As some of you may have noticed, I didn’t write a blog at the beginning of the week. There is a perfectly simple reason for that. I caught what a lot of people in the Northeast are catching. What I later found out; it’s not a flu, bronchitis, or pneumonia but it resembles the latter two. I had a temperature of 102 for two days solid, and I could only get out of bed a couple of times to check e-mails. My doctor told me it is a viral infection that has to clear up on it’s own. The temperature returned to normal yesterday, the cough and sinus problems will take a couple of weeks.
As I lay in my bed half in and half out of an illness induced exhaustion my mind kept running to two things, one was “What purpose do viruses serve?“, and second “I can’t wait to get enough energy to get into the shower, because my feet stink.”
Of course the shower thing worked itself out on Wednesday, but I still hadn’t worked out why we have to have viruses. As far as I was concerned, their purpose was just as much a mystery as why we have mosquitoes. Then yesterday, in a coughing fit, I suddenly realized it. Viruses exist to strengthen us; or at least our immune systems.
One thing I learned in third grade was when we feel sick, it’s not the illness that causes the pain, it’s our body fighting the illness. A fever is caused by the energy our body uses up while fighting. Our body has to use reserves of energy stored in our bodies to fight off these viruses. This in turn is why we have to get our strength back after an illness.
While viruses may strengthen our immune systems, getting sick too often will keep taking our energy and not allowing us time to recharge. Working while you’re sick stretches your energy reserves further, and could have the effect of extending your illness because your body will have less energy to fight, not to mention you could spread it to other people.
Do viruses serve a purpose? Yes. Without them we would be left defenseless to attacks of worse biological threats, like bacteria.
Challenge: Next time you have a virus, rest. If you can’t sleep, get a good book , a nice cup of hot tea, and give your body a chance to recover. You owe it to yourself, and everyone else around you.