Stephanie Atts was diagnosed with pancreatitis when she was 24. She has given up drinking, but the condition still causes her pain.
“I kept going into hospital because I was suffering from severe stomach pain, but the doctors couldn’t find anything wrong with me.
“They took some blood tests and called me at 11.30 one night. They said they had my results and it was something quite serious. When they told me it was pancreatitis, I was really shocked and upset.
“Pancreatitis is incredibly painful. The stomach pain just comes on all of a sudden. There’s no run-up to it, it just hits you. It starts in my guts and moves round to my back, then I throw up. It’s hard to describe how bad the pain is. It's worse than being in labour, which is saying something. And there’s no position where you can get comfortable. It’s so bad you can barely move.
“They did some more tests, including an endoscopy, to find out the extent of the damage and found that a quarter of my pancreas was terminally damaged. I was told to stop drinking immediately, which I did. I had been drinking heavily for about eight months, which is what caused the pancreatitis.
“Apart from giving up drinking, my doctors told me to stick to a low-fat diet. Even though they’re less painful now I’m not drinking, the attacks keep coming. Every time I get an attack, I have to go into hospital. I’m there for a few days on morphine, a drip and antibiotics until the pain goes away.
“I have kids, so the attacks really affect them and my family in general, as I keep having to go into hospital. One year I was in eight times. It’s really disruptive and difficult.
“I would tell anyone who thinks they might have pancreatitis to stop drinking. I know some people who have it and still have a few drinks here and there, but you can’t do that. It’s just not worth it. There’s not much else you can do, apart from giving up drink and sticking to a low-fat diet. But I would seriously consider how much you’re drinking now, as no amount of fun is worth the pain of pancreatitis.”