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The Viruses Declare War

Kristenheinan272x722Kristen Heinan --

Ah, come the cooler temperatures and colors of the fall,

and come the runny noses, one and all.

The worried parents, the “fevers” of 99.5,

the red lips, the grumpiness, and the glassy eyes.

So far all lungs have been “clear,” and “rapid strep” tests have been negative,

so a prescription for time and TLC is the only thing I can give.

The semi-adept clinician has ruled out imminent bacterial disaster,

but knowing what it isn’t won’t make what it is go away any faster.

I think that often, viruses are underrated,

the extent of their havoc and ability to incapacitate is unappreciated.

“It’s ‘just’ a virus,” we often say,

“You don’t need antibiotics, so please stop complaining and go away.”

And we send the patient on, to fend for herself — just rest up —

with no help to battle the virus running amok.

“Poor saps,” thinks the doctor, “their immune systems are pathetic.”

‘I’m surrounded by germs every day, and I never get sick.’

But those viruses are tricky, there’s no way you can be immune

to the whole host of insidious invaders in a cough-and-sneeze-filled room.

Take, for example, the pediatrics resident —

for months, little children coughed and sneezed on her wherever she went.

She especially loved the “itty-bittys,” with their hugs and games and laughter of uninhibition….

unscreened, unabashed showers of love and infection.

And so it happened, they finally got her — some stinkin’ viruses won.

1am, 2am, 3am, 4…

she hopes her hacking is not waking the neighbor next door.

5am, 6am, 7am, 8…

she feels like she’s been on call all night.

Going to clinic today… don’t think so….

She feels a little guilty, but then again, no.

If ever she doubted her ability to feel lymph nodes, she now rests assured,

as the number she can palpate in her own neck is obscene and absurd.

(Lymph nodes are nebulously gross, she does not like how they feel,

just one more thing to make her unstable stomach reel.)

But at least that means the immune system’s working right,

send in the cavalry, call up the reserves to go and fight!

Her body has been deluged by interleukin rain,

rendering every muscle fiber whining from aches and pains.

She is menopausally shivery and sweaty and has lost the will to cough.

The thought of being used and abused by conniving viruses makes her quite pissed off.

She feels moody like a two-year-old, so if you’ll excuse this poor, pathetic sap,

she is going to stop complaining and go away and take a nap!

November 6, 2007 | Permalink


I am so sorry you feel bad. I feel like that when I get an interferon injection or copaxone. and I don't usually run a temp. I go to 76. or 75.6 and shiver when I get sick. drs find it hard to understand you can have a very bad infection and not be 101. but I too feel comforted with those enlarged lymph glands. oh, and the coughing that makes me have MS Banding in the lower lobes that feels a lot like, asthma.... So remember, no two patients are alike. ask the right questions sick patients don't always think to tell you the right things. hope you feel better. your important to everyone.

Posted by: Theresa | Nov 13, 2007 3:30:03 PM

Nice poem you wrote and very accurate
I think that is the ideal way to fight a disease and keep following it intently.
Keep it up Kristen

Posted by: | Nov 24, 2007 7:25:17 AM

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