Tag Archives: Health

Flu Bugged

We are all Dr. Babooner.


Dear Dr. Babooner,

My cubicle buddy has terrible Respiratory Etiquette.

She’s always sick but she won’t stay home. Somehow she got the idea that the best way to handle a sneeze is to deflect it upwards, much in the same way raggedy militiamen in third world insurrections celebrate by firing their guns into the air.

Although she sits on the other side of a partition, I can hear her hacking and honking and moments after she coughs I’m pretty sure I can feel tiny droplets of infected mucous settling on to my bare skin.

I’ve tried talking to her about it, but engaging her in conversation feels like a scene from one of those war movies where the infantrymen have to run zig-zag and dive behind obstacles just to get across the courtyard. Of course she believes she’s indispensable and that the company wouldn’t survive if she missed a day of work. So instead, it’s her co-workers who are dropping like flies.

Not only does she sneeze clouds of snotty mist all around the office, but I often see her wiping her nose with a bare hand just before using that very same hand to open a door or greet someone who has just walked into the room.

I want to throw a Purel-soaked body sack over her and drag her to a nearby clinic but I know she’d complain to the HR department.
Of course I’ve tried to inform HR that she’s a health hazard, but there’s never anyone down there. HR staff are the only people in the company who follow the contagious disease policy.

Dr. Babooner, I’m at my wits’ end and I don’t know what to do! Should I move, quit, or force the issue by wearing a gas mask? I’ll hold my breath until you reply.

I.M. Gasping

I told I.M. we must all take our health very seriously for our own sake and for the sake of those around us. But it is difficult to tell someone who doesn’t see it that their poor hygiene is a hazard to others. I like the idea of a gas mask, although full body protection would be even better. Maybe you could start by declaring tomorrow Hazmat Friday?

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Ask Dr. Babooner

Dear Dr. Babooner,

Every time I go to the health club to work out, other people give me the hairy eyeball because I sweat, grunt, gasp, and strain. I figured it was their problem until one of the trainers pulled me aside and said I was “creating stress.” Apparently management discourages any kind of physical activity that is too extreme to allow the participant to continue a friendly conversation.

It seems there are some people who consider my noisemaking to be a form of showing off, as if I’m trying to impress the crowd with how hard I’m working. And it’s partially true, Dr. Babooner. I AM working hard. But I assumed at an exercise club, EVERYONE would be working. I expected a big room full of treadmills and free weights to be an environment where my natural exertions would go unnoticed.

Not so.

One day I took a look around and it seemed like I was the only one in the whole place who was out of breath. And then I noticed another thing – for a health club, everyone but me seemed to be pretty flabby. I walked by these two guys on elliptical trainers who were having a pleasant chat about how they always come to the club at the same time – real creatures of habit. I snuck a peek at their heart rates – 92 and 85! That’s almost a resting pulse!

I went back to my machine and bore down. I started panting and grunting like a bison in heat. I could tell it bothered them, but I didn’t care. When I walked by their machines later, they hadn’t sped up at all but their heart rates were around 150 each! I figured the stress I created was giving their hearts a vigorous aerobic workout – perhaps the only one they’d ever get.

I’ve been going there at the same time for six weeks now, and though I’ve become hoarse from all my noisemaking (only some of it was make-believe), I do think I’m having a positive effect. The one guy looks like he’s lost about five pounds, and other one has much better facial color. And they both seem to be angry most of the time, which means my remote-control “Stressercise” program is working!

Management is telling me to hand in my pass key but I don’t want to quit – I’m worried about what will happen to my antagonists if I leave. What if their exasperation about my grunts is the only thing keeping them alive?

Arrrrrgh Gwaaaaahphutz

I told Arrrrrgh he is a very kind and under appreciated citizen who has all the best intentions, but he is taking too much responsibility for other people. Although he may feel that he’s having a positive effect on the health of his antagonists, he can’t guarantee the physical health of others. I can certainly imagine the loud and troubling sounds he must have to make – what an unselfish price to pay – geniuses and philanthropists are always misunderstood. My advice – relent and cave to the wishes of management, but keep my number handy in case you decide to seek investors to take “Stressercise” to the next level!

But that’s just one opinion. What do YOU think, Dr. Babooner?

Debate Prep

Today’s post is a special message from Physicians for Bedrest – a public interest group advocating completion of the Job of Rest.

They say the way to know who has won a presidential debate is to listen to it on the radio, because the strength of a good argument will shine through when the distractions of the TV picture are absent.

Others say exactly the opposite – the words don’t matter. Watch with the sound off if you want to know who’s winning, because the key to victory is projecting confidence and competence. May the man with the best lighting win!

But at Physicians for Bedrest, we think the smartest way to experience these presidential debates is with BOTH the sound AND the video turned off. That’s right. Sit in front of the blank screen. Turn the lights down low. Let your mind wander to thoughts of taxes, infrastructure, job creation and budget cuts.

Close your eyes. Take a little nap.

When you wake up feeling rested and refreshed, you will be in better shape than most Americans when it comes to weighing your options and making political choices. Most people work too hard and don’t get enough sleep. And research tells us that a sleep-deprived mind is also deprived of good judgment. Weighing one’s options is a neuron-intensive process, so a couple of hours extra sleep will be invaluable when it comes time to step into the voting booth.

“But what about the debate?” you may ask.

The debate will be with us for the next three days, at least. If anything at all happens, there will be no shortage of breathless messengers panting to deliver the news. They’ll be exhausted, but because you debate-dozed, you’ll be ready to carefully consider what they have to tell you, assuming they’re able to produce a coherent string of words.

Knowing about the candidates and the issues is an important part of civic engagement. But being able to process what you know relies on getting a healthy amount of rest, and unfortunately many working Americans try to squeeze their visit to the polls into the early morning hours, or worse, drag themselves to the polling place after a long day on the job. That’s just not conducive to clear thinking!

So between now and election day, whether you’re at home, at church, on the job, in the grocery store, out at a restaurant, attending an arts event, but especially if you’re watching TV, take some time to Sleep For America!

And when you step in to that polling booth, make sure it has a pillow attached. (Not all of them do!) You might need to catch a few extra Z’s before filling out the form, just to sharpen your mind.

If anyone asks what you’re doing, tell them you’re doing your civic duty!

When have you had to make an important choice on too little sleep?

Best of All Possible Worlds

It’s bound to be a very political day today. Congressman Loomis Beechly, representing all the water surface area in Minnesota, is getting out ahead of the conversation with this latest newsletter to his people.

Congressman Beechly believes in Floater ID

Greetings, Constituents!

I wanted to be sure you heard from me today, since Congress is about to take a 10 day break and at the very same time the Supreme Court is set to drop a decision bomb about health care that will feed the political chatter machine for the next four months at least!

People are wondering what effect the court’s decision will have on the various contenders for election in the fall. No doubt that jubilant winners will be declared and sorry, miserable losers identified. And as a resident of the 9th District, you have a right to know – what kind of Congressman do I have?

My approach to the health care issue has been consistent throughout the many years it has been debated in Washington. I’m in favor of the thing that most people want to do at the moment.

At the time I’m writing this message to you, I do not know how the court will decide. But regardless, I have only one reaction – I Told You So.

That’s right. At one time or another, I told you so because I have been careful to take every possible position on this issue.

  • I think everybody deserves quality health care.
  • I don’t think people should be forced to buy insurance.
  • I don’t think taxes should go up.
  • I don’t believe in a government “takeover” of the health care system,
  • I don’t know what that means.
  • I don’t like government, except for the good things it does. The rest is waste and should be eliminated so my taxes can drop – especially the expenditures that help other people.
  • But I don’t want to live in Dickens’ England. I’m against people dying in the street, or even in alleys, especially if I happen to walk past them.
  • Doctors should be paid fairly.
  • Care for the children, they’re innocent!
  • Keep keep those death panels out of the room while I’m talking to my doctor, especially if she starts to give me her favorite investment or golf tips. That’s private, privileged information, and nobody has any business snooping!

I hope that’s clear enough so that when I come back for my visit you can congratulate me for being on the right side of this issue and we can get on with the real business of a Congressional holiday – fundraising and marching in parades!

I hear walking is good aerobic exercise – better than spending all your time in doctors’ offices, that’s for sure. So look for me, 9th districters. I’m coming to a boat launch near you!

Your Congressman (and always a winner!),

Loomis Beechly

Rep. Beechly is trying to have it all, and who can blame him? Everybody wants to be a winner – it’s good for your health!

When have you said “I Told You So”?

A Lull In The Lull

Today’s guest post is from Dr. Cozy Futon, lead rest-searcher with Physicians for Bedrest.

My Fellow Sleepless Americans,

Yawning? Please pull over and take a nap.

Millions of people are running, walking, driving and sitting around with such an overwhelming sleep debt, they are literally good for nothing. Their brains are addled by constantly being under the low-level strain of Internet surfing, tweeting and Facebook posting. They process information superficially and lash out at anything they don’t understand, which is just about everything, given their diminished state of mind. Bloggers are especially prone to this condition, which is why so many of them are perpteually cranky.

Occasionally, members of the restless masses will resolve to get more sleep and are surprised to find that after a few initial hours of quality repose, they wake up. Their inability to sleep 8 hours straight becomes a concern, then an obsession, and finally a type of mania. They lie awake at 3 a.m. filled with dread over lying awake at 3 a.m..

The result? Deeper depravation, sleep-wise.

On behalf of Physicians for Bedrest, I ask you to consider that perhaps you are merely a two-stage sleeper. As explained in this recent article from the BBC, there is historical precedent to suggest that humans are designed to sleep in two chunks separated by a couple of hours of wakefulness – just exactly the way you do on those nights when you find yourself playing computer solitaire after midnight.

Don’t believe me? There’s a book: At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past. Plan to read it in the lull between your two sessions of sleep.

Here’s a quote about the book and its author from the BBC story:

In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.

His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.

In many historic accounts, Ekirch found that people used the time to meditate on their dreams.

I’m enthralled with this idea of going to sleep, having a scheduled intermission, and going to sleep again. Like a play or a sporting event, it makes perfect sense to have an interlude in the midst of the enjoyment so you can process what has just happened, and think about what is yet to come!

Among the things Ekrich found reference to people doing “between sleeps” – going to the toilet, smoking tobacco, visiting neighbors, chatting with bed-fellows, reading, writing, praying, and sex. Not necessarily in that order. Of course instead of setting aside eight hours for sleep, you’ll have to reserve ten. But you won’t even notice the difference, and the halftime show could be spectacular!

What keeps you awake?

Not Done Yet

Today’s guest post comes from tim.

my moms visit to the hospital was a good reflective time for me. she has been spending her life as the caretaker first for the students she taught while shuffling family matters then for my da when they retired up to leach lake and now she has been slow to realize that it is ok for her to be on her to take care of list too. we went a funeral for a student of hers and a classmate of mine and she felt poorly and we ended up going to urgent care, the emergency room and then checking her into the hospital where they found a tumor after deducing that her weakness and feeling poorly was due to blood loss. the doctors looked at her charts and saw that she had a do not resussitate order on her history and the doctor asked if they were going in to do the explority stuff to find where the internal bleeding had its origins and she happened to have a failure did she really want to keep the do not resussitate order in place? well…… she said that maybe they should change that. she still had some stuff to do. i thought that was a nice milestone. to realize youve still got stuff to do.

while sitting up in that god awful dressing gown
my mom found life had an attraction
she wasn’t quite done with the stuff she wrote down
her to do list still needed subtraction

she just moved back to town after living on leach
trading lakeshore for retirement stuff
she had boxes to organize and pictures to sort
shed done some but not nraly enough

she just got diagnosed with sleep apthia syndome
she just started dong the machine
just think how life could be in her freshly painted new home
with a good sleep and days in between

with brain cells and group stuff thats offer each day
the choices are endless it seems
and now she has chosen to come back and say
howdy partners life is made out of dreams

its good to be happy to just be alive
what one greater gift could there be
to count all your blessings there are at least five
on the left hand alone yip yipee

i remember being asked one how much for your sight?
how much would you sell your eyes for?
appreciate small things like having the right
to get up and walk out the door.

life throws us curve balls and flattens our tires
i hate it when whacked in the face
but theres no where that i rather be to aspire
to win out there in this rat race.

get up splash some water on that tired old smile
say helo to the friend in the glass
could be that today is the best one in a while
get up get on out there kick ass

life can be simple and life can be grand
or a conniption is yours for the giving
get out there and leave your footprints in the sand
and be glad that life is worth living

five reasons life is good please.

Called To Service

Today’s guest post comes from Dr. Larry Kyle, Produce Manager at Genway, the Supermarket for genetically engineered foods!

I do love it when people who work in a lab finally get some small portion of the adulation they deserve. For me, the key has always been my beautiful animal-vegetable hybrids – the celery-snake and the pumpkin that screams like a hyena. Others scientific attention-seekers less creative than I are left with the more difficult task of making progress against major diseases. That’s hard work, and the visible successes are rare.

But every now and then something comes along that feels like a true step forward – when a malady that was not fully understood quite suddenly becomes less mysterious. The latest news about how Alzheimer’s spreads is just that sort of thing – a landmark discovery. Now we know that Alzheimer’s Disease moves from brain cell to brain cell in synch with a malfunctioning protein called tau. The next steps are obvious. We know where the disease starts and how it travels. It should be a relatively simple matter to wait along the path, throw a sack over its head, smack it a good one, drag it to the car and throw it in the trunk.

Then we can drive Alzheimer’s far out into the countryside and push it into a roadside ditch, with a stern warning not to come near us again!

OK, that may not be practical. But what we need is something that works like the Endangered Species Act in reverse. A deadly illness extinct-ifying process. I’m not sure exactly how that would work, but I know it takes a special talent to take a thing that is already in the world and completely lose it. Usually a little residue always remains. And yet there are so many bad things that need to go away.

That’s why I, Dr. Larry Kyle, would like to offer myself to the next president as the first manager of a new government agency – the Department of Oblivion. At D.O.O., we would be all about thoroughly misplacing things. As Department of Oblivion Manager, I would have the coolest acronym in all government service! Under my direction, the Department would so completely lose track of Alzheimer’s it would be gone from human memory inside a year. Same with most of the cancers, all of the vascular problems, lung disease, tapeworms and mange.

Yes, I am a scientist and a capitalist at heart, but I would change my focus and join government service in this noble cause! But only to lead the Department of Oblivion, because keeping inadequate or non-existent records would be central to our mission, and not doing paperwork is one of the things I do best!

Take me seriously, Mr. President-to-be. Choose me to be your D.O.O.M.!

Like many in the private sector, Dr. Kyle overestimates how effective he would be as the head of a public entity. But you have to admire his enthusiasm.

If you ran a government agency (real or imagined), which one would it be?

Truth in Labeling

I bought some sliced mushrooms the other day.

I prefer to buy my mushrooms in bulk since I use just a couple at a time in salads or as a pizza topping, but my grocery store only had the pre-packaged kind that day. Even then, I typically buy whole mushrooms, but I was in a hurry and since I knew I’d have to spend a little time brushing dirt of the fungi, I decided to see if any of the factory-packaged mushrooms were also machine washed.

That’s when I saw the answer to a lazy man’s prayers – Giorgio’s Fresh ‘n Clean brand ‘shrooms. Perfect! No buffing needed, just tear open the plastic and eat ’em by the handful, right? At least that’s what I planned to do, until I noticed the fine print.

Though these sliced delicacies were nestled together under a label that boasted they were “Fresh ‘n Clean,” the advisory in much smaller print said “Best to Wash All Produce Before Using.” So … what does “Fresh ‘n Clean” mean? Isn’t that a promise? And if not, what is it? Marketing language? Perhaps the old name, “Fresh and Dirt Caked” just wasn’t resonating with the shoppers at Cub. And now I was questioning the “Fresh” part too.

Soon, the small print had me completely paralyzed. What do they mean that it’s “best” to wash “all” produce? All produce in sight, or just the stuff in this package? And what if I didn’t? The advisory didn’t say it was “Necessary” to wash the mushrooms, or “Important” or even “Suggested”. It’s just … “best”. Maybe that slightly earthy just-off-the-conveyor-belt flavor is good enough.

But wouldn’t you know it … I washed them anyway. Because I always do what I’m told and I always want things to be at their “best”.

Do you obey labels and signs?

A Bee’s Lament

As a thoroughly bee-phobic human, I assumed it would feel great to have wings and a stinger. Bees, to me, are tiny, cunning, swift, fearless and evil. Little did I know these small yellow and black monsters have their own very real nightmares – revealed yesterday in a study of parasite-influenced bee behavior. The mystery of Colony Collapse Disorder is unraveling, and the causes are a surprise both to bee experts and perhaps to the bees themselves.

My Queen,

I write to you with profound regret and a deepening sense of dread, having just reviewed a summary of the findings of some freshly published research. The horrifying tale told by these scientists carries just one silver lining – at last I can explain to you why I left the hive those many evenings to fly around like a crazed zombie, out of control, out of my mind and clearly possessed.

The reason? I was, in fact, clearly possessed.

Please Forgive Me. I'm a Victim Too!

I assure you that I took my duties quite seriously while I was under your thrall and with the other workers I tried to make our colony one that exemplified the best of traditional bee virtues – hard work, loyalty, unquestioning allegiance to authority, hostility towards outsiders, etc. These are the kind of values that would make any Iowa Republican proud, as long as they were able to overlook our clearly socialist/monarchist organizing structure.

When I first felt the urge to leave the hive at night during the time I should have been resting, I fought against the strange compulsion but alas – I was no match for it. It was as if I did not control my wings, my body, my own antennae. I wanted to spin in a circle, fly towards the light, and sit and buzz, totally buzzed on something inexplicable. I know you thought I was sipping something stronger than honey. But I left because I simply could not remain inside.

Today, words cannot describe my remorse. I know I abandoned you and all the others at a delicate time, and in doing so, put the hive at risk of total collapse.

But yesterday, while compulsively stinging the bejabbers out of some old, bald, shrieking humanoid, I noticed that he was reading an article from the San Jose Mercury News that explained so much of what I was going through, I wept with joy, relief and terror.

My abandonment of our community was the result of a parasitic takeover that made it impossible for me to resist. A tiny fly (yes, tiny even on bee-level) injected its eggs into my abdomen while I was busily serving you. These eggs altered my chemistry, inflamed my senses, dulled my judgment, and led me to wander off spasmodically at times when I should have been doing my job.

Knowing that I was helpless against this invasion may not ultimately change your opinion of me. I’m resigned to accept your scorn. But I hope you will understand someday that I did not actually intend to betray you, that I am a victim too, that I apologize to you with the utmost sincerity, and that I will soon pay the price for my actions when I die, and a dozen fly larvae crawl out of my neck. Ugh.

The old, bald, shrieking humanoid that I attacked today was truly a pathetic creature, but to avoid my paralyzing feelings of remorse and my gruesome fate, I would willingly trade places … even with him.

Your Loyal Servant
Worker #500309930002993B

I am trying to feel sympathetic towards bees. Theirs is not an easy life, and the perils are many. But still … they give me the creeps.

Would you trade places with an insect?

Hypothetical Q. Blitzerman Speaks!

From the Tea Party Debate:

Wolf Blitzer >> You’re a physician, ron paul, you’re a doctor. You know something about this subject. Let me ask you this hypothetical question. A healthy 30-year-old young man has a good job, makes a good living, but decides I’m not going to spend 200 or $300 a month because I’m healthy, i don’t need it. But something terrible happens, all of a sudden he needs it. Who will pay if he goes into a coma, who pays for that?

Ron Paul >> In a society that you accept welfarism and socialism, he expects the government to take care of him.

Blitzer >> What do you want?

Paul >> What he should do is whatever he wants to do and assume responsibility for himself. My advice to him would have a major policy.

Blitzer >> He doesn’t have that and he needs intensive care for six months. Who pays?

Paul >> That’s what freedom is all about, taking your own risks. This whole idea that you have to prepare and take care of everybody —

Audience >> [applause]

Blitzer >> but congressman, are you saying that society should just let him die?

Audience >> [shouts of “yeah!”]

Weird exchange to be having in this day and age, but it does get right to the heart of the health care and spending question, doesn’t it! And then comes this clearly false message, lofted through the digital transom the same way that Nigerian Prince keeps asking me for money!

Hi, friend. Yeah, it’s me! I’m the guy Wolf Blitzer was talking about Monday night at that Tea Party debate. You know, the 30-year-old man who was feeling so good that he decided to skip buying health insurance, and then wound up in a coma? Pleased to meet you!

People are making a big deal out of the fact that Ron Paul would let me suffer the consequences of my inaction. And they’re making an even bigger deal out of the way that Tea Party crowd cheered for the idea that the Congressman would let me die. They’re being called heartless killers and a bloodthirsty band of modern Marie Antoinettes, except instead of “let them eat cake”, the motto is “let them stop eating totally, choke on their poor choices and decrease the surplus population,” which I’m pretty sure is something Dickens said, or one of his characters. I don’t actually remember. I had a pretty short life and didn’t have time to learn much. But enough about me – I’m just a rhetorical device.

There’s lots of hand-wringing over this episode, mostly from people who fear that we as a society have come to a very cold, brutal place where it is better to let people die than to think about an increase in government spending. But no one has asked me what I think! And I’m the one who’s going to be allowed to expire, right? And frankly, though this may surprise you, I think I deserve it. That’s right. It’s all my fault. I lived an uncharmed life. I made a bunch of mistakes. So let me die, already!

Before you start protesting, I have to tell you that my string of fatal errors began long before I decided to save a few bucks on health insurance. The first thing I did wrong was this – I allowed myself to be born without a name.

That’s right. I let God (in this case, Wolf Blitzer) create me as a fully-grown adult, destined to live only as long as it took for him to ask his question. I had no identity, no parents to speak of, no siblings, no spouse or domestic partner and no children. All I had was a good job, robust health, a cheapskate attitude, and eventually, a coma. That’s everything there ever was for me. No obligations. No connections. No one loved me and I made a bad, selfish decision. Who wouldn’t want to kill off a guy like that?

Regrets? I wish I’d insisted on a name. Even something as weird as “Hypothetical Q. Blitzerman” would have been good enough to bring a few of those Tea Party people over to my side. My folks might have named me “Hypothetical” because of the fruitless years they spent trying to conceive me. I’ll bet they couldn’t believe their luck when I finally arrived. I’m guessing I had siblings too. A spunky little sister, Antithetical (Ann) and an egghead baby brother, Theoretical (Theo).

I’d like to think I did OK in school, made lots of friends, played back up wide receiver on the football team, sang a song (badly) in the school musical, fell in the fountain at prom and ruined my rented tuxedo.

Before I got my good job I’ll bet I worked some truly lousy ones and probably served you a hamburger along the way. There was a time when a fishing pole and a sleeping bag were the only possessions I cared anything about. Until I met this girl who wasn’t impressed with my aimless life. So I finished school, got married, got that job and got her pregnant, all in a few, short, crazy, wonderful years. Of course I felt invincible, so when we made up the family budget we put hundreds into health care for her, and I used my health money to save for a house, instead. Calculated risk.

Did I mention I was never very good at gambling?

Anyway, things went wrong and who do I have to blame but myself? Yeah, Wolf Blitzer brought me into the world but I made all the critical mistakes. I should have insisted that my “good” job have health care attached. How else can you call it “good”? And I should have demanded that he give me a name, some friends, and a few relations.

I’ll bet if Wolf had put my brother Theo in league with the Libertarians or made my sister Ann a leading light in the Tea Party movement, they would have at least paused for a moment before shouting out their enthusiastic support for my needless, premature death.

Like I say, it was totally my fault.

If Wolf Blitzer and Ron Paul were about to bite into Turkey Burgers tainted with Salmonella, could the government regulation-forced recall come quickly enough to save them? Should it?