Indigo Insights

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Posted by Doc Farmer
Sunday, December 21, 2003

The sky is falling! The sky is falling!

Yes, that’s the type of reporting we’ve come to expect from mainstream news outlets. Pick a topic, any topic, and they’ll find a reason to scare the lachrymal secretions out of you: The globe is cooling. The globe is warming. The sun is going to explode. No, it’s going to burn out. Everything you eat, drink, breathe, touch, think, do or say causes cancer in one laboratory animal or another. Paulie Shore might be making a new movie. Roving gangs are prowling the streets, ready to maim you and kill you and steal your purse and make fun of your shoes. You can get AIDS from bad breath.

Now, the news media has a new darling of disaster. The flu. And quite frankly, I’m sicker of the reporting than I am of the virus itself.

Every year, tens of thousands of Americans die from flu-related illnesses. Around 36,000 average every year. Does that number shock you? It didn’t shock me. We all die from one thing or another. Illnesses, accidents, crimes, Paulie Shore movies--sooner or later we’re all gonna bite the big one. And in the case of illnesses, people can succumb to a wide variety of diseases. Pneumonia, colds, flu, etc., are out there, and we invariably end up catching at least one of those bugs every year. It’s a given that no matter how healthy you are, no matter how much you exercise, or how many vitamins you take, you’ll end up with a nose stuffed like a Christmas turkey and a cough that frightens wildlife in the Serengeti.

So it is this year. The flu is going around. Just like it does every year. And every year, certain people are urged to get an inoculation against the latest or most prevalent strain of the virus. Certain people like children, the elderly, individuals prone to respiratory illnesses and, unfortunately, Paulie Shore. Last time, the drug companies made an excess amount of flu shots, and had to ditch several million doses. This time, they made what they thought was enough, but they’re running out. And on top of that, the vaccine they made for this year isn’t the right strain of the virus.

Now, just so we understand each other, please note that the flu is not an automatic death sentence. For the vast majority of people, it’s a week of feeling really rotten. For a few people, it’s hospitalization and the hope you’ll be fed intravenously (so as to avoid the culinary nightmare that is hospital food), followed by a hospital bill that will require you to be hospitalized again--this time for shock. For a tiny minority, the flu unfortunately means death.

Note the term ''tiny minority.'' You’ll only see that term here. You’ll certainly not see it anywhere in the mainstream press. And although those deaths are tragic, and I in no way wish to demean them, I don’t see why the press is focusing so strongly on that comparatively tiny number and leaving the impression that they are instead the majority.

I’ve been watching the local news. The newscasters are acting like this is an outbreak of Ebola, for pity’s sake! They’ve been showing, almost every night, long lines of people waiting outside the City-County building, hoping to get their flu shot inside. Standing outside in very cold conditions, I might add. They’ve probably got more chance of getting sick just by being out there freezing off various portions of their anatomy. Or mingling around outside with strangers who already have the bug, and are unknowingly passing it on to others.

Why would they be out there, braving cold weather with their kids bundled up to the point where they can barely move? Simple. They’re scared. And who scared them?

The mainstream news media.

The press, in its ever-increasing need to maximize its molehill-to-mountain fabrication system, is manufacturing a crisis where none yet exists. Reporters are purposely frightening ''the masses'' (see also: us) in order to increase ratings and circulation.

Yes, the flu season is starting early. Yes, there aren’t as many vaccine doses as last year. Yes, some people will die from the flu. But no, it ain’t all of us. And I sincerely wish that the media would stop pretending otherwise.

Now, here’s some advice that you probably won’t get from the media. Wash your hands a lot. Not with anti-bacterial soaps or lotions that contain alcohol, but just regular soap 'n' water. Stop shaking hands with people, especially if they (or you) are ill. If somebody at your office or place of work is sick, send him or her home immediately. If that person is your boss, mutiny is permitted in this case. Throw him out, but do so with kindness so as not to screw up your chances for your bonus.

If you get the bug, see about getting some Sambucol (an extract of sambucus negris, or black elderberry), which has some positive effect against flu symptoms; normally you should take it within 24 hours of the first warning signs. Some zinc, ester-C, and Echinacea probably wouldn’t hurt things either. Locate a nearby kosher deli and request prescription-strength chicken soup (matzo balls optional). Sleep as much as you can, especially during the daytime. This will help you avoid the mind-altering properties of soap operas (which are far more injurious than any mere virus!). Avoid Paulie Shore movies at all costs.

If you start feeling better, please do not go back to work too soon. Otherwise, you’ll just relapse, and infect your co-workers in the process. Drink plenty of fluids--especially water--and avoid coffee if at all possible (caffeine is a diuretic). And if you’ve got a fever of 102° F for more than 2 days, call your doctor and tell him or her that you’ve got the flu but generally expect to survive.

! Despite media reports to the contrary. !

~~~~~oOo~~~~~ UPDATE: Indigo did not realize Doc was using some weirdo foreign typewriter!! (He recently returned from Iraq.) The inserted hieroglyphics seem to be in lieu of an apostrophe. Sorry I didn't catch this until after it was published here.

(Editor’s Note: Doc is his name, not his profession. Doc Farmer is not a doctor. Nor does he play one on TV. However, Doc tells us, ''the information above is not prescribing, it’s just common sense advice. Check with your own physician. Read the label. Your mileage may vary. Offer void where prohibited. Objects in the mirror may be closer than they appear. In space, no one can hear you sneeze. Auntie Em! Auntie Em! It’s a Twister! Lo quiero, Taco Bell! Luke, I am your father! Why is that chicken singing Aida in my bathtub?'' As you can probably guess, we’re all pretty worried about Doc here....)