WoD – The Pancreas, and other unbeknownst organs

A while back I wrote a WoD on what the heck a gall bladder is.  Well, today I am thinking about the Pancreas.  What does that one do?!  Let’s face it – basically none of us have any idea.  The only reason I sort of know is because I am reading the Steve jobs biography, and Walter Isaacson explains a teensy bit about how the pancreas provides enzymes to help the stomach break food down (which was one of the reasons Steve J. got so thin and malnourished).  

But here’s the thing.  How can we know SO LITTLE about one of our own major organs?!  We only have like 13 of these things.*  And yet we know painfully little about how so many of them work.  (Lungs=gets oxygen from air into our blood.  Heart=pumps blood.  Stomach=digests our food.  Liver=umm, the thing that takes alcohol out of our bloodstream?  After that one, we are on shaky ground, right?)  This is just… byzantine.  

So, here’s the idea part for today.  I think we all should be taught WAY more about how our bodies actually work, what the major organs do, and how they function.  Maybe just a required high school class.  (I mean, we learn trigonometry for chrissake, but we don’t learn what the pancreas does inside of us?)  The larger reason is, I think with a much better understanding of our organs and our bodies’ systems, I think we can actually improve our health.  Meaningfully.  This is the case with darned-near everything – the more we know and understand something, the more we pay attention to it, the more we appreciate it, the better we treat it, etc.

So transitively speaking, I am certain we would all take a bit better care of ourselves, or eat a bit healthier, or just be more attuned to our own wellness.  i.e. we would take much more responsibility for our own well-being.  And this would have huge, HUGE positive implications on healthcare and on our society.  One change to a high school curriculum and we could perhaps save tens of billions wasted every year on reactive healthcare, some of which could have been easily averted.**  

How do I know this to be true?  Well, as SchoolHouse Rock taught me, “Knowledge is Power!”  And, as Spiderman taught me, “with great power, comes great responsibility.”  So there you have it – a truism if I’ve ever heard one…  


*  Ok, I searched online for how many organs a human body has.  Answer: it depends on how you define organ!  Cripes.  I saw answers ranging from 10 major ones, to 13, to 52, to 78, to over 700.  Wtf, right?

**  Even Steve Jobs fell victim to what I would call an incomplete understanding of how our organs and body works — he didn’t want to bother knowing about his pancreas and the tumor there, and waited over 9 months to have surgery to remove it, by which time it had spread to his liver and elsewhere.  Such a shame…




If you’re faithful to your spouse, you’ll have a healthy body.


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