Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Andromeda Cramp

An early draft of Michael Crichton’s blockbuster sci-fi techno-thriller, The Andromeda Strain?

Hardly. That little dickens was a rogue airborne microbe from outer space that crystallized blood and paralyzed the nervous system within seconds of exposure. Nasty. Yet it mutated into a harmless state by the end of the story, sparing scientists from having to find an antidote before it drifted offshore, the rains (courtesy of DOD cloud-seeding) then carrying it into the sea where it was alkalized into eternal slumber.

How convenient. That was a cakewalk compared to, say, treating Multiple Sclerosis. Strain? I’ll show you strain, damn it. Just try living with muscle spasticity, a combination of feeling stretched on the rack and having two Sumo wrestlers sit on your arms. That codger was on to something with the sterno. Alcohol is a great muscle relaxer, as I’ve discovered many a time while sliding into a squat on the sidewalk after drinking two double scotches. The MS is still there but you care a lot less about it for a couple of hours. Alcohol doesn’t cramp your style or anything else. It’s the live-and-let-live approach to symptom management.

The crying baby, on the other hand, was downright annoying. Too stressy, crying just makes me feel worse. We must stay calm, relaxed, detached, inert, until the scientists find a way to send MS out to sea and dispatch it with a rain cloud.

Here’s one for the Wildfire team: Patient has muscle spasms, pain, spine degeneration, numbness and weakness in all four limbs, the torso, groin, pelvis and neck. Treat the symptoms. You have 96 minutes (same as in the film).

A. Lab rat given one mg baclofen and falls into a coma for five minutes.

B. Lab monkey given ten mg baclofen and laughs uncontrollably for six minutes.

C. Patient given 40 mg baclofen and feels better but is too weak to walk. Falls asleep in fetal position for 80 minutes. Wakes up and cries in pain for five minutes.

Your time is up. Operation aborted.

Damn you, Crichton! You made it look so easy.

1 comment:

  1. I need to try the alcohol thing. Problem is, I only like the "girlie" drinks as my wife calls them.

    Several "girlie" drinks and I'll be dancing to Katy Perry!

    Isn't Michael Crichton dead? TMZ reports he died of writer's cramp.