Monday, February 7, 2011

Cold or Cancer - Which

You have a cold. Your son has cancer. The cure for neither is known. Assuming a very limited number of research dollars, where should these dollars be directed - towards the cure for the cold, or the cure for cancer? Given this alternative - who would care about the cold? A "common cold" is irritating, but nothing more (except in some very rare and exceptional situations.)

Why are we so obsessed with minor infectious diseases? We are told about the possibilities of contagion when we use bathrooms, especially those tiny closets that serve as airplane lavatories. We worry about the sneeze and where it may be directed - into the hand or into the sleeve. People have rebuffed hugs with the phrase "I'm just getting over a cold - don't want to get you sick." We worry about grasping handrails in subways.

If the possibility of contracting some mild viral infection is frightening, one should consider never venturing out in public. Or if doing so, take appropriate protection! Worried about grasping a doorknob that some public lavatory user may have previously touched, then worry about shaking the hand of anyone at all. Perhaps the "hand-shaker" had just visited a "sanitary facility," - who knows if he properly "washed his hands." Or maybe he recently coughed into his hand - Hmmm, better not chance it. Maybe it would be best not to converse with someone unless he is at some properly removed distance. After all, talking involves opening one's mouth, the use of tongue against teeth or palate with a resultant torrent of emerging micro-organisms. Watching actors on a stage declaim their lines, spittle cascading as they speak, one must marvel at the consequent lack of illness!

Consider some realities. There are a multitude of people you encounter every day who are close at hand. The vast majority are completely unaware, as you may be, that they, or you, may be harboring a virus that is contagious and that could, in the next day or so, be responsible for causing active disease.

You and others are exchanging bugs with each other all the time. Surprise! You rarely get sick!! Think for moment - you are entitled to 10 "sick-days" at your job - how many is it necessary for you to use each year. Let's imagine that you actually are laid up with a "bad cold" 10 days each year. How astonishingly wonderful this minor "inconvenience" is, considering an exposure to an uncountable number of "bugs" on a daily basis!

Two choices are open to you: 1) if daring to venture out in public, wear appropriate attire (such as gloves, masks, or better yet, Hazmat protective clothing - or 2) stop worrying so much about the tiny possibility of contracting some virulent organism that will cause major damage or inconvenience!


Debra Turner said...

I don't worry too much about getting them. But this winter I've kept more than I usually do, and it's getting old.

Debra Turner said...

Should have typed "caught."