Friday, October 2, 2009
One of my neighbours, Christian, is a young man who serves aboard the HMCS Ville de Quebec, a Halifax class patrol frigate that has been involved most recently in anti-terrorism in the Mediterranean, protecting aid ships off the coast of Somalia, and fisheries patrols in the North Atlantic. I last spoke to Christian a month ago and asked him to e-mail some pictures from sea, if possible, for the blog. Last night he sent me a few (approved by the Canadian Navy).
One of the pictures was from this past April off the coast of Newfoundland, in the George's Bank. The eastern side of Labrador and Newfoundland is known as Iceberg Alley, and for good reason. It is here that the Titanic went down in April, 1912.
Icebergs are composed of fresh water and whatever is floating around in the air at the time. Thousands of years ago, during the last ice age, volcanoes were erupting around the world, volcanic ash was carried by wind, and particles would settle, sometimes on the developing icebergs. There's a whole discipline devoted to studying icebergs and what they can tell us about the earth's ecology.
Because icebergs are composed of fresh water, they are lighter than the salt water in which they are found; that means they float. It's true that only 10% of an iceberg is visible and that's part of what makes them so dangerous.
MS is very much like those icebergs. We only see 10% of what is going on when we suffer a symptom. There's so much more activity that's gone on, sometimes for many years, before we even have an inkling that's something is wrong. Once symptoms appear we can take a closer look at the central nervous system with an MRI. Like an MRI we use satellite imagery to track icebergs. Once we have that information, whether it's an iceberg or lesions in our brains, we can take appropriate action.