This story is part of the Guts UK Pancreatitis Awareness Campaign.
Stuart Reeves’s Story
My name is Stuart Reeves and this story is about my father, Roy. I had never heard of pancreatitis and so when I received a text from my mom early November 2017 saying that my dad was going to A&E with stomach pains from over the weekend, I didn’t really panic or worry. He had suffered with indigestion for quite a few years and from my sisters report he had slightly over-indulged at the weekend. The events that night though changed my mood and feelings. After arriving at the hospital I found my dad in the recovery area in extreme pain with the medical staff probing and administering potassium, painkillers and insulin. I left after a couple of hours to take the long journey home only to be woken early in the morning by mom asking for me to take her back to the hospital as they wanted permission to perform a procedure. This turned out to be an induced coma and to place him into ITU. The Registrar explained that it was touch and go whether he survived the night as he was suffering from acute pancreatitis.
My dad spent five weeks in a coma in ITU and when he was brought round it was difficult to get him to understand how much time had passed. After a week he was transferred to HDU but it seemed that no sooner was he there that he was transferred to a general ward. The next few weeks up to Christmas were filled with progression and regression. My dad seemed to struggle to process the enzymes he needed to take orally to support digestion. At Christmas the medical team mentioned that if his condition improved then he could go home for Christmas. This was a good day and made us look to the next milestone of my sister’s wedding. Unfortunately this didn’t last, with progress halting completely. His body was rejecting food and the vomiting caused him to also reject the food mentally. It was at this point that the Registrar told us that recovery had stopped and that my father had informed them of his request to not resuscitate, which probably hit me the hardest. This was him giving up. The strong man I knew was giving up. Roy Reeves released his grip on life on 27th February 2018 with the medical report stating complications leading to sepsis from necrosis pancreatitis. He was 73 years old.
My experience can be summed in that the original diagnosis seemed to take too long. Did my dad show any symptoms that were missed? The members of staff at ITU and HDU were superb but totally understaffed and poorly supported. The general ward was grossly understaffed with too many agency staff meaning continuity was not kept in my dad’s care. This put extreme pressure on our family as we felt we needed to be there to ensure care was kept at the level we expected. Did this have an impact on my dad’s recovery? I don’t know but on reflection I am beginning to doubt it. Please understand that this is not a criticism of the staff at the NHS hospital, but I feel for those who work in these conditions and for those receiving care. I hope that the NHS receives the prestige deserved by these individuals who work there and care for people.
Personally, I have gained knowledge from this and have supported Guts UK by riding the Ride London event to raise awareness and money for research. Also, I have learnt how strong my mom is. I have met some strong people through Guts UK and seen the hurt and pain in others that I have felt.
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 ideas here!
Or join Team Guts UK for 2019 challenges! We have places, so come on board! If you want to run Vitality Half Marathon, March 10th 2019 or cycle in Prudential Ride London 100 August 4th 2019 register here. Let’s go!