Volume 2, Issue 2 
2nd Quarter, 2007

The Clinic Seed - Africa

Keith Henson

Page 3 of 6

Suskulan affected the semblance of a slightly translucent, very old man wearing medical garb a hundred years out of date. 

He invited the village elders in for a visit, telling them he was not a man but a medical spirit attached to the clinic.  The elders accepted his statement with some relief and left to send in their sickest.

The first was K'rekou, a five-year-old boy with “Dapaong tumor,” due to a parasitic nematode O. bifurcum.  Humans were not its normal host and that was part of what made it such a nasty disease.  The mother was startled to see the old man but obeyed his instructions in perfect Tamari to lay her boy on the low table.  K'rekou, emaciated and crying in obvious pain quieted, relaxed, and went to sleep.

"This will take a few hours and your boy will be asleep for all of it.  You may stay or come back for him after noon."  Suskulan told her, "He will not wake up until you come to get him." 

K'rekou's mother would have stayed but she had another child at home.  She left with some misgivings.

The low table became hazy with nanomachines joining the first that had infiltrated into the boy's brain through skin and lungs alike to put him under anesthesia.  The nanomachines reduced the firing of nerves just as simple anesthetics had been doing for 200 years.  The haze thickened and K'rekou faded from sight.

"Dapaong tumor" may present as a painful, abdominal mass with a diameter of 2–11 cm, typically adhering to the abdominal wall.  Or it may present as pea-sized nodules in the large intestine.  K'rekou had both.  The mass, about the size of a golf ball and a little to the left of his navel, was the more obvious problem, but the damage to his large intestine was a greater drain on his health.

Suskulan had sequenced the DNA left before he was activated, when K'rekou touched the sticky patch on the seed. 

The process of healing was primarily one of comparing what should be with what was, and reducing the differences. K'rekou's compressed genome, along with those of the rest of the tata inhabitants, had been sent through the network, and his embryonic development and

growth to his present age had been simulated with otherwise idle computing capacity.  What he should be like at this stage of his growth was a checkpoint in the medical database for the tata.

The process of healing was primarily one of comparing what should be with what was, and reducing the differences.  Most of the comparison was done outside the boy in computing nodes cooled with a flow of ultra pure cold water.  Still, there was a lot of heat-releasing manipulation required that had to be done slowly.   To carry away the waste heat, K'rekou's blood was temporarily removed and replaced by a substitute solution pumped through him just above freezing.

By 11:15 the parasites had been expunged, and the tissue around them reverted to normal.  Enough damage had been done by the parasites to require temporary scaffolding in a few places.  The scaffolding would release growth hormone until the cell proliferation filled in the gaps, and then it would dissolve.  Other minor parasites were destroyed; ones that didn't cause problems were left; a minor hernia was fixed; and cell repair machines restored fat by injecting lipids into the fat cells--a cell-at-a-time reversed version of liposuction.  Then K'rekou's blood was warmed up and put back.  Finally the haze of nanomachines faded back into the table.

By noon the boy, looking much healthier, woke up when his mother entered the clinic.  His mother was astounded at the change. K'rekou wanted to go play with his friends.  Suskulan, who had monitored the process rather than directed the fine details, was pleased.  He sent off a report of his first case and received a number of congratulations from other clinics and humans. 

Over the next five months all of the inhabitants of the tata spent time on the table getting old and new,
Other than a boy who died alone far from the tata and was not found for several weeks, there were no deaths. major and trivial medical problems fixed.  Suskulan enjoyed serving the people of the tata and was extremely

good at it.

Once, four of the adult males came in back in agony after stumbling into a huge nest of enraged stinging insects.  Suskulan took all four at once by putting two of them on the floor.  The oldest were mildly regressed in age each time.  Other than a boy who died alone far from the tata and was not found for several weeks, there were no deaths.

It was a particularly long dry season.  The spring dried up.  The fields and gardens shriveled, the animals that didn't die moved far south where they could find something to eat.  The granaries were low after a number of poor harvests, and food was short in supply and variety.

Suskulan's patients started using the clinic to restore fat when they became gaunt.  Suskulan increased the size of his solar collector to provide it.

When the rains came back there was a record deluge.  The only reason the tata was not swept away was the meter lift Suskulan had given it when he built his underground extensions.  He added another half meter to them.

By the time the long dry season came back the tata inhabitants were used to the clinic. 

December 2042

Far away, Lothar, Mabo and their fellow teams had completed planting clinics all the way to Cape of Good Hope. There were just short of a million of them, one for every 350 inhabitants on the ravaged continent.  The planting went faster in the decimated cities; sometimes a crew could plant two or even three clinics in a day though security was more of a problem.   After finishing Africa, Lothar and Mabo had a choice planting clinic seeds in South America, New Guinea, or Australia.  Vacations were not considered since the Foundation's goal was to provide clinics seeds to every human group on earth before the end of 2044.  In the opinion of the clinic seed planters, there was no more rewarding work on earth.

May 2043

Early in the second wet season Suskulan received a major system upgrade.

She was near death, and far beyond help by pre clinic standards, when she was placed in Suskulan's "hands."  The upgrade went swiftly because Suskulan had stockpiled tens of thousands of liters of parts and fuel

--most of it in the form of methyl alcohol--that he also was keeping in stock to be converted to fat if needed.

Suskulan's first serious patient after the upgrade was Zaba, a 12 year old who had been shot through her spine while working in a garden.  She was near death, and far beyond help by pre clinic standards, when she was placed in Suskulan's "hands." 

As the nanotech mist enveloped her still body, Suskulan quickly evaluated her than told her parents:

"I can heal Zaba but it will take at least a week, perhaps as many as ten days.   She will not be able to move or speak at first, but you can talk to her spirit at noon tomorrow." 

After they left Suskulan moved Zaba's body underground for better cooling and shorter connections to the mass of repair devices.  With a small amount of his attention he constructed an image of the repair table and Zaba out of utility fog including the ghastly wounds.

This time the nanomachines didn't infiltrate her brain just to shut it down, though they did that and reversed the mild damage from shock and low blood flow.   The nanomachines mapped out all her neural circuits and cell connections.  Shortly before her parents entered the clinic the next day they tentatively restored consciousness, partly in her brain--which was far below the temperature needed to run on its own--and partly in the haze of nanomachines that were also simulating input in place of her eyes and ears.

"What happened to me?  Where am I?  Where is my body?" Zaba asked as she became conscious.  She was calm because the nanomachines were acting as tranquilizers.  Suskulan was listening to an interface to her mostly simulated motor cortex.

To give Zaba orientation Suskulan imposed on her visual cortex a wire frame image of the human form he usually presented then explained:

"You were shot, you are in the clinic Suskulan at the tata, and your body is under the clinic being repaired.
Your mother is holding the hand of an image of your body in the clinic. The clinic recently gained new powers to speak to spirits while their bodies are being healed.

The healing will take some time, even I do not know exactly how many days," he added,  "You were badly injured."

"My mother and father," Zaba started and then stopped.

"They brought you to me yesterday and are very concerned.  Your mother is holding the hand of an image of your body in the clinic.  Suskulan switched her vision to one in the clinic looking at the repair table and Zaba’s parents.   “I can extend my power and let you use it to talk to them as if you were speaking through a telephone." 



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