Thursday, August 5, 2010


Bile; n:

1. A bitter, alkaline, brownish-yellow or greenish-yellow fluid that is secreted by the liver, stored in the gallbladder, and discharged into the duodenum and aids in the emulsification, digestion, and absorption of fats. Also called gall1.
2. Bitterness of temper; ill humor; irascibility.
3. Either of two bodily humors, black bile or yellow bile, in ancient and medieval physiology.

To quote Catbert, "It only looks like a coincidence".

Erstwhile Australian Prime Minister Kevin '07' Rudd has just emerged from hospital having had his gall bladder removed.  Interestingly, his wife underwent an almost identical procedure earlier this year.

For those unaware, the short history to this is that only a matter of weeks ago Mr Rudd was Australian PM, but his popularity was waning due to a whole bunch of stuff and an election was due soonish.  His party, the Australian Labor Party, seemingly decided they could not win an election with him in place and stealthily replaced him in what amounted to a party-room coup with his deputy PM, Julia Gillard.  Who is now PM, and has called an election, now just a few weeks away.  Kev bowed out with some sort of grace, and there was weeping and lament amongst the people and indeed much of the party, especially at the callous manner of his demise.  Kev disappeared from the scene but after 'spending some time with his family' as they say stepped up and begun campaigning in his seat in Queensland for his own re-election, as a Labor party member, but uniquely without sporting the party logo on any of his propaganda material.  Things were a bit tense all round, and the party's fortunes continued to decline and suffer in part because of the uncertainty surrounding him.  was it he who leaked details of supposed behind-the-scenes deals that were reneged upon, for instance?  Could Julia work with him as a minister?  All of that.

Something missing?

Then suddenly, his gall bladder went bung, and he was admitted to hospital.

Medical wisdom of yore had it that bile, gall, spleen and similar 'humours' related to anger, and that excesses of anger upset the stomach and digestion.  To this day people are said to "vent spleen", to have their "bile rise up", to be "full of piss and vinegar" as euphemisms for having, or expressing, anger.

My personal take on such things is that indeed we do much of our feeling and thinking in concert with far more of our bodies (and spirit) than modern science would have us believe.  Descartes has a lot to answer for in terms of our self image with his supremely delusional (pun intended) proposition:

"Cogito Ergo Sum" - "I think, therefore I am."

Because once we got it into our heads (yes I know) that the brain was the primary centre of thought we started to think that it was the only place where memory, reaction, thought, feeling - in short, identity - resides.  It's a proposition I deeply disagree with, and there is much modern science and experience that agrees with me too - about disagreeing, at least.

So how frightfully intriguing that the very first thing Kev does upon his emergence from hospital sans gall bladder (the place where bile is stored prior to injection into the duodenum when required for digestion of lipids and so forth) is make a strong and unequivocal statement that he will be fully backing the Julia Gillard (re)election campaign because he "can't stand idly by and see (Opposition leader) Tony Abbott try and just slide into office" and perhaps even more importantly that he would be putting his bitterness behind him now because "life is too short to hold on to anger".  It had been a major theme of his incumbency that he had a bit of a temper behind closed doors especially, and of late it was widely held forth that his prime motivator of his workaholic control-freak ways was a barely suppressed rage.  So yeah, interesting.

Just recently a new episode in my relationship with my own dear gallbladder came to light.  I was having some ultrasounds done on my liver and the sonographer plus the tech-in-training both had a funny moment trying to identify what the rather small structure was at a certain depth there...oh, look, it's a teeny little gall bladder how cute!  OK, this makes sense.  As a teen, I had polyps in my gallbladder so when I ate something with a bit of extra fat my gall bladder would squeeze a bit harder, constrict in on the polyps and PAIN with sPaSmS for up to a couple of days would ensue.  The cure was to not eat fatty things and wait, as they would probably go away.  As they did.  A few years back now I started not doing so well in the gut department after oily dishes, like fried fish and chips, or a dessert with a lot of cream.  Previously these had been favourite meals without problems post-polyps. So my gallbladder had been shrinking the whole time perhaps?  I don't know, but in general my diet had been pretty low-fat more by accident than design for a long time (and still is really, compared to your average Westerner) so maybe it's a use-it-or-lose it thing.

And do you know what?  These days I'm actually more quickly moved to anger, or at least the urge to express anger, but it's not the crushing and oppressive imperative it used to be.  It also passes very quickly compared to how I used to be with it.

Coincidence?  Maybe I will get that t-shirt.

No comments:

Post a Comment