Friday, March 18, 2005

Paul was an enterprising platelet. He didn't want to be just another cell sticking around. He wanted to be a special cell. After all, wasn't he the offspring of the same progenitor megakaryocyte as Benjamin, the platelet who started the clot that closed off that bleeder in the lesser curvature last month? After all, the host would have died if not for that.

Realizing that he only had a week to work, he found a convenient rough spot on one of the leaflets of the aortic valve. What better place to set up business than a nice comfortable little vegetation?

"RIDE THE TURBULENCE!" the first sign said. Being very safety conscious, and not wanted to endanger any immature thrombocytes, he also put up a sign that read, "You must be at least this adherent to ride this ride."

Alright, in business! The other platelets were coming along for the ride. Everybody wanted to be the first piece of thrombus to embolize and "ride the turbulence." The first embolus ripped off and roared around the curve, heading down the descending aorta.

What a rush! How exciting to be a part of the clot!

"OH MY GOSH!" The humanity!! Those cursed natural defenses!

Tissue plasminogen and it's activators!

Hundreds of thousands of perfectly good thrombocytes, minding their own business, just out for a little fun and trashed like this!

But Paul is determined to have an effect in this world body. Laying down another platform of platelet chemotactic attractants, he soon has another thrombus waiting to embolize.

This new embolus "Rides The Curve" like the one before it, shooting off down the "Big Tube" for one of the best thrill rides ever. Wedging into the superior mesenteric artery and setting up a new base for thrombus! Every little platelet's dream realized.

High on success, and only 1 day from senescense, Paul joins the next embolus to go. Being an experienced guide, Paul manages to steer this one into the brachiocephalic. What a coup! None of the other outfitters have ever been able to steer into this side. They usually shoot for the easier route into the left side.

Rocketing cephalic, the embolus flips into the right common carotid. The crowd goes wild! This one may make the big time.

Knowing this body manager's proclivity for bacon and processed fats, Paul is concerned that he may not make it out of the carotid. Cursed Stenosis!

What's this, only 50% stenosis? We may make it!

Deftly guiding this raft through the opening, Paul manages to navigate into the internal carotid and from there into the middle cerebral artery. As this is the most popular ride in the body, this is not a small embolus.

End of the ride. Now wedged in the atherosclerotic MCA, Paul organizes his fellow thrombocytes to recruit the clotting pathway. Now, was this intrinsic or extrinsic? Do I ask for Factor XII or Factor VII? Whatever, let's clot!

Eventually finding his way into the common clotting pathway, Paul calls for cleavage!

No, not that kind, cleavage of fibrinogen to fibrin monomer. Now get in there and coalesce fibrin monomer to fibrin polymer. Or whatever.

With a lifespan of 7 days, what does Paul care about hemiparesis, faciobrachial paresis, athetosis, chorea and dystonia?

Let's just have a good time!

A platelet's gotta do what a platelet's gotta do!