All Those White Blood Cells

Watching a body show on TV a week ago and the presenter was showing how rapidly white blood cells are manufactured when the body is under stress. She was trussed into a belaying harness, her hands tied together, and then belayed from the ceiling of a multi-gallery concert hall. I don’t know how far she dropped before the belayer stopped her a few metres above the floor, but she was pretty pasty looking when they got to her.

They’d taken blood samples just before the drop, and more within seconds of the drop. The second sample showed an order of magnitude increase in white blood cells. The difference was so dramatic that it was difficult to take it in. Her body was under so much stress that somewhere inside her system knew there was damage coming up, and that means infection, and that requires white blood cells. It was done in less than ten seconds.

OK, now let’s go to the Women’s Water Polo bronze medal playoff in Beijing. It’s Australia against Hungary. Score is 7-7. Two periods of extra time take the score to 9-9. Now it requires a shootout, best of five in singles throws for each team.

Australia throws first, Hungary deflects. Hungary throws, Australia deflects. Australia throws, Hungary deflects. Hungary throws and scores. And that is when something really happened. My heat starts pumping harder. My breathing stops. My skin goes sweaty. Life is not so comfortable for me. I am under threat. You know what this means? It means in ten seconds I am going to have millions of more white blood cells pumping around my body.

Who would have guessed that watching women play water polo could be so good for your health?

Oh yeah, Australia went on to win the shootout by one shot. Bronze medal to us.

I’m feeling better now.

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