Friday, 21 October 2011
The Girl had the sniffles.
“Why do I have to get sick?” she said.
Because some germ or virus made your body sick, and your body hasn’t kicked it out yet. Which do you think it is? I asked. “Virus,” she said.
I suspect so, I said – when you get sniffles, a cold or flu, it’s usually a virus. That’s good news because your body can usually get rid of them on its own over the next few days. The bad news is that’s all you can do – there’s no medicine that gets rid of a virus for you. Which one do you think is smaller? I asked.
“Viruses?” she ventured.
Right – they’re so much tinier than germs.
“Are they alive?” she asked
That’s a fantastic question, I said, and it doesn’t have an easy answer. They’re so tiny they barely qualify as alive, but they cause a lot of trouble.
“How do they get into my body?” she asked.
They sneak in, I whispered. Remember how your red blood cells are lorry drivers, carrying oxygen to your cells? They’re all queuing up in your blood like cars in traffic, and a virus barges into the queue.
“They’re quite naughty,” she said.
Luckily, I said, you have white blood cells too – you know what they do?
“They’re Gardai! (police)” she said
Right, I said, and they pull up alongside a virus and tell it to pull over, and arrest it.
For the next half hour her sniffles were forgotten: We took turns pretending to be white blood cells (police), waiting on the shoulder of the blood vessel (road) watching for viruses (speeders) who’ve slipped into traffic, and pulling them over and checking their license, complete with sirens and bullhorn effects.