Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Case of the Gummed Up Railways: Conclusion

And now for the conclusion of this adventure…

            So there I was, playing knight in shining armor to a damsel in distress.  Only, she was a beautiful woman looking out for her husband’s wellbeing and I was just a private detective who wanted to keep on detecting… I knew I’d better wrap this thing up quick so as not to give her man a reason to use me as a punching bag.

            Her story, along with the bits and pieces I’d overheard at the bar, gave me a pretty good idea that something big was going on down in the Metro-tarsal district.  Just to check, I called over to the police station and the guys confirmed my worst fears.  They’d been getting anonymous reports of giant, crystalline structures too, but said that they had cropped up out of the blue to gum up the railways.  Where they’d come from, no one could say, but it seemed like things were worse at night.

            “Hmmm… So Johnny’s eyes didn’t lie,” I thought out loud.

            “What’s that?”

            “Ah, sorry Frank, I’m a confidential investigator.”

            “You private detectives, always keeping us lawmen in the dark.  Just let me know as soon as you find out anything else, ok Jackie-boy?”

             “Yeah sure, you’ll be the first one to know… just, don’t call me that, ever again.”  Phagocytic cops, always trying to let others identify the problem before rushing in to save the day…

            On a hunch, I headed over to the Nephro District to do a little digging around.  From a quick cursory glance, everything looked to be in place.  There were no tubules or molecules out of place, but I knew I needed to get to the source if I was going to find anything worth finding.  And what better place that at the water trough? 

            After searching high and low, I finally located the break room around the back of the building and down a corridor.  I sat next to a worn-out looking glomerulus and asked him if he knew anything about the problems going on with the railways.  He looked at me, incredulous that I would even bother asking about something outside his work, and, ignoring me, quickly went back to work.  Surprised at his shortness, I looked around the room to see if anyone else would be a bit more willing to swap tales. 

“Oh, he’s just been overworked lately, can I help you with anything Mr….” said a voice in the corner belonging to a glomerulus worker of the more talkative variety.

            “Tracer, Jack Tracer, private detective.  I’m just looking into a little matter of gummed up railways and figured I’d start out by asking you guys a few questions since you seem to be pretty good about filtering out any problems in the city.”

            “Hmm… well I don’t know about anything with the railways Mr. Tracer, but we have been seeing a lot of uric acid coming in on the shipments lately.  That’s part of why everyone around here looks so worn out.”

            “You don’t say?  Where are the shipments coming from?”

            “Oh, they come from all over Mr. Tracer, but I believe if you want to get to the bottom of the uric acid issue, you should get in touch with the guys over in the digestion industry.  They’re the ones that process all the purine and send the uric acid on its way.”

            “Interesting… So what happens when there’s too much uric acid around these parts?”

            “Too much?  Oh, well we get overloaded and can’t filter it all out.  Man, I’ll tell ya, you have to be real careful with that stuff or else it’ll start forming crystals in no time flat.”

            “Crystals?  Thank you so much for your time.  You’ve just given me key to solving the riddle my friend!”

            With no time to lose, I called up the city-controller and told him that he had a nasty case of Gout on his hands.  I let him know that he’d better get a professional crew of NSAIDs and Corticosteroids in there quick to clean up or his railways might very well suffer some permanent damage.

            Once matters were all straightened out about what was really to blame for the movement delays, things settled down between the movers and the railwayers.  Mrs. Damsel in Distress got her husband back stress-free and I got a nice bonus from the city controller’s office to compensate me for my trouble.  I’m always a sucker for a pair of beautiful, brown eyes, even if they do belong to a married woman seeking to keep her husband out of trouble.  Seems like I’m always falling for the wrong kind of dame.  Ah well, at least I have my wits to keep me company and change in my pocket for a celebratory cup of bile.  Just this time, hopefully, my quiet corner of the bar will stay quiet.

And that’s all for The Case of the Gummed Up Railways.  Did you guess the disease correctly? 

Medical Morales to Remember:

  • Gout – high uric acid levels that deposit in joints and soft tissue, forming sharp urate crystals
  • Caused by – high levels of purines in the diet and/or decreased filtration of uric acid by the kidneys
  • Signs and Symptoms – red, swollen, inflamed joints (especially big toes), worse at night
  • Complications – formation of kidney stones, tophi (chalky deposits of uric acid under the skin), damage to the joints if poorly managed
  • Treatment – avoid triggering factors, treat as soon as symptoms begin, use of NSAIDs and Corticosteroids to decrease swelling, colchicine, high fluid intake to avoid kidney stones
  • Foods high in Purines (Uric Acid is formed from the breakdown of purines) - organ meats, anchovies, herring, asparagus. mushrooms

Additional Resources:

Tune in next time for the adventures of Jack Tracer – Private Eye when Jack says, “It was a quiet sort of place… too quiet.  The sound of every floorboard that creaked reverberated throughout the abandoned building.  I cautiously crept forward into the darkness.  Then suddenly, I heard a heavy step behind me and as I turned around, whack!  I was knocked out cold with a two by four to the head.  The next thing I knew, I was lying in an alleyway with a gun in my hand, a nasty headache and someone screaming bloody murder.”

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