Monday, May 9, 2011

Living with Pancreatitis & Respecting My Liver

One thing that seems clear is that the liver can be the downfall of someone who suffers from pancreatitis rather than the pancreas itself, or pancreatic cancer. Steve Jobs received a liver transplant a few years back after having fought pancreatic cancer for several years before that.

I do not think Steve Job's survival rate should be expected. I do not expect it for myself. I don't have medical insurance. Would I really be in line for a transplant? In any case, I do believe that the more we learn the longer we can live.

Unfortunately, I don't always pay much mind to my liver. I try to focus intently on my pancreas but it has become clear to me that neglecting the well-being of my liver could inevitably be my downfall.

Generally we focus on things for a reason. About 5 days ago I felt my liver swelling up. I was either having problems with my liver, my bile duct or both. No, I'm not a doctor. I'm guessing. I'm, also, probably right. When I went into the emergency hospital and told the doctor on call that I thought I was having a severe acute pancreatic attack I was right, so there is a good chance that I know and listen to my body well enough to be correct about this, as well.

My liver was swollen to the touch and I might have also had inflammation of the bile duct or something in that same region. I've had a lot of problems in that area when I've experienced pancreatic flare-ups. The only way I know how to deal with that is by decreasing and easing inflammation of the pancreas.

The liver is a separate issue. So, I went back to the basics. I did reflexology on the liver spot on my foot. You can find reflexology charts on Google. Depending on what area of the body I am trying to work on with reflexology will determine the chart I use. It seems different charts better diagram different areas and issues. According the reflexology and the bottom of my foot my liver was sore. Of course, I could also feel that it was extended. The liver - like the pancreas - isn't something we can fix. It doesn't get better and heal itself. Therefore, I want to take the absolute best care of it that I possibly can. I don't want swelling or harm to come to it.

My next step was to google "Foods Good for the Liver". Different pages bring up different results. Read a few pages. Find what seems right. Use discernment when reading and be critical in my approach. Remember, anyone can write anything and really, you only want what will help.

My goal was to immediately work toward decreasing the swelling in my liver. First, I had ginger. Ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory. I also bought some beet juice, ate some garlic cloves (be careful with garlic, too much is bad for the kidneys), Brazil nuts (high in selenium which deters cancer), ate a few walnuts (not too many because I found it too rich for my pancreas) and then ate lots of almonds and drank black tea (which I don't usually drink but seemed to be quite helpful. Within a day or so my liver was back to normal.

What I have learned is that I do not want to overlook my liver. Many sober alcoholics die from psoriasis of the liver. I don't know yet how to best protect my liver from this disease but I will continue to look into and, for now, I will remember to eat foods that benefit the health of the liver.

The basics were that my liver was swollen and my stool was light in color and that 5 days later my liver was no longer swollen and my stool had returned to a healthy, darker color.

I firmly believe that while we do not have total control over our health there is enough information to help guide us in the right direction more often than not. When it comes to the pancreas, doctors are not well enough informed to be of much help to us. Mostly they seem to believe we're a lost cause by the time it gets to them or that the problem is something else entirely. That sort of mentality is not going to promote longevity. I believe I have more of a chance of living longer, healthier and happier if I am personally proactive in my overall well-being and if I choose to fight off potential problems either before they happen (pancreatic cancer) or as soon as I am aware of them (a swollen liver). I believe my body is completely connected to itself and the healthier I keep each part of my body the healthier I will remain overall. This means that I believe my pancreas and liver can affect each other so the better I treat both the healthier I will be. This also extends to eating well, keeping stress levels low, exercising and not drinking alcohol.