Anthrax: A Light-Hearted Affair

The days and months after September 11th, 2001 were a scary time for everyone. People were afraid to fly, afraid to take trains, even afraid to open their mail. But no one had quite the same reaction as my mother.

In late autumn, around the time that everyone in the world gets the sniffles, I caught a small cold. I hate getting sick; who doesn’t? But I wasn’t very sick and didn’t really think much of it. My mom, on the other hand, was convinced I had ingested anthrax.

“Panda, it is your senior year. You have gotten a lot of mail from colleges. We haven’t been monitoring it. And you have asthma. This could kill you!”

Arguing with my mom that anthrax could kill anyone, not just someone with asthma, did not help my situation nearly as well as I thought it would. My mom insisted that we go to the doctor and get tested.

So we went, resolved mother and indignant teenage daughter, in my mom’s green van to our family physician.

To his credit, my doctor did not laugh when we told him we were there for anthrax testing. Instead, he calmly examined me and then explained to us what an anthrax test was. Apparently, they have to take a three inch needle and inject it into your soft palette to fully diagnose you. Between my refusal to let someone do that to me and the doctor’s strong suggestion that I probably just had a cold, my mom gave up.

I realize how lucky I am to have a mother who loves me enough to think I’m so special that terrorists would send me deadly chemicals. And who loves me enough to drive me to the doctor, even kicking and screaming. Thanks, Mama.


And thank you doctor, for not sticking an enormous needle into my soft palette.

*Editor’s Note: I do not mean to trivialize Anthrax in any way. It was a terrifying time and people did lose their lives to bioterrorism. Scary.


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