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.