After a cold or the flu or any kind of injury or illness that forces us to rest, it can remind us how good it feels to be well. We take our bodies for granted. Sure, you might be watching your food intake or participating in regular activities for your cardiovascular system but how often do we give thanks to our immune systems? From the moment you formed your immune system of white blood cells and lymphatic tissue, your immune system has been protecting you from foreign invaders. It is a thankless job that the neutrophils, lymphocytes, basophils, eosinophils, macrophages, etc do. While you go about your day, the white blood cells are roaming your lymphatic and circulatory system looking out for any unwelcome guests.
When your friend inadvertently sneezes some virus your way, the plucky virus finds a way into your body through your nose or mouth and voila, a security breach has occurred. Immediately the white blood cells are called into action. With the stealthy, lethal force of the Navy Seals, the virus is attacked. The warfare is sometimes not very pretty. In order to wage a successful defense, chemicals are sprayed by white blood cells causing blood vessels to dilate and our body temperature rises to make the environment even more hostile for the invader. For all the efforts of a three day battle, we notice a slight fever, annoying cough, and runny nose. This is the necessary collateral damage of winning the war.
Recently, I developed food poisoning as a result of eating some questionable meat at a restaurant. I made it this far in my life and I have never had food poisoning. I have prided myself on my iron stomach and generally eat most of my proteins quite raw. I almost never cook anything from the sea and the proteins of terrestrial origin, I enjoy only slightly warmed. Getting food poisoning was a reminder that my iron stomach is aging. Nevertheless, my body mounted an epic war on the bacteria. All the smooth muscle in my digestive tract did everything possible to force the bacteria out through violent spasms. A few days of that and I had to give thanks to the immune system. People with less competent immune systems like children or the elderly can fare far worse that a few days of cramps and sweats.
Feeling well again, I can’t say I have changed my ways. I still crave and consume the rawest of raw seafood. Maybe I think a little more about the choices of terrestrial proteins…maybe. One thing for sure, I am taking more time to close my eyes, go within, and give a thumbs up to the tireless soldiers who keep this beastly organism running. It surely can’t be an easy job. Thanks immunity.