As I wrote this post, I offered up apologies to Dr. Seuss. I grew up faithfully watching the cartoon “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” each and every December. By the end of the cartoon, I had fallen in love with the fairy tale ending of how a despicable and grouchy reptilian creature could become such a loving and generous fan of the Christmas season.
But I have to admit I was a little put off by the Grinch during most of the cartoon. As I said, even in cartoon form he looks very much like a reptile, and I have never been fond of reptiles. I even avoid the tiniest of frogs, toads, turtles and lizards. So how is it that I could watch this repugnant character every Christmas?
As I grew older, I began to wonder about the green cast to his skin. While he slithered around Whoville like a green snake or green lizard, I began to doubt that he was he a reptile? I mean, how many reptiles have tufts of hair like the Grinch? Doesn’t the liver produce bile that is green in color? I began to wonder – did the green cast to his skin might mean that he had a liver condition? If he is on heart meds, I'll have what the Grinch is having!
Also, what was up with those big eyes? In some stills from the cartoon, they are clearly yellow and red. According to the website medicalnewstoday.com, the type of yellowing seen in the Grinch’s eyes is often referred to as jaundice: “Yellow eyes are usually associated with conditions affecting the liver, gallbladder, pancreas, or intestines. It is important to see a doctor for diagnosis and treatment.”
And speaking of bladders, think back to the 1960’s cartoon about the Grinch. We’re with the Grinch what appears to be all day on Christmas Eve. Do you ever see him stop at a bathroom? Makes me think that perhaps he does have some medical condition that is making it impossible for his bladder to work properly. He just seems to be a very unhealthy creature.
It wasn’t just the evidence of diseases to the Grinch’s body that disturbed me. Judging from his behavior during the bulk of the cartoon, the Grinch could definitely benefit from some regular psychotherapy sessions. I figure that with his hatred of Mankind (or in this case Whokind), he must be classified as a misanthrope. But that is just one of psychological issues. Remember the scene where Cindy Lou Who wonders out of her bedroom to ask “Santa” why he is taking away the Christmas tree. After thinking just for a brief second, a big smile invades his face and he lies about taking the tree away to fix a broken light bulb. Clearly he can lie with the best psychopaths out there.
Yes, for most of the cartoon, it is hard to be sympathize or empathize with the Grinch. You just want to lock him up in the nearest jail cell and throw away the key. But then comes the defining moment in the cartoon where he hears the holiday music coming from Whoville and realizes that there is good and peace and joy in the world that is not sparked by material goods. Rather, the Whoville songs are inspired by a love for humankind (or once again, Whokind). Love conquers the Grinch’s heart and instead of being two sizes too small the Grinch's heart grows three sizes! For most of my viewing years, this seems like a heartwarming miracle. I wanted to be sitting at the Christmas party with all the Whos to celebrate the redemption of the Grinch.
But then I was struck with dilated cardiomyopathy. And a moment of joy for the Grinch turned into rampant fear. Why? Because I realized that what the Grinch was experiencing was a classic case of dilated cardiomyopathy – but on a colossal scale. I mean, as I understand it, the enlargement of my heart was unmistakable but as far as I know, never reached the level that the Grinch attained. If the Grinch’s heart had grown three times, well this creature was in need of massive heart drugs stat!
I also empathized with the Grinch in trying to find good medical care. Does Mount Crumpet even have a doctor, much less a cardiologist? Whoville might be an option, but what if the doctors there only treat the Whos? And what kind of health insurance is available to a curmudgeon like the Grinch. I can’t imagine he is eligible for the Who version of Medicare and how costly would commercial insurance premiums be in Seussland?
My fear began to be quelled as I watched the next scenes in the cartoon. Instead of being winded and unable to walk a few steps, this creature was hoisting a sleigh above his head. Yeah, I know Max had his paw on the sleigh too, but the real heavy lifting was being done by the Grinch. How could this be? And what the heck was this guy’s ejection fraction. If mine is a 15, his must be something like a minus 50. But yet there he was with the strength of a couple of Grinches. Go figure? If he is taking heart meds, hey doc, can you prescribe for me whatever the Grinch is taking?
But finally the heart mystery was solved for me last year! The solution was in an article in the Washington Post on December 22, 2017. The article uses “holiday science” to solve many of the mysteries of Christmas stories. I am including the link to the article below which also contains some really remarkable video presentations.
In the case of the Grinch, the article and clip shows an evaluation by Johns Hopkins cardiologist David Kass. This guy is no slouch (and obviously no Grinch!) when it comes to cardiology, and in fact one of my heart doctors who I respect knows him. So I would put a lot of credibility in his diagnosis. He goes through whether the Grinch could be suffering from heart failure or a ruptured valve and decides that this was not the cause of the growth in the Grinch’s heart.
I’m not going to spoil the diagnosis. I’m going to let you read the article and see the video. Just take my words that it is priceless and filled me with a lot of holiday cheer. And again, other mysteries of holiday science are discussed and resolved in the article.
So this blog writer, and I’m sure cardiologists and heart failure doctors everywhere, wish you Happy Holiday Science!
Melanie discovered that she had heart failure in 2013. Since that time, she has been learning how to live with the condition, and how to achieve balance and personal growth.