June 8th, 2008

“The Silent Killer”

Posted in Why We Train by Mark

The origin of hemochromatosis (iron overloading) is steeped in mystery, well not really but there are a few theories about its origins, one being that due to the many famines in Ireland throughout her turbulent history, some of the  population developed the ability to retain iron, this genetic ability was a life saver in the iron deficient populace but today the ability to retain and not shed it, can be a death sentence.

 The irony of this title hasn’t escaped me, Hemochromatosis has been dubbed the silent killer because it is rarely  found at first glance to be the culprit of the various maladies that afflict us today. Some symptoms of this disease can be chronic fatigue, decreased liver function, congested heart failure, arthritic pain in various joints(some very particular), cholesterol issues and pigment changes in the skin to name but a few.

 I myself was diagnosed with this a few years back, but the emphasis then was not  as it is now. Back then it was simply a hassle, an inconvenience that needed to be dealt with, but it was simply put on the back burner, the laxness was not of my own making, several years ago it didn’t seem as urgent as it seems now, the diagnosis was never fully explained to me in real terms, in fact I was never informed of it officially, comments like “liver biopsy” would be mentioned as the definitive form of diagnosis.

 For those that know me the chances of getting near me with a biopsy needle are incredibly slim to nonexistent, joking aside the level of seriousness that this disorder is due was never really imparted to me,  it wasn’t until several years later when I decided to become more proactive with my health that things took a change in direction.

A busy work schedule and a hectic home life took a hand in the re-prioritizing of my health issues, two children and 3 years later I made the decision to get more involved with my health, being a moderate to heavy drinker, I found it harder and harder to overcome the effects of alcohol on my body, the constant tiredness, the lack of direction other than the direction in which I was pushed or pulled by others, such is the way of our lives, and the constant stress of not knowing what exactly was going on in my body let alone my mind, one of the other symptoms of this disorder apparently is depression, who knew.

With my renewed interest in my health, I made an appointment with my health care provider, on seeing me they at first didn’t seem to be in too interested in treating me, in fact I met my doctor face to face for the first in three years having never met before , not deterred by this lack of enthusiasm I pretty much talked my way into getting treatment and follow ups, it was on one such visit that I met another Doctor, who was attending to my own doctors patients, I was one of them, it was like night and day, a complete 180 degree change of attitude and direction. In the following hour I had received treatment,was in possession of far more information and awareness of what the future held in store, It felt as if a weight had been lifted off my chest and my mind, it was the relief of knowing and coming  to terms with something that I simply could not deny, outrun, or ignore. I was now armed with information ,capable of making changes in my day to day habits, and now better prepared to outlive this disorder. 

At this  present moment in time I am not in possession of the statistics relating to this disorder other than apparently 1 in 9 Canadians suffer with/from it,  more details can be found at www.toomuchiron.ca/  Based on my own experience of the health care system it pays to be informed, in the end you are responsible for your own health and well being, while we put our trust and faith in a system of health care that seems to be struggling to reach its  own goal of “doing no harm” which the vast majority  of medical practitioners strive to achieve. They are  pitted against special interest groups, the pharmaceutical industry and the bare bones reality of modern medical commercial practices, simply put there seems to be a lot of money to be made from the treatment of illness not the curing of it.

There seems to be many instances of misdiagnosis or the overlooking of hemochromatosis as an underlying  cause ( a completely unqualified personal opinion), maybe it’s lack of awareness on the part of the medical practitioners out there, but  awareness is the best defence in dealing with many disorders of the blood, and in this particular case the simplicity of the treatment belies the severity of the disorder, one might be drawn to the conclusion that; where there’s money there’s interest and where there’s no money there’s no interest.

To anyone that find themselves in the unfortunate position of being told they may have the disorder, take heart, its not a death sentence though it can be if left untreated. There are quite a few websites and articles out there dealing with this disorder, at present it doesn’t seem to be within the common domain of public knowledge, but thats changing. This post is a step in that direction, we need to raise awareness for something whose effects can be reversed or stabilised, through regular treatments and proactive therapy, and simple changes in diet and habits, whereby the quality of life can restored to the sufferer and maintained for the rest of their natural lives.

Life should always be about improvement of the self and the betterment of others, even though we are ultimately responsible for our own actions, we may sometimes inadvertently affect the quality of others lives by our own lack of interest or participation in our own lives.

” Live life, love life , help others. “

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