The Human Side of Biochem

This is going to be a short post because I’m in the middle of studying for a midterm (yet another one) but during a study break I was thinking about some stuff, so I decided to write a little of it down.

This video (apologies to all my non-Christian readers about it being on Godvine, it’s really not that religious at all) popped up on my newsfeed this afternoon.  Charles Trippy of We the Kings and his wife Alli are quite popular vloggers and have, so I read, been at it for some time.  Mr. Trippy has been fighting an oligodendroglioma for the past year; recently, it became malignant.  

It might be because I’ve been reviewing glycolysis and multi-substrate reactions for such a long time (and, in fact, am planning to stay up well into the night doing the same) but when I was watching that video all I could think about was the science behind everything that Mr. Trippy was doing.  Although I personally find glycolysis very complicated (and I doubt you’d find anyone who would disagree) there’s kind of a “whoa” moment when you realize that you need to perform glycolysis to stay alive.  Constantly.  And the more I learn about biochem, the more I realize that animals, and humans especially, really are living works of art, down to the molecular level.  

Of course, when something goes wrong, it goes really, really wrong.  Cancer does such a number on your body because the affected cells just don’t stop dividing and using up energy.  Of course, once the cancer gets to a certain size, mechanical problems can also result, but out-of-control biochemistry is definitely a big part of it.

When I was little I wanted to be a doctor.  Now I realize that I don’t do well with people when they are stressed or sick.  I burst into tears whenever someone even raises their voice a little.  I live in fear of making people angry or letting them down, and when you’re a doctor (depending on your field) you do a lot of both.

No, I don’t want to be a doctor anymore.  But I am gunning for a field in medicine, particularly research.  I’d like nothing more than to study what I currently am studying for the rest of my life.  The reason for that isn’t abundantly clear when I’m a couple-ten hours into a problem set, looking at diagrams like this:

So it’s important for me to remember, especially since I have one foot in the humanities at all times, that that mess up there eventually turns into this:

You know that saying “death is the great equalizer”?  Well, I’m beginning to think that life is another great equalizer – at least, the bare-bones mechanics of life.  Strip any person down to their bones or down to their glycolytic pathways and they’re all basically the same, all interesting, and all wonderful.