Jessamy wants to share her story with pancreatitis so people don't feel as alone as she did at times.
Hi – I’m Jessamy and I’m 23 years old. I want to share my pancreatitis story for Kranky Panky in the hope that it helps others.
I started to experience pain in the upper region of my stomach that would spread into my upper back and shoulders, accompained by nausea. I passed it off as severe period pain, or trapped wind for several months, and managed alone.
One night, I ended up in A&E. The A&E doctors were baffled and diagnosed me with recurring gastritis and sent me on my way with paracetamol and codeine.
This began my three-year-long journey of managing an undiagnosed condition, depsite numerous GP visits, ambulances and hospital stays.
I was suffering with my most severe attack yet and spent my New Year on a hospital ward on clear fluids only and pain relief. This time, I was finally investigated for pancreatitis. My blood results were indicative of a pancreatitis flare up, but my MRI scan showed no specific abnormalities.
I was told I had ‘pancreatitis caused by alcohol.’ As a girl in my early 20’s, I drank 0 units of alcohol. Try as I might to get the consultants to believe me, I was getting nowhere with any further diagnosis. Months later, I was also sent for further tests, which showed no abnormalities. I felt disheartened and was losing hope.
During one hospital stay, now under the medical gastroenterology team, my consultant sent off to have my blood immune levels tested. This resulted in a diagnosis of autoimmune pancreatitis (IgG4). This began a year-long battle on steroids and immunosuppressants. I began to feel more like myself, but I still lacked support for my pancreatic diagnosis. This was the diagnosis that was going to affect me long-term.
Fast forward to 2021, where I was about to embark on the longest and hardest battle with my chronic pancreatitis. After being hospitalised at the beginning of June, I spent four weeks being continually admitted and discharged from hospital, also suffering with an E.coli infection, as well as pancreatitis.
It became apparent to my consultant that the steroids and immunosuppressants were ineffective and the cause of my pancreatitis was not an autoimmune response. Multiple tests later, I was referred back to the surgical team who identified significant changes in my bile duct, pancreatic duct, hepatic duct and duodenum. The cause of my chronic pancreatitis is a stricture in my small intestine, stopping my pancreatic duct and bile duct from emptying efficiently. The team told me this is incredibly rare.
I am now preparing to have a procedure where I will have a stent placed in my pancreatic duct and a small incision into my pancreatic sphincter. If this is not successful, I will have to have an 8-hour Whipple procedure (removing the head of my pancreas).
Pancreatitis changed every aspect of my life. I hope this procedure will help me to start living my life again.
Not only has pancreatitis affected my physical health, it has also impacted me mentally. I’ve taken a career break from Veterinary Nursing to help my body recuperate and recover. In this break, I’ve found support in my new working environment that is helping me get back to my normal, bubbly self.
Hopes for the future
I want to share my story so those suffering might not feel as lonely as I have at times. I also hope this helps friends and family of those suffering with pancreatitis understand the impact that this disease can have on a person. Not only on their physical health, but also their mental wellbeing."Despite an urgent need for research into all aspects of pancreatitis, there are still limited treatment options. Guts UK is the only UK charity funding a research fellowship into pancreatitis. With Guts UK’s well-needed and recent launch of their pancreatitis PSP, I feel as though there is finally hope on the horizon. I didn’t realise quite how much I needed this hope." - Jessamy
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.