One evening, Molly started vomiting blood clots and was in severe pain. Her friend, Annabelle, thought she was dying.
Annabelle, Molly’s friend helped Molly tell her pancreatitis story.
Tell us a little about you
“I’m Molly and I’m 51. I live in Liverpool with my friend Annabelle. I’m the youngest of three sisters. Julie is my middle sister and Paula is the eldest. I am a revenue protection manager. My hobbies include all sports, but mainly following Liverpool FC around the world! I used to play for Tranmere Ladies FC, and I love socialising.”
Can you describe the symptoms you first began experiencing?
“Towards the back end of 2022, I started to experience pain in the top of my stomach. It was a niggling, constant and uncomfortable pain. On December 14th, I woke up feeling like someone had put a knife into my stomach. Annabelle asked if she should call an ambulance, but I thought it was just stomach ache. The following day, I drove to the doctors after the pain had subsided and was told I had gallstones. I rang Paula, and we went to hospital together. We were seen immediately, and I was told I’d be kept in hospital for two days.
I felt okay until the painkillers made me hallucinate. I had yellow skin (jaundice), I was vomiting brown sick, was sweaty and clammy and couldn’t keep my eyes open. Everything turned into such a blur.”
Talk us through your journey to diagnosis of pancreatitis
“I was told I had acute severe necrotising pancreatitis from the start. I was sent to intensive care, and they were really concerned about my oxygen levels above anything else. Annabelle told me they wheeled in a big oxygen machine and told her that my lungs were failing. I didn’t think it was as bad as it was, but I remember Annabelle crying.
Christmas passed and my sisters and Annabelle were told I needed to go into an induced coma. Julie put my dad’s wedding ring in my hand and encouraged me to keep going. Two of our friends travelled to see me and I thought “I’m dying here. Why else would they have come down all this way?”. That’s when it hit me.
After five weeks in ICU, I was improving. Eventually I came out of ICU and went onto a ward. Eating was so hard, and the sight or smell of food would make me sick. I had a stent inserted and cleaned weekly to drain fluid from my pancreas. A scan confirmed it was severe necrotising pancreatitis and very little of my pancreas remained unaffected.”
How was it being out of intensive care?
“Unfortunately, the weight was dropping off me. I had a feeding tube, but I kept being sick. I had physiotherapy to get me walking and was getting ready to go home, when pancreatitis hit me again. As the days passed, they advised me that I needed to start my own rehabilitation at home so on the 17th of March, I went home. Being at home made me realise how hard recovering was, but I was never alone.
In May, I had another episode and felt like I couldn’t cope anymore. I shouted for Annabelle, and she immediately called an ambulance. I was sweating profusely, in pain and gasping for breath. It was later revealed that I had passed more stones from my bile duct. My liver was stuck to my stomach and even though they had originally been waiting for me to get better, they removed my gallbladder as an emergency.“
How long did it take to recover from the gallbladder removal and previous attack?
“After ten days, I was sent home. I headed out in my wheelchair with Annabelle and Julie but started sweating and was sick in the toilet in a shop. I had a lay down at home but was getting worse. An ambulance came and tests found I had an infection from a collection of fluids in my pancreas. But time passed and eventually, I felt the best I had done so far and went home.
A few months passed and I still didn’t feel right. One evening, I started vomiting blood clots and was in severe pain. An ambulance came. Annabelle told me she thought I was dying. The hospital found out I had a bleed from where my pancreas had put pressure on my spleen. I had a mesh inserted to stop the bleed and was in hospital for ten days.”
How are you doing more recently?
“I feel it’s been the support of my loved ones that have got me through it all. Annabelle tells me how the NHS have been unbelievably good throughout the parts I can’t remember.
I’ve been out of hospital for three weeks now. I’m doing okay and I worry more about what my loved ones have been through. I’m lucky to be here. I’m still very much recovering, and I have type 3c diabetes because of pancreatitis. I also take prescribed pancreatic enzymes when I eat. I imagine the emotional side of things will hit me gradually as time passes.
Annabelle and my friends doing a 50-mile bike ride for Guts UK gave us all a focus and something to work towards. We were so determined to hit the £10,000 mark and I can’t believe we did it!
Both Annabelle and I feel there needs to be more awareness surrounding pancreatitis. Ultimately, we just want a cure.
We can’t go through this ever again and we don’t want anyone to feel how we did. If sharing my story helps one person, then it will all be worthwhile.”
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.