Life with a chubby liver is no different than life with a normal liver. Other than the fact that I am now aware it is fat. A fatty liver is normal for 5 percent of the American population, or so I am told, and I have probably lived with it all my life, gluttonous for all things toxic. The liver, that is.
But this is unsettling for me. It’s different from looking in the mirror and being okay with my broad shoulders that hang the flesh of my body, chubbiness in all the typical areas. I’m okay with the roundness of my face when I smile. Even the muscles that have dissipated altogether from my frame. I’m okay with not having definition to indicate where they once were. I’ve learned long ago, they have nothing to do with strength. But a fatty liver. All I can imagine is a cartoon drawing of the organ wearing a pair of Nikes and sitting on the couch chugging beers. And it is this inability to move that frightens me the most.
Of course, a fatty liver is nothing to worry about, and like I said, completely normal for some people. People who have to worry about other things though, like diet and exercise and blood pressure and diabetes and cholesterol. At 25, I have a new vocabulary that my doctors have helped me learn as part my body’s new language for this stage of life. Instead of training for five to six hours every day (with an optional day of rest), I am now perfectly okay with every day of rest and an optional 30 minute jog whenever I feel like it. Walking is an equally acceptable form of exercise. And instead of downing carbs and chicken and ice cream and all things delicious as fuel to help myself through those grueling training sessions, I have reduced my plate to fruits, vegetables, seafood, lean meats, almond milk and all things gluten-free. The latter, of course, is probably a healthier diet anyway. I submit. Change is staring me down across the table.
And in the other room, my liver has the remote in its hands. Let’s flip through some channels.
When I sprained my ankle, the x-ray indicated I had an extra bone in my left foot that re-routed the tendons.
When I broke my nose, the doctor told me I had extra large inner ear bones.
When I dislocated my rib, the x-ray indicated I had an extra one, floating at the bottom of the cage somewhere.
When I had a camera scoped down my esophagus to take a picture of my heart as it murmured, the doctor told me one of the valves had an extra large flap.
So of course, when I had an elevated level of a liver enzyme, I should have easily concluded that I just have an extra large liver.
If there’s a moral for being extra large, it may have nothing to do with being in charge. In fact, it may have everything to do with the complete lack of control for how you are built, inside and out. These spare parts and quirky organs may not actually make me larger than life. They just might make me pay attention to how I live it. Because all of these things would not have been discovered without an x-ray or an ultrasound, instruments that gives you insight into previously hidden space. These are the finer details, the small print, the footnotes we should take the time to read every once in a while.