Monday, December 13, 2010

Pancreatitis & Hunger

When I was first diagnosed with pancreatitis it was at the emergency hospital. I had severe acute pancreatitis. I was admitted to the hospital where I stayed for 16 days.

Initially, I was taken off all food and liquids, including water, and put on an IV drip for nutrients.

The nutrients from the IV help to stave off hunger. Still, I wanted to eat. I remember constantly trying to convince the nurses to give me a little yogurt or tapioca, maybe a slice of toast. My pancreas needed to heal and it wasn't time yet.

Now it's about two-and-a-half years later and from time to time I eat something or have too much stress in my life and I will experience pancreatic flare-ups ranging from a big problem to rather slight.

Before my last major flare up which happened last July I weighed about 112 lbs. I've always been small. This is approximately the weight I weighed at age 18. I am now 43. After the flare-up I weighed 105 lbs the first time I weighed myself. I don't keep a scale in the house. I know I had put on some weight before weighing myself.

I think I've pretty much maintained a weight of 107 lbs since then. It's a low weight and even for me, before pancreatitis, I would have tried to put on additional weight to get back up to 112 lbs. Since having chronic pancreatitis putting on weight hasn't really been on the menu.

Putting on weight means I have to be full. Being full hurts my pancreas. I resigned after that last attack to the fact that I would probably not really be able to weigh more. My goal was more about not losing additional weight.

Recently, my teenage daughter moved out of the house and apparently my life has become a lot less stressful allowing me to eat more. I think I've put on a few pounds. That being said, I ate an egg with spices yesterday morning which bothered me, then some berries after. Maybe I shouldn't have had the berries and I should have let my pancreas rest. I feel okay today. But I've learned a lesson. If I don't want to be hungry I should just maintain my weight and not try to put more on because if I have an attack I will be hungry but that will not be an acceptable time for me to eat.

I don't like being hungry so I don't want to put myself in that situation.

Lots of people around the world would be happy to weight 107 lbs at 5'6". It's skinny. But I'm never hungry anymore. I just eat little meals throughout the day and all is good.

If you've recently been diagnosed with chronic or acute pancreatitis you may very well be hungry especially if you aren't being fed through an IV. Let that be okay. It'll pass. You won't die from being hungry but you could die from problems with the pancreas. So just favor your pancreas and try to learn a new way of eating... not now but after your pancreas has healed. You may never eat like other people again. That's okay. We get to choose life. Skinny and alive. I'll take it!

If we don't let the pancreas heal we can have reoccurring bouts, or if you have acute pancreatitis, your organs can shut down and you can die.

A little hunger doesn't sounds so bad now, does it?

It's just hunger. It'll pass. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even this week. But it will pass whether you eat or not. By not eating you can increase your lifespan and the quality of the time you have left as well as how much you can eat at any given time in the future. Therefore, allow your pancreas to heal. It is in your favor and later you will be grateful.

I'm rarely hungry anymore. I eat small meals throughout the day. My pancreas and I are usually friends. I respect my relationship with my pancreas. When I don't my pancreas goes into a rage. I prefer not to have that relationship. So, I eat small low-to-no fat meals that don't include processed foods or refined sugars and my pancreas smiles on me by taking a backstage and allowing me to live my life.

I wish you the best of everything. I know how difficult this time is for you. Be gentle and forgiving to yourself. Don't eat until it is time. Take it slow. No big meals at first. (My doctor suggested I eat a full meal and I had the worst pain I've ever experienced and I relapsed which kept me in the hospital for much longer.)

You have a scary disease. Respect it. It is possible for you to live longer if you are better to your pancreas. Longevity is good!

No drinking alcohol. No acceptions!


  1. Good morning, I have just discovered your blog. I have had symptoms for so long which seem to point towards a problem with my pancreas, and am finally due to see a really good gastro on 27th November, which when you still have all the awful symptoms seems like a lifetime away, but I Know he is good from previous experience with him years ago, so there Is hope. It is really difficult to find good advice about coping with the symptoms I have but you seem to have a really good blog, so I will dig though it in great depth to try and help myself while I am waiting, many thanks in advance, and I hope you are feeling well today :>) Tricia O