The system

May 18th, 2021

A fable. Or maybe not.

Once upon a time there was a body cell that was in a lot of pain. The pain was quite intense, but the body cell knew from a recent experience that the pain would get even worse. The body cell contained an error. This error had been there for a long time. When the body cell was younger, it had once visited the immune system. Here an immune cell had examined the error. Since there was a chance that the error would never cause any problems, the immune cell had advised to do nothing as long as this was the case.  

Unfortunately, the body cell was not so lucky. A while ago, the body cell suddenly got a lot of pain. Because this had happened at night, the body cell hadn’t reported the pain to the immune system. Fortunately, the pain eventually passed by itself early in the morning. The next morning the body cell had visited the immune system to tell an immune cell what had happened. The immune cell had been strict with the body cell. And had said that at night, throughout the body, the immune system always had stations with immune cells available for emergencies. What happened to the body cell that night was certainly an emergency. The immune cell told the body cell that the sudden pain should have been treated immediately by an immune cell or perhaps even by a specialized immune cell. Fortunately it ended well this time. But the body cell had to promise the immune cell that it would immediately contact the immune system if it happened again. The body cell had said that she hoped this would never happen again. Unfortunately, the immune cell told the body cell that there was a good chance that the pain would return now that the error was no longer stable. The immune cell advised the body cell to visit a specialized immune cell for treatment in the short term. Such a specialized immune cell could try to solve the error. But the body cell was only allowed to go to a specialized immune cell if the dangerous virus, that threatened the entire body, was under control. 

It took much longer than expected to get the dangerous virus under control. So the body cell hadn’t had the opportunity yet to visit a specialized immune cell for treatment. And now things went wrong again. The body cell disliked the situation very much. Why did this have to happen at night again? Just now that she stayed in a different part of the body than usual. Fortunately, there were stations of the immune system available throughout the body. With the words of the immune cell still in mind, she decided to contact the local station. Because it was night, she first had to share her story with the helper cell, the immune cell’s assistant. The helper cell would then ask the immune cell for advice. Apparently it was very busy that night because the body cell had to wait a long time. Finally, it was the turn of the body cell and she explained to the helper cell what was going on. The helper cell left to ask the immune cell for advice. When the helper cell returned, she told the body cell that she had to travel to the station that belonged to the part of the body where she normally resided to get treatment. The error in the body cell was painful but not fatal, so the immune cells at this station were not allowed to help the body cell. The helper cell told the body cell that she felt sorry for her but that there was nothing she could do.  

The body cell felt bad. More than an hour had already passed by and the pain was getting worse. She really didn’t want to travel all the way to another part of the body while she was in so much pain. Maybe she just had to put up with the pain, like she had done last time. Fortunately, there was another body cell nearby that could see how much pain she was in. This body cell convinced her to travel to the other station together. While they were on the go, they tried to contact the station at the part of the body where the body cell normally resided. The helper cell at this station was even busier than the helper cell at the station where they just came from. It took the body cells more than an hour to speak to a helper cell. The pain had gotten much worse by now. Fortunately, the helper cell was very friendly. The body cell explained the whole situation again. Then the helper cell left to ask for advice from an immune cell. When the helper cell came back, she explained that the immune cell had said that it was important that a general immune cell would examine the error first. Perhaps the immune cell could help solve the problem. But there was also a chance that the body cell needed the help of a specialized immune cell. The helper cell asked the body cell to travel to a station in the near vicinity. Here an immune cell would examine the error.  

With a lot of pain and the support of the other body cell, the body cell managed to reach the station. Here she had to wait for her turn. When it was finally the turn of the body cell, the immune cell examined the error carefully. The immune cell was friendly and told the body cell that the error was quite complex. Therefore, the immune cell couldn’t solve the problem and body cell had to go and see a specialized immune cell for treatment. Normally there was a specialized immune cell available at this station, but they had recently decided to change this. That’s why the immune cell told the body cell that she had to travel to yet another station. Here was a specialized immune cell that could help the body cell.  

The night was coming to an end and the body cell was now in terrible pain. But with the help of the other body cell, she just managed to reach the station. At this point the body cell could no longer bear the pain. The helper cell, the assistant of the specialized immune cell, saw that the body cell was not doing well. But before she could help the body cell she first had to ask some questions. Then she immediately went to tell the specialized immune cell that the body cell needed treatment quickly. Sometime later, the specialized immune cell came to examine the error. The specialist immune cell was very knowledgeable and friendly. He explained that it was good that the body cell had come. It was a complex error that certainly needed treatment. The specialized immune cell would try to solve the problem. Unfortunately it was not possible to do anything about the pain so the treatment would be very painful.  

After the treatment, the body cell needed some time to recover from all the pain. After all the long waiting and all the travel movements from station to station, she had been in even more pain this night than last time. Hopefully, the treatment had been a success and the error was resolved forever. Together with the other body cell, she traveled back early in the morning to the body part on the other side of the body to recover there.  

Note: This story and the characters in this story are fictional. Any similarities with hard-working and qualified employees working in a malfunctioning public system are a coincidence. 

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