Cold war

While everyone is worried about swine flu H1N1 S-OIV and its newfound pandemic status because they don’t understand what the term actually means in a scientific context (see also: theory), allow me to share with you a recent first-hand medical discovery so terrifying you’ll run out to stock up on plastic sheeting and duct tape.

I recently caught a cold. While not a frequent occurrence, I’ve had enough colds over the years to have a pretty good understanding of the progression of symptoms as I experience them: first the sore throat, then the runny nose, then the stuffy nose, each lasting about two days and all accompanied by a general feeling of being mildly run down. At the end there’s a restless night involving a half-awake, half-dreaming state as the infection makes its last stand against my immune system, and in the morning it’s all over.

Thus, when I came down with a sore throat on Monday, my reaction was one of annoyance rather than concern. Tuesday the sore throat started to go away, and Tuesday night I experienced the nocturnal endgame, leaving me feeling pretty decent on Wednesday with no nasal difficulties to be found. Naturally, I wrote it off as a 24-hour-ish bug and figured that was that.

But then on Thursday I got a pack-of-tissues-a-day runny nose without warning! What happened?

Brace yourself, for I can think of only one possible explanation.

The common cold has learned insurgency tactics.

Knowing it couldn’t win a fair fight against the superior might of my immune system, the infection feigned defeat in conventional warfare, instead striking without warning once I had declared victory and let my body begin reconstruction efforts. While my T- and B-cells were busy establishing democracy in my throat, insurgent viruses littered my nasal packages with improvised mucus devices. After a period of mounting civilian casualties (Kleenex are civilians, right?), my immune system revised its rules of engagement and surged in response, apparently successfully.

This is truly a terrifying development in the world of infectious disease. This is partly because our immune systems have not learned the lessons of 9/11 and expect to be able to fight the next disease using conventional tactics. (By the way, there’s actually only one lesson of 9/11: invoking 9/11 makes you automatically win any argument on defense policy. It’s like how the phrase “in these tough economic times” makes you automatically win any argument on economic policy, and the opposite of how invoking Nazis or Hitler makes you automatically lose your argument.)

No, the truly terrifying thing is this: in this strained analogy, my brain is represented by George W. Bush.

3 Responses

  1. It makes me very happy when I check my sites and Paul has updated. :)

  2. The last four weeks sure must’ve sucked then.

  3. You have no idea.

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