X-ray images are supposed to be revealing, enlightening. They bring to the surface that which is not seen but often felt. In my case, this one crippled where only nuisance once stood.
A few weeks ago, I decided to find out why my foot hurt and get it fixed. It was all part of my new year resolution to really explore and learn about movement and physical activity, with the aim of being more active.
X-ray images are now digitised. No more carrying around bulky films, advertising where you’ve been. You now discreetly log in to a website, enter a password and see something of your insides in low resolution.
I saw monstrous things attacking my big toe.
It stopped me in my tracks.
The silliness is not that I was happily skipping rope, climbing hills and taking long walks before I saw the x-ray, albeit in some pain. The silliness is that now I couldn’t do any of those things. The pain hadn’t changed. No-one told me not to do those things. I didn’t understand why I stopped.
I stumbled upon the Radio National broadcast “Unlocking the secrets of the brain”. The scientist said that the brain “… turns out to be thousandsfold more complicated …” than previously thought . Isn’t that a great word? Thousand-s-fold.
Apparently, there are thousands of proteins stuck together like little machines, residing at the ends of our synapses, and these machines are processing stuff 24/7. Just imagine the network inside each machine. Thousands of proteins means thousands upon thousands of possible connections coding each message and sending it on to its synaptic neighbour.
“I think they’re supposed to be there,” my doctor said. It’s a worry when your doctor uses the phrase “I think” when referring to the human skeleton. Surely, doctors are supposed to know.
The embarrassing bit is that my memory remembers the monsters as pointy and sharp when I looked at them on my computer. That’s what I remember seeing. When I looked at the doctor’s computer, I saw instead knobbly and rounded.
The doctor pointed again at the high resolution image. Just barely visible on the side of my toe were the shadows of pain. The tiniest wisps of light. Delicately misplaced.
Somewhere in that mass of protein machines in my brian there’d been a mis-coded response to my x-ray, creating a barrier against action.
Thankfully, after giving that barrier a bit of a push, ie seeing the x-ray through informed eyes, I can report that those protein machines finally managed to get the coding right. I’m out walking again.
The Edinburgh-based researchers have their own website: http://www.genes2cognition.org/