Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Pancreatitis & Potassium

Everyone's experience with chronic or acute pancreatitis is different. We live different lives and eat different foods which create different reactions in our bodies.

When I was hospitalized with Severe Acute Pancreatitis I couldn't eat anything. That being said I would sneak a potato chip here and there (about 1-6 per day). I would suck all the salt off it and sometimes eat the chip. I eventually confessed this to my doctor. He said it was not surprising and that my body probably needed it.

Apparently, I had a potassium deficiency. Sometimes when someone has Severe Acute Pancreatitis there is a chance their heart can stop. The heart rate can get slow that it just stops. It is possible for any number of organs to fail but for me the problem was the heart.

Nurses would come in, take my pulse and gasp. Honestly, I didn't appreciate their reaction and thought they should be a little more sensitive to the fact that I was there and could see them gasping in surprise. The doctor would come rushing in soon after looking at my legs. Apparently veins pop out or something to that effect when your heart is about to fail. The panic that often pursued was just not optimistic in my opinion.

I spent a great deal of time (me and my IV) walking the halls of the hospital. The reason was to keep my heart rate up so I wouldn't die from heart failure. The thought was that my heart would have a hard time stopping from beating too slowly if I was in the process of exercise. I didn't walk quickly. I just moseyed around the halls. Me and my IV.

Yep. What can I say. There is a good chance it kept me alive.

This experience is fresh in my mind because two nights ago my right arm was sore and lightly tingly as were my fingers. I Googled it and the first thing that came up was a potassium deficiency. I then Googled 'Foods High in Potassium' and quickly found lists of foods that I never eat and don't like. I figured I'd deal with it the next day.

Yesterday came around and I didn't deal with it. Last night came around and I woke up feeling like my heart was going to stop so I got up, walked around, stretched, jogged in place a little, felt light headed and went back to bed only to be reawakened by a feeling that the artery near my heart was going to collapse and I as though I might have a stroke.

I decided to get up and exercise a little more. After, I sat down and again identified foods with potassium and started devouring everything in the house that contained potassium. It seems that it is quite difficult to actually get a full daily allowance of potassium. Thankfully, I had dried apricots and papaya juice along with a few other items which I hoped was enough to get me through the night.

Today, I will run over to the store and buy some potato chips. I love potato chips but haven't been eating them recently. Tomato puree and baked beans are also quite high in potassium. I am a picky eater but I do like these foods.

My body is weak, sensitive and needs me to always listen to its needs. Having pancreatitis can make me more vulnerable to a lot of things and it can make my system struggle where a healthy system might not.

A potassium deficiency can cause heart disease, kidney disease and a stroke. I will not neglect this aspect of my body's needs again. I believe I have learned an important lesson and hopefully my body will feel better soon. Potassium deficiency also makes a person feel fatigued. Maybe that explains my low energy levels recently.

I love finding out what is causing a problem and being able to fix it. It's amazing how so much relates directly to the diet and how we can improve our state of being by locating the problem and correcting it. While I cannot make the chronic pancreatitis go away, I can fix this issue with the low levels of potassium.

Off to the grocery market!

Articles relating to Pancreatitis and Potassium:
Pancreatitis - Acute Pancreatitis - Chronic Pancreatitis - Symptoms - Diagnosis
Diagnose Me: Condition: Pancreatitis
Acute Pancreatitis and Potassium
Pancreatitis Discussion: Low on Potassium

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chronic Pancreatitis & Animal Crackers

pancreatitis and dietI love my animal crackers!

Why? Because they don't hurt my stomach or cause bloating after I have eaten them. While some might find them to be rather bland. I find them to be an absolute joy and luxury!

Animal crackers are cute, fun, make me smile and don't hurt my pancreas!

Sometimes pancreatitis is just about keeping it simple and enjoying life's little pleasures.

Animal crackers are an enjoyable experience.

Have a great day!

Other Pancreatic Diet Links Below:

Chronic Pancreatitis & Healthy Foods

Alcohol, Diet and Pancreatic Cancer Risks

Monday, December 13, 2010

Pancreatitis & Hunger

When I was first diagnosed with pancreatitis it was at the emergency hospital. I had severe acute pancreatitis. I was admitted to the hospital where I stayed for 16 days.

Initially, I was taken off all food and liquids, including water, and put on an IV drip for nutrients.

The nutrients from the IV help to stave off hunger. Still, I wanted to eat. I remember constantly trying to convince the nurses to give me a little yogurt or tapioca, maybe a slice of toast. My pancreas needed to heal and it wasn't time yet.

Now it's about two-and-a-half years later and from time to time I eat something or have too much stress in my life and I will experience pancreatic flare-ups ranging from a big problem to rather slight.

Before my last major flare up which happened last July I weighed about 112 lbs. I've always been small. This is approximately the weight I weighed at age 18. I am now 43. After the flare-up I weighed 105 lbs the first time I weighed myself. I don't keep a scale in the house. I know I had put on some weight before weighing myself.

I think I've pretty much maintained a weight of 107 lbs since then. It's a low weight and even for me, before pancreatitis, I would have tried to put on additional weight to get back up to 112 lbs. Since having chronic pancreatitis putting on weight hasn't really been on the menu.

Putting on weight means I have to be full. Being full hurts my pancreas. I resigned after that last attack to the fact that I would probably not really be able to weigh more. My goal was more about not losing additional weight.

Recently, my teenage daughter moved out of the house and apparently my life has become a lot less stressful allowing me to eat more. I think I've put on a few pounds. That being said, I ate an egg with spices yesterday morning which bothered me, then some berries after. Maybe I shouldn't have had the berries and I should have let my pancreas rest. I feel okay today. But I've learned a lesson. If I don't want to be hungry I should just maintain my weight and not try to put more on because if I have an attack I will be hungry but that will not be an acceptable time for me to eat.

I don't like being hungry so I don't want to put myself in that situation.

Lots of people around the world would be happy to weight 107 lbs at 5'6". It's skinny. But I'm never hungry anymore. I just eat little meals throughout the day and all is good.

If you've recently been diagnosed with chronic or acute pancreatitis you may very well be hungry especially if you aren't being fed through an IV. Let that be okay. It'll pass. You won't die from being hungry but you could die from problems with the pancreas. So just favor your pancreas and try to learn a new way of eating... not now but after your pancreas has healed. You may never eat like other people again. That's okay. We get to choose life. Skinny and alive. I'll take it!

If we don't let the pancreas heal we can have reoccurring bouts, or if you have acute pancreatitis, your organs can shut down and you can die.

A little hunger doesn't sounds so bad now, does it?

It's just hunger. It'll pass. Maybe not today. Maybe not tomorrow. Maybe not even this week. But it will pass whether you eat or not. By not eating you can increase your lifespan and the quality of the time you have left as well as how much you can eat at any given time in the future. Therefore, allow your pancreas to heal. It is in your favor and later you will be grateful.

I'm rarely hungry anymore. I eat small meals throughout the day. My pancreas and I are usually friends. I respect my relationship with my pancreas. When I don't my pancreas goes into a rage. I prefer not to have that relationship. So, I eat small low-to-no fat meals that don't include processed foods or refined sugars and my pancreas smiles on me by taking a backstage and allowing me to live my life.

I wish you the best of everything. I know how difficult this time is for you. Be gentle and forgiving to yourself. Don't eat until it is time. Take it slow. No big meals at first. (My doctor suggested I eat a full meal and I had the worst pain I've ever experienced and I relapsed which kept me in the hospital for much longer.)

You have a scary disease. Respect it. It is possible for you to live longer if you are better to your pancreas. Longevity is good!

No drinking alcohol. No acceptions!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Pancreatitis Diet: Bad Spices & Healthy Berries and Honey

pancreas and berriesSoooo, once again, I ate a fried egg with a seasoning I love but which hates my pancreas and inevitably causes pain.

Odd thing happened today, after my pancreas began to flare up I had an urge to eat some frozen berries & honey (red raspberries, blackberries & a few strawberries with ample honey). I'm eating it and I just realized my pancreas isn't hurting anymore.

I'm not drawing conclusions, just passing on information.

My goal is to understand what works, what doesn't and how foods are affecting my pancreas.pancreas and honey

I'm really beginning to love frozen berries with honey more and more.

I would guess fresh berries are better for you but I can keep frozen berries in the house and at my disposal and therefore do!

Chronic Pancreatitis & Bad Spices I Love

pancreatitis and spices that hurtI love Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning on fried eggs and steak.

I've used it for years. Only problem is that now I have chronic pancreatitis and this spice is not good for my pancreas.

I just fried an egg and put this fabulous spice on it. Okay, for my system this spice is more like Halloween than Christmas and my system is terrified of Halloween and panics going into a rage anytime Halloween gets near it.

I just threw out my Tony Chachere's Original Creole Seasoning. I threw it out because I am undisciplined and will continue to use it on the foods I love to have it on if it is in the house.

It is now in the trash can soon to be in the dumpster and if I have any sense about me I'll never buy it again. Rather, I'll have the ability to suggest it to my non-pancreatic challenged friends and to always have very fond memories of it.

The bottomline is that I would rather have an extended life than any spice which inflames my pancreas!

Additional Information:

Pancreatitis: Healthy Foods

Pancreatitis Diet Tips and Information

Cooking With Pancreatitis: Spices

<span class=One major change in my diet, after being diagnosed with pancreatitis, is that I veer from spicy foods and refrain from adding the to the dishes I prepare. At restaurants, I request the spices be held or order items that are not spicy.

Spices are hard on my pancreas. Spices can create a pancreatic flare-up or add in a flare-up if my pancreas is already vulnerable due to other elements - if I have the flu, stress, too much food in general, etc.

Therefore, in the name of feeling good I simply choose not to eat spicy food. Spicy food will hurt my pancreas. I want to feel good and keep my pancreas as healthy as possible for as long as possible. No need to tempt fate or lose wanted years from my life. The elimination of spicy food seems to be a wise choice.

That being said some spices are considered anti-inflammatory. Therefore, it would make sense that using such spices would be a benefit to the pancreas rather than a hindrance.

I've listed some anti-inflammatory spices below:

Black Pepper

Related Information:

Top 12 Superfood Herbs and Spices

Enhance Your Anti-Inflammatory Diet With the Right Spices

The Benefits of an Anti-Inflammatory Diet


Friday, December 10, 2010

Pancreatitis & Reducing Stress

stress pancreasA few months back, I was very busy with a project I was working on and found my hours to be non-stop from when I awoke until I passed out from exhaustion.

During this same time, my pancreas began to flare up and become irritated and inflamed.

It took a couple months for the pancreas to heal and to where I could eat without pain and had an easier time with solid foods.

What I learned was that I am not the sort of person who can afford to live a stressful lifestyle.

Now, when something is happening that in the past I would have reacted to I just now thepancreas reduce stress situation is not worth getting myself worked up over.

When it comes to work, I changed my schedule, began to prioritize differently and have become more efficient to keep from getting too stressed out.

I want to live. For me to do this, I must respect the needs of my pancreas. My pancreas does not like stress. Therefore, I work to live a more stress-free lifestyle. Of course, the added benefit is that I get to live a more stress-free lifestyle. So it's all good!

Additional Information:




Monday, December 6, 2010

Pancreatitis & Baby Rice Cereal

pancreatitis and baby cerealA cereal I've always loved, I still love and so does my pancreas. I dunno about my pancreas but I feel just like this cute baby when it comes to my baby rice cereal!

Gerber's Baby Rice Cereal has always been one of my favorite comfort foods.

A little cereal.

A little water.

An ample amount of honey.


Comfort food for me and my pancreas.

It's like you're eating for two when you have pancreatitis and the goal is to make everybody happy... especially the pancreas! Otherwise it turns into the world's bratty kid that you really don't want around.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Pancreatitis & Lentil Soup

lentil soup and pancreatitisOver the 2+ years since I was diagnosed with pancreatitis I've made lentil soup on occasion.

I make it from scratch. It's easy.

1. Get the biggest pot I can find.

2. Empty an entire bag of lentils into the pot.

3. Add a can of tomato paste or sauce (optional).

4. Add a little salt (completely optional)

5. Bring to boil.

6. Lower temperature to a simmer.

7. Allow to continue to simmer for a while. How long depends on you. The longer it simmers the thicker the consistency. I generally leave it on the stove for about 24 hours then move it into the fridge or just leave it on a low heat on the stove putting more water into it as needed. Since it is best to have fewer lentils and more broth I tend to add water more than I did before I had pancreatitis.

small portions pancreatitisHint: One of the easier ways to decrease the amount of soup you are eating or putting into your bowl is simply to decrease the size of the bowl. Use a small serving bowl or a child's bowl. I have a couple cute little bowls I use which I used to use for condiments. It's easier not to serve myself too much if I keep the serving size small to begin with.

Even after having pancreatitis for a couple years now it is still easy to forget how small an appropriate sized serving is. It does not help my pancreas to eat too muchsmall serving pancreatitis and can inevitably lead to another attack. Therefore, I don't want to overeat. It is always better to eat a few smaller meals than to ever overeat. Not being able to eat due to previously having overeaten is a bummer. I don't know about you but I hate losing weight and the easiest way for me to lose weight is to have yet another attack. Yuck! I'd rather just eat smaller portions and I have found that smaller bowls help.

Enjoy the lentil soup!

Some spices are bad and hurt my pancreas.

Can Orange Juice Cause Pancreatitis?

orange juice and pancreatitisSomeone reached this site by asking if orange juice can cause pancreatitis.

While this is not a question that ever occurred to me before, it could be an important question especially considering my background.

I have always been an avid drinker of orange juice. So much so that I've actually been warned not to drink so much and told that drinking so much orange juice could rip away my stomach lining.

I never listened to any of this and wrote it off as nonsense.

Nonetheless, it is important to note that there is someone out there who is wondering if orange juice could cause pancreatitis and that I have always drunk an awful lot of orange juice. Well, not anymore. My pancreas cannot handle it anymore. In case it is noteworthy, I preferred Minute Maid with Calcium.

I've read that over time the pancreas - in pancreatic patients - becomes calcified. If orange juice has anything to do with pancreatitis would calcium fortified orange juice be even harder on the pancreas?

Another interjection is that I'm hypoglycemic.

Okay, that's all I got. Did anyone else who suffers from pancreatitis drink an overabundance of pancreatitis and calcium orange juiceorange juice.

Seems like a silly train of thought but it's not. At this point, most everything important about pancreatitis, what causes it and how to live with it is unknown. Therefore, similarities in pancreatitic patients should be noted... even if it is something as simple as an orange juice addition.

One of the big problems is that people with chronic pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer don't seem to live long enough for the medical profession to learn enough about our disease to make much headway with it. Therefore, any patterns or similarities should be noted. We don't have to have all the answered. We just want to log our findings, questions, progress and what we experience and see as similar patterns so that hopefully this information can be used to help us and others!

Note: If you have pancreatitis, this does not mean it is okay to drink alcohol. It is not. If you have pancreatitis you cannot drink alcohol anymore. EVER!

Pancreatitis: Berries & Honey

pancreatitis and dietI eat a decent amount of frozen berries with honey. Fresh berries would be better, most likely, but I don't like to shop all the time, berries aren't always in season and I like having an assortment of berries in the house all the time. Hence, frozen berries.

Note: Although this picture has honey, berries and milk I do not add milk - only honey and berries for me. Pancreatic calcification is something I am trying to avoid.

Berries with honey do not seem to hurt my pancreas. If they did, I wouldn't be eating them. Things that hurt I tend to veer away from.

The other day I learned that honey is fat-free. I've always been thin and have never needed to watch my calories or weight so I've never given these things a second thought.

Pancreatitis is making me look at food a little differently. I no longer eat fatty meats such as steak or use heavy cream in my coffee. Rich foods tend to be fattier which hurts my pancreas about a half hour to an hour later. I don't like how that feels. I know it is bad for longevity, so I have learned (am still learning, I'm sure) to stay away from such foods.

I'm a typical Californian. I've grown up with healthy food - like fresh fruits and natural foods, pancreatitis berries honeynever really one for processed foods - so to some degree I probably gravitate toward more appropriate choices for my pancreas naturally.

Today, after having made myself a bowl of strawberries, red raspberries and blackberries with an ample amount of honey on top I took a look at the nutritional fact on the back of the packages wondering what the fat content is of these food items that I enjoy so much.

Great Value No Sugar Added Blueberries contain 1g fat w/0 grams saturated fat
Great Value No Sugar Added Blackberries contain 0g fat w/0g saturated fat
Great Value No Sugar Added Strawberries contain 0g fat w/0g saturated fat
Great Value No Sugar Added Red Rasberries contain 0g fat w/0g saturated fat

fruit and pancreatitis

Thought for the day: Frozen fruit might not be as nutritious as fresh fruit but if it ends up frozen fruit or worse eating habits I'd rather have the frozen fruit in the freeze and a healthier pancreas. I'm not perfect and neither are my shopping habits. I just try to make it as easy as possible for my pancreas to last longer.

Remember, if your pancreas hurts when you eat don't eat. Wait. Allow it to heal. It can't heal if you don't allow it the time it needs. It might take a looong time. That's okay. When you can drink water. Do that. When you can have clear broth. Do that. When you can have runny tapioca. Do that. Be patient. It's all good.

Never drink alcohol. It's not for you if you have pancreatitis. There are no exceptions to this rule. It doesn't matter if you want just one drink, if it is a special occasion or your birthday. You don't drink alcohol anymore. End of story. Lots of other things to enjoy. Enjoy life!

Have a great day!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Pancreatitis & Fat Free Honey!

honey and pancreatitisHoney is fat free.

Yep! That's right.

Zero grams of fat.

0 grams of fat.

0% fat.

Honey has NO fat!

I just like saying that! As someone with pancreatitis this is very good news!

pancreatitis and fat free honeyThis is good for us with pancreatitis who are trying to find a sweetener.

I haven't used sugar or fake sweeteners for years. If I sweeten something it is with sugar.

One time when I was have a hard time with my pancreas and not really able to eat I had a spoonful of honey and felt a nice feeling in my stomach as if it might even be helpful with healing.

Helpful with healing and 0% fat. Oh yeah. I like honey!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Pancreatitis & Karaoke

living with pancreatitisLast month I sang karaoke in public for the first time.

I'm not a good singer but we were in a cheap, rather cheesy roadside eatery and well... it just felt appropriate.

Everyone cheered me on as I fearlessly sang Hotel California by the Eagles.

One of the benefits about having pancreatitis is that it allows you to be a little more fearless in your daily life.

I had always been too shy to sing in public. Now with impending death at my doorstep shyness has taken a backseat to fun, fearless and safe risks and adventures.

Try it!

Life is short. Enjoy!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Pancreatitis & Roller Coasters

pancreatitis and roller coastersWe are at DisneyWorld. Yesterday, I rode the Arrowsmith Roller coaster ride twice, back-to-back in the front row. The coaster is much smoother than previously so I'm assuming either the tracks or whatever holds the coaster to the tracks have recently been refurbished, tightened or cleaned. Nice ride! Not nearly as jerky as before.

That being said, I felt very sick after the ride(s). Like many of us with chronic pancreatitis, I'm quite skinny. I think I weigh about 107. I used to weigh a mere 5-10 pounds more than that but I haven't been able to get back up to my previous weight and have pretty much realized that it probably won't happen. Rather, now my goal is to try my best to maintain my weight.

Being so skinny might have made it so that my intestines are more easily damaged. The roller coaster might have been rather rough on my intestines and stomach. I tried to tough it out be in the end I didn't feel better and needed to return to our hotel room.

My daughter did some reflexology on my feet and found that both my stomach and intestine areas were very sore. We do reflexology on me regularly. It is something I often do on myself but wasn't feeling well enough to do yesterday. Generally speaking, my stomach and intestinal areas on my feet feel absolutely fine. Not so, yesterday.

I've informed my daughter that I will not be riding any more roller coasters. I do not know if theroller coasters and pancreatitis pancreatitis has a direct result on how awful I felt yesterday or if it was just a side effect of the pancreatitis because I am now thinner... and perhaps my intestines are weaker. Don't know, but wanted to share my experience and give you a head's up on the possibilities.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Pancreatitis: Don't Eat Too Much

pancreatitis and holidays The holidays are such an easy time to stuff yourself.

If you have pancreatitis or chronic pancreatitis then you know that eating too much is not the sort of think you can afford to do no matter how good the holiday food looks.

If you are having someone over to your house that has pancreatitis please do not try to get them to eat more no matter how thin they are or how good your food is.

Trust me, people with chronic pancreatitis know how good food is even if we aren't eating much of it. We don't eat too much before it can send our system into an attack that could literally kill us. Would you like your holiday dinner guest to die on your lovely holiday living roomchronic pancreatitis thanksgiving floor an hour after dinner? Probably not. Even if they don't die from over eating it is probably better if they don't hurt their pancreas further from over eating.

If you were newly diagnosed with pancreatitis there are a few things to keep in mind.

1. Do not drink alcohol at all. No exception! Toast with sparkling apple cider or whatever other non-alcoholic drink you might have in your hand.

pancreatitis do not drink2. Do not overeat. The rule of thumb is that your pancreas will not start to hurt until about an hour or an hour-and-a-half after you finish eating. Therefore you need to be prudent while eating. Don't expect to feel the pain while you are eating and for that to let you know that you need to stop eating. Instead, eat a lite meal. You can always nibble throughout the night. But once you've eaten you can't take it back. Therefore, you want to ensure that you are not over eating in the first place.

3. Sugars, spicy foods and fatty foods are hard on your pancreas to digest. Try to stay away from them.

Enjoy the holiday season! Pancreatitis is not a friendly disease. Its mortality rate scarily high. Be good to your pancreas as that could perhaps help your lifespan.
pancreatitis do not overeat
The holidays are about joy, family, friends, happiness and good times not about food and booze.

The holidays are a great time to be around the ones you love. A time when we truly get to remember how precious life is and how much we enjoy it and the wonderful things in our lives!

Pancreatitis: Coffee with Honey

coffe and pancreatitisI know I'm not supposed to drink caffeine since I have pancreatitis. Yet, I do it anyway.

I admit it. I'm a coffee fiend. I drink several cups a day.

I like coffee with cream (real cream) only. No sweeteners. Just delicious fresh coffee with a good cream that makes my coffee rich in color.

When at home, I now use a fat free milk or a fat-free half-and-half.

Although I never have used a sweetener for my coffee, I have decided to begin to do so. It's is on a trial basis, for now.

I have begun putting honey in my coffee. healing honey and pancreatitisThe reason isn't to sweeten the coffee but rather in hopes that the cream with make the coffee easier on my pancreas. I don't know if it will work or not. In fact, I can feel that my pancreas is currently slightly swollen so I have my doubts. Nonetheless, I know that honey has eased my pancreas pain when, at times, I've been unable to eat. Honey also helps to fill me up when I can't eat.

I assume there is something in honey that works in a positive nature with the pancreas. I think this might be the case as a result of how it makes my pancreas feel when I can't eat and the fact that my pancreas is at ease with the honey intake.

All that being said, it does seem that my pancreas is probably pancreatitis anti-inflammatoryslight swollen at present. That being said, I'm on my third large coffee of the day. It is 2:00 pm. Between the caffeine and cream intake (I'm not at home so the cream intake is either real cream or a non-dairy creamer - which probably has a sweetener in it. I've heard sweeteners are very hard on the pancreas).

I'll take my Wobenzym N which is an all natural systemic enzyme anti-inflammatory. I don't know if it actually helped but I always want to take it when I can feel that my pancreas is swollen.

Note: It is now several days later. I am still drinking coffee with honey in it. I don't believe it is helpful in anyway. We're still on vacation. I think I'll go back to straight coffee with cream when we return home. That being said, I should not be drinking coffee at all. It is said that people with pancreatitis should not drink coffee. Obviously, I'm not perfect. Heck, it's not even on my 'To Do' list.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Pancreatitis & Thanksgiving Dinner

The pancreas needs to be taken care of whether or not the holiday season is in full swing.

Since I have chronic pancreatitis and I'm happily heading toward my third Thanksgiving since having received the diagnosis I no longer eat as much as I want all day long. Instead, I eat sparingly as I do with all meals.

I eat small amounts of food at one time never stuffing myself and with the clear objective not to fill stomach.

The more I eat at one sitting the harder my pancreas will have to work and the more likely I am to suffer an attack especially if something in my life is stressing me out.

This holiday I will eat all meals in small quantities because I will feel better and enjoy my food more knowing that it is not hurting me.

I do not eat sugar products at all. If I were to eat something sweat it might be Tapioca Pudding made with honey rather than any other kind of sweetener.

Honey always makes me feel good and it is probably filling as well. I've never had any negativepancreatitis and too skinny side effects from honey. At times, my pancreas hasn't felt good enough for me to eat and I've opted for a spoon full of honey. It seems to smooth the pancreas while acting as a nutrient or at least something related to the food chain.

I do not drink alcohol ever and that includes the holidays. Pancreatitis doesn't take time off for the holidays so I don't get to drink alcohol at all during this time.

If someone says that you look thin you might simply mention or perhaps only think to yourself how lucky you feel to be here and to have the opportunity to look thin particularly considering the alternative and how absolutely fabulous you look in your new skinny jeans as you celebrate life and how much you are thankful for another day!

I'm thankful for skinny people! From what I can tell I will never be able to gain more weight. Therefore, the alternatives to this weight probably won't get better. Therefore, I celebrate the opportunity to be this weight and I treasure everything about it!

Monday, November 22, 2010

Pancreatitis, Eating & The Holidays

do not overeat pancreatitisThanksgiving is almost here. I love stuffing myself on Thanksgiving. I can eat turkey for what seems to be an eternity. It's neverending. Then, I rest drowsily on the sofa.

This year will be different. First off, we're eating out. Second, I have pancreatitis. In fact, this is my third Thanksgiving while under the influence of pancreatitis.

This means that I will not be eating as much turkey as possible and celebrating my gluttony of the dead animal.

Instead, I will eat light, treasure my ability to eat at all, and be incredibly thankful for my life.

If you are unable to eat at this time perhaps a really nice bowl of turkey, chicken or beef broth no alcohol with pancreatitiswould make for a fabulous Thanksgiving dinner!

Food and eating habits change with pancreatitis. Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to appreciate all that we have in our lives.

Holidays are not a time when I drink. Since I now get to celebrate the scarcity of longevity I also get to celebrate without alcohol. There are no exceptions to this rule even if I really want a drink, even if I think just one is okay. No alcohol. No exceptions! Why? Because I want to live and with pancreatitis I have both life and alcohol. I choose life!

If you were recently diagnosed with pancreatitis. There are two very important things I like to keep in mind.
1. No booze! One drink can send my system into shock and kill me. This is not an exaggeration at all.
2. Don't overeat! It hurts a lot and can cause an attack.

How to Stop a Pancreatic Flare Up

no booze pancreatitis1. Don't drink alcohol (ever again).

This is what I was told when I was admitted to the hospital and where I stayed for 16-days as a result of having an acute severe attack of pancreatitis. I want to stay alive, so I don't drink alcohol at all ever.

2. Stay away from things with calcium.

This is a new one for me. Since I read that the pancreas becomes calcified over time inevitably ending in death, I've decided that things with calcium just don't need to be in my diet at all. This includes daily vitamins which contain calcium, orange juice or any other juice that is calcium fortified, and things like broccoli.

For now, it does not include string cheese. I am addicted. I'm sure I will eventually need to remove it from my diet. Today is not that day. During times of flare-ups, I do not eat string cheese. It is too fatty and hard on my system.
wobenzym n and pancreatitis
3. I take Wobenzym N because it decreases inflammation. Therefore, I think it might decrease the inflammation in my pancreas.

I have no proof that it works. That being said, I always run to it when I feel my pancreas is swollen. I doubt this would be a natural reaction is it wasn't beneficial. Wobenzym N makes me dehydrated. Therefore, I keep water nearby and drink plenty of it. Of course, 'plenty' is a relative term based on what your system can handle. I don't drink as much water (or anything else) as someone might who doesn't suffer from pancreatitis.

clear broth pancreatitis4. I eat less, if at all.

Even if I'm hungry, I know my pancreas cannot heal if I do not let it rest. Chicken Broth is one of my favorites when I'm staying away from food to let my pancreas heal. It fills me up, adds liquids and seems to be rather gentle on my system.

5. I drink coffee.

I don't recommend this. Coffee is known to be a problem for the pancreas. Yet, it cuts down on my need for food and hurts my system less than food would. So, I'm not perfect and I drink coffee. Non-fat half-and-half or non-fat milk is better than milk with fat in it. No milk at all is better. Milk has calcium. Again, I'm not perfect. I just try the best I can.

I generally do the above for a few to several days as the pancreas seems to need this much time to feel better. Yes, I often lose weight during this time. It's not my preference, but it beats the alternatives.

I would love to hear what other people do when they have a pancreatic flare up. Please share your experience and knowledge in this area.

Below are a couple resources which might help:

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Pancreatitis & the Endocrine System

endocrine system and pancreatitisThe pancreas is part of the endocrine system. A few years back I notice I had an enlarged thyroid. At some point I was reading up on it and realized that both the thyroid and pancreas were part of the endocrine system.

The way I initially suspected I was having troubles with my pancreas was because each time my daughter would do reflexology on my feet my pancreas was sore. This was the case for several years before going to a doctor about it. In fact, the soreness on the bottom of my foot lead me to learn more about the pancreas and why it might be sore. This is why I was able to tell the doctors I thought I was having problems with my pancreas when I went into the emergency hospital.
endocrine system and pancreas
Later, when trying to figure out if there was anything I could do about my enlarged thyroid I discovered its relation to the pancreas via the endocrine system.

When I massage my feet (or when my daughter does it for me) there are areas which are usually sore - the pancreas and the pituitary are always on the list. When I had the flu over the past couple weeks my thymus was so sore that area of my foot was achy when walking on it.

So one of the questions I consider when trying to improve or maintain the condition of my pancreas is how it interacts to and is affected by the overall health and well-being of the endocrine system.

If my thymus or thyroid is weakened will this negatively impact my pancreas. Logic would lead me to believe the answer is 'yes'. The reasoning being that the interaction of the whole affects the whole so if other parts of the endocrine system are weak the result will be a weaker pancreas. This matters because it could affect the overall health and function of my pancreas and therefore affect my overall longevity.

systemic enzymes and pancreasYesterday, I went to the health food store. I was out of Wobenzym N and needed more. Wobenzym N is an anti-inflammatory systemic enzyme which seems to be a benefit to my system. When my pancreas is inflamed I like to take three Wobenzym N tablets. This seems to result in a decrease of inflammation in the pancreas region.

Bound and determined to find the bottle on my own - even though it was no longer in the same section as previously - I scoured the shelves. I noticed a bottle called 'Thyroid Balance' which claimed to be for healthy thyroid function. Intrigued, I pancreas and thyroidpicked up the bottle and the side which stated the over-the-counter capsules 'help to regulate healthy metabolism and to counteract such things as 'thinning hair, poor circulation' and 'mood swings' all of which I experience. Wow! All these symptoms could be related to my thyroid which in turn could be affecting my pancreas. I touched my swollen thyroid gland only to notice it was barely there anymore. Hmmm. I thought to myself the Wobenzym N must have shrunken it. Good!

While my thyroid gland is still swollen it is not nearly as swollen as it was before. So I bought the bottle of capsules to see what sort of affect it might have on my system - hoping for a positive affect.

The bottle says to take 4 capsules with breakfast. I did this. A little later my pancreas felt uncomfortable and swollen, as it does now. I had recently eaten breakfast so I don't know if it is because I ate a little more than I should have or if my pancreas doesn't prefer the thyroid capsules.

pancreatitis and alimentary systemI will take the capsules again in hopes of seeing if it is beneficial. I do think it impacted my mood positively, but if it impacts my pancreas negatively than the capsules would not be something I would continue to take.

I suggested to Sophie that she take them as well to see if it helps balance her hormone. This evening she said that she thinks the thyroid capsules might have helped her mood because although she has been a little grumpy over the past couple days she was not grumpy today. She's going to keep testing it out.

If she might tend to have a weakened endocrine system then it would be better to be proactive to help her protect from the negative side effects such a weakened system might cause to her body.

Noteworthy: I think my eye sight has improved since taking the thyroid capsules this morning - meaning, things don't seem to be quite as blurring. Just thought it was worth making note of...

By the way, my thymus does not usually (like never) hurt on my foot when doing reflexology. The sensitivity in this area seems to be a direct result of having the flu.

Another note: While the thymus has endocrine function, it is not considered to be an endocrine gland. Nonetheless, when I had the flu my pancreas was not doing as well. Perhaps the weakened state of the thymus affected the pancreas as a result of its direct endocrine function.

Is Pancreatic Cancer Treatable?

bad doctors pancreatic cancerI love reading about pancreatic cancer. Not because I find it a hopeful experience. On the contrary, reading about pancreatic cancer is very scary on many levels but it reminds me how important it is that I take care of myself to the best of my ability. My fear of pancreatic cancer motivates me to understand and respect where I am at with chronic pancreatitis.

1. Pancreatic cancer is not a curable disease.

2. There is no reliable screening test for the early detection of pancreatic cancer with symptoms that are often vague and easily confused with other diseases or illnesses. I love how the John Hopkins Pancreatic Research Center states on their website "We need to invest in the development of an effective screening test".

Please note that in the statement above the #1 hospital in the country is saying that they don't even have a way of testing people early to prevent pancreatic cancer or to try to cure it in its early stages because how can you cure it in the early stages if you can't detect it! AND THEY AREN'T EVEN DEVELOPING AN EFFECTIVE SCREENING TEST. Rather, they are simply stating the need to do so. YIKES!

3. John Hopkins Pancreatic Research Center website states that when caught early pancreatic cancer is treatable. But remember, they also tell us that there is no effect screening test and one needs to be developed. So, please explain how a doctor can catch it early if there isn't an effective way to screen for it?

4. The 5-year survival rate is nearly 40% when the pancreatic cancer is surgically removed whilepancreatic cancer survival rates still small and if it has not spread to the lymph nodes. Okay... now read that again. In short, the chance of living 5 years after pancreatic cancer surgery if caught early and if it has not spread is only 40%.

As you can read, the statistics of surviving pancreatic cancer - the 4th leading cause of death in both men and women - is dismal.

So why do I love reading about pancreatic cancer?

Because the process of learning is empowering!

understanding pancreatic cancerWhat if I didn't know that the doctors don't know anything about curing this disease? I'd believe them. Most doctors don't even know the basics about pancreatitis. This disease is so deadly that I do not want to put my life in the hands of someone who is and will probably incredibly ignorant about this disease for the rest of my lifetime.

The wrong information can literally kill me when it comes to my pancreas. From what I've read, it seems that most doctors just put pancreatic sufferers on heavily addictive medicines. My personal belief is that such prescriptions probably kills the patient earlier than need be. I don't want to be that patient.

I also don't want to be a guinea pig for doctors. I'd rather be my own guinea pig and try to figure out what my system is doing and why and what makes it feel better - or at least doesn't make it feel worse. Unlike doctors, I'm not overworked with little time to spend on each patient and only so much interest and tolerance to listen to their symptoms and how their body reacts.

I have nothing better to do than listen to my body tell me how it reacts to foods, liquids, etc in relation to my pancreas. For me, I care if I live or die far more than any doctor ever will. I am simply more vested in my personal longevity and health.

Having a 40% chance of living 5 years is dismal. Since I do not have pancreatic cancer but pancreas cancer survival ratemerely live with chronic pancreatitis I hope to stave off the cancer by the way I treat myself now.

I can learn and respond to what I learn. I know that acidic juices are hard on my pancreas. So I have them in very limited quantities. I know that whole milk is not something I should include in my diet anymore. So I drink non-fat milk and strive for non-fat food products, as well. I know lean meat does not hurt my pancreas as much as fatty meats. So I try to eat lean meats.

I've learned that chronic pancreatitis inevitably turns into pancreatic cancer. I also learned that a person can die from chronic pancreatitis without it first turning into cancer.

So how can all these dismal facts and hypotheses be helpful or hopeful? Because knowing how little is known about the disease allows me to learn from my body. Trust my body. And be incredibly proactive in my overall health. Hopefully, this will result in living longer with a better quality of life than if I did nothing.

pancreatic cancer death rateHonestly, the fear with doctors is that the instruction they might give could cause more harm than good and therefore actually shorten my lifespan. I'd rather leave my health in my own hands for now.

Hopefully, someday within my lifetime the doctors will figure something out that will help prolong the survival rates of those who suffer from pancreatic cancer and chronic pancreatitis. Until then, I'll just do the best I can and enjoy life as much as possible knowing how precious each day is and how - like everyone else in this world - I won't live forever.

Eat well (in a healthy manner per your body's condition) and don't drink alcohol ever!

Additional Resources:


PANCREATIC CANCER: Symptoms, Diagnosis and Treatment for Cancer of the Pancreas

PANCREATIC CANCER: Is There a Natural Cure for Pancreatic Cancer?

Chronic Pancreatitis and Pain Killers

pancreatitis and painEven when I was in the hospital with Severe Acute Pancreatitis I avoided pain killers with the exception of one really bad episode of pain which resulted from the head GI doctor telling me I was fine, could eat a whole meal and go home.

I ate a whole meal and found myself to be in the worst pain I had ever had related to my pancreas. At that point, I took painkillers. It was temporary and because I knew there was nothing I could do but wait it out, so there was no reason to wait in pain.

My goal is to avoid the pain in the first place. If I eat non-fatty, non-sugary foods in small quantities and then I can generally avoid painful pancreas episodes in the first place - which is the ultimate goal.

I feel that if I am not in pain then I am probably also not hurting my pancreas. The way I look at it is this - if I don't hurt my pancreas I will live longer because it will take me more time to destroy it.

There doesn't seem to be a set timetable for how long we get to live with chronic pancreatitis so my goal is to live as long as possible. The less I hurt the pancreas. The longer I'll live... so I gather.

chronic pancreatitis without painkillers
Noteworthy: A LOT of chronic pancreatitis sufferers end up addicted to narcotics for the pain. Honestly, I can't see how this could help the patience's longevity. Avoiding the pain in the first place seems like a much more realistic, holistic and healthy option both physically and mentally.

Therefore, I do not take pain medicine. If I can feel what is going on in my body then I will better understand my limits. If I can't feel anything then I don't know if I am hurting my pancreas or not.

I want to know how food and activities affect the pancreas. I want to control it. I do not want to be controlled by addictive drugs and the need to be on them to keep from being in pain.

I want to know the source of the pain and avoid it in the first place. I want to know how every pain and chronic pancreatitisfood, drink and meal affects my pancreas. I want to respond to those feelings by curbing my diet appropriately in the future. I cannot do this if I cannot feel what is happening to my body as a result of the food and how my pancreas reacts to it.

I may never be able to get rid of the chronic pancreatitis. I accept that. I understand it is a terminal disease... just like life is a terminal disease. I come from the school of thought that the better care I take of myself the longer I will live and I'd rather live with chronic pancreatitis than not live at all. And I'd rather live relatively pain free with the disease then in pain.

Small meals and no alcohol are where I start in the longevity of my pancreas. Sometimes I'm not that great at eating small meals but I never drink alcohol under any circumstances.

Chronic Pancreatitis and Steak

pancreatitis and lean steakI love steak. Always have. Always will. Even with chronic pancreatitis I still eat it.

I find that the leaner the steak the less likely it is to hurt my pancreas as long as I eat it in small doses. I also don't use rich or spicy sauces. In fact, I don't use any sauce at all. Rather, a little pepper and I'm set.

There was a time when I tried to stay away from red meat after being diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis. After I while, I ate it and actually found that I feel better when I have a limited amount of quality lean steak.

The fat content is steak or red meat that is not very lean tends to bother my pancreas. I try to stay away from hamburger meat for this reason. Note: I don't cook hamburgers at the house - where I could buy and prepare extra lean hamburger meat. Instead I would be more likely to have it at a resturant or McDonalds. Therefore, the quality of the ground beef would not be as good for my pancreas as a leaner hamburger meat that I could cook at the house.

Lean steak in smaller quantities doesn't seem to bother my pancreas. In fact, I generally feel quite good after having it.

Since I love steak I always want large portions. Eating small amounts of lean meat at a time is one of the most easiest ways I can prevent my pancreas from hurting after eating.

chronic pancreatitis and hamburger
I try to never fill my stomach. Although, this is difficult at times. I know that if I overeat I will pay a price with my pancreas. The more I hurt my pancreas the longer it will take to heal and the harder it will be for it to heal.

If I don't over eat I will probably eat better for longer and keep more weight on because I won't need to let my pancreas rest and heal during which times I avoid food and opt for broth... or nothing.

Remember that everyone is at a different place and stage with their chronic pancreatitis. What works for one person might not work for another. Overeating is never good for us. It is to be avoided at all costs. Eating small amounts of non-fatty foods seems to be one of the only and best ways to treat my pancreas.