Did you hear about the flu? The flu makes that monkey in Outbreak look like a pansy. It’s an epidemic, no wait; it’s a pandemic! Tune into the ten o’clock news Chicken Little because that sniffle could mean your ass!
Man, I love me some paranoia! This season’s flu epidemic is looking to rival AIDS, SARS, and maybe even give The Plague a run for its money! Now, I know what you’re thinking, we’ve all had the flu, we’ve all had the fever, runny nose, achy back, so what’s the big deal? Well, this year’s big deal is…well, hell, I don’t really know. I guess since SARS got its ass kicked so fast and there’s no anthrax spores coming your way in the mail, the media didn’t have anything else to terrify us with. I’ve had the flu once. Two years ago my wife and I got it in Costa Rica and it sucked! We lived though. I guess we were among the lucky ones….
We were in the drugstore the other day buying some marked down X-mas cards and a store employee walked up to us and very loudly said, “Sorry, we’re running out of flu vaccinations!” I had no idea they were on the same shelf with the twinkle lights! I looked over and saw that there was a long line of people waiting for their flu shots snaking around the back of the store. I seemed Johnny Drugstore thought we were looking for the end of it. Well, me being me I yelled, “Damn you! Have you no compassion? How can you stand by and watch us die in the street like dogs? Give me a flu shot or I’ll burn down the store!” Well, actually I said something more like, “Thanks anyway, we’re just here for some beef jerky and the Vaseline that’s on sale.” I’m not nearly as dramatic as I’d like to be.
A flu shot is the ultimate sucker’s bet. If you got your flu shot this year, feel free to swing by my house this weekend to play some dice. We’re in a melting pot, which means that every time someone gets off a plane or boat with the flu; the current shot becomes irrelevant. Today’s shot is OK until the rest of the world gets off that plane with an all-new strain and then… worthless. We all know this (or we should) but people have already tapped out the entire nation’s supply of flu shots. I am so in the wrong business! A few years ago I twisted my back and went to the doctor. He looked me over and then a nurse came in to give me my flu shot. I informed her that I was there because of my back, not the flu and she informed me that the shot was covered by my insurance. Well, so is a prostate exam but I sure as hell didn’t want one! Since the shot was “free” I was supposed to be thankful for it. Meanwhile, Johnny Malpractice is trying to pad my bill with a useless shot that I’m not about to get stuck with. Wonder why healthcare is expensive yet crappy anyone? I may set up shop as the only real doctor in town. My patients will come in and say, “Dr. Dathan, I need a flu shot!” I’ll tell them, “Bullshit, get some exercise, eat a balanced diet, and keep warm. That will be $100 and no, I don’t take HMO’s.”
Are we really this paranoid or do we just enjoy the thrill of paranoia? When SARS came out people ran out and bought surgical masks, with anthrax those same people ran out and bought gas masks! How much duct tape and plastic sheeting is sitting gathering dust in basement cupboards right now? Remember when you were a kid and you’d do something stupid like blow up someone’s mailbox and take off running? You’d hide behind a tree with your friend and giggle your ass off, feeling that mix of fear and exhilaration knowing you might get caught? Are people just trying to replicate that feeling? If you buy into the idea that you could die any second and then you live, is the relief a big enough payoff to act like such a fool?
I can appreciate that we live in a nation of sheep. If it weren’t for the sheep we’d have total anarchy all the time. I only wish that the sheep freaked out about better things. Holy shit Honey, the schools are running out of funding! Grab your checkbook and some Peechee folders and let’s go help! Why doesn’t that ever happen? It’s always the most selfish issues that get people all riled up. After the newest warnings come out and I hear about two old ladies bitch slapping each other over the last gallon of bottled water I really want to do some bitch slapping myself. “Good morning, are you here for your flu shot?” Smaaack!! “Now go home and eat your vegetables!”
I certainly don’t wish the flu on anyone (OK, maybe some people but not everyone) but I really hope that all the paranoid sissies who do get it wake up when they get over it and think, “Hey that wasn’t so bad!” Maybe if they can do that, they’ll realize they can live a normal life… a life where they don’t have to lubricate themselves with antibacterial soap before climbing into their authentic John Travolta plastic bubble for the night. Maybe a good bout of the flu will knock the BS filter in their brains back to “on” and we can start seeing real news on the news rather than silly hype. I long for the day when a line like “Is something in the cheese killing you? Tune in to the 10 o’clock news and find out!” causes everyone to give the TV the finger and change the channel. Until then I guess it’s up to me to give the finger enough for all of us.
12.30.03 @ 11:33p
"Well, actually I said something more like, “Thanks anyway, we’re just here for some beef jerky and the Vaseline that’s on sale.”
DA HA HA!
Oh yeah, it's pretty friggin' nuts. A friend of mine just called and said, "I don't want to take [my child] to this really cool, free, event because of all the germs, because, you know, 2 kids died in Council Bluffs last week."
Yeah, and like [the child's] school is hermetically-sealed biosphere where the kids never lick on each other's ice-cream cones. Whatever. Grab some hand sanitizer and some anti-bac wipes and take the kid to the friggin' free event.
1.16.04 @ 12:21a
Why the hell not get a flu shot? It's cheap. It takes about 30 seconds to get. And if it even gives me a slightly better chance of avoiding getting sick from some Typhoid Mary on the bus - well then I'll do it.
1.16.04 @ 12:49a
I don't believe in the flu shot. Of course it's easier for me to avoid people since I don't have children and I scowl a lot in the colder weather.
I generally have a much different attitude toward most of the things that panic the easily frightened public.
1.16.04 @ 7:02a
I come on these boards to get away from talk about flu shots. That's all I've talked about at work for the last month and a half. I've been on the local news a bunch of times, too. I am a Raleigh local celeb! :)
Anyhow, I'll ignore the physician-bashing as well.
I will agree with Dathan's "sheep" point though. Very true.
However, the media really is to blame for much of the hysteria. People don't have medical knowledge. They rely on the media for their information. And, no matter what I say to a reporter, they still put on the 6 o'clock news what they want.
1.16.04 @ 10:03a
Take your garlic pills and vitamin C and if you're very old or very young get a flu shot. One of my ancient aunties nagged me for years about garlic pills. I finally just gave in and started taking them. Wouldn't ya know she was right! I used to have three or four "colds" every winter and now I usually have none. I'm not sure it will keep the flu away, so because I'm very old I get a flu shot. Anybody who's ever been interviewed for TV or a newspaper story knows how wrong they always get everything, so I assume it's all just entertainment. Doncha just love show biz?
1.16.04 @ 10:55a
Yeah, littles and olds definitely need to protect themselves, but the rest of us would do well to take a multivitamin, wash our hands more frequently and get good sleep.
That being said, I still caught a cold last week. But tons of sleep, green and white tea and garlic-laced stew cut my suffering time in half.
Gotta love Nyquil.
1.16.04 @ 11:22a
The point I was making (well one point anyway) Matt, is that it's cheap but it doesn't work. I'm sure you can get a great deal on boat that doesn't float but do you want one? Flu shots at best have a placebo effect but it's not worth sticking chemicals straight into your blood when there are alternatives.
1.16.04 @ 4:57p
Are you saying flu shots don't work at all, or that just this year it isn't very effective?
1.16.04 @ 5:01p
That they don't work at all. There's really not much proof that any vaccinations actually work.
1.16.04 @ 10:58p
You sound like the chiropractors I know. I don't have the time nor effort to argue with you on this. Check out the CDC Website. See if this helps make you realize some things.
1.17.04 @ 2:16a
Most of the people I know who've had the flu shot this year have come down with the flu. A really bad version of the at that. I avoid doctors because I don't believe half of what they tell me. My view is, "I'm going to live until I die." I don't worry about that stuff any more.
1.17.04 @ 1:52p
Robert, this year's flu shot is an exception to the rule. I don't deny it sucks this year, since it has the the wrong strain in it.
However, for Dathan or any one else to start questioning the effectiveness of immunizations in general, is ignorant, at best.
1.17.04 @ 2:30p
David, thanks for the propaganda website. I’m guessing you’re a doctor? Please keep in mind that your education was brought to you by Pfizer. I’m not really up for the huge debate either but you must realize that doctors today are simply drug pushers. When was the last time a doctor told a fat person that if they weren’t so fat, all their other health problems would likely go away? Nope, not happening, here’s some Lipitor for your cholesterol and some insulin for that diabetes. That’s fact.
1.17.04 @ 3:08p
I'm grateful for the vaccinations I've had that have protected me from some very nasty diseases. I worked for a librarian who had had polio. All her life she struggled along with her body cruelly twisted, hobbling with a cane. Thank heavens I'm not likely to suffer in that way. But I had a flu shot once. I became quite ill. The same day. Could be coincidence. But I checked things out - the chance of getting real flu, compared with any other cold, and the chance that the flu jab would really be effective against the flu of any season. I decided it just wasn't worth getting somewhat ill, for sure, compared with possibly reducing my risk - just a little - of being laid out with flu for two weeks. And that's it. I get colds, and two-day fevers sometimes, but I haven't had real, proper flu yet. I'm still happy with my decision.
1.17.04 @ 5:05p
I'm not going to talk about the flu shot anymore here. Forget the flu shot. I've already agreed with you that it hasn't been very effective this year.
However, Dathan, have you ever seen someone with Polio? I somehow doubt it. Kids in India are still getting Polio every day. It's a horrible, lifelong crippling disease for those in whom it attacks the nervous system. I promise you that people like your grandparents (or possibly your parents depending on how old you are), who were around when the Polio epidemic was in this country, do not share your viewpoint.
Yes, I'm a physician. A public health/preventive medicine physician at that, so you certainly don't have to preach to me about losing weight to prevent heart disease.
Now, with the lifestyle changes vs. medication, you bring up a valid point in that yes, if you eat better and exercise, you can often lower your blood sugar and cholesterol somewhat.
However, what happens when someone develops esential hyperstension (high blood pressure with no identifiable cause, the most common form of high blood pressure)? Do they "deserve" their high blood pressure just because it runs in the family?
Doctors do tend to overprescribe many drugs. I don't disagree. However, they also can easily be sued for malpractice if they don't follow the proper "standard of care."
1.17.04 @ 5:27p
I have to say David is right about being easily sued. My mother was a nurse, first in the ER, then for a private doctor, and she saw many frivolous lawsuits. Yet every time I take her to a doctor and start to feel the doctor is just experimenting I always make a point of asking to have everything in writing, and let them know if I feel they screwed up I'll just have my law look everything over.
For myself, I do not trust or believe anything doctors tell me. I second guess them and want second and third opinions before I would even start to believe them. I need to be unconscious or near that phase to even be taken to a hospital. I have no faith in doctors. Of couse this goes back to the many stories I heard while growing up, of doctors screwing up and killing patients.
I don't say the doctors are entirely to blame, but I'll at less risk of being accidentally misdiagnosed if I don't go to a doctor.
1.17.04 @ 5:30p
Interestingly enough, my wife’s mother had polio. She was immunized against it but still got it. Diseases have a life cycle. They run their course in the form of an outbreak, everyone who’s going to get it gets it and then it goes dormant. If this weren’t true, there would be no humans left since vaccines aren’t that old and yet here we are. What we have now is that the disease runs its course and then some clown steps in and says he’s found a vaccine. Suddenly no one’s getting the disease and he’s a hero. In reality, no one would have gotten in anyway. Where’s the vaccine for AIDS? Hepatitis? Herpes? It’s sitting on a shelf and once these diseases run their course, someone’s going to jump in and win a Nobel Prize. There is in reality no proof anywhere that vaccines work now or ever have.
I think there is definitely a place for medicine and I certainly don’t think those that need it should go without it. The problem is that the money is in the drugs and cutting. There’s not much profit to be made in common sense advice and that’s created the hideous condition our healthcare system is currently in.
1.17.04 @ 5:49p
Not 100 percent of people who recive vaccine all develop antibodies properly. I guarantee if your mom-in-law had developed the appropriate antibodies (she had bad luck), she wouldn't have gotten it. She's very lucky she can walk.
"There is in reality no proof anywhere that vaccines work now or ever have.
I so hope you are joking. People haven't ben extincted from disease over the past millions of years, sure, but life expectancy has shot up to like 77 from about 40 just in the past 100 years.
"Where’s the vaccine for AIDS? Hepatitis?"
There ARE vaccines for Hepatitis! This is where you may not know of what you speak. There are extremely effective vaccines for Hepatitis A and B.
In addition, if you are ever exposed to Hepatitis B, Dathan, you will be in deep doo doo, as the Hep B vaccine is the post-exposure prophylaxis.
1.17.04 @ 5:55p
"There’s not much profit to be made in common sense advice and that’s created the hideous condition our healthcare system is currently in."
Dathan, you see the exactly the problem we face in Preventive Medicine everyday. There is no profit to be made from prevention. Also, when people are having heart attacks, they must be treated right then and there. Not so with prevention, since when we do a good job with it, no one notices.
We certainly agree on this! :)
1.17.04 @ 6:05p
I agree with Dathan! I first learned more about the controversy surrounding vaccinations from my friend who has a Doctorate in Immunology from Stanford University. Through his research he has confirmed that vaccinations are not responsible for wiping out diseases such as Polio. However, the medical industry has been able to make millions vaccinating our population and it would be a financial disaster if they were to admit that they do not work. There are a growing amount of doctors around the bay area that have independently done their own research and have compromised the financial success of their practices by admitting that vaccinations probably do not work. They’ve also shown that most doctors listen to the pharmaceutical companies because it means better profits for them.
My advice would be that people do their own research from sources not linked to the pharmaceutical industry or governmental organizations that receive money from pharmaceutical companies. Instead, find sources like my friend at Stanford who are not dependent on financial support from the pharmaceutical industry.
1.17.04 @ 6:09p
David, I definitely agree with you there! It’s the whole “give a man a fish and he eats for a day…” thing. If a doctor teaches a patient to live a healthy life, he’s just lost a patient. Give him a prescription though and he’s got a patient for life.
1.19.04 @ 1:00a
“give a man a fish and he eats for a day…”
...teach a man to fish and he drinks for a lifetime.
10.18.04 @ 2:31p
Oh my lord this year is even better! These are actual headlines from the news:
Town lottery to allocate remaining flu vaccine
Flu Shot Seekers' Tempers Flare
Some New Yorkers crossing the border for flu shots
'Traffic control' planned for local flu clinic
Desperate Americans look north for flu shots
Exhausted, some collapsing, one dying, thousands line up for desperate shot at flu vaccine
California woman dies during long wait for flu vaccine
And my personal favorite:
Kerry faults Bush in flu shot shortage - President, in turn, says senator won't keep nation safe
Yep, screw terrorism and the fiasco in Iraq! The flu is going to decide this election…