What Is Gray’s Anatomy?

In answer to that question, I must look on my bookshelf. I have a book there I have never opened, called “Gray’s Anatomy”. I do not know how it got there or when it got there. I am guessing that I must have thought at one time that that would be a reference everyone should have and so I bought it. Now I am going to open it.

“The art of anatomy is almost as old as civilization itself.”

Without reading further, let me say what I already “know”. My commonsensical understanding, that is, derived from I do not know where nor do I know when, but some info is there, in memory. Please correct me if I am wrong.

About the human body, there is anatomy, and there is physiology. (I have never had a course in biology, anatomy, or physiology. As I say, this is all coming from some sort of “common sense”.) I am saying that anatomy is “form”, the naming of parts, and physiology is “function”, how anatomy, or the parts work.

Now I wonder if my book, Gray’s Anatomy is really Gray’s Anatomy and Physiology. So I will now look up the lungs, hoping to find an explanation of the function of “respiration”.

This book is a paperback, 2 and a half inches thick. (Oh, it looks like I never wrote on the title page my name or the date I acquired it, as is my wont. That would have been nice to know.) Hmmmm. 1901 Edition. Anatomy, Descriptive and Surgical. That must mean “Form and Function”, don’t you think? By Henry Gray, F.R.S., (Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons etc.)

Index, “Respiration, muscles of, 355, Organs of, 955”.

“The Diaphragm is the principle muscle of inspiration….” The Description proceeds to “all expulsive acts” and “forced expiration”. So I conclude that it is impossible to talk of form without also talking about function, both anatomy and physiology, physiology being the study of function. Gray’s Anatomy is really Gray’s Anatomy and Physiology.

Why am I interested in this?

Inspiration and expiration are inhalation and exhalation. In those functions we bring in the gases, carbon dioxide, oxygen, and nitrogen, that will be carried out through the arteries and back through the veins. Venous blood carries more carbon dioxide and less oxygen than arterial blood. Blood going through the lungs must be re-oxygenated and the other gases of waste like carbon dioxide must be exhaled back into the atmosphere. (Nitrogen stays the same in intake and output.) Further information about respiration I cannot find in the book. The index did not lead me to the functions of breathing beyond matters of form.

With this book in hand, I am a monkey with a computer at hand. It is a big book with a strange language, vocabulary, and syntax. I have tried to put it to some use, informing me about heart failure. Should I consciously tend to my breathing and control it for better intake of the good and output of the bad?

Gray’s Anatomy is not my answer. However, its existence in my book collection symbolizes something about me, my knowledge-acquisitiveness, maybe even a bibliomania. In my present attempt to put it to some practical use, I did not do well. But its obtuseness drove me to some less obtuse sources. Like Wikipedia.

I wanted to find out about breathing, respiration, inspiration and expiration, inhalation and exhalation, the intake of oxygen from our atmosphere, the processing of all the gases in the atmosphere by our bodies, and how that can be related to heart failure. Walk briskly and that creates deep breathing, and deep breathing restores a body. So, can I deep breathe anytime, lying around, sitting and watching TV, or wherever, and continue to improve my general health, especially the function of the heart, and make it well again?

The air we inhale is roughly 78% by volume nitrogen, 21% oxygen, 0.96% argon and 0.04% carbon dioxide, helium, water, and other gases.

The oxygen so characteristic of our atmosphere was almost all produced by plants (cyanobacteria or, more colloquially, blue-green algae).

All that applies directly to this: the “LUNGS” of Mother Earth are the great jungles of plants around the equator, and the plankton in the oceans, but those are being torn down or terribly polluted. Thus, the composition may change and look more like the venous blood rather than the arterial blood. Is the heart failure of Mother Earth at hand?

My questions have not been answered.

At least, I opened that book for the first time since I bought it many years ago. The knowledge is out there, walking around on two legs, and charging hefty prices for their ability to digest such books and convey to me what I need to know in a form more useable to me, talk, consultation, talk.

Trouble is, finding a really good talker.

Published in: on May 4, 2011 at 8:20 am  Comments (44)  

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