I just went through three days of hell. My body shivered uncontrollably even though I wore three sweaters and sat under heavy blankets. I sweated profusely even though I felt extremely cold. My head pounded no matter how many Advil I took. My internal temperature went up to 102 degrees. Yes, I had the dreaded winter flu.
Every time I tried to read I either fell asleep or my head started pounding. So instead, I stayed in bed and watched Weeds episodes until I felt like I lived in Agrestic.
My fever abated last night at about 11pm. As I started to feel better and was able to walk across the apartment without feeling like total shit, I realized what a profound thing had just occurred. Some pathogen, intent only on replicating itself and nothing more, invaded my body, injecting its DNA into my cells until my cells starting making clones of this pathogen instead of doing their usual homeostatic chores. Then, when bloated by thousands of these tiny viruses, my cells burst, one by one, releasing a new horde of tiny killers into my bloodstream to wreak more havoc. Unchecked, the virus would replicate until I was dead.
But that’s not what happened. Somehow — and I don’t profess to be an expert on human immune systems — my body attacked the virus by trial and error until my immune system found the right tools to destroy it. Who knows how many times my body tried and failed before it succeeded?
And last night, as my fever started to go down, I thought it miraculous — maybe, I’ll admit, because I was half high from the feeling of not being sick — that my body healed all on its own, even while I watched television and in general laid around in bed. What a beautiful, glorious thing, I thought, to be healed by one’s own body, one’s self. I always knew it, but it wasn’t until last night that I really felt it: there’s a universe inside me, a universe that I’m mostly oblivious to, except when I get attacked by nasty pathogens intent on destruction. My consciousness, the part I associate as “myself” as I walk through my daily life, is but one small part of who I am.Â It humbled me.