Claire’s Story

Claire was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis caused by heavy drinking in her teens and 20s. This is Claire's pancreatitis story.

Hi, my name is Claire, I am 30 years old and I have chronic pancreatitis caused by heavy drinking when I was in my teens and 20s.

My story begins around 18 months ago. One morning, I woke to an awful pain in my stomach that travelled all the way around my back. I can’t even describe the pain, it was unlike anything I’d ever felt before.

Then the vomiting started and I couldn’t even tolerate a sip of water. I was laying on my bedroom floor, cuddling a bucket while my partner rang 111. I couldn’t stop being sick for long enough to even speak for myself. I’ve never felt so ill in my life. An ambulance arrived and I was rushed to A&E.

The doctor told me I was experiencing an attack of acute pancreatitis and I might need to remain in hospital for a while. The first two days were the worst, as I was constantly being sick with crippling pain. I ended up staying in hospital for four days, and then I was allowed home once things had calmed a little. I was sent on my way with strong painkillers and advice to stop drinking.

Although this attack was incredibly scary and frightening, I thought in a few days or a week, I would be as right as rain. But the weeks passed by and I didn’t feel any better. I was left to live with this pain and sickness, and phone calls to my GP didn’t help. I’d be told to wait it out and see if it settles itself.

At this point, I’d wake every morning throwing up bile. I was pale and I was skin and bones. I felt weak and defeated. Some mornings, I’d wake and feel as though I couldn’t cope with this for the rest of my life. But I also felt like I didn’t have the right to moan, as I had done this to myself.

One day I felt a big lump poking from my stomach, and it may sound silly, but it felt as though it had its own pulse! Later, a scan found that this was a very large pseudocyst that needed draining.

My surgeon was brilliant and managed to see me the same day. I didn’t have much time to process everything, but I wasn’t worried as I just wanted the nightmare to be over with. The surgeon explained that he would try and drain it using a camera down my throat. But hours later, I woke up with tubes everywhere, groggy and sore. The surgeon explained there had been some complications and they had to do open surgery instead. However, the surgery had been successful.

For the first time in months, I didn’t feel sick. This was the first time in a long time I had felt hopeful, like I could get my life back on track.

Since, I have been diagnosed with chronic (life-long) pancreatitis. Although I have days of pain and sickness and I have to take pancreatic enzymes with every meal, I am slowly getting there.

I am proud that I was able to stop drinking completely. I turned 30 years old this year. It was my first sober birthday in years, and it felt really good. I look forward to many more sober years. Though I’m not completely my bubbly, normal self, I feel lucky to have a second chance at life. I certainly don’t take my health for granted now.

I don’t understand how such a life-changing illness that affects thousands of people each year is so unknown. Without finding Guts UK, I don’t know where I’d be right now. It was one of the loneliest times of my life before I found Guts UK. Just being able to read other people’s Kranky Panky stories, explaining what I couldn’t yet put into words was a massive help for me.

I know first-hand what a massive difference Guts UK can have on people like me. I wouldn’t want anyone to go through what I did and feel so alone. That’s why I’m sharing my story.

"I don’t understand how such a life-changing illness that affects thousands of people each year is so unknown. Without finding Guts UK, I don’t know where I’d be right now." - Claire


There is no effective treatment for pancreatitis. There is no cure.

Guts UK is the only UK charity funding a research fellowship into pancreatitis. We are dedicated to finding an effective treatment, a cure for this misunderstood and underfunded 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.

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