CARING FOR THE PANCREAS

How to care for the pancreas

pancreas-care-happy

Happy pancreas

Since learning of high blood sugar results from my annual physical, I looked up articles on caring for the pancreas.

The internet says, what pancreases like:

–      Fresh lemon juice first thing in the morning, then throughout the day (acidic fruit, yet the body treats it as alkaline)

–       Lots of fruits and vegetables

–       Lean foods, low fats

–       Beans, brans, fibers, gelatin, pectin, agar

–       Green tea

Dr. Yeh reminded me told me to eat a healthy diet and stay active. The American diet usually means heavy dinners, but this is not always best. Try to spread dinner out to smaller portions over a longer period.

Then, my mother-in-law heard on the news that everyone in America is pre-diabetic (I assume, besides those who are diabetic already). REALLY!? Why don’t you hear about this? And why would I not believe this stat? Even some of the healthiest people I know still include candy in daily diet, sugar drinks, alcohol, refined sugar and carbs. Kids trick-or-treat, have birthday cake, pop, candy with terrible ingredients and are rewarded with doughnuts larger than their heads… no wonder we grow up to be diabetics. frowny-face-high-blood-sugar

And most people aren’t “the healthiest people”, yet they live long, comfortable lives, assuming they don’t die from diabetes or cancer or vehicle accidents… Maybe this news of “high blood sugar” on my annual physical blood test is not so alarming. Maybe I can not panic about it.

So, with that in mind, my revised diet strategy is *less* ice cream, alcohol, sugar at snack time. Less quantity of food per serving with more small snacks. At least to start out, and then move into a more refined diet plan. Then I will live a long, comfortable life, assuming I don’t die from diabetes, cancer or some kind of vehicle accident!scoop-of-ice-cream

The result?

So far, after a week, I feel better! Less gas, less diarrhea and discomfort at night. That’s the biggest difference. I still eat a little too much quantity at dinner (I am quite the cook), yet compared to the previous extravagant meal and dessert routine and glass(es) of wine with accompanying discomfort, I do feel much improved!

Of course, few will argue that food is a culture. It is my culture. Matt & I eat well and we feed people who visit us very well, like *good* food. Anything in moderation, and so that is the key with this new diet plan: moderation.

Pancreas: What say you? I guess I’ll find out at the next annual physical!

Advertisements

ANNUAL PHYSICAL

Meeting the new primary care physician for my annual physical went well, but some discouraging results…

annual-physical-primary-care

New primary care physician!

Recently I changed my primary care physician. Matt and I met Dr. Susan Yeh last year when I made an urgent trip to the doctor due to one of many bladder infections I had been getting since the 2012 rectal cancer surgery. My nurse practitioner, Cathi, was not available then, but Dr. Yeh was. I was in amazing discomfort, so we could not afford to be choosy. We learned that Dr. Yeh (pronounced ‘yay’) had a specialty in colon issues (!!), AND she is covered by my insurance plan (!!!). What a jackpot!

I saw Cathi for my physical once again after that, and my feeling was, as a cancer survivor, that I am a vastly more complicated patient this year than last, particularly my colon and rectum. Time for a change. I would miss Cathi, but I needed Susan.

Dr. Yeh performed my latest annual physical, and I felt in good hands. What a relief. I could ask questions about my digestive quirks that I didn’t know who else to ask, and she could give me answers – even more, a whole range of “could be’s” relating to my body since the cancer treatments. Why are my stools runny at night? Why so much gas? What are the lumps on my belly, and what’s with the stitches poking through my skin? Since she understood the procedures used during my surgery and treatments, she could ascertain what was going on in there. Then she spent extra time with me to catch up on everything she should know of my history. 

When she went over my blood test, I scored high on blood sugar, possibly for the 2nd, 3rd year in a row. That’s not a mark you want to score high on. It’s not in the “pre-diabetic” range, but still, it’s high!

What the hell? This sucks! What’s happening to my poor body?

I can’t deny that other people my age and older (even younger) all over the world are going through this same reality check at this time of life that our body parts are wearing down. Things aren’t working ‘like they used to’. Yet my expectations of my own body are high. Higher than high blood sugar! I’m very discouraged! Especially after recovering for the last year from a major illness!!

Dr. Yeh tells me, with age it’s expected that things may not work as well as they did before. For different people some things wear down earlier and some later. Eyesight, hearing, memory, joints, liver, hair gets grey… Things wear out. It depends on family genetics, personal habits, environmental factors, etc. It is the pancreas which processes carbohydrates, fats, proteins, and it produces insulin in response to regulate sugar in the blood. Then, in a matter-of-fact tone, her advice is to keep eating a healthy diet, lots of fiber, but not too much to cause gas, and stay active.

Huh, that’s it?

I drove home slowly, a bit dazed at my new mortal imperfection.

Oh my god! My pancreas is sick!?

I could not stop thinking of it after leaving the appointment. My mind was going over and over all the naughty sugar trysts over my 40 years of living:

ben-jerrys-blood-sugar

– all the trips to the 7-11 candy isle during my babysitting years…

– all the overeating of sugar, cake, ice cream…

– all the alcohol over the years…

Sugar highs, eating till I was ill, movie candy, Ben & Jerry’s by the pint, late night Voodoo Doughnuts… I’m not sure how I am not 300 pounds today! Oh, what have I done?!

What can I do? Will my poor pancreas forgive me?

%d bloggers like this: