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What My Pancreas Taught Me About Life

So I nearly died again last night. It sounds dramatic, but with type 1 diabetes it’s just something that happens. Even with the best control, insulin needs change and monitors fail, leaving me blearily consuming Starburst at one in the morning, grateful that I was able to wake up.

In the simplest terms, the fact that I have type 1 diabetes means that my pancreas failed. Remember that the next time a daytime television talk show host recommends cinnamon to help treat diabetes. Most people mean well, but would you really suggest that someone with heart or lung failure should check the contents of their spice cabinets for treatment options? I didn’t think so.

The pancreas is a really underappreciated organ. In healthy people it regulates insulin production so that blood sugar levels remain in a normal range. If your blood sugar goes too low, you lose consciousness and die. If your blood sugar goes too high, you damage your other organs, which eventually will cause you to die. Neither alternative is good.

Unfortunately, my pancreas was not considerate enough to leave an instruction manual for me before it quit working. I give insulin for every single carb that I eat, but activity level, stress, illness, hormones, and other factors that my pancreas didn’t take the time to inform me about can all affect my blood sugar. I try constantly to keep my blood sugar in a normal range, but the fact is, most of the time I’m going to fail.

I’m going to have rock bottom lows, and I’m going to have high as a kite highs. But you know what? My diabetes educator still calls me her rock star, even when I report bad numbers. She thinks I’m great because she knows I’m always trying, even though it feels like most of the time I get everything all wrong.

Thankfully most people will never have to try functioning as their own pancreas, but everyone has times when they feel like they can’t do anything right. The important thing is to keep trying, no matter how frustrating it is. Chances are, just like my diabetes educator assures me I’m doing better than I think, you’re doing better than you think, too.

One thought on “What My Pancreas Taught Me About Life

  1. Thank you, Ashley, for teaching me a little about what you face on a daily basis. I have no thoughts or insight into what you should do, but this I know, you have a husband and partner that loves you very much, and will be there for you during the highs and lows.

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