The body is an amazing creation! We have millions of nerve cells in our brains and the number of connections is innumerable. We form memories and create ideas, yet there is no surgeon who can hold a memory or idea in his or her hand upon entering the brain. That thought is overwhelming, and it is for those reasons that I choose to believe in God as the Creator of everything.
Another fascinating feature of the body is the ability to defend itself. The body can be likened to a well-oiled machine with several defence tactics aimed at keeping itself in prime working order. The skin, the lymph nodes, hair in the ears and nose and eyelashes are all members of this fearsome army that really never sleeps, even when we do.
Since the advancement of astrophysics and microbiology we have only begun to unearth the way the immune system functions as seemingly more and more information comes to light daily. To avoid overwhelming us all, I will share just the basics.
When a foreign substance enters the body, the immune system is triggered. The immune system normally protects the body from harmful substances such as toxins or bacteria. Sometimes, the immune system ‘overreacts’ to harmless substances and a hypersensitivity or allergic reaction occurs. Anything can be an allergen which triggers the immune reaction. Drugs, foods such as nuts and shellfish, insect bites and animal dander are common allergens.
Signs of an allergic reaction include a rash which may be confined to a specific area such as the face; it can be all over the body in the case of wheals (yes, that is the correct spelling); red, itching, runny eyes and a runny nose; swelling of the eyes or lips. Some allergic reactions can be severe and involve the entire body with narrowing of the airways (throat and windpipe) along with other symptoms mentioned previously. This type of allergic reaction is a medical emergency and can lead to death if not managed quickly. If you think you may be having an allergic reaction, you should get medical help urgently.
I confess I have some allergies. I am allergic to ‘last minute’ and ‘inefficiency’. It is a diagnosis which I have had for several years now but I am unable to get away from the symptoms as I keep getting exposed to the ‘allergens’ over and over again.
Once, I was performing a business transaction and there was a particular form which needed to be stamped and signed. I presented myself to the area I was informed I should go and placed my form on the counter after a bright and chirpy greeting to the employee. My world changed in a matter of moments as the employee informed me that the individual who needed to stamp my form was absent that day, and that I would need to return.
I wondered to myself whether the absent individual had a particular way of holding and coaxing the stamp which was more efficient than another employee, or whether he or she was the only one with the necessary skills to stamp a form. I stood there for a few moments in shock and headache-initiating awe as I tried to process the inefficiency I had just encountered.
Whilst I did not have hives, I certainly had the eye watering and probably closure of the airways as no sound could come from my mouth. Perhaps that was a good thing.
It is with a mind-boggling frequency that we encounter inefficiency in our fair land – the number of desks a particular application must pass through for approval, and the inordinately long time one has to wait for said approval. It is not without great ire that as consumers we stand in lines and watch employees chat and check cell phones being passed around with an alacrity that should be transferred to the work at hand.
Another example would be the planning of a function, for example, a church service, graduation or even a wedding. At the end of the catastrophe that obtained, it would have been apparent to all that clearly there was an inefficient use of time and resources.
Should I speak about the number of reportedly qualified persons who are passed over for promotions so as not to offend those whose tenure would be threatened thereby?
I believe what would cause me to have a severe allergic reaction and go into shock would be the inefficiency exhibited by our children with regard to their studies. Thankfully in our country, education to a certain level is still ‘free’ but there is an astounding number of children who do not seem to understand the need for an education. This is borne out by the numbers seen gaily hopping onto buses going in the opposite direction to their schools; those who are still on the streets in The City long after school and extra-curricular activities are finished; those who spend most of the day sitting under trees with like-minded individuals bent on watching their lives go up in smoke, or end prematurely due to violence.
The best way to manage an allergic reaction is to avoid the allergen in the first place. Perhaps there needs to be a review of the standard operating procedures at many of our offices inclusive of the roles and responsibilities of employees. Our children need to be reminded of the sacrifices made for their education and the need for them to be educated as well. Until we get it right, I will walk with my antihistamines!
(Renee Boyce is a medical doctor, a wife, a mother and a Christian, who is committed to Barbados’ development. Email:[email protected])