(Based on actual events.)
I’ve contracted an alien virus. I’m certain of it. The doctors call it Rheumatoid Arthritis, but I know that’s just a fancy name for “unknown gene-mutating alien virus.” (No wonder it’s incurable.) And besides, I happen to know that the Rheumatoids of Planet Rheuma out in the Beta System (the only Rheumatoids I know) don’t get Arthritis. They can’t. They have no jointed appendages.
I don’t know how I got this virus. I haven’t been off-planet in ages. None of my friends have been off-planet either, nor has anyone friends from off-planet come on-planet. So I don’t think any of them gave it to me. Maybe it was that cookie I ate.
I can say for sure, though, that it came out of nowhere and hit me like a ton of bricks. Wham! One minute I was busy sewing up Elasto-Plunges to stock my Med Kit with, and the next thing I knew, my hand had swelled up like a Parsuvian watermelon. Then it started to throb, keeping time with the strange pulsating glow now emanating from it. My mind got all foggy and I couldn’t think, except to think about how strange and painful this was. I sat there, holding my hand up in the air, rocking back and forth, moaning. Somehow, it made it feel better.
Three days later, the swelling finally subsided. Another two days and I could almost use my hand again. Then my other hand swelled up, Parsuvian watermelon scene all over again. I went to the doctor. He said he had no idea what was wrong and that I should go ask someone else.
A week later my knee swelled up. What’s that old Earth expression, “Oh, my God?” Yeah, "OMG." In ten minutes flat my knee went from normal to surpassing a Darfrissian Large-Fruit, which is considerably bigger than a Parsuvian watermelon. In fact, my knee looked more like an Imbric Master Gourd, one of the big ones that weighs eighty pounds or more, one of the ones that are about to burst because it’s so swollen. Ouch.
So I hopped over to the Emergency Room on my good leg. They gave me many strange looks and one very effective Morphine pain shot, put a band-aid on my knee, and took me up to ICU, where I spent the next three days in sleepy bliss, thanks to follow-up shots of the same very effective Morphine. Another five days in a private room, bored to hopelessness, and they finally let me go. Good thing too. I was running out of pajamas.
My knee almost looked normal and if I was kind to it, it didn’t hurt too much. But it wasn’t the same knee. It was different, in ways I couldn’t then describe. The mutation had begun.
And there’s more. My heart rate and blood pressure had changed and my thyroid gland was pumping a strange blend of hormones into my body.
So, I was sent home with enough prescriptions to cost any lottery winner all of his winnings, and an apology that the learned doctors there could not help me. I would have to go elsewhere to seek treatment.
Good thing they gave me a prescription for pain pills.
January 2, 2007