Years ago my friend Leslie invited me for a bike ride on the Silver Comet Trail in suburban Atlanta. We set off from the Cooper Lake entry point. He had a very good road bike. I had one of those with sturdy frames and fat tires that you purchase for fifteen bucks at Walmart. It soon occurred to me my bike was meant for a different purpose and track. After 1.5 miles slogging on my friction laden bike, it was only reasonable to stop my embarrassment and also set Leslie free from his long suffering. We turned round and returned to our vehicles, and, homes.
Four days later, I found a bicycle shop on Roswell Road, just south of Wieuca Road around Chastain Park. This nice afternoon, I purchased a fiberglass, time-test bike for thirty five hundred dollars and returned to Silver Comet Trail.
This was in 2003.
Before my last visit to this track, the last time I remembered being on a bike was as a kid, and it ended with stitches to my left lower eyelid. But, I have grown, and now I was ready to tell Lance Armstrong to catch me if he could. Seven miles down track, I was still on my bike, loving it too. I became complacent, looking sideways taking in squirrels scurrying around. My bike followed my gaze leftward, and to my horror, off the middle of the paved track, towards the bushes. I crashed moments later, leaving a strip of skin off of my left elbow on the paved trail. My two hours old bike's seat broke off its fiberglass moorings to the frame leaving jagged ends, to seat on which would have been unwise. Bloodied and without a functional ride, I picked my broken bike and walked about a quarter mile to take refuge in an abandoned rail coach while my rescue came.
But, I would return to this trail many more times. I paid more attention and improved my abilities. I would start from Cooper Lake and round trip fifty-two miles. It was going well for twelve weeks, three times a week, in addition to my daily one hour workouts.
Then, I noticed that my speed was slowing despite my efforts to increase it. There were other issues too, but my-eureka moment came one Saturday: My only-to-do was lay in bed alone and rest, watching TV. By three o'clock in bright afternoon, I was no longer able to see clearly the images on TV. I was alarmed and scarred but an earlier knowledge bubbled back to me. Could this be a case of night blindness? I picked up a book and attempted to see and read the words, but, every word was blurred. From a nearby Kroger supermarket, I purchased vitamin A gel-caps and drove back home; where the TV images and the written texts were still blurred. Forty thousand international units of Vitamin A and five minutes was all it took to restore my vision perfectly.
Just like God said I should, I rested next day, Sunday. On Monday, I went to my office and the first thing that I did was grab my PDR [Physician's Desk Reference] and I was looking for vitamin A.
So here, now, let's game out seven scenarios:
1. You have been out, frequently, sampling the alcoholic products of Tennessee and Napa Valley. Sometimes on your Saturdays, or any day for that matter, you decide to leave your bed and your room and walk a few yards to your kitchen. Half way there, you forget what you were going to the kitchen to do. You stop, confused, annoyed, and worse, terrified. You may have Korsakoff's psychosis. Before you decide to get with your shrink to get the electroconvulsive therapy or worse, you may want to ditch JD and Merlots and improve on your micronutrients, particularly vitamins and its retinoic acid component. Your mind is a valuable thing and needs vitamin A to function.
2. What if you got to the kitchen, your short term memory intact, new beer secured, you returned to your bed and TV, and Tom Brokaw's voice telling of the twenty thousand plagues of the world, but his image is blurry? You rubbed your eyes vigorously and saw worse. Images, days earlier, on a bright sunny afternoon, you now recall, looked surprisingly gray and charcoal tinged. Night blindness conveys of a condition which only happens at night. In reality, it is the descriptive name for a condition in which the rods-and-cones cells in one's retina lack vitamin A needed for human vision. Your eyes depend very much on vitamin A, which extreme, unchecked, deficiency of - Keratomalacia, completely destroys the eyes.
3. Sensible exercise is good. But it comes with wear and tear. Fats, carbs, proteins and minerals are not enough. Vitamins are essential. Have you recently developed a repetitive need to clear your throat? Before your latest toy, your throat was dry. The lining cells of our bodies, or epithelia, multiply rapidly, repairing constant wear and tear. Vitamin A is needed.
4. It is your lazy day and you and your wife are feeling Fifty-Shades-of-Grayish. So, you engage. Thirty minutes and counting, you, the man, are still working on your passions, impressed with your staying power. Your wife, long since sated, played along now, a good sport, to allow you to ditch your cargo. But none is forthcoming. Spermatogenesis also needs you to regularly eat some carrots to make your lazy afternoons, ahhm, productive.
5. Or, you, the gal, are the bike-riding gym rat. Your grand-mother has been giving you the "when is the baby coming?" eyes. Your guy has been around, dutifully visiting, exploring and leaving his contributions inside your Netherlands. Was it possible you are not getting pregnant or miscarrying early? Inability to get pregnant or carry the pregnancy to viability have many differing causes. Please visit your Gynecologist; enquire also about vitamin A before you plan on going to steal a baby from Anywhere-Hospital's Labor and Delivery.
6. You hate bicycles but nonetheless fanatical about basketball. Now, moving back to the future, you develop acne anew. Acne was supposed to be the peanut-butter-gobbling, cheese-abusing teenager's scourge. Although the myth is that the material escaping from your pimple is excess peanut and cheese: Rather, in avitaminosis A, your skin's epithelium is unhealthy, with the pores to your skin's oily, sebaceous glands, clogged.
7. Could it impact your immunity against germs? Your epithelial linings [on your skin, gut, lungs passages], serve to separate your body from invader germs. When you leave a skin strip on the asphalt of your Silver-Comet-Trail, you open a door for germs. Vitamin-dependent epithelium is your first barrier of protection.
Talking about immunity: It is "a very valuable thing. It is the same thing you need to get from your district attorney if you must rat out your friends for the crimes you committed together . It is also the valuable commodity that you might get if a rabid Rottweiler bit you in the ass and you lived to see rabies again, and again hope to live. Immunity is indeed a valuable thing." (from "Herd Immunity").
Chudi C. Nwawka,
Author of Herd Immunity
- Chudi Nwawka uses a fictitious story to present how herd immunity is effective and the serious need for it. His medical knowledge and background is expressed within the novel, providing insight on the smallpox virus and the importance of vaccinations.
Chudi Nwawka is a practicing obstetrician and gynecologist in Illinois. He received his Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. Studying germs and defense against germs are the building blocks in any medical profession, so it is no wonder Nwawka felt compelled to write on the subject of immunology.
By Chudi C. Nwawka M.D.
Published March 17, 2009