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 Post subject: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:30 am 
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Someone I am close to is an alcoholic (at least four units a day, probably more but we don't know). She has been sickly for a long time but recently it's gotten a lot worse. She feels nauseous and dizzy all day and has no energy to do anything. She went to her md who checked her blood values. She had a fasting glucose of 9. Doctor says she may have pancreatitis. They are going do more tests, but her next appointment will not be until next month. Thankfully she has good Dutch health insurance, so money is less of a problem.

Obviously she should stop drinking, but that's not going to happen any time soon. Her diet consists of cheese sandwiches, pasta with sauce, bananas, an occasional cucumber, cookies and candy. She is on a very tight budget. I'd like to help her eat better (more veggies etc.). I and other people do cook for her occasionally, but I don't think she'll accept more help than she is getting now. She does not have the energy or motivation to change by herself.

It's very distressing to see someone pine away like this and I don't know what else I can do (if anything). I guess I'd like to hear from people who have experience with such issues. What do people do in a situation like this? How will it progress? I hope she will start getting a little better once they figure out what exactly is going on in her body and start giving her medication. Any advice, or just shared experiences would be very very welcome.

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:29 am 
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This is not the most positive spin on this so skip it if you want happy flowers and hugs.

<happy flowers and hugs break>


I have someone in my family who has been an alcoholic for 45 years. At this point, if they don't stop they will die in about 5 years. Because of the drinking, they have damaged their: heart, brain, bone marrow, and liver. Some of that could be fixed if they stopped but even being told that they will die if they don't stop has not made the sort of life-altering impact that you would expect. After a certain age, your body loses a lot of its ability to process alcohol and it hits you much harder. She was functional for most of her life. She has been through rehab more than once and have 2 DUIs. (That's pretty amazing in 45 years.) One rehab counselor said that she had the highest tolerance for alcohol he'd ever experienced in his 25 year career.

Basically, they are unable to accept that they have a problem. The person that lives with them manages to keep cash away for about 3 weeks out of every month to limit their ability to get booze. During that week, we keep the car keys away. We can't make them sober. Addiction is almost the most horrible thing in the world. It grips you like nothing I've ever experienced. You can't love them or wish them sober. It's not that they don't want to get better; they simply cannot stop drinking.

My only advice is to be a friend without letting it destroy you as well. It's a difficult balancing act.

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:04 am 
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Thank you for being so honest Vantine!

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:14 am 
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I agree with Vantine. It's nice and compassionate of you to want to help, but unfortunately even pancreas issues may not stop her self-destruction. My experience is such that I stay far away from my own mother because of her alcoholism. She has been an alcoholic my whole life and I have no doubt that it will inevitably ruin her, she is in her late 40s and is already falling apart physically. When I was a kid, she was having problems with her abdomen hurting, so she went to the doctor and was told she was basically pickling her liver and she needed to stop drinking. She stopped for a short while, but started drinking again. She lies and says she eats healthy, but I know that she subsists on pizza and McDonalds - it's easy to obtain those things when you're already drunk. She refuses to get any help because she still doesn't see it as a problem.

My advice to you would be to find a way to sort of split yourself in two - be a support but don't get emotionally invested, and don't try to save the person. It's not worth the heartache.

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 8:48 am 
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That's a tough situation, Cornelie. I can't add anything to what Vantine and paprikapapaya have said, but I'm sending you ((((hugs)))).

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:03 am 
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On a practical note, pancreatitis requires an extremely bland diet during recurrences - often they have to be in the hospital to receive IV fluids because any food or drink, even water, stimulates the pancreas and the pain is severe. Alcohol is a very common cause of pancreatitis, so I doubt anything you do will help much until she stops drinking.

There's no medicine that cures pancreatitis - it is all behavior modification (abstinence from alcohol, low fat diet), supportive medications like pain control and potentially surgery if the pancreas begins to die or become infected.

Here are some links about pancreatitis:
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmedhealth/PMH0001268/
http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en ... tment.html


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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:43 am 
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Is there an Al-Anon chapter/resources in Amsterdam? It can be very helpful to find support amongst others in similar circumstances.


Sending good thoughts <3

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:43 pm 
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Have you brought up the topic of rehab with her? She really does need to see a doctor that understands addiction as well as her other medical issues because telling an alcoholic to limit their alcohol consumption isn't going to work. And usually when someone is drinking themselves into medical conditions, they're appropriate for residential treatment. If she has no interest in getting healthier/stopping drinking, you have to not enable her and for a lot of people that means severely limiting or completely cutting contact.

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:13 pm 
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i am so sorry you're going through this! i am sad to say that my experience with the alcoholics in my life have been as everyone else describes. i have just opted to not have them in my life, because it hurts so bad to see someone you love slowly killing themselves and always choosing alcohol over everything else.
i truly don't think you can do anything, unless she is specifically asking for help to quit drinking. either way, i think it's unwise and unhealthy to get more emotionally invested in an alcoholic than you can deal with and still stay happy yourself. because no matter how amazing a person she is, the alcoholism will be a force that can keep taking until you have nothing more to offer. obviously everyone is different, but i've known a good amount of alcoholics in my life, and it seems like the ONLY person who can change the alcoholism is the person who is an alcoholic.

the only thing i can recommend is to A) help her find help, if she wants it, and find some good PROFESSIONAL help. do not EVER think you know how to handle this situation, because the alcoholism is a monster out of control. B) find some support - a support group, a therapist or something like that.

i REALLY hope that things work out for the best! hugs.


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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:35 pm 
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Cornelie, I'm sorry that you're going through this--your friend is very lucky to have someone who cares as much as you!
I was very close to someone who was an alcoholic--I found myself in the position of having to keep "saving" her from herself, making excuses for her, carting her to hospitals and the cycle would just repeat. Eventually, I had to set a boundary and remove myself from all contact with her--partially because I had to protect myself and my well-being, and partially because I realized that I was only helping her to keep drinking. This was over ten years ago, and last I heard, she's still drinking.

I hope you have some support for yourself, and I would encourage you to support your friend in recovery-oriented choices. But I'll also echo that no matter how much you care about someone, addiction is incredibly, horribly strong.


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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 2:36 pm 
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(Blood glucose of 9 mmol/l = 162 mg/dl, for Americans or others who were confused.)

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 3:35 pm 
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Thank you guys for all the good advice and support. I do not stand alone in this, there is a whole circle of people around the alcoholic and from what you are telling me, we are going to need each other in the time to come. Thank you for reminding me to look after myself first and not get sucked up by my wish to help. Very good advice and I need it.

We are waiting for the doctor's verdict now, and like I said, that will take at least another month. When it's a little more clear what exactly is going on and she's had a serious talk at the hospital about how the alcohol destroys her body, we'll have another try to get her to participate in a rehab program or get another type of professional help. Maybe she will, maybe she won't.

I can't imagine ever having to break contact. I hope we never get to that stage.

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:17 pm 
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Its heartbreaking to care for an addict and especially watch as their health gets worse and worse and they continue to destroy themselves. Only advice I can give you is to express your concern to her and maybe just force yourself to take a step back from the situation/relationship, as addicts can suck others down with them. (same good advice everyone has already mentioned)

Thats about all I have learned from being in love with a few drug and alcohol addicts in my life. Now a days I pretty much distance myself from anyone who shows those signs because I just cant handle watching it happen.

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 Post subject: Re: Alcoholism and pancreas problems
PostPosted: Fri Aug 03, 2012 1:01 pm 
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When Dr. Lucifer gave me pancreatitis, I wasn't aloud to eat or drink anything for a few days. It was horrible! They gave me weird IV nutrition.


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