Looking for some guidance - boyfriend has pancreatitis!

Posted , 6 users are following.

Hi all,

I'm hoping someone with experience with this can help me out here.  My boyfriend went on travel to Spain about a month ago and with no prior warning, ended up with severe pain after only a few days of being in the country. He went to the hospital and spent 2 weeks there after being diagnosed with Pancreatitis.  Admittedly, neither of us knew ANYTHING about this.  I've done a ton of research and have essentially concluded that he will need to monitor his fat intake and stop drinking alcohol. 

With that said - I'm wondering from those who have had this... have any of you had an attack and not had issues with food?  I'm trying to determine if dietary changes are an absolute requirement for all or if it has varied for people.  What are your triggers?  Also - my boyfriend has never been one to drink regularly, but he does drink socially ever other weeks or so.  When he drinks socially, I would say it's "binge" drinking, 3-5 hard liquor drinks at a time.  Since he didn't have gallstones, I'm assuming this is what did him in.  

It's become obvious to me that he cannot have hard liquor anymore, but what are peoples experiences with beer and wine?  Specifically - once fully healed, would he be OK to have a single beer while mowing the lawn or a glass of wine with dinner a couple times a month or is any and all alcohol consumption an absolute no-no?

Thanks in advance for everyone's guidance and expertise! Just want to be informed so that I can do whatever I can to help him manage this with minimal difficulty. 

-Jen smile

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10 Replies

  • Posted

    There are lots of guidelines out there and it sounds like you found most of them. However that being said not all guidelines apply to all people. Me for instance did not get pancretitis for any reason we could find. I did not find alcohol to be a factor in my pain unless i drank frequently (3-4 days a week) or had several at once. What bothered me most was fried food or fatty foods. But avoiding those was no guarantee that i would not have an attack. Most of my attacks came out of no where when i had being good. I wish the best for your bf.
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    • Posted

      Thanks Bonnie - how often do you get the attacks?  I understand this will differ for everyone, just trying to somewhat guage what to expect.  I appreciate your guidance.
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  • Posted

    From what I know, if alcohol caused his pancreatitis, he must stop drinking alcohol completely.
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  • Posted

    I had surgery and no longer have symptoms. But i fought it for 6 years before doing the sugery. I found stress was my biggest contributing factor. At my worst i was in er 2-3 a month with an attack. At the best it was once every 3-4 months.
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    • Posted

      Oh man! I'm sorry you had to go through that. What is the surgery and what has your experience been since? My boyfriend just had his first attack so I know he's no where near this possibility but I just want to be informed.
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  • Posted

    Jen you're being a great girlfriend, hopefully your guy is taking as much interest in his health.

    Was he diagnosed with Acute or Chronic Pancreatitis?  What tests did he have whilst in hospital?  Did you request a copy of the tests/results performed whilst he was in hospital?  Has he seen his GP and been referred to a gastroenterologist since he's been home?  All important questions.  Self monitoring is not a good idea at all, guesswork and wishful thinking, re drinking for instance, just won't cut it, get the facts relating to his situation.

    A gastroenterologist will most likely perform tests himself, only then will he tell your boyfriend what he should and shouldn't do depending on the type and results he finds. 

    Not something to mess around with Jen it can impact on quality of life hugely so b/f needs to become as informed as he can be.

     

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    • Posted

      Good morning! Thanks for the kind words.  He was diagnosed with Acute. The entire situation is a little tricky.  He's in the military and was over in Spain for work.  Unfortunately the military base in Spain didn't have the ability to provide nutrition through an IV so he had to be taken to an actual Spanish hospital.  They didn't speak any English so he was mostly in the dark about all of the details pertaining to his health.  He has sent in all the paperwork for translation and is just awaiting that.  He has seen his PCP and received a referral for a Gastrointerologist, but the GI wants to wait until he gets the translated paperwork back to see him so that he can understand what's been done, what his results were, and what meds he's been given.

      With that said - he had blood work done nearly every day, a couple CT scan, several sets of X Rays, several Ultrasounds, and an MRI. Both of his lungs were partially collapsed from from the fluid build up but apparently all his levels and the fluid build up was substantially better when they allowed him to fly home. 

      He's been very good about his eating and has no interest in drinking right now so it's hasn't been too challenging. I think he understands the importance of adjusting his diet for this.  It's just not super clear to me if one acute attack of pancreatitis means he'll have to eat a low fat diet for the rest of his life or never have another alcoholic beverage. 

      Hopefully the GI can provide some additional insights on diet and drink. It would be a huge adjustment for him - not so much the drinking because he only ever drinks socially and as much as it would suck - i don't think he's losing sleep over not being able to drink.  It's the food that's going to be hard haha.  He loves everything that's high in fat smile

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  • Posted

    Hi jen,

    sorry to hear your boyfriend got acute pancreatitis. I was diagnosed with it recently myself . I wasn't a heavy drinker and drank wine with my meals and some more now and again. But, I always stayed within the medical guidelines for safe drinking. But, the doctors told me that it was due to alcohol and to never drink again. I haven't and I won't because I don't want this damned pain again! It's not easy. But, alcohol can affect different people differently. I have heard of people drinking huge amounts of hard liquor daily for years and then getting pancreatitis. Others don't. And others seem to be more sentisitive to alcohol . So, I think your boyfriend should just adapt to the new regieme and his health will benefit in the long term. Good luck to you both.

     

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    • Posted

      Hi Pete! Thanks for the reply.  I appreciate the insights.  What has your experience been with foods? Have you been able to eat most anything or have you also been advised to keep your fat intake down?

      One question I do have (for anyone who can answer) - have any of your doctors given you a limit? Like stay under 20 grams of fat a day or something like that?  It's not clear to me what is considered too much fat for a pancreatitis friendly diet and I haven't had much success finding any clear guidance on this.  

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  • Posted

    Hi again Jen.  Regarding diet I think recommendations are based on a general rule and the hurt varies depending on previous eating habits. 

    For instance I've always eaten a mostly light Mediterranean diet, I don't like sweets much, use good quality olive oil, eat salmon and tuna (in olive oil) alternatively weekly, don't eat much red meat (but do eat pork fillet/cutlets

    Pete, they're very lean). 

    I have never tasted McDonald's or much of other fast food choices.  Restaurant eating was a daily affair for me at breakfast/lunch and sometimes dinner but I was careful what I ordered and still classify myself as a bit of a foodie.  (I have another weird disease which requires careful eating since birth, I don't think my diet would sound so saintly otherwise lol)

    So I asked my GI about fat recently thinking I'd have to cut it out altogether and whilst I use quite a lot of olive oil (maybe 6 tablespoons a day, sometimes more, it depends) when cooking and dressing food, and eat oily fish once a week and he said not to change anything, that my diet sounds fine and as long as I don't get increased pain to continue.  I still need Creon though.  It's something I'll watch of course but over-all my diet hasn't changed much really, I'm lucky.  He said we all need fat, can't give it up entirely if we're to stay healthy, however there is good and bad fat, learn the difference.

    If your guy likes fry up's, and cheesy dishes or burgers and chips and butter chicken that sort of thing, he may have problems adapting but adapt he should, the possibility of getting that pain again should be incentive enough to eat a more healthy diet. 

    It sounds like your guy might have had the attack as a result of alcohol (I've never been a drinker), some say give it up for awhile, like 6 months, others say give it up forever. Watching his diet and avoiding alcohol is the way to go, not one or the other usually.

    Acute Pancreatitis can be a once off thing, or it can be the beginning leading to chronic, and living with that can take the joy out of life in so many ways, I'd not recommend it. 

    He has a choice now and I hope he makes the right decisions.  I hope your b/f is reading these posts and has done a bit of general reading about pancreatitis, none of us is bullet proof.  Regards again

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    • Posted

      Good morning! Thanks for the reply.  This information is definitely helpful.  He has been doing a ton of research and has also been reading these posts.  We use a lot of olive oil in cooking as well so I was wondering about that.  Sounds like it really depends person to person on the level of fat they can tolerate.  Trial and error in this case is so costly though since it sounds like most attacks result in a hospital visit potentially for days / weeks.  

      Hopefully he's one of those where he had one attack and no more but it does seem, based on research, that it's more common for it to reoccur. 

      Again - thanks for the information.  It's definitely helpful to hear from others going through this as neither my boyfriend nor I knew a single thing about pancratitis before this episode.  

      -Jen

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