The day I met my pancreas...

The day I met my pancreas...

Anything that could be medically tested was being checked out. I know this sounds pathetic, but I was having a good time, writes Lakshmi Palecanda


We all love to see pictures of ourselves. Even the most modest and self-effacing amongst us are not exempt from this vanity. Not stopping at taking endless pictures of ourselves, we put them where everyone can see and hopefully admire — on our walls, in albums and on social media.

But have you ever seen a framed X-ray on the walls? In albums? Or on social media? Why not? Recently, I was having my wellness check done. I’d been having a few hiccups in my health and I thought I might as well sound out my insides. Some might say this is unnecessary, but the sense of security it gives is, well… priceless. Anything that could be medically tested was being checked out. I know this sounds pathetic, but I was having a good time. It was fun, albeit in a weird way. My blood was not being put under excess pressure, I was glad to find. My thyroid was behaving itself. My blood was not sweeter than it should be. There were no lumps, bumps or clumps in odd places. I was pronounced waaaaay overweight, but I knew that, and so did the world, so it didn’t raise any eyebrows. My body was working, though not as a smooth, well-oiled machine, at least effectively.

Some doctor suggested that I also get an ultrasound of my abdomen. I was initially reluctant, and with good reason. Anybody who has had an ultrasound knows that while it is not as painful as a bone marrow biopsy or as uncomfortable as an MRI scan, it is messy. The gel they smear on you is not Nutella or any such. It is yucky, gooey and messy. It goes on icky and no matter how often you wipe yourself off with those paper towels, you still feel gross. And the scope is so cold that you can almost hear your body go ‘Aaaargh! Don’t do this thing to me!’

Overriding my squeamishness and reluctance to do anything that upsets my physical comfort, I agreed. I’m sorry to say that this was not out of any good sense. I’m a compulsive to-do-list-completer. To those who are not au courant with psychological terminology, this means that if I make a list, I have to complete it or I go nuts. The ultrasound was on the list, therefore it was going to get done, discomfort notwithstanding.

I entered the ultrasound room with a fatalistic attitude. It had to be done, so I was going to do it. And then I was on the couch, with my exposed belly being slathered with the goo. I pointedly looked away as the doctor poised the wand and began the ultrasound. The cold of the wand had sent a shock to my corporeal being which was reacting by screaming silently, “You big fat meany-head, what do you mean by doing this to me? You know how I hate the cold, you so-and-so!” Meanwhile, the doctor was busy recording the details of the scan. For some reason, I suddenly looked at the screen … and came eye-to-eye with my pancreas, in a manner of speaking. There it was in black-and-white, a small organ, which looked like teenaged corn — you know, not as small as baby corn, but a little bigger.

As I looked at in wonder, a whole host of thoughts ran through my mind. The first was how complex a being I myself was. Someone had taken a lot of trouble to make me. Then came gratitude — thank you for not malfunctioning in me. Otherwise, I’d have diabetes and digestive problems, wouldn’t I? Then came sheer wonder: this little thing was part of me and helping me so much. But I was unconscious of its presence, and would remain so until it malfunctioned, upon which I would heap curses on it. I was not being fair to it. That day, I developed a love towards my own internal organs — all those units that were trying so hard to keep me happy from inside. I resolved to take better care of them, because they were being so good to me in spite of all the abuse that I was subjecting them to. I also began to feel really good — so much was being done by my body to keep me happy, so how could I be depressed?

So, if you are feeling low for some reason, I suggest getting an ultrasound and watching the screen as you do. You’ll develop a healthier respect and gratitude for your own body and feel happier on the whole. You’ll feel like I did, the day I said ‘Hello!’ to my own pancreas!



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