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. 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.

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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 🙂

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

    1. If it happens and you get a virus, stay in bed, chew on the olive leaves and drink elderberry syrup. You will be grand 🙂

  5. 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.

  6. 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 🙂

  7. 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!

  8. 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.

  9. 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. 🙂

  10. 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 🙂

  11. 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.

  12. 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….

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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 😉

  17. You must be quite a fighter to have pulled through such a series illness, Inese. You are also a fabulous photographer, judging by these lovely images.

    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.

Comments are closed.