Saturday, 6 August 2011

Dr Choccy and The Loris (Anaemia Saga) part 2: The case of the disappearing Goblins

Well now, I promised the next instalment of the Dr Choccy and the Loris (Anaemia Saga) did I not?

OK, so in part 1 we learned that the GP I saw was as useful as a....
Yes, that's right, a Chocolate Teapot!
© Dave Ansell, The Naked Scientists

Just very quietly. ;)

In this part, Part the Second, I'm going to give you the low-down on the kind of anaemia (<-- this is the proper spelling, by the way) I had, namely, Iron-Deficiency Anaemia - that was caused by the Bloody Nightmare... We shall enter into the wonderful world of Loris Land, whereupon we shall find Haemo Goblins, Myo Goblins, Ferrets, Corpus Kewls, the Claret Corps and Oxygen; and we will maybe learn a bit about what makes even the teensiest parts of our Mortal Coils so utterly amazing (and THIS is why God is just so very, very worthy of our praise!).

pseudoTaxon. Genus. Goblinus, species haemo
Vernacular: Haemo Goblins
©The Loris, 2011
One fine day in Loris Land there was a sudden upset when it was discovered that some wayward Ferrets had had a major falling out with some of the Goblins, resulting in them no longer hanging out together and this FeGang even stopped more Ferrets arriving. The row started with the Haemo Goblins and, as the Ferrets disappeared, some of the Haemo Goblins either withered away or wandered evermore aimlessly along various highways on the sixty-thousand mile round-trip through the capillaries, veins and arteries of Loris Land .

Could these be the Ferrets what have caused a lot of the problems...?
The monstrous FeGang?
picture © Larissa Allen, 2008

pseudoTaxon. Genus. Goblinus, species myo
Vernacular: Myo Goblins
NB This is an oversized Myo Goblin, in his hydration shell
©The Loris, 2011
“Oh, dear, look at those poor Haemos. The Ferrets really have messed about this time. So glad that we are getting no trouble from the FeGang!” Crowed some of the Myo Goblins, who liked to hang out in the striated plains of the Loris’s muscles (obviously these were not lush plains).  But the bothersome FeGang had not finished wreaking their havoc so they stopped co-operating with the Myo Goblins too.

Eventually some of the Haemo Goblins packed up their protenaceous homes and left their Corpus Kewls for good. It was not long before the Myo Goblins did the same. Thus the dreaded Anaemia set in. It had been shooting threatening glances at Loris Land since the Bloody Nightmare began, but now, with the Myo Goblins leaching, the Loris faded fast. 

The remaining Corpus Kewls in the Claret Corps were really struggling to keep up the O2 deliveries. They were not amused at Wombwall’s extravagant demands, and were really rather furious with the Racemate known as Farrawin, who was responsible for masterminding those demands. All was not peace in Loris Land.

A few days later a Wampyr took some of the Claret Corps to one side and sent them off for tests at the Lab. At last the extent of the troublesome FeGang’s damages and deeds were exposed and the Loris was sent to The Hospital, where she was told that reinforcements were on their way to Loris Land.

Sure enough, a few days later, Loris Land was happy to welcome the arrival of some fresh-faced, better-behaved and much more friendly Ferrets and two whole new Companies of the Claret Corps (these guys were donated by an Unknown Wayfaring Stranger to whom TL sends a great many thanks - thanks were sent via Jesus, OK?). Things were most definitely looking much brighter in Loris Land. And the Loris could at last breathe a proper sigh of relief and a prayer of gratitude! 

The End.

Or, for those of you with less of a penchant for the slightly more random, visual or imagination-provoking explanations, well, OK, the slightly more succinct, medical, explanation follows for you miserable Grown-Ups out there (I know there are some "out there, somewhere"). ;]

****Disclaimery bit****
All of the information I'm about to mention regarding ANY of the medical stuff is what I already know from gleanings over the decades... If you have concerns for your own health go to your GP. :) If you have concerns for mine, well, what can I say? Save up to buy me some land so I can build a house on it and have you all round for tea....
****end of disclaimery bit****

"Anaemia" means (translating literally from the Greek) "lack of blood". This translates practically into either less red blood cells ("RBCs") in the blood stream, or less Haemoglobin (Hb) in the RBCs  which then means that the blood is no longer functioning efficiently. The reduction in available Hb  (either through there being less cells or just less Hb itself) means that there is less Oxygen (O) being picked up in the lungs and delivered to the body. (Hb is the substance that oxygen molecules bind to in the RBCs in a wonderfully complex and co-operative manner - I'll spare you the very complicated chemistry, but it's important to understand where the iron fits in and why a lack of it can cause anaemia. 

Haemoglobin is a large, complex protein. It has a quaternary structure (which sort of means it's got four levels of complexity - first, the primary structure is the chain of atoms that make the protein, the secondary structure forms as the hydrogen bonds start linking and cause the whole molecule to coil, the tertiary structure of haemoglobin is determined by the haem molecule, that is to say, a protein with the iron in it, and the fourth level, the quaternary structure of Hb molecules is that, like other massive proteins like this, there are four coils - formed from alpha and beta chains, there are two alphas and two betas, but that is enough for my brain...)

Instead, here's a lovely picture of one of the four globs of haemoglobin, carrying oxygen, by Dr Anna Tanczos at the University of Surrey)

Hb molecule with the haem group
(protein in green, Iron, (Fe) molecule in red) carrying O2 (in blue)
© Anna Tanczos @ University of Surrey

Iron is a key factor (let's call it an 'ingredient') that goes into the making of haemoglobin, so a lack of iron availability in the body can cause the kinds of crises like anaemia to really knock a person for six. 

By now, the haem-less RBCs are no longer picking up oxygen and less oxygen eventually means less energy →  breathlessness → fluid retention → increased heart rate → exhaustion, and in my experience, quite a lot of pain as the muscles start  to work anaerobically (without oxygen) which causes an increase in lactic acid production and can cause cramps or just stop the muscles moving altogether. It is not pleasant.

Unit 1 of 2  of the Claret Corps
©The Loris, 2011
Treatment is fairly simple really – normally it’s either to get more Red Blood cells in or top up the Iron levels with i.v. iron. In my cause it was a combination of low Hb and low Fe that meant this time I had two pints of Claret and a bag of rusty nails (oops, a bag of iron – in saline) to kickstart the system.

The somewhat *coughexciting(alarming) *cough* experience is recorded fully in Part the Third, which is coming up in the next post. :)

 Take care, and remember to eat your greens (except do not eat people called "Green" for that is wrong. That is cannibalism and very, very naughty)!




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