Suzanne’s Story – Gallstones & Diverticulitis

Suzanne went to hospital with agonising pain in the middle of her chest one August. The hospital thought she’d had a heart attack. When in actual fact, the cause of Suzanne’s pain was down to gallstones and diverticulitis.

Talk us through the symptoms you experienced:

“Like many people, I’ve had on and off ‘gut symptoms’ for much of my life. There’s never been a specific food to trigger my symptoms, but I have had times where I’ve had constipation, diarrhoea and bowel spasms. I just put it down to IBS, though I wasn’t medically diagnosed.

One August I had an episode of excruciating pain in the middle of my chest. The best way I can describe it is as though a hot poker was pushed into my chest. It went on for a few days and only kept worsening. I was being sick and had a temperature, so I went to A&E. They treated it as a heart attack and I was let go the next day.”

What happened afterwards?

“I was doing fine until October, when I felt the same pain again. But at the same time, I felt that something else was going on. I was having what I can only describe as ‘bowel spasms’ and diarrhoea. When I started being sick and the pain worsened, I took myself to A&E again.

The hospital put me on painkillers and did an ultrasound the next day. This is where they discovered that I had gallstones and ‘sludge’ in my gallbladder, which explained the excruiating pain that I felt in my chest. But I knew something else was happening this time too.”

What did you tell the team whose care you were under?

“I told the hospital that I feel like there’s something else happening and that I had an additional pain that I couldn’t tie-in with the gallstones and sludge. The next day, they did a CT scan and found diverticulitis.

At the time of my scan, there was a pouch that was close to ‘bursting’, which could’ve lead to a perforation (tear) in my bowel. I was advised that if this happened, it could cause peritonitis and sepsis. This may have meant that I needed surgery in which I’d have had a temporary (sometimes permanent) ‘bag’ or stoma.

Thankfully my diverticulitis was able to be treated in hospital with IV antibiotics rather than surgery and I spent 8 days recovering in hospital until the infection was under control.”

How did you feel after you left A&E?

“Until I was in the hospital bed, I had never heard of diverticulitis. The first thing I did was try to find a reliable information source online for diverticulosis and diverticulitis.

On the internet I read a variety of information that told me I can’t eat nuts, seeds or foods with skins, which did worry me because I’m vegan and nuts and seeds are a source of protein for me. At this point, I’d even lost weight because I was frightened of eating something wrong. But then I found Guts UK’s website…

Finding Guts UK was like finding a golden ticket. I read their information on diverticulosis, diverticular disease and diverticulitis in full and I was delighted to read that the latest research and evidence shows that I don’t have to avoid the foods I love, like nuts and seeds.

After reading their information, I set up a monthly gift to Guts UK, to ensure they could continue helping people just like.”

Guts UK can only continue helping and reaching people like Suzanne with you support. Please support Guts UK today. Together, we will get to grips with guts!

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