Friday, November 28, 2008

My First Tropical Disease

Dear World Health Organization,

I am pleased to announce that I have isolated a new strain of disease in Southeast Asia. I believe the reason it has gone so long uncategorized is because of some striking similarities to the common cold, but long hours in the lab and a harrowing personal bout with said disease have convinced me that we are dealing with an entirely different beast. I will enumerate in this letter the additional symptoms that appear alongside the more mundane congestion, coughing and fever.

This symptom usually has an early onset, starting with the certainty that the contracted disease is definitely malaria or at least dengue fever. Even after these suspicions have been quelled, paranoia will simply shift onto a new object, usually one’s romantic partner. Patient may feel as though partner has switched dramatically from sympathy (“You poor thing.”) to mild disinterest (“Are you coughing or puking in there? Just coughing? Oh.”) This perception, combined with a complete lack of symptoms in the romantic partner, may convince the patient that she has been purposefully and maliciously infected.

This may manifest itself in a hatred of all things Cambodian (“If it wasn’t so muddy here I would be better by now”) or a desperation for all things familiar and unobtainable (“My kingdom for a Cheez-it”). May be combined with previously listed symptom to produce rage in the patient at the thought that romantic partner is probably at a special cafĂ© that specializes in crossword puzzles and Boggle while patient is dying on couch.

Impairment of Judgment:
Disease can cause patient to make poor decisions, including (but not limited to) taking a generic decongestant which may be a mislabeled elephant tranquilizer, jogging at the crack of dawn with the conviction that it will actually make one feel better, and watching terrible movies on the only English-language cable channels, featuring slightly out-of-fashion actresses like Sandra Bullock and Kim Basinger being hurled into states of despair.

May be a direct consequence of poor film choices (“Why must Kim Basinger’s son die of an African snake bite? Why?”) or a separate phenomenon. Patient may begin to assert that death is imminent and engage in elaborate fantasies about repatriation of remains.

This matter requires immediate attention and swift action on the part of WHO, with an eye toward vaccination and eventual eradication. Much work remains and you can rest assured that I intend to see it through to the bitter end. Also, please note that the name The Shannon Syndrome has a certain je ne sais quoi and is currently available for use.

Shannon N. Dunlap

1 comment:

dunlapfabfive said...

The Shannon Syndrome is sounding serious. However, my nursing expertise tells me that I could cure a little bit of the symptom labeled "homesickness" via some minor creature comforts from home IF I had a mailing address!!!!! HINT, HINT.