The Messengers

the-pigeon-post

 

Down the ages messages and messengers have always been crucial in conquests and the winning of wars.
I think of fast runners, who were sent to convey important messages to kings or enemies in the duration of conflict.
During the Roman times, pigeons were used as messengers.  The rider on horseback was called in to swiftly take messages to far off places.  And the Stage coach service that carried passengers goods and letters.

bike-blog-postman-cycling-001

Then came the postal service and the trusty postman on his bicycle delivering  good old-fashioned and personal snail-mail.

Now we have the internet and email  – trillions of messages, information and advertisements sent at a 1,000 times the speed of persistency.

internet globe

The messengers have come a long way in a very short space of time !

But I want to bring our attention to the unseen and hidden messengers.
I have been reading up on hormones !  Yes, mysterious, sometimes troublesome, often incomprehensible hormones, and have discovered that hormones are hidden but very important messengers too.
I  would like to share with you what I have gleaned from my readings and my impressions of the work of these hidden messengers.

Before I continue, I must mention two other attempts at understanding anatomy, and at the same time make a humble confession of my prolixity.    When I stumble onto something I tend to go fetch it at length.
You will see fine examples of my prolixity in my previous posts
From Menial to Magnificent, when I discovered the wonders of the circulatory system of  blood, and also in The First Line of Defence, when I groped for knowledge of the Immune system and nutrition.
I am trying to curb this inter-twining writing style, but until then please bear with me, as I try again to be more concise on the subject in question.

But to the point of this post then …. finally !

I have read different approaches to the subject of hormones so that I could piece the writings together for more clarity and understanding.

Again, we have come along way in a relevantly short space of time, in the knowledge and understanding of the human anatomy, as I gleaned from the snippets taken from Dr Alan L Gillen’s book Body by Design  ISBN: 0-89051-296-5  Publisher : Masterbooks

Hormones – the body in balance.
In 1902 the British physiologist Ernest Starling discovered hormones.   Historically (1923) he was also the first scientist to use the metaphor of wisdom in the inward parts to characterise the body in balance….

……   he spoke about the regulation of body processes, their adaptability, and the contribution of hormones that integrated signals and provided balance through feedback.
For his epigraph, Starling chose a verse from the Book of Job  38:36|
Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts.

…….. Walter Cannon coined the term homeostasis in his book The Wisdom of the Body and built upon Starling’s theory of homeostasis : when he described this as a condition of uniformity that results from adjustment of living things to changes in their environment.
He described detail physiological mechanisms for this coordinated regulatory balance.

….Physicians have long recognised that the body must be in chemical balance to stay healthy.   If one chemical variable in the human body gets out of balance, then disorder, disease and even death may result.

Dr Alan Gillen says …   “Indeed, the Creator put wisdom in the inward parts (Job 38:36)   This wisdom is evident in the process of homeostasis : balance, order, regulation and chemical feedback.
It is the Creator who has given understanding to the mind of man as he has discovered the laws that the Creator set in motion in the human body.

In the Endocrine system its glands and hormones we find a plan, purpose and design to maintain our health and wellness.

 

The next  illustration     (ref : clickmypicture.com/functions-of-endocrine/)
crisply and simply displays the positions and functions of the glands that make up the endocrine system, that houses these chemical messengers.

 

functions-of-endocrine

 

A little reading done at  http://www.ikonet.com/en/visualdictionary/static/us/hormones
gives a clear and brief description of the body’s hormones :

Hormones : the body’s chemical messengers.
The human body secretes and circulates some 50 different hormones.    A wide variety of these chemical substances are produced by endocrine cells, most of which are in the glands.   The hormones then enter the blood system to circulate throughout the body and active target cells.

The Endocrine system tightly linked to the Nervous system, controls large number of the body’s functions :
metabolism,   homeostasis,  growth, sexual activity and contraction of the smooth and cardiac muscles.

The Endocrine system is composed of 9 specialised glands.
The endocrine glands : the pituitary, the thyroid, the four parathyroids, the two adrenals and the thymus,
and the number of organs capable of producing hormones include the pancreas, heart, kidneys, ovaries testicles and intestines.

The hypothalamus, which is not a gland but a nerve centre, also plays a major role in the synthesis of hormonal factors.
The hypothalamus and the pituitary gland  are the control centres of the endocrine system.

The Endocrine system is linked to the Nervous system, which regulates our feelings, our emotions, our internal universe.   One act of kindness can release a chemical called oxytocin, they call it a love hormone.   Some say that the four basic emotions are Love, Fear, Joy and Sadness,  with all their derivatives.  The stimuli (data) from our outer environment is processed and messages sent to cells for responses and reactions to interpret the situation .   So hormones get to become very personal now.

The Nervous System is an orchestration of mystery and wonder, but to simply understand how the mechanics of it works I now refer to  David R Hamilton’s book Why Kindness is Good for You.  ISBN978-1-8485-178-2 Printed and published by Hay House SA (Pty) Ltd.

How it works :

Neuropeptides
The way it works is that chemicals known as neuropeptides are continually manufactured in an area of the brain known as the Hypothalamus.   From there, many flow into the Pituitary gland and are released into the bloodstream in response to our thoughts and emotions.

….  Another way to think of it, less colourful but slightly more accurate, is to think of the neuropeptide as a space shuttle.   For it to dock onto a space station, which would be the cell for this analogy, its docking port has to be the same shape as the docking port on the station.    When it docks, an astronaut could walk into the space station and enter new information into it computers.

In the same way, a neuropeptide fits into its receptor and passes information to the cell, entering new instructions into is ‘computer’, which, for this analogy, is the DNA.   So some of the information activates or deactivates genes.

 

There is of course much more on hormones, but sufficient for now, or else I will be guilty of information overload.

The hidden but honourable hormone is so necessary in triggering messages to cells to maintaining our body maintenance (homeostasis)  for on-going orderly health and well-being in our bodily forms and functions.

So,  hooray for hormones, and now you know part of the reason why you are so much more than just a pretty or good-looking face !!   We are talking walking miracles  precisely designed and engineered –  and infused with wisdom for health and well-being!

But the most important message is to discover, to know and to appreciate God’s wonderful Mind in the design of the human body, and the miracle of how our bodies function in complimentary harmony to keep us healthy, happy and sane.
There are hidden messages in the Bible that reveal the wonders of His Mind and of His created works.  If we would but just go and read about it, how astonishing will the revelations be that He has for us, to then become for us the secrets of wisdom.  (Job 11:6)

Amazing in design, by an amazing Mind of an Amazing God – is the human body.    We can only but stand in awe and in wondered reverence of His crowning creation – which is you … and me.   Hallelujah.

So …  we are pretty and awesome, and that is Pretty Awesome in the grand scale of hormones, would you agree ?

 

From Menial to Magnificent

 

skeleton

Hoarding is one thing.   That is easy.  Cleaning out is another,  not an easy thing for me.   But the day comes when the small menial tasks need to be done.  And the Bible says  do not despise the day of small things.

I have been labelled a hoarder, and although I don’t totally agree with that,  well at best then, a recovering hoarder ?   I  have yet a long way to go.   How some people can ruthlessly throw out their sort-after possessions beats me.   I don’t easily throw things away. This may just be a throw-back from my frugal upbringing.  I have learnt overtime  though, to surreptitiously absorb excess into my domain.  Like any good South African taxi driver will say  …  there is always room for one more !!

Taxi

I am learning to de-clutter, but not so much with my papers on words and writings.    And come the first month of the year I seem to have an automatic resolve to go through all my “papers and writings” – these precious snippets of wisdom that I have collected.  I usually make little piles of the favourites and then keep them in a special box – for next year’s clean out !  It’s hard for me to discard “old friends”.

I am so glad I do this, for if I had to be ruthless with my wisdom collection I would never have re-discovered the amazing snippets taken from Philip Yancey’s book on Dr Paul Brand, and his insight on the power of the blood, which I had re-written on a piece of notepaper and kept !

The book :  In the Likeness of God.  The Dr Paul Brand Tribute Edition of  Fearfully and Wonderfully Made  and  In His Image.   ISBN 0-310-25905-3 Zondervan

Read and marvel with me, as he describes the red blood that runs through all our veins.

Blood cells

But first, allow me to introduce you to Dr Brand, then you will have an appreciation of his insight and his writing.
And incidentally, notice how Philip Yancey describes, in the Preface of the book, how he had learned about Dr Paul Brand in the first place !

…”my wife cleaned out the closet of a medical-supply house and in the process stumbles across an intriguing essay he had written on “The Gift of Pain”

And further on in the book he writes …

“….  I can imagine God taking great delight in steering me to Dr Brand
(through my wife’s serendipitous discovery of his essay in a closet, of course) at a critical time in my spiritual journey.

pink feather duster

Aha !!! – So there is value in hoarding … and, value too in cleaning out, and good housekeeping,  that can take us from the menial to the magnificent !  Discoveries and re-discoveries, as I had just made.

Meet Dr Paul Brand, both a good and great man…. but allow Mr Yancey to express in his own words from the book :

” An orthopedic surgeon, Dr Brand had spent most of his medical career in India, where he made a dramatic discovery about leprosy, one of the oldest and most feared diseases.  Careful research convinced him that the terrible manifestations of the cruel disease – missing toes and fingers, blindness, ulcers, facial deformities – all trace back to the single cause of painlessness.  Leprosy silences nerve cells, and as a result its victims unwittingly destroy themselves, bit by bit, because they cannot feel pain.  When he moved to a high-tech laboratory in the United States, he applied what he had learned about painlessness to other diseases, such as diabetes, thus helping to prevent tens of thousands of amputations each year”  ……..

“… The conversations that stand out sharpest to me now are those in which he recalled individual patients, “nobodies” on whom he had lavished medical attention.  When he began his pioneering work, he was the only orthopedic surgeon in the world working among fifteen million victims of leprosy.  He and Margaret (his wife) performed several dozen surgical procedures on some of these patients, restoring rigid claws into usable hands through innovative tendon transfers, remaking feet, forestalling blindness, transplanting eyebrow, fashioning new noses.
He told me of his patients’ family histories, the awful rejection they had experience as the disease presented itself, the trial-and-error treatments of doctor and patient experimenting together.   Almost always his eyes would moisten and he would wipe away tears as he remembered their suffering.   To him these, among the most neglected people on earth, were not nobodies, but people made in the image of God,and he devoted his life to try to honour that image.”

“Most impressive to me, the wisest and most brilliant man I have ever met devoted much of his life to some of the lowest people on the planet : members of the Untouchable cast in India afflicted with leprosy.”…….

“Dr Brand described his writing journey this way : “In a sense we doctors are like employees at the complaint desk of a large department store.   We tend to get a biased view of the quality of the product when we hear about its aches and pains all day.   In this little manuscript, which I set aside long ago,
I tried instead to pause and wonder at what God made, the human body. ” ...

Indeed Philip Yancey’s book captures, apart from the life and insights of Dr Paul Brand,  also the comparison of the human body to that of the Body of Christ.

The notes that I had taken  from the book were on the chapter on the blood.  I will try to compose the snippets in such a way that will show the magnificence of the life-giving blood that runs unceremoniously through our veins every moment of the day, every moment of our lives.

Just to elaborate a little,  an incident occurred  at the Connaught Hospital where a young beautiful accident victim was wheeled into his ward. Dr Brand at first could not feel a pulse, and thought she was dead.  Then he witnessed how she came back to life as new blood was administered to her,  as the blood began to flow through her veins.

”  That young woman entered my life for only an hour or so, but the experience left me utterly changed.   I had seen a miracle : a corpse resurrected, the creation of Eve when breath entered into and animated her body.  If medicine,   if blood  could do this… “

This incident change the course of Dr Brand’s life.

The following  extracts are what brought me to the brink of astonishment, as I read about the miracle and power of blood.

” For most of us, the organ of blood, if one can think of this fluid mass as an organ, comes to consciousness mainly when we begin to lose it.  Then, the sight of it in tinted urine, a nosebleed, or a weeping wound provokes alarm.   We miss the dramatic sense of blood’s power that I saw demonstrated in the Connaught patient – the power that sustains our lives at every moment   ……… ”

” …..  perhaps a technological metaphor would serve best today.
Imagine an enormous tube snaking southward from Canada through the Amazon delta, plunging into oceans  only to surface at every inhabited island  …… ”

” Such a pipeline exists inside each one of us, servicing not six billion but one hundred trillion cells in the human body.   An endless supply of oxygen, amino acids, nitrogen, sodium, potassium, calcium, magnesium, sugars, lipids, cholesterol, and hormones surges past our cells, carried on blood cell rafts or suspended in the fluid.   Each cell has special withdrawal privileges to gather the resources needed to fuel a tiny engine for its complex chemical reactions.
In addition, that same pipeline ferries away refuse, exhaust gasses, and worn-out chemicals.   In the interest of economical transport, the body dissolves its vital substances into a liquid (much as a coal is shipped more efficiently through a slurry pipeline than by truck or train)   Five or six quarts of this all-purpose fluid suffice for the body’s hundred trillion cells.”

“… What the telescope does to nearby galaxies, the microscope does to a drop of blood  :  it unveils the staggering reality.   A speck of blood the size of this letter “o”  contains 5,000,000 red cells,  300,000 platelets and  7,000 white cells.   The fluid is actually an ocean stock with living matter…”

”  A view through a microscope clarifies the various components of blood but gives no picture of the daily frenzy encountered by each cell….

”  Sixty thousand miles of blood vessels link every living cell, even the blood vessels themselves are fed by blood vessels…. ”

”  An average red cell endures the cycle of loading, unloading, and jostling through the body for a half million round trips over four months…”

” The components of this circulatory system cooperate to accomplish a simple goal : nourishing and cleansing each living cell.   If any part of the network breaks down – the heart takes an unscheduled rest, a clot overgrows and blocks an artery, a defect diminished the red cells’ oxygen capacity – life ebbs away.  The brain, master of the body, can survive intact only five minutes without replenishment.”

”  The drama of resurrection enacted before me in Connaught Hospital takes place without fanfare in each heartbeat of a healthy human being.   Every cell in every body lives at the mercy of blood.” 

One can only but stand in awe of the miracle of who were truly are – God’s intricate and magnificent workmanship – the human body.

Human body systems

Saint Augustine said   “Men go abroad to wonder at the height of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motion of the stars;  and they pass by themselves without wondering.”

 

We can assuredly agree with Psalmist of 139  where he glorifies God with these words

You created my inmost being, you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
 I praise you because I fearfully and wonderfully made. 

 

three butterflies