Pancreas Cancer Web

STEVE Jackie 2/11/09 Update

Three years have passed since Steve's original Whipple surgery. The surgery left him with 40% of his pancreas - tail portion and spleen were still intact. In late July 2007, Steve began to suffer from pancreatitis. He was hospitalized in late July and again in September 2007. At these times, his lipase level was four times what the high end of the normal range would be. In the latter part of December of the same year he began to regurgitate portions of meals. This was not from an entire day, but the meal just eaten. Something was beginning to back up in the digestive tract. We started keeping a food diary of sorts to see if a pattern emerged. No patterns just random moments that were hard to predict. All stayed quiet again until March 2008 when Steve was at the ER again with pancreatitis (although it was a minor episode and the local hospital did not see adequate reason to admit him despite our pleading to keep him for overnight observation.

This brought us to May and June of '08. Steve's surgeon was aware of these recurrences and the May and June attacks brought him back to Sloan Kettering for more indepth analysis of the situation. Dr. DeMatteo said that the time had come to remove the remaining portion of the pancreas (tail) and possibly the spleen. Preparations were underway and the operation took place on July 8, 2008. The tail portion was removed but the spleen was left. Scar tissue had built up from the recurrent bouts of pancreatitis so the surgeon did have a difficult time of extracting the tail of the pancreas, and he as much said that he felt like Michelangelo chiseling away at the piece (1-1/2 inches was all that was there but it was really detailed work).

As a result, Steve is now a Type 1 diabetic, totally insulin dependent and injecting 7 times a day. He is injecting Lantus morning and night and Novolog with meals and snacks as needed to cover the carbohydrates that he is consuming. The pancreatic enzyme pills, Viokase, that he started taking in November 2006 are part of the routine as well.

Steve decided to retire from work because he did not know how stable his glucose readings would be immediately after the surgery and in the following months, adapting to life as a Type 1 diabetic, etc., but all has been monitored and he is active in other interests. His glucose readings have been excellent and although he has thought of obtaining an insulin pump one day, for the time being, injecting via the insulin pens that are pre-measured and you just have to literally dial a dose for what you are eating, has not proved to be a challenge. We also have an excellent carbohydrate counting book that we obtained through the recommendation of a valued member of this site, Derrill, and this has been of tremendous value.

We wish all of you well.


Posted 02/11/2009 10:41 am by Jackie
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