Saturday, April 18, 2009

May Day

By the time the liver biopsy results came back, I had already had blood tests galore. I had tested negative for all the hepatitis viruses, any sort of rheumatic problem, Wilson's disease. I didn't have the necessary symptoms to indicate lupus, and obviously the fact that my liver was up to 50% scar tissue could not have been due to alcohol abuse or drug use, and it was unlikely that I'd had toxic exposure to any chemical.

If I recall correctly, the test for antibodies that attack one's self was pretty new at the time -- they had just figured out T-cells and it was pretty conclusive that I carried an anti-smooth-muscle antibody. This meant, essentially, that my body's immune system was attacking itself. In people with rheumatoid arthritis, this attack was aimed at the tissue of the joints. In me, the attack was aimed directly at my liver.

The response, then, was to suppress my immune system, to beat it into submission to such an extent that it would cease to attack me. That also meant I would be susceptible to other illnesses, but vigilance with exposure should protect me.

The drug of choice was prednisone -- not the anabolic beefcake kind -- but prednisalone or methyl prednisone, used to suppress immune system as well as reduce inflammation. And, oh yes yes yes!!!, predinsone is so totally the teenager's dream drug. The primary side effects:

weight gain
extreme and sudden mood swings

How could I not just be overjoyed!!! Let's ignore the fact that puberty and high school are already rough enough, add on those things. Plus some rather fantastic psychedelic dreams, the eventual onset of osteopoenia, and wow. And in the space of 4 months, I went from catepillar (rather scruchy but endearing little creatures) to pupa (puffy and ugly and impossible to see what's inside). I wasn't fortunate enough to get Gary-Coleman-cute chipmunk cheeks, and unlike my friend Rose (with some sort of rheumatic problem) was unable (or undisciplined enough) to avoid significant weight gain.

To add insult, my school instituted uniforms the fall of my sophomore year. And I had perpetually bad hair. You get the picture. On the upside, I have to say that I never really suffered from PMS because I felt that way all the time.

And yet in high school I had friends. Like, four that I knew of...

1 comment:

  1. Funny post, Shirley. I totally didn't notice that you had mood swings in high school and I looked like crap in the uniforms, too.