Thursday, March 5, 2009

Looking for Iron in All the Wrong PLaces

The last three weeks have been boring. Boring! Boring! Boring! But boring can be good, as you are about to discover for yourself.

My usual cast of characters are in retirement, or at least in a state of grace. Barnacle Raff and I have not been biking for about three months. He says that it has something to do with the enormous snowfalls that we have had this winter. I think it has to do with the number of times he has had to carry my limp and unconscious body to the stoop. The Krrrrakin has told Medicare that all of my bones have been properly arranged and that I need not return, on pain of death. The boys and girls at the Infusion Center have boarded up the doors and windows of their office so that no one taller than five foot eleven can get into the place. That's okay, I really don't have to storm the castle for another three weeks. Doc Holliday said that if I showed up at his establishment before the 15th of April he would issue a restraining order. That is about the time I was planning on going there in any event, so no harm no foul. So the fodder for my verbal cannon is out of range, insofar as the medical industry is concerned. That has been the case for three weeks and will continue for another three weeks until I have another pint drawn.

My daily bouts with the computer have continued, however, and I am well along in my writing, finishing one book, starting another, and plowing through the second half of a third. For those of you who are interested in philately (in sixty-six years I have only met three people so afflicted), I have managed to mount more than 43,000 of my little pieces of colored paper, 41K in the last three weeks. I think that I have the materials for an obsession here. TG2 and I have continued to beat the daylights out of each other at the Rec Center. Yesterday Jen said that she had never seen me move as fast as I did playing. I think that I have become a little more agile with less iron.

Not having my ferritin levels checked for a while has made me a little nervous about what I eat. Trillium and I have only been to a restaurant two times in three weeks. We had lunch at Cafe Rio and, in the spirit of living dangerously, I had a chicken tostada. Later, we went to Subway and I plunged into the iron-acquisition mode by ordering a 6-inch Subway Club. The turkey and roast beef were cut "bridal-veil" thin so that with all of the rabbit food on the bun I suspect that not much in the way of hard iron really made it into my system. At home I indulged myself in a new culinary delight by having a tin of lemon-pepper kipper snacks. I am certain that there is a joke in this, but for the life of me I can't think of one.

As to our experience with Comcast, I should probably give you an up-date. After the first fellow came and complained bitterly about my splitters and all, he assured me that someone would be out to fix the problem on the pole. I waited three weeks for an improvement. None came. I called the service number provided and had a chat with "Jake" who said that he would put two of his specialists on it right away. Dispatch called a couple of hours later to tell me that I did not need two specialists, only one. I said that I had entertained two already, separately, one for the house and one for the pole, and there had been no improvement. She basically then called "Jake" a liar by saying that they never send two technicians at a time to the same house. I told her that I had a blog about this sort of thing that was being read by hundreds of people in over twenty nations and that she was fast entering into my range of verbal fire. The house technician showed up soon thereafter to discover what had been discovered three weeks earlier; the pole technician showed up the same day and did what he had failed to do three weeks earlier. The internet seems to be fine now. So..... on to sweating iron.

Apparently it is possible to sweat iron. I include below a clip taken from the Palo Alto Medical Foundation site which seems to be moderately well-informed.

Iron and your body

Iron is an essential mineral in the human body playing an important role in many different types of cells and proteins. The adult body contains 3-4 grams of iron. The majority of this, approximately 2.5 grams, is circulating in the blood as part of the oxygen-carrying protein hemoglobin which is present in red blood cells. One gram of iron is found in tissues as part of the iron storage protein ferritin; most of this extra iron is stored in the liver. Other iron-containing proteins and enzymes that use iron as part of chemical reactions in tissues account for approximately 400 mg of additional iron. A smaller amount of iron is circulating in blood plasma bound to an iron carrying protein known as transferrin. This protein combines with iron that has been absorbed from intestinal cells and carries it to the cells that need it. Cells signal their need for iron by placing receptors for transferrin receptors on their surface. Another protein called HFE is involved in regulating the amount of iron that is absorbed from the intestine and then distributed throughout the body. In hereditary hemochromatosis excess iron is absorbed for unclear reasons, and the most common genetic mutations leading to hereditary hemochromatosis are in this HFE gene.

Iron enters and leaves the body in several ways. The average western daily diet contains 15-25 milligrams of iron of which ten to twenty percent is absorbed. Additional iron may be obtained from vitamin supplements or blood transfusions. The primary location for the absorption of iron is the first part of the small intestine (duodenum). Iron is lost from the body slowly by several different mechanisms. Sweat carries a small amount of iron with it, and loss of aged cells from the skin, digestive tract and urinary tract account for about 1 mg of iron loss per day. Menstrual bleeding results in a small amount of continued blood loss in pre-menopausal women. Small amounts of iron may also be lost in blood from the digestive tract, for example from stomach irritation or colon polyps.

Now don't you feel learned? I discovered another article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition that proposed that sitting in a sauna for extended periods of time (about an hour or so) would bring about iron reduction through sweat, on average about 50 nano-grams per liter of sweat. I don't know about you, but I am concerned about the boys at AJCN. Who thought this study up? (To be fair, Doctors Brune, Magnussen, Perssen, and Halberg, Swedes all.) Where did they get the money? (Since the article was written in 1986 by a pack of Swedes, it is unlikely that we will be able to blame the Obama administration. Although.....) How did they convince 11 people to spend 60 minutes stewing in a Swedish bath? (My guess is that they simply invited seven of their friends over to the house.) Who did they persuade to shovel out all of the liquid iron from the sauna? (Probably a graduate assistant; been there, done that.) And what did they do with all of the results of their study? (It is probably in the same place that the German scholars stored their thirty-foot pile of dead human skin cells. See an earlier blog entry on this study. On second thought, don't see the earlier blog on this study. Once is enough).

Wasn't that worth the wait? Aren't you glad that my daughter asked that fateful question, "Dad, can you sweat iron?" I know that I am glad. Now I think I am going to mess with my music list.


shydandelion said...

Niiiiiice. You know, a lot of people have been having trouble with Comcast...perhaps it is time to move on...

Katscratchme said...

If there was a better option to Comcast, moving on might be desirable. I'm not sure about where you live, but where I am.. the only other option is Qwest and NO THANK YOU.

W.Pat said...

Learn more about hemochromatosis at my blog than your doctor even knows. Preventing cancer of the liver is crucial. Medications should only be used when absolutely necessary. Hemochromatosis sufferers that test with elevated liver enzymes, must avoid acetemetaphen altogether and alcohol should be avoided.

Foods containing calcium such as cottage cheese, yogurt, carrots, etc are great for slowing down iron absorbtion.

Too much iron in the liver is worsened with booze.

Drinks that have tannins work very well also. Black tea and my favorite, green tea are very helpful. Most herb teas do not contain tannins.

Vitamin C enhances the absorption of iron. It is wise only to consume a moderate amount and not take Vitamin C tablets. Vitamin C has been known to precipitate heart palpitations in those with hemochromatosis.

The ingestion of black tea has been shown to decrease the absorption of iron. African tea which is becoming popular may contain iron so too much should not be consumed.
Patients with hemochromatosis should not take supplements unless there are documented deficiencies.

In severe HH the disorder manifests as potentially life threatening conditions such as septicemia, cirrhosis of the liver, liver cancer, diabetes, heart failure and heart arrhythmias.

Hemochromatosis sufferers should drink lots of water every day to keep the blood thin for easier phlebotomies and to keep the kidneys nice and flushed out.

For people who are diagnosed and treated early, normal life spans are possible. If left untreated, HH will lead to critical organ damage and most likely death.

You can find lots of real life tips from Pat at his blog:


Katscratchme said...

You see Dad... people with hemochromatosis CAN live a normal, healthy lifespan... if ONLY you would just lay off the booze. Please, Dad... I'm begging you. Just lay off the booze.

Larsens said...

We've never had trouble with Comcast. Maybe you should think about paying your bill.
When it comes to Kipper Snacks...I'm with you. Love those little suckers. Maybe you could bring a couple of cans of them to the ward party tonight. We could toast each other with them.