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

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