My daughter has thousands of dollars worth of medical equipment attached to her body right now to take the place of one failed organ. She recently started on an insulin pump to do the job of her pancreas. Since the pump is a man-made device, we need to use an outside "brain" to activate it and tell it what to do. (My husband, the doctors, school nurses, and I are that brain.) To help this "brain" in its thinking, we need another device, called a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) to tell us how we are doing and adjust our thinking in operating the pump.
It's so complicated, and yet, those of us with non-diabetic pancreases have the same work occurring in our own bodies all the time with no outside thought required. I'm sorry, but I find that amazing. The human body is incredible. So, today let's think about how we value it.
I have been trying to find out an exact count of how many organs are in the human body. Sources differ, and I have seen answers between 22 and 78, depending on what, exactly, can be considered its own organ. However, there is a pretty universal list of about 10 that are considered "vital" organs (as in, you would die if they failed.)
So let's consider the cost of maintaining each of these 10, should they fail. In most cases, when an organ completely stops functioning, the organ would need to be removed and replaced by one that works. There are, of course, cases of manipulating your body or medical equipment to do the job of the failed organ (such as in the case of Type 1 Diabetes, when we can use medical equipment to supply insulin), but most of the other organs, if in complete failure would need to be completely transplanted. Here are the costs of transplanting the vital organs, according to the National Foundation of Transplants.
1. Heart - $1 million
2. Brain ~ $750,000 (This is the cost of 1 year of life support. If your brain fails, you are dead.)
3. Lungs - $800,000 (for both)
4. Skin ~ $700,000 (for 100% body skin graft)
5. Stomach ~ $25,000 (gastric bypass)
6. Liver - $575,000
7. Kidney - $520,000 (for both)
8. Large Intestine - $1.2 million
9. Small Intestine - $1.2 million
10. Pancreas - $290,000
Total cost of repairing all major organs in your body? $7,060,000! And those are just the vital organs. You probably would like to be able to see, hear, taste, talk, use the bathroom, and many other things involving other organs too. It seems the Six Million Dollar Man just got a boost in value.
Of course, right now, we are paying just a fraction of this to sustain Audrey's pancreas. I'm thankful for insurance covering so much of her necessary diabetic equipment, but what's left is a reminder of the price we pay to keep our daughter alive.
What is my point in drawing all this up? Imagine the cost of having to sustain each one of these organs, just to keep your body functioning.
God does it all for free.
This is just to keep your body going. The use of your mind, thoughts, feelings, motivations, and determination are priceless.
And let's go beyond the financial aspect. Here are some of the time requirements it takes to pretend to be a pancreas:
1. Trips to the endocrinologist, who happens to be over an hour away (and I'm sure there will be other specialists soon too.)
2. Calls to the insurance. (How much on-hold music can one person take? I'm near to finding out.)
3. Trips and calls to the pharmacy (I'm there at least once a week. Even the non-regular assistants know my name. Norm!)
4. Reports to the doctor (At least once a week, they need to review her medical settings. So, I need to send in current settings, discuss events, and review hourly blood sugars.These reports can be downloaded from her devices or hand-written in a log, scanned, and messaged to the office with an email.)
5. Equipment set up, maintenance, training, calibration, etc. (We needed to drive out to the endo 4 times just to learn how to use her pump.)
6. Carb calculating (I admit, I'm getting better at this. But not every chicken nugget is the same, and I have to look up a lot of our non-regulars. Even bananas differ in size, so I need to weigh them first.)
7. Health educating (You know I'm reading everything I can to learn about this disease.)
8. Blood sugar checks (They take much less time than they used to, now that she is used to them. But still, a few minutes several times a day. Then remembering to record it, use it, calibrate with it, and so on…)
9. Going to support meetings (This isn't a bad thing at all, but still requires time.)
10. Sitting around worrying if I'm doing all I can (Not necessary, but it still consumes my time.)
11. Blogging about it to let people know (Productive outlet, I would say, but again. More time.)
12. Helping to raise funds to find a cure (because who else will? We are riding in the Tour de Cure this June.)
This is all for one failed organ. That's A LOT of work. I am literally losing sleep over it all. Can you imagine how much work it would take to sustain ALL of your organs? To continue your life?
At what point does a caregiver say, "It's just not worth it?"
God is your caregiver, and He says, "Never."
God considered all of your worth - you. Just you! - and said, "I'm going to take on all that it entails to keep this one going."
If you'd like to take it a step further, we can examine your soul. Having your soul- your own, very soul - was so important to God, that he He allowed the cessation of all life-sustaining organs in the body of His own Son to be offered as the price to have you able to come near to Him. And yes, it would have been done for you, even if you were the only person in the world who needed it done. If everyone else in the world were perfect and already going to Heaven, except you, Jesus STILL would have come to earth and suffered everything He did just to save you.
Or my diabetic baby girl.
Or the old man standing on the corner.
Because you are worth that much. Every life is absolutely precious. Make sure you use yours for absolutely all it's worth.
Passion Under Grace,