For the past six weeks that I’ve been afflicted with this pernicious virus, people have been urging me to ‘get well soon!’. I know and appreciate that they have been expressing their wishes that I return to my usual state of rude health asap. When I have had brief contact with people in the outside world, I’ve found that a lot of people or their friends have been on and off sick for weeks with this virus, yet I’ve been feeling like I am not getting well quickly enough.
Being sick is one thing; I can stay in and keep warm and eat well and otherwise look after my self. But I hate not being able to discharge my normal duties, eg go to work, go to the gym, do my weekly volunteer gig and I’ve missed some sessions of a drawing class I began in the new year. I’ve been willing my self to get well soon and have gamely gone into work on two occasions in the past fortnight only to be sent back home again. The last time, about a week ago, I stopped at the health food store for some echinacea on my way back to the bus stop. I also picked up some Olive Leaf Complex to build my immune system back up. I’ve finally resigned my self to the fact that I will be well again when I’m well again. And not before that. Besides, it’s not really up to me when that happens.
This last viral manifestation is in my upper respiratory tract. I had a bad sore throat last weekend and my snot turned pale yellow-green last week. Eeeeyew! I thought I was done for. But Wow! I found that its caused by billions of white blood cells who’ve rushed into the area to fight the virus. I actually kind of knew this already, but forgot. I took a few Biology and Zoology classes when I was in college, when I wanted to be a Forest Ranger and before I changed my major to Psychology.
I remember those cool educational films we used to see. This one from NPR shows how a virus invades your body:
A portion from a British educational film about the immune system from the 1960’s:
Three cheers for my white blood cells who are marching into my sinuses and valiantly doing battle in Operation Runny Nose using the Yellow Mucus Offensive at great personal sacrifice, all for the Glorious Cause!
Neutrophils are a type of white blood cell normally found in the blood stream. They migrate through the blood vessels, then through interstitial tissue, following chemical signals released by bacteria in a process called chemotaxis. They are the predominant cells in pus, accounting for its whitish/yellowish appearance. Once the neutrophils reach the bacteria, they ingest it through a process called phagocytosis.
This clip show a neutroplil chasing and consuming a bacterium:
When these skirmishes range throughout my upper respiratory system, they bring to mind the chevauchée ( “promenade” or “horse charge”), a raiding method of medieval warfare practised until the 14th Century.
Finally the whole affair degenerates into a rout, (n), a chaotic and disorderly retreat or withdrawal of troops from a battlefield.
Some cool animated and filmed images of neutrophils doing their thing: