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My Struggles

By Juman Hijab

Updated on: August 14, 2021 Original date: June 23, 2020

Struggling even with the simplest of concepts

I really understand clouds; their different shape, sizes, and their immensity. 

However, at one point I struggled to understand why they turn pink during sunsets. Even now, I am not really sure I can explain why clouds are a purplish blue color at sunrise. 

That is OK. Because, at this time, I can look at any cloud, mist, or fog, and I can see with my mind's eye the composition of that ghostly creation. How much is water, how much is air, and why it is light or dark. 

I can see the rain and visualize how each raindrop is produced. I can listen to the weather forecast and translate it into a language that makes sense to me. 

My next challenge is writing about it such that you can see those details as clearly as I can see them. 

None of this is easy.

Grappling with difficulty and doubt

I have one predominant reason why I am doing all this work. To explain disease in a way that makes sense.

I can see how cells come together; how proteins in the nucleus communicate to their brethren in the cytoplasm; why cancer cells transform from large cells to small cells; why cancer cells are chaotic, and so on. 

The problem with writing about it is that I have to explain basic concepts, such as how ions bring proteins together. And each time I try to explain a basic concept I have to delve even deeper to fully understand it myself. For example, to appreciate the difference between calcium binding to proteins and magnesium binding to proteins means that I had to understand the dynamics of acid/base connections.

It is a continuous struggle. I have had to delve into physics, math, as well as chemistry. And at the same time, I have ongoing doubt. Do I really have something of value? Perhaps I am imagining that my ideas are worthwhile.

In the face of uncertainty

Here's the thing: very few people may read what I am writing; even less may agree with me. But, I have waded too far into the current to go back. 

I will continue with the struggles, knowing that if even a small fraction of what I have in my brain can prove useful to others, it will have been worth it.

Juman Hijab

About the author

Juman is a retired physician after having been in clinical practice for more than four decades. Her lifelong interest has been in the chemistry of life.

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