Lois and Alan Greenough
This story is part of the Guts UK Pancreatitis Awareness Campaign.
Lois and Alan Greenough’s story
This story was handwritten by Lois Greenough. Lois has given Guts UK much more than her story: she has given us her warmth and humour, her vision of what needs to be done to improve the outcome for pancreatitis, and she has also given us the most beautiful handmade cards to support our fundraising.
‘’In November 2013 Alan collapsed, completely out of the blue, there had been no signs of him being ill. Alan was taken to hospital at 9.30pm where he was eventually scanned and given paracetamol and saline by drip, at one point being offered Gaviscon by a nurse: they did not know how to deal with his symptoms. By 5am we were told he needed to go to the high dependency unit. As we continued to wait for Alan to be moved, there was no communication from the staff in A&E. Alan was only moved when the staff from the high dependence unit came looking for him at lunchtime as they had been waiting for him to be transferred to them from A&E. Once moved he was taken to Intensive Care and put on life support. His pancreas was failing, his lungs were filled with fluid and his heart was playing up. Would this have happened if Alan had been moved earlier from A&E? We will never know.
After 12 days in intensive care they brought him back to the ward and the diarrhoea started. We knew it had to do with his pancreas, but the doctors just gave him Imodium. The care he received in the ward was not great so we took him home. At home I managed to get him on his feet and we had a lovely family Christmas. It was to be our last!!!
In January 2014 he started vomiting bile so he was sent to A&E at our local hospital. After a couple, of days he was sent back home: his clothes were falling off him because of all the weight he’d lost and he was jaundiced. The doctors contacted the Royal Free Hospital and the team there said on no account Alan should be sent back to the local hospital, so he was admitted to the Royal Free. Care there was good though the medical team changed every week, so we didn’t have one person to refer to and who kept an eye on the patient. There was also a young woman next to Alan in hospital, she was just 22 years old and was also suffering from pancreatitis. She had lost her mother to the same disease and I tried to comfort her all I could on my visits to Alan. I often think of her and wonder if she is OK now.
At the Royal Free Alan continued to be very poorly: he had a stent in, had trouble swallowing, was not hungry and did not eat. He was also passing blood in his stools, so he was given a blood transfusion. I noticed how bloated he was becoming and he was complaining of pain on his left side, which he had had right from the start. I also found a very large swelling on his back. At that point Alan decided that enough was enough, and I agreed with him. The doctors did not understand, they asked why we wanted to give up. They said that in 12 months his pancreas would be better and then they would sort out his heart. We were lost for words. The doctors said they would send him home and that they would arrange for a hospital bed to be delivered to our house. I went home and at 8pm got a call from the hospital: Alan was vomiting blood and I had to come at once! When we arrived he was in pain and he kept vomiting blood. He was given pain killers stronger than morphine but Alan had had enough. He vomited blood right to his last breath.
This is a summary of what happened. It has been very painful to put in writing, what my beloved went through, he never complained once. Forgive my writing and tears, it has not been easy to put pen on paper. My dream is that from the most junior to the most senior member of staff, including Doctors and Professors in every hospital, learn from our pain and lack of understanding of this condition. I also hope that a cure for pancreatitis can be found. Alan never smoked or drank, so please look further into people’s lifestyles to find causes for the disease. Perhaps someone with clout will listen to us, to prevent this happening over and over again. Love and light to you all at Guts UK, Lois”
After losing her beloved Alan to pancreatitis, Lois and her family decided that she wanted to raise awareness of the terrible impact of acute pancreatitis. Her grandson Christopher ran a marathon to raise funds for Guts UK (then Core). Lois sells her handmade cards to raise funds for more research into pancreatitis and keeps supporting the work of the charity. As she herself says, “what to do about pancreatitis is a very big question but I want to be part of the answer, however small a part I play”.
In November 2016 Guts UK had an opportunity to do something for Lois. Guts UK were invited to attend a reception at Buckingham Palace to celebrate the charitable work of Princess Alexandra, our charity’s Royal Patron, who sadly lost her husband, Angus Ogilvy to oesophageal cancer. The CEO, Julie Harrington and the Chair of the Trustees, Professor Chris Hawkey, were attending and they invited Lois to go with them to represent the beneficiaries of the charity. It was a huge honour and whilst we expected to be among a crowd of guests, it was a truly amazing moment when Her Majesty the Queen appeared in front of Lois and chatted with her. Lois also met Princess Alexandra and gave her one of her own beautiful cards to thank her on behalf of all Guts UK supporters. Two women who had lost their beloved husband’s to devastating digestive diseases came together for one special, meaningful moment. Both continue to serve and do all they can to help others.
What can you do?
Join in our Kranky Panky Weekend fun and fundraise for more pancreatitis research with Guts UK. Check out some of our fun ideas here!
Buy Guts UK Christmas cards this year. Handmade by our supporter Lois to raise funds for research, a variety pack of 20 beautiful cards is just £15 (plus P&P). Order yours today by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.