From a young age Eireann experienced severe stomach pains, vomiting and nausea. At 20 years old she was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis. This is Eireann's pancreatitis story.
My story starts as a young child. From a very young age, I suffered with severe stomach pains, vomiting and nausea that would keep me off school for weeks. I was in and out of hospital, but leaving hospital every time with no reason to why I was sick. I would be passed from one consultant to another, until they came to conclusion it was a stomach migraine.
In January 2021, I started with my worst ‘flare up’ I had experienced yet. I couldn’t understand why was I the only person with severe stomach pains, which worsened after eating. The pain would basically made me bed bound until it finally eased off.
I wasn’t just struggling physically with my sickness; I was struggling mentally at this point. As a 20-year-old girl, my illness was limiting my social life and it was bringing me down. I wasn’t able to play the sport I loved, I wasn’t able to go out with my friends due to fear I was going to become sick again. I lost some of my closest friends because of my condition. I hated saying yes to plans in case I had to drop out of them in the fear I was going to become sick again. I was always playing it day by day .
These pains continued over the weeks, and I started to have constant pains in my stomach to the point where it felt like someone was stabbing me. The pain radiated into my back and shoulder. Even with a strong pain threshold, I couldn’t cope anymore with the pain I was bed bound. I lost over a stone in a month. I felt like I’d lost myself too.
In March 2021, after numerous hospital visits, countless scans and tests, I was finally told I wasn’t the ‘healthy young girl’ that my doctors told the hospital I was. I was struggling and I was sick. After four days in hospital, I was diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis.
Like most people, I had no idea what this meant. Being 20 years old and finding out I had an incurable condition and I was never allowed to consume alcohol again, hit me very hard.
After many days and nights of tears, I started to think more positively, with the help from my family and friends. I started to look at life differently. I was glad I finally had the answer to the sickness I had struggled with for years. I began thinking, ‘this will only affect me if I let it’.
Just because I wasn’t the ‘fun Eireann’ anymore, who went out every weekend, didn’t mean I was enjoying life. Yes, it is hard missing days and nights out with my friends and family but I can’t change my condition. It’s something I will live with.
In November 2021, as I share this story I have just turned 21 years old and I’m now having less flare-ups. I have prescription pancreatic enzymes when I eat and pain medication too.
I’m glad I can be part of the Kranky Panky Pancreatitis Awareness Month 2021. In November, our family are taking on a 5km-a-day fundraiser and we’re asking friends and family to go sober for a month. We’ve already raised over £1,500, in the hope of helping others just like me.
I’d like to end my story by saying how important it is to speak up and be heard. I know it can be hard, but who knows, tomorrow could be the day that we have a cure for this awful illness."My condition still limits me every day, but with charities like Guts UK working hard for people like me, more people can get the help and earlier diagnosis that they need." - Eireann
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.