Why should you believe anything I say about beating pancreatitis? The biggest reason I can think of is because I was where you probably are now over 30 years ago. The difference between me and you is most likely that I am pain-free. And I have always found that IF I wanted to get somewhere or achieve a goal that it is prudent to emulate someone who has already done what I want to do.
At the time I was almost positive my pancreatitis was due to an abdominal injury I received while playing high school football; however, since I was also diagnosed in 2009 with Celiac Disease (30 years after my pancreatitis diagnosis) my pancreatitis could have been due to undiagnosed, uncontrolled Celiac Disease .
IF my pancreatitis was caused by a football injury it is basically my fault I have the condition because I should have kept my head lower when charging towards that 200 pound fullback. I made what has turned out to be a very serious mistake.
I was playing center linebacker for my high school team when the injury happened. He came through the line, head lower than mine, (dummy me) and when we hit, his helmet smashed into my gut. About 200 pounds of meat smashing into my 180 at full-bore. He tagged me just below the rib cage, center mass. It felt great. Like I said it was my own dumb fault.
I sat out the rest of the game and my folks took me to the family doctor. He had me lay flat on my back, put his hand on my abdomen and asked me to do a sit up.
He figured the contact had torn my abdominal muscles and told my folks that I was to sit on the bench the rest of the season. I started having some problems soon after.
Heartburn and Nausea
Obviously our family doctor forgot about the fact I’d been nailed in the gut by 200 pounds of charging meat and when I kept complaining of heart burn and nausea he thought I may have an ulcer.
That led to my first upper GI test.
Barium is so yummy I enjoyed it immensely. The stuff tasted like a thick, white chalk malt.
My GI tract was clear.
So the doc scheduled me for the old dye test for gallbladder disease. I guess teens can have gallstones; however, my gall bladder worked fine with no sign of gall stones. So when tests didn’t show any reason for my symptoms of course I was then a “head case” with possible hypochondria tendencies. Here’s the funny part …
The symptoms simply disappeared.
After several months of feelings less than well, bouts of nausea for as long as 2 weeks at a stretch and heart burn that started in my gut and traveled all the way to the tip of my tongue, those symptoms simply vanished.
I was fine.
Hey, I was very glad they were gone. I didn’t miss them, the doc or the medical tests one bit.
I graduated from high school and enlisted in the Marine Corps.
Here Comes the Pain
Towards the end of my last tour of duty I started getting sick. This time I experienced heartburn, nausea and pain.
The pain would start center mass and bore into my back or visa versa.
I don’t consider myself a sissy but that pain was the worst I have ever experienced. I have never been gut shot or knifed but I imagine the pain of acute pancreatitis to be somewhat close. I can’t say worse because like I said I haven’t experienced being gut shot.
It was really weird to have it start in the middle of my back and bore through the front making my guts feel like they would explode out of my body like the creature did on Alien.
That had me worried.
I went to sick bay.
I was stationed at a small Marine Barracks outside a little Nevada town and the corpsman couldn’t determine what was wrong so he figured whatever it may be was beyond his pay grade so he scheduled a visit to Oakland Naval Hospital.
I felt good about the appointment because military doctors are usually good, they have to be to save lives in war-time trauma situations. I was looking forward to a resolution of my problem.
While at the hospital I was subjected to another upper GI, more blood work, saw a Naval Doctor, and was sent back to duty with a prescription for Librax. The Librax took the nausea away, which was a great thing because I hate to puke, but it did nothing for the pain.
Come to find out later (after my enlistment and an honorable discharge) that Naval doc thought it was all in my head (tests showed nothing) and he put that in my SRB!
I found out when applying for life insurance.
I was told that my SRB showed a possible mental disorder!
I was so angry I could have shot that doc.
Dumb doctor. If I had stayed in the Corps that little bit of info in my SRB could have seriously damaged my career as a Marine. Anyway …
After about 30 days of off and on sickness the symptoms again disappeared. What a relief to feel normal again.
Then in the late 70’s the symptoms came back and this time with a vengeance.
I Visited the ER 7 Times
7 ER visits and none of those people could figure out what the problem was. I was beginning to dislike doctors and understood why their business is called a practice.
I was in pain, I was sick and it seemed like nobody cared.
I had one doctor, who was a digestive disease specialist tell me, after a whole 5 minutes of the first and last appointment, that he thought I was to young for a serious problem and was sure I had a spastic colon.
In the late 1970’s I of course did not have a computer or access to quick information online so I spent a lot of time in the library reading about diseases and symptoms.
I found that gall bladder disease can present with similar symptoms and of course passing stones can be quite painful but there are some key differences in symptoms and causes of symptoms. For example …
Alcohol doesn’t affect the gall bladder but will cause major pain with pancreatitis. The pain is usually more severe with pancreatitis and for me, in most cases, comes on suddenly, but, it can also have a gradual build up.
A telltale symptom of pain starting in front and boring into the back or visa-versa is a typical pancreatitis presentation.
I’ve experienced severe pain, nausea, vomiting, fever, chills, sweating, difficulty breathing, swollen abdomen, rapid heart beat and other symptoms.
One symptom I had when I was real bad years ago (before I found grape seed and curcumin) was that I could not stand something, like an arm or hand, laying on my abdomen. It would make me nauseous and cause pain.
At times motion (driving the car, running) would make me sick and I had never experienced motion sickness of any kind before even on board ship in heavy seas. Anyway …
I finally found a really good doctor who not only ordered tests I had done previously but also ordered new tests, some of which he did himself like sticking a scope down my throat so he could view my bile ducts and then …
He actually gave me 2 drugs while in his office that caused me to have an attack. He drew blood every 30 minutes for approximately 3 hours. Everyone else drew my blood ONCE and as soon as I arrived but Dr. Langdon was a little smarter.
Enzymes Rocket Indicating Acute Pancreatitis
My enzyme levels suddenly spiked – through the roof. I guess that was all he needed to confirm his suspicions.
He again asked me how many times this had happened and I told him again of the 7 ER visits and that those were just the really horrible attacks and he calmly mentioned I was lucky I wasn’t dead. Then …
We had our little “prepare for the worst” chat and that’s when he told me he was quite sure I had been having acute pancreatic attacks for quite sometime (since I told him they started while I was still in the Marine Corps) and that I’d most probably continue to have chronic problems because of chronic pancreatitis.
He went on to say that within 10 years I’d probably be looking at a pancreatic transplant because my pancreas would cease to function, I wouldn’t be able to eat and then the really good news …
I Might Die?
The success of pancreatic transplants at that time wasn’t the best and didn’t look to improve anytime soon. In other words I think he was trying tell me that within 10 years I might be dead.
I had finally found a great doctor. This guy was not only one intelligent dude but he was one of those rare docs that really cares more about finding the problem and an appropriate solution, if one exists, than about how many patients he could run through his office on a daily basis.
He spent a lot of time with me and worked diligently to find out the problem. Maybe it was because he was a military doctor before private practice and he knew I was a Marine and I didn’t strike him as a pansy.
What I do know is that he told me no more alcohol.
None. And …
He prescribed some drugs and told me exactly why he was prescribing them. One drug, robinul was to help slow down the digestive process, another compazine was for nausea and demerol for pain.
The demerol didn’t help.
It didn’t even take the edge off.
One night while I was in massive pain I was going through the medicine cabinet when I discovered my wife’s Motrin.
It said take for pain.
I was in PAIN so I popped one of those horse pills.
In 30 minutes or so my pain started to subside and was gone in less than an hour.
I was one happy guy.
I told Dr. Langdon about the pills.
He told me they were an anti-inflammatory and as long as they worked he sure didn’t have a problem with prescribing them. In fact, he was a little upset that he hadn’t prescribed an anti-inflammatory before since pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas.
Things were looking up!
I had pills that would slow down my gut and relax it, pills for nausea and pills that actually took the pain away without the chance of becoming addicted to opiates like morphine.
Now it was time to figure out how to heal and beat the 10 year time period.
I did hordes of research after my diagnosis.
My research led me to completely eliminate red meat, pork, mayo, butter, cream, and everything else with high fat content from my diet.
In other words I was on a diet of fish, poultry (chicken and turkey), fruit, vegetables, legumes and whole grain products.
I also started taking vitamins and minerals to enable me to get enough nutrients absorbed because one of the problems or complications that arises from pancreatitis is called malabsorption. Basically that means you don’t absorb nutrients from food like you should. I started taking a multiple vitamin-mineral formula.
Years later I found research on OPC’s (pycnogenol and grape seed) and curcumin (turmeric). The virtues of the two sounded to good to be true but hey I gave it a shot. I started taking vitamin C, grape seed and later curcumin.
To my pleasant surprise they worked. After 6 months of no problems (no pain or other symptoms), to “test” the benefits of vitamin C, grape seed extract and curcumin I stopped taking my meds.
6 months later I was still in a “no problem zone.” The diet and supplements were definitely working. However …
I didn’t know what portion of my program was important so I tried eating red meat. After a few of days of steak, roast and hamburger I was sick as a dog. So that meant the diet was damn important.
Once I was symptom free again I eliminated the grape seed and turmeric.
Soon I was sick again.
Being a right smart feller I figured that meant that BOTH the strict, low, low-fat diet and the grape seed, curcumin and vitamin C were a necessary course of action unless I wanted to be in pain and puking up my toenails.
The bottom line?
30+ years after my diagnosis I’m still alive and can still eat.
In this beating pancreatitis blog I’ll share with you every trick I have learned to help myself live longer than Dr. Langdon expected. I hope you take what I say seriously because I’ve been there, done it and most likely if you don’t pay attention you may be dead in a few years or less.
The choice is totally yours.
It’s your body, your life. And by the way …
I may recommend some products that if you purchase them through me I’ll make a buck or two but ya know what? You can get most everything I am going to share with you at any health food store, I don’t need to make a sale to eat tomorrow and I really don’t care where you buy the products you need just as long as you get them, try them (like I tell you) and see if they work for you.
If anything you learn here helps you with pain, nausea, digestion and gives you the ability to live a higher quality of life, that’s really all I care about because I KNOW what it is like to hurt and be nauseated and puke and I hate that crap. So if I can help you feel better great!
Now, I want you to understand something, it’s important.
If you can’t tell yet, I don’t respect doctors a whole lot. Very few have been helpful to me. I found one that probably helped save me from an early and painful death. I’ll be forever grateful but right afterward he up and left the area to teach at a major medical school.
I find a good doc and he abandons me.
That left me to again be at the mercy of the average incompetent physician. And so IF you have been blessed with a great doctor, who gives you the finest care you could expect then be sure to hog-tie him or her so they can’t leave!
And if you have any reservations about my honor by all means ask your doctor before you try anything.
I am not a doctor.
I don’t know everything and I am not giving you medical advice. I am telling you what I DO and what has worked for me. If there is actual research to back what I say I’ll show ya – if there isn’t any research I’ll tell ya that too and you can decide for yourself what to do.
Like I said, I don’t care where you buy the products I recommend. If you want to buy them from me that’s great, it helps pay for hosting this site and my coffee habit but if you don’t the commission of maybe $1.50 for some grape seed, curcumin and vitamin C isn’t gonna make a difference as to whether I eat or not. And …
Take heed: Any information or product mentioned is to be used strictly at your own risk. I’m not your next poster boy and victim for a lawsuit. The FDA, FTC and Mainstream Medicine have NOT read or approved anything I have or am about to share with you. I am not here to diagnose, prescribe or cure any disease and this information is intended ONLY for your reading pleasure.
- Celiac Disease and Malabsorptive Disorders (Cleveland Clinic article) – Article (read last paragraph under “Clinical Manifestations.”)