Monday, March 10, 2008

Gilbert's Syndrome: A Survivor's Tale

Last week I was diagnosed with a disease called Gilbert’s Syndrome. Okay, it’s not a disease, really. It’s a syndrome. Or a condition. Maybe. No one seems to be quite sure.

You see, in one’s blood there is a natural pigment with a sandwich-like name, bilirubin. Bilirubin is removed by the liver, and someone with Gilbert’s Syndrome doesn’t process their bilirubin at the proper rate. The only side effect is possible jaundice and all that extra bilirubin floating around in my blood like my circulatory system is some kind of water park and my veins are the lazy river raft ride.

This prognosis came after weeks of blood tests. I hate giving blood, probably because I have an HMO so my doctor still uses leeches. I also got a liver test where a technician covered me in jelly and jammed what looked like a cash register scanner in my guts. So it was a relief when the diagnosis wasn’t anything serious. (Although, they did find two quarts of Iron City Beer in my liver left over from my Pittsburgh days.)

My doctor told me that Gilbert’s Syndrome is just something that needs to be monitored over time and that it was nothing to worry about. But what do doctors know? After all, the best way to get good, sound medical advice is to consult the internet.

After minutes of painstaking research, most of the summaries under the Google links I found revealed that the majority of medical websites also claim that Gilbert’s is not exactly detrimental to one’s health. For example, says, “Gilbert’s Syndrome is a harmless condition and can be ignored.” All of this talk about Gilbert’s Syndrome being such a half-assed disease made me feel sorry for this Gilbert person. I can just picture Gilbert as a young go-getter in Medical school, turning in his findings, only to have his colleagues say to him, “Whatever, Gilbert. Go discover us a real disease, and then we can talk.”

The only people who don’t agree that Gilbert’s Syndrome is the daddy-long-legs of diseases are the people who have actually have it. The websites written by and for these people claim that Gilbert’s causes fatigue, tiredness, irritability, insomnia, etc.

I was very confused. It was almost as though the internet didn’t have complete or accurate information. I was left with a choice, and after much consideration, I decided to be a Gilbert’s Syndrome victim. It is just easier that way. After all, I only got a few hours of sleep last night, and for some reason today I am tired and irritable. My bilirubins must be acting up.

Of course, I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’m a survivor. If you see me on the street, and I’m yellow, just treat me like a normal yellow person. Perhaps buy me dinner, and we can talk about my condition. I’m very open about my syndrome, or disease, or whatever it is. The best thing to do is to give me $20. People with Gilbert’s Syndrome react well to free money. It puts our bilirubins at ease.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your new syndrome. You're nobody until you get something.

Kristy said...

Thank god I have PPO and not HMO - I'm afraid of leeches!

It's also a good thing that you still have Iron City left from Pittsburgh. That's probably the only way you are surviving in LA - from your Pittsburgh toughness. Thanks, Denny's Bar! However, you can apparently get Iron City products out there now. I believe at least in San Diego...

You might want to stock up. It may help ease the effects of Gilbert's Syndrome.

Anonymous said...

Does that mean your liver is behaving like Gilbert from "What's Eating Gilbert Grape"? Or does it mean it's more like Arnie?

Anonymous said...

So when are we going to have the Gilbert Syndrome benefit concert? If you ever want the Gilbert Syndrome to make it to the A list, you have to have a benefit concert.