Thursday, 15 April 2021

Bonkers is indisposed and on hiatus (not hernia, I don't think!)

St Pancreas?

I am sorry for the longer than usual interval since my last post (even by my own leisurely slow blogging standards), but I haven't been well lately - ever since I had my first dose of the vaccine as it happens, though I am hoping that is a case of 'correlation, not causation'. Or that at the very worst, the shock of the jab may have lit a blue touch paper of latent conditions, and prompted a number of organs to flare up at once. I did have a couple of prior symptoms which both might loosely come under the umbrella of 'digestive distress', but things have ramped up to include a mildly insulted pancreas, nightly heartburn, and more besides.

I happened to mention this (genuine medical ;) ) description of my pancreas to a solicitor friend who instantly quipped: "A mildly insulted organ? My liver is probably curled up with gross defamation of character!"

For the foreseeable future I have been told to give up alcohol (though I was only drinking three days a week latterly), all supplements, and caffeine, though I sneak in the odd cup of decaf tea here and there. FYI, Yorkshire Tea with the blue flash is the best I have tried. Then it seems the pancreas doesn't care for gin, while the oesophagus hates tonic and lemon, so between them they are a right pair of party poopers. I have thoroughly researched pancreas-friendly foods and non-acidic ones that are good for the oesophagus, and am endeavouring to placate both organs at once (and not add injury to insult, hehe) by eating the intersecting set. This requires a lot of fancy dietary footwork, as you might imagine.

Unfortunately I still have to live with uncertainty about the cause of these symptoms for a while longer, as investigations are ongoing. The one I had today involved a 24 hour fast in the run up, which was tough. I never thought I would get my head around construing a beef OXO cube dissolved in hot water as dinner. 

I had a helpful sheet of instructions to guide me:

"You should aim to drink a glass of water, juice, tea or coffee WITHOUT milk every hour up to two hours before your investigation. (Except when sleeping)."

The sleeping exemption was greatly appreciated ;), though Alexei Navalny could have managed such a stunt with ease, as they are apparently waking him every hour in prison, poor man.

This morning's procedure was billed as 'virtual', but I can confirm that while it may have been virtual in technical terms it was the furthest thing from sensation-free(!). Still, it should rule in or 'eliminate' a few suspects, so I am most grateful to have been offered it. Had I fallen ill last April the situation in hospitals would have been very different... 

Now I know it is generally considered bad form to link to old posts in lieu of fresh content - mindful that the above barely counts - but given its relative antiquity and the distraction of my digestive issues I thought to do so regardless. It is a guest post I wrote on Cafleurebon ten years ago this month about the wedding of Prince William to Catherine Middleton. I see I mention Prince Philip right at the end, which is topical at least. In my mind I am sure I included more of a story about him, possibly even involving a joke of his, but it seems to have gone. There was a fair bit of editorial tweaking after submission, so maybe that bit ended up on the cutting room floor. I also note that William and Kate are still married, despite the bookmakers betting generous sums to the contrary!

Please excuse the distracting profusion of fonts in that post - nothing to do with me, hehe. 

I will close with a bit of graffiti I spied the other night, which nicely sums up my current health puzzle...

Have you had any odd side effects from the vaccine? (AZ / other?)

Have you ever had to eat a challenging diet, and if so how did you get on?


Tara said...

Hi V

Your research skills are really being put to the test with this Venn diagram of a diet you're having to concoct.

That graffiti is spot on!

Vanessa said...

Hi Tara,

It is indeed a Venn diagram of the most fiendish kind! I loved that graffiti - I wonder what the artist meant by it?

AustralianPerfumeJunkies said...

Oh Vanessa!
Poor you. Sending virtual hugs.
When I first fell diabetic I really powered through the diet and exercise to undo the damage. It was working till C19 so now I just take daily polls and eat fairly well but not perfectly. Exercise seems to have been thrown out the window in favour of lazing. OOOPS!
Portia xx

Anonymous said...

Trust you to be amusing and make me smile when you are having such a rough time. Sending you heaps of good luck and best wishes, and hope that they can soon find out what's wrong and get you on the road to recovery. Bet you could do with a drink after all this ....

Vanessa said...

Hi Portia,

Thank you...I am really trying to adopt a holistic approach at the moment, eating right and not drinking. If that doesn't moderate my symptoms, I may have to have recourse to a heavier duty solution. Though of course I am second guessing what my trouble is at the moment. Diabetes is a pest, though I know lots of people with it. You do still have to live a little, though I am too scared to take liberties at the moment till I know what's what for sure, given that I may have taken too many liberties in the past!

Vanessa said...

Hi Jillie,

Thanks for your good wishes, and you are so right about the drink, haha. I may have to give up gin though, if it transpires that it is 'hard liquor' that my pancreas has a particular objection to. I genuinely don't drink much, and less now than at any time, but there has been a hint in my bloodwork in the past that my system may be a bit sensitive to alcohol, despite moderate consumption, and maybe that is catching up with me. Or the eating big meals at night! Or a whole clatter of things. Time may tell...

Hamamelis said...

I am very sorry to read it. Maybe your remember I suggested it once, but in your attempt to give up caffeine (what a difficult thing to have to do pffff) rasberry leaf tea is as close to the real thing as I have come. I had to give up on alcohol years ago because alcohol=migraine for me and I have gotten used to it. I hope that at least perfume can give some pleasure when many are on the no list, but when I am stressed (which I have been for about a year now seeing as our business needed to close and at the moment is operating under the radar as if we are some sort of illegal activity instead of a health promoting service...) perfume is one of the first things to go out of the window. I hope Truffle can make up for all the pleasures missed! Wishing you lots of whatever you need! Hamamelis

Hamamelis said...

I forgot to answer your question about vaccine related symptoms. I have heard about quite a bit of them unfortunately. As I am almost always the one exception as far as rare 'side' effects of any medicine or procedure are concerned I have decided to wait, as when I do the maths the chance of suffering a serious side effect (including the worst one) of a vaccination is larger than getting seriously ill or worse from Covid. Our PM said as much when explaining why AZ was put on hold here (others are still being used).

Vanessa said...

Hi Hamamelis,

I am so sorry to learn of your business woes - yet another casualty of the pandemic with knock-on health impacts. ;( I remember watching a documentary about businesses forced to close last year, and one previously thriving marquee company, whose trade was 90% weddings, made that very point about their company not having failed because of anything they had done but because the Government had made their business model illegal. It is heartbreaking.

Thanks for the steer on raspberry leaf tea. So far I have taken quite a liking to lemon and ginger (only a small amount of lemon as that is supposed to be acidic - though maybe not in water?) with extra chunks of ginger in it. I have even managed to drink turmeric tea with added ginger and have some hibiscus tea I could try.

That is interesting about your PM and his views on the AZ vaccine. We are being told the opposite here about the odds of harm, as our PM is very gung-ho about the vaccination programme. That's The Netherlands, right? I knew Denmark had suspended that one, but didn't know about your country too. In my case it could be pure coincidence that the dramatic worsening of my dormant symptoms happened that week, or maybe it was more a case of mind over matter, as I was worried about taking it and this concern could have manifested in my body. It is one of those things we may never know.

Anonymous said...

Well, I start with the conclusion : get well soon, dear V. I read your digestive problems with lots of sympathy, since mid lock-down I have difficulties to find other uplifting activities than eating and drinking. But recently I had to drop red vine and then the white variety too from my menu, due to histamine allergy. Blimey !
I found gin&tonic, or gin with lemon and some sparkling water the solution and would be extremely sad to have to quit them too...
As of the vaccine I‘m happy for you and hope the 2nd jab won‘t cause any more problems - I seem to be far away to be vaccinated, Austria rather excels with lack of organisation.
Take care, dear V.!

Vanessa said...

Hi Melinda,

Thanks for the get well wishes, and you are so right that eating and drinking have been such key pleasures amongst all the other deprivation of lockdown! I am sorry you have been struck down with a histamine allergy - I had not heard of that, but anything that stops people drinking wine is to be lamented. Glad you have gin to fall back on. Time will tell if alcohol - even in small amounts - has cumulatively been part of my problem. I have such well stocked cupboards it would be a crying shame to get rid of it all!

I heard from Val that Austria was very slow at vaccinating people - it is interesting how different the approaches are of all the European countries.

Anonymous said...

Canada has been dealing with the AZ uncertainty by offering it to a very skinny slice of the demographic pie, which I happened to be part of. I therefore had a shot booked on a day's notice, three months before I expected to get one. No reactions at all, although I am keeping an eye out for blood clot symptoms for another week.

Best wishes for happy innards in the very near future...AnnieA

Carol said...

Oh dear V! Many virtual hugs and much love and hope you’re feeling better as I just saw this post. xxx

Vanessa said...

Hi AnnieA,

I smiled at the 'very skinny slice of the demographic pie', but was not surprised. Initially AZ was limited to over 65s or 60s or 55s, depending on the country, and then restricted for the under-30s, so yes, you belong to the squeezed middle as it were! Glad you had an easy aftermath and thank you for your best wishes for my gut health.

Vanessa said...

Aww, thank you, Carol! I think the pure diet and no alcohol are helping reduce the reflux aspect, and time will tell what is up with my pancreas etc. xx

Anonymous said...

Dear Vanessa, I hope you get well soon. Please be careful with heavy/fatty meals if your panreas is not working well, I know that has helped one of my relatives after having suffered pancreatitis several times. No alcohol helps too (you don't have to be a heavy drinker to get that kind of trouble).

I have a hiatus hernia (I blame the migraine and all that comes with it), so can relate when it comes to reflux.I gave up trying a FODMAP diet, since it seemed so restricted combined with my food intolerances, but I find out little by little which foods are best eaten in separate meals or in moderation. Please try to find nutritous combinations for your dietary needs! Some say lemon does not work like an acid in the body, but it sure can cause relux, so I don't know about that.I guess you would not be in a position to get dietary advice via the NHS?

The use of the AZ vaccine is on hold in Norway after 3 people died in hospital with these very rare side effects I think we have all read about. Our Ministry of Health wants still more time to make a final decision about it, while the experts at NIPH say the AZ vaccine should be banned from our vaccination program, if I understand correctly. By the middle of May we will know, and the same may happen to the Janssen vaccine (which has not been used here at all, so far but uses a very identical technology). A very small percetage of the population has been vaccinated so far, so I feel relieved I have (with a small margin) been defined as belonging to one of the groups given priority. I am getting my first jab next week, Pfizer I would think. So looking forward to society opening up again, still not happening in the capital, but hopefully soon. Meanwhile I have tried some bought Diptyque samples and a few Heely samples. A few nice ones, but no must-haves so far.

Sorry about the long comment, and again: Take care and get well!

Vanessa said...

Hi Ingeborg,

Thanks very much for your diet tips and interesting background on the vaccination programme in Norway. I had heard of those deaths, and the ones in Denmark and Germany. You should be fine with the Pfizer jab - I only wish I could have blagged that one, and believe me I tried!

Commiserations on having a hiatus hernia...I don't what is up with me, though a mild form of pancreatitis could be the culprit. The doctor is putting me forward for another scan specifically of that organ. The one I mentioned in the blog post may also give some view of it, apparently, so that would be a bonus, as its main focus was lower down.

On the reflux front I have been very careful with my diet so far, avoiding anything processed or high in fat. I took a look at FODMAP foods in fact and thought that is way too hard! Giving up tomatoes - as it seems I should on a low acid regime - is challenge enough. I am not sure what to do about lemons, for the reason you mention. So far I am drinking a lemon and ginger tea with no issues, but not adding extra lemon slices or anything.

The NHS are not great at dietary advice, sadly, but I have found a local nutrition specialist who has GERD herself. I think I will wait till my problem has a formal diagnosis and maybe consult her then. For now, the doctor is putting me on PPIs for a while, even though the reflux is a lot better than it was. I guess she wants to ensure that area has a chance to heal, though I would like to try to manage the condition by diet as a long term tactic.