Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Lost pt 3

Within the body of a healthy adult, microbial cells are estimated to outnumber human cells by a factor of ten to one. These communities, however, remain largely unstudied, leaving almost entirely unknown their influence upon human development, physiology, immunity, and nutrition. 

So who am I anyway? Who are you? The Human Microbiome Project (HMP) currently lists 12,328 micro-organisms in their catalog (ranging from Yersinia pestis to Anopheles gambiae.) These are organisms that have been cultured and made available for research and by no means a complete list of the micro-organisms constituting the Human Microbiome.
I drink my ("my"?) morning cup of coffee. But who lifts "my" hand to the cup? Who is sipping, swallowing, and absorbing the liquid? I suddenly felt like a massive manikin being operated by a confederacy of diminutive creatures. 
Then the kitchen sink became clogged. A dingy pool of water sits over the open drain, stagnant. I take the plunger to the sink and plunge away. A gurgling expectoration ensues and the deep pipes belch up a greasy stew of undigested scraps. The pool slowly (over night) seeps back down and out of sight into the narrow capillaries I imagine that are formed amidst the  waste coagulating in the plumbing.
I run a metal "snake" into the drain and twelve feet down. The clog resists. I go to the hardware store and shop for a longer, thicker, snake to use. While there, I spy a biochemical drain clearing solution. A blend of natural bacteria and enzymes. I dose the drain and wait over night.

That night I meditate on the microbiome of my body repossessing my tooth while the microbiome of my kitchen sink suffers from constipation.

My wife is big on probiotics. I get it. We feed ourselves micro-organisms to keep our microbiome healthy because, after all, not only are we what we eat, we are what is eating what we eat.

The biochemical drain treatment failed. I got a bigger snake. No success. Finally I called the doctor (aka the plumber.) I realize that the plumber is essentially the house doctor who makes house calls because the house can't fit in a typical waiting room for treatment. The plumber performs his version of a household colonoscopy using a very big snake. The drain is clear. 

The money goes away with the problems: to the plumber and the dentist (and the repo man.) I am still confused about where I begin and the world ends. Not only am "I" an expression of millions of micro-organisms outnumbering my human cells, but I am a component of an even larger organism called a house, which takes in food and other materials (the paint I brushed onto the bedroom walls,) processes it through me ("me"?) and the rest of the family and then eliminates it through the various pipes that link it to the larger biome of the neighborhood, the city, the endless infrastructure and skeletal schema of the world.

continue to "Lost Pt. 4" a.k.a "Found"

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