Salasso or, how are my levels?

Been a while bava,blog, how are you? -you beautiful piece of green web. Me, like Luther, I’ve been busy! Bit of travel to New York City, some family reunions, and sundry other obligations that have kept me away, but now I’m back!

It’s been a bit rough to get back on the blog after a couple of weeks of relative respite, but if I learned anything in making the blog donuts year in and year out it’s that time lapsed is not your friend. Blogging, to quote Mr Halloran, is about staying regular to be happy.

That’s it, now I am starting to get warmed up here. And this post is about staying regular in a sense given one of the things preoccupying me as of late has been my recent diagnosis with hemochromatosis, a genetic blood disease wherein the body creates too much of the iron protein ferritin. And while it can cause issues, particularly with the liver, it appears we caught it before any extensive liver damage, and the “cure” is simply regular bloodletting. Giving blood brings the levels down to more normal values, and in turn takes some of the pressure off the liver, which is working over time to deal with the ferritin. Antonella has been fascinated by the disease, and after doing some research and talking with a specialist here in Italy—where I might add the treatment has been amazing—turns out it is a hold-over gene from another era when Celtic warriors needed more ferritin so they could live despite tremendous amounts of blood loss, so I got that going for me should I find myself in a sword fight anytime soon.

So, I have given blood 4 or 5 times before I took a blood test to see if my levels were dropping right before I headed off for New York. I was worried my levels, which had been rising significantly over the last two years from 1300 to 1900 ng/mL, were not going to go down.  [As a reference point, the acceptable range for ferritin levels are between 50-400 ng/mL.]. My fear of nothing changing was not necessarily rationale given the treatment and the ferritin levels are one-to-one by all accounts, but I’m not sure having a gene that treats me as if I am a Celtic warrior is all that rational either, so there’s that.

Anyway, the results were good, my levels dipped under 1300 to 1260 ng/mL for the first time in two years. That is a total drop of  almost 700 from 1950 to 1260. With 4 or 5 more bloodletting sessions I might even get below 500 or so, which would be awesome.  It seems like every half a liter of blood taken amounts to about a 175-200 drop in the levels for me.

I was relieved to think this situation might be veering towards under control. Whenever a doctor sees my levels they look at me as if I have three heads. So knowing they are going down helps put my mind at ease for something I have been meaning to deal with for at least two years, but then COVID-19 got in the way and all bets were off. The craziest part is right before COVID my sister, who is a nurse in NY, heard my levels and immediately diagnosed me with hemochromatosis, and knew exactly what the treatment was. When I finally told her I have been officially diagnosed and treatment has started she simply said to me, “what took you so long?” Fucking family.

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