Monday, March 12, 2007

A Diabetic's Sad Cry For Understanding: Lessons in Liver

You might not realize that whenever you're agitated or sick your liver secretes sugar. I'm not sure where the sugar comes from -- it's probably stored inside the liver for just such an occasion, like the bottles of booze you keep for unexpected visitors -- but it ends up in your bloodstream with all the sugars derived from your food...and since you probably have the bonus of automatic insulin production you never even know about it.

This is something I was never told about when I was a kid, but I'd long realized that stress and sickness caused my blood sugar to plateau at an unusually high level. An endocrinologist finally identified the culprit: my liver (AKA "Parker").

A lot of the trouble I have with my blood sugar comes down to Parker's sugar-happy ways. If I get upset about something, or if I feel a bit more stressed than usual at work, I have to assume that more insulin is necessary to bring my blood sugar down again. The problem is that Parker doesn't ALWAYS secrete sugar in response to stress...sometimes he's asleep on the job, so I take the extra insulin, I have an insulin reaction, I eat sugar, Parker might wake up and decide to give me an extra jolt of sugar in the meantime because I'm stressed about my failure to properly anticipate my blood sugar level, and next thing I know I'm a mushy, totally unproductive citizen.

When I'm sick, though, Parker ALWAYS comes through. And what's more this "sick sugar" is apparently difficult to break down, because I can spend hours topping up my insulin...with absolutely NO effect whatsoever, at which point I become frustrated, inject massive amounts of insulin, and end up being unable to sleep and writing blog entries about Pierre Berton when I should be resting up and getting healthy.

So next time you get sick, or somebody cuts you off in traffic: give a thought to YOUR liver. You don't have any nerves in there so you can't tell what it's doing, but take it from me: it's injecting sugar into your bloodstream, just to annoy you.


VanillaJ said...

So, do you make it a practice to give your body parts personal names? To what end?

(I see Tweeter, and Bo-bo, and Mr. Hiney, and Jeff....)

Anonymous said...

My question is, what do you call your islets of Langerhans? Zeppo, because he does nothing for the overall act?


Adam Thornton said...

Zeppo would be the best name for my islets of Langerhans, because they bugged out early!

I think I choose body-part names to make it easier to write about them. A year of technical writing as done this to me. If you come up with a one-word term for something that is otherwise a bit generic, your sentences become easier to structure...especially because (in the case of Parker) I can save the confusion of adding "my" into the equation (as in "my liver").

But besides all of that, I guess it's because I'm furious at my liver, and it's easier to be furious at something with a name!

I am less furious with Tweeter, Bo-bo, and Mr. Hiney.