Monday, May 01, 2006

Dear Mr. Ether's Leg....

Hi. I heard that you're having a hard time jumpstarting this whole "regrowth" thing and I thought I'd throw in my two cents.

In order to sound like I might know what I'm talking about, I just reviewed the process of building bone. It's quite an ordeal - there are osteclasts and osteoBlasts (B for building, the "clasts" break it down and reabsorb it) and lots of chemical triggers that we don't full understand. Bone is a living thing - it has a blood supply, nerves and many textures and layers (haversian canals) and it's always changing to adapt. The canals look an awful lot like the rings of a tree, though a tree isn't always able to rebuild itself in times of trauma.

One of my professors in college always loved to tell us the story of how a bone starts out (complete with pictures and x-rays of fairly plain and smooth nondiscript bones from embryos and non-weight bearing infants) and then how it changes... how the grooves form from the muscles pulling and stretching and bearing weight. How the landmarks form - like how the achilles tendon attatchment looks different in a runner and how there can be spurs and how ballet dancers can "shape" their feet (tarsal bones) if they dance en pointe (a form of "new" weight bearing) for years.

Over time the weight bearing (or stress) "lines" change the way that bone "grows." The osteoclasts (after getting the right signal from a pathway a bit too complex to explain here) break down the bone and the osteoblast lay it down again - in a way that benefits the body at that time.

It is that knowledge that leads me to believe that you have it in you to pick up the pace and get going. Grow, grow, grow. I'm not sure what your osteoblasts have been doing but the break is over. The osteoclasts can slow down a bit and enjoy a bit of "off" time; Don't go too far though dear osteoclasts, as the whole growth/destruction thing is a balance. Reshaping requires breaking down AND rebuilding - luck a mini-recylcing process. You've been through quite a shock of breaking and artifical rebuilding and it seems to me that the balance is outta'whack (actual medical term used at one point during my rotation).

So my hope for you is that you rediscover the balance. That the osteoblasts have what they need to reach out into (what used to be familar but is now) unknown territory and that the osteoclasts can (in a very simplified way) provide them with what they need to lay down new bone.

I think you can do it. Prove me right.

your friend in growth and balance,
Kristen

ps: (I will knit for you tomorrow, and the next day and the next....)

6 Comments:

Anonymous melanie said...

outstanding! Mr. E's osteoblasts needed a little pep talk!

7:27 AM  
Blogger margene said...

You have confirmed what made sense to me. Mr. E's bones will have a spurt of growth soon! We'll all make sure it happens!

11:39 AM  
Anonymous Laurie said...

You TELL that bone what to do. Make it listen. The energy currents are all starting to move in the right direction. I'm sure of it.

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Kat said...

Thanks for the explanation. As I knit feverishlyon socks tonight I will be chanting cheers for the osteoblasts.

4:22 PM  
Blogger Jocele said...

Go osteoblasts, go. We remember them the same way. OsteoBlasts Build bone. OsteoClasts cut bone. That's what I use, anyway.

9:54 PM  
Anonymous elisa said...

Best. Post. Ever.

Seriously - I *love* this post.

9:20 PM  

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