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Saturday, November 3, 2018


Living with the painful unpredictably of pancreatitis is hard. Real hard. It is a hard-to-predict, roller-coater-like condition that changes the entire life of not only the person suffering from it … but also if the family that is going through the condition and circumstances with their loved one.

I did not marry my husband knowing that he would 44 years down the road be struggling with this debilitating illness; Bob’s condition hit him suddenly in August after a stressful inflammatory encounter on our front porch with our Park manager that landed him in ER the following afternoon: there was absolutely no warning – no familial history, and no genetic marks to look for and be prepared for. Bob was originally diagnosed in August with gall bladder malfunction, and all the docs were going with that until his recent hospitalization, where the surgeon ruled out gall bladder complications completely, and said that diagnosis was totally wrong … no indication there was ever a need for gall bladder surgery; he didn’t understand why it was even suggested. Bob was also put on 2 heart medications he DID NOT NEED that were literally killing him … causing frightening blackouts and seizures that landed him in the hospital: all those have been put aside too after Wednesday’s ER visit (he was admitted to ER via ambulance when he started having severe chest pains IN the doctor’s office during his scheduled appointment – later told NOT a heart attack, but rather a ‘chest wall pain’ that mimics a heart attack; brought on by the acute pancreatitis. Before the ambulance arrived he was given 2 nitro pills BY the doctor herself as a precaution!). And people wonder why we are skeptical of doctors and their diagnosis’s!

When we were told Bob has acute and chronic pancreatitis, we, like everyone else assumed it is a disease related to acute alcoholism – and we were quick to let everyone know that THAT could not possibly be the reason Bob is suffering; he does not drink heavily … and has not since 1981. And yet, even among doctors, such as we have run across in ER, there is still a stigma attached to the diagnosis and that is the first question asked. It appears that Bob is suffering from {idiopathic pancreatitis}, which means that while he is FOR SURE SUFFERING this miserable condition, there is no apparent cause as to ((((WHY)))) he is suffering the horrific recurring flare-ups and misery associated with them after all systematic diagnostic evaluations have been administered and reviewed. He does have biliary sludge in this gallbladder … but NO stones – and the stones is what would normally be causing all the pain and inflammation he is suffering. Docs are scratching their heads and a recommendations to be admitted to OHSU (the Oregon Health & Science University Hospital) is on the table. We aren’t even arguing the suggestion – Bob needs help, we need answers, and if OHSU can and will pay for his consultation and following procedures … then we are going to go for it and I will learn to handle the frantic and dangerous city driving of Portland, Oregon, which I loathe and avoid at all costs. I WILL learn because we are going through this thing together. And ‘together’ means we will both be facing our scary situations and leaning into them to overcome them.

And we will not allow acute and chronic pancreatitis to destroy our life together, or rob us of our joy in each other. That can happen as frustrations – which is a stressor, and stressors are to be avoided – crops up on any given day. We cannot allow that if Bob is to get better and hopefully beat the devil at his own game.

Life is hard right now. But it WILL get better. There will BE good times in our life again once we get a firmer grip on this thing and learn how to roll with the changes – in diet, in behavior, in character, in public – in every nuance and situation that makes up the tapestry of our life.

We are going through this together, and THAT knowledge coupled with prayer and keeping faith in our Faith will help us get through this trying time.