‘An op cured my pancreatitis agony’

Living with pancreatitis

The pain of pancreatitis is how I’d imagine it would feel if a horse kicked you in the stomach, wiggled his hoof about, then tried to pull it out. Mine started about seven years ago, after I had my gallstones taken out. The doctor had warned me I might get pancreatitis as a result and, sure enough, a couple of months later I was doubled over with pain.

I had long spasms in my stomach that sometimes lasted all day. I tried my best to keep working normally, but some days it was really hard. When I had an attack, morphine was the only thing that dulled the pain. Then two years ago, I finally had a Whipple operation. This is where doctors remove the head of your pancreas. The op took nearly nine hours, but it was worth it. I haven’t had a serious bout of pancreatitis since.

Not many doctors really understand pancreatitis, and many people believe it’s all about alcohol abuse. That’s just not true. Alcohol does make pancreatitis worse, but that’s not necessarily what causes it. I didn’t find any particular food brought mine on, but some people find creamy or fatty foods give them a nasty reaction.

I’d advise anyone with pancreatitis to keep nagging their doctor until they send you to see a good specialist. Professor Larvin at the Derby City General Hospital treats me, and, along with the Pancreatitis Network, has saved my life.

If you’re too ill to keep nagging your doctor, take a close friend with you to nag them instead. Believe me, it’ll be worth it in the end.

Sue Petrucci, 60, Worcester

For more information and advice, visit www.ibsnetwork.org.uk