[Originally published December 9, 2004.]

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Dear Keith Richards’ Immune System,

Hey! How are you? I know you’re busy sustaining four packs a day of Gitanes and overcoming the long-term effects of black-tar heroin, but here’s the thing: I need your help.

I have an illness, CFIDS, that suppresses my immune system, and I don’t like it. I get fevers that last a month and I’m allergic to 72 foods. (Food, the thing that sustains life, frequently makes me sick.) But I’m not writing on my behalf. No, what keeps me up at night is that AIDS is enveloping Africa, Asia, and Russia with horrifying speed. Tens of millions of individuals—people with families and middle names and private jokes and birthdays—are dying, and all science has been able to do is slow things down a bit.

Here’s where you come in. Out of the 6.1 billion human immune systems on the planet, you’re clearly the strongest. You’ve triumphed over the aforementioned tobacco and opiates, and over Mick’s preening vocals on “Hot Stuff.” What other immune system can claim the same?

On behalf of the immuno-compromised populace, I’m asking that you allow epidemiologists to study your molecular activity before it’s too late. Had researchers pounced while Charles Bukowski and William Burroughs were alive, millions could have been saved and I might eat eggs without throwing up.

To paraphrase Princess Leia: Help us, Keith Richards’ Immune System. You’re our only hope.

Thanks and much continued success,
Litsa Dremousis