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Kayla Briceno

Ms. Gardner

English 10 Honors, Per. 6

30 January 2017

Little Engine

As I was cramming in spoonfuls of mashed potatoes and gravy into my mouth, my little brother

Tony scurried off to the bathroom, for what seemed like the hundredth time of the day. I overheard my

mom speaking to my grandma, a registered nurse. She spoke of my brother and his constant thirst and

need for water, along with his frequent urge to go to the bathroom. I did not now what that implied, but I

did know she seemed concerned. My mom decided to borrow my aunt Priscillas glucometer. Priscilla is a

type one diabetic. I did not know much of the condition other than it required her to prick her fingers

before eating.

My aunt pricked his finger and out came a perfect droplet of bright red blood. He matched the

blood to the tip of the test strip. And we waited. We waited for the test to reveal either a high or low

blood glucose level. Whatever that meant. I only ever remember testing my sugar once prior to this.

Apparently a blood glucose level of eighty-six is normal, which is what mine read. I had no doubt

whatsoever that my brothers would be just as good. Then the number flashed on the screen of the

glucometer. It read four hundred and twenty three. I knew it was not good, but I did not realize how bad it

was. My mom frantically rushed to get my dad, and with a distraught face said, Honey, go get the car,

we need to take Tony to the hospital. Now. I will never forget the worrisome look my mom made, she

seemed empty; and of course my dad's confusion when he heard those words.

Vroom. Vroom.

My parents were on their way to Kaiser Permanente with my brother and my grandma. I was

forced to stay with my mom's side of the family, whom I rarely ever see. It made me angry that my
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parents had the audacity to just isolate me there. I have always been one who craves attention.

Coincidentally, my horoscope sign is Leo, the sign that is labeled as narcissistic. Go figure. I realize I was

just being selfish, but those kind of thoughts distracted me from the fact that there could be something

wrong with my little brother. I was a full range of emotions: angry, jealous, sad, scared, but most of all,

confused. I did not understand how one minute I could be enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with my brother,

and the next minute a trip to the bathroom would change our lives. I can only imagine the thoughts that

ran through his head along the car ride. He was only eight at that time.

I sat on my grandma's couch and watched the Hannah Montana marathon that the Disney Channel

was programming. As I was rocking out to the theme song Best of Both Worlds my uncle David

received a call from my grandma. She called to inform us that my brother did in fact have type one

diabetes just as my mom had suspected. What is wrong with my brother? What is type one diabetes? I

asked my aunt Priscilla with my eyes wide open-- curious and concerned. She was the only one who

could give me an answer that I could trust since she lives with it. Her response was, There is something

in your body that functions like a little engine. It makes a sort of gas like liquid that fuels your body. Your

brothers little engine is not working on its own. It isnt making the gas for his body to run, so he needs

the help of medicine. I was still very confused. I was too young to understand analogies, but I did

comprehend one thing from it. My brother would now have to live with a broken engine, while also

attempting to have a normal and fun childhood. Best of both worlds, huh?

Vroom. Vroom.

The time had finally come. I was about to go visit my brother in the hospital. I remember walking

into the quiet and melancholy room. I was not expecting it to be a joyous moment, but I was for sure not

expecting it to be so dull and lifeless. I sat down on a visitors chair, and kept my mouth shut since I feared

opening it would only make matters worse. I was told to keep quiet about the topic of food, I did not

know why but I did anything I thought would make my brother feel better.
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The nurses dropped in every hour or so to check on his blood glucose levels. The highest level it

reached that day was in the seven hundreds, yet I still did not know what that meant. During the visit I

discovered an organ called the pancreas. I learned that it contains insulin which breaks down the sugars a

person consumes, and uses that for energy to fuel the body. Like many of the organs in the body, without

the pancreas a person will die. I could not believe that an organ that was unheard of to me was vital to a

person's survival. My curiosity rose, so like any other curious person I reached out to the Internet for more

information on this precious organ. I opted to click the John Hopkins website which stated:

To visualize the position of the pancreas, try this: touch your right thumb and right "pinkie"

fingers together, keeping the other three fingers together and straight. Then, place your hand in

the center of your belly just below your lower ribs with your fingers pointing to your left. Your

hand will be the approximate shape and at the approximate level of your pancreas.

I did exactly this, only to be completely surprised of how small this organ is. While the pancreas

only occupies six inches of the body, it plays a much bigger role to the body, despite its size. I read on to

find that the pancreas releases the hormone insulin into the bloodstream, in order to maintain the blood

glucose levels needed for creating energy.

My familys life was about to change. Little did I know I would spend days crying in the corner

of my room aching for the pain my brother was going through, with all the finger pricking and needle

injections. Or having my brother scream at me and remind me everyday that he had things way worse

than I did, shouting things like, Shut up Kayla! You arent the one who has to give yourself shots and

prick your fingers everyday! Moments like these shattered me. I remember wishing that I had type one

diabetes so he couldn't use that excuse on me, and just to go through the pain he was feeling. I did not

want him to be alone. Ultimately he wasnt though because he and my aunt Priscilla were pump

buddies, meaning they both had insulin pumps, which gives their pancreas the insulin their body couldn't

produce on its own. I remember being so jealous of the fact that I didn't get to be a part of the pump
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buddies crew and desperately wanting either a rose gold pump or a Dodger blue pump like them. I know

it's selfish, but that was the way I thought then. I now realize why I was to keep my mouth shut about

food in the hospital, since it is a touchy subject for type one diabetics, because they are constantly feeding

themselves insulin every time they eat carbs. I took this for granted before my brother was diagnosed.

And to be completely honest I sometimes, even to this day, forget what a blessing it is to have a working

pancreas to help me maintain my sugar levels, and to fuel my body.

Vroom. Vroom.

I never would have thought that I could compare my little brother to his favorite car, from the

movie Cars, Lightning McQueen, the fastest car on the verge of winning the Piston Cup. My brothers

pancreas is McQueens engine without gas. Without the insulin in the pancreas, his body cannot break

down the sugars that are needed to give him energy. Without the gas in McQueen's engine, he cannot

function because he has no fuel to run on. My brother has a broken engine that is unable to get gas. It is as

simple as that to explain, yet very hard to actually live with.

I on the other hand, have a perfectly working engine that continues to restock a full supply of

insulin for my body. Vroom. Vroom. I beat myself up about this everyday because it is the only thing that

sets me and my brother apart, other than our genders. To make up for this I make sure to support my

brother in all that he does, and I also settle a few things straight regarding his condition to those who

falsify the condition or are unfamiliar with it.

My brother has a disability. He has one damaged piece, completely unfunctional, and always will

be. No, it is not the result of him eating too much junk food. It is an autoimmune disease that is genetic.

No, there is no such thing as a really bad type one diabetic, a person either has it or does not. No, there is

no permanent cure for this condition yet. But there is something that manages it for him: artificial insulin.

And as long as he has that, his little engine will continue to run. Vroom. Vroom.