Stacey’s Story

Stacey shares her story as an advanced gastroenterology nurse practitioner this Kranky Panky Pancreatitis Awareness Campaign.

Hello, my name is Stacey Munnelly. I work in large Tertiary Centre for Hepato-Pancreato-biliary care as an Advanced Nurse Practitioner. I have a particular interest in the care and support of people suffering with pancreatitis, as my experience as a Gastroenterology Nurse has given me true appreciation of the physical, psychological and economic burden of this disease to patients and the NHS.

People diagnosed with pancreatitis can suffer with miserable symptoms including severe pain, vomiting and diarrhoea. Life-threatening complications such as necrosis (where the pancreas tissue starts to die), fluid collections near to the pancreas and in the lungs, sepsis, organ failure, bleeding, malnutrition, and type 3c diabetes can also occur.

People can become so sick they require intensive care with organ support in critical care units. They can have long admissions to hospital wards, some spending many weeks in ICU and then months in hospital recovering.

This is so traumatic and isolating for patients and their loved ones, which can result in depression and anxiety. There is also the added pressure of the economic impact this can have on individuals and families when people are unable to work due to illness.

There is no ‘cure’ for pancreatitis; treatment is supportive. As a team, we try to look for the cause of pancreatitis to hopefully prevent it from happening again or progressing to chronic disease.

For people with chronic pancreatitis, lifelong care is required to provide surveillance and support for complications.

Treatments for pancreatitis often take a multi-professional team approach: surgeons, endoscopists, radiologists, psychologists, diabetes specialists, specialist nurses, dietitians, clinical psychologists, pain teams, speech therapists, physio and occupational therapists. If patients have been unwell in hospital for long periods of time, they lose muscle mass, so may even need to learn how to walk again.

My daily duties include assessing patients admitted to hospital with complications of pancreatitis.

I’ll take notes about the patients’ history, examine them, interpret initial investigations (blood tests and scans). I make specialist referrals and plan treatments. I am trained to prescribe certain medications and to perform some minor procedures too.

At our weekly Multi-Disciplinary Team meeting (MDT), we discuss complex patient cases and come to an agreed management plan for these patients. It is also part of my role to liaise with other hospitals and co-ordinate transfer to our centre for patients who need specialist interventions.

I also provide follow up care in the outpatient clinic for patients with chronic pancreatitis.

My role has given me insight to the challenges people experience living with the symptoms and complications of pancreatitis. I am passionate about improving experiences and outcomes for patients.

In 2016, I was appointed as a guideline committee member for the National Institute for health and Care Excellence (NICE) and helped to develop The Pancreatitis Guideline [NG104], published in 2018. The guidance helps doctors and nurses by giving evidence-based advice on investigation and management.

I also work as an Associate Lecturer Practitioner, offering educational courses for nurses on the management of GI disorders including pancreatitis. I hope this work helps promote awareness of pancreatitis and improves the knowledge of staff caring for patients. In the future, my aim is to develop as a clinical researcher; expanding understanding of the issues that influence this devastating disease.

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.

Join us & be part of life-saving research by donating to Guts UK today.

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