Apr. 17—"I was nauseous and tingly all over. I was either in love or had smallpox." 7/8 Woody Allen
Now, no matter what you may think of the dry-witted comedian as a person, the guy was funny.
I mean, in the mockumentary "Take the Money and Run," his Virgil Starkwell character is in prison and is severely tortured, being locked in a sweat box several days with an insurance salesman.
No offense to insurance salesmen, but that was funny.
But, no laughing matter when it comes to disease.
I've written many times on disease over the years.
Americans, in particular, always seem focused on wars as our biggest battles over the history of this nation.
I mean, we started as a democratic republic, springing from the Revolutionary War, through the War of 1812, our self-destructive experience during the American Civil War, through the First World War, the Second World War, Korea, Vietman and umpteen undeclared wars like we are about to end in Afghanistan.
All these wars got all the headlines, all these wars cost American lives and untold billions of dollars to wage.
Yet as human beings, we have forever been at war with disease.
I guess, having to deal with disease is not patriotic or sometimes seemly.
It's an often grim business, and a sometimes lethal business for many who contract disease.
And, guess what?
We are all disease carriers, no matter how clean we are, how well we conduct our lives, no matter how rich we are.
Disease will always be with us.
And yet, we seem as humans to constantly resist listening to the people who are trying to help us.
I sometimes get tired of writing about it.
Witness our latest concerns with the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, designed to mitigate the sometimes deadly effects of COVID-19 — our latest dealings with disease across the world and here in the U.S.
Officials state that 1 in 1 million people who take the J&J vaccine have developed serious and life-threatening blood clots.
It's terrible for the seven who have developed that adverse reaction.
But for the other more than 7 million in that study, the vaccine worked.
So, I did a little research, and found that the scourge of world diseases — smallpox — carried some serious risks as well.
I found that about one in 1 million people who were vaccinated for smallpox, died or had a serious, adverse reaction to the vaccine — which, by the way, eradicated the disease from planet Earth by 1980.
It still is the only disease ever eradicated by a vaccine.
The only one.
It was such a scourge throughout recorded human history, it finally wore us down.
It forced people to get vaccinated, get their children vaccinated, to finally rid us of our greatest war — the war against smallpox.
I found the most serious side effects of the smallpox vaccine included an attack on a person so afflicted's central nervous system.
For those who had side effects from smallpox vaccine, that was horrible.
But for the billions of the rest of us out here in people land, it ended smallpox and the threat that 1 in 3 of us who contracted it would die from the disease, or be horribly scarred for life.
This brings me to a real-life story I remember from my days of being a firefighter and an EMT.
Had a guy say he never wore a vehicle seat belt and wouldn't wear one, because if he was trapped in a car accident and couldn't get out of his seat belt, he might die in a subsequent vehicle fire.
Of course, the logic in this was turned on its head.
The odds of him getting killed or badly injured in a crash were astronomically greater if he didn't wear a seat belt than the odds of him getting trapped in the seat belt and burning to death.
There was no logic to his answer; there was no logic in his reasoning.
There was only illogic.
Yet that's what he believed.
The same here with disease and those who eschew vaccinations.
There is no way mankind will ever eradicate all disease, and there are no perfectly safe vaccines.
It is a war we constantly fight on a day-to-day basis.
Maybe it's that we see disease so much that it makes us extraordinarily blasé about it.
If someone told me I had 999,999 chances out of 1 million I would win the $74 million Powerball jackpot this week if I just bought a ticket (or got a vaccination), I sure as heck would jump at the chance.
My odds of winning are a certainty.
There are no certain things in life, other than paying taxes and dying.
Well, at least dying, in deference to tax cheats.
I did my part to get us back to normalcy. I wear a mask in public. I wash my hands and socially distance. I got my COVID-19 shots, had mild effects and played the overwhelmingly favorable odds in my favor.
Christy is news editor at the Enid News & Eagle. Visit his column blog at www.tinyurl.com/Column-Blog.
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