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Where is Flora?

Where is Flora?

A small framed eighteen year-old woman came to the office several months ago. She suffered for months with what appeared to be bizarre partial seizures of some sort as well as severe headaches, a rapid heart rate and low blood pressure. The onset of her illness was abrupt. She had finished her senior year in high school and was getting ready to go off to college with a full scholarship when I had the honor to evaluate her.

She had seen countless physicians before her visit with me. Her parents took her to see a plethora of different specialists. Every doctor had different opinions about what could be wrong and what action to take to correct it. It reminded me of a story I told my children when they were small:

After Spring arrived, a biologist was walking along a path deep in a wooded area just west of the edge of what men called civilization. As he meandered to and fro, he noticed an incredible arrangement of tulips. These purple and red flowers were growing in a straight line which spanned about one hundred and fifty feet. His excitement grew as he measured the arrangement, thinking that he discovered the first wild flower arrangement in nature that appeared to be growing in a perfectly straight line. It was an ancient postulate that nature did not arrange anything in straight lines; only man did. He was determined to prove every biologist wrong: nature could be linear.

When he arrived back at his University, he decided to share his discovery with several professors in different disciplines to get their thoughts about the phenomenon. He showed his photographs and measurements to an entomologist, an ornithologist, and a geologist. All of these learned men wanted to visit the site, explore the area and propose a theory as to how a group of purple and red tulips grew in a straight line in the middle of nowhere. The biologist gladly showed them the way.

The entomologist was an avid apiculturist. As he arrived at the line of flowers, he searched the area for any sign of bees. He found two large honey bee hives about two hundred feet away from the flowers. He collected samples and made measurements of the flowers. He was consumed with the idea of explaining this natural miracle. He took his data to the laboratory for analysis.

The ornithologist was an elderly woman who had a difficult time getting around. However, she made the journey to the edge of civilization to see what all the academic ruckus was about. When she saw the flowers in a straight line, she started to laugh. She was overcome with joy. She started looking for birds of all kinds: big and small, fast and slow, raptors and corvids. She made many observations about the ecology of the area, noticing that the bird population was large and dense. She developed a theory and needed to confirm her field findings in the laboratory.

The geologist was a middle aged man who hated the woods. He was deathly afraid of snakes, spiders and ticks. No matter, he made his journey to the area. He stared at the Tulips all in a row. He immediately started looking at the grass, dirt and rocks beneath the soil. He noticed some shale and quartzite in the earth. He took samples around each flower to test in his laboratory. He was certain his discoveries would make him the most popular scientists in geology since James Hutton, the Father of Modern Day Geology.

The biologist held a conference in the great assembly hall of the science building to honor his colleagues. He was sure between the four of them, an answer to how the tulips were naturally arranged in a straight line would be revealed. The Entomologist spoke first. "Bees are the answer to this finding. Bees. Hundreds of years of pollination and cross pollination changed the nature of the flowering plants. Bees were responsible for changing the DNA of the flowers in the area. The tulips were products of cross pollination activities over hundreds of years and it just so happened that all of the other flowers in the bunch died, leaving a straight line of survivors. Long live the Bees!" As he sat down, the entire attendance stood up and gave him a standing ovation. He had clearly solved the problem.

Then the Ornithologist stood up and spoke: "These flowers are amazing. It was clearly birds that were responsible for this fluke of nature. I studied the species of birds that live around the area. One of them, the Purple Gobbler feeds off of tulip bulbs. The defecation of these birds gave way to the straight line arrangement of the flowers since these birds evacuated their intestines when they fly. They fly in straight lines. These Gobblers are the answer. It's not a true mystery at all!" She sat down. The crowd clapped with great enthusiasm. She seemed to feel she was right and no one else had the answer.

The Geologist took the podium following the Ornithologist. He was a bit nervous. "I found that the Straight Line Tulips were a result of earth and soil movement through erosion. These flowers were from different soils. The only explanation for different soils to be located in one spot is that the soils moved through water erosion. I found several wild Tulip plantings uphill from the Straight Line one. It was clear that when rain or snow came, the repeated freeze and thaw caused movement of the soil downhill and settle next to the to the edge of the cavern or at least as close as possible. The tulips aligned over time, maybe a century or more. “He sat down and the audience clapped and whistled. It appeared that all three theories were well received.

The Biologist felt unsatisfied at all of their conclusions. He took the podium. "I believe that squirrels in the area planted these tulips in a straight line. Not all of them at once. The bees pollinated the tulips to give them the same color. Soil erosion forced the same colored tulips to be closer in proximity. The Purple Gobbler dug up the bulbs and left many for the squirrels to take and bury themselves. Over time, these flowers were aligned because of all of the animals, insects and natural soil movements seen in the area came together to make nature display an unnatural phenomenon." The Biologist sat down and the crowd was loud again. He realized that every possible theory sounded good, but no one actually knew why the purple tulips were growing is a straight line.

The young woman was told by one Neurologist that her migraines caused the movement disorder. Another Neurologist told her parents that she had both Migraine Headaches and Partial-Motor Seizure activity that inconsistently manifested together. A Cardiologist told her parents she was a victim of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS) which caused the headaches and low blood pressure. According to another Neurologist, her movement disturbance was nothing more than a result of psychogenic non-epileptic seizures (PNES). Although the young woman did not disclosed any stressors which could precipitate PNES which was diagnosed after her EEG during an episode of bizarre movements and staring into space did not reveal any abnormal brainwaves.

I am not sure what disease(s) is (are) unfolding in this young woman. She appears to be an appropriate late adolescent about to enter college with the onset and continuation of a rapid heart rate, low blood pressure, severe headaches and random movement disorder. Medications do not seem to resolve much other than reducing her heart rate and the severity of her headaches.   Frontal lobe seizures can be mistaken for PNES and many other illnesses can have rapid heart rates and low blood pressures associated with them. I believe she has some sort of autoimmune disease. Only time will tell. For now, we will focus on symptoms until we get a better chance to stop the disease at the root of the problem.

By the way, the biologist decided to return to the site of the Straight Line Tulip Garden in the Fall to see if any clues might turn up as to its origin during a different season than Spring. As he walked the path to the Garden, he saw a tent and campfire in a small clearing just north of the trail. He walked to the area and saw a small man and woman drinking out of paper cups. He walked over to the couple. "Hello there." The man and woman were a bit startled at his deep low voice. "Hello back. What brings you here?" "I am a biologist. I came here in the Spring and saw a garden of tulips growing in a straight line. I thought I would return to see if anything occured in the fall to contribute to this miracle of nature." The man and woman chuckled. They stood up and replied, "Come with us Mr. Biologist. We have something to show you."

They walked a crooked path deep into the woods where the tulips were seen in the Spring. As they got closer to the garden, they saw a young woman kneeling in the dirt. She was planting tulip bulbs for the spring. The biologist was initially disturbed. He spoke out to the young girl, "Missy. What's your name?" The girl with the dirt on her face looked up at him, "My name's Flora. What's yours? “The biologist replied, "Henry. Henry Toothtard. I'm a biologist. What're you doing Flora?"

Flora smiled, "I'm planting tulips silly man. I plant twenty or more each year we come to the forest. I've got the area marked. I plant them in a straight row so the fairies and elves can jump over them. I am almost done for this year. I have five more. Would you like to help me Mr. Toothtard?" The biologist grinned, "Yep. Let me plant them with you." Henry dropped to his knees and started digging. He put the bone meal in the hole followed by the bulb. He covered the hole up. And went to the next hole. Henry and Flora finished the job in no time.

Henry got to his feet. He thanked the girl and her parents for allowing him to help her plant the rest of the tulips for the coming Spring. Henry walked out of the forest and returned to the University.

The next Spring, Henry brought back the Entomologist, Ornithologist and Geologist to look for the Tulips. He added another scholar to the group: a Botanist. Once they arrived at the Straight Line Garden, the Entomologist announced, "There are more! There are more Tulips. They're in a straight line, but some of their colors have changed to pink and white. We have to get to work immediately to figure out nature's riddle."

Henry pulled out a folding arm chair, opened his personal writing journal and watched the four scientist go at it, figuring out nature's riddle. He thought to himself, if ignorance is bliss, tis folly to be wise. I wonder where Flora is now?

I hope the riddle to the young woman with the migraines, tachycardia, low blood pressure and movement disorder is solved too. It should be so simple.

Doc

Posted by Amanda Sanders at 11:23 AM
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