Old Man Liver

By Terry Sweeney

Around this celebratory time of year, when food and drink — and more drink and a little more food and a lot more drink — abound, I always feel as though I should send my liver a thoughtful Hallmark card in advance:

How sweet of you to put up with me

And all my holiday gaiety

Time and again to be thrown a curve

When once again I’m over-served

The stories, dear liver, you could tell

About this boozy, bleach-blonde belle

Instead, true blue, you stick by me

To your health, I drink one more Chablis!!!

You know when you get right down to it, it’s not a dog that’s man’s best friend … it’s his liver. But when I first considered taking on this topic, naturally I didn’t want to put a damper on my fellow Happy Winos’ high spirits. So the first thing I Googled was “Fun Facts About the Liver.” Fun? Bring it on! Let’s hear one. Here’s what the official website said: “The liver is an all-important human organ located under the lungs and to the right of the stomach.” (yeah, OK, and the fun part?)  “It carries out more than 200 different functions” (any of them fun?)  “This organ is so vital to your health that if it stopped working, you could die in just one day.” (OK, stop … I’m having too much fun now.) That’ll teach me to trust a bunch of computer liver nerds to show me a good time!

However, there is good news in Liverland. The liver is the only internal organ that can regenerate itself.  As little as 25% of the liver can regenerate into a whole liver again. Many have found this to be absolute proof of a Loving God! Not only that, but hurricane-happy Mother Nature, whom we’ve seen can be a real bitch, has been kind enough to bless us with a wild herb that many naturopaths have tested and has been shown to have a beneficial effect on the liver: milk thistle. There wasn’t a nutritional book or healthy website I checked that didn’t recommend it. I know one big shot healthy-as-a-horse wine distributor (who, by the way, has to taste wine all day long as part of his job) who swears by it and takes two capsules of it every day.  It also doesn’t hurt to eat dark leafy greens and other chlorophyl-rich foods to make your liver smile.  I feel a bumper sticker coming on: “Eat your grass, Don’t smoke it!”

Of course, if you’re like me, before every holiday season starts, you’re feeling level-headed and pooh-poohing any thoughts of getting pickled again this time of year.  Oh no — this year, will be different! Yeah, that’s what I swore.  But not too many nights ago, I went to a holiday pre-pre party, then a pre-party, then the party, then a post-party and boozed it up at all of them. Only to wake up the next day feeling like Kim Kardashian’s bra strap — exhausted and ready to snap in two!

I know, during these Thanksgiving and Christmas weeks, it feels rude to say no when offered “holiday cheer.” But being painfully hungover and dragging our sorry belligerent behinds around the house doesn’t exactly honor our pilgrim ancestors, nor the fire-water sensitive Indians who were nice enough to bring an acorn casserole to this historic pot-luck. And is biting your loved one’s head off the week before Christmas really smart? Just when your mate’s trying to decide what they should give you (a divorce might no doubt comes to mind!).

So this holiday season, don’t pull a “George Burns,” who once said, “It only takes one drink to get me loaded. Trouble is, I can’t remember if it’s the 13th or the 14th!”

No, instead be kind to your liver so that Old Man Liver can “just keep rollin’ along.”

Cheers! And Happy Holidays!

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