Archive for health

White Matter

Posted in Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 18, 2012 by javedbabar

Sammy poked his head around the door. “Yes, Doctor? You wanted to see me?”

Dr Bungawalla looked up from his desk but said nothing. There was something bothering him. Then he said, “Yes, yes. Please come in. How long are you with us for, altogether? Ah good, a month. So you go back to school in September? Perfect.” He pushed his chair away from the desk, pulled it back in, and shuffled papers.

“I was wondering if you would help me with a project. I think we can complete it in four weeks. It is not something mentioned on the internship documents; it’s more of a personal project. It will be helpful research to me.”

Dr Bungawalla had been the village doctor for forty years. Sammy recalled his always being nice to him, especially as a child, giving him snacks and sweeties, even pop. Good job he had become a doctor not a dentist!

Sammy nodded to indicate he would help. When someone’s just lost his wife, you should do everything you can for him.

“Oh good. I’m sure you know that the brain is composed of grey matter. Well, did you know that there is also white matter? It’s lipid tissue veined with capillaries; actually pinkish, but let’s not worry about that. It was previously thought to be passive tissue but now we know that its main function is to transmit signals, acting as a sort of relay, consolidating communication between different brain regions. It has an important role in processing and cognition; it plays a role in both our function and dysfunction.”

Sammy nodded along and said, “Is white matter your special area of interest?”

“Yes it is. Specifically, there are areas called White Matter Hyperintensities which show up as bright signals on MRI images. No, they are not really dangerous; like most things, they are essentially neutral, and it depends on what you do with them.”

“Can I take a seat?” said Sammy.

“Ah, yes, yes. So sorry, I was going to stand up but then forgot. Please take a seat.” Dr Bungawalla explained his strange request to Sammy. It seemed like a good way to spend his month here. They would both learn something useful.

For the first week, Sammy ate a Mediterranean diet. He stocked up with fruit, vegetables, fish, grains, nuts, and olives, and drank strong coffee and smoked cigarettes. Dr Bungawalla scanned his brain with the EMU (Electromagnetic Medical Unit), and recorded the changes. His chief interest was in the effect of olives; olive wood had been used in Greece to make statues of gods. There must be a reason for that.

The second week, Sammy ate pulses, macaroni, rice, beef and pickles. This Egyptian diet had fortified the builders of the Pyramids and Sphinx. Dr Bungawalla was especially engaged with the nourishment provided by lentils; these tiny seeds were a source of total nourishment. He saw that Sammy’s Hyperintensities had decreased in volume.

The third week, Sammy consumed an Indian diet. He added plenty of coriander, cumin, chilli, turmeric, garam masala, mustard seeds, salt and pepper to his meals. He also ate curds and sweet fried pastries. The chilli made him sweat and activated other nutrients he’d consumed. Spice fires the soul. Dr Bungawalla saw that this diet was boosting his antibodies, with no detrimental effects on Hyperintensities.

The fourth week Sammy ate Chinese food. He ate mostly vegetables and rice with a wide variety of meats, including pork stomach and trotters, beef brain and tongue, chicken gizzard and feet, and snake guts and heart, all washed down with pearl green tea. Dr Bungawalla saw a reduction in the volume of Hyperintensities. After further examination, he saw that it was not caused by food; it was caused by pearl green tea, which calmed the spirit and created fluidity. From now on Dr Bungawalla would drink this tea in the hope of slowing down his Alzheimer’s’ Disease.

Dr Bungawalla never assumed that modern medicine was best. He believed one should try traditional cures, beginning with your daily food. Hyperintensity Volume was a marker of small vessel damage in the brain, a reduction of which leads to a reduction of strokes and cognitive decline. But he also knew that it wasn’t just diet. There were associated memories encoded in White Matter, those of family joviality. Any of the diets that Sami had tried – Mediterranean, Egyptian, Indian or Chinese – would help Dr Bungawalla if rather than eating alone each night, he could share them with someone.

Health Infomatics

Posted in Classic Sci-Fi, Lucerne Village, Mystical Experience, Unknown with tags , , , , , , , on June 1, 2012 by javedbabar

Health Infomatics had come a long way, thought Liz. Even in the time I’ve been working at Lucerne Village Medical Centre, primary patient care has transformed from purely personal to mostly technical. Sure, you get a few moments with a health care professional, but then it’s straight onto machines, and computers do the rest.

Liz was underpaid and underworked, but it was better than it used to be – underpaid and overworked. But hers was a valuable role – the observer, and when needs be, she would step up to actor; she had the skills and experience needed to handle emergency failures.

The doors slid open and a middle aged man walked in. He looked around nervously and walked up to the desk. Liz said, “Good morning, Sir. How may we help you?”

“Em, I haven’t been inside a hospital for years. They sort of scare me. I was feeling unwell and went to see my doctor. He couldn’t really say what it was, so he sent me here.” “Ok, Sir, that all sounds fine. We’ll give you a check up and take it from there.” She clicked open a new file and asked for his ID, which she scanned and returned. “What form does your unwellness take? I mean, what are you feeling?”

“It’s tightness in my throat and chest, and a puffy nose. It could be an allergy, but…”

“Follow me, sir. Let’s not try to second guess. We have the best equipment here. It will tell us everything.”

Liz asked him to remove his jacket and shoes and lie on the bed at the centre of the room. She removed the EMU (Electromagnetic Medical Unit) from its charger and keyed in the codes for White, Forties, Male. EMU units were a great advance – not so much in medical technology, as they performed the same function as flux MRI scanners; more a medical convenience. They weighed three kilos and could be passed over the patient’s body with ease. There was no need now for the whole “entering the tomb” ritual. Their sales had been boosted by a marketing campaign where an animated emu races ahead while an ostrich stays with its head buried in sand. The message was that the EMU tells you everything, even the things you’ve never thought about and don’t want to know.

“Okay, Sir, the EMU says that your sickness is psychosomatic. Do you know what that means? Yes, that’s right; it’s caused by your mind rather than by your body. There is however another indicator showing a ninety-seven percent chance of your developing brain cancer within three years.”

The man looked shocked. “Do I need to start chemotherapy?”

Liz smiled and shook her head. “Sir, when was the last time you were treated in a hospital? More than ten years ago? I thought so. Medical technology is much improved since then. You will need just twenty-four hours of treatment, and your current respiratory complaints and future ontological complaints will be gone. Please come here at ten o’clock tomorrow morning, prepared for an overnight stay.”

The man blinked rapidly and said, “That sounds amazing. How will you treat me?”

“We have several options. I suggest the HEAL machine, which stands for Holistic Emotional Astral Landscapes. The Law of Attraction motivates your healing, creating parallels between your perfect inner state and your perfect outer place. The patient chooses a desirable environment in which to spend the next twenty four hours. Popular choices are deserts, mountains, forests or oceans; you may prefer to be projected into the future, or back to Renaissance, medieval or Biblical times; you may also choose the body of a man, woman, child or foetus; some men find feminine energy more healing and prefer to take that avatar. Many people feel empowered by ancient cultures, and visualize powerful symbols such as the Ankh, Taijitu, Alpha, or OM.” The man was dazzled by all of this.

Liz continued, “You will be immersed in the world of your choice for twenty four hours, while nanobots modify and replace your defective cells. You will wake up feeling better than ever. How does that sound?”

Liz saw the thrill in the patient’s eyes. These HEAL machines almost made you want to be sick.