Recently in Liver Disease Category

It's Really Happening Now

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On Wednesday we had the newbie meeting for the 2009 Run for Research team. A few dozen of us got together for the first time to hear about running a marathon and liver disease. Amazingly I learned how much the two were objectively related.The liver is one of the body's primary storage containers for glycogen, and, through glycongenesis, it turns glycogen into glycose so it can be used by things like muscles when they're doing things like running a marathon. It would be impossible to run a marathon, or take part in any kind of endurance sport, if your liver wasn't in good working condition. Good thing mine is, eh?

How Did I Get Here - Hepatitis C

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I found out that I had hepatitis C in the summer of 2004. A routine blood test detected elevated liver enzymes - a sign of liver damage. The life insurance company then kindly ran additional tests that revealed the presence of the Hepatitis C antibody. Apparently there's only one reason the Hep-C antibody would float around in the bloodstream of someone that doesn't know they're infected with the hepatitis C virus: because they are infected with the hepatitis C virus.

But how did the virus get into me?

The most common cause of infection is purposely (in the case of drug use) or accidentally (in the case of health care workers) getting stuck by a needle previously used by someone who already has Hepatitis C. I've never used intravenous drugs, and have never worked in the health care profession, so that weren't it.

Other causes include: Sharing a razor, toothbrush or nail clipper with an infected person (not that I know of); Exposure to unclean tattooing or body-piercing instruments (nope - unless rub-on tattoos count); Unprotected anal sex or exposure to multiple sex partners (uh, no - and let's just leave it at that).

Oh, and before 1992 there was a risk of getting hepatitis C from blood transfusions.

So, this is where I should probably share a bit of my medical history. When I was young I was diagnosed with a blood deficiency called Hypogammaglobulinemia (trust me - it gets easier to say with practice). Basically I wasn't good at making gamma globulin, a basic blood component that helps you fight viruses. The common treatment was regular injections of gamma globulin to replace what what's missing and hopefully prod the body's immune system to start make its own (priming the pump, so to speak). The source of injectable gamma globulin is human blood provided by generous donors - human blood donations that weren't tested for the hepatitis C virus until 2002. I began getting gamma globulin injections in 1969. I received my last gamma globulin infusion in 1989. One of those thousands of CCs of gamma globulin came from someone infected with the hepatitis C virus.

If it weren't for that generous blood donor, I probably wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today - training to run the 2009 Boston Marathon.
Injecting a few cubic centimeters of mystery juice into your fatty tissue is not really a matter of concern to the typical Hepatitis C patient. What's troublesome is what happens next. It's what happens eight hours later when you go to bed with aches and chills like the worst winter's flu. It's what happens twenty four hours later when waking up is hard to do. Really really hard to do. It's what happens forty eight hours later when the spouse and children you love more than anything in the universe become the most annoying thing in that universe. It's what happens seventy two hours later when you want to rip the head off of the boss who's also one of your best friends because he had the temerity to say "Good morning, how are you doing?"

It's a really big deal when you don't know who the fuck you are anymore, but you do know it's pretty much all because of that interferon shit you shot up a couple of days ago and plan to do again in a couple more days.

And you go through all that on the coin-toss chance that it will actually make a difference.

That's the biggest deal of all.

Why Support the American Liver Foundation?

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  • 30 million Americans - one in every 10 - are or have been affected by a liver, biliary, or gallbladder disease.
  • Liver disease is the ninth leading disease related cause of death in the United States with more than 42,000 people dying each year.
  • There are more than 100 types of liver disease, with hepatitis A, B, and C being the most common.
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, an obesity-related chronic liver disease, may affect as many as one in every four adults over the age of 18.
  • Hepatitis B and C infection significantly increase the risk of liver cancer, one of the few cancers currently on the rise in the U.S.

Many forms of liver disease are preventable, and many more can be treated effectively if detected early. The Run for Research team is working towards a world free of liver disease. Please help me make that goal a reality! Donate today!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of recent entries in the Liver Disease category.

Life is the previous category.

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