When I was three or four, we lived in a house that had rhubarb growing behind the garage. My mom showed me how to pick it, rinse it, and dip it in sugar for a treat. Being the independent free-spirit that i was, I would sometimes just go back there, break off a stalk, and eat it without sugar – or washing.
Looking back on that now, I cringe. Not only was I eating dirt, but also probably dog pee, stray bugs, and worse. Thinking about it today makes me throw up a little in my mouth. At the time, however, nothing bad happened to me.
Apparently, I was ahead of my time. A report in The New York Times says that early experiments show that ingesting another person’s crap might cure certain antibiotic-resistant diseases. The news is so important that even The World’s Snarkiest Website had to admit that the obvious jokes miss the point.
We have antibiotic resistant diseases because we like a quick fix. If we feel sick and go to the doctor, we expect to leave with a prescription or we don’t think we got our money’s worth. We need to feel better right this minute, instead of listening to our bodies, resting for a day or two and drinking lots of fluids. Who can afford to rest for a day? For too many of us, taking a sick day means losing a job, especially if we’re part of Mitt Romney’s 47 percent. Imagine, expecting to get keep a job when you’re loafing around with a virus.
This attitude is killing us.
This year’s flu virus is killing hundreds of people across the country, and making thousands more seriously ill. Now that this is on the news, millions of us are waiting in line for flu shots, locking the barn after the colt has run off. Before things got so bad, the more paranoid among us acted like flue shots were some kind of government conspiracy to, I don’t know, put microchips in us and make us more docile.
Flu shots don’t always work, in that you might get a flu shot and still get the flu. They are not magic, but they do strengthen your immune system. The flu you get after a flu shot is much more mild than you would have suffered otherwise.
For most of us, getting the flu, even without a shot, is not life-threatening. It’s a way for the body to tell a person to take it easy, that the stresses of modern life have weakened the immune system. When I don’t feel well, I try to take a break, to sit, if only for a few minutes, and enjoy being able to breathe, to have a cat on my lap, to have a loved one with whom to converse on the phone. I try to remember to ear real food, not packaged garbage, to enjoy my hand-knit socks.
I certainly prefer this behavior to panicking at the thought of getting sick. The doctor in the link is quoted as saying, “‘Grandchildren are the biggest risk for older people … children are notorious spreader of the flus because they tend to cough and not cover their mouths and be less hygienic,’ said Dr. Bogaisky.”. I can’t imagine thinking getting a shot is worse than being without hugs from a grandchild.
If you are a person with a weakened immune system, because you are elderly, or because you are an infant, or because you have HIV or cancer or other medical issues, then you need more medicine when you get sick. You may need an antibiotic. If so, you should always be sure to take the full prescription, instead of saving some for later because you already feel better. If everyone took all their meds on the prescribed schedule, we wouldn’t have so many resistant new germs.
And if we had realistic expectations of our health care system and didn’t consider people’s health an opportunity to make money (especially by creating and marketing medicines that manage a condition but don’t cure it), we’d all be in better shape.
While you wait, have some chicken soup. It wouldn’t hurt.
Martha Thomases, Media Goddess, also enjoys a daily grapefruit in the winter.