Just last week I was admitted to the hospital with yet another in a recurring series of stomach issues. This time it was diagnosed as a small bowel obstruction. Frighteningly, this carries with it an 8% mortality rate. However, while this was the diagnosis this time, last time they were unsuccessful in coming to a definitive reason for the terrible debilitating pain I was in. They finally removed my gall bladder which the pathologist declared unbelievably diseased and full of stones.
At the time that my gall bladder was removed I was thrilled that the years of pain would once and for all be behind me. Unfortunately, as you can see that has not been the case. This latest attack took me on my own search for answers. My research brought me to emedicinehealth.com where I discovered that the symptoms that I had been complaining about for a minimum of seven years fit perfectly in with the symptoms for a condition call Pancreatitis.
After much research I discovered that the usual cause of Pancreatitis is alcoholism. That being the case, and with my being a teetotaler, I could somewhat understand why my doctor’s wouldn’t have looked there but unfortunately there are other conditions that can result in this disease. One of those conditions is undiagnosed gall bladder disease, which as I mentioned I had suffered from for years before it was removed and another is steroid dependency. I have Cushings disease which makes me Prednisone dependent due to previous treatment by doctors. Given those two situations alone I continued to pursue my inquiry into Pancreatitis.
The first and most significant symptom of Pancreatitis is the debilitating pain that is associated with it. The pain is so intense and the accompanying nausea and/or vomiting so uncomfortable that I couldn’t even walk to the car to go to the hospital and therefore had to be transported by ambulance. Be aware that this pain may come suddenly or build up gradually and if it begins suddenly, it is usually going to be severe. If it starts out less severe that doesn’t mean by any means that it isn’t also going to end up getting worse as time progresses. In addition, while you may think that eating a cracker may help lessen the nausea you will find that eating only tends to increase the pain and this pain may last for days on end.
Additional symptoms may include feeling worse if you lie on your back, fever, chills, swollen abdomen, rapid heartbeat, (Possible internal bleeding), dehydration, Low blood pressure, weakness, lightheadedness, a feeling of lethargy, irritability, confusion and/or headache.
If the disease becomes chronic you may find yourself suffering less pain but for those who did not get this reprieve the pain may get even worse as the condition worsens. In long-term conditions the person may experience diabetes, weight loss as the body becomes unable to digest food, anemia, or jaundice.
While in the hospital this last time several exams were performed to evaluate enzymes, and to look for signs of infection. The test confirmed that my magnesium and potassium counts were both extremely low. In the past two years my iron count had also dropped to dangerously low levels. All of these are signs of Pancreatitis.
However, for some the blood tests may be inconclusive if the pancreas is still making digestive enzymes and insulin. Therefore, my advice to you is if you get unbelievable pain in the vicinity of your umbilicus, mine was immediately above that area, that radiates around to your back and you have consulted with specialists I would demand to be checked for Pancreatitis. The test you need is called an Endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography (ERCP).
Remember it is a hard disease to get diagnosed, unless you are a heavy drinker, and there is little that can be done to prevent it but once you have the diagnosis you can begin to take charge of your life once again. One thing that I discovered is that an extremely low-fat diet helps. Don’t eat anything that is deep fried or you will pay for it.
So, keep the faith out there and I pray that this information may be used to help anyone else out there who has been suffering with this type of recurring pain.