Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Effects of Iron Over-loading on Time and Space

My wife, the lovely Trillium, after reading my initial entry, suggested that I was imposing anachronistic data upon my readers. She explained; I agreed. So I am up at the crack of dawn to correct any misconceptions derived from my errata. The whole problem, however, can be laid at the feet of iron-overloading.

When one has the brain the size of a planet, excess iron in the body is bound to fuss with the mechanics of memory. My daughters, unsympathetic as usual, point out that as a gas-giant, my brain should not be adversely effected by anything of a ferrous nature; to wit, Shoemaker-Levy and the Red Spot. My sons, currently enjoying their own gravitational wells, have down-graded me to a planetoid and refer to their father as "Play-doh". I suppose that I should be grateful that they no longer think of me as the god of the Underworld. My sister, Judie, has bought into the iron-overloading theory, observing that it is the easiest explanation for my continuous "Aurora Boring-All-Us", which observation brings us ultimately back to the gas-giant theory of most of the other women in my life.

Getting back to the specific memory problem, Trillium said that the miscommunication between "Doc Holliday" and myself took place during our trip to Southern California, where we had gone to watch one of our grandsons dance the Cha-Cha in front of 10,000 people and a television crew (more Demerol, please). I tried to imagine the connection between the trip and the four days on the river. I wondered if the 1600-mile drive was anything like being pulled underwater for twenty minutes by a 365 horse-power inboard motorboat. I decided that it was exactly the same. I also concluded that I consumed enough red meat iron at the Virgin River Casino Buffet in Mesquite, Nevada, to make my own Nautilus-class submarine, a device which I later water-tested in the depths of Yuba Lake. The confusion was understandable.

In the meantime, Trillium was continuing her researches into my malady. "Bronzing" became extremely important once I came home from the river trip. I was sitting at my computer key-board trying to conjure up a piece of deathless prose when she came into my den and provocatively put her alabaster arm next to mine. "Hmmmmm," she said. "Bronzing". "Bronzing", I retorted. "What bronzing?" "Iron-overloading causes bronzing of the skin," she said sweetly. "So does four days in the blazing sun of central Utah," I said. I was eventually able to prove to her satisfaction that the bronzing of my fore-arms was probably not a symptom of my disease.

I generally swim fully clothed. I wear a shirt, long pants, shoes and socks almost every time I get into the water. From the time I was a child, I have been a water-baby. Growing up in Southern California, close to the beach, I spent vast amounts of time on the sea-shore nearly naked. My switch to clothed bathing came about as the result of an ill-fated hunting trip in the mountains above Denver, Colorado. It was a lovely day at 10,000 feet above sea-level; the sky was crystal blue, the sun was bright and warm. I decided to take off my shirt and hunt Amerindian style. I ended up with a second and third-degree sunburn. The experience was so painful that I decided that I would never allow myself to suffer in that way again. Hence, the current configuration of my swimming togs. This, of course, has saved me from other indignities, like having Greenpeace try to get me back into the water or being harpooned by some near-sighted Ahab.

The day that I was dragged submersibly by my friend's motorboat, I was wearing a flowered Hawaiian shirt, blue jeans cinched tight with one of my leather Woodbadge belts, white socks and deck shoes. The pull through the water nearly divested me of all of my clothing. Someone actually shouted "Thar she blows" and something whistled by my right ear. I managed to scamper back into the boat; no harm no foul. As Trillium looked at our parallel arms, I pulled the cuff of my short-sleeved shirt up to my shoulder. She stared at the exposed flesh for a moment and then said, "No worries then", made a little mark on her clip board and went back to her computer.

Several months before I was diagnosed with hemochromatosis, I decided that it was time for a weight-loss program. I was tipping the scales at nearly 250 pounds; I thought that I should be more demure, perhaps at 205. I tried a number of things, but my weight merely fluctuated between 249 and 228. Then Trillium discovered "Green Drink", a sort of smoothie made of spinach, strawberries, bananas, and fruit juice. She offered it to me one morning. I recoiled some; it looked ever so much like 50-weight motor oil (actually, that is the polite description that I am using now; the original is unprintable). I closed my eyes, took a swig, and to my shock and wonder, it was delicious. I was hooked from the first moment I tasted it. Every morning I would hammer down a large glass of the stuff, finding that I suffered no hunger until mid-afternoon. I began to shed the weight. I was nearing the 219 barrier when I was diagnosed with hemochromatosis. I remembered that I had read somewhere that spinach was an excellent source of iron, dreaded cirrhosis-inducing iron, iron that would take out my pancreas without batting an eye, iron that would turn my kidneys into an excuse for a 14-gauge dialysis team's prodding and probing. As the prospects dawned on me, I said to myself, "I knew it; I am actually going to have to exercise in order to lose weight." It was then that I learned the difference between heme and non-heme iron.

Iron is in just about everything. It stands to reason that since the core of the earth is a gigantic mass of liquid iron, that iron would be in just about everything else as well. How does one then avoid consuming iron? One can't, but one does have a choice between consumable irons. Heme iron is that which is found in animal matter; it is the very thing that gives tri-tip steak its marvelous texture and taste. It is one of the eleven secret herbs and spices in Kentucky Fried Chicken. It is the main ingredient in a Whopper. Non-heme iron is found in almost all vegetable matter and is, as it turns out, significantly more difficult to absorb. Spinach, in addition, is provided with oxalic acid which binds with the non-heme iron making it virtually impossible to be absorbed. This state of affairs, at first, puzzled me. Heme iron seems to be actually designed for human consumption; non-heme iron seems to be designed for something else. In other words, my spontaneous drooling whenever I passed by Carl's Jr. was as natural as breathing. When I realized that distinction, that I could no longer consume heme iron with impunity, but was relegated to sipping "Shreck Juice" for the rest of my life instead, my brain the size of a planet epiphanized, "I really do have a DISEASE!"


Anonymous said...

HEHEHEHE! I remember you jumping into the pool in California, wearing only your ice-blue swim trunks, and due to the color of the bottom of the pool, all you could see was your trunks swimming up and down the pool. LOL

Zaphod said...

Yes, but that was in December, near twilight. Most of the time I wore white trunks, so no one knew I was even there.

Anonymous said...

LOL Thar she bloooowwwwssssss!

Chris said...

Aaahh, so I AM safe. There is no iron in soda. Teheheheee!!!!