Do you want to do something beautiful for God?
There is a person who needs you.
This is your chance.
Isn’t this the greatest picture ever?
Such a happy, handsome and loving couple…
It’s a photograph of my parents in 1958 the year before I was born (hear the pride in my voice)
Oh, you think that couple looks a lot like Gary Grant and Sophia Loren?
well…isn’t that quite the coincidence?!
If you’ve been with me for a while here in blogland, you’ve already heard me speak of my
beautiful mother Sophia…
but shhhhhh, she doesn’t know.
Those of you who know me or have read much of this little blog over the years,
know that I am actually adopted.
I’ve shared this little tale before but for those of you who haven’t heard this
part of the backstory, I’ll back up a tad…
Back in college, my college roommates, whom I loved and still love, all knew of
One evening when I was in the Library having to do some sort of research on whatever
it was I was researching, I happened upon a shelf of books all concerning adoption.
I started pulling book upon book off the shelf and read about a subject I’d never really
looked into, much less discussed.
I shared with my roommates these new findings and curiosities.
And they too were curious…as many friends have been ever since.
But they also had their fun…of which I did indeed find funny.
They knew how besotted this hopeful one-day art historian was with all things Italia.
I yearned for Italy.
I had taken art history course after course on the Italian Renaissance.
I was smitten by those whom I considered to be the world’s greatest artists.
I had never been to Italy, but there some unseen power constantly pulling
me closer and closer.
So as screwball and silly college kids can be, I came home one day to a picture
of Sophia Loren taped to our room’s door with a hand-scrawled note, “adopt a Wop ”
–a word not considered politically correct—
but once upon a time, before this dreaded PC world of ours,
each country, each ethnicity,
each nationality had its own euphemism for their fellow nations
and fellow nationalities…
and it was what it was and no one much protested.
Everyone had a nickname—the yanks being the US, Frogs were the French and on and on…
Most names came from those things that these nations did or ate that would set them apart
from a fellow nationality.
Italians were not exempt.
Wop is a butchered word which roughly meant ‘thug’…
It originated in the southern Italian region—an area known for its heavy Mafia influence…
and so it goes.
But I was happy and even flattered to be linked to someone like Sophia Loren
and I was happy imaging that I had possibly Italian lineage.
Yet this post is not about all of that so I don’t want to belabor the point.
But just know that I knew I was adopted and must obviously be some sort of lost Italian.
Never mind that I’m actually Scotch / Irish.
So claiming Sophia Loren as a mother, who had no clue that she actually had this
long lost child living in the Southern US, as she was from Southern Italy, seemed so grand.
Add to the fact that whenever anything has gone wrong with me, I’ve always blamed it
on being adopted.
So today is no different.
I had my stress test.
It went ok, sort of.
The nurse told me that if I went on for 10 more seconds,
I would have registered having the heart of a 27-year-old….but…
there was a small anomaly.
When I got up to speed and began huffing and puffing, as I was now running uphill
and just praying I wouldn’t come flying off the back end of this inverted rollercoaster,
my blood pressure did not rise with the level of exerted intensity.
In fact, it didn’t rise at all.
It was the same as the resting rate before the treadmill.
Sooo, the cardiologist has ordered a nuclear stress test—
So I will now glow.
Here in the South we like to say that we don’t sweat, we glisten…
so I can now glisten and glow all at the same time!
He’s also ordered a heart ultrasound for the more compelling reason as to why
I had the stress test.
I’ve often referred to my having a bad thyroid.
I have a condition referred to as Hashimoto’s Disease.
It’s a thyroid that fluctuates like a roller coaster.
For a body to function properly, a thyroid needs to be consistent.
If not consistent all sorts of things go awry.
So I take a thyroid medication, which I’ll take forever and it helps to keep
my levels, level. I’ve taken it for years. I blame the adoption.
I have to go every six months for blood work in order to see if the levels have changed.
I did this last week.
The nurse called the following day…she starts the conversation with “Julie…”
I sensed something different in her voice.
“your liver enzymes are slightly elevated…”
meaning I still have a fatty liver—a result of a lifelong love affair with butter…
I get that from my aunt Julia Child…
“your cholesterol is up”—no news there.
“and your hemoglobin is up…but that shouldn’t be too concerning…
however, she (she being the doctor) still has a few questions so she’s sending
for more testing.”
The nurse calls back, following the weekend, and proceeds with “the news.”
A normal iron level, on the high end, is 150
Seems mine was 5 times higher…almost 600
I laughed rather incredulously.
“What does that mean,” I ask.
She tells me that the body obviously needs iron but my system is acting like a giant sponge.
Working on overdrive.
The body does not excrete iron.
There is no eliminating all the excess, it just keeps going and going, soaking it up.
Excessive iron produces symptoms—
all the symptoms I’ve been having but symptoms that have been simply chalked up to age,
or thyroid disease, or in my little mind, adoption…
Because when all else fails, we always blame the adoption…that being the unknown.
Yet excessive iron poisons the body.
Effecting the big three organs– mostly the heart, liver, and pancreas.
It effects the joints.
It causes fatigue.
It causes depression.
It causes hair to thin and fall out
It causes the fingertips to turn blue
But…doesn’t the winter’s dark cold dreariness make us all fatigued and depressed?
I’ve lost two significant family members this past year, that’s cause for depression right?
The blue fingertips is a thyroid symptom, right?
My osteoarthritis is age right?
The hair loss is also the thyroid, right?
This latest life glitch is called Hemochromatosis Metabolic Disorder.
A hereditary genetic mutation…
as in a mutant,
as in an X-Man.
Now it’s all making perfect sense…
As in, there are secret powers that I don’t know about right?
And now I know my family lineage….
So now we see all the connecting of the dots…
I told you it was the adoption!
I asked how one treats this little problem…as in how do I get rid of all this iron???
The nurse flatly states Phlebotomy.
I nervously laugh again.
Oddly, she is not laughing.
Cause all I heard was ‘otomy’…like a lobotomy…as in a hole in my head…
But then reality hits and I was like, “how is that to work??…
what are we talking about??…
giving a little blood or what??”
She tells me it most likely would be a weekly visit to the hospital to have a liter or so pulled off…
as in weekly!!!
As in like a freaking pin cushion.
Never mind that I also now need to cut out iron, alcohol, fat, sugar, citrus, Vitamin C, chocolate,
cooking in cast iron, using my grill (iron grates)…on and on and on goes the list of horror.
Just shoot me now!!!!!
But tea and red wine are ok as the tannin they contain helps impede the absorption of iron
in the body…Go figure.
Cabernet, a headache, and blocked iron…brilliant!
The last time I gave blood was in 1978, I was a senior in high school.
Once the process was finished and they had me to sit up, I immediately fainted.
After about 30 minutes, they tried it again.
Again, I fainted.
Finally, when they thought all was good, I was dismissed back to class.
By now it was lunchtime.
I had just grabbed a salad and was heading to the table when the next thing I know
I’m on the cafeteria floor looking up at a bunch of faces staring down at me as lettuce
was now scattered all over me…
I’ve never given blood to that level since.
I can do vials, tubes etc… just not bags.
And here now, I’m being told I’ll be giving at least a bag a week…
So maybe that’s my secret X-man mutant power…
Goodbye Sophia Loren and hello Leechwoman
So yes, now I’m thinking that perhaps if I could just find a pet leech,
I could work out this siphoning business from home so I wouldn’t have to keep going
to the hospital…makes perfect sense.
To be continued…..