This morning I visited the dermatologist for an annual skin check. My father had skin cancer and it’s nothing to mess around with. The sight of his bald head ground down to red patches is enough reminder to get my own skin inspected by a professional.
I have one small bump on the upper side of my right arm that they shot with novocaine and took a sample. Rather than engage in speculation and self-diagnosis, it seems much wiser to have a doctor do the work of determining risk.
There have been enough health scares over the last eight years to convince me that it’s never a bad idea to go to the doctor when things look the least bit hinchy. Back in 2013 I had a sliver that caused an infection that could have cost me a middle digit on my left hand.
That was followed a couple years later by a case of cellulitis when our family feline gave me a nip for petting her the wrong way. I’d never heard of cellulitis and did not know how serious it could be until it showed up on my right hand. That led to antibiotics that killed my good gut bacteria and led to c.diff., a potentially life-threatening disease.
So I don’t mess around with even the smallest signs that things are out of line. Last year an infected tooth almost killed me too. You could rightly say that infections are my weakness, my Kryptonite.
As for the current threat of infection in this world, the Big C threatening us all is Covid-19. I listened to a radio discussion with Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN this morning. He was discussing the recent vacillation on information distributed by the Center for Disease Control (CDC). The website posted a notice that Coronavirus is now known to float in the air “like smoke” said Gupta. Then the CDC took it down again. That raised concerns on many fronts. Was it a political move to force the CDC to comply with the Trump Administration’s directives to quell information about the pandemic?
I cite this incident because, as I’ve just shared, it is far better to be cautious than ignore the threat posed by infections in the human body. Dr. Gupta also shared that many Covid-19 victims experience serious holdover effects and symptoms that include compromised conditions of the heart, lungs and other organs. “You do not want this infection,” Gupta intoned.
There’s a word now for Covid-19 victims whose health is long affected by the infection. They are called ‘long-haulers.’ Nothing about that terminology is a joke, or meant to be so. Like many infections of the human body, the initial symptoms and response are not the gravest threat to long-term health.
For example, the aggressive treatment of my cellulitis resulted in a complete disruption of my gut function. I truly could have died from that.
200,000 people have died from Covid-19 in the United States. Seven million have thus far been infected. That’s during the good weather part of the year.
Back in early 2020, the United States Postal System was scheduled to send out sets of five face masks to every American. While the science of face masks was as yet undetermined at that point, taking precautionary measures is never a bad idea. That’s why people get vaccinated against potentially deadly or physically devastating disease. Vaccinations for smallpox, polio, measles and other infectious diseases have protected millions of lives.
Conspiracy theories about vaccinations still abound. For a while, there was serious traction around the idea that vaccinations cause autism. Famous personalities such as Jenny McCarthy preached against vaccinations. The term anti-vaxxers applies to millions of people who still claim that vaccinations, not the diseases they prevent, are more dangerous to human health.
Infection and cancer
Here’s what everyone should consider when it comes to saving lives relative to infectious diseases. There are even known links between infectious diseases and the other Big C, which is cancer. The National Foundation for Cancer Research shares this information:
“Cancer is a group of diseases defined by abnormal cell growth and caused by genetic defects. Most of us know that these genetic defects can be inherited, caused by environmental factors such as smoking, drinking, obesity and a lack of physical activity, as well as exposure to radiation and pollution. It is not commonly known, however, that many infectious agents, including some viruses (oncoviruses), bacterial infections, and parasites, can increase one’s probability of developing cancer.”
None of us lives a perfect life when it comes to the things we ingest or absorb in our lives. The world is now filled with chemicals that infiltrate our food, the air we breathe and water we drink. These toxins accumulate in our bodies over time. Even people who attempt to eliminate these threats from their existence are still prone to cancer. The late Linda McCartney (wife of Paul) was a known proponent of good eating. Yet tragically, she succumbed to cancer.
My late wife ate well and exercised regularly. So did the late wife of my former roommate and teammate Keith Ellingson. Both women passed away from ovarian cancer.
But had I not chased my wife to get a checkup with her gynecologist during a stage in life when her menstrual cycle was disrupted and profound, that cancer might never have been discovered. She might well have died within a year. Instead, supported by physicians and nurses who guided us through medical advice and treatments, she lived eight good years, long enough to see her son and daughter attend college.
Private and public empathy
Knowing the effects of that experience on our lives, it stuns me that some people are so selfish with their personal beliefs they refuse to wear a mask while out in public. I challenge all those who avoid basic self-regulation for health protection to consider the lives of those threatened by this pandemic. While the very young seem safer than most, the disease is not all that selective in who it ultimately impacts. Those who contract it warn that it is devastating on many fronts.
All it takes is a bit of empathy and concern for others to realize that infectious diseases are preventable if the truth is know about them. What people don’t understand is that the truth when it comes to medical advice is often is an evolving process. What is known needs to be shared, then revised as more or better information is discovered. This does not defeat the value of medical advice. Not does it excuse hiding the known truth about diseases like Covid-19 in the early stages of its spread. That is what was done by President Donald Trump. He lied to all of us. That’s not a CNN or MSNBC hit job as some like to claim whenever bad news emerges about Trump. The President willingly confessed the fact of his dishonesty to Bob Woodward. He was not coerced or misquoted. He was exposed for what he is: an inveterate scoundrel and liar.
This revelation is proof that the nation is under threat from an infection far more serious than any disease known to the human race. That disease is the propensity to lie for selfish reasons and greedy ambitions.
The Bible is rife with verses covering the pains caused by greed. Here is one notably specific verse that applies to what we’re seeing from our President today:
2 Peter 2:3 ESV / 252
And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
Silence of the shams
It is remarkable how silent the so-called Evangelicals are on the topic of Trump’s greed. They avoid the pain caused by his lies with claims of so-called moral equivalency by stating that “all politicians lie,” as if that were a defense of a prodigious slanderer, liar and brute. Even when his lies are directly quoted back to him, the President either denies that he ever said them or was somehow misunderstood. He is a sociopath whose deceptions are a massive contributor to the fact that 200,000 people have died on his watch. All through support and silence from the sham religious faction that calls itself evangelicals.
Self-care and beware
We’re all trying to take care of ourselves the best we can. With all the running and riding I’ve done under the sun, even the swimming too, I visited the dermatologist today to get my skin checked. Fortunately there seems to be no major issues. No bleeding sores or blackening formations on my skin. But one cannot be too careful in this world. It’s all about engaging in self-care and beware.
That is why I’ll be voting for Joe Biden and Kamala Harris this November. I believe in the protections of pre-existing conditions in the Affordable Care Act. I believe all people should have access to medical care despite their financial condition or their relative insurability. I believe that a significant portion of our current health care insurance system is a corporatized sham of profit-making that leaves millions of people completely out of the loop. I don’t think Donald Trump gives a damn. Neither does the Republican Party. They only thing they care about is holding power, enriching those that can keep them there, and claiming it’s all about ‘personal responsibility.’ Which is another way of saying, “We don’t care if you die.”
If the Republicans win, the cancer of Trumpism will expand. If they lose, it is still rife within our nation. It will take the chemotherapy of truth to root out the infectious parts of our nation; those that embrace racism, vigilante justice, denial of science, hatred for intellectualism and rationality, and religious bigotry as a worldview. These are the deplorable factions about which Hillary Clinton rightly spoke during her 2016 campaign. She was absolutely correct about all of them. The reign of Trump has proven her perfectly right, and even upped the ante. The nation’s worsts instincts have migrated from deplorable to despicable in the blink of an eye.
It will take strong medicine to quell the disease of Trumpism. Let us pray that the body politic of democracy can survive the necessary treatment.