Finally, in 1998, after I retired from the Navy, I went in to my GP to see if anything could be done. I essentially got the brush off and was told to take some fiber supplement everyday and I would be fine. Not wanting to accept this as an answer, I went to a well known GI doctor near my home for a second opinion. It is then that I was diagnosed as having chronic pancreatitis.
Over the next five years, I was treated very well and had many ERCPs for stent placements and pallative care. Finally in March 2003, my GI doctor suggested that I might think of surgery as an avenue for more difinative pain relief. I was referred to Shands Hospital at the Univeristy of Florida for the surgery. After a very lengthy discussion with the surgeon, it was decided that I needed to a have a Puestow Procedure done. Well, the long and short of it is that when I was opened up, the surgeon found an undiagnosed tumor hiding on the backside of my pancreas. A biopsy was taken and he removed as much as he could without doing any major cutting. I recovered very well from this surgery, but when I went back for my follow up with the surgeon, he said that the final pathology reports showed the tumor to be a mucinous cystic tumor which would no doubt grow back and most likely become malignant. The good news was that I did not have cancer, YET.
Three months to the day, I went under the knife again to have a Whipple Procedure done where I lost 1/4 of my pancreas, my gallbladder, my duodenum, my bile duct and part of my stomach. It was a very rough recovery. I was hospitalized for 14 days and at home recuperating for another two weeks before I was able to return to work. As I said, the recovery from the Whipple was very rough. I had lost 17 pounds and my appetite was virtually nill. When I did eat, it was very very small meals, mostly creamed soups and mashed potatoes. Gradually I gained weight and regained my strength.
At one year post-whipple, I am doing very well. I have been a distance runner for most of my adult life and I am gradually getting back into my favorite sport again.
If I had one thing to say about my ordeal, I would say when in doubt, ALWAYS go for a second opinion. For too many years, I was gaffed off by military doctors not wanting to take any interest in my true problems. When I was finally seen by true Doctors that cared, that is when I got cared for.