Best to cure heartburn, stomach acid, nausea,
… and pancreatic attacks.
Ever had trouble with your pancreas? A pancreatitis attack? Well, how would one know? You would know because it feels like you are literally going to die from the pain and you invite death. Anything is better than living with the pain you feel as it crushes your middle, right under your ribs all the way around to your back. You find yourself crumpled on the floor with searing heat overtaking your midsection. You can’t straighten up and are curled in a ball, literally stifling screams from the pain you feel.
The pancreas is a little organ or “gland,” inside of your body that resembles the shape of a fish. If your pancreas inflames and decides to start shutting down, all of the nutrients you consume go through you. You begin to rapidly lose weight. Days, weeks, months become a blur. Your blood is slowly and purposefully being redirected from your brain to the other organs in your body. Your organs are in the process of shutting down, leading to your death.
That was the first stage, a clear indicator something was wrong … but I had the gastric bypass surgery (weight loss surgery) a little under five years prior. I thought nothing of a rapid weight loss period as I was told weight loss came in increments over the first five years after surgery. This was all ‘normal,’ as far as I knew. This is what we were taught in class. (Yes, you have to take classes before being approved for the weight loss surgery.) The memory loss? I attributed to fibro fog. Undoubtedly this was related to my cognitive difficulties from fibromyalgia. I was so sure. I was so wrong.
Fast forward to eleven lengthy hospital stays and six surgeries later … I found out I had a calcium blockage in my pancreas that caused the inflammation which in-turn resulted in an idiopathic (unknown) pancreatitis diagnosis. I also was experiencing a sphincter of Oddi dysfunction. (Meaning the duct that drains bile would not work correctly, creating a calcium deposit by a bile back-up that inflamed the pancreas.) How’s that for a big revelation? Idiopathic pancreatitis took four years out of my life and two years that I cannot remember one single day.
I ordered and reviewed my hospital notes, trying to regain my memory. My husband wouldn’t or couldn’t talk to me about it. Some form of sheer terror would show in his eyes every time I questioned him. All he’d ever say is, “You lived, you survived, that’s enough.”
I searched through the medical records. I had signed two DNRs. I had a living will in the system. Once, my husband was called into the recovery room to attempt to wake me up from the anesthesia because the nurses in recovery could not. I was not expected to live. I underwent six ERCPs (endoscopic surgeries). My skeletal remains of a gallbladder were removed. I had numerous stent placements, CT scans, and scopes. I had a drainage tube inserted that stuck out of my stomach for over a year. Some of these notes jogged specific memories, like that damn tube placement in my stomach, but I am not sure of the rest…
The good news is there is an 80% recovery from pancreatitis. The bad news is I am in the 20% group.
But I am still here! I am still fighting! I am still educating people about idiopathic pancreatitis.
I got this!