Friday, April 29, 2011

Living With Pancreatic Pain

The longer I have pancreatitis the more I realize the pain is largely based on what I eat and drink. If I stay away from fatty foods and too much juice (I don't drink any alcohol or soda) and if I don't overeat then discomfort in my pancreas seems to be rather minimal.

When I eat until I'm 'stuffed' or eat beyond the time I've honestly had enough, then it hurts my pancreas and makes it more vulnerable to pain and a flare-up.

too much food and pancreatitis

I don't eat fatty foods. Or, at least I don't eat
junk food and pancreatitis
nearly as much fatty food as I used to. Now, I drink Fat Free Half and Half. Although, I still eat regular cheese. I just don't eat a ton of it. I stay away from rich soups and sauces. I don't eat cake because I don't eat sugar but not entirely sure how a fat free cake would affect my pancreas. I like German Chocolate Death Cake, whereas my pancreas does not. So, I don't eat it. Spicy foods hurt my pancreas. But Tumeric and Ginger are great friends of the pancreas. Salt and pepper seem absolutely fine. You might try some homemade ginger tea!

stress and pancreatitis
Stress is a killer. Stress, like food, can cause a pancreatic flare-up. This can be life threatening just like with foods.

Pain killers can hide the pain allowing the problem that is causing the pain to continue. Whereas, if I eliminate what is causing the pain I will most likely help toward increasing my overall lifespan. Some doctors adhere to morphine and other addictive pain killers. I adhere to eliminating the things that cause the pain. If I don't get to the root of the problem then the problem can escalate, get worse and kill me. It is all too easy to die from pancreatitis. I don't want to hide the pain. I want to fight against it in the first place and increase the odd of living long enough for there to be a cure.

I am not perfect. Sometimes I eat the wrong things. Sometimes I learn the hard way what bothers my pancreas and what doesn't. But I'm learning... and I'm living.

honey and pancreatitis
If you are hungry a lot because you're recovering from one of your first flare-ups know that it will pass whether you eat or not, so don't eat before you pancreas is ready for you to do so. Allow your pancreas to heal. Can you eat jello? Tapioca? What about drinking tea? How about a couple potato chips? Baby cereal with honey? If you think these things sound less than appealing let me ask you this, do they sound less appealing than death? With the pain you are feeling you are probably aware that death is a real option with this disease. I'm sorry you are going through this. It's a horrible and scary feeling on so many levels and when you get so skinny it's probably fairly common to hear that 'you should eat something'. Hang in there.

It gets easier. In time, you will learn what works and doesn't work for your system. Eat small
ginger root and pancreatitis
quantities. Drink water and tea. Maybe a few saltines if your pancreas can handle it. How about popcorn? Go slow. Keep it simple. Ginger decreases inflammation. Honey soothes my appetite and doesn't seem to hurt my pancreas.

Sometimes when I haven't been as kind to my pancreas as perhaps I should have been or if I'm going to do something I think might bother it - like have steak for the 3 time in 3 days - I will start taking 3 Pancreatin before I eat. This seems to help my pancreas digest the food easier. Perhaps I shouldn't eat the meat, but I like steak. I have cut down on the size of steak I will eat which does mean that often I experience absolutely no irritation after eating. Joy!

pancreatitis and stressPlease remember that each person suffering from pancreatitis is different and what you experience may be different from what I have and am experiencing. Listen to your body. Listen to your pancreas. This is your battle for life. Please do not drink alcohol no matter what. Your pancreas cannot handle it and will never be able to handle it again. Period! Respect your body. Enjoy your life!

Oh yeah, one more thing... roller coasters hurt my pancreas. :-(


  1. Hi i had an attack of severe acute pancreatitis 6 weeks ago i was in hospital for 25 days. Ive lost over 2 stone in weight and am so fed up with bland low fat food. Ive never drank much alcohol and they havent found any gallstones i just feel rotten all the time no energy and lots of discomfort. IM self employed so it has also hit me hard in the pocket need to get back to finding some work but just feel to weak to go back to plumbing.

  2. Roller coasters hurt your pancreas?! Really? ugh I love rollercoasters (Six Flags) especially. I havent been to Six Flags in a while since before I had pancreatitis. I wanted to go this last summer but never had enough energy to do so. Plus I have been a bit scared to since being on this pain medication. I didnt know how my body would respond to the coasters...But i see that they hurt you. Can you explain how? For me I have always been very sensitive to a lot of things. Im a very sensitive person. Usually stressed out. Ive had acid reflux when I was a baby and now I have it again but its been under control. But im sensitive to any kind of pills or medication especially pain medication. Ive been wondering how me taking my meds and going to a theme park such as with scary rollercoasters would affect me. :/

    1. While I hadn't thought about the stress factor as it relates to rollercoasters and pancreatitis, you bring up a good point. Since stress seems to affect my pancreas negatively the adrenaline from the rollercoasters could potential impact my pancreas negatively.

      That being said, the physical shaking of the pancreas and the seatbelt bar that holds the person securely was what I assumed caused the flare-up from the coaster.

      Either way - or, no matter what caused the increased pain after riding the coaster - the fact remains that I felt a negative reaction to the health of my pancreas after riding the rollercoaster. So, for me, rollercoasters seem to be a liability to the health of my pancreas. But like you, who'd a thunk it? lol :-) Oh well... live and learn!

  3. Hi, I'm getting more and more frustrated with pancreatitis and the pain that is constantly there. Thank you so much for your input as now I don't feel quite so alone and I have more of a direction to in..instead of surgery!

    1. You are quite welcome. I built this site due to similar frustrations. There are many of us out there experiencing the same thing yet finding each other and being able to communicate what we are going through seems to be a common challenge.

      Generally, I find that my pancreas is better off when I stay away from large meals and fatty foods. Stress is also something that seems to quickly affect my pancreas.

      There may be times when surgery works for some people but my goal is to delay that for as long as possible. My attitude is that I'll never get back what they cut out so if later science finds that I should have kept it it would be too late. Instead, I try to keep my pancreas from inflaming. The thought being that the less often my pancreas is inflamed the longer it will last.

      Be well and enjoy life!

    2. Can i ask what kind of sergury can help, and thanks for the above info it is so helpful.

  4. Stress is a big problem for me, I do try to stay away from fatty foods and high protein, but like you I crave a big juicy steak sometimes. Lol! Stress is unavoidable sometimes and It doesn't take much to cause pain in my pancreas. I have found that medical marijuana has helped quite significantly. I use the edibles, one chunk of a brownie before bed, doesn't only help me sleep, but my pancreatitis has quit hurting me. I still feel pain occasionally, but I hurt for two years with no relief and I've finally found relief with marijuana. I know it's not for everyone, but I believe it has helped me.

    1. I use marijuana for my pancreatic attacks. It seems to relax my entire digestive system and reduces the pain considerably. That being said, Eating anything with THC in it. It requires a lot of enzymes to digest the THC. There fore most people who prepare edibles use a super fatty version of butter called ghee or alcohol to stimulate the pancreas to overproduce enzymes. I found this out after eating a space cake in Amsterdam. I was in the hospital the next morning in a foreign country. I have avoided edibles ever since. It may not have had a bad effect every time, but it is possible. But it is one of the worse things you can do, like drinking alcohol. I have had pancreatitis for 23 years, been chronic for almost 15 years. Marijuana has helped me tremendously, so I am not trying to vilify marijuana. I just wanted to inform you about the negative effects from eating it when you do not have a healthy pancreas.

  5. Where do you actually feel pain? I've been told I have Acute Pancreatitis, maybe I'm denying it. I can wake up in the am and cannot tell there is anything wrong, then, after lunch around 2pm almost everyday I still to feel hot, pain in my back sometimes it feels like something is pinching or hitting agaist my spine. Some pain is right under my right rib and radiates thru my back. Usally right below my trap muscle. I stopped drinking all alcohol, today is 50 day's. But, I still seem to have these symtoms.

    1. I am under the impression that blood work will show if you have acute pancreatitis or not. Acute Pancreatitis passes and often goes away without reoccurring. Although, sometimes it can turn into Chronic Pancreatitis. Congrats on the 50 days without any alcohol. That is an incredibly long time so pat yourself on the back for staying away from it. For people with pancreas issues resulting from alcoholism it is best to completely abstain for drinking. For the pancreas, it seems that alcohol becomes something that it simply cannot tolerate. Continued use of alcohol is said to often lead to continued deterioration of the pancreas for those who already suffer from pancreas problems. The pancreas never gets better. There is no recovery for it. At least this is the common diagnosis given by the medical professionals at this point. This means that you cannot fix damage done. But by not drinking anymore your pancreas might not incur further damage... although sometimes it does continue to get worse, which is all the more reason to continue to stay away from the booze. Alcohol is not a friend to the pancreas. Living life to the fullest and following your dreams will fill the void that alcohol once took up in your life. Best of luck to you!

  6. this really helped me.

  7. Hello. I'm a 29 yr old female and I have been to te e.r twice in a month for pancreatitis. My upper stomach pains started long before I ended up in the hospital. I always thought it was a very bad ache. Its been a little overover a month now and it seems like whatever I eat I flare up. It hasn't gone away at all even being on a week of not eating and taking nothing but liquids. I've lost a little over 15 lbs in 3 months, I wake up and fall asleep with my back hurting, my left rib seems to swollen and there's pressure all the time on my left side stomach area.I rarely pass stools when I do its not much and sometimes floats and has Nicosia like on it. Its really gross. I've noticed I do get tired a lot. I do smoke and that will be hard to quit. I've done a CT scan came back negative. I recently did more blood work and its only been two days so I haven't heard from the clinic. I'm so scared its something a lot worse than what it seems to be.

  8. I had pancreatitis in 2007. I was in ICU for 46 days and six months and one day in the hospital. It destroyed my financial position in life as well as my health. I have tried many things. I had over 40 surgeries while in the hospital. I have gone in and killed nerves to a very limited success, definitely not worth the money from what little relief you get. I agree with me on many of the things she discusses. Low fat foods. I always look at the labels of the foods at the grocery store. I never buy anything over 5 grams of fat and then make sure its the right kind of fat. Try to keep the sugars low but its hard to find both. I had to quit eating out. I never knew what they put in the food and always ended up in pain even when the food I selected looked and read like it would be ok.
    I am on massive amounts of pain medication but I am now 60 years old. It seems the longer I live the fewer things I can eat. I do eat mainly natural fruits and vegetable items. I love steak but its a once a year delicacy now. You get to balancing the pain vs the flavor of food. Most of the time the pain wins. I only have the head of my pancreas left so fortunately I am not diabetic. I am also fortunate that I have a son that is a MD and can ask questions and get a second opinion. I haven't tried to ginger but will. I did not eat for 10 months in 07, the six months in the hospital and 4 months after. My tastes had changed. I don't know if it was from not eating or from the pancreatitis. I eat small amounts and drink only water or water with MIO. I do indulge in low fat, low sugar ice cream. Small amounts. Nobody can understand the pain that we live with. I appreciate the woman that put this blog together.. She is a saint and I love reading her comments. I wonder how long she has had to endure this fight.

  9. Thank you so much for the great info here - so much more than I have found elsewhere

  10. I've been out of the hospital now for 3 days from acute pancreatic attack. I don't drink anymore like I use to be 911 but every once in a while I'll have a beer with my husband, but then I can tell it's not for me cause it burns so badly. I do smoke, a pack lasts 3 days, but I know that's still bad for me and my pancreas.
    This pain I can't get rid of and stress I believe is a major factor. But I've been high strung all my life and right now all I want to do is cry, cause I'm depressed I feel I'm keeping my family down or letting them down always. I do go back for my 1 week check up at my private primary doctor on Thursday morning. But I also have a serious back problems and must go for my MRI reading on Thursday evening. So right now is like Damn if I do or damn if I don't. I'm tired of being and hurting the ones I love. I'm 53 first time grandma and usually watch my grandgirl (14 months) 5 days a week. Last week her memaw had her and it just added to another little tiny life I am letting down, I've cut back on all my food as in the hospital either nothing or very little soft, or liquid diet.
    Any other options that would help would be greatly appreciated.
    I'm not a shame of this I just tired of not being able to do all the things I totally enjoy in life.
    Can you help?