's pancreatitis story, as told by his daughter Katie, who has also experienced pancreatitis.
It was 11th July 2020 when we lost my dad and our world came crashing down. My family had never even heard of pancreatitis before I myself was diagnosed with it, just over 1 month before my dad was.
I was admitted to the hospital after 3 bouts of agonising pain. I was told that I had pancreatitis caused by gallstones blocking my bile duct. Luckily, I responded to treatment and after having my gallbladder removed, I made a full recovery.
My dad, at 54 years old, was not as lucky as I was. Dad experienced his first ever attack one Sunday afternoon and Mum and I had no idea what it was. I had never seen my dad experience so much pain before. We called an ambulance. That was the last time I saw him conscious and in person.
Dad was in the hospital for 3 weeks and put up the strongest fight ever, but pancreatitis is too aggressive and too powerful. His pancreatitis was also caused by gallstones and treatment was not working. Pancreatitis affected all of his organs and they all started to fail – he was given treatment for everything; dialysis for his kidneys, a breathing machine for his lungs, blood pressure tablets for his heart, etc but there was nothing more that doctors could do. He seemed to be getting worse each day and it was more and more heart-breaking as the days passed.
Dad didn’t stop being strong at any point. We knew he would have hated being in the hospital and would want nothing more than to get out and be home with us. The hospital even consulted specialists to gain further advice, but they had tried everything. We got to visit him in the ICU towards the end of his life, but he was in a medically induced coma. He couldn’t communicate with us and wasn’t aware of his surroundings. We knew he was rapidly deteriorating, and we got the call on the 11th July around 3am.
Mum and I drove to the hospital to be with him. We got to hold his hand for an hour and tell him how much we loved him as he passed. They say that your hearing is the last thing to go, so I can only hope that he got to hear some of what we said to him. I hope he knew we were right there with him.
Dad was like a friendly giant. He never took anything too seriously, he just tried to make everything light-hearted and funny. He just wanted to enjoy his life and crack jokes as much as he could and that’s exactly what he did. He had a very unusual sense of humour and was unlike anyone I’d ever met before. More than anything he just enjoyed being with me and my mum, as well as our dog Molly (who is currently missing him like crazy!). Our favourite thing to do as a family was go to Weymouth, that’s where most of my childhood memories were.
I truly wouldn’t wish for any other family to have to go through this. Now, all I can hope is that research can help to find a cure, because a cure is so desperately needed. Pancreatitis can affect anyone, at any time. It doesn’t discriminate and you don’t know if you will be lucky enough to respond to the treatment that exists.
I wish a cure existed for my dad and this is why I’m asking for donations in his memory to Guts UK. I can’t ease the pain of losing dad, but I can prevent others from feeling the same way. Mum, I and the rest of our family are still struggling to come to terms with what has happened. I don’t think we ever truly will. It is so unfair, unprecedented and unbelievable that he is no longer with us.
My dad Martin was the strongest man I’ve ever known. He was fit and healthy. Nothing can prepare you for this. I think about him every day and wish there was some way to bring him back. The only real actionable thing I can now do is try to raise awareness and help find a much-needed cure!
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.In Katie's words, 'I can’t ease the pain of losing dad, but I can prevent others from feeling the same way'. Your donations fund life-saving research that is working towards a cure for pancreatitis. Support Guts UK today.