Hi there! Jacelyn signing in for a moment! Here’s another interesting tidbit–sure to come in handy for all those living in the arctic, or planning to practice medicine there someday 🙂 In a recent lecture, a professor was discussing the damaging effects of too much Vitamin A, called hypervitaminosis A. She then briefly mentioned how eating polar bear liver will give you toxic doses of Vitamin A . . . polar bear liver? That struck me as odd, so I looked it up after class. Sure enough, it’s true—and it’s a well-researched topic. Polar bear liver accumulates large amounts of Vitamin A from the seals they eat. I haven’t found wherethe seals get it, but they need it because it helps young seals mature quickly. Here’s a little blip about this from the website “How Stuff Works”.
From “How Stuff Works”
The native peoples of the Arctic have never shied away from cooking up some polar bear stew, but they’ve long known to avoid eating the livers of various arctic creatures. Western explorers, however, learned the hard way. As early as 1596, explorers returned to Europe with accounts of horrible illnesses resulting from the consumption of polar bear liver. Illness severity depended on how much liver the explorers consumed, but symptoms typically included drowsiness, sluggishness, irritability, severe headache, bone pain, blurred vision and vomiting. Perhaps the most horrific symptom they encountered was peeling skin. While milder cases merely involved flaking around the mouth, some accounts reported cases of full-body skin loss. Even the thick skin on the bottoms of a patient’s feet could peel away, leaving the underlying flesh bloody and exposed. The worst cases ended in liver damage, hemorrhage, coma and death.
In the wild, polar bears feed almost exclusively on bearded seals and ringed seals, both of which store high levels of vitamin A in their livers and blubber. The seals store high levels of vitamin A in order to swiftly grow and nourish their young in the harsh environment. Vitamin A plays a key role in growth and development, so seals rely on this vitamin to quickly advance them through their vulnerable pup stages
And now, on to more of explanation of the one-word paragraph from just after Christmas:
McGorge: The Dominican food is not in any way bad. It tastes fine. In fact, the fresh juices are downright amazing. The fish is great. The pelao is hearty. However, it doesn’t take long before you notice that it’s just not like food from back home. Even the restaurants that sell “American food” have to, for the most part, use ingredients found on the island to make the meals, so it’s always ALMOST there, but not quite. Seriously, I’m not complaining. I live in the Caribbean and get to do ministry. I know I am livin’ the dream. That still doesn’t stop us from exiting the plane in San Juan (technically America, mind you), walking through security, down to baggage claim, and immediately to the airport McDonalds to eat our fill of the un-ageable burger. In fact, I’m going to be honest with you now, which is something I rarely do. When I came back to the states by myself in January, I walked straight to the Mee-kee-dee’s, ordered a Big Mac Meal (supersized with Coke), ate it all, walked back up, ordered a Triple Bacom Burger meal (supersized), and ate it all. I’m not proud of it, but I’m kinda proud of it. In retrospect, I should’ve budgeted enough time to also walk to a clothing store to buy pants with a bigger waistline.
Surprise!, Grandma’s nightgown, and grandpa’s drug problem: When we arrived in Minneapolis, my mom picked us up at the airport. After much finagling (and boldfaced lies by my mum), we were able to keep our visit to the States a secret. The only people that knew were mum, Ralph (the wise one), and my little sister Smeaphie (because, in her attempt to prep herself to rule the world one day, she has started reading all of my mum’s texts, consequently enabling her to read the text about us being trapped in Barbados) (Oh, and I call her “Smeaphie” because she reminds me of a combination of Sophie (that’s who she actually IS) and Smeagol (Not really. I just have to tease her) (She DOES sit that way sometimes, though) Anyway, after surprising my sister Kristina at the hotel (she sorta went blank-faced and then told mum she was mean), we made our way north from Minneapolis. The first stop was my grandparents. It was 11 at night. They were in bed. They’d already taken their evening “sleepy time” meds. We sent mum and Kristi in ahead of us and listened outside. Grandma was the first to get up. She came out of her bedroom in a nightgown to see what was going on. They called for grandpa numerous times, but he wasn’t getting up, mainly because, like I said, they’d already taken their nighttime sleep aid.
Then, Jacelyn and I burst in the door and screamed, “Surprise!!!” It was at that point that a few things happened. First, after hugging us, grandma disappeared into her bedroom. Then, grandpa came out and, after hugging us confusedly, leaned against the wall. Then, grandma returned, wearing a thicker, darker nightgown. (I have permission to tell this, by the way) (and by “permission”, I mean, I was there and I talk about everything I ever see). We chatted for a bit, telling them about our adventures in getting there, during which I entertained myself by watching my grandpa’s legs occasionally give out due to tiredness and sleep aid. He’d be listening and the randomly dip about six inches and pop back up, kind of like watching a 1-year-old trying to stand. This was better, though, because gramps combines the instability of a toddler with the finely manicured hair of James Dean. Anyway, after about ten minutes, we realized they’d probably not remember the surprise in the morning, which would let us do it all again the next day, so we left. I started belly laughing when, as I was closing their front door, I heard my grandpa bellow, “SURPRISE, SURPRISE!!!!” (Which he later told me he had no recollection of)
But the best moment almost of the entire trip happened in the car on the way home after that. If you know Jacelyn, you know that she quite often knows what she wants to say, but adds many pre-cursors or qualifiers to her sentence BEFORE she says the actual sentence: i.e., “Because she is so nice…..and I always like to make my own yogurt…..and because it’s not Tuesday, yet…..I just thought I’d mention…..that before one gets loose…..and since I’ve always been afraid of gnats…” So, as you read these next few lines, you need to put yourself in the situation. Close your eyes. Now open them because you can’t read the rest with them closed. It is dark. We’ve been travelling for days. We’re tired. It’s very quiet in the car. We’ve all sort of started to zone out. There’s just the sound of the road and the view of the headlights in the dark. Then, out of the quiet comes this statement: “I’m not ashamed of it……………………….Because they’re so soft……………………….but that nightgown grandma was wearing………….BEFORE she put the second one on………….” It was at this point that my mum later admitted she was thinking, “Nic, are you gonna stop her?” I had ZERO clue what she could be talking about, but, in the context of just having seen my grandma in a “first nightgown”, BEFORE she put a second one on, the words “not ashamed” and “so soft” were seriously perplexing my mind as to what could POSSIBLY be coming next. We all just basically started laughing, Jacelyn included, and it was about ten minutes before she could expound on what she was not ashamed of. Turns out, earlier this year, Jacelyn had purposefully gone out and purchased what she appropriately terms a “granny nightgown”, because they’re “so soft”, and, in the most random of coincidences, she bought the EXACT SAME NIGHTGOWN that my grandmother was wearing when we surprised her. So, if we read Jacelyn’s words again, in the light of that knowledge, they make total sense. For days, all anyone had to say was “I’m not ashamed” or “so soft” and we would all bust out laughing. (Incidentally, Jacelyn inserts this comment: “I highly recommend splurging on a granny nightgown from a department store. It’s TOTALLY worth it!”)
Early Christmas: We celebrated Christmas dinner early. There’s nothing funny about that.