The Liver and its Problems

liver positionThe liver is a large, very vital, organ of the human body. It weighs about 3 pounds and located at the upper right side of the chest and is protected under the ribcage. It has both right and left lobes and is positioned together with parts of the intestines, gallbladder and the pancreas, as all these organs share a task in the processing of the food we eat. The liver’s primary function is to filter the blood that comes from the digestive system before it goes out to the whole body; it also cleanses our blood from chemicals and other foreign substances ensuring the integrity of our blood and also secretes fluid called bile into the intestines helping in the breaking down and absorption of nutrients from food. The liver is very important to the human body that without it, life itself ceases to continue within a few hours.

The liver, same as any organ in the human body, is also subject to many diseases. Often times, kidney diseases are hard to detect and only a visit to a doctor can precisely diagnose it. Liver pain, due to the general location of the liver, sometimes present themselves as pain in other areas, particularly in the abdomen, back and shoulders and are also commonly mistaken as kidney pain which is usually felt as a dull throbbing pain in your back. Another sure sign that you have trouble in your liver is jaundice, the yellowing of the white of your eyes and of your skin, which is caused when the liver can no longer filter out the bilirubin in the bloodstream. Bilirubin is a yellowish pigment formed by the decomposition of old red blood cells in the liver. Other common diseases of the liver are the chronic infections of the ABC’s of Hepatitis which is characterized by the dark color of one’s urine, jaundice, general malaise and persistent feeling of tiredness. Hepatitis is often contracted person to person from someone carrying the virus.

But the most common disease of the liver is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis is a general term used to describe the state of the liver being chronically damaged. The liver acts as the body’s purification system, with the blood acting as the carrier of all the wastes generated by body processes and other external inputs. If in case the liver is overwhelmed by the amount of toxin it filters, it begins to swell and tries to perform repairs on itself, consequently forming small scars within its tissue called fibrosis. With constant damage and scar formation, the liver begins to shrink in size and becomes hard which prevents blood from smoothly coursing through it and severely impairing it’s function, and if the process continues, may lead to irreversible liver failure. Among the main causes of liver cirrhosis are excessive acetaminophen ingestion and too much alcohol consumption.

So there you have it wine aficionados everywhere, a reality check. The liver always comes first before the wine. And in order for us to continue our passion with all things fizzy and bubbly, we must check ourselves and always keep in mind that, with all things in this world, moderation is the key.

Pimples can earn you a Trip to the Hospital

Living our lives is like writing into an unfinished book. Every day, we turn a page and stare into a blank space, and whatever we do that day, gets written in it. Momentous and memorable events, deserves a chapter of their own, and the book is never finished, even in our death it is continued by the ones we left behind. For me, this new page in my book started with a bullet point.

Coming home from work, I was greeted by my somewhat ill at ease son. That was a somewhat refreshing development, as kids these days are very “can do anything on their own” if you know what I mean, especially teenagers, who rather prefer, and would be very happy, if you just leave them alone.

He started by asking me if I knew anything about pimples under the skin. Deducing from his demeanor and sensing he has it, I answered in the affirmative.  Why, what do you want to know about it? I added. He then started narrating his problem.

He said it started about three days ago, he felt a bump in his back and generally just ignored it thinking it was just an insect bite or something. Another day passed and the bump started to hurt a little, and until about yesterday, it swelled into a much larger bump that also came with intense pain. Upon consulting with his friends, I was the last resort I guess; he was told it was only a pimple, but an “underground one” at that.

So he started doing what typical teenagers do with pimples, he kept poking it, saying it will eventually rear its head, and then he will be able to pick at it. He first applied toothpaste on it, a popular belief, and let it stand overnight. I don’t know how he slept with toothpaste on his back, but in the morning, the surface atop the pimple was hard, he said. He somehow then scratched at it, unmindful of his pimple back there, and drew blood. The already maturing pimple being scratched developed a bloody skin tear. He said he tried his best treating the wound, but the position it was in, which was at his back, made it very hard to thoroughly clean it. And now he had fever and his lymph nodes are also swelling too.

So basically, what he meant from asking me if I know something about pimples, really means “Dad I have an infection and I need to go to the hospital”. It takes so much experience to be able to decipher what these teenagers really want to say. I’m at a lost as to why don’t they just say it straightforwardly? What if it was a life or death situation, then we’ll all be screwed.

That escalated quickly though, first I came home, then a little talk, and now were heading to the hospital posthaste. I am a little bit flabbergasted at the recent turn of events, but also very thankful that I did get the chance to help my son, as it is the only thing important here.

Its times like these that you will remember fondly in the future.

A Discourse about Tattoos

Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder, as the saying goes, but is it also true with tattoos? Although multifaceted and always double bladed, so it is also with tattoo discrimination in the workplace, that is, if you ever did get into one in the first place. With unnoticeable chest tattoos for men maybe not so much, but what is it about with having visible tattoos that limit one’s chances of being hired for a job? Maybe it is still the antiquated belief that you are some form of criminal or misfit and is up to no good. It doesn’t matter what skills you have, or how good you are, tattoos are viewed as somewhat of an intimidating thing for most of the populace. Having visible tattoos, in addition to the most cliché belief of belonging to gangs and having spent time in prison, are seen to be in the realm of the frightful bikers, inebriated sailors, and motley band of punks that has no regard of society among other things. In those realms, they may be considered as affirmations, but in the normal world, they are oftentimes considered as alien, unappealing and most of all, bad.

Although recent changes in the way we think about tattoos is slowly making it mainstream, defining it as art, which I think what it really is in the first place, a form of self-expression, with all manner of persons having, planning to have, or accepting its existence, it is already becoming as normal as coloring your hair. But the fact remains that there is still a social stigma linked with tattoos, and although this kind of thinking may be obsolete and out of date in today’s modern world, they still exist nevertheless.

We have stringent laws here in America regarding the discrimination in the workplace and of employee’s rights. Companies are prohibited to discriminate against a potential employee based on their religion, sex, race, creed, handicap, age and other aspects pertaining to a person. But I think there is still one form of discrimination that is unspoken and is between the lines of texts and not reached by the light of day. What I am talking about is a person’s body alteration such as piercings, types of hairstyles and yes, tattoos. You can’t find any of them written on the laws of the constitution, yes it may be said that they are included in any of the myriad manifestations of the law, but unless succinctly stated, may just eventually be lost in its interpretation. So until it is finally recognized by the proper authorities, and laws passed to protect the rights of this portion of society, we must inevitably expect this kind of discrimination to continue.

But to be honest about it, if you were an employer, will you hire a guy with a large visible tattoo on his face? Maybe yes, if your business is a tattoo parlor, but for almost every other company, surely no. Your first thought is about of what image will it project to your customers? What will they think about your business? It is within a company’s rights to choose their employees according to whatever it is that they want to put value in. Every one of us is hesitant to readily accept perceived risks in favor established norms; discrimination is therefore unavoidably always present. So we are somewhat back to where we started.

Listening to Static

We had our monthly toasters club meeting this afternoon at a local restaurant and it was hectic to say the least. Each bringing out an agenda of his own and there were discussions all over the place, with everyone having a say and a point to bring out. The topics are as many as the persons in attendance, maybe more. Some of them are trivial, some of them so deep, that the persons engaging them got lost in thought, interest waned and eventually changed to another topic more conducive to discussion. It was a very busy setting, but everyone it seems, is having fun.

At the table besides ours, they were talking about pregnancy as one of the people there was visibly expecting, judging by the humongous bulge in her belly, it’s either she was really pregnant or she ate a large watermelon whole. She seems to have a problem with diarrhea during pregnancy and is seeking advice. I heard her say that she is scared of what if, during one bout of particularly intense diarrhea, her baby comes out unintentionally, which also elicited hearty laughs from her tablemates. Fortunately for her, one person in her table was also a doctor.  He told her that the baby coming out with diarrhea is not that simple, and that she will surely know it, when it does come out eventually. Diarrhea, he added, is common during pregnancy because of the fluctuating hormones in a pregnant woman’s body and that there is nothing to fear about it as it is natural. She just has to make sure not to get dehydrated by drinking plenty of fluids and also to avoid eating rich and oily foods to lessen her risk of diarrhea ever occurring. That’s sage advice, I told myself.

At another table near ours, dogs were the subject of scrutiny. They were comparing of which dog was the best for the house and the children. The choice was between a Bichon Poodle and a Boxer Terrier and they all seem to gravitate towards the former. Their reasoning was that the Bichon Poodle looks cuter, and is more mild mannered of the two dogs. They also said that the Bichon was a very affectionate dog which loves to be always around its owners and is very playful and so very energetic, that the children would very much love to be around it always. Even different types of poodle mixes can make good pet. I stopped listening to them when their discussion turned to grumbling over their dog’s grooming and the amount of money needed for such a high maintenance dogs.

I never thought it would be this fun when you are alone. My table contains only one person, me. My wife and her friends went to freshen up a little, and left me alone with my thoughts. Actually, everyone’s thoughts would be a much better term to use. You might ask, as to what topic was discussed most on our table? Sadly, it was all girl stuff from beginning to end. It’s funny how women and their friends, plus wine, turns them into little girls. Even when brought together in this noisy public place, they would easily adapt, and surely, would not mind at all.

We Must Help the World

I am very saddened by the news I read today in the internet. It seems that even in this age of technology and computers, millions of children still die because of hunger. It kept me thinking of how it can really happen, and if it was really true. But it was, and it is so sad, no, tragic is a better word to describe it.

While we busy ourselves about our body figures, how fat we are, how many calories to eat, what diet regimen to take and other trivial things, they are there, still not sure where their next meal will come from.

While we don’t mind wasting our water tooth brushing, watering our lawns and cleaning our cars, they travel several miles for theirs. Sometimes, due to the world’s now crazy weather, the sources of their water eventually dry up, then they really have a big problem, not that they already don’t have problems in the first place, but their problems suddenly become deadly.

While we worry about toddler constipation here in our land, probably because of so much had been eaten and the stomach can’t keep up with it, they are there, suffering from diarrhea because of the unclean water that they are drinking daily. Diarrhea in toddlers are so common in their land, that they look at it as a way of life, something common and bound to happen that they are resigned about it, not really thinking of preventing it, but rather on when it is eventually going to happen.

Such is their world and us being lucky is not only an understatement, it’s maddeningly, insanely, dishearteningly unfair.

How do we help them? I really don’t know actually. Yes I can give whatever I can, but how do I go about it? I can, and would really love to go there, if only to experience their situation, but I don’t think I can handle what I will see there. I know it will change me and will never be myself if even I stay there for only one day. Why is this happening anyway? Are our world leaders truly blind not to see this?

Billions of dollars are spent for new missiles, new airplanes and new means for war, what if we just stop spending for it and instead give it to them? I know our leaders have specific explanations for each and every one of my questions, but I also know that deep inside, they are wishing to help too, and are only constrained by their position.

How I wish to have a president that truly gives a damn about these things. One who puts up with all naysayers and doesn’t listen to contradicting opinions and just help people in need. One who sends all our aircraft carriers laden with food and technology to sustain life, give it to one particular area that needs it, and then do it all over again to other nations that needs it. If even for one year, we give up spending for defense and instead put the money to where we can save lives, wouldn’t that be much better?

That would really be the day.

How Age can affect Jogging

It is funny getting old. When you were young, you got lots of energy to do things, but are generally not permitted to do everything you wish. Come the middle years, you can do almost anything you wish for, but is constrained with the little money that you had. Finally you got old enough to do everything and have the money to spend on any such endeavors, but still you can’t, why? Your body now grows weak with age and the youthful exuberance and energy has long gone. Why, oh why can’t someone have their cake and eat it too? One cannot really fathom life’s mysteries; one can only go with the flow and take whatever is given to him.

Such is the story of my life. I have wanted to go jogging for ages now. I’m getting a little bit bulkier in the wrong places, the belly in particular, and also am feeling a bit lethargic with the daily routine repeating itself over and over again. I need to add something to it to not sound monotonous and jogging is my first step. But reasons always seem to present themselves when I am about to start with something, and how enticing they can be. It’s very hot outside, I’ve no one to jog with, I got a big hangover, I’m tired, are just a few of them. Making these reasons valid is easy as pie and more gratifying, but I really need to ward them off if I am to be successful with anything.

Come the day that I finally got the resolve to do it, cancelling everything, and made time just for it. Jogging suit on, water bottles on the ready, headphones with my favorite type of music blaring in my ears, I stepped outside the door. It was not hot that day and there was a gentle breeze wafting around me, what a perfect day to start. I got to about two blocks, a third, fourth and so on, I was feeling it. When I got to about two miles, I said to myself to not overdo it and to just repeat it again tomorrow, I finally decided to head back home. Nearing our house, and after jumping over a curve, I felt a slight twinge in my right hip area. I didn’t mind it and got into the house.

The next day upon waking up, I can no longer lift up my right leg to get out of bed. Long story short, my grinning wife accompanied me to the doctor later that afternoon and was diagnosed with hip flexor pain. Not yet torn or damaged, but still serious enough to warrant pain medicines. My legs were so stiff, that you might think I was a robot with the way I walked that day. Extended house rest, immobilization for at least a day and several anterior hip precautions were advised to not further exacerbate the injury.

A minor setback I kept saying to myself. I will get back with it soon as I get healed of this thing. But next time, I promise to remember, to first do stretching and warm ups before trying to run. Forgetfulness, it seems, is also part of growing old.

My Experience with a Condition Called Neutropenia

Studies have shown that alcohol may contribute to neutropenia if you have an infection such as pneumonia. I never thought I would be diagnosed with the condition, even though I enjoy a nice glass of wine every now and then (I can’t help it; I live in Napa where I’m surrounded by vineyards.)

 

The Diagnosis

Neutrophils are a type of white blood cells that can travel from your bloodstream and into the infected areas of your body, and is capable of destroying microorganisms. Last year, I decided to go to my doctor when I realized something was wrong with my body, and my doctor told me that most people who suffer from neutropenia can experience anything from:

•             Ulcers

•             Skin rashes

•             Wounds that take a long time to heal

•             Fever

•             Severe abscesses

•             Decrease in neutrophils

When my doctor informed me of these symptoms and what they meant, I was a bit worried. He mentioned that having high neutrophil counts can cause an autoimmune condition, such as Crohn’s disease and even rheumatoid arthritis. Fortunately, he also told me how to combat this issue by following a few neutropenic precautions. One of the first things he recommended is to avoid taking certain medications, such as:

•             Psychiatric drugs

•             Epilepsy drugs

•             Blood pressure drugs

Even though I was told to avoid these prescribed medications, I was also told that I should consider treating my neutropenia with antibiotics that specialize in treating bacterial infections, as well as drugs that can suppress my immune system.

There is a treatment that can stimulate and improve the bone marrow, which will easily help produce more white blood cells. This particular ailment has been proven to be a life-saving procedure. My doctor also recommended that I change my medication and have him treat my infection from the source.

 

Stem Cell Transplant

Another treatment option that I looked into was stem cell transplant. At the time, I had a severe case of neutropenia. This treatment procedure seemed to work well in getting rid of my health issue.

There were a few precautions I took that helped me avoid getting any more infections. These include:

•             Use an electric shaver instead of a razor

•             Make sure I always wore shoes

•             Avoid getting in contact with sick people

•             Avoid animal waste and avoiding changing infant diapers

•             Clean up any cuts and scrapes with a bandage

•             Have good hygiene

•             Wash my hands

•             Brush my teeth much more frequently

•             Avoid hot tubs and rivers

Hopefully, these precautions will help prevent the condition from coming back.