Today I got home from a week in the hospital! Last Thursday I woke up feeling horrible. My stomach was nauseated and hurting, and my chest felt like the worst case of heartburn. After I got up, the feelings just got worse and worse. I tried eating and drinking, but that didn’t help. Nothing I did relieved the pain at all, though I felt slightly better after I vomited. Finally, after several hours of this and no relief, I went to the emergency room at the hospital. They quickly got me hooked up to an IV and administered morhpine to help with the pain and I think fluids, as they said I was dehydrated (which was weird as I’d been drinking non-stop for the previous week). They began doing tests — an EKG, a CT scan of my chest, an ultrasound — and quickly determined that it was not my heart but my pancreas. I had pancreatitis, which is a swelling of the pancreas. It’s rather an unusual condition. At the time we weren’t sure what caused it and we still aren’t 100% sure, but the working theory is that sometime recently I became diabetic but didn’t know it. That fits in well with the unquenchable thirst I’d had the week prior. Uncontrolled, the diabetes led to high triglcerides (fat in the blood), which led to pancreatitis. The treatment for pancreatitis is to let the pancreas rest — which, since it’s part of the digestive system, means no food or liquid for several days. It was Sunday before I was allowed to drink or eat anything except for the occasional ice chip, and it wasn’t until today I was able to eat solid foods again. Quite an experience, one I wouldn’t wish on anyone. I had to have a tube down my nose to my stomach for several days, and though I was incredibly thirsty, I couldn’t even drink! But mostly it was boring as after the first couple days my brain was back online but my body was not, and I just had to lie around and wait for it to heal.
The good news is that pancreatitis is usually a one-time thing and shouldn’t happen again, and most people recover from it just fine. I just need rest and time to recover (I lost twenty pounds during my week in the hospital). The bad news is that now I’m diabetic and have to test my blood sugar several times a day and give myself insulin shots every day. I’m making radical changes to my diet: going low fat and low sugar and eating a lot more healthy vegetables and fruits, and eating three meals a day at the same time each day (I used to eat irregularly and probably gorged myself inappropriately after long fasts). This is quite a change, but fortunately I enjoy healthy foods for the most part (cheese is the one fatty thing I’ll miss) and I like a structured routine, so I think I’ll be fine with all the changes. Exercise is something else I’ll have to start — I’m not sure how well I’ll do with that, but it’s not like I’ve got much choice. With diabetes, I’ve got to get healthy or I run the risk of serious health problems down the road, and after this experience, I don’t want to take any risks. One hospital visit was enough for me!