Thursday, December 17, 2009

Just When You Thought It Was Safe to Go Back Into the Water

It is wonderful to have people interested in your welfare. My immediate family has been quite supportive of my occasional tirades against the genes that force my duodenum to inhale vast amounts of iron. When I have hinted that my physician, “Doc Holliday”, has seemed somewhat cavalier about my progress or lack thereof, the whole outfit wants to break out the pitchforks and torches, and storm the castle where he regular hooks me up to the diodes running from the lightning rods on the roof. “Doctor Holinstein! Ve har komink fur SIE! Let ur liddle bunny go!” Well, it just warms the heart.

Once in a while I get a remark from some of my readers throughout the world. Most of the time they are supportive; others have desired to advertize their own products of whimsy; others, from time to time, actually make suggestions that have significance. Hence, the “Flying Finn” has often suggested that I need to eat European chocolate rather than the wax-overloaded American kind. For this suggestion I have been grateful, inasmuch as it has justified my penchant for buying 20-pound sacks of Riesens, a delightful product that only has 7% of my daily requirement for iron, and that is only an estimate because they are not quite certain how many animal parts actually got caught in the machinery. Remember, if it is tangy, it can’t be bad for you.

In response to my previous blog, “Rusted Nut” (not his real name….. I hope) made mention of something I had not thought of before. He suggested that maybe my ferritin spike might have come from an inflammation or an infection, if I had been under the weather at the time my ferritin was drawn. He spoke of ferritin being an “acute phase reactant”. BINGO! I have had some sort of sino-bronco-throato gunk weighing me down for the past month. I have been miserable, loading up on Clariton D-12, Robitussin DM, Halls cough drops, and Riesens on a daily basis as part of my treatment. I was feeling so bad the day that I went into have my ferritin sample drawn, that I laid my head down on one of the arms of the extraction chair and the Lab Tick filled her jar by tapping into a vein in my ear. “This is it! My ferritin went up, not because I am some sort of tooth and claw carnivore, but because I am a beef-eating mensch with a cold".

I, therefore, have thrust myself into the deep waters of cyber-space again to see what I could find out about “acute phase reactants”. The water is black, ice cold, and speaks German. As part of my research I came across the finest explanation yet as to how ferritin and transferrin work in the body and how they relate to hemochromatosis. The article is called “Ferritin and Transferrin In Iron Deficiency and Overload” by Rolf D. Hinzmann, M.D., Ph.D., European Scientific and Technical Support, Beckman Coulter, Germany. It originally appeared in “Immunodiagnostics Today” 12:1 Spring Fall 1999. I came away from the read as well informed as any other incident in my personal studies. I commend it to you

With regard to elevated ferritin counts produced by infections, even the CDC was helpful in their article on ferritin.

Ferritin is present in the blood in very low concentrations. Plasma ferritin is in equilibrium with body stores, and its concentration declines early in the development of iron deficiency. Low serum ferritin concentrations thus are sensitive indicators of iron deficiency. Ferritin is also an acute-phase protein; acute and chronic diseases can result in increased ferritin concentration, potentially masking an iron-deficiency diagnosis. The generally accepted cut-off level for serum ferritin below which iron stores are considered to be depleted is 15 ng/mL" did not disappoint either.

If ferritin is high there is iron in excess, which would be excreted in the stool.” Well, well, well; another mystery solved.

Ferritin is also used as a marker for iron overload disorders, such as hemochromatosis and porphyria in which the ferritin level may be abnormally raised.” Let’s hear it for Abby Normal and Igor quivering in the dungeon of the castle. "Help us, Doctor Holinstein! Oh, the torches! Oh, the pitchforks! Oh, the humanity!"

As ferritin is also an acute-phase reactant, it is often elevated in the course of disease. A normal C-reactive protein can be used to exclude elevated ferritin caused by acute phase reactions.” Well, the Lab Tick certainly didn’t think of that as she was massaging my left earlobe, did she?

Ferritin can be elevated during periods of acute malnourishment.” So, in an attempt to improve my ferritin count, we all went out to eat at Carrabas last night where I stuffed myself with Lentil and Italian Sausage soup, Pollo Rosa Maria, Broccoli Ambrosia, and loads of hot bread dipped in olive oil and special seasonings. I have felt absolutely transcendent ever since.

Finally, as a ray of hope, I discovered that aspirin might help reduce my ferritin by reducing the inflammation before trundling off to the Little Shop of Horrors in January. So, if I am still hacking up lung parts after New Years, I will add a little Bayer (more German) to my regimen and watch my ferritin tally plummet to new lows. Thanks RN (not his real name…. I hope), you have made the holidays far more enjoyable.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

“The Name is Bond, Zaphod Bond”

Since receiving the results of my ferritin check last Saturday, I have had three movie scenes stuck in my head, all of which have serious implications in my battle against iron-overloading.

The first was actually from a television series called “Hunter” that ran from 1984 to 1991. It was television’s answer to Clint Eastwood’s “Dirty Harry”. I do not think that I ever watched a complete episode. Given the ratings, I am doubtful that anyone watched a complete episode. However, one evening as I was channel-surfing, I happened upon the final scene of a “Hunter” episode that completely bowled me over. Hunter (played by Fred Dryer) and his partner McCall (played by Stefanie Kramer) had chased a villain to the top of a high-rise in Los Angeles. The culprit was standing on the ledge of the building, being defiant and sassy, and before Hunter could shoot him in the head (which was Hunter’s style), the guy slipped and fell twenty stories to the sidewalk below. Hunter walked over to the edge of the building, peered over, raised his eyebrows, and uttered his favorite catch-phrase, “Works for me!” Accompanying the lab report from the University of Utah, “Doc Holliday” sent a note that read, in part, “Excellent ferritin levels, Zaphod. Keep up your current treatment of phlebotomies. Works for me!”

The second scene is from a movie that I have never watched from beginning to end. Like the Hunter episode, I have only seen the end. In 1963, Burt Lancaster, Deborah Kerr, and Gene Hackman starred in a movie called “The Gypsy Moths”, a film developed from the novel of the same name by James Drought. The story involves three sky-divers and their thrill show during a 4th of July celebration in a small mid-western town. The catch-phrase in this movie is one that Lancaster says regarding the spirit of sky-diving: “When you turn on by falling free… when jumping is not only a way to live, but a way to die too… then you’re a Gypsy Moth.” In the final scene, Lancaster makes his final jump of the show, free-falling a mile or so, drawing closer and closer to the ground. All of the crowd is horrified; his partners watch calmly, knowing that there is plenty of time for Burt to pull his rip-cord. Burt gets closer and closer to the ground, people are screaming hysterically, the partners are beginning to get nervous. Then Burt hits the ground doing about 500 miles an hour. He bounces some, but not a lot. I have wondered about that bounce for a long time, how it would feel. When I opened my letter from the University Health Center last Saturday, I had my answer. I think that Trillium, my sister Judie, and the rest of my concerned family, once they finish reading this posting are going to wonder about the bounce, too.

The third scene is, for my money, the greatest scene in all of the James Bond movies. Pierce Brosnan is at the top of the highest dam I have ever seen in my life (the Verzasca Dam in Switzerland), dressed in ninja black, and after the camera pulls back a little, he jumps off in a lovely swan dive. I am not certain how long the scene takes, but at 32 feet per second per second, James Bond must have been about to break the sound-barrier near the end of the dive. Just at the last second, the enormous bungee cord comes into play, 007 is able to shoot his little dart gun, and reel himself to the top of the building at the bottom of the dam. There were two things about that scene that have troubled me. First, what happened to the cord when James cut himself loose? The whiplash from the tension should have taken out half of the Soviet army. Second, how much taller was our hero after that jump? I estimate about a foot and a half. Needless to say, I favor this last picture over the previous two for a couple of reasons. First, I am the hero who overcomes all eventualities and second, I don’t die a miserable death by actually hitting the ground. That is how I feel about the lab report on my ferritin levels.

Four months ago, my ferritin level was at 136, after a year-long, continuous free-fall from the astonishing heights of 827. Two months ago, probably due to the rather cavalier attitude that I had developed about my prospects, my ferritin went up one point to 137. I had been expecting another 50 point drop, but it was not forthcoming. So for the last two months, I have tried to be good. Other than an occasional Swedish meatball, and an infrequent wheat-dog, I have really been circumspect about what I have been eating. Saturday’s report snatched me by my bootstraps: my ferritin had gone up to 160. “Doc Holliday” was happy, my family was momentarily horrified, and I started looking for my little dart gun.

I am not certain what has happened, but I am being proactive and during the next few weeks I will be posting my findings. I have also conjured up some rather radical treatment plans which should prove amusing, if not effective. Fear not! I am not splattered around the countryside; I am just having to duck beneath every door jam in the house.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Blood is Thicker Than Water

The saga continues. I went to the Infusion Center yesterday to have my vein tapped again. I have been behaving myself, so I have been hoping for a significant drop in my ferritin. In two weeks I will have my answer. If it turns out that all of my skimping and starving has been to no avail, that my ferritin count has basically remained the same as two months ago, I will jump from the Vegan life raft and rejoin the passengers and crew of the S.S. Omnivore. Chester, my specialist for the day, was not optimistic. She checked my hemoglobin: “Hmmm! This isn’t good! Your hemoglobin is at 17 (times three is 41) and you are not anemic at all. The doctor wants you to be anemic.” What! I did not know that! “Doc Holliday” never said anything about my becoming anemic! He just didn’t want me to ironic!

How does a fellow like me ever become anemic? Is it even possible for someone with hemochromatosis to become anemic? My body sucks up every third nano-gram of iron that I stuff into my pie-hole. I suppose that if I went on a starvation diet (much like the one I am on now), I might deplete my iron supply, but with a 136 ferritin count, I cannot even dream of becoming anemic. Now if my ferritin count were below 50, I might consider Chester’s observation about my hemoglobin as having some merit. For the time being, however, I am just going to assume that she has suffered a brain aneurism.

I was my usual bon vivant self, ebullient and radiating whining confidence as I walked into the parlor. “Ooooo! Zaphod! You’re back! How nice for us! Why don’t you settle down in Booth 1?”

“Because there is someone else already there?”

“Hmmmm. So there is. How about Booth 4? Is there anyone in there?”

There wasn’t, so I sat down, wondering who was going to end up in my lap. I was directly across from a lady who was receiving some sort of infusion. It did not look like blood. After sitting quietly for a minute or two, one of the other nurses flitted by and commented on the fact that the lady in Booth 1 had not been attended to for some time. She wondered out loud where “Gory” and his playmates were. I am not certain that that question was ever answered, even though I saw him an hour later as I was leaving. I wondered if I was going to be left unattended while they took my pint, allowing the bag to blow up like some sort of post-apocalyptic tick. Hmmmm! Anemia was possible under certain circumstances!

After about ten minutes, Chester showed up with her little bag of tricks and began working me over. “You know,” I said, “when I was in here 6 months ago, the nurse that administered the phlebotomy said that the needle wasn’t supposed to hurt, and that the only sting that I should experience was the Lytacane. Yet the last two times that I have had blood drawn, the whole process was painful. I felt the needles in spite of the Lytacane.”

“Well,” she replied, “it is nice that you are so susceptible to suggestion. These things always hurt; there is no escaping the pain; the holes in your arm are real. Look at the size of this needle! Does that look painless to you?” Chester has a wonderful chair-side manner. “Of course, it is possible to increase the amount of Lytacane a little so that it actually has some anesthetic effect. Would you like that? How about if I take your blood from the same arm where I put the Lytacane? Would that be an improvement, in your double-doctorate opinion?” I said that I thought that both options might be worth a try.

Chester always compliments me on my veins. Everyone compliments me on my veins. I have lovely veins. When my children were very young, they would entertain themselves by playing with the veins in the back of my hand. I found that somehow soothing; I generally fell asleep about half way through Church. My children found that amusing, particularly when I began to snore. Today, Chester had a bit of a conundrum to deal with. “Which of all these lovely veins to you want me to tap? They are all so lovely!” I suggested that my contemplating the matter did not tend to sooth me. “Well, then, I will just poke you HERE!” When I came to a few minutes later, Chester was fussing with the needle and the tubing. “Your blood seems a little thick today, Dr. Beeblebrox. Have you been overdosing on corn starch?” I had not. In fact, I had not partaken of breakfast or lunch that day. “Well,” she said, “Perhaps it would be better in the future to drink a lot of fluids before you come to give blood. This is like trying to siphon a quart of molasses from a fifty-gallon drum in the dead of winter.”

She horsed around with the needle for a while. “OH! That’s got it! No! Yes! No! No! No! Yes! Yes! WOW!” By the end of the hour, she had managed to coax out 480 milliliters, a pint, or some other indefinable amount of blood. She stopped at that point because, said she, I had “clotted out”, whatever that meant. I wondered if I was going to have an aneurism too.

I left the building and drove up to Shy’s house where Trillium was watching Lily’s siblings. I ate peanut butter cookies with my grandson, wondering if the cookies were going to thicken my blood any more than it already was. As we waited for Lily’s daddy to show up after his visit with the Mamma Dandelion, I drifted off, perhaps in anticipation that Lily would one day find the veins in my hand fascinating and amusing.

Friday, October 16, 2009


Well, my faithful readers are stuck with another “nothing” posting about hemochromatosis because I have a compulsion to write and nothing to write about. My next phlebotomy will not take place until the middle of November and the ferritin check will not be made until about the first of December.

I do, however, take the opportunity to report some necessary corrections to my previous posting. My ferritin count did not go down a point; it went UP a point from 135 to 136. Bad math skills on my part. The fact that no one picked up on the gaff is a telling one. HU NU? Apparently no one.

I have to say as well that I have cut back on my red meat. For the past week or so I have had not even one wheat dog. We went to Sizzler on Tuesday and I did not have a steak! What’s down with that! I had the senior Malibu chicken, which was made of an extremely old sand dollar, a piece of ham and a tasteless mass of cheese. I was assured that there was very little iron in the meal and so when the waitress said “Enjoy!” I tried to respond in a positive way. It was about as positive as my last change in ferritin. All I have to say is that if I want chicken any time soon, I think I will drive down to Spanish Fork and kill my own, run over it with the car, carve the individual servings out with a snickerdoodle cutter, and cook the whole mess on my radiator on the way home. I think that is the Sizzler recipe.

Now that I can do nothing about my blood count, other than abstinence, I have begun to focus on my supplements. I have wondered for the last year or so why they have not been working as well as they should have, if I am to believe the propaganda the holistic medicine people. In the midst of all this consternation, I forgot to take my pills in the morning a couple of weeks ago, not getting to them until after lunch. A wonderful thing happened. I slept six straight hours and didn’t wet the bed. For the record, I have not wet the bed for more than sixty-three years, but I was stunned that I did not have to get up every two hours to maintain my record. I thought that maybe the reason why I was able to go so long without going, was that I had taken the saw palmetto later in the day. I began to wonder about my other pills. When is it better to take them all, in the morning or in the evening? What follows are the results of my investigation.

Lisinopril: I couldn’t even remember how to spell “lisinopril” and was somewhat shocked when I googled “liprinasil” this morning and obtained no hits whatsoever. “Oh, no!” I said to myself, “I am taking a medication that is not made on this planet, completely unknown in cyberspace!” By now, you have figured out that I googled the wrong word, but Google wasn’t even smart enough to figure out what I really wanted. HU NU? Not them!

Well, I finally got the right name and found out an interesting thing. "Wikianswers" suggests that “usually, lisinopril is taken in the morning if your blood pressure is highest in the afternoon or in the evening if your blood pressure is highest in the morning". I frankly did not want to take my blood pressure twice a day to find out what I needed to do, so I completely ignored that piece of information. Eventually I found a posting by “SueAnn56” who confided to her readers, “My cardio explained that he wanted my blood pressure to be low at night and upon awakening so that my body could rest.” Hence, she takes her blood pressure medicine at night. I figured if “SueAnn56” could have that clear of a convenient reason for an afternoon tipple, “Zaphod67” could as well. I suspect that some of my good night’s rest for the past two weeks has been directly related to the fact that I have been taking my lisinapril near dinner time.

Saw palmetto: My research on saw palmetto was perfunctory because I was certain that the benefits of taking the supplement in the evening had already been proven somewhat. But I did come up with some interesting facts about saw palmetto and Flomax. The two work completely different from one another, the former apparently being far more effective in helping with some of the conditions that tend toward prostate cancer. “Spreademocracy” had this little tidbit.

Regarding Saw Palmetto, as a precaution, it might be wise to know what your DHT blood count is. Then, based on that knowledge, to discuss taking this herbal with your GP or Uro. What works for others may not work for you in the long run. For example, if you have high DHT, you may not be able to impact it sufficiently with Saw Palmetto and will lose valuable time that could have been spent containing the problem and keeping your prostate from growing. Or, you may need to swallow so many Saw Palmetto pills that you may want to jump right to PROSCAR or AVODART. (P.S., if taking large quantities of Saw Palmetto, you may want to do so with meals since it may be a tad easier on the stomach. If you have liver, kidney problems, or are going for any surgical procedures, seek medical advice before self dosing.) Best wishes to you!

Thanks, SD, I only take one pill, at night, and I seemed to be doing okay. Best wishes to you, too, but you could have been a little more specific about what you really wished for me.

Chondroitin and Glucosamine: Trillium has been telling me for some time that these two “doodahs” probably aren’t doing a whole lot for me. I had just bought a fifty-pound sack of the pills at the time she clarified her views and I thought that maybe I ought to use them up before I abandoned all hope for a completely regenerated knee joint. By the way, I have no trouble at all with my joints which is probably due to one of two things: one, I take a daily dose of chondroiton and glucosamine; or two, I have no problems at all with my joints. I did discover, however, that there is nothing in this world better than chondroiton and glucosamine if you are a dog with arthritis. I am not holding my breath, dog or otherwise, to find out the truth of this matter.

Vitamin D3: Apparently, taking this wunder-vit is good any time of the day. If you are, however, suffering from chronic renal failure, the medicos suggest that taking Vitamin D in the evening is better than in the morning. I neither desire nor need renal failure added to my list of maladies to justify my evening dose. It simply goes down with the rest of what I am taking because all of the pills are already separated into the daily slots of my weekly meds tube.

Fish Oil: My last oral bombshell is my Omega 3 Fish Oil gelcap. I found a lot of chatter on the internet about options, but here is my favorite.

With the recent addition of evening primrose oil, my morning pills now include:

1 prenatal vitamin
1 fish oil capsule (for Omega 3)
2 red raspberry leaf capsules (I also take 2 with lunch and 2 with dinner)
2 evening primrose oil capsules

Holy wow. And then my burps taste nasty for hours. Anyone else in the same boat? Anyone just decide it's not worth it? I admit I'm a bit of a vitamin freak... Leoba

HOLY WOW, LEOBA! TAKE IT AT NIGHT! Of course, my informant is eight months pregnant and may not respond well to masculine reasoning. I think that I might try the evening primrose oil and the raspberry leaf capsules just to see if I can produce sympathetic labor pains in the middle of the night.

There you have it. The latest from an old man who is frittering away his Friday morning hours blathering about stuff that will help no one feel at ease with iron-overloading, except for those of us who have suddenly realized that Leoba is about to give birth to a nine-pound salmon. With a smile on my face, I am about to head up to the kitchen to find prenatal vitamins; we’re getting close to the Christmas holidays and I want to be ready.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

What's Down With That?

I am here to report that I have managed to live my life such that during the past two months, notwithstanding the phlebotomy two weeks ago, my ferritin count only dropped 1 point, to 136. What's up with that?

I thought at first that perhaps the problem was that I had both the phlebotomy and the ferritin sample taken from the same arm. Think about it. If my body senses a steep decline in iron at my left elbow, what do you think it is going to do? Is it not going to send a big batch of ferritin to that side of my body? I should have had "She Who Shall Remain Nameless" take the ferritin sample from my right elbow where there would have been considerably less iron.

Once the lunacy of that conclusion revealed itself, I thought about other possibilities. I have concluded that I have gotten just a little too laid back, putting all of my iron eggs into one basket, as it were. I apparently decided that I really didn't need to watch what I ate during the past two months, inasmuch as as the blood-letting has been doing the trick during the past year. Let me give you a few examples.

About a month ago, Trillium brought home a 2 and one-half pound bag of Hershey's Treasures. Except for an occasional Grinchy doling out of a few pieces to one of my grand-daughters and two of my chocoholic daughters, I hammered down the whole bag by myself. Did you know that Hershey's chocolate is 247% pure iron? Well, not that much but it does contain 2% of one's daily requirement of iron, the sugar facilitating the complete absorption of every molecule, not just the 30% we hemochromatosis types allow into the sluice. My guess is that the sugar goes straight to the duodenum and opens up the floodgate for every atom that has an "Fe" engraved on it, no matter what its source.

Since we have been enjoying great grilling weather here in Utah, Trillium thought that it would be nice if we had some dinners a-la-Zaphod. We could have had halibut, or mahi-mahi. We might have gone for tofu burgers. Even baked Alaska is possible on my new grill. Did I go for any of these sensible alternatives to semi-liquid iron sources at Costco? No! I bought rib-eye steaks; two-inch thick rib-eye steaks. I also mixed in at least two or three meals of tri-tip steak. On top of that there were the frequent hamburger barbecues. I was managing to drive iron spikes into every organ of my body and thoroughly enjoying myself in the process.

At some point, in the middle of all of this indulgence, Trillium and I went out to eat at Outback. I ordered a Victoria steak, medium, and received a juicy 8-ounce piece of beef just this side of "Moo!" The boys and girls there were sorry that I had dined on living flesh, so they brought us dessert for free, which again guaranteed that every bite of that steak was destined to reach my pancreas. What's a poor boy to do?

The drop of one point of ferritin disappointed me. I am certain that my sister is going to respond to this latest development with sternness, the kind of sternness that only a linebacker for the Green Bay Packers can deliver properly. Going out with Trillium has been limited to french fries at Carl's Jr., soup and salad at the Olive Garden, and in the back yard at the apple tree. Hopefully the first of December will bring a more satisfactory result. Tonight we had a dinner that revolved around an iron-depleting plate of chicken enchiladas. I have to be better by Christmas or I will be eating coal.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Iron Cross

I am not much for awards for personal heroics, but I had an experience last night that demands, in my mind at least, that there should be something done of an outward nature to reward the people in question.

A few months ago, I was ironically asked by the leaders of our Church to be in charge of the semi-annual blood drive wherein our 3500 members are given an opportunity to donate to the American Red Cross. There was a great deal of humor generated when the officers of the Church discovered the nature of my genetic condition. A few wanted to know if it was contagious and, if so, would I infect them. They apparently have some sort of fear of needles as well.

In any event, I have spent the last couple of months coordinating the arrangements between the ARC and the Church so that the building would be ready for them to set up their equipment and to have sufficient donors there to make their visit worthwhile. In times past during the last five years, about 25 to 30 units of blood have been donated at each session. Anita, my contact, was certain that we could do better, but nothing up to this point had proven effective. I said that I would do what I could. She, by the way, also found it outrageously humorous that I was to be the person in charge.

Without going into all of the particulars, I will simply say that by the time the drive started at 3:00 yesterday afternoon, we had 118 people pre-registered to donate blood. By the time of the end of the drive, at 8:00 PM, the Red Cross had been able to collect 78 units of blood. They had skeptically only brought 80 pieces of equipment to the affair, thinking that our estimates were just a little high. They were surprised and pleased. I hope that they don’t expect greater things in the spring. I did, however, learn some things from the experience.

First, it is not a good thing to have a cold, the flu, typhoid fever, mad cow disease, or malaria just prior to coming to give blood. The ARC considers that state of affairs a sanguinary sarcasm of the first order and treats the afflicted one with a certain degree of contempt. Of course, each individual had been given a 20-page booklet to read when they first registered, in which the mad cow disease was specifically mentioned. Some of the workers were certain that not everyone was taking the required time with the booklet. I frankly thought that they were just extremely fast readers like Evelyn Wood. I wonder if she gave blood fast.

Additionally it is important to know that if you have spent any length of time in a foreign country like Zimbabwe, Cambodia, Outer Mongolia, or New Mexico, you won’t be allowed to give blood. New Mexico is included on the list because most people working for the American Red Cross do not realize that the place is really a State in the United States. This fact is complicated by the fact that President Ulysses S. Grant said, while travelling through New Mexico, “I understand that we fought a war with Mexico for this desolate piece of property. I think that we ought to fight another war to force them to take it back!” One fellow served as a missionary in England several years ago during the mad cow scare and he has never been allow to donate blood since. He came last night to see if the prohibition was still in effect. It was and the ARC ushered him out of the building by enticing him with a bale of hay.

Some of the potential donors had blood vessels that were too small. When I go to the Infusion Center, the ghouls there use a 14-gauge needle on me. There is a virtual torrent of blood that pours though that stainless steel needle. I asked one of the nurses last night what size they were using. She said that they regularly employ a 16-gauge needle. Any larger than that and the blood vessels don’t cooperate, she said. I began to wonder why the Infusion Center chose to deal with me as they have. Maybe at 6’4 and 230 pounds I can be drained with less finesse.

I was startled at some of the developments during the night, events which were treated with such a baize attitude that I concluded that these were regular happenings at these organized blood-lettings. I was sitting at the registration table, minding my own business, when I heard a “thump”. I turned to see what was going on and there was a young mother who had just given blood, on her hands and knees. She had blacked out on her way to the refreshment area. She was propped up on the floor, with a little pillow and a bottle of water until she could recover sufficiently. Not five feet away was an empty gurney on to which I thought she should have been placed, but the attendants simply made her comfortable where she was. Her baby boy and her friend that she had come with sat on the floor next to her. They were there about 25 minutes. I propose that this girl be given the “Iron Cross” for her pains. This award for valor was first given by the Prussians in 1813 in conjunction with the Napoleonic Wars. I think that since she had to suffer there on the floor rather than on the gurney that her medal be upgraded to the “Grand Cross of the Iron Cross” for her troubles. A lovely and appropriate tribute.

As I was wandering about during the drive, I met another donor who, for some unexplained reason was splattered all over his right side with what I am certain was his own blood. When I asked about it, someone said, “Oh, that happens all the time!”

I thought to myself, “You know, I have been giving blood for over a year, both by the pint and by the ounce, and I have yet to be drenched in my own blood, even though I have joked about the possibility.” The fellow was cheerful about the resultant spray, almost as if he had been shot down over Belgium somewhere. Well, I think that someone ought to strap the “Knight’s Cross of the Iron Cross With Blood Squirts” around that fellow’s neck. He deserves the recognition.

The last episode concerns a rather large man, young and full of life, who came into the building about 6:30. He was almost the last person to leave the place. He sat strapped to a table for over an hour and a half while the technicians tried to find a vein that would work. They never did. When he got up from the place where he had been tied down, he staggered a bit. I asked him if he was okay. He said, “Yeah, it’s just that my leg fell asleep.” He had track marks up and down the inside of both arms where they had attempted to put in the needles. I had the willies for an hour after that. I decided that the American Red Cross needed to come up with a special award for his valor under fire, as it were. I recommend the “Knight’s Cross with Gold Oak Leaves, Swords, and Diamonds”. Erwin Rommel got that in 1943 and he didn’t have nearly as many holes in him as my friend did.

I arrived home shortly before ten after having put everything away with a few of the brethren. The techs were gracious enough to swab up the blood and iodine, but we still had to put way the tables and chairs.

I think that the next time I go down to the Infusion Center that I am going to ask for the “Star of the Grand Cross of the Iron Cross with Sarsaparilla Sprigs and Lorna Doone Clusters”. It’s about time!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

“Holy Chelating Thistle Milk, Batman!”

I have been suffering a general malaise for the last couple of days and I haven’t been able to figure out what was causing it. I thought maybe it was empathetic sympathy, or something psychosomatic, or a dietary variation of some kind, or maybe just a lightness of blood. I thought, “Well, maybe I should let my readers decide what my ailment is by relating the events of the past few days.” I realize that this invitation may be more than what the Comcast server can handle, but I will blaze ahead untrammeled. The service cannot be much slower than it already is.

A day or so ago, my youngest daughter posted a blog in which she related, with rather vivid detail, her adventures of the day. This included a description of a grievous laceration while washing a fragile piece of glassware and the subsequent medical attention that she received. I was not a little disturbed by this, inasmuch as I get just a little queasy when I nick myself with my razor. The poking, prodding and sewing lesson made me just a little faint. Had this not been followed by a realistic depiction of her own daughter’s projectile hurling episode, I might have survived the reading. I was completely worn out by the time I got to the end. Someone suggested that maybe I picked up what Eva had. I thought not, because I had managed to put myself into the Lotus position in my den when the clan arrived at the house for the wash-down of the car, the car seat, and little Eva. I find that when one of my grandchildren is in mortal agony, Buddhism is the only remedy.

About that same time (that is, a day or so ago and not during the Eva-agony) I decided to watch another episode of Star Trek TOS. I am near the end of the third season and am probably now looking at a shot at the final episodes of Battlestar Galactica once I am done. So I have been diligently watching Kirk and the boys do their thing. There is in the third season an episode called “The Way to Eden”. The plot involves a group of 23rd century hippies trying to find a lost planet where everything is beautiful, where the deer and the antelope are playing all day. As it turns out, the hippies anticipated the deer and the antelope by filling every scene with some sort of musical interlude. In the middle of all of this, Trillium walked through the room and said, “This is awful!”

I replied, “Of all of the episodes this is by far and away the worst. When the guitar player dies in the end, having eaten of the poisonous fruit of the planet Eden, there is a noticeable cheer from the production company.”

“Why are you watching it then?”

“I am a Trekkie. Trekkies take the good with the bad. But I would like a piece of that Eden-fruit right now.” I may have cursed myself in jest. I have not been well since.

I considered that perhaps other aspects of my diet may have had something to do with my lack of well-being. My breakfast that day had been composed of two pieces of rye bread toast and two glasses of 1% milk. I discounted that as the source of my problems inasmuch as I have that just about every morning. For lunch I had an entire head of lettuce, cut into four pieces, and slathered in blue cheese dressing. I decided that it was not the lettuce because I have that item frequently at mid-day. The dressing? What could possibly be wrong with a condiment laced with a boat load of mold? In the evening I had a 14 ounce rib-eye steak, perfectly grilled on our brand-new four burner barbeque, followed by freshly sliced peaches on angel-food cake covered in Cool Whip. Nothing evil there!

That leaves us with lightness of blood. Is it possible that my body is reacting to the fact that I now have less than 20% of the original amount of iron that filled my organ tissues a year ago? Could it be that I am going through withdrawal? Am I experiencing iron deficiency anemia? In the midst of my own personal agony last night, however, I discovered that “Doc Holliday” and I have been going at this hemochromatosis thing all wrong.

Last night I wended my way over to the church for a series of Boy Scout Boards of Review. The Krrrrakin was there and after I mentioned that I was feeling poorly, he said, “Oh! I have something for you from Calypso. I should have given this to you months ago, but it got lost among my tentacles.” He then handed me a rather moist piece of paper. It was an article from the Wright Newsletter, entitled “How you can benefit from the 3 things I never knew about milk thistle”. Wow! Am I in the mood to learn!

The third revelation in this little essay by Kerry Bone states that a group of Italian scientists (not to be confused with the German ones who determined how many skin cells are sloughed off by the human population of the earth every day) had discovered that “silybin”, a plant chemical found in milk thistle, could be used as a holistic method of removing iron from hemochromatosis patients. Dr. Bone reports that by ingesting 600 mg of silymarin every day (200 mg three times a day) a patient with hepatitis C can reduce his or her serum ferritin by 15%. Now, there are several things that troubled me about this procedure even before I went online to do a little research of my own.

First, how do you think the Italians would pronounce “silybin”? That’s right! “Sillybean”! Boy, that fact really breaths a lot of confidence into the theory! Second, how does one go about milking a thistle? The plants here in Utah are huge and they are physiologically opposed to anyone dinking around with them. Even with heavy leather gloves on I have found myself filled with spines as I have tried to pull the little hummers out of the ground. Thirdly, I don’t think I am really prepared to contract a bad case of hepatitis C just to download a little iron.

As it turns out, however, the seeds of the milk thistle (I think that I shall forevermore call these “sillybeans”) have long-established medicinal value, particularly in cases of liver damage. It has also been useful in treating those people whose eyesight is so poor that they cannot distinguish edible mushrooms from the Amanita or Death Cap mushrooms. “Sillybeans” can help with lowering cholesterol, with checking effects of type II diabetes, with reducing growth in prostate cancers, with reducing the deleterious effects of a hangover, and with ameliorating withdrawal symptoms of those addicted to opiates, particularly during the Acute Withdrawal Stage. Since the Miracle Whip Institute suggests that these are all viable applications for the “Sillybean”, it must be true.

With regard to the value of milk thistle in treating iron-overloading there is a virtual war raging in cyberspace. My buddy “wpat007” shovels down milk thistle every day. Some doctors support him, others think of him as dancing on the edge of eternity. Frankly, being somewhat familiar with the practices of Buddhism, I think that we should all take the “middle road”. Along with everything else that I have discovered about the plant, I have learned that many parts of the milk thistle are edible. Here are a couple of ancient recipes which I will probably try the next time a milk thistle pops its ugly head up in one of my planters:

“Around the 16th Century this plant became quite popular and almost all parts of it were eaten. The roots can be eaten raw or boiled and buttered or par-boiled and roasted. The young shoots in spring can be cut down to the root and boiled and buttered. The spiny bracts on the flower head were eaten in the past like globe artichoke, and the stems (after peeling of course) can be soaked overnight to remove bitterness and then stewed. The leaves can be trimmed of prickles and boiled and make a good spinach substitute, they can also be added raw to salads.”

Yummy! So like Hannah Montana and Miley Cyrus, you too can have the best of both worlds.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Very Large 9

It is nice to have people watching out for me. For some, it is out of love, for others it is a matter of professional duty and pride, and there are those who do so because I am their cash cow. My sister Judie and Trillium are fervent in their labors to see to my iron disorder, that I make progress quickly toward “wunder-gesund” because they have invested so much time and effort in seeing to it that I am actually loveable. “Doc Holliday” has pinned his entire career on his treatment of my potentially fatal disease, bucking the winds of international cyperspace with his pedestrian approach to therapeutic phlebotomies. His has been the voice of reason in a hurricane of hysteria. The Infusion Center and the lab techs just smile broadly when I cross the threshold; I can hear the “ka-ching” as it reverberates throughout the building.

I also have others who have offered recommendations to improve my health. Some have been interesting, though impractical: “Eat Magnets – The 12,000 Gaussodyne Diet”. Others have peaked my curiosity: “The Star Trek Phlebotomy – Beam It Out of Me, Scotty!” And, my personal favorite: “If You Drink Enough of This Stuff, Your Iron Will Float Away Like the Axe Head of Elisha”. It is of this third sort of proposal that I would like to contribute a few words of experience and learning.

A couple of weeks ago, Trillium and I went a-visiting to Wendel and Lee’s house. The latter was all a-flutter about a new supplement that she and her husband had been taking. Lee was all aglow about this drink, 10 ounces a day of which would turn me into a new man. Being kind of an “old man”, I am certainly willing to try anything that would turn me into a “new man”. “Yes siree,” she effused. “Drink this stuff everyday it will take 50 years off of you”. That had some appeal, inasmuch as I assumed that I would also lose the 70 pounds that I have acquired since I was seventeen. “You, too, Trillium. This drink will cure any disease in the world.” I wasn’t sure what Lee was trying to say about my wife, but if the supplement were to take 50 years off her life, I would be sharing a cell with Warren Jeffs. Trillium and I bought two canisters of the product and began swilling it down. I was faithful about it. Some of the promised effects transpired…. Once.

The taste was ghastly. I was assured by Lee that it would have tasted a whole lot worse had it not been for the distilled cranberry juice. It was the second worst drink I have ever had. The first worst tasting drink I have ever had was Noni Juice. I think that it was designed to scare your body into good health. I know that my body always went into a panic attack just before I tried to horse some of it down. One of the bottles stayed in the refrigerator for almost two years before it finally walked off into the sunset. Anyway, back to the 2nd worst. The nastiness of the drink had to do with its main ingredient, L-arginine. In my own inimitable fashion, I have ferreted out a few things about it. The Miracle Whip Institute, located in St. Paul, Minnesota, gives some of the more salient points.

“L-arginine was first isolated in 1886. In 1932, scientists learned that L-arginine is needed to create urea, a waste product that is necessary for toxic ammonia to be removed from the body. In 1939, researchers discovered that L-arginine is also needed to make creatine. Creatine breaks down into creatinine at a constant rate, and it is cleared from the body by the kidneys.”

I really didn’t want to know about toxic ammonia in whatever year it was discovered. I have enough trouble just trying to get rid of the excess iron. I did discover, however, that ammonia is helpful in cleaning up old cast-iron pots and pans. So, my cast-iron stomach? Clean as a whistle! All of the overloaded iron in my pancreas, liver, heart, and brain? All bright and shiny! Wow! All that in just a week of sado-masochistic cranberry juice slurping.

“Arginine changes into nitric oxide, which causes blood vessel relaxation (vasodilation). Early evidence suggests that arginine may help treat medical conditions that improve with vasodilation, such as chest pain, clogged arteries (called atherosclerosis), coronary artery disease, erectile dysfunction, heart failure, intermittent claudication/peripheral vascular disease, and blood vessel swelling that causes headaches (vascular headaches).”

The first time I took a snort of L-aginine, my blood pressure dropped to 114 over 68. I was just a little light-headed. I got just a little giddy. I began to giggle and then to laugh outrageously. All was happiness until my body figured out that the L-arginine was releasing “nitric oxide” instead of “nitrous oxide”. Then I went into a kind of blue funk that lasted for a week. It’s not nice to fool Mother Nature.

“In general, most people do not need to take arginine supplements because the body usually produces enough.”

Well, there was a news flash worth $138.98. At another website I found a series of questions and answers about L-arginine. I give two of them here

“How does L-arginine work?
“L-arginine is converted in the body into a chemical called nitric oxide. Nitric oxide causes blood vessels to open wider for improved blood flow. L-arginine also stimulates the release of growth hormone, insulin, and other substances in the body.”

Okay! Low blood pressure combined with a possibility of growing even bigger than I already am. During the three weeks that I took the stuff, I put on 13 pounds. Parts of me were beginning to poke out of my shirt. If I had not quit drinking the juice I would have had to have bought a whole new wardrobe

“Are there safety concerns?
“L-arginine is safe for most people when taken appropriately by mouth. It can cause some side effects such as abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, gout, blood abnormalities, allergies, airway inflammation, worsening of asthma, and low blood pressure.”

Enough said! The cure is worse than the disease!

Now here is the news you have all been waiting for. I received the report on my last phlebotomy and ferritin check today. My ferritin count has dropped another 40 points to 135, just as I sort of predicted. The Alt/Med people are going to claim another victory I am certain. I can hear Lee shouting over the back fence, “It’s the L-arginine! It's floating that iron out of your body like Elisha’s axe head!”

So let it be written; so let it be done.

Monday, July 27, 2009

The Lyticane Placebo

Well, the economic downturn has finally hit central Utah!

This morning Trillium and I went out to go shopping. As we began our prance through Costco, we noticed that the price of gas had dropped eleven cents since the last time we bought any. Trillium said, "Well, maybe we ought to go over and top off the tank." Then she looked at the gas gauge. It was almost full. "It hardly seems to be worth the trouble." The fact that we had filled the tank six weeks ago says something about the amount of time that we have devoted to stimulating the U.S. economy. We took T-ma out to eat last week and went to Village Inn instead of Carrabas, not because we couldn't afford the latter, but we thought that it was really important to support a place that otherwise would have no customers at all. For my money, I simply bought myself about six hours of bad indigestion. The upside was that my body completely rejected all of the available iron in the onion rings, the deep fried cod, and the jumbo scrimp slathered in cocktail sauce. As my duodenum said later, "I am not going to stand for this any more! From now on, I am only going to accept the Pollo Rosa Maria." Works for me.

As part of this morning's adventures we drove up to the DFCU to see about getting our annual box of free checks. Since we have been depositors and investors in the place for more than 30 years, the credit union has a special place in their hearts for us. We are "Loyal" customers and therefore, DFCU tries to benefit us in a variety of ways. We have been in Utah for nine years now and at some point early on the credit union sent us a notice saying that they were going to shower us with gifts as an act of appreciation. They would pay all of our bills for free. They would give us checks for free. They would do notary work for us for free. They would give us a considerably higher rate of interest on our CDs than the normal dweebs received. We could eat all of the lobby candy that we wanted, which usually consisted of rootbeer barrels. Just a whole bowl full of things for us if we simply dropped in. The bill pay went away after about six months. I asked what had happened. They said that the whole thing fouled up their computer system. A couple of other benefits have gone by the boards, including, as it turns out, the free box of checks every year. When I asked about it this morning, the teller said, "I'm new here. I don't think we do that." I said, "You have been doing it for at least five years. What's happened?" The teller contacted her supervisor.

"Oh, we don't do that any more. The downturn in the economy, you know."

"Hey! I didn't become involved in risky business dealings all over the country. I didn't invest in sub-prime mortgages. I didn't spend more than what I had coming in. I stuffed all of my disposable cash into this place, figuring that I would thereby have my free box of checks every year because I was LOYAL! Now I suppose I will have to leave a ten-dollar bill in the basket just to have one of these rootbeer barrels!"

"No, Dr. Beeblebrox, those are only two dollars. The economy isn't that bad."

This afternoon I went over to the Infusion Center to have my bi-monthly phlebotomy. The girls all ranted and raved at my appearance, commenting appreciatively about my blog, how wonderfully entertaining it was, in spite of the fact that I made them out to be a pack of ghouls from time to time. One of the nurses said to the other, "You know, Majel, Zaphod thinks you are his hero."

"Why does he think that!" I love being talked about in the third person when I am in the same room.

"Because you were the first nurse to take his blood and it didn't hurt as much as he thought it would." I wondered when that happened. I thought it was the Girl in Glacier Ice Blue that had managed to cure me of my phobia, or at least part of it, when she told me that the Lyticane was what really hurt and not the needle. I decided that it was not worth my life to tell "Chester" that she had confused my nurses.

In any event, "Nurse Chappell" arranged all of the gear around me in the cubicle. I said that I was grateful that I had learned that it was not the needle but the local anesthesia that hurt me at the first. It was then that the horror began.

"Oh, Zaphod, the needle always hurts, no matter how small. It just does... It just does..." Then she began to morph into Peter Lorrie, in texture and temperament.... "Yessss... I really don't want to hurt you, but....... I just,... I just,... I just can't heeelllppp myself."

And, lo and behold, that needle did hurt, it hurt a lot! I almost jumped up out of the chair. "Wasn't that nice?" the nurse said.

"No, no, it wasn't!"

"Good!" Then she pulled out a needle the size of a broomstick and tried to jam it into my elbow. "There," she said, "Does that hurt? Does that hurt? How about over here?"

When I came to, the nurses were pouring me a glass of Barq's rootbeer, while a third one of them was stepping on my package of Lorna Doones. "Sorry about the cookies," she said sheepishly as she poured the dust into my hand.

"What is going on here?" I said weakly.

"Oh this is just part of our inservice training for the new healthcare program that the Senate and the House are getting ready to vote on. We just wanted you to know what your service is going to be like if it goes through."

"Really? Even Medicare patients?"

"Especially Medicare patients. I hope that you didn't mind too much that we used rootbeer instead of Lyticane to deaden the place where we drew your blood. We literally wanted you to get the point."

I decided afterward that I would get my haircut, so I went up to the Dollar Cuts next to Macy's on State Street and had a lady work me over. She was an old time barber, one who had been doing hair for 35 years, one that put the little tissue around my neck first before cinching down the apron. After she did my hair, she worked my eyebrows over and the tuffs of fine white hairs that collect on my ears from time to time. I think she actually put Brylcream on my hair. I felt like a new man. It was an $11.00 haircut. She managed to get so much iron off my head that I gave her a three dollar tip. As I was paying my bill she said, "The girls from the Infusion Center called to say that they were sorry and that I was to give you a really good hair cut. They said that if you tipped really well that they would take it easy on you next time, even though it is their current policy to really stick it to everyone who comes in. Actually, they are really worried about what you are going to write about them in your blog."

As I thought about it, I laughed right out loud. I laughed all the way out to the Mustang, all the way down State Street, all the way to the house, and I am laughing as I am putting the final touches on this little entry.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Ironic Superhero

I have lately been cherishing my speed reading of the Deseret News here in Orem, inasmuch as our old paper carrier quit here last week and the new paper-person (man, woman, girl, boy?) has had some difficulty finding my front porch. On a couple of days, he, she, or it has had trouble finding the neighborhood. I will not go into the trouble that I had reporting this fact to Media One, the diabolical franchise commissioned to field questions from the public about newspaper delivery, because it would sound so familiar to my regular readers that they would think that there is an echo in this blog. The whole reporting process has been computerized, with voice recognition software. My accent is so outrageous (heavy Southern Californian) that eventually the recorded voice started making typing sounds. That went on for a couple of minutes and then the woman’s voice came back on to say, “We are experiencing technical problems. I will now transfer your call to a dying chimpanzee in Outer Mongolia”. The rest of the morning passed away in a manner that you would expect, given the setting.

In any event, when the paper arrived last Monday I thought to spend a little more time with it than usual, inasmuch as I might not be able to get through to the monkey again if the paper failed to show up the next day. I was taken in by the headline on page C3: “Iron Deficiency is a Big Problem for Trees and Shrubs”. Now there was a newsflash! All sorts of “tree-hugging” thoughts came into my mind, what I might do to help the little “dears”, since I have a plethora of the very molecules that the trees and shrubs in Utah seem to need. I read Larry Sagers’ article with rapt attention. I thought that if I spent enough time with the star of KSL’s “The Greenhouse Show” that I would come up with something for my blog. What an optimist I am! He went on ad nauseum about which trees are particularly susceptible to iron chlorosis (silver maples, red maples, sugar maples, Amur maples, birches, dawn redwoods, sweetgums, pin oaks, willows, pears, bald cypresses, crabapples, white pines, cottonwoods, and aspins). Did he stop there? No! He went on to list the shrubs (boxwoods, cotoneasters, flowering dogwoods, hydrangeas, privets, pyracanthas, spireas, roses, raspberries, strawberries, peaches and Concord grapes). I asked myself, “Are there any other kinds of trees or shrubs in the whole state?" (I think not.) "Do I have any of these in my back yard?” (Without question.)

Actually, within a hundred yards of my house, every single one of these varieties is flourishing fabulously well, while the rest of state, according to Uncle Larry, is succumbing to the symptoms of iron chorosis (leaves turning light green, yellow, or white, while the veins remain green). Why is my neighborhood doing so well? Why do you think? I walk around the park, my skin flakes and graying hair flitting about, nourishing everything within wafting distance. The cynic may say, “Hey! You don’t shed enough hair and skill to fertilize ten acres of neighborhood!” That may be, but what I do shed is really, really, really, really good for the plants.

In a fit of boredom last night, I turned on the television and surfed just long enough to find Disney’s “Sky High”. I actually watched about half of it before the predictability of the storyline caused my brain to implode. All of the superheroes were stereotypes, or parodies of stereotypes, save one: Layla Williams as played by Danielle Panabaker. Layla has the power of plant manipulation; she is also a pacifist and a vegetarian. I figured that out early on when she joined her love interest, Will Stronghold, on the roof of his house by causing the apple tree in the yard to grow while she hung on to one of the branches. I said to myself, “There is a girl with hemochromatosis, a superhero with an iron-overloading problem that she has turned into a superpower asset!”

I have decided that this is to be my new calling in life. I am going to be an Ironic Superhero. I am going to drive all over Utah, up and down the I-15, the I-80, and every other major highway in the state. I am going to do that in my wonderful, 1993 Mustang convertible with the top down. I am going to single-handedly cure the woodlands and pastures, the hills and dales, the flora and fauna of the Great Basin Empire. In addition, I will simultaneously stimulate the economy by stopping at every Burger King along the way, with an occasional purchase at a Macy’s supermarket strategically placed along the Wasatch Front. With all that Whopper and maple bar consumption, I will bring peace and harmony to all living things.

Take that, Larry!

Friday, July 3, 2009

Very Super-suspicious

As it turns out, I have a monitor on my web page that can tell me at a moment’s notice just how many people have visited my website, the city and country where they live, and how much time they have wasted reading my deathless prose. Many of them have been trying to find out detailed information about hemochromatosis, Googling this way and that. With my same little monitor, I can know which words they used in their search engine that brought them to my blog. I find it really interesting that many of them have wanted to know about famous people, how many famous people suffer from my little genetic condition. Odds are, if there are more than 250 famous people in the world, one of their number would be afflicted. When a person types in “hemochromatosis famous people”, my little blog usually shows up in the top five. The searcher dutifully reads my comments which, of course, help them in no appreciable way. The only famous person mentioned in my text in the same breath with “hemochromatosis” is Joni Mitchell, who, as far as I can tell, is not a partaker of our little malaise. I can imagine how disappointed some of these folks must be. I wonder if any of them mutter less-than-salubrious commentary as they “page back” to better sources. In an effort to be a benefit to my readers, I have decided to help these erstwhile researchers out a little, I have decided to do a little research of my own.

My contribution here is not as altruistic as it might seem in the beginning. I was at a loss as to what to write during the next few weeks. “Dancing on the Edge”, my other site, is eclectic enough that I can make regular forays into the arcane on a regular basis. “Hemochromatosis” requires a catalyst of some kind. For some reason, after posting to “Dancing” this last week, I began to have a song go through my mind, one recorded by Stevie Wonder many years ago, thirty years ago in fact. I went to YouTube and listened to three or four versions of it and decided to put the song in my playlist. In an attempt to intellectually honest, however, I asked myself how I could do this without making some sort of reference to my affliction. I decided that I could not, so like any enterprising young man, I tried to make a connection between Stevie Wonder and hemochromatosis. Googling the three words sent me to an interesting website called “BC: Biocritics Sci/Tech”. There I found Stevie Wonder mentioned by name in an article about “simultaneous Arabic translation” (I bet that guy's blog gets a lot of hits too). I read the entire article trying to find “hemochromatosis”; there was nothing. I sort of felt like one of those folks that had been duped into reading my blog after a strenuous fourteen seconds of research. Then I noticed in one of the side-bars an article on hemochromatosis which actually talked about famous people who probably had the genetic condition. Okay, there is the connection between Little Stevie and hemochromatosis and my playlist makes sense. Now on to the famous people.

The article, “Even Celebrities Are Not Immune To Iron Overload -- Speculation and Proof”, is aptly titled, unlike my own little bits and pieces. There is an enormous amount of speculation and the “proof” is about 90 out of 200. The author suggests that Jackie Onassis’ father, Black Jack Bouvier, probably suffered from hemochromatosis because of his dark tan and liver problems. Of course, Black Jack may have spent a lot of time perfecting his sun tan while sipping mint juleps on the patio. In any event, BJB is someone famous, and there are not many of us famous HH types, so we probably ought to include him.

The next fellow that the author suspected as having been afflicted with iron overload was Steve (Terrance Steven) McQueen. I really like it when insiders let us know what the real names of famous people are. I have two of my own: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien and Clives Staples Lewis, neither of whom had hemochromatosis. Steve thought he was dying of overexposure to asbestos. After I read his medical history I decided that the “Great Escape” artist died of multiple “injections of live cells from cows and sheep, coffee enemas, frequent shampoos and massages”. According to Wikipedia, McQueen died of cardiac arrest after undergoing surgery for several large tumors in his abdomen, tumors directly related to mesothelioma. All illnesses aside, Steve McQueen’s best movie was the “Thomas Crown Affair”. I say that it is his best because it’s the only one I have watched clear through, that and “Papillon”.

Next in the litany of hemochromatosis sufferers are the Hemmingways: Ernest, his silblings Ursula and Leicester, his father Clarence, and his granddaughter Margaux. Some sorts have suggested that his suicide and those of the afore-mentioned members of his family happened because of the iron overloading in their brains. Marguax killed herself because of all of the stress associated with the odd spelling of her name. In the case of Ernest, however, it seems reasonable to assume that the extensive electric shock treatments that he received at the Mayo clinic did not do much for his bouts with depression and memory loss, the self-professed reasons that he gave for not wanting to live. All of the Hemingways suffered from alcoholism, a problem far more injurious to the brain than iron-overloading.

Our author also claims that John Steinbeck suffered from hemochromatosis because his son died of the condition. That Steinbeck was a carrier is a given; that he suffered from the disease is not certain. He died of a heart attack caused by the complete occlusion of the main coronary arteries. That effect is caused by over-loading of another kind, not by excessive iron.

Frankly, I think that we ought to look to the real celebrities of the matter. My sister for example. She has to be one of the most famous hemochromatosis sufferers on the planet. She has appeared repeatedly, has been featured prominently, in one of the most widely read websites on the disease: mine. If you were to Google “hemochromatosis” right now, you would find more than 866,000 hits on the web. If you were type in “hemochromatosis” and just about any other word in the English language, like say “Stevie Wonder”, you would find that my blog is listed in the top five out of the 866,000. More than 2600 people world-wide can’t be wrong. That literate body constitutes .0000433 percent of the world’s population, a bevy of geniuses visiting my blog on a regular basis, and every single one of them knows Judie. Now that’s notoriety! Think of it! Without her, you would not be reading any of this stuff!

In the meantime, turn up the volume and click on Little Stevie Wonder’s funky 1972 bit “Superstition” in my playlist. It will make you feel happy (no depression), you’ll give up drinking (it’s hard to keep the rhythm with a snoot full), and you will feel less inclined to stick your finger into a lamp socket (and, as an added benefit, you’ll look less and less like Michael Richards). What could be better than that?

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Eeeeek!!!...Yiiiikes!!!... Luuuunch!!!...

In my last entry, I recounted my little trip to the Infusion Center for my bi-monthly phlebotomy. As part of that narration, I included my observations on various radio and television programs that I thought were germane to the topic. My gimpy nurse had caused a great deal of reflection and I thought that my readers would find my ruminations entertaining, if not completely informative in their quest to know more about my genetic condition that afflicts 1 in every 250 persons on this planet. This is an eclectic blog, one filled with a vast collection of strange facts designed to expand horizons, illuminate minds, and completely distract the reader from the oppressive notion that he or she has an incurable disease. That is why I write it, that is why you should read it.

This past Monday I went to the University of Utah Medical Center to have my bi-monthly ferritin check. I checked in a few minutes before the appointed time. The receptionist said, "'She Who Shall Remain Nameless' will be with you in just a moment; she is out to lunch, but that is over at 1:30".

For some reason I was feeling a little edgy, maybe even a little grumpy. I am not certain why. I suspect that I am tired of being inconvenienced by every mal-functioning organ in my body at a time I would rather be doing something else. Actually, I only have one mal-functioning organ and that is my duodenum, and it is really not mal-functioning as it is over-functioning, slurping three times as much iron out of my daily repasts that the normal human duodenum does. Actually, since I am retired there isn't much that constitutes inconvenience either, except for the debilitating practice of sitting in front of a computer for nine hours a day. Every time I go outside for the phlebotomy or the ferritin check, my Gollum-like eyes have to adjust the the sunlight: "Eeeeek!!! My Preciousssss!!!"

Getting back to the events of Monday afternoon.... Inasmuch as I was feeling a little out of sorts, I replied to the receptionist, "You know, the last time I was here, 'She Who Shall Remain Nameless' returned from lunch and stood over there for fifteen minutes contemplating the grass growing. I have things to do, even if she thinks that I don't."

"Well, Dr. Beeblebrox, I will see to it that that does not happen again," she assured me.

At the appointed hour, the technician showed up and whisked me into the lab, and did her number on me. She was quick, efficient,... and frosty. I would like to think that she was not reciprocating my grumpiness, but I suspect that there was some hidden antipathy lurking about. The 0000-gauge needle without anesthesia I think was a dead giveaway. After I got home, about the time the cotton finger was to come off the hole in my personal dike, I found that while I was not looking, she had carved "SWSRN" over the wound. Yiiiikes!!!!

(Actually, she used the regular, painless needle and there were no initials, but I couldn't figure out any other way to get "Yiiiikes!!!" into the tale. Poetic license.)

I waited for a phone call or a note from "Doc Holliday" during the rest of the week to find out what had transpired over the last two months with only one phlebotomy. I woke up on a couple of occasions wondering how I would react to the ferritin level going up and how I would write about it. "Eeeeek!!!" and "Yiiiikes!!!" immediately came to mind as the title for the blog entry. I thought that I could have fun with that, bringing in the old Batman" television series starring Adam West and Burt Ward. The series was notable for the dead-pan humor and the superimposition of balloon words during the fight scenes, like "POW!", "BAM!", and "ZOKK!". I thought of a thousand things to do with "EEEEEK!!!" and "YIIIIKES!!!". But, "ALAS!!!" it was not to be.

Yesterday the ill-fated and joyless letter arrived. My ferritin level is at 178. Two months ago at the beginning of April, the count was at 223. With only one phlebotomy, I still had dropped 45 points. The last time I went two months between phlebotomies, over Christmas vacation, I dropped 52 points. That was at the point that I was flirting with 400 points or so. What I am surmising from all this is that my body is consistent, sucking up its regular 30% of all of the iron I ingest, without attempting to replace the iron that I lose through blood-letting. It would seem reasonable to assume that for the foreseeable future, each of my bi-monthly phlebotomies will result in about a 50 point loss. Assuming this to be the case, it would follow that in six months, my iron count will be within the realm of universal approval.

Trillium and my sister will be happy, because they want my ferritin count to be less than 50 points. "Doc Holliday" will be happy because his plan will have worked wondrously well. Medicare will be happy because with a phlebotomy and ferritin check every other month or quarterly instead of monthly, they will be able to provide the rest of the nation with benefits past the year 2012, assuming that the Mayans are wrong. I will be happy because I will not be inconvenienced as frequently as I have been.

Well, what about "Luuuunch!!!"? I was surfing the net this morning and came across this picture worth more than a thousand words.

When I got the letter, I celebrated by having two "wheat-dogs" and a left-over pork-loin steak ("YUUUUM!!!"). As the evening drew near, Trillium said, "Isn't it your turn to fix dinner?" I had promised her that I would do that task sometime during the week. I sat at the table with my chin on my hands. She then said, "Why don't you get a Whopper for yourself, a kids-meal for T-ma, and a large strawberry shake for me?" As anyone who has been married for more than 40 years knows, Trillium was simply reading my mind. I decided not to go to Burger King, however. A new place has just opened here in Orem, a franchise out of Chandler, Arizona, called the "Heart Attack Grill". I got myself a "Quadruple Bypass Burger", shown here in living color.


Friday, May 29, 2009

Packin’ Iron

I went to the Infusion center today and had a wave of nostalgia overwhelm me, and this time it was not the brandishing of needles that sent me back into my childhood. Nurse Chappell was limping about the establishment, carrying her odds and ends here and there. I became a little concerned because she usually is so spry. I thought that if she was hobbling about, bringing all of the paraphernalia associated with my phlebotomy, who was going to bring the Barq’s Root Beer and my package of Lorna Doones? My prospects even seemed more grim when the staff sat me down in a dark cubicle and did not turn the light on. From the corner a chorus of dwarvish voices softly chanted “We like the dark… dark for dark business”. Grim, but familiar.

Being in a reflective mood there in the twilight, I tried to imagine what I might do with the gimpy nurse in my next blog entry. My mind immediately went to the George Garabedian Players and their parody of “Gunsmoke”. In the television series which ran for twenty years, Matt Dillon was played by James Arness, Miss Kitty by Amanda Blake, and Chester Goode by Dennis Weaver. What is germane here is that Chester in “Gunsmoke” had a game leg, just like Nurse Chappell at the Infusion Center did today.

Mr. Grillon

[Kissing sounds, female giggles, male says, "mmm".]

[Fester, getting louder and louder:] Mr. Grillon, Mr. Grillon, Mr. Grillon, Mr. GRILLON!

[Kitty and Grillon continue laughing, smooching, billing and cooing and not paying attention throughout.]

[Grillon:] Hunh?

[Fester:] Mr. Grillon, it's Doc.

[Grillon:] Not now, doc, come back later.

[Fester:] No, I'm not doc, I'm Fester. Doc, he's lyin' in the street with an arrah' clean through his neck.

[Grillon:] Not now, Fester, come back later.

[Fester:] No, Mr. Grillon, now it's Doc, and he's hurt real bad there in the street. That's what he's doing.

[Grillon:] Who's there?

[Fester:] Oh, Mr. Grillon, now you just gotta come, now Doc, he's your friend.

[Grillon:] Hunh? Oh, yes, Doc. Uh, get Doc to take out your adenoids and see if that helps.

[Fester, under his breath:] I don't know about that.

[Fester:] You need some hot coffee. Now this thing is serious. Now Doc, he's been hit. He needs your help. Now what'dya figure on doin', Mr. Grillon?

[Grillon:] Oh, Fester, it is you. Can't-cha come back later? An', ah, get the Doc to look at that leg or something .

[Kitty, whispering:] Get rid of him.

[Fester:] The Doc has looked at my leg, Mr. Grillon, and there's nothin' he can do.

[Grillon:] Well, then show him the other one -- try to get a matching set.

[Fester, sighing:] Mr. Grillon, now, now, Doc, he's not gonna make it. Now, that arrah's clean through his neck and he's just lyin' there, right smack in the middle of the street, like. You're the Marshal and I've always looked up to you.

[Grillon:] Fester, you go back out there and make sure it's really Doc, an', ah, check him over real carefully, then let me know.

[Fester:] Well, yes sir. I'll do that checkin'.

[Sound of limping footsteps out, and then back in.]

[Fester:] It's Doc alright, with an arrah right through his neck.

[Grillon:] Which side?

[Fester:] Oh, I didn't check.

[Sound of limping footsteps out, and then back in.]

[Fester:] It's both sides, clear through.

[Grillon:] Through what?

[Sound of limping footsteps out.]

[Fester:] Through what!!

[Sound of limping footsteps back in.]

[Fester:] Wha... throug... ooo, Mist... Do... It's DOC!

[Grillon:] Oh, Doc, of course. Wait there a minute, Doc, I'll be right with you.

[Festus, speaking softly:] Oh, wait there a minute... Obvious... an arrah right through... on there... I do my best. I go back and forth... oh, oh...

[Festus breaks down mumbling and crying.]

I laughed myself silly the first time I heard this bit. I think that I have it on a 45 record somewhere in my collection. The other noteworthy quote from the “Gunsmoke” era is something that Trillium brought to my attention many years ago. During the opening credits of the show, the voice-over says of Matt Dillon’s role as Marshall of Dodge City, “It’s a lonely job, and a chancy!” That’s is exactly how I felt when I went to the Infusion Center alone today, without Trillium, for the first time in ten months.

After having “Gunsmoke” float through my mind, I conjured up another old western that I used to listen to on the radio and then later watched on our 9-inch television: “The Cisco Kid”. Duncan Renaldo played the Cisco Kid, an outlaw that was always in the market to help anyone in trouble, and never ever killed anyone. His side-kick, Pancho, was played by Leo Carrillo, one of my favorite actors of all time. One of the best lines ever attributed to “Pancho” has him saying in dire circumstances, “Let’s went, before we are dancing at the end of a rope,…. without music.” At the end of every episode, “Pancho” would make some sort of bad joke to which his partner would say “Oh! Pancho!", and Leo Carrillo would say, “Oh! Cisco!” and they would ride off into the sunset together. Now this afternoon, after I became a pound or two lighter, I was ready to crack a bad joke and have Trillium cry out, “Oh! Pancho” (I am still getting tubby) and I would then sweetly reply “Oh! Kisyou!” She, however, as I mentioned before, was unavailable for this exchange and I was not about to kiss myself.

I was reminded of my third television western after I got home. About the same time that “Gunsmoke” and the “Cisco Kid” were airing, I also listened to,

Out of the night, when the full moon is bright,
Comes the swordsman known as ‘Zorro’.
This bold renegade carves a ‘Z’ with his blade,
A “Z” that stands for ‘Zorro’

Guy Williams played the lead in “Zorro”. Guy Williams also was the actor who played John Robinson in “Lost in Space”. He would later grow up to look just like Anthony Hopkins. This whole series came to mind as I took the wrapping off my right arm where “Chester” had inserted the needle for my phlebotomy. There, over the hole where the needle had been, was a perfect little “Z” etched into my skin (Trillium will verify that fact). I think that someone has been taking liberties with my elbow when I was not looking. Now if Trillium had been with me, I am certain that the staff would not have been able to play their little joke on me. I can hear her now as they whip out their little tiny swords to do me in and as she pulls out her Colt 45, “Now, you are going to have to ask yourselves, ‘Do you feel lucky?’ Do you?” I pack iron simply because I am genetically predisposed to do so; Trillium packs iron because she has her own little mark on me and doesn’t allow anyone to mess with her man.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Two Snake or Not Two Snake; Is That a Question?

I guess that I have been in a dream cycle lately, pestered by my mind while the rest of my body is trying to catch a wink or two. I think that my brain was reacting to the fact that I haven’t had much source material of late regarding my erstwhile affliction. In another week I will go in for another phlebotomy; two weeks after that I will go for my ferritin check, and a week later I will have my regular visit with the good “Doc Holliday”. The last month or so have been a wasteland for my gift of sarcasm. The dream cycle has taken various forms, but the one that has bearing for this blog involved a snake, or two, depending on who you talk to.

I usually come up with the title for a posting before I actually write my piece. This past week I woke up with “Iron Serpent” on the brain. “Hmmmm,” I said to myself. “What can I make of that?” I thought about how snakes shed their skin frequently, apparently in an attempt to get rid of vast amounts of unwanted iron. I suspected that the fact that a snake has no hair at all and is devoid of fingernails and toenails, must have been for them the ultimate sacrifice in their battles with hemochromatosis…. As you can tell, I was not yet fully awake. Snakes don't sweat much, which serves as counter evidence to my dream-thought.

I wondered if my little dream image came from my intimate association with the medical profession, with “Doc Holliday” and “She Who Shall Remain Nameless” at the University of Utah Medical Center, or because of “Nurse Gory” and all of his fun playmates down at the Infusion Center. I did not have an immediate answer. As you well know, when I find myself in such a predicament, I resort to the Internet for something charming. Notwithstanding my efforts, I have failed at “something charming” so you are stuck with the remainder of this posting as it is.

Googling “Iron Serpent” proved to be a bust. There is an on-line RPG game by that name which did have some appeal because of all of the virtual blood-letting. I am doubtful, however, that cyber-phlebotomies are going to impress anyone in the medical profession. There was a picture of downtown Cairo, Egypt, entitled “The Iron Serpent”, but I really could not make a direct connection between the picture and our present topic except that a great deal of pig iron has been poured out upon the Egyptian sand recently as a result of the Swine Flu pandemic that has been sweeping the world (there is no shortage of stupidity in this country, by the way, when ordinarily intelligent people begin calling a virus that has killed one-tenth of one percent of the people killed by regular flu, a “menace to billions”). Wikipedia gave me “Steel Serpent”, the arch enemy of “Iron Fist”. I can hardly wait until these Marvel comic book characters make it into a major full-length movie.

I then returned to my first notion about the medical profession and discovered some really bizarre things about the symbols for medicine. Can anyone tell me the difference between the caduceus and the Rod of Asclepius? I thought not. The latter was originally the symbol for ancient Greek medicine. The symbol features a single serpent wrapped around a staff. The staff was to be understood as the symbol of godly authority. The snake has been identified as the rat snake, "Elaphe longissima", a slithering beast which the Romans thought was beneficial to health, but never bothered to explain why they felt that way. Other scholars, in an attempt to raise the gorge of everyone on the planet, have averred that the snake of Asclepius was really a parasitic worm, “dracunulus medicinses”, which had to be extracted from beneath the skin by wrapping it slowly around a stick. This explanation certainly has convinced me as to why I get the willies every time I walk into a hospital.

The “caduceus” or the sign of two serpents wrapped around a winged pole was the device that represented the Greek god Hermes (Mercury in the Roman pantheon). Hermes was the patron lord of gamblers, thieves, tricksters, and alchemists (Hmmm… I am beginning to see a pattern here). By the end of the 16th century, alchemy and medicine had become identified with one another (to say nothing of gamblers, tricksters, and thieves) resulting in the association of the caduceus with medicine. It was not until 1902, however, that the caduceus was adopted by the US Medical Corps. A fellow named Captain Reynolds duped the newly appointed Surgeon General, W.H.Forwood, into accepting the symbol for the Corps. By the time the silliness of the caduceus was realized, too many of the newly minted pins were in use and the US Army was stuck with them forever.

In 1992 a survey of medical organizations was taken regarding their use of the Rod of Asclepius or of the caduceus. Interestingly enough 62% of all professional medical groups in the United States used the Rod, while 76% of the commercial medical organizations touted the caduceus (Hmmmm… the pattern persists). What does iron have to so with all of this? As far as I can tell, absolutely nothing…. except metaphorically.

I believe that there is a little bit of irony involved in the use of the Rod and the caduceus here in Utah Valley. “Doc Holliday” has the caduceus plastered all over his office, and yet I have never felt tricked, robbed, or gambled with during any of my visits with him. The Infusion Center has no symbol as far as I can tell, but I have been just a little fanciful of late and I have concluded that they and their patrons would prefer the Rod of Asclepius. I reported that when I had my last phlebotomy, “Nurse Gory” and his sidekick “Nickle” worked me over in the same spirit that my father and I worked the worm over on the banks of the Middle Fork of the San Joaquin River when I was learning to fish. I am now beginning to suspect that they were after the “dracunulus medicinses” that has taken up residence in my left elbow; the chop stick that “Nurse Gory" had stuck behind his ear really makes sense now.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Iron Pourri Pot

Yesterday was Thursday, today is Friday; let's have that perfectly clear.

Last night at dinner Trillium said out loud, "My goodness, it feels like Friday!"

I said, "That is because there were two Wednesdays this week".

T-ma said, "That's impossible!"

I said, "No, think about it. It really is Friday, but since there were two Wednesdays, it is only Thursday".

Trillium looked at me with those wonderful blue eyes and said "Are you trying to drive me crazy? It 'feels' like Friday; it isn't Friday".

"It is all part of the two-Wednesday illusion, Trillium, all you have to....."

T-ma said, "I got up late this morning so I am not really sure what day it is....."


When I first started this blog, I tried to mix in a little humor, just to keep myself a little amused. At some point Trillium noted in one of her comments, "You know, you really need to put a disclaimer on your entries. Someone is going to believe every word you say and do themselves irreparable damage".

I replied, "I deal in outrageous hyperbole; there is no need to explain every joke I tell. If a statement I make seems insane, it probably is. People shouldn't have any trouble at all discerning fact from fiction, the real statistics from the fraudulent ones. Anyone who tries to give themselves a self-inflicted phlebotomy by careening down a mountainside without handbrakes probably deserves a concussion".

I have since decided that there is always the possibility that one of my readers may be experiencing a two-Wednesday workweek and, thinking that it is Friday instead of Thursday, may not get my jokes. So I have decided to give you a key by which you can invariably tell when I am telling a whopper, my "tell" as it were. My students discovered many years ago that when I was embarking on a shaggy dog story, that the corners of my mouth would begin to tremble ever so slightly. Once they saw that, they would lean back and simply enjoy the joke. So, there you have it. When the edges of your monitor begin to tremble ever so slightly while you are reading one of my entries, you may know with certainty that I am trying to be funny.


Yesterday Trillium and I went to Costco for a few things. We both supplied ourselves with a cart and so we actually ended up with a lot of "few things". I was feeling peckish, inasmuch as I had not as yet had lunch. Everything looked edible. After I had picked up the water softener salt and a few other essential items for the microwave, I met Trillium at the milk cooler. As I was making my way down the aisle, I noticed huge stacks of Honey Bunches of Oats. "I really like those," I said to myself, "Why am I not eating them? There must be a reason." Then I remembered. It was because of the high iron content...... "What.......!!!" I internalized. "There is no animal matter in Honey Bunches of Oats; there is no heme iron in those!" Then I realized that I had made the observation about the iron content last August when I was really being paranoid about the iron content in my body. I had not yet really made a distinction between heme and non-heme iron. So, because of a two-Thursday workweek at the end of summer last year, I have made myself miserable with toast every morning for eight months. What made me think that two pieces of bread with loads of Smart Balance smeared all over them had less iron than a nice bowl of Honey Bunches of Oats? I have no idea.

I turned to Trillium and said, "Why are we not buying Honey Bunches of Oats.....?"

"Cholesterol," she answered sweetly.


I have been doing a little research on cholesterol and hemochromatosis as aspects of one another. It has been hard work, and for that reason most scientists have ignored the field. I found out that Low Density Lipoprotein (as opposed to High Density Lipoprotein) has a tendency to form affectionate relationships with the walls of blood vessels creating what is generally called "plaque". Too much plaque and the vessel is blocked, causing a stroke, a heart attack, or a two-Monday workweek. Hence, LDL is often called "bad cholesterol". HDL, IDL, VLDL, and chylomicrons (I'll let you work these abbreviations out for yourself) apparently are a little more anti-social and can be called (at least HDL can be) "good cholesterol". Cholesterol of all kinds are actually necessary for life. Our bodies need the fat (lipo-) in the cholesterol and it can only be transported to the cells of the body through the water-based blood system. It is the "sticky" LDL that causes the problem......

You should be bored out of your mind at this point.....

I know I am.....

Learning that my cholesterol problems are directly associated with my hemochromatosis problems was a great relief to me and I hope to you as well. I have, as a result of my studies, come up with a recommendation or two.

First, when you go to have your phlebotomy, do not allow the nurses to take the blood from one of your veins in your arms. Make them take it from your waist somewhere. While they are digging around for a blood vessel they can at the same time do a little "lipo-suction" (did you see the "lipo-" part? That is the "bad fat"!) Reducing the body fat once a month will keep you and your doctor happy.

I was happy to discover that having a regular phlebotomy reduces the amount of LDL coursing through your veins, although I have to say that my source regularly has two-Tuesday workweeks and is not completely reliable. His nurse told him that the LDL count can be reduced by ten percent with each phlebotomy. Wow! The way I figure it, three more bloodlettings and I will be out of the "Woods of Angina". I now stand at 130 LDL; one phlebotomy would drop me to 117; a second would drop me to 106; the third would reduce it to 96, four points into high normal. What a deal! Another two-fer! The scary part is where my blood cholesterol must have been before I started my therapy. According to my mad math skills, my LDL would have stood at 251 in August and my blood vessels would have looked like gummy worms.

The "fly in the lipoprotein", however, is the fact that I know that a year ago, when I had my last complete blood work-up, that my various cholesterols were just about as they are now. "Doc Holliday" is concerned about where I am at, but my medical history does not justify any enthusiasm for the "phlebotomy-over-statins" technique of dealing with my weight or my hardening arteries. I only have one question now: What am I going to do with the ten-pound box of Honey Bunches of Oats that I bought yesterday?


If you, by now, have not figured out the significance of the title of this entry, there are not enough days in the week to explain it to you.