Is my pancreas ‘extinct?’ It’s not often the average person thinks about the details of organs inside of us such as the #pancreas, sure the heart, brain & lungs are the popular kids we all can think of – in living with #type1diabetes suddenly the pancreas gets catapulted to number 1 organ! But what exactly does this weird, sweetcorn-in-the-shape-of-an-excited-male-part looking, sponge-like organ do, and why has it led to this diagnosis?
Often looking on social media I come across statements that say “my pancreas doesn’t work” in relation to #t1d – and it can certainly seem that way, given the immense job we have to do 24/7 to try and manage our blood glucose levels as a result of a diagnosis from a faulty pancreas.
If the pancreas was a rugby player it would be a fly half, making the kicks for the extra points: it plays an essential role in converting food we eat into fuel for the body’s cells… okay, so a retired fly half maybe? It’s located in the abdomen & operates with 2 main functions: an exocrine to assist in digestion, and endocrine which regulates blood sugar. As you might have guessed by the name alone – especially seeing an “endocrinologist” – the latter endocrine function is where our dia-beef is at.
This section of the pancreas consists of islet cells which create and release hormones into the bloodstream. 2 of the main hormones being insulin, to manage & lower blood sugars, and glucagon.
On the other side we have the exocrine glands producing enzymes for digestion of proteins, carbohydrates & fats. The exocrine function makes up about 95% of the pancreas… this means the endocrine function is around 5%, & the “faulty” part of it which led to our diagnosis is the inability to produce insulin hormones, so essentially around 2.5% of our pancreas has led to us working butts off every day, trying to find answers & making crucial decisions to work with diabetes 24/7.
While we’ve every right to be ticked off at the slacking endocrine part of the pancreas – which sympathetically was attacked by the immune system – it also makes me stop & think:
How incredible are we?
All this goes on & we don’t stop and appreciate enough our life & the miracle it all is.