On Friday, I had the opportunity to interview a man helping to find answers for how Alpha-1 damages the liver. He is Dr. Jeff Teckman, and I've gotten to know him as an acquaintance through my volunteer work with the Alpha-1 Association and Alpha-1 Foundation. It was an enlightening experience in that I got to better understand how the true process of research happens, but then I had a realization.
Research takes years and years of trial and error. Successes are often fleeting or just out of reach. In talking to Dr. Teckman, I learned about in vitro research, which is based on cells grown in a petry dish. I also learned about in vivo research, which uses animals or humans. His latest publication was based on a well known assumption that the build-up of the Alpha-1 Z protein in the liver cells causes damage. He took that theory, which was proven with in vitro research and applied it to a mouse-based model. The mice in his study displayed that Alpha-1 liver cell damage is very heterogeneous. Some liver cells display damage, and some don't. Why this happens to some cells and not to others is still in question. Dr. Teckman and other Alpha-1 researchers are working hard to figure out the reasons.
My realization often comes in the form of small spurts of inner panic.
Panic for what might happen.
Panic for what will happen.
Panic for what I can not control.
After all, I want to do my job as Grace and Meghan's mommy. My job in life is to protect them from harm. Alpha-1 is the big, bad monster from which I can't protect them. It may harm them. It may not harm them.
I have to have faith. That is a hard thing to acknowledge sometimes. I have good days where Alpha-1 doesn't get a moment's thought, and other days, I immerse myself in a sort of quest for more knowledge of Alpha-1.
The interview with Dr. Teckman was both exciting for its reveal of possibilities, and a let down in that the elusive cure is not coming soon enough.
Until then, I pray and help to guide the girls into their lives including, but not limited, to Alpha-1.
When I receive Dr. Teckman's approval of my story, I'll post it here.