Because all experiences are valuable.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

To Dine or Not to Dine, That is the Question.

Tonight I went to my friend Mary's birthday dinner. Happy Birthday, Mary! It was fun, there was a lot of laughter. Mary's kids are really funny and interesting. And her husband, Neil, is always gracious and smiling. You'd think I would have a lot of pictures to post, but I didn't take but a couple. Sometimes that is a sign of such a good time that you couldn't take any. I wasn't feeling terribly well, but the company was good. Sat at one end of a loooong table with Frank, Chris and Julie (Stewart) Spence, Mary's son Padraic, Mick and Tina (Allen) Keough, and a couple of Mary's college friends, Bobby and Ann. Also in attendance from the high school crowd were Charlie and Janine (Hasselman) Paulauskas. Got to meet some of Mary's new relatives from the Jarvis side at the other end of the table.
I think it was actually Tina's birthday today, whereas Mary's is actually Monday, I think...so Happy Birthday, Tina, as well!

I decided to blog a little about having pancreatitis, because I couldn't eat at the dinner. Well, I ate the broth part of a bowl of chicken soup and had half a tortilla. People don't know very much about pancreatitis. Honestly, I don't think the doctors do either. I mean, they know some things to do to help, but they don't really know why it happens, or why certain people get it. There isn't any cure or real treatment, all you can do is address they symptoms when they arise. I suffer from chronic pancreatitis, meaning it comes and goes- unpredictably in my case. People who suffer from acute pancreatitis have to go stay in the hospital on IV fluids and nutrition. That's the part people don't understand when I try to tell them.

When I get a flare-up, I call them "attacks", I have to stop eating. Completely. Even getting fluids in can be difficult. Believe me, there is zero desire to eat. The pain is excruciating. For those of you who have watched me go through this, you understand. Let's see if I can google up some good info on pancreatitis...maybe Wiki...as usual when I look this up, the information is kind of overwhelming, and the best, simplest info I find pertains to dogs. That may be because 80% of human pancreatitis cases occur in heavy drinkers. Since dogs don't drink alcohol, the information doesn't ever mention that, and maybe is more straight-forward.

"The pancreas performs two very important functions in the body. It makes enzymes that digest proteins, fats, and carbohydrates, and it makes insulin, which helps the body absorb and use glucose (sugar). The pancreas makes at least nineteen different digestive enzymes that are secreted into the small intestine before and during a meal. The pancreas is stimulated to secrete digestive enzymes in three stages:
  • The sight, smell, and anticipation of food initiate pancreatic enzyme secretion.
  • When the stomach stretches as it fills with food, more enzyme secretion is stimulated.
  • When the duodenum stretches, the pancreas secretes more enzymes
As the stomach and small intestines empty and the meal ends, the secretion of pancreatic enzymes stops."

For a person with pancreatitis, though, sometimes, the production of the enzymes does not stop.

"Pancreatitis is defined as inflammation in the pancreas. It is a complex disease that is not well understood yet.
 After some, usually unknown, initiating event, pancreatic enzymes are released into the pancreas and surrounding tissue instead of into the small intestine. The reason for this is not well understood at this time. The enzymes start to digest the pancreas itself and cause severe inflammation where they are released into surrounding tissue. Severe inflammation and destruction of the pancreas can lead to shock, fluid loss into the abdomen, spontaneous bleeding, acute kidney failure, difficulty breathing, or death. Not all cases of pancreatitis become this bad."

The only way to try and get it under control is to stop all food, thereby hopefully stopping the production of enzymes, and take pain medication. I myself have a permanent prescription for Vicodin, which I use very sparingly and carefully. I really hope they do not take Vicodin off the market as they discussed earlier last year. 

I didn't want to make the post depressing, after such a lovely party. I just felt like providing a little information, because people don't really understand when I sit there and don't eat, or maybe sip the broth from a bowl of soup as I did tonight.  Sometimes people think I don't eat on purpose, or I have an eating disorder. I don't deny that my eating has become "disordered." You can't know what it is like to fear almost every mouthful of food you eat, unless you suffer from something similar. I never really know which bite of food, which choice will bring on an attack. If the doctors don't know, how can I? I do pretty well to manage it I think. I became a vegetarian for two years to try and manage it, but then my doctor told me I was starving for protein. Vegetable protein is too hard for me to digest to really get enough. Here is a picture of me in April, when I had three attacks nearly in a row.

I don't usually look like that. Generally I am much rounder. I admit I get to where sometimes I think that looks good. I have to fight that. I don't like looking tired or feeling tired from lack of food.

On another note, I feel bad that Mary didn't have a cake. If I had known, I would have baked some cupcakes for all. I'm sure she will have one on her actual birthday. 

It has been my longstanding belief that everyone deserves cake on their birthday. Maybe I will blog about all the special cakes I have baked some time. 

For now, I am hungry and kind of crabby, so thanks for listening. 

Have a beautiful Sunday, everyone!   (and sorry I had trouble with fonts in this post.)

1 comment:

  1. I don't why understand why God/Fate/Karma gives different people unique handicaps to deal with in Life. There must be some Purpose. Take care of yourself to the greatest extent possible. We all need you very, very much. Especially those People in the Future that will be waiting for the most incredible Nurse ever to exist.