Saturday, November 29, 2008

Non Ferritous Sequitur

I have been experiencing a dry spell of sorts. I am between phlebotomies and am two or three days away from another blood withdrawal to check my ferritin count, and thus a week away from having any kind of a report from “Doc Holliday”. I thought, “Well, maybe it is time to find out a few more things. Maybe it is Google-time at the Beeblebrox household”. So this morning I went on line to find out just how much iron I am losing per day through my skin, my hair, and my fingernails. The answer is simple.

According to those who actually spent time investigating this sort of medical information for a living, normal human beings shed about one milligram of iron per day. I wondered if a person with serious iron-overloading actually sheds more. It seems reasonable that it would be so. A German outfit located in Germany (that seems right), says that normal people have about 65 (+ or – 25) mu-mols of iron for every 100 grams of dry weight skin. I have a question. Where did these German scientists get 100 grams of dry weight human skin? Think of this. A normal human being sheds his or her skin (about 22 square feet) every other day, at a rate of 7 million skin flakes per minute. I am told that if you gathered up all of the skin flakes shed in a week from every person on the earth you would have a pile of dead cells three stories high. Apparently there is no want of experimental materials.

Given that there are plenty of dead skin cells to work with, the little German project at least is plausible. The report goes on to say, however, that those people with hemochromatosis have significantly more iron in their skin. Now this seems intuitively correct, but has this been scientifically proven? I mean, when our little Herr Professor Doctors were ferreting about in their thirty foot pile of dead skin cells, how did they know which ones belonged to the iron overloaded class? Did they use magnets (my favorite technique)? Did they wait for the 1 cell in 250 to migrate toward the north? What? How? This is a puzzling conclusion and one that requires further research. Don’t expect any results any time soon.

Now, is this the sort of stuff that inspires my family or anyone else to rise up and take notice of my carefully crafted prose? No! It is what follows, the stuff that has absolutely nothing to do with my affliction, except in the most ancillary of ways. While I was trying to find out how much the entire skin of a normal human being weighs (9 to 10 pounds, but I don’t think that is dry weight), I happened upon a website called “The Analyst”, a digital naturopathic “.com” that was filled with all sorts of informative and really repulsive data. The article on Hemochromatosis (Iron Overloading) seemed to be fairly accurate. I recommend it.

What I found particularly interesting, however, ensconced between the elaborate charts and the rather erudite Glossary, was this little story.

When Jacob was finally given an exit visa by the Russians and allowed to immigrate to Israel, he was told he could only take what he could put into one suitcase. At Moscow airport, he was stopped by customs and an official shouted, "Open your case at once."

Jacob did what he was told. The official searched through his case and pulled out something wrapped in newspaper. He unwrapped it and saw it was a bust of Stalin.

"What is that?" he shouted at Jacob.

Jacob replied, "You shouldn't ask 'What is that?' - you should ask 'Who is that?' That is our glorious leader Stalin. I'm taking it to remind me of the wonderful things he did for me and the marvellous life that I am leaving behind."

The official sneered. "I always knew you Jews were mad. Go, and take the bust with you."

When Jacob arrived at Ben Gurion airport, a customs officer said, "Shalom, welcome to Israel, open your case, please!"

Jacob's case was once again searched and not surprisingly the bust was found. "What is that?” asked the officer.

Jacob replied, "You shouldn't ask 'What is that?' - you should ask 'Who is that?' That is Stalin the rat. I want to spit on it every day to remind me of all the suffering and misery he caused me."

The official laughed, "I always knew you Russians were mad. Go, and take the bust with you."

When Jacob arrived at his new home, his young nephew watched him as he unpacked. Jacob carefully unwrapped the bust of Stalin and put it on the table. "Who is that?" asked his nephew.

Jacob replied, "You shouldn't ask 'Who is that?' - you should ask 'What is that?' That is five kilos of gold."

Now that is my kind of blog.


Jen said...

I'll take that kind of bust any day.

Anonymous said...

Me too. Where do I sign up?

Rebecca said...

that's a lot of gold!

DebbieLou said...

I liked that little story too.