There is a raging war inside of me. The resulting blaze and smoke of this battle is evident while I am shaking and crouching under my blanket.
It all started a few days ago when the enemy gained unwelcome entrance to my domain. Perhaps these intruders escaped from another territory by a sneeze in which they could travel up to 20 feet at 100 miles per hour, and they usually travel as a mob with other members of their gang (a sneeze can have 40,000 droplet particles and can release up to 200 million viruses).
They got a foothold on my borders through my nasal and airway passageways. It’s really difficult to close all the entryways unless I quit breathing all together. The invaders then broke through my barriers and overwhelmed my sentinels (usually takes 1,000 viral particles to get infected). I should build a border wall and have Mexico pay for it. Hah!
As soon as there was a breach in my initial defenses, my border guards alerted the headquarters and radioed for back-up. They have identified these infiltrators and relayed their profile to the central intelligence.
The headquarters searched the database if I have a pre-fabricated artillery specific for this certain enemy. But lo and behold this “common” enemy is not so common after all, as it probably continues to change its appearance and structure to outwit my defenses. So my system staged an all out war to fight this common cold.
The first to arrive into the battle field are the big boys, called the macrophages. They are the biggest soldiers among my army of white blood cells. These big boys are like Pacmans as they hunt and engulf these viral invaders.
But the enemy has hijacked some of my manufacturing plants. They infused their DNA (or RNA) into my own cells and they are replicating themselves using my own factories and resources. The Pacmans cannot eat them all as they are too many now and they continue to multiply. Good thing my defenses have more tricks under their sleeves.
As soon as the macrophages got an exact profile from the captured intruders they send signals to the headquarters, my bone marrow, to have the rest of the cavalry released.
One of the most effective fighters are the B-cell lymphocytes. They are part of a line of my white blood cell army. These cells uses the information of the enemy’s profile and they start building specific missiles, a protein called antibody, to fight these particular intruders. Once these virus-seeking missiles are constructed they are launched into the system to seek and destroy every infiltrators.
Some of these specific antibodies are stored into memory cells. So the next time this specific virus intrudes again, my body already has the pre-fabricated missiles ready to launch to fight them back.
Another important battalion of my soldiers are called the T-cell lymphocytes. These are elite fighting machines, like the SWAT or the Navy Seals. They don’t just track and kill the enemy but also destroy cells that harbor them. With some named as “natural killer T-cells” you know that these are badass soldiers.
Go, go, go my army and defend the motherland! And die you infidels!
There are also some foot soldiers that are deployed to the area of the breached wall. They have fortified the defenses there, and as a result the lymph nodes around my throat are swelled up, a sign of an ongoing battle in that area.
Besides the chills and runny nose, so runny I can’t keep up, I also started having this paroxysmal cough. I got out of my bed and went to the bathroom. I hacked up a phlegm into the sink – a nasty purulent and rusty mess. Then I realized that part of that purulent mess are dead bodies of my white blood cell soldiers. They have laid down their lives for the cause.
So before I flush down the purulent mess deep into the sink, I thanked them for their sacrifice, and as a grateful nation I fired up the canons and gave them my 21-cough salute.
After hearing my cough, my wife suggested that I should take some medicine to relieve my symptoms so I can have a better night sleep. Being hard-headed as I am, I said no to the medicine and just trusted that my body will take care of itself as I crawled back under the covers.
The next morning, I don’t feel as awful as the day before. Perhaps my army is winning the war, and they are rounding up the remaining stragglers, and cleaning up the residual wreck and ruins of the hard-fought battle. I guess I will live.
This is another victory for my immune system. But I’m not ready for a victory march and parade as of yet. I think I’ll take it easy and still stay in bed today.
(*Credits to my immune system and also to the Immunology class in my medical school)