Not just a virus


In this picture, I am looking through the natural ‘window’ from a coastal cave. It was chilly outside, and we quite enjoyed our refuge from the elements.

A couple of days ago I went outside first time after a week in bed. It felt like leaving a cave.

Viruses, the tiny things that are not even technically alive, can cause a lot of trouble. The only criteria for being alive they fit in is that they can evolve over time. It is why we need to get a flu vaccine every year. Basically, a virus is a string of DNA (or RNA) wrapped in a protein coat. It doesn’t respond to any stimuli and doesn’t reproduce. It just is. At this stage it is called a virion. The horror story begins when such virion gets in contact with a cell – human, animal or bacterial. Viruses are parasites, they must have a host. The host cell will produce proteins and do the replication for the virus. Some viruses leave the host cell alive, not using its full capacity. Some viral replications cause all the hosts biochemical processes to stop, and the cell will die after the viral replication is finished.

They say that there is a virus for every organism.

The best we can do after we get struck by a virus, is to drink fluids and stay in bed. And I mean it. Complications of viral infections can cause severe illness and death. As most of you, I didn’t believe that anything bad can happen to me after a simple viral infection, but it did, three times. Only a fool doesn’t learn after getting in trouble three times.

In July 1979 I got a viral infection but didn’t stay at home. I should have known better, because I got a life threatening condition after a flu in 1977, but I just started a new job! I was dragging my body to work a whole week until my growing headache forced me to call an ambulance. Our country hospital was 40km away. By the time the ambulance arrived I was only able to tell my name. I don’t have any memory of my first days in the hospital. I have got a severe viral meningitis.  Unable to stabilize my condition, the doctors decided to transport me to the capital. I heard a nurse arguing and refusing to accompany me. She was motion-sick and she shouted that she didn’t want to be responsible if I die. Off we went. I was all right but we had to stop a few times for the nurse. My stay in the hospital, all the people I met, all the stories I heard, could make a book if I were a writer. If you haven’t read Cancer Ward by Russian author Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, give it a try.

I spent three months in the hospital. On some stage, I was immobile and had to learn to walk again. The man I loved abandoned me. A friend came over, just for a couple of hours. She had to change planes three times to get to see me over the weekend. After she left I decided to live.

I was back home in October. After a month, I went to visit my friend, and the 1979 made another attempt to kill me 🙂

There is an anti-viral medicine Rimantadine Hydrochloride, that was patented in 1965 in the USA. At about the same time, a group of scientists from Olainfarm company in Latvia worked with the chemical and came up with a similar drug, but with a slightly different formula, which explains the difference in administration of the drug. This one is fantastic, and the name is Remantadin. Originally it was created to fight tick-borne encephalitis (TBE), but it is great when used in early stages of any viral infection.

And because I mentioned Latvia, there are some photographs for you to look through. Next two blogs are dedicated to Latvia, because I am going on holidays, and I will be busy. I was lucky to spend two months in Latvia in 2013, but some photographs are taken in 2009. If you haven’t been in the Baltic states, I hope these posts will entertain you.

This is Riga, the capital of Latvia, in 2009.




This is real amber. You can pick it up after the stormy weather. Just like that 🙂

Baltic sea

Seagulls, always hungry.

Baltic sea

A stork! My favorite bird.


Beautiful park in fisherman town of Pavilosta.


Two pictures from an evening walk in Grobin town. It is the lake surrounding the ruins of a 13th century castle.



Hope you take my story about viruses seriously. Stay well!

inesemjphotography Have a wonderful weekend!


  1. You’ve certainly had a rough ride with viral infections, Inese! The one you had in 1979 sounds like a living nightmare.I imagine you were just thankful to have pulled through it. I hope you’ve recovered properly from the recent viral attack and aren’t doing too much, too soon – especially if you’re going on holiday soon. Have a wonderful time, anyway!
    Your photos of Latvia are lovely. It isn’t a holiday venue that readily comes to mind, but it looks as though it’s a very beautiful country.

    1. Thank you Millie, it did take me a long time to recover, but at the moment I am well, and enjoy my holidays.
      If you ever consider a holiday in Latvia, go in the beginning of July and stay in the city of Liepaja. The sand beach is exceptional, and you can walk miles along the waterline. The city is very tidy, lots of opportunities for cycling, walking and exploring. Another option is the city of Ventspils, but I think that they have no airport. These two are not exactly tourist destinations, relatively unspoiled and as I said, very clean. I wish I could go and stay there again, but I don’t see it happen in the nearest future.

  2. Beautiful photos. The best remedy to fight a cold and flu is to keep the body with alkaline pH balance. Make sure your water and food is alkaline. There is so much pesticide, GMO and other chemicals stuff that keeps us in a low vibration. Since the second world war someone or people change the way we take care of nature. I’ve been noticing just by eating carrots non-organic my body starting to react to it. Seeing the size of an organic carrot makes me think of what I’ve been eating… Hope this help. Blessings! Diane

    1. Thank you Diane! I agree with you about the organic food. My grandmother was a self-contained farmer, and all our food came from her farm and our own little kitchen garden. I still remember the taste 🙂

  3. Staying in bed is a challenge when we are young. It is like we “resist” being sick. Thinking that by being in bed we are being held captive, against our will.
    Great advice and details for this who may not be aware of the seriousness of the flu or influenza.
    I loved the magical photos, the stork and specifically, the Latvia photographs, Inese. ❤

    1. It is true. For a young person, staying in bed with some minor symptoms sounds ridiculous 🙂
      I love storks! This magnificent bird is very common in Latvia. I haven’t seen so many storks anywhere else. xx

  4. Glad you are on the mend Inese but remember to take it easy until you are fully fit, sounds like you’ve had some very nasty scares with viruses. Wonderful photos, Latvia looks lovely. 🙂

  5. Virus are the worse, but I’m glad you feel better. Latvia looks very pretty, I haven’t explored much that part of the world yet, but the architecture seems very interesting !

    1. Thank you so much, I do feel better.
      If you ever go to that part of the world, you can cover all three Baltic states. My dream is to visit Curonian Spit.

        1. They don’t want too many tourists there, I guess 🙂 The moving sand dune is gigantic and beautiful. I haven’t been to the Russian side of the Spit though.

  6. What a story. Glad you are on your way to recovery. Thank you for sharing your remarkable photos. I had to stop for quite a long time to admire the child with the orange hat amongst the flock of pigeons 🙂

  7. What a story. I am so glad that you lived to tell it and went on to take many glorious photographs! Glad you are feeling better from this most recent virus. Enjoy your visit with family.

    1. Thank you so much, Lisa! Cannot wait to see my family 🙂 We have a very busy schedule for the next two weeks, but hopefully I will take some photos – at least in the back yard 🙂

  8. So glad you are better, Inese. Love that window, and the rest of the pics are amazing! 😊

  9. I know how you must be feeling right now – had the flu a few years ago and was totally wiped out for months. You’re so right, it has to be taken serious and treated with respect. Rest and liquids, along with a bit paracetamol and ibuprofene helped me get better. Hope you’ll get back to full health again soon!

    1. Thank you so much! Two weeks tomorrow, and still feeling not well. You can check out a blog, the link is somewhere in the comments. That woman went through hell after a viral infection.

  10. I am so glad you made it through the illnesses! And I loved the pix – especially the seagull one and the child! Latvia looks like an interesting place to visit!

    1. Thank you Syd! I would love to go again and travel along the coast to Lithuania. Have you ever heard of Curonian Spit? It is where I want to go for photography, but I don’t see it happen in the next decade 🙂

  11. Lovely uplifting photos Inese, you’ll need a little uplifting after what you’ve been through. I hope that you’ll soon be recovered after this virus 🙂

    1. Thank you Andrea! I do need some uplifting 🙂 A whole week wasted, and the virus took all my energy. A friend of mine is down too, and we had planned to go to the movies. So much for all my plans!

  12. I take all virus seriously! I was stricken mightily in the late 1980’s. Latvia looks lovely I hope you have a lovely trip.

    1. Thank you so much! I don’t know why everyone thinks I am going to Latvia 🙂 I wish I would.
      I am very afraid of viruses, Resa. Sometimes a mild-symptom viral infection can bring life threatening complications. Staying in bed in the first 2-3 days can be crucial.

  13. The photos are, of course, beautiful. I love the sunsets; there’s something about a pink sky that warms the soul. Your story saddened me a little, but I’ve seen your images of family, and know that time was but a dark valley you passed through long ago.

    1. Thank you Jean! I wrote this post because I learned about new cases of complications after the viral infections. It is sad that some people know little about their body, and don’t believe in vaccines.

      1. As a mother, I find that level of ignorance to be downright dangerous. Your post certainly taught me a thing or two, which I deeply appreciate. 🙂

  14. You are a very strong woman to have gone through such a hard time in your life virtually alone and yet come out of the experience not bitter but with an eye for beauty.

    1. Thank you Bernadette! No, I wasn’t alone. My dad was very supportive, he asked his old friend for a second opinion and I was getting a good care. My heart was broken, yes, but these things usually heal when you are young 🙂

  15. My goodness! Sorry to hear that and thanks for the advice. You’re right about how dangerous viruses are, but you were very unlucky. I’m so pleased your friend came to visit you. And the pictures are beautiful.

  16. Hello Inese,
    I really do hope that you’re feeling a lot better now …2 brilliant posts, the more so because of your illness. Hoping you continue to pace your recovery though.
    And a great explanation of viruses!
    Best wishes

    1. Thank you Julian! I wish people take it seriously. Viruses can wipe out the human race. They have no natural enemies because they are not alive, and the only way to fight them is vaccination of their hosts. But you know, many people don’t believe in vaccination 😦

      1. Hello again Inese,
        I’ve just read/found the blog below, which I thought you might also find interesting, in the light of your experiences. I read it with interest after my vertigo, which has been a bit iffy today, and the lady involved was featured in yesterday’s paper, outlining her experiences.
        I like her writing style, and the story is a very moving/interesting one …

        If you don’t want the link, just delete my comment….no probs!
        Best wishes again,

        1. Do you have Meniere’s, Julian?
          I just read the blog. Another terrible story! Complications are not the same in different people, they are very individual, it is why they are always unexpected.
          Wishing you all the best!

          1. Hello Inese,
            It is indeed a sad story – but actually helpful for these personal issues to be talked about and described frankly – for anyone else encountering the often ‘removed’ techie approach of many medics.
            I don’t think I have Meniere’s …more a one sided possibly post viral labyrinthitis. I think our atmosphere here…high rainfall, humidity and home heated with wood burners, isn’t conducive to healthy respiratory tracts, or narrow tubes. Hopefully some warmer sunshine will speed it’s clearing.
            But who knows??
            Hope you’re back to 100% too soon!
            Best wishes
            PS, Being a bit late on such things, (you probably know this song), but I heard it yesterday on the radio for the first time..(synchronicity?), and looked up the lyrics… they seem rather appropriate to this thread.
            But melancholically beautiful. Enjoy….

  17. Continue to take good care of yourself, Inese. I know that you work hard to create your beautiful work. As someone who has been guilty of pushing myself too hard at times, I’m pleased to hear your commonsense approach.

    We humans really are stronger than we think, but also our bodies are more vulnerable than we think. Thanks for the photos, and I hope you will get well and enjoy Latvia.

    1. Thank you so much, Cynthia! I am not going to Latvia. These photographs are from the previous years. I am using them because I have neither time nor energy to edit any new work, but I don’t think that many of you have been in Latvia, and these pictures might be entertaining 🙂
      I agree with you about the human bodies – they are strong and vulnerable at the same time.
      Have a wonderful weekend!

  18. Glad you are feeling better now – your previous illness sounds awful (understatement); terrible to read about. Enjoy your break and hope it gives you strength.

  19. So glad that you are OK, Inese! Get some more rest. Seems like you have had a lot of bad viruses!! So glad that you are still around with your wonderful gift of photographing life 🙂 Take care.

  20. Oh my darling Inese, I am so glad you decided to live, although I’m so sad you went through all that. You are a great and special lady and I send you every healing hug. Your pictures are beautiful.If this is you NOT writing a commentary, I’m awestruck xxxxxx Take care.

    1. Thank you so much! It was a hard time. “To live” was more like “stand up and get your life back”. It took me another month to start walking, and another six months to forget that I was immobile once 🙂 I visited that friend of mine just three weeks before I got sick, and I have some pictures. The illness added at least five years to my face. xxxx

      1. Which is, and will always be, a beautiful face Inese. You are an amazing lady in every way. I hope your evening went well and you are good today. xxxxxxx

        1. Thank you! I slept 12 hours after I came home 🙂 Hope I will sleep like that on my flights because otherwise I am watching the wings for 8 hours, and it is exhausting 😉

    1. Thank you so much 🙂 I was very young and it helped, but actually I was in and out of hospitals most of my life. One can learn a lot about life staying in hospital.

  21. I am so happy you´re feeling a little bit better now, Inese!! This is a gruesome story you told us and I´m very glad that you´ve overcome this horrible disease and choose to fight! But worse still, you´re not the only one who did/does that in order to keep their working place. I did the opposite – stayed at home, although the probation time wasn´t over – and lost my job. It´s so stupid of our society to demand of us to keep going no matter what. If everybody would stay home and recover, there would be billions of dollars saved ´cause there wouldn´t be so many employees on sick-leave. But that´s not how it works unfortunately.
    Your pictures of Latvia are lovely – makes me want to go there and visit! 🙂 Hope you´ll have a nice time with your family! Lots of love, Sarah xoxo

    1. Thank you for your comment, Sarah! Yes, the employers act very mean not letting the sick employees take their three days off. As you say, it would save millions in the future.
      I will post more photographs from Latvia. I am on holidays next two weeks, and won’t have time to process any new pictures, so I will use all that Latvian stuff 🙂 Have a great weekend! xxxx

      1. I agree, sometimes 3 days is all it needs, but even that seems to be too much 😦
        Great! I´ll be very much looking forward to your next Latvia pictures!! Have a great weekend, too! xoxo 😀

  22. OMGoodness Inese… so glad you survived your “invincible” years and are feeling on the mend again now! And what a comfort, knowing your friend was willing to travel so far to be by your side! Hope you enjoy lots of hugs with the kids and have a wonderful family time away! 🙂 ♥ ❤

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words! Yes, my friend did something extraordinary, and this had helped me return to life. I cannot wait to see my grandchildren, but I am also afraid of flying. Thank you again for your good wishes! Have a wonderful weekend!

  23. I’m sorry to hear that you’ve had a few serious encounters with viruses in the past. I’m not very impressed with a nurse who would say anything about the possibility of death within earshot of a patient, even if she was arguing.

    Incidentally, the photographs of Latvia are beautiful. I was excited at the idea of amber lying about too. If I found pieces of amber on a beach, I would definitely start looking at them carefully with a magnifying glass trying to find trapped insects.

    1. Thank you so much, Bun! I really want people to understand that our life is precious but fragile. I know all about paycheck and policies, but we have to find a way to stay home when we are sick.
      Yes, amber is laying around, most of the time. When my daughter’s family and I visited in October 2004, a stormy month, we had found enough amber to fill up a small bowl. One piece was as big as a chestnut. On my stay in 2013 I was not as lucky. In Palanga, Lithuania, they have a fine museum of amber, with a lot of insects and stuff trapped inside. I would love to go again and travel along the coast and to the Curonian Spit, but I don’t see it happen 😦

  24. I am glad to hear you are getting better and out of the bed!!!

    Getting sick of any kind is no fun. I think we are still far away to have general anti-virus medicine. We depend on our immune system and some that we know of just do attack our immune system. That is a difficult one.

    That was a horrible experience with meningitis you had. It was not only physical suffering but also emotional as well!!

    Glad the post ends with a different tone with those lovely pictures. They lift the spirit backup again. Please have a good weekend.

    1. Thank you so much for your kind comment! Yes, I wanted to end the post on a positive note 🙂 I have many pictures taken in Latvia, and will use them while on holidays for my next two blog posts, just to cover all I know about Latvia 🙂 Have a happy weekend!

  25. Wise advice, Inese. It’s hard when other duties call, but you are right, best to stay in bed. You learned the hard way! Glad you’re feeling better. Lovely photos of Latvia. Be well.

    1. Thank you so much, Diana! People are getting absolutely bizarre complications after flu, and it is unpredictable. If we have to share this world with those who outnumber us, we have to be smart 🙂

  26. Yes do look after yourself
    The older we get the harder it is to be proactive
    Enjoy yourself
    Take lots of beautiful photos
    See you soon
    As always Sheldon

  27. ‘Managed to read the entire post. Wow. I can relate perfectly, when I was in 2nd year of university I got meningitis (not viral fortunately). I will never forget the pain. And the months to get back on track. Hope this trip will blow away all the viruses. 🙂 Bon voyage!

    1. Thank you! 🙂 So, you can relate. In my 3rd year in university I got an arachnoiditis, also as a complication after a viral infection. It is an inflammation of brain membrane. So, I got it twice, and still didn’t learn and kept going to work when sick. Only after a viral infection killed my thyroid, I learned the lesson and stay in bed when I am sick since. That’s the story.

        1. May be it is the bright side, but the fact that I had to get very ill three times to learn a lesson doesn’t indicate any ‘brightness’. Pavlov’s dog learned faster than I.

  28. Wow Inese…. What a horror for you. I don’t think I can even imagine being in the hospital so long. I’m sorry you went through such a thing – and the related bad things as well.
    I hope your holiday is relaxing and healing. I know from my own experience (though nothing to compare to yours) that it can take weeks to get your strength back.
    Enjoy your granddaughters and everyone. Hold within your mind an image of perfect health. Sending you love, Light, and hugs. 🙂

    1. Thank you so much, Teagan! I have a bunch of photographs from Latvia, enough for another two posts. Will use them while on holidays. All my time will belong to my little ones 🙂 Many hugs!!! xxxxxx

  29. Such beautiful pictures. I particularly like the first one. Reminiscent of Stevenson’s Treasure Island. Just colder. Latvia looks nice too. (I need to devote more time to reading your post) ave a lovely trip. Take good care of yourself. Brian

  30. Wow, I am very glad you are well now. You are right, people don’t think that they will ever get really sick. Your pictures are lovely. I’ve never traveled outside the US, except for Canada, does that count?! I have a goal to travel. I have a list going of places I want to see!

  31. So sorry you’ve been so sick, Insese, but happy that you are on the mend. I will take your informative post on viruses to heart. Very good information for all of us to pay attention to. Love the pictures. So beautiful. You are one very talented lady 🙂

    1. Oh hope I won’t, Bob. I am going to see my granddaughters and I don’t want to bring them a virus 😦 It is a long trip, some 2o hours altogether, and it is always a risk, especially now when I am quite weakened with the illness.

  32. I’m glad you’re up and about again.Do me a favour and look after yourself a little better please. Latvia looks beautiful, have a wonderful trip there.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    1. Thank you David! Still weak, but getting there. No, I am not going to Latvia. I was there in 2013, and have plenty of photographs. I am going to see my little sweethearts 🙂
      Many Hugs!!!xxxxxx

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