Saturday, September 16, 2006

Sunday Scribblings

It is quite possible that any other week I might be choosing a different topic. I'm a postal worker by trade and an artist at heart. I am not a researcher. I love information, but I'm pretty lousy at organizing the 'valuable stuff from the crap' that one might find on the internet.

That being said, I just had a week filled with the opportunity to learn something new and I took it. A journey born of necessity more than curiosity, but a journey nevertheless. And my topic ? The liver.

I know, I know. First impulse is to click on the next blog and pass this over. I might have done the same thing a couple weeks ago. Who wants to hear about an organ ? ( Well, at least an organ with no flattering feature or natural charm ...) Truth is, the liver, in one way or another, has dominated my world for a week.

It's a pretty important piece of this puzzle that is the body. It stores energy in the form of sugar ( glucose )It stores vitamins, minerals and iron. It makes proteins, include blood clotting factors, to keep the body healthy. It processes worn out red blood cells. It makes bile, which is needed for digestion. It metabolizes and breaks down many medications and alcohol. It also kills germs that enter the body through the intestine. It also has a remarkable power to regenerate itself.

The problem comes from the illnesses that cause permanent and irreversible damage. I learned A LOT about one such disease. It's called Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis ( PSC ). I always thought liver disease was a result of hepatitis or cirrhosis. Most often I hear of alcohol abuse being a cause of cirrhosis. PSC is different. PSC is rare. It affects the bile ducts and causes a narrowing which in turn can clog the path, so to speak. It can strike a person with no history of alcohol abuse or any previous liver irregularity. Walter Payton, the football great, died from PSC. He died waiting for a transplant.

As it turned out for my family, this MAY prove not to be an accurate diagnosis. We are cautiously optimistic about a test that will happen in 8 days. But what I've learned about the liver has been quite fascinating.

The other aspect of my " research " has been how alcohol affects the liver. I have a loved one who is battling alcohol today. This person is quite cerebral and business-like in their approach to everything, including this issue of alcohol. Not to oversimplify, but : "If alcohol is present in the body in large amounts for long periods of time the liver must work constantly to break it down and flush it out. The liver's preoccupation with alcohol results in the neglect of it's other duties and, as a result, toxins accumulate and nutritional functions are disrupted. The health and vitality of the body's cells, tissues and organs begin to suffer." ( From UNDER THE INFLUENCE by Dr. James Milam and Katherine Ketcham )

I am a recovering alcoholic. 16 years this past May, and the better part of the last 24 hours. I still maintain my sobriety a day at a time ( sometimes a minute at a time ). I want to share all I've just learned about this vital organ. I want to share what I know about how alcohol can inhibit the liver's effectiveness. I want to share what I know about what alcohol does in the body, and how it " tricks " it into accomodating the intrusion. I want to share that PSC has genetic connections and it could be an inherited condition and that alcohol abuse is like striking the match to a ticking time bomb. I want to say " Please, consider what you're doing to your family. And yourself ".

I want to write about something else. Anything else.

I want " the liver " to be spoken of as it relates to onions and bacon a fine stoneware plate.

Instead, I'll share the tidbits I've learned on this " Sunday Scribbling " post ...


Post a Comment

<< Home