The Cold

I was sick all week. It all started on Sunday when a massive fever hit me, along with horrible aches and pains. I was lying in bed, writhing, wishing I could go to sleep but being totally unable to. So I took a day off of work, went to the doctor, and found out I had a cold virus. Not the flu and not ebola, so that was good.

A little Duraflu and a lot of chicken soup later, I'm starting to feel a lot better. And I learned a bunch of really cool stuff. I asked my doctor, "Why do you get aches and pains at all when you get the cold or flu?" And my doctor answered, "Interferons." The story that follows is what happens in the body when you get a virus because viruses are bitches and have to be fought off the good old fashioned way--by suffering through it 'till it's gone.

A virus infects a host cell by attaching to its membrane and sticking it with a needle, then spilling its DNA or RNA into the cell to attach itself to wherever they'll fit. Chicken soup is metabolized in the liver to create a series of proteins called interferons. Cells receive these proteins. When a cell is infected, it instantly releases a ton of interferons. Those little proteins attach themselves to the cell membranes of nearby cells, warning them that there's danger. So the cell membranes do their little membrane thing and start to protect themselves from infection from other nearby viruses--and from the viruses that spill out of the popped remains of the cell that died to warn all the others.

Interferons also call two types of other cells to the rescue: phagocytes and natural killer cells. The phagocytes roam the space between cells and suck up little cold viruses. Then they coat them in a little protein sheath, within which they're dissolved into little component parts. Then the phagocytes poop out what's left and other cells use the remains to create immunities. Natural killer cells are awesomer, though. They go around to infected cells, dissolve holes in the cell membrane, and then they throw little protein grenades into the infected cell. Then...BAM! The cell self-destructs in a blaze of fatty glory, killing all the viruses inside it.

So all of that's been happening all over my body. It's a story of invasion, sacrifice, self-defense, devouring, and with tons of explosions. Like a Michael Bay movie without all the short skirts. Unless...


You naughty, naughty virus.