Who’s the Fairest?

I belong to a closed Facebook group of women physicians.  It’s a supportive lot, discussing family issues, doc/patient situations, empty-nesting, aging parents, teen angst etc.

Today, I got sucked into a thread all about anti-aging skin care.  I’m inclined to take any medical advice dished out by these women seriously, ‘cuz they’re all docs, y’know.  The thread went on FOREVER and I read every last bit of it.  I took notes.  Yes, I did.

GRASS is the takeaway message.  Growth Factors (peptides) Retinoids Antioxidants (vitamin C) Specialty stuff (hyaluronic acid, glycolic acid) from your favorite fancy brands and Sunscreen.  I might rearrange the mnemonic to be SGRAS.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure and the  fountain of youth is filled with sunscreen, folks.

There was also talk of botox and fillers and chemical peels and dermabrasion and lightening cream for age spots.  One woman performs a six-step process morning and night.

At the end of it I was seriously bummed out.  Would a group of male doctors ever engage in this discussion?  Is our cultural aversion to “aging” so intense that this group of highly educated women will pour money and time into products, ablutions, and procedures designed to keep them looking young.  Fresh.  Relevant.

Last time I checked, the alternative to aging was death.  Can we re-define beauty to include not only gray silver hair, but some wrinkles as well?  (So says the woman who asked her photographer to airbrush out the prominent frowny lines between her eyebrows.  Note the smooth expanse of forehead on my blog photo.  That was in 2011.  Time has passed.)

I’ve ordered up some hyaluronic acid.  I’ll let you know how it goes.

Musical Moment

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Go, Thief!

Dear Thief:

You waltzed into our fenced yard in the dead of night, tromped over and around the nice obstacle course of gardening materials that I left in your path, opened the back door of the garage, and made off with three bikes.  Two of them were vintage Bianchis.  I’m frankly astonished that you made it into the garage without falling into the three-foot pit The Big E dug.  Congratulations!

The day before you purloined our property, I was standing in the driveway, surveying the nightmare that is our garage, and a White man drove by in a White truck and looked me over with a scowl – like full-on assessment – looked me over and scanned the garage, too.  I thought it was weird at the time.  (I should pay more attention when I think things are weird.)  He, or should I say you, slowly drove on down the alley.  Did I get your license plate?  Nope.

You’re right.  We didn’t need those bikes.  And it’s nice that you didn’t try to take the bike hanging above Ace’s newish Subaru.  Downright considerate of you.  That could’ve been a royal mess.

We have a pretty big per-occurrence deductible on our insurance, so that’s the end of the bike story.

Here’s the deal: you forgot some stuff.

1) There’s a real sweet ping-pong table in the garage.  Don’t know how you missed it.  A couple sheets of plywood with handpainted lines.  It would look awesome in the back of your truck.

2) The pile of wooden skis.  Dude, they were right by the door.  I just don’t know how you could walk away.

3) Boxes of chairs.  Yes, boxes of chairs.  All broken down and ready for rehabilitation.  Seriously, how can you pass up this money-making venture?  Ace would never have to know – it could be our little secret…

4) Piles of debris waiting to go to the thrift store.  I recently helped a friend clean out his hoarding mother’s apartment.  We have plenty of office supplies, books, and umbrellas.  Maybe you need an umbrella for your nocturnal adventures?  Post-it notes?  Beanie Babies?

5) Shingles.  Are you planning any home improvement projects with the funds secured from the sale of our bikes?  We have a ton of shingles.  Probably a literal ton.

6) Oh, and rocks.  I always have rocks and I’m happy to share.

Let me know, man.  We can schedule a time for pickup in your pickup.

Sincerely,

Anne, Homeowner

 

Musical Moment 

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In which I am interviewed…

Many months ago, my friend Christina said, “Hey – how about if I interview you for my podcast series.”  Christina is smart, blunt, steadfast, and pragmatic in her role as the Corporate Rebel Coach.  Of course I agreed.

Here is the interview.  In it, we discuss our cultural obsession with WORK.  I talk about my decision to leave clinical practice and how I navigate the “What do you do?” conversation.  The interview runs about 30 minutes.  Let me know what you think, eh?

 

Musical Moment

 

 

 

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What to Expect When You’re Expecting a Woodchuck

We’re expecting!

Several years ago, I witnessed the untimely demise of a lovely woodchuck in Northwestern MN.  Naturally, I pulled over to 1) make sure she was dead 2) scoop her up.  To read the story in its entirety, see http://annelippin.com/blog/2014/09/01/labor-day-weekend/.

I delivered the (frozen) specimen to my taxidermist, Royce, of Willow Taxidermy (https://www.willowtaxidermy.com).  And then I got mixed up in a remodeling project and the resurrection of a thrift store.  Long story short, a couple years passed.  I finally emailed Royce.  ”Hey, you still have that woodchuck in the freezer?”

Yes, he did.  I’m delighted to report that Charlotte will join our family just as soon as I can get up to Rock Creek.

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Charlotte

 

Musical Moment

 

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The Unintended Guest Post

This exchange between my husband, Ace, and my college roommate, Jessicca, amused me.  They hash out logistics of an upcoming trip to the Bay of Fundy.  I post mostly to give you a peek into my marriage ; )

 

Ace writes:

“Jessica:  I don’t know how informed you are about the most recent version of our plans.  As currently conceived, we would rely upon you heavily.  Not sure how comfortable we all are with that idea.  I will paint a picture in which you carry a heavy burden for you to consider as you walk the hills of Scotland, such that we might alter them as you see fit.

In the days leading up to the trip, Anne and/or I contact you frequently with ‘ideas’(ie demands) for materials which we might find useful along the coast of NB, but which are inconvenient to carry on an airplane.  The ‘ideas’ will surely include pillows for Anne (unless I convince her that a place capable of sleeping 10 will have enough pillows…), coolers, foodstuffs, beach towels, etc, etc.

[Date redacted] sees Anne/[Ace/The Big E] enjoying restful flights to St. John, arriving at 8:08 pm.  Meanwhile, Jessica has stuffed her vehicle with pillows, etc, and has driven long, hot, difficult miles in summer vacation traffic, located an obscure house, and is still expected to pick Anne et al. up at the airport, providing taxi service to the pile of Maine pillows.

You will then be expected to participate in a variety of activities, with a quarrelsome bunch of people who hate the sun, but also hate rain, and hate wind.  The adolescent may be the most agreeable of the bunch which says a lot, but all will claim they are carsick.   There will then be several days of excessive running about, at the expense of your vehicle, and patience.

Just when you can’t stand another moment, dreaming of your quiet ride home, you realize that the entire bunch now plans to accompany you back across the wasteland we midwesterners know to be Northern Maine.  When you should be unpacking, washing your clothes and freeing you mind, they will still all be there, right on top of you for another 36 hours—starting [date redacted]!  They will expect accommodations of all types.  Then, they will demand unreasonably early transportation to the Portland air transit facility, with hardly a thanks, the morning of [date redacted].

You have several options which could minimize difficulties.  Some of those options will alter the plans we need to make on our end.  So please let us know if you would rather opt out altogether (eg an oversees walking trip suddenly emerging offers an excellent escape route).  Let us know if you would rather meet us in NB at a time or place different from the proposed such that we could arrange alternate transport upon arrival.  Let us know if you think a second car would be useful in any event (I see some obvious advantages), such that you could avoid an airport run at a difficult time in unfamiliar environs.  Let us know if we should book motels/cars/etc for the brief Maine portion of the intrusion, including the Portland airport motel the night before our flight.  I will cease listing the options for the sake of brevity, trusting you to make your desires and demands known.

I know it sounds like more fun than you had considered possible, hope your wild anticipation will not blunt your hills of scotland experience.  [Ace]”

Jessicca’s response:

“Dear [formal name redacted],

Barring any unforeseen incidents (such as asteroids striking the earth) I would be delighted to join your expedition to the wilds of NB. Maine is not bad in summer to drive as long as I avoid route 1 from June until September so up 95 I shall go and the Expedition has Sirius XM radio so I have entertainment. Pillows I have in abundance and the aforementioned Expediton has tons of space so we are good there. I can also bring coolers, umbrellas, tents, ponchos, hats, books, games, or anything else you might like that will not fit in the overhead bin of the plane.

And the true reason for my agreeing to come (as you should already suspect) is to spend time with The Big E so happiness abounds in my world.  As for sun, rain and wind I will bring sunscreen, my new raincoat and my sturdy Maine build (very hard to blow me over).  I have managed to navigate across the US not once but 5 times without getting lost and have driving three times to the wilds of Northern Ontario so I should hopefully find the house in NB and the airport.  If not then you, my friend, are out of luck.

Friends are always welcome at the Farm or my house in Raymond even when they are tired, cranky and smelly after trekking the shores of the Bay of Fundy. I love to travel and see new places and my goal in life is to say yes to as many cool, interesting things as possible…..so YES count me in and hopefully I prove to be a not too annoying travel companion. Enjoy your week and I am sure we will talk soon!

Sincerely,

Jessicca Grover

Globe Trekking former roommate of Anne Lippin”

Ace chimes in once again:

“Excellent, we will being forwarding an updated list of need weekly until departure, perhaps daily toward the end.

More importantly, what is the origin of the second “c”, or perhaps the first “c”, in Jessicca?  Surely one should pronounce your name Jes-sic-ca, not jess-i-ca?  If Anne hadn’t scolded me for misspelling your name, I would have forever gone on believing your typing skills were lacking, but not thought the less of you for it—knowing that poor typing skills are closely associated with genius.  [Ace]”

Jess says:

“The second c is all mom plus when you say Jessicca with a maine accent it sounds like 2 c’s.”

 

Musical Moment

 

 

 

 

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Lucky, Lost

I met two old friends (old as-in long-time friends, and old as-in can we talk about our aching joints? Srsly?) on Friday at the Como Conservatory.  We were supposed to see the spring show and instead discovered that the spring show was being dismantled.  We sat down on a couple benches after making a penny wish and discussed our kids and our parents and mostly our in-laws.  It’s a mess.

My one friend wants a shih tzu.  Her husband doesn’t.  They wonder back and forth if their lifestyle is compatible with canine ownership.  She really wants a shih tzu.  Or a retired greyhound.  But really a shih tzu.

I left the Conservatory, heading for home along Lexington Parkway.  Lexington is a fantastic thoroughfare for roadkill, like one of the best.  One of my finest specimens, Matilda the Baby Raccoon, came from Lexington.  So you can imagine my distress when I saw what appeared to be a dustmop darting right across the four lanes of traffic.  I watched the little dog make a beeline for the Great Dane on the other side, the Great Dane attached to a leash being held by a woman with a baby in a stroller.

Well, that looks challenging, I thought.  I pulled onto a sidestreet.  The woman, the baby, and the Great Dane asked if the dustmop was my dog.  Nope, I said, I just thought you might need some help.

We used the Dane for bait, attempting to lure the dustmop away from Lexington.  I tried my best koochie-koochie voice and it worked.  The dog came over.  I reached for it, it feinted, I koochied, it came back.  I grabbed the mop’s scruff, realizing I might get bitten.

The dog didn’t bite.  I tucked her/him under my arm.  I’ll take care of her/him, I told the Great Dane.  And the lady.  And the baby.

We drove back up Lexington.  The stinky dustmop settled right in, gazing out the window for a time, then snuggling down on the passenger seat.

Can I tell you exactly how much I love my vet clinic?  We pulled in fifteen minutes after closing time and Erik, my favorite tech, scanned the mop for a chip.  No chip.  No collar, no tags, no chip.  We clucked over the matted fur, the curved nails, the intact testicles, the goobery eyes that made sight a real challenge.

I confessed that I was sorely tempted to clean him up and present him to my friend, the one who really wants a shih tzu.

We gave the doggie a one-year rabies shot and a nail trim.

Ace was not particularly surprised to see a stinky dustmop in the backyard, making friends with Chester and Fergus.  “I manifested a shih tzu,” I said.  I gently cut the hairs and goobers from around his eyes.

Life goes on and I had an appointment to keep.  I named the mop Max, Max the Mop, and he went on my errands, mostly content to sit in a kennel in the front seat.  Upon our return, we posted on the Humane Society Lost-n-Found page.  I scanned the Lost section and spotted “Lucky” who looked suspiciously like Max.

Heavy sigh.  I really wanted Max to have a happy ending with my friend.  I really did.  I called the number on Lucky’s listing.  Phone out-of-service.  Great.  I sent a message with my landline.

Max and I settled down on the stoop to give him a haircut.

A child called me, maybe 12 or 13.  He described how his sister had been crying for an hour at the loss of Lucky.  Lucky escaped exactly where I found Max.  I’m pretty sure I have your dog, I said.  Drat.  We agreed that I would drop off the doggie when I picked up The Big E from school.

My friend K called while I trimmed the mats from around Max’s paws.  K is a social worker.  I bemoaned the fact that I had to return Lucky to a family that didn’t trim his nails or brush his fur or clean his eyes.  K reminded me to have a bit of empathy.  Focus on the kids, she said.  When you return Lucky, make sure the kids look healthy and cared for.  Fine.  Harrumph.

I finished trimming all the matted fur from Max’s paws and back and face.  Then I gave him a nice bath.

When I walked up to the house on Lexington Parkway, the Roadkill Mecca of St. Paul, two kids burst from the door.  “Lucky!” they exclaimed.  And one plucked the little dog from my arms.  The kids looked well-fed.  They had clean clothes and made appropriate eye contact.  They smiled and thanked me.

I asked if Lucky ever goes to the vet.  Yes, they said.  We’re planning to get him a rabies shot this summer.  I gave them the rabies tag and certificate.

Does Lucky have a collar? I asked.  He did, but it got lost.  I show the kids my phone number, printed on the rabies certificate.  If you ever want help getting him a collar or tags, I said, just give me a call.

Have a nice life, Lucky.  I walked away.

 

Musical Moment

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Im Augenblick

Sunday morning.  The phone next to our bed rings at 7:16.  The ringer’s turned off.  I normally sleep through a downstairs ring but I pick up.

Ace, who left for work at 6:45, informs me that he just got rear-ended on Highway 65.  The cops are on their way.  The guy who hit him is “plowed.”

“Plowed?” I ask.  “You mean drunk?”  On Sunday morning at 7:16 am.

Yeah, he’s drunk.  And ten seconds later he jumps back into his huge red truck and leaves the scene.  Ace was rear-ended.  The truck has no front license plate.

“Are you okay?”  I’m still trying to process what amounts to way too much information.

“I think so,” he says.  He can’t shake the idea that he shouldn’t be okay.  Ace was at a dead stop on Highway 65 at a red light.  The truck plowed into him full speed, at least 60 mph.  The impact imploded the back end of our 2011 Subaru Outback, sending a shower of glass along Ace’s neck, and pushing his car all the way across the intersection.

The cops arrive and we hang up.

Ace and I talk regularly about the risks of an hour commute each way, the nasty stretch of road known as Highway 65.  Wouldn’t it be great if he could walk a few blocks to the clinic on Grand Avenue?  We put him in a Subaru for safety and mileage.

I start gathering my thoughts and my car keys.  1) Figure out if Ace is actually injured.  2) Call the insurance company.  3) What to do about his work day?  There is no automatic “sub” system in his hospital practice.  If he can’t work, we have to find someone who can; It’s not like he can call in and say, “Hey, sorry.  Please let my patients know I can’t make it in.  I just had a near-death experience.”

He was at a dead stop, rear-ended full speed.  Physics suggests he shouldn’t be okay.

Ace calls back.  He needs to get to work.  He gives me the address of the towing company.  My dad and I leave in two vehicles.

We meet in the parking lot snowbank of Qwik Trip, across the road from the closed offices of the towing company.  He stands next to the debris he salvaged from the car: a pile of reusable shopping bags, a window break/seatbelt slicer, Minnesota winter emergency supplies, two hockey sticks.  I walk to Ace and embrace him, kiss him, tell him I love him.  His eyes are wide.  Imagine you’re all calm and casual, cruising down the street.  A red Lamborghini screams alongside, fire arcing off the metal.  Death catches your eye, cocks his head, coolly assessing.  Nope, not this time.  He peals off onto the open road.

Ace describes the man, how he staggered from his truck.  “I’m sorry,” he slurred.  “I just broke up with my girlfriend.”  He could barely walk, but got back in the cab and took off.  They apprehended him a few miles up the road.

“I’m glad they caught the –“ my dad hesitates, as if looking to see if my mom is present.  “Asshole,” I suggest, as my dad completes the sentence with “bastard.”  (sorry Mom)  We’re both spitting mad.

As a physician, I believe in the disease model of addiction.  My sympathy for the heartbroken man who could’ve killed my husband ended the second he stepped into his truck.  Don’t turn your own disease into someone else’s tragedy.

“Take ibuprofen now,” I say, knowing Ace is hopped up on epinephrine.  He’ll only feel the full effects of this at the end of his shift.

I ride home in my dad’s Subaru.  He tells me of the time an “old man” pulled right out in front of him.  My dad, age 15 and on a bike, was tossed up onto the guy’s hood.  The driver, an Eau Claire “stranger,” put my dad in the car and drove him to the hospital, waited while  the doctor checked him out, paid the bill, and repaired the bike.

Dad drops me off at home.  My mom checks in by phone, reminding me that her father was rear-ended by a drunk driver in the dead of night on his way home from working overtime.  She started waking up when her father was due home and staying awake until he arrived.  Safe.

I call the hospital where Ace works and chat with the floor manager.  Yes, they heard what happened.  I describe the scene in more detail and ask her to shove some ibuprofen down Ace’s throat.  “We’ll hogtie him,” she assures me.  “And make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid,” I say.  “We’ll try,” she replies.

Working after such an experience might be considered stupid.  What can he do?

I spend the next three hours on the phone.  The deputy who helped my husband supplies me with the other driver’s full name, date of birth (two weeks after Ace’s, including the year), license plate, and insurance name and policy number.  I inform American Family Insurance that their policy holder is currently in the county jail.  They will attempt to contact him for ten days to get his side of the story.  If they can’t reach him, they’ll proceed with their own investigation and decide whether they’ll accept liability.

How could they not accept liability?  We went to inspect our impounded car today and found the red truck’s front license plate – fully embedded in our car’s rear bumper.

At the end of it, I have a probably-totaled car, a huge unanticipated vehicular expense, a lengthy insurance investigation, and a living breathing husband.

In five years, maybe I’ll look at Ace and say, “Hey, remember when that drunk driver could’ve killed you on Highway 65 four days after 17 students and teachers were mowed down by an angry 19-yr-old with access to an AR-15?  I’m so grateful that our lawmakers finally tackled gun reform as well as addiction treatment and support.”

A gal can dream.

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That’s the back of the guy’s license plate, embedded in our Subaru’s rear bumper.

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The back of the car performed EXACTLY as it should, caving in and dropping down. You can see how the rear of the car is mashed up against the tires.

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The interior seating area is quite well-preserved – plenty of room to survive. No airbags deployed.

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Again, you can see how the back of the car tilted down. The rear doors are unusable.

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Ace and Sparkle. Final goodbyes.

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The front still looks great!

 

Musical Moment

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Timber Target

I don’t like football.  I don’t get football.  At several points in my life, various males have attempted to explain the “down” system in a way that made any sense whatsoever.  They failed.  To me, football is the American equivalent of the gladiator ring.  We can’t condone fighting to the death but we can allow boorish fans to revel in blown ACLs, ripped rotator cuffs, and the chronic head trauma that leads to Swiss cheese brains.

Super Bowl LII provided the perfect opportunity for me to do my Target shopping.  It just so happens that Justin Timberlake visited my TargetIMG_4645 in the days leading up to LII.  This video dropped Friday, inducing a frenzied rush of JT fans screaming “Aardvark!!!!!”

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smiling, dressed for Target

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second minivan on the left #RockStar

Super Bowl Sunday was COLD.  I wore my Minnesota Suit and Tie and drove my SexyBack minivan to JT’s Target.  Got me some rock-star parking (Not a Bad Thing).  Contrary to popular belief, the Midway Target in St. Paul isn’t a Filthy, understaffed warehouse full of cheap, household Supplies.

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empty aisles

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it’s winter, people

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#bikinibody

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no shrine?

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JT + FP 4evah

The Body Count in the store was low, with aisles as empty as the Blue Ocean Floor.  A huge display of bikinis assaulted me, taunting me to Pose in front of the Mirrors.  Not My Style. I walked the Five Hundred Miles to the back of the store, Fascinated by the thought that Justin Timberlake breathed the very air around the Man of the Woods display.  I Can’t Believe It.  There’s no shrine.

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JT + RP ≠ TL b/c AL + RP = 4evah

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FP ingredients = GMOs, pesticide, and petroleum byproducts #GetANewSnack

I asked the Target tech dude (who looked like he’d rather be Livin’ Off the Land) for the straight scoop.  What went down on Friday?  Give It To Me!  Tech dude said JT came in on Friday, shot some video, spent some Money, walked around, and Nothin’ Else

Hm, I thought.  I Can’t Stop the Feelin’ that I’m not getting the True Colors of the situation, the Holy Grail of investigative journalism.  The self-checkout helper dished the real Sauce.  That Girl said the whole thing was a scam.  Timberlake arrived on Monday, spent a couple minutes surrounded by security in the back of the store, signed exactly five albums, posed with a cart filled by someone else, and left.  4 Minutes max.  Did he at least Say Something, take some Super Bowl Selfies with fans?  Nope.  Well, Cry Me a River.

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no longer smiling #SallowFace

#Sadface.  JT, you had a chance to Rock Your Body with good Minnesotans, folks acquainted with The [actual] Woods, people who would give you the several feet of personal space you deserve.  What Goes Around…Comes Around, dude.  We can see the Signs, stare right through your web of Flannel deception.

Sure, we’ll be nice, Role Model Minnesotans.  But Ain’t No Doubt About It, you can anticipate a lukewarm, passive-aggressive reception Until the End of Time.

 

Musical Moment

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Flee, Fly, Flu, Flum

Hey!  It’s flu season.  Again!  I blogged about this three years ago and I think it’s worth an update.

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Disclaimer: I am not your doctor.  I am not trying to give you medical advice.  If you are experiencing a medical emergency, call 911 now.  Now!  Thank you.

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Tis the season.  Everyone has “The Flu.”  Unfortunately for health care providers everywhere, “The Flu” represents at least four different situations in our culture.

1) The Flue.  Let’s get this one out of the way as it’s the least confusing.  Anyone with a woodburning fireplace has A Flue.  The great news is, flues aren’t contagious!

2) Which brings us to the next The Flu, as in Influenza, as in THE REAL DEAL FLU!  This is the bad one.  It isn’t actually one at all but many.  Sorry.  There are a three types of the influenza virus that afflict humans.  Ya got yer influenza A and yer influenza B and yer influenza C.

But influenza A is further divided into subtypes: influenza A H(1-18)N(1-11).  In other words, there are 19 different possibilities of H protein and 11 different possibilities of N protein on the surface of the influenza A virus.  To put this in mathematical terms would require me to relive something involving factorials and I’m not going there.  Suffice it to say that nature can produce many H + N combinations for our respiratory pleasure.

The joy doesn’t stop.  There can be many strains of a certain subtype.  Remember H1N1 from 2009?  That was a new strain of influenza A H1N1.  Vaccine wizards try to predict which strains, subtypes, and types will be particularly important in upcoming flu seasons and tailor “The Flu Shot” to those strains.  Sometimes they get it right.  Other times not so much.  Don’t get too mad at them – remember that factorial situation.

How does The Flu Shot work?  Most of the shots contain dead flu viruses.  ”Inactivated” is the slightly more pleasant term.  So I get my shot and my immune system picks up the dead viruses and says, hm, we have an intruder.  (Technically, we have three ((trivalent vaccine – this year containing an A H1N1, an A H3N2, and a B)) or four ((quadrivalent vaccine – everything above plus another B)) intruders.)  Let’s make antibody weapons directed against this intruder!  It takes a couple weeks for me to really build up my antibody arsenal.  When someone with The Flu sneezes on my face and I get exposed to real live virus, my immune system recognizes the intruder and my antibody weapons are ready to be deployed.

To put this in perspective, our bodies are exposed to thousands of new “intruders” each day as we eat and breathe and live.  Most of us can easily handle a couple more.

FluMist, the nose spray flu vaccination, is made up of “live attenuated” virus.  Think of it like a scorpion with its stinger removed.  No don’t.  That’s creepy.  Think of it like a barberry bush with the thorns removed.  Never mind.  Don’t think of it at all because the CDC says DON’T GET IT THIS SEASON BECAUSE IT ISN’T EFFECTIVE ENOUGH!

Influenza A is currently running rampant according to my charming husband and this helpful yet alarming map.  If you lived in Guam or Washington DC during the month of December, good for you.  It’s January now though, and all bets are off.

This flu season ushered in a particularly nasty strain of Influenza A.  Over thirty children have already died in the United States.

The match between the strains in the vaccine and the strains we are seeing “in the wild” isn’t perfect.  However, the vaccine can still help your body identify and attack the intruder.  Think of it like a family resemblance.  The vaccine contains a specific strain of influenza A(H3N2).   [Ms. Richardson, the flesh-eating zombie who lives next door.]  You contract a slightly different influenza A (H3N2).  [Hey!  You look a lot like Ms. Richardson!  Really?  You’re her sister?  I thought I sorta recognized you…  Are you a zombie, too?  ACK!!!]

As we get older, our immune systems get older, too.  They don’t get as excited about the flesh-eating zombie next door.  Folks over the age of 65 can get a couple souped-up versions of the vaccine: 1) a high-dose vaccine [a whole den of zombies] 2) an adjuvanted vaccine – the vaccine inside a base of squalene oil [like a zombie with flames shooting out of its orifices – highly noticeable].

The Bottom Line is you should get a flu shot.  Now.  Posthaste.  And next year do it in October.  If you don’t want to do it for yourself, do it for the sake of the infants under six months who can’t get vaccinated.  Or the elders who don’t get bent out of shape about a couple zombies.

3) So how about The Flu, like The Stomach Flu, like I’m-Puking-And-Pooping-And-Miserable Flu.  Well, technically that isn’t flu at all.  Depending on your circumstances, it could be “food poisoning” (which isn’t really poisoning, but ingestion of food-borne microbes such as campylobacter and salmonella) or viral gastroenteritis caused by any one of a number of fecal-to-oral transmitted viruses.  Norovirus, the virus-formerly-known-as-Norwalk, is the big offender in this country.

Yup, you read that right.  Fecal, as in POOP, to oral, as in EAT POOP.  Ace and I both learned a scintillating saying in medical school: “If shit were red, the world would be pink.”  Just let that one sink in for a minute.  The moral to the story is: WASH YOUR HANDS.

4) Finally, we come to The Flu.  ”I have a touch of The Flu” is what your neighbor says when he has a runny nose and slight cough.  Folks, you cannot have a touch of the Actual Flu.  The Actual Flu doesn’t touch you, it bowls you over, leaving you prostrate and begging for mercy.  Your neighbor’s “touch of The Flu” is likely a viral upper respiratory infection, caused by one of a group of constantly mutating viruses.  Hence, no vaccine).  Common causes of The Common Cold include rhinovirus, parainfluenza virus, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

People know that “a touch of The Flu” will excuse them from work, uncomfortable social obligations, and cooking duty.  ”A touch of The Flu” begs sympathy and chicken noodle soup.  ”I have a cold” and you can just join the club.  Buck up!

If you schedule an appointment with your Minnesota doctor for symptoms of a viral upper respiratory infection during the months of December or January, s/he is likely to be sicker than you are and more than a little peevish from a vexing combination of stress (it’s nearly impossible for doctors to just “call in sick”) and lack of sleep.

That is all.

 

Musical Moment

 

 

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FOS – the Fruits Of the Spirit

 

Love, joy, kindness, faithfulness, and what?

The Fruits of the Spirit rot,

Forgotten and maligned, sin-sick expendable culture.

With instant gratification, easily bruised egos

Spar from the anonymity of screens.

What can we do to help?

Remind everyone to eat their fruit!

Be kind.  Be faithful.  Be love.

 

Musical Moment

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