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?
Waters Blue - This morning I was prancing through the text of the first volume of my autobiography, in preparation for its printing in a month or so. As I was reviewing...
6 years ago