Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Liver on Holiday

Patients often ask me if they can drink on New Year’s Eve, like the liver knows it is a holiday and it metabolizes everything different that day.

Happy New Year. May it be healthy, sober and fun.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Twas the Night before Christmas, with Apologies to Clement Moore

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the hospital,
Not a creature was stirring, not even a hepatologist.
The IV bags were hung by their poles with care,
In hopes that UNOS soon would be there.

The patients were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions from encephalopathy danced in their heads.
And ma in her bed, and I on the sofa,
Had just settled in for a long winter’s coma.

When out by the ER there arose such a clatter,
I sprang from the couch to see what was the matter.
Away to the window I flew like a flash,
Tore open the shutters and threw up the sash.

The moon on the breast of the new-fallen snow,
Gave the luster of mid-day to objects below.
When, what to my wondering heart I should see,
But a red cooler filled with possibility.

With a little old surgeon, so lively and wise,
I knew in a moment it must be Tom Starzl.
More rapid than eagles his livers they came,
And he whistled, and shouted, and called them by name!

"Now Leber, now Lunga, now Foie and Fegato,!
On, Kimo! On Gān Zānɡ! On Jigar and Higado!
To the top of the copter pad! To the top of the wall!
Now transplant! Transplant! Transplant away all!"

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work,
And filled all the bellies, then turned with a jerk.
And laying his finger aside of his nose,
And giving a nod, up the chimney he rose!

He sprang to his sleigh, to his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like the down of a thistle.
But I heard him exclaim, ‘ere he drove out of sight,
"Happy Livers to all, and to all a good-night!"

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Killing Me Slowly

With all the holiday parties, I double my efforts to remind hepatitis C patients that alcohol is no friend of the liver. I mentioned to a patient that if he drinks with hepatitis C, alcohol will kill him slowly. He replied, “That’s fine – I am in no hurry.”

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Hilarious Liver

I’ve been posting to this blog for more than two years. Recently I mentioned to a family member (and two-time kidney transplant recipient) that I didn’t think the blog was as funny now as it was initially. “There are only so many funny things you can say about the liver and hepatitis,” I explained. “That’s weird,” she replied, “Because end-stage renal disease is hilarious.” (Actually, what she said was, “Because end-stage renal disease is hilaaaaaaaarious.”)

I think she was being sarcastic. Maybe the liver is intrinsically funnier than the kidneys.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

This American Liver

Last night I saw a performance of This American Life’s Ira Glass. If you don’t know this public radio show, add it to your humor and healing regimen. It isn’t always funny, but it is always healing. There are many ways to listen to This American Life, including the radio, Internet, and pod-casts.

I must confess that I have two fantasies about This American Life. The first is that I will be on the show. It would be cool to see an hour of hepatitis C-related stories. Not so far-fetched because in addition to the millions of Americans with it, there are millions and millions of people who know us. You’d have to live in the middle of nowhere to not be touched in some way by hepatitis C, although some may not realize they have it or know someone that does.

My other fantasy is to have a radio show using the same format, called This American Liver. This might not play outside of Peoria, but I think I could come up with enough liver stories to fill a show. In fact, this week’s This American Life featured a story about goose livers. The rejected names for the story were posted to Twitter: Liver Let Die, Dan and De Liver, Liver us from Evil.  

Now we are talking my kind of language.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Marketing the Liver

One of the criticisms of fast-food restaurants such as McDonald’s, is the placement of toys in kid’s Happy Meals along with very unhealthy food. McDonald’s has implemented changes, offering fruit instead of fries, but I think they can make a huge impact on public awareness by offering plastic livers, hearts, and other organs in place of the usual toy. Imagine reaching into a bag and seeing a gall bladder snuggling up to burger. It would create a “think before you eat” campaign and kids might learn about anatomy. 

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Liver News

This morning while reading my local newspaper, I realized that there are columns for all sorts of interests, but not one column that applies to everyone. There is news, the bridge column, sports, ads, comics, the police blotter, opinions, etc. What is missing? The LIVER COLUMN! Everyone has a liver – no one can live without one. Daily news about the liver can make for some riveting reading.
Speaking of news, I am delighted to announce the publication of my book, Free from Hepatitis C: Your Complete Guide to Healing Hepatitis C. The book is a practical manual written for patients. It describes treatment, and then walks patients through it from beginning to end. My experience as a patient who underwent treatment provided extensive personal research. As a nurse, I held the hands of many hepatitis C patients. My goal in writing this book was to hold as many more hands as I could through my words.
Free from Hepatitis C may be ordered through your local bookstore and is available on Amazon.


Monday, November 14, 2011

Liver and Onions

I called my parents and they were just sitting down to a dinner of liver and onions. Knowing what I know about the liver – that EVERYTHING goes through this organ – I was not enticed. They seemed to be quite excited to be eating this favorite food, so I didn’t want to ruin their appetites. However, it did occur to me that basically they were eating the filtration system of a cow’s power plant and sewage system. I love the liver, but not to eat!

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Liver Meeting

At my Jazzercise class today, the instructor asked if anyone had any exciting plans for the weekend. My hand shot straight up, followed by my announcement that I am going to San Francisco for the annual Liver Meeting. No one looked remotely jealous that I was going to be immersed in the wonders of the liver, surrounded by hepatologists and other liver-aficionados. Call me a liver–geek, but I am excited. 

Friday, October 28, 2011


For Halloween, I am thinking about carving scary faces out of livers instead of pumpkins. If you saw a shriveled up liver looking like Dean Martin or Richard Burton, wouldn’t you think twice before taking a drink on Halloween?

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Fall Colors

It’s autumn and the leaves on the trees are turning colors around my home in the Sierra Foothills. I wonder if my biliary tree is changing colors.