Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Mother Lode

How does one come to have a vein of iron ore a mile wide running through one's body? Well, as it turns out, there are a number of ways. Secondary hemochromatosis is caused by anemia or alcoholism. I, however, do not suffer from either one of these inasmuch as I have no trouble finding healthy things to eat, like maple bars. Macy's has scads of them. Inasmuch as the last time I had any alcohol it was in conjunction with a box of vanilla wafers, alcoholism does not lend itself to my personal diagnosis. Juvenile hemochromatosis would only have application to me if it were a personality disease. Neonatal hemochromatosis doesn't seem to have immediate application either, unless one considers my emotional state at having to go the Infusion Center for another withdrawal. What I have is called primary hemochromatosis or hereditary hemochromatosis.

For those of you who have a stake in the gene pool, hereditary hemochromatosis is caused by the mutations of HFE, specifically C282Y and H63D. Don't ask me what this stuff means; the medical profession is numbering things like this so you cannot figure it out on your own. It is almost as if they were afraid for you to find out that in order to cure yourself of C282Y all you would have to do is smear Peter Pan peanut butter all over your left arm pit. So, instead of calling it the "gene that can be fixed with Peter Pan peanut butter", they call it C282Y. Would you be surprised to know that in their coffee clutches this gene is really known as 3PB? I certainly would not. Only five out of a thousand people, or about .5% have the double gene that makes a person susceptible to the genetic disease. It has confined itself primarily to those of English, French, Swedish, and Portuguese extraction. I personally have the English (the Earl of Clarendon) and the French (Charlemagne). Trillium is a French-Canadian/Swede on her father's side. As far as we know we have no Portuguese influence except for our son who went to Brazil for two years.

Now could I have acquired this disorder by way of osmosis from Trillium or David? That is about as likely as having picked it up as a result of living near the Hull-Rust-Mahoning Open Pit Iron Mine in Hibbing, Minnesota, for three years. No, I got this mother lode from the Mother Lode and, of course, from the Father Lode as well. Hereditary hemochromatosis can only be acquired if both the mother and the father have one of the mutated genes. One out of 200 people in the world have at least one; they are the carriers. From what we can tell, my Mother may very well have had hemochromatosis without knowing it. It is unlikely, however, that her doctor ever tested her for it.

I have stated before that iron is in just about everything. It is as ubiquitous as dirt. No matter what we eat, there is bound to be some iron in it, except for maple bars which have absolutely no iron whatsoever. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I may never grill another tri-tip steak again, but the last thing that will be pried from my cold, dead fingers will be a fresh maple bar from Macy's bakery. Healthy people absorb about 10 percent of the iron they ingest. People like me have a tendency to absorb 30 percent of the iron they eat. Over time, we hemochromatosis types absorb and retain 5 to 20 times more iron than we need. This is stored in some rather interesting places, including the heart, the liver, the brain, and the pancreas.

I have written about the effects caused by excess iron on these organs before. The function of the liver is to help digest food and rid the body of toxins and waste products. Having excess iron there scars the liver (cirrhosis) and the end effect is like having your sewer lines back up into the house. Other than producing the "clanking" sound in the heart instead of the gentle "thump", excess iron can also cause arrhythmia, irregular heart beat (something like "clankity-clank-clank-clunkity-ping"). Excess iron in the pancreas may cause a decrease in insulin production, in turn causing your blood sugar to rise, in turn inducing diabetes, which if left unchecked will cause the cold, dead fingers from which your next of kin will be prying a fresh maple bar. Iron over-loading in the brain causes "iron-hammers" disease which causes you to forget everything you ever knew because of the extreme, ringing headaches. The brain, in an attempt to rid itself of the iron, shoves it all down to the left shoulder into a huge subcutaneous pouch. One can easily tell if the brain has been affected because the patient runs around, holding his head, and shouting, "The Bells!!! The Bells!!!" This is found more frequently to be part of the French syndrome of symptoms. Excess iron also can cause early menopause and erectile dysfunction (and if you think that I am going anywhere near those two, think again). I have mentioned arthritis before and "bronzing". There are other side effects as well, but these should suffice.

Now, finally. When I have died, will my fossilized remains be toxic to the ground water? Not if you bury me in Hibbing, Minnesota. In fact, I might just be contributing to the US economy. Since 2005, after 30 years of dormancy, the iron mining industry has enjoyed a resurgence. Plant me right next to Robert Allen Zimmerman, native son of the Mesabi Iron Range. It is clear that Bob Dylan not only ate as much dirt as he could find in Hibbing, all the iron went straight to his throat.

10 comments:

Katscratchme said...

I award you the 10:35-At-Night-Muffled-Laughter-Because-Your-16-Month-Daughter-Is-Asleep Award. Too funny!

I'm also putting it down in my memory to talk to Audrey's doctor about getting her tested... I'll probably have to have Dr. Lewis send me for bloodwork too.. hooray.

shydandelion said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shydandelion said...

You make me laugh! I was laughing hysterically...Jeremy kept asking me what was funny...LOL Check this website out too..I almost peed my pants. http://yourargumentisinvalid.com/tag/bird/

Chris said...

How come people keep removing their posts?? Come on, people, jeez.

Ah, ubiquitous. I actually had a professor at Weber State University give a lecture, and he used the word ubiquitous to describe the internet.

As far as too much iron in the blood, just make sure you don't walk in the same room with Ian McKellen. Incidentally, is iron in the blood really magnetic?

Trillium said...

Chris asked "is iron in the blood really magnetic?" This is a good question. Researchers are looking into it. They noticed that cows seem to like standing north-south in the pasture, and concluded that somehow they knew which direction was north. Then the researchers wondered if humans are also affected by magnetic fields ....

I think the researchers have too much time on their hands and spend too much time looking at google satellite photos of the earth.

Zaphod said...

As is turns out, the English word "delete" derives from the Latin "de-" meaning "from, down, away" and "linere" meaning to "smear". No doubt, someone having read my blog tried the 3PB cure and then, when the results were not immediately forth-coming, had some rather tart and somewhat embarrassing things to say, and thought better of it afterwards.

Trillium said...

To Emily: monitoring your blood levels of iron on a yearly basis is probably a good idea. However, do NOT submit to gene testing. Do NOT allow gene testing of Audrey. Insurance may refuse to insure or deny claims for genetic disorders.

Trillium said...

I think you need to add a disclaimer to each blog, something to the effect:

"These articles are not intended to substitute for medical advice, but are primarily for entertainment value."

shydandelion said...

Fine, it's ME! I am the one deleting things... :( I do it because I said something wrong, or spelled something wrong, or I thought of a better thing to say after...Sorry to all for being a perfectionist!

Zaphod said...

So.... no peanut butter was involved? I'm kind of disappointed.