This piece of writing was meant for The Body Parts Anthology, a compilation of naturopathic student writings, bringing the “art” into the art and practice of naturopathic medicine. It would be a way to creatively reflect on our experiences of learning about and living with a specific body part and of belonging to a body. All of us have parts that keep us alive without our input, as if they had their own minds (they actually do!). And yet, we are responsible for the well-being of the machine we’ve inherited, grown inside, expanded into the world with. Sadly, The Body Parts Anthology never came to be (due to the endless onslaught of exams and assignments, we’re besieged with weekly) so I’ve decided to share mine here. Might as well.
A Conversation with My Liver
Me: Well, this is kind of awkward. It’s been a while since we’ve spoken. How’ve you been?
Liver: Last time we communicated you were doing that 7-day detox, what was it called? And drinking dandelion tea. I sensed you felt guilty.
Me: I thought you were mad about all the times I neglected and mistreated you, especially those years at university.
Liver: Yes, like that gin and tonic night. You drank it from a water bottle. I never thought my hepatocytes could process that much liquor but, well, here we are.
Me: That was a fun night.
Liver: For you, maybe.
Me: You got yours in the end. At some point you just decided you weren’t going to have my back. Your alcohol dehydrogenase got all saturated. I spend the night with my head in the toilet.
Liver: But then I regenerated my hepatocytes. I forgave you.
Me: Like a lovesick, abused housewife, you always come back to me in the end. Sorry… for that night.
Liver: Well you’ve never formally apologized… and I remember the time you cursed me while studying for that anatomy exam.
Me: You can be so complicated.
Liver: You just never took the time to understand me.
Me: …you’ve got all those blood vessels and enzymes and then there’s your Chinese persona. I mean, what’s with all the anger issues?
Liver: You’re the one that drinks. That reminds me: I’ve been seeing a counselor. He thinks I should just let you fall on your ass the next time you decide to drink 3 coffees a day for one week straight. And, with the amount of Tylenol you make me process, who wouldn’t be upset. I’m always cleaning up your stupid mistakes.
Me: I get headaches. My life is stressful. Anyways, you don’t have to repress it all. Just let me know how you feel.
Liver: You stagnate me, you know that? Once yearly detoxes aren’t going to cut it-
Me: – twice a year: in the Spring and the Fall.
Liver: Whatever. Can’t you see I’m suffering? I deal with all those bottled up emotions you can’t express. People think that Heart has a tough time, but I’m the sensitive one.
Me: I just never thought you were so emotional. I mean, Heart gets all those palpitations; you just sit there.
Liver: It’s no wonder I can get cirrhotic.
Me: Well… what do you want me to do about it?
Liver: You could eat a couple of cruciferous vegetables from time-to-time – don’t forget to wash them – and lighten up on the caffeine intake. Also, some milk thistle once in a while wouldn’t hurt. I have needs too. It can’t be just you, you, you all the time.
Me: Ok, I think I understand.
Liver: I never get any love or respect. You’ve never for one moment stopped to appreciate the fact that I never get a day off, not even, especially, not at Christmas. Do you know how much garbage is in those Santa candies you eat? And, really, four glasses of wine? Four? The recommended daily limit for alcohol is –
Me: – Ok, Ok. You can stop it now.
Liver: … In China they respect me more. You Western people just abuse me and then complain when I get hepatitis.
Me: We do liver detoxes –
Liver: – For weight-loss. All you can think about is how I affect the size of your ass. You never consider my feelings. You’d die without me.
Me: I’m sorry. I had no idea you felt like this. It’s good you’re finally letting it all out.
Liver: Say it…
Me: Fine. You complete me. Without you I’d… need a transplant.
Liver: That’s right.
Me: Just try not to get fat. Yellow’s not my colour.
Liver: There you go with the demands again… I’ll see what I can do.
Me: Thanks, Liver, you’re the best. I heart you –
Liver: Oh, come on!
Me: I liver you.
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, spring is the season of Wood, of which the main organs are the Liver and Gallbladder. So, out of respect for your hard-working livers, make sure you raise a glass of fresh lemon juice or dandelion tea. Your liver just might thank you one day.