Sunday, October 23, 2011

Pancreatitis & Shrimp Dinner

Pancreatitis and ShrimpI love shrimp. It never seems to hurt my pancreas, seems easy to digest and tastes great!
Also!! You can cook it with turmeric and curry. Curry is made from turmeric. I use them both anyway. :-) Turmeric is a known anti-inflammatory. Since foods can inflame the pancreas I love it when I can add anti-inflammatories to my meals. The goal is to counter-attack any onset of inflammation from the get-go.
So, I put some shrimp in a pan, Add a little margarine or olive oil. Add some iodized salt and freshly ground pepper. A pinch of curry and a pinch of turmeric. Two bay leaves. A little shrimp juice in the bottom of the pan. And voila! A mid-low heat for 12-20 minutes and I have a
Turmeric and Pancreatitis
fabulous meal that doesn't bother my pancreas and tastes fantastic!

Food for thought: If there is left-over sauce it takes fantastic with a little curried rice. Rice is fairly easy on the pancreas (for people who are back on solids) and again, the curry is an anti-inflammatory which I assume to be helpful in reducing my chances of bloating and discomfort in my abdomen.

The happier I keep my pancreas, the longer I get to live. Well... at least that is the hypothesis I'm working with. :-)

If you have any recipes that work for you, please share them! Especially when we're newly on a diet which is kinder to our pancreas it can be difficult to know what foods and we can eat.

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Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fighting Off The Flu & Chronic Pancreatitis

Flu and PancreatitisI was out with a group of people earlier this evening and everyone was recovering from the flu. I've been fairly nervous about getting the flu recently and I'm not sure how my body with react to it. Although, I have had the flu before since being diagnosed with pancreatitis.

So, in hopes of not getting the flu I am drinking my anti-inflammatory teas and drinking juices with high levels of Vitamin C. I don't drink a lot of juice but will have an ounce or two at a time. Hopefully that will be enough. Plus, I think I'll take some Vitamin C and acidophilus (which seems to help coat and protect my stomach).

I'm also going through menopause so sometimes it's 'Is it fever or is it a hot flash!'. Ahhh, life!
Stay well, everyone!

Happy Health to you!

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

How to Stop an Acute Pancreatic Attack

Acute Pancreatic AttackLast Friday night, I went to the emergency hospital. It was the first time since my initial severe acute pancreatic attack back in March of 2008 that I had returned to a hospital on behalf of myself.

The blood work showed my Lipase level at 526 and Amylase at 314. According to the National Institutes of Health 'The normal range for Amylase is 23 to 85 units per liter (U/L). Some laboratories give a range of 40 to 140 U/L.'. The hospital nurse wrote on my paperwork
Acute Pancreatic Attack
that the normal range for Lipase was between 28-100. Although I've read a range from 7-160. Any way you look at it both my Lipase and Amylase levels were far too high with the Lipase levels within the range of signaling that I was having an Acute Pancreatic attack. I was sent home and told that I was fine.

The following day, I wasn't feeling any better. In fact, I was feeling somewhat worse. So, I went online to see what the levels meant and to see if I could make any sense out of it. I realized that from the Lipase range the nurse gave me coupled with my Amylase numbers that I was probably in the midst of an Acute Pancreatic attack, that my Chronic Pancreatitis had turned into Pancreatic Cancer or that it was a Bile Duct Issue. We had ruled out a Duodenal Ulcer the night before.

Acute Pancreatic Attack
The reason I had gone to the Emergency Hospital was because I wasn't sure than my symptoms were related to my pancreas. The symptoms felt different. I thought it was possible for the root of the problem to lie elsewhere. If this were the case, I didn't want to create more harm to my system or mask the problem by drinking my teas. So, off to the hospital I went in an attempt to better understand what was happening in my abdomen.

Once the results came back and I was told that the problem was not a Duodenal Ulcer I figured it would be fine for me to drink my Chrissy's Tea. So once returning from the hospital after my Friday night adventure, I got out my trusted teas and started drinking them.

It wasn't until Saturday that I read up on Lipase and Amylase levels realizing that I might be mid attack. At which point, I decided to return to the Emergency Room. The urgency was based on the fact that an Acute Pancreatic attack can shut down other organs killing the patient. I didn't want to be that patient.
Acute Pancreatic Attack

The new tests were done almost exactly 18 hours later. The new blood work showed my Lipase level at 51 and my Amylase level at 130. The Lipase level was very much within range no matter which level ranges were considered and my Amylase levels were high or above range depending on which ranges were considered.

I was very surprised my levels had dropped so significantly. The doctor on duty also had a CatScan done. (The night before a ultrasound was done and everything looked fine. The Duodenum could not be seen, so although that was my main contention spot no results or findings were evaluated for it on Friday night's visit to the ER). The Cat Scan revealed that I have no masses. This means that I have no tumors - most importantly, it means my Chronic
Acute Pancreatic Attack
Pancreatitis has not turned into Pancreatic Cancer.

My assumption (and it is only that) is that my tea, Chrissy's Tea, brought the levels down so quickly. From what I read, it typically takes 5-7 days for Lipase levels to return to normal. Chrissy's Tea is filled with anti-inflammatories. I use it to reduce inflammation. It also has some antiseptic herbs which I assume can help with bacteria or other problems that might be going on internally. Some of the herbs focus on the pancreas, breast, cysts and tumors while other focus on the gallbladder and liver, while others focus on menopause and others on bacteria, sinusitis and congestion and some help vision or the thyroid, etc. Basically, the teas I use work on strengthening the endocrine system.
Acute Pancreatic Attack

I understand the medical community doesn't have the cure for pancreatitis, chronic pancreatitis or pancreatic cancer. I also understand that I don't want to become a statistic in the meantime. From my most recent hospital visit, I am even more of a believe than I was before (and I believed firmly in my approach before) that the teas help me stay alive for longer. The teas seem to be the best at fighting off or decreasing inflammation. Anything that ends in 'itis' means inflammation. My understanding is that inflammation is a precursor to scarring and scarring is a precursor to pancreatic cancer. Therefore, if I can keep the inflammation at bay, then I have a better chance of keeping the scarring at bay resulting of less chance of getting pancreatic cancer sooner rather than later.

I doubt that I will always be able to keep from getting scarring of the pancreas. But let's say that by keeping the scarring to a minimum I can increase my lifespan by 5 years... or 10 years... or dare I hope for 15 or 20 years. I know that if I live long enough this disease will most likely
Acute Pancreatic Attack
kill me. So, that's not the conversation. The conversation is longevity and quality of life. I don't want an Acute Pancreatic Attack to take out an organ which is a very real possibility particularly when it takes a long time to get the attack under control. So, the better I can maintain my pancreas and the quicker I can get attacks under control, the better.

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Saturday, October 15, 2011

Stress and Chronic Pancreatitis

Earlier today something happened that stressed me out. Generally, I remember that nothing is worth getting stressed out over and I have, for the most part, learned to let things go. But earlier this evening, I just let something bother and now I can feel the effects of it in the form of inflammation.

My immediate response was to realize that stress just isn't worth it, particularly when it's over something stupid. Second, was to be grateful that I've been feeling so well that I've been healthy enough to forget that stress can inflame my pancreas and make me more vulnerable. Third was to take the pink ginger out of the refrigerator and eat a healthy amount directly out of the jar. Fourth was to make a cup of anti-inflammatory tea to further help reduce the swelling.

Whatever it is that is bothering me doesn't need to be so important that it can cause an pancreatic attack which could inevitably take my life. Nothing is that important.

Note: I also had pizza twice today. First was an individualized cheese pizza around lunchtime then around dinnertime I had a slice of cheese. I don't usually eat pizza. On the slice I had at dinnertime I put a little (rather dull) chili pepper. It is possible that the pizza and chili pepper created the flare-up rather than the stress.

It is possible that the stress caused it. It is possible that a combination of stress, chili pepper and pizza. Don't know. Just wanted to make sure I was giving an full assessment of what might have caused the current flare-up. Had I not gotten stressed or eaten the pizza I seriously doubt I would be suffering from a flare-up right now. Because I have pancreatitis, it is always important that I treat my pancreas with care and respect. Every time I forget to do that potential creates more scar tissue and damage to my pancreas with the very real potential to shorten my lifespan.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Pancreatitis Pain & Diagnosis - Letter From PD

Thank you for sharing your personal experiences with Pancreatitis. I was specifically intrigued by the lack of pain with your case. I am a 40 year old heavy drinker with swelling in the upper left quadrant. Aside from the dull aches under my ribs, in my back and left chest, I experience none of the other symptoms like jaundice, oily stool, sick to stomach, weight loss etc. I am wondering what were the symptoms that provoked you to go to the ER? Like when yours was discovered, I feel my pancreas may be huge at this point. Best, PD

Hi PD,

Yeah, your symptoms sound very similar to what mine were... and are, at times.

I did reflexology on my feet. That was how I initially found out about the pancreas in the first place. The bottom of my foot was sore in the spot that pinpointed to the pancreas.

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I had never heard of the pancreas before and eventually looked it up online. I didn't pay too much attention to it over a period of time - probably about three years - until the symptoms seemed to become clearer and perhaps more regular then ongoing.

The only way I can describe what sent me to the hospital is that when I would drink it felt like a waterfall was going over the center of the bottom of my ribcage in the middle.

I had had problems over the past several months before I had gone to the hospital. There were times when I had stopped drinking for a few weeks and times when I had pretty much stopped eating.
I knew there was a serious problem from the 'waterfall' feeling and other symptoms and by the constant soreness on the bottom of my feet in the places that would indicate the pancreas.

If you are having a problem as a result of your drinking then you might consider that you might have a problem with alcohol.

Acute severe pancreatitis is not kind. It has an incredibly high mortality rate, the long term does not necessarily look bright for many who do not deal with it early and even some who do. Eating can end up being difficult and burdensome for the rest of your life.

Pancreatitis can sometimes happen once, or a few times, or it can even take a couple years before one recovers from it then it go away (this is what I've been told but not what I have experienced) and sometimes it can it can turn into chronic pancreatitis which (if you live long enough with it - statistics say that 50% of people diagnosed with chronic pancreatitis die within 2 years) can turn into pancreatic cancer.

Pancreatic cancer is one of the deadliest and most painful forms of cancer. People don't live with it long enough for doctors to be able to study it for very long. It's basically a hopeless disease at this point.

Look at Steve Jobs. He had all the health care money could buy but there was only so long he could live with the disease even though his form of pancreatic cancer was one of the mildest with some of the most hopeful statistics.

My suggestion is that you stop drinking, fix what's going on in your life which has put you in a position to want to drink so much and move forward.

I have heard that Alcoholics Anonymous has meetings in most large cities throughout the world and even many small cities and towns in the US.

It might be worth looking into.
A sonogram or ultrasound are options to have the state of the pancreas diagnosed. A simple blood test (ask them to look for pancreatitis specifically) can tell you if there is a concern with the pancreas.

Another thing to keep in mind is that often the liver becomes the problem. So, even if the pancreatitis doesn't kill you the problems that then can occur with the liver can kill. Again, if you relate this to Steve Jobs, his liver gave out before his pancreas did. Although, as of today, I do not believe the actual cause of his death has yet to be announced.

I believe that each of us has a biological system makeup that is slightly different from everyone else based on lifestyle, diet, etc. Therefore, it only makes sense that the symptoms one person feels will vary from what another person experiences.

Do you have bloating after you eat? If so, it could be a sign that your pancreas cannot handle that much food intake. This is my case. So, for me, less food more often seems like the easier, softer way for the health of my pancreas for the long term.

How to locate the Pancreas Reflexology Zone

Detailed Reflexology Chart