Viruses

An affliction with. a virus this week has lead to a panoply of thoughts, few of them are good.

My virus is clearly set upon transmitting itself to another human. Every orifice on my face is leaking fluids. My eyes are tearing so much I look like I just watched “Lorenzo’s Oil” for the first time. My mouth is a swimming pool of saliva. I shan’t reward the virus by spitting. My nose of course runs like a leaky faucet, only to dry up like a lizard in the sun. Even my ear wax is building up. The worst offender is the cough. One cough can fill a whole room with virus particles and in the meantime every cough breaks my concentration.

The most excellent strategy of the virus is keeping me mostly alive and healthy. The cold virus hardly dents the health of its victims and there are more than 200 varieties at a given time. The more deadly flu is much rarer. Ebola and West Nile are rarer yet. Despite the fear of super viruses, the selection pressure pushes viruses to be more mild, not more deadly. That these viruses have no conscience strategy is all the more vexing, in my opinion, though their evolutionary paths do create the opportunity for virus extinction. Virus evolution is only present in progeny and a virus cannot make progeny when its been wiped out. In other words, be a deterministic being, beat the viruses, and get yourself vaccinated.  

Aside of the terrible symptoms, my other thought was to my deteriorating will power. Fighting a fever, headache, and general wooziness, ever positive act is a drain on willpower. I let my local grocery store charge me too much for Chinese food because I was too tired to go back to the deli section and ask for a new price sticker. All I wanted to do was sit down in the front seat of my car and it only cost me a couple of dollars. If the store knew I was in such bad shape – fever, headache, fatigue, and labored breathing – I would charge them with duress. Quick tip: if you feel bad, then you should put off major decisions until you feel healthy again.

Lastly, my thoughts are on quarantine. At work I can slink into my office where my coughing sputum cannot sicken my coworkers. My strategy must be working, because no one in my office has been infected all week. At home, there is not practical way to protect my family from whatever virus I have. My theory is that I have the flu and they are immune because we were all vaccinated back in October. Of course, I was vaccinated and I came down with something. True, but keep in mind that the flu virus is always mutating and there are many varieties. The flu vaccine only covers the most common of the most recent flu viruses. Antibodies are not little decision makers, though, and if they can stick to an antigen, they will. This means that a flue vaccine or a bout with the flu will help you create antibodies that can attenuate other flu viruses. (I used to study viruses; I know these things.) My theory is that my family all got lucky, and their antibodies are crushing the virus that is making me miserable. Either that or they are about to get hit hard by whatever attacker I am spewing out with each cough. 

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