My air conditioner broke. Twice. Within one week.
What could that have to do with medicine and infectious disease? A lot, if you are as obsessed with these topics as I am.
What I had a hard time understanding was how the HVAC repairman fixed the air conditioner on one day only to have it malfunction a few days later. To blame were two different components. After the first repair, since everything seemed to be working, there was no impetus to check for further issues in the system. A few days later, those other "issues" manifested and I was left with a sweltering condo.
In medicine there is something known as a distracting injury. For example, if someone breaks her leg in a fall the pain may be so intense that the individual doesn't realize that her neck also hurts. So, physicians are encouraged to discount the patient's denial of pain in one body part if a distracting injury is present in another. In effect, my air conditioner had a distracting injury that the repairman exclusively focused upon, blinding him to the other issue.
I also recalled something one of my favorite attendings said to me when I was an infectious disease fellow. It was her admonition that complex patients--such as the severely immunosuppressed--can have more than one pathophysiological process occurring within them.
Was my air conditioner immunosuppressed?