This week I would like to take you on a little journey inside my head. Deep into my brain where the hormones play. It’s an interesting place, the brain, and yet we still know so little about it.
In previous posts I already mentioned it’s harder for me to create synaptic connections between the neurons in my brain than for a normal person. These connections allow people to learn new things. When neurons in the brain fire at the same time, they get connected. The more they fire simultaneously, the stronger the connection becomes. The stronger the connection, the more it becomes “automatic” and the more it become “natural behaviour”. Talking, walking, eating, getting dressed, riding a bike… these are all things we learned thanks to the process of neuroplasticity as it is called.
The interesting thing about this process is that there are two kinds of connections, electrical and chemical. The latter are hormones also known as “”. These chemicals have different effects on how we feel, act and threat others. There are literally dozens of know neurotransmitters and new ones are found on a regular basis. One of the most famous neurotransmitters is adrenaline, responsible for our “fight or flight” behaviour.
But there are two other very important hormones that I would like to talk about today. The first one is Oxytocin, a neurotransmitter which plays a role in facilitating trust and attachment between individuals. Consequently, oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone”. The second one is a hormone called Cortisol. Higher levels of circulating cortisol allows you to endure stress for longer periods of time. They are both very necessary but oxytocin and cortisol have kind of a love-hate relationship. Oxytocin and cortisol oppose each other in the sense that if one goes up, the other goes down.
Now you might ask why am I giving you this lecture in neurobiology? Touché! I’m obviously not even an amature biologist let alone a neuroscientist. But my virtually permanent state of happiness led me to believe that I must have a lot more oxytocin playing around in my brain and body than cortisol. I just love to laugh, love to hug people (yes, even complete strangers), I trust everyone and have lots of fun.
If high oxytocin levels explain all that about me, could it be that other hormone levels are causing some of the downsides of my syndrome? The difficulty I have with learning new things? The fact that I have difficulties with assessing dangerous situations? The reason behind why I have the tendency to be over enthusiastic at times and don’t realize I can hurt myself then? It’s just something I have been thinking about a lot lately wondering if there is someone out there that could help me figure this all out?
Two weeks ago we went to see the endocrinologist I mentioned in my previous post. I gave her a lot of my blood to analyse my metabolism in depth. My dad phoned the hospital several times now to find out if the results had come back yet and obviously, to find out if anything stood out of the ordinary. Unfortunately, the results were still not complete and the doctor hasn’t come back yet with the final protocol. The waiting is becoming intolerable as I’m curious by nature and want find out if there could be a key in those results for my next quest in unraveling the enigma of my Kabuki Syndrome.
Hold on, is that “stress” I’m feeling now? Does that mean my cortisol levels have gone up suddenly? Is my entire theory flawed then? Is it?…
Sigh of relief, it’s my dad’s stress, not mine 🙂 I’m in my room now playing with my toys as dad is behind his computer writing this blog in my name… so nothing to worry about! I’m happy as a pup with two tails!
Anyhow, the results will soon follow now and when they do, we’ll either have found a new key or we’ll have found a closed door – but either way, it will help us find our way. Like they say, when one door closes, another will open!
Hope you enjoyed this weeks blog and stay tuned for more on how the mystery unravels.
Have a great week!