In April 2014 Stacey gave birth to her daughter, Amelia. Shortly afterwards, she started with an excruciating pain and ended up spending 17 weeks in hospital.
“My name is Stacey. I currently work in publishing. I also love anything crafty! My lockdown challenge was to learn to cross stitch. This year I’m teaching myself to crochet, I’m even trying to crochet my daughter a cardigan. I have a wonderful 8-year-old, Amelia, and my long-term suffering partner Thomas.
Monday 7th April
I gave birth to my beautiful daughter Amelia. I didn’t have the best pregnancy and suffered with high blood pressure towards the end. Thomas, my husband, and I were over the moon. We took her home and couldn’t wait to show her off to the world.
Saturday 19th April
Amelia and I met my mum for breakfast. Later that morning, I had bad stomach pains and what felt like indigestion. Mum was concerned so rang for an ambulance. I was told I had excess acid and shouldn’t go to A&E. This made me feel guilty, but I insisted on going anyway. After four hours of waiting, I was sent home with heartburn treatment.
Thursday 24th April
I woke with horrendous pains in my stomach and chest. I couldn’t even move out of bed. I rang the doctors and got appointment at a different surgery. However, I started being violently sick. I realised I couldn’t wait and called for an ambulance. Off I went in a rapid response car with gas and air. This is where everything becomes fuzzy, and I rely on Thomas and my family’s memories.
At A&E, I was diagnosed with acute pancreatitis. I was in so much pain and was given an epidural. I even told the anaesthetist that I loved him! I still talk to him, and he loves to remind me of this. To manage my pain better, the next day I was moved to intensive care. My mother-in-law worked within the unit and had to take compassionate leave due to me being there.
Monday 28th April
I was having trouble breathing so I was put into an induced coma and intubated. I remember nothing but have weird flashbacks. I’d convinced myself that the nurses were taking the intensive care budget and using it to go overseas! I even thought I’d overheard on the intercom one saying she was in Heathrow and just been arrested!
May – August
My heart rate was through the roof and my temperature high. The nurses struggled to keep me sedated. I was given a low chance of survival. I was going downhill so quickly, and nothing seemed to be changing.
Over the weeks I developed multiple infections and sepsis. Fluids were drained around my lungs, and I had a feeding tube. I had to have surgery to remove the necrotic (dead) tissue and some of my pancreas which had died too. My mum visited every day, and sat with me from the start of rising hours until the end.
I had to learn to walk, sit up, eat, and talk again. All I wanted was to be home with our new-born. I was finally discharged from intensive care and moved to another ward where Amelia could be with me. It was nice knowing she was there. I just tried to concentrate on my recovery.
Unfortunately, after a couple of days I developed an infection again and had to go for another surgery. I was back in intensive care for another two weeks. I spent six weeks in intensive care in total.
Thankfully from here I went from strength to strength. On the general ward, mum would help me wash every morning and get ready for the day ahead. I could go home for weekend visits and allowed outside for some of the day too. I even made a sneaky trip to my parent’s pub to watch England play in the World Cup!
End of August
Finally, after four months, it was time to go home! I was still wheelchair bound with two drains. I did have check-ups at the hospital after being discharged. Unfortunately, I was readmitted twice during these check-ups as my bloods showed signs of infection and inflammation.
On my last visit, I had blood transfusion and after being discharged the following morning, I phoned my dad who came and picked me up. When he arrived, I’d already packed up my stuff on my wheelchair. He said, “Are you keen to get out?” and I really was. It had been so many weeks without my new-born.
Life since August 2014
I’ve had to have therapy after staying in hospital for so long. I’ve had my gallbladder removed. I still live in pain and take around fifteen tablets a day including pain relief. I use a walking stick as I fatigue quickly. If I go anywhere new, I must scope out where the toilets are, when I have to go, I have to go. I still have no answer to what caused my attack.
I’m keen to raise awareness. Whenever I mention pancreatitis to anyone, the first thing they say is, “My dog had that.” When I found Guts UK’s website, they had information on everything, not just pancreatitis, and I loved how patient focused they were. So, I decided to jump out of a plane for them this year! Whilst I wouldn’t do the skydive again, I’m proud to have raised over £600 for Guts UK.
There is no effective treatment for pancreatitis. There is no cure.
Guts UK is dedicated to finding an effective treatment, a cure for this misunderstood and underfunded condition. We are building a community affected by pancreatitis, comforted in knowing they’re not alone.