At the end of 2022, Keiran thought he had caught a virus. The symptoms that followed started his journey to a pancreatitis diagnosis.
Tell us about you
“I’m Keiran and I’m 26. I live in East Yorkshire with my dad. We have two dogs, Sully and Wallace. I’m a painter and decorator and in my spare time, I love to play golf and go to the gym.”
Can you describe the symptoms that you first began experiencing?
“At the end of 2022, I became really constipated. My Dad had caught a virus going round so I assumed I’d caught it too. I then had diarrhoea and urgency for three weeks accompanied with pain in my stomach and under my ribs. Once I was at work painting a staircase and I just had to drop everything and run to the toilet.
Over the next few weeks, I noticed my stool was greasy and oily and I had horrible bloating that made me feel so full up to my lungs. I had horrendous itching that kept me up at night and was constantly exhausted.
I called the doctor, and I got an appointment for that day. This was in February 2023 now and the doctor checked me over. I was so sensitive under my ribs to the touch and my urine was super dark. The doctor asked, “What do you want from this appointment?” I was astounded. I didn’t really know what I was looking for, but I knew something wasn’t right. I had blood tests and did a stool sample. A few days later, I was sent to hospital after receiving my results.”
Talk us through your journey to diagnosis of pancreatitis.
“In hospital, I told them everything I had been experiencing and they gave me antihistamines for the itching and kept me in for tests. I was nil by mouth on and off. Eventually, I went for a scan which revealed biliary sludge (solids from bile) in my liver and gallbladder and a mass in my pancreas. I was told it could be gallstones at first, then even cancer was mentioned! Despite everything being a bit of a blur, I kept open-minded. I knew I was in the right place if it was cancer. I just couldn’t understand what was causing it as I’d never been a big drinker.
I was then told it could be auto-immune pancreatitis but that it was rare in someone my age, especially of good health. Because of this, they hadn’t considered it at first. I didn’t have a clue what pancreatitis was. The doctor explained that bile couldn’t flow into my stomach, so it was backing up, causing the itching.
Eventually, I was told I had very angry pancreatitis. Just under 2 weeks later, I was given steroids for a few months. I was so up and down on them and just felt so numb to everything.
In May/June, my symptoms started again, and my consultant wanted me purely under his care, which gave me hope. I thought I might start to get somewhere. He sent me for an MRI in September, and I haven’t heard anything yet.”
How are you doing more recently?
“I feel I’ve been left with a diagnosis I know very little about. I’ve had no information or support, except from Guts UK. I don’t feel inclined to chase hospital, especially when I hate spending time there.
I still haven’t had time to process everything that happened, and I still don’t really know what’s going on. No matter what I say, I feel like medical professionals won’t listen.
After losing two and a half stone in under two weeks, my appearance was really starting to impact me mentally. I started back at the gym several weeks ago and this is my happy place. It’s up to me to get some sort of control back. I also take prescribed pancreatic enzymes when I eat, I’ve cut out alcohol completely and eat healthily.
I hope there is more research done into the causes and management of pancreatitis, which is why it’s great that Guts UK exists. On a personal level, I’d love to know more in general to help me manage my condition and about possible triggers. I am trying so hard to learn about my body.”
Why are you sharing your story?
“It’s good for people to know that someone out there can relate. I hope by sharing my experience, I can prompt someone to go to their GP before it gets to the stage it got to with me. Don’t wait 8 weeks to call your GP!
The pancreatitis information from Guts UK made me stop drinking. I was only having one drink after work in the sun but that stopped completely. I’d like to express my appreciation to Guts UK for helping me to understand my condition more than any consultant has so far. To show my appreciation, two friends and I took on a golf marathon in the summer to fundraise for Guts UK and we were so proud to raise almost £600.00.”
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.