Thursday, November 24, 2011

Pancreatitis and Oxicodone

Oxycodone pancreatitisA reader commented about her use of Oxicodone. The entire comment is on the Hot Flashes: Chronic Pancreatitis or Menopause post. Here is an exerupt from it:

"I have chronic disk pain in my upper back and neck so, I had been taking Oxicodone for two years for that and recently discontinued the use of it and switched to a non-narcotic pain medicine called Tramadol, this switch occurred about two weeks before I started feeling the symptoms of the Pancreatitis."

Recently, my dog was not feeling well. I began researching his symptoms online. It appeared that many dogs acquired Pancreatitis as a result of medication prescribed by Vets.

The woman's comment above reminded me of this drug/pancreatitis connection. So, I looked it up.
Oxycontin Pancreas

It appears that Oxicodone can cause acute pancreatitis per the site:

"Use In Pancreatic/Biliary Tract Disease
Oxycodone hydrochloride tablets may cause spasm of the sphincter of Oddi and should be used with caution in patients with biliary tract disease, including acute pancreatitis. Opioids like Oxycodone hydrochloride tablets may cause increases in the serum amylase level."

No Drugs pancreatitis
Prescription drug-related pancreatitis might explain why it seems like so many younger people (women in particular, whom often opt for prescription drugs over illegal drugs) would be coming down with pancreatitis.

I don't take pain killers for my pancreas. Yes, I feel discomfort there often but I know it and what caused it because I can feel it since I am not on pain killers which can mask the pain and symptoms. By feeling the discomfort I can detect what has caused it and from there minimize the discomfort by not over-eating or from staying away from this or that fatty food, etc. If the discomfort is masked then I am more likely to continue the behaviors which aggravated the situation in the first place potentially causing greater harm and permanent damage and scarring to the pancreas. I'd rather feel what is going on, know what has caused it and change my behaviors and diet so the discomfort stops and my pancreas is at ease.

To me, pain killers seem like a quick fix with deadly consequences. I guess it's fair to say I'm not looking for either. It just doesn't seem like pain killers are actually the easier, softer way - more like, they are the quiet killer.

Ginger and Pancreatitis
And example of my approach to abdomen discomfort is making an anti-inflammatory tea which will decrease the swollen pancreas thereby taking away the pain and discomfort while protecting the pancreas and it's longevity.

I understand the fear of the pain and how that can take a person straight to the bottle of prescription drugs for immediate relief. Maybe an option would be to have pink ginger which tastes great if eaten straight and works immediately. For me, the affects are immediate. It's an option which a person could try. If it doesn't work within 2 minutes then the medicine cabinet is still there.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thanksgiving and a Pancreatic Attack

Pancreatitis and ThanksgivingTomorrow is Thanksgiving. I will be making a twelve-pound turkey.

I'm one of those simple eaters with simple taste. You know the kind, the ones who don't like to mix their foods and aren't too adventurous. Yup, that's me. Nonetheless, I love to eat and I am so looking forward to eating some nice juicy turkey for Thanksgiving.

turkey and pancreatitis
The problem with pancreatitis is that when your eyes are bigger than your stomach and you end up eating so much you feel like you could float your pancreas can't handle it and there is a chance that a person who suffers from problems with the pancreas could have a pancreatic attack.

So, the goal is balance. Enjoy the food but don't over eat. If you put to much food on your plate then allow for that error rather than risking an attack.

If I feel my pancreas getting the better of me I go for certain things in my cupboard to fight off the inflammation as soon as possible because I have found that it can stave off a pancreatic flare-up.

Things I do to Fight Off a Pancreatic Attack
Pancreatitis Tea

1. Chrissy's Tea is something I have fairly regularly because it can help bring down the inflammation and also helps with liver issues. When my pancreas is sore this is the direction I most often take for relief. The tea can be made with any number of different anti-inflammatories including fresh ginger from the grocery store and dandelions from your yard.

2. Eat Pink Ginger. This is the same ginger you will find at a sushi restaurant. If I can feel inflammation coming on I go for the ginger and eat several slices straight up. Its effects are pretty much immediate. You can feel the difference right away. Pink ginger is available at my local food store... and probably your local grocery market, as well. It is something I like to always keep on hand, just in case. It's always helpful and readily available.

3. Marijuana soothes the symptoms of a pancreatic attack. I found this
Marijuana and Pancreatitis
out while I was in Amsterdam. I very much recommend it, if it's your thing. Otherwise there are plenty of other options that also work. I do not use marijuana to stave off a pancreatic attack simply because it is not legal in my state. If it were legal, I would keep it on hand for when I needed it and if it ever becomes legal in my state I will certainly do that. It doesn't take much as all. You can eat it straight. Just a tiny bit is enough to do the trick while still not being enough to alter your mind. My suggestion is if you know your kid or neighbor smokes and you are mid attack ask for it. If your system reacts anything like mine then you'll feel the difference. No, it doesn't mean you can go for the munchies but it is an option if it is around and you are comfortable with it.

Wobenzym N and pancreatitis
4. Wobenzym N is something that I haven't used in a while. It can be found in your local health food store or bought online. The lady who sold it to me said that it's like gold when it comes to cancer. It makes me very dehydrated so I make sure to drink a lot of water with it. I find that dehydration is very hard on my pancreas. I do like to take things to are proactive in fighting cancer. I wouldn't like my chronic pancreatitis to turn into cancer or to have problems with my liver which are both very real options for a person who suffers from chronic pancreatitis.

I don't take medication for pancreatic pain. I don't want to mask the pain. Rather, I want the pain to go away by healing the wound (the pancreatic flare-up). Therefore, my remedies tend toward decreasing inflammation and trying to prevent it in the first place.

The best ways I have found to fight off a pancreatic attack are through eating small meals that do not include spicy or fatty foods and not drinking alcohol. Stress is also very hard on the pancreas so try to avoid those pesky little things that really tend to break the harmony in life. I know that can be difficult during the holidays. It's always good to keep in mind though.

Enjoy the holidays!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pancreatitis & Thanksgiving

thanksgiving turkey and pancreatitisIt is possible that I am beginning to have a better understanding of and relationship with food. This more advanced relationship will help with the holidays.

It seems like now might be the perfect time to talk a little about how to survive Thanksgiving without enduring a pancreatic attack.
Alcohol should not be considered an option. People with pancreatitis have a pancreas that is too weak or dysfunctional to properly digest alcohol. Therefore, the only safe option is to stay away from it.

Some people are usually used to celebrating with an alcoholic drink. It is fine that such a place
Martinelli's Sparkling Cider
is where you have come from but it is now time to realize that drinking and holidays are not where you are at anymore. Why? Because you want to keep living for as long as possible and you would like to do that pain free. Therefore, celebrate with something that won't hurt you. Martinelli's Apple Cider might be a nice choice. (Hint: The Martinelli's Website has a whole section on non-alcoholic drinks!) Maybe a cold premade anti-inflammatory tea that you can that you can put in a high baller or something like that if it makes you feel better to have a drink in your hand.

Calories in Turkey





Calorie in Turkey-Dark Meat

3 ounces

Excellent source of protein.


Calories in Turkey Gizzards

3 ounces

Excellent source of protein. Good amounts of zinc and B Vitamins.


Calories in Turkey Liver

3 ounces

Excellent source of protein. Good source of Vitamin A, folate, zinc and riboflavin.


Calories in White Turkey

3 ounces

Excellent source of protein.


Maybe a simple green salad with sliced carrots and radishes and slivered almonds? Remember not to weigh the salad down with added calories. Sugared walnuts are bad. Dried cranberries have added sugar. If you use a salad dressing, perhaps opting for a 'lite' or fat-free dressing will be proactive in protecting your fat intake.
The potassium in potatoes is necessary. Smothering the potato in condiments kind of defeats the point. I love lots of sour cream. Thankfully, there is fat-free sour cream. Fat Free Margarine or the equivalent will be easier on the pancreas then a rich butter.

The goal is to be able to eat and enjoy the holiday food while not suffering the ramifications of a pancreatic flare-up as a result. The goal is balance.

If you eat sugar and want a dessert than go for a fat-free dessert. There are fat-free pies and chocolate dishes.
If you are spending the holidays with others than be participatory and bring a dish. No need to tell them it is because you need a fat-free option. Heck, do you even need to tell them it is fat-free. Just be a helpful guest and bring a food dish. This will also help ensure that there is food to eat. If your sister or friend is also going and the group doesn't know you have pancreatitis maybe your sister or friend can also bring a fat-free dish which will mean you will have at least two dishes you know will be safe to eat. No one needs to know your circumstances if you are a private person. None of this needs to be a big deal. It's just something you can set up as a safety
measure, a precaution to ensure you can both enjoy the holiday in a participatory way while not suffering from a pancreatic flare-up as a result.

Holidays and Pancreatitis
If Auntie Mame is insisting you eat a little of this or that and you know it will hurt you but she's trying to guilt you into it just look at her lovingly directly in the eyes and say, "Auntie Mame, I love you and I want to see you again next year but eating that could kill me so I'm not going to have it so that next year I can come back and see you again." Smile, kiss her on the forehead and continue with what you were doing. She'll probably back off.

Enjoy the holidays!

Note: The above is for not meant for people who are just out of the hospital and not on solids. Each person is different and their process to recovery and maintenance will vary. Toast w/Jam, Chicken broth, baby cereal, jello, tapioca pudding, pureed veggies, etc are going to be much better options for many pancreatitis sufferers who are feeling more sensitive and tender and who have systems that are not in the mood for solids. Some people will only be ready for an IV hook-up. Some will only be ready for clear liquids. We're all different and each stage of recovery needs to be respected and appreciated.

Holidays do not affect our current stage of pancreatitis and what a person, at that stage, can eat. Being alive while enduring a life with pancreatitis gives us an awful lot to be thankful for... and isn't that really what Thanksgiving is about. Homemade Turkey pictures and turkey hats are just as wonderful as any other aspect of Thanksgiving. There are many ways to celebrate the holiday and thankfully we are alive to enjoy our options!

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Curry Squid with Rice - Pancreatic Diet

squid calamari pancreasDeep sea fish are high in iodine. Iodine is necessary for proper thyroid function. The thyroid is part of the endocrine system. The pancreas is part of the endocrine system. Therefore, my thought is the healthier I can keep my thyroid and endocrine system, as a whole, the easier things will be on my pancreas. As it is, I have problems with my thyroid so I am trying to take special note of things that could help to keep it strong or improve its condition.

Eating is often a difficult proposition for people with pancreatic problems. My pancreas likes to
squid curry and pancreatitis
become inflamed at the thought of food. Therefore, a goal of mine is to keep my pancreas from becoming inflamed while still eating... and preferably while enjoying my diet!

Today, I made Squid (or Calamari, if you prefer) with rice. The spices I used are ground black pepper, iodized salt, curry and turmeric.

Curry and turmeric are anti-inflammatory spices. My experience has been that these spices tend to decrease pancreatic irritability.

I cooked the squid in a pan (Frozen squid which I took out of the freezer yesterday) with iodized salt, freshly ground black pepper, turmeric and curry.

In a separate pan, I cooked the rice to which I added curry and iodized salt.

Note: I am not currently experiencing pancreatic pain. If I were then I would probably not be eating solids. Rather, I would probably be better off with either straight liquids - if I needed to allow my pancreas time to rest and heal - or easier foods to digest such as yogurt, baby cereal, tapioca pudding and perhaps oatmeal and toast with jam or maybe an english muffin.

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Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pancreatitis & Chicken Lasagna

Low Fat LasagnaLast night, I made a Chicken Lasagna for the first time. I used hormone free, free range, ground chicken instead of ground beef because I thought it might be easier on my system. I love red meat but I keep reading how it isn't good for someone which pancreatic issues.

My step-mom always made lasagna with cottage cheese and to this day it is still the only way I like it. Therefore, I used Fat Free Cottage Cheese with Skim Ricotta on top. Everything else was fairly typical. Pepper, salt, oregano, tomato paste and sliced tomatoes, garlic, dried minced onions, a bay leaf.

I used the lasagna noodles that don't need to be boil. They came out quite soggy. I strongly recommend taking the time to boil the regular lasagna noodles as they are much better!

I followed the recipe (less my substitutions) from The Joy of Cooking. I also eliminated the mozzarella and Parmesan.
The assumption is that fat free, low fat and skim substitutes will make eating such filling meal easier on my pancreas. I ate a very large piece about 45 mins ago and while I can tell my system can feel it slightly, it is slight. (Note: Still felt fine 2 hours out. Had another piece. Still felt fine two more hours out.... but finally full!) Okay, so I didn't need to eat a piece the size of a square pan... but I love lasagna and it was really, really good! Man, my self control is limited when it comes to certain foods!
Chicken Lasagna

I love ground beef in my lasagna and really wasn't sure how the ground chicken would substitute for the beef. Much
to my surprise, it was perfect! I didn't miss the beef at all. I'm not sure the chicken was any leaner so I'll need to look into that next time. Progress, not perfection.

I was also quite skeptical about using fat free cottage cheese instead of cottage cheese made with whole milk, but again, it was really good! I couldn't tell the difference at all. It's possible that I'm finally getting used to fat free foods. Or, it's possible that it is simply as good with fat free cottage cheese. Either way, it was delicious, so it's all good!

I love lasagna! I'm so glad that I haven't had to eliminate it from my diet!
Note: This is not a meal I would try if I were just getting back on solids. This is a meal that I am having while learning and exploring how I can eat the foods I like without hurting my pancreas in the process. Sometimes, when my pancreas isn't being overly problematic, I don't mind living with it. I'd really like it if I could eat more of some of the things I like. People who are better about eating low fat all the time probably have a much easier time when it comes to not irritating the pancreas.