Tag Archives: health

Awkward Week: Worry Wednesday

As much as I would like to eliminate worry from my life—and by that I mean cut out sweat-inducing worry from my daily schedule—the best I can seem to manage is to keep it at a low simmer.

As a journalist, I sometimes write about health issues, which is the equivalent of me turning up the burner.

Some months back, I put together a piece on Lyme disease. Now, I’m in the midst of a story on drug-resistant tuberculosis.

Neither of these stories was one I had to pick up, but I felt they were both important to tell.

So I’ve learned that Lyme disease presents in so many different ways, it can be incredibly difficult to diagnose.

And I’ve learned that tuberculosis can infect far more than just lungs: joints, the brain, even intestines. Yes, intestinal tuberculosis is a thing. An explosive thing.

Knowledge may be power, but power corrupts, right? And I feel like there’s a place somewhere here for an extension of the simmering water metaphor—a watched pot never boils, or something. Except I’m always watching that pot, and it’s boiling away despite the constant scrutiny.

There’s an awkward work-home balance I haven’t yet mastered. Unless I decide to focus, professionally, on nothing but fun features, I’m going to be staring sickness in the face. And not just sickness, but murder and fraud and rape and all the dirty stuff that proliferates if no one’s there to shine a light on it. And even then. There’s no avoiding it in my line of work, and so, for me, there’s no avoiding the fuel constantly getting thrown on the fire.

Or I should say the knob constantly getting turned up.

This helps: the writing. It keeps me from watching the pot, directly, so I can’t see whether it’s boiling or not.

But I would like to figure out a way to get it off the stove completely someday. Or at least move it to a smaller burner.

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Imagination Week: Hitting the Pavement

Zombies, Run!

I recently got a new phone—a phone that can actually do stuff, and one that prompted my wife to say, “Welcome to the 20th Century.”

I countered: “But we’re in the—”

“I know,” she said.

This is my first-ever personal phone, and I sort of didn’t know what to do with it at first. An office Secret Santa, however, had given me an iTunes gift card, so I bought a couple of songs and then remembered an app I’d read about last year.

It’s called Zombies, Run!, and it basically plays a story for you to listen to while you run in real life. It’s sort of a game in that you “pick up” items as you go along—including medical supplies, water, and, honestly, underwear—some of which you can then use to improve a virtual outpost full of post-zombie-apocalypse survivors, but the main draw is this: While you’re running, earbuds firmly in place, a voice gives you directions and reports on nearby groups of “zoms” with a hankering for your hamstrings.

I initially thought that the game was a bit more interactive, but the missions seem to be set audio tracks. Which is fine by me. My typical physical activity consists of walking up the stairs to go to bed, and this download actually motivated me to get out of the house and do several laps around our condo complex.

I was prepared to be a bit freaked out, but the initial mission was fairly tame. At first. I chose to run at night, thinking the darkness might heighten the suspense. Also, that’s the only free time I can generally carve out of my day.

Once I got into the groove—both in running and in the game—it was easier to slip into the story. I tuned out my neighbors, waving from their garages as I jogged past, and focused on the narrative. Smoke coming from one condo’s chimney became the sight and smell of a downed helicopter. I didn’t know how to incorporate the one set of Christmas lights still mounted and lit, though.

Everything was going smoothly until a large pack of zombies caught wind of me and gave chase. One zombie in particular broke from the pack and zeroed in on me.

The voices in my ears grew urgent. “Don’t look behind you!” they shouted, “Just run! RUN!”

That worked. I resisted the urge to glance backward, even when I passed a streetlamp with dual lights on top, giving me a double shadow. Suddenly, as my eyes slid sideways, I could see silhouetted on the road another figure immediately behind me.

Imagination is a powerful thing, especially when it has audio help.

Since this is the first time I’ve run in, well, my 30s, I will admit that I paused the track to walk a bit before carrying on the run for my life. I imagine that the zombie took a breather, too, maybe put her decaying arms up over her head and shuffled along a little more slowly before picking up the pace again.

I’m a bit sore now from the rush, but I will be going out again soon.

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Late Week: Worry Wednesday

hasty

My goal to post each day—except maybe Sundays—on this blog was tested when I realized that starting a post at 11:47 p.m. is a bit late, even for a week themed on being less than punctual.

Fortunately, I have no shortage of stuff to worry about, so it’s easy for me to pull something off the top of my head. Let’s see … hmmm … yep: meningitis.

Several college students at a college in a nearby county came down with meningitis a few weeks back, and a college student in my town developed a case of it even more recently. I can’t remember which is worse, and which is communicable despite the vaccine—bacterial or viral—but none of that matters to a worrying mind such as mine. I’ve already established that I can quickly go to some dark and medically impossible scenarios with very little provocation, such as my kid sipping a soda she found.

I was recently struck by the realization that this health-based worrying came to me late in life. Late in my life, I mean. I’m 34, but the germaphobia started a little more than six years ago, which—coincidentally?—is when I was just getting to know our newborn daughter.

The world wasn’t so scary to me when I was a kid, a college student, a young working professional, even a newlywed.

Having kids, though, changed me into something new—something paranoid and freaked out by even trivial stuff. So when one of my kids gets a runny nose and a slight cough, forget that the others have been sick, too, for days, and are getting better. It must be meningitis.

Of course, somewhere deep inside, I know I’m overreacting. I wouldn’t be able to survive otherwise.

But the girls do have strep throat right now. So there’s that.

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