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It was the least significant cut on the least significant digit of my right hand, just one among many acquired in the course of a deck-building weekend.  It was scarcely noticed and warranted no special attention.  The deck appeared in our yard according to plan and the time had come to sit back, admire our handiwork and accept the praises.
But I had unexpected company that night.  Every other cut, nick and scrape attested to the careless abuse our hands are subjected to by such amateur efforts and the rugged strength of the body’s immune system, all but that little nick atop the last arthritic knuckle of my right hand.  It was about to cause me a world of grief.  I was to be instructed in the multiplying power of the microbe and our body’s occasional inability to halt its spread.
Within 12 hours there were angry red lines radiating from the entry site and the joint was swelling visibly as I watched.  The pain was something wicked while I became aware of how much common, everyday pounding and scraping that little digit endures.  We use it and abuse it, a lot.  Who knew?  By the 24-hour mark, it was a flaming yellow and red, pulsating mass of suppurating agony and the pills ordered by a sympathetic doctor at a small walk-in clinic were mere pebbles thrown at a charging elephant.   I was under siege and the enemy was storming the gate.
By the time I was ordered to hospital by my somewhat shocked family physician, half my hand was engulfed in an angry swelling that was threatening to charge up my arm.  The rampaging infection was finally brought to bay by the skilled attention of a doctor and staff at the local hospital who, after anesthetizing the hand with a needle that, for a brief moment, hurt worse than the wound, sliced and diced the infected site like so much sushi.  It required 10 days of in-home nursing care and a hi-tech portable pump to administer injections of a powerful antibiotic at regular intervals.  In this battle between good and evil, the outcome was a very near thing.
All in all, it was a humbling experience to think that all of evolution’s defences could so easily be overwhelmed.  And like Well’s creatures that fell to the common cold, or the look-alike body snatchers of Santa Mira, we’re just a sneeze away from extinction.  But for a twist of fate or a change in perspective, or even if it’s part of God’s grand plan for us all, we could just as easily be victims as victors.

Lesson #03 – Invasion Of The Body Snatcher

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