I found this fine forum while I was stuck in a hospital bed with acute pancreatitis, so I thought I’d offer my experience as an introduction.
I’m in my late 20’s. I drank heavily from the age of 18 until recently when I woke up in the worst pain of my life.
If you’ve never had pancreatitis the pain would be difficult to relate to. I’ve had broken bones, a dislocated shoulder, herniated discs, broken nose, etc. and I would describe my pain tolerance as high. Prior to that day, I believed I had the will to force myself through just about anything.
I woke up with a nagging pressure in my gut. I was hungover from the night before and assumed I’d feel better soon if I drank some beer. Drinkers have absolutely no sense. I drank the beer and within about 30 seconds I knew something more was wrong with me.
It started to feel like my stomach, and progressively my entire abdomen was on fire. The pancreas produces digestive enzymes that normally stay in your stomach. When you have pancreatitis, those enzymes leak out of the pancreas and begin dissolving the surrounding tissues.
It felt like someone was pouring acid all over my insides, and that’s basically what was happening. There wasn’t any break from the pain - I was writhing on the floor trying to find some position that offered even the slightest amount of relief. Swallowing my saliva intensified the pain in my stomach so much that I started spitting it out instead.
Every other pain I’ve had has plateaued. From the moment it began until I was shot up with dilaudid in the ER, the pain from pancreatitis grew more and more intense. Each wave of pain was successively worse, and each felt like it was right at the limit of what I could take. I didn’t know the human body could hurt like that, and I have a new appreciation of what suffering is.
Because the pancreas is being inflamed in part by its own enzymes and eating triggers the production of more enzymes, you can not eat while you have acute pancreatitis. I consumed no fluids or solids for the first 3 days of my hospital stay; all of my hydration was provided by IV.
By the fourth day in the hospital I hadn’t eaten anything in 5 days. Until your blood work has been cleared you remain on IV only. I. Was. So. Hungry! People in hospital beds around me were getting pancakes for breakfast, chicken noodle soup, soda - it was torture. When they finally let me have a Sprite it felt like drinking an orgasm. Food never tasted better and eating never felt so good.
I weighed in at 148 pounds when I checked in to the hospital. I’m six foot three so I was skinny as hell. I was exhausted all the time, and I was constantly sick but since I was always hungover I didn’t care or notice. I ate because I knew I had to, but it made me feel sick so I avoided it.
In the last 5 months since I quit drinking I’ve gained nearly 25 pounds. I’m in the best shape of my life and I feel so damn clear headed I can’t believe it
If anyone has any questions about my experience with pancreatitis or drinking, please feel free to ask.