Sunday, August 15, 2010

Fighting an Infection

This is a strained metaphor in poor taste, but y'all KNOW I can't help myself.

So two weeks ago, I was walking home from work, reading (as usual) and not really paying much attention. The day before in the same spot (I remembered after the fact) lighting had downed a big branch. I'd stopped to assess the two squashed cars and people standing around saying, 'this sucks!' as having your car squashed by a large branch does INDEED suck.

Now in my defense, I WAS paying enough attention not to walk into that downed branch the day before... but when everything had been cleared away... well I only have so much attention to spare... so I stepped on a stick. No big deal, right. Stick, schmick. WRONG! The stick was curved and forked and obviously EVIL. It popped up and positioned itself so that it could IMPALE my calf!

Now it hurt pretty bad, and I swore at the stick (which didn't have the decency to even apologize) and I kept walking... until I felt the trickle... I looked more closely. Apparently being impaled causes BLOOD. I got out a cloth from my bag (the emergency back up hanky) and applied pressure, then I LOOKED at the darned thing... Being impaled ALSO leaves a big freaking hole in the leg (assuming the leg is where you were impaled.) It was only a flesh wound though, so I hobbled home, cleaned it up, put on a bandage... and have proceeded to have an unattractive wound on my leg for a few weeks now.

Last week my boss, who normally works in another building and had been on vacation for a week to boot, saw this and freaked out. Had I seen a doctor? Had I used hydrogen peroxide to clean it? Did I want her to call me in a prescription for anti-biotics? No. No. and No. The hydrogen peroxide WOULD have been a yes, if we HAD any, but there was none. Soap and water had had to suffice. But a DOCTOR? Anti-biotics? For an (admittedly ugly) wound that is no worse that say... a skinned knee?

And Here We Come to Philosophy Differences

My boss, the MD, puts great stock in MEDICINE. The Tart, a nudist, naturalist, and environmentalist, sort of thinks sometimes it is best to let nature take its course. I'm not STUPID. I get my tetnus shots when they force me—which would be, I think, the only infection I couldn't handle. But I happen to think our bodies need practice fighting these MINOR things, so there are anti-bodies built up for BIGGER stuff--the stuff they don't even KNOW about yet that is mutating BECAUSE we use medicine for everything and those bugs think they have a right to exist too.

I don't get a flu shot. I would have exposed my kids to chicken pox instead of getting THAT shot except my husband had never had them, and for an adult they can be so dangerous. I don't take medicine unless it is BAD—the bottle of acetaminophen in my office EXPIRED in 2006 and is still half full... that is how rarely I resort to it.

I've noticed that every time one of my kids switches schools, we have a bad year for colds and minor inflictions... it is a NEW batch of germs and we need to learn to fight them. And we do... the next year it is better... in fact now that my kids are 15 and 11, I think we have most of the Ann Arbor germs down...

Now I may be totally cracked. In fact in other domains, I'm quite sure of it. But I think this serves me pretty well, most of the time.

And there is a WRITING Metaphor (as always, ne?)

We could do our writing and then send it on to a professional editor (the literary MD)... they could work with it and hammer it out so it's nice and lovely, yes? And we may be successful there, and it might be a PERFECT solution. But then we'd write our next book, and we only would have learned a few of the lessons of the hammering out. We only would have gotten the peripheral benefit of watching and listening. We WOULD NOT have the experience of doing it ourselves.

Yes, doing it ourselves takes longer. Yes it's more painful. Yes, there is typically whiskey involved. But the next time it comes around, the required skills are in our docket, practiced and ready to go, so it is EASIER. We may have another tier of lessons when we try a new genre, or target a new audience, or hit a new milestone, but by being primary participants, I think we are better equipped to get stronger and grow.

This is NOT necessarily a self-publish endorsement, as in some cases I think THAT is more like deciding to go to school sick and spreading your germs (not always... some people have mastered the self-healing powers and are good to go)--I just feel compelled to point out that putting on clothes and stepping out the door is not a clean bill of health.

But mostly, I think the personal effort to conquer these things is good for us, as it arms us for future fights.

I know I said not this weekend, but as it is now WRITTEN, I think this will work for the Sunday/Monday blog... so there...


RosieC said...

Man, there's a chicken pox vaccine? I'm pretty sure that didn't exist when I was a kid. And, you know what, I loved having the chicken pox. I had a really mild case when I was 7 or 8, and I got to spend 10 days home from school by myself. Why would you vaccinate? (No, no, you had a good reason, but for kids whose parents DID have it....)

I love your metaphor, and it's important for me to hear it right now (watch for my post tomorrow, if you're online). I'm struggling through horrible, painful revisions, and since I agree with your take on antibiotics, etc., I appreciate the comparison. And, since I'm beginning to hate my story and I want to kick it like a bad puppy and send it to doggy daycare or obedience training, your struggle through the flesh wound makes me see that I can do it myself. Thanks.

But don't expect me *not* to complain about it :)

TreeX said...

You couldn't walk here without watching your feet; from the ground up you'd have uneven paving, uncleared sticks and leaves, dog shit (another reason I feel all dogs should be killed on sight, besides being a practising postman), gum, sand from construction work (though this last is more dangerous on a bike; I still have the scars from when someone had the bright idea to build with coarse-grained sea-sand at an overstretched corner), the list goes on and on... Rubbish is rare though :)

Also, I can totally relate to your philosophy of not using anything. Here if you go to a doctor he is unlikely to do anything else than send you home, tell you to take it easy, and perhaps take a paracetamol (known as tylenol in the US) if you absolutely have to. Antibiotics are NOT TO BE USED unless it's already life-threatening, because otherwise you only breed resistant bugs, which unsurprisingly tend to come from places where antibiotics ARE used indiscriminately.
The same goes for common children's diseases, instead of fighting them artificially children are expected to build up an immune system -- in my generation at least, nowadays I see more and more kiddies running around in more safety gear than a fighter pilot, being mollycudled to death by overprotective parents... I swear, that's going to RUIN their chances of survival in the real world; sometimes you NEED to fall out of a tree to know that you have to be careful!

TreeX said...

Oh, and I nearly forgot; could you please cut back on your overuse of apps and features? They're nice and all, but it's making your blog almost impossible to load even on my new Mac, let alone my five year old desktop (which is still quite powerful even by today's standards), so I tend not to read it as often as I used to because it's so frustrating to open. Please fix! :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Love the Monty Python pic!
And Ann Arbor, Michigan? I just drove through there last week.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I sterilize, but I'm not one to take drugs unless there's no other option.

Old Kitty said...

Oh my giddy aunt - are your ok after the impalement?!!? Oh goodness me!! I hope you are ok!

Sometimes it's great to let nature take its course when ill but there are times (e.g. genetically inherited weakness) where you really need help - and from someone medically qualified - where a course of anti-biotics may do the trick or just some pain killers to get rid of that nasty headache!!

Just saying there are means and ways of getting round things and sometimes they involve asking or looking for professional and experienced help and taking the prescribed dosage. :-)

Take care

Hart Johnson said...

Rosie-I, too, loved having chicken pox. (and yes, the shots came out when my daughter was a baby--1995 or so) I was 5 and normally went to a baby sitter, but got to instead go to my grandma's and my great grandpa was visiting and spoiled me rotten! Good luck with the editing and yes... just take the time you need... do the work necessary, and then you will be more equipped for the next time.

Joris-very interesting that you aren't so keen on medicine there. HERE they start with weaker anti-biotics, but I know we over-do it. I also think your assessment of things being a lot more now than when you were smaller is true. I think there have always been drug seeking parents, but it seems that has been compounded by drug pushing doctors and internet half-information.

As for my format... I think it is the background and I want to fix it, but it takes me taking the time to find a less troublesome alternative.

LDiane-If you ever drive through with some time, let me know--we'll have coffee or something!

CA Heaven said...

Do you read while you walk? Kind of unusual isn't it?

Anyway, evil sticks are everywhere. Hope you're OK again soon >:)

Cold As Heaven

TreeX said...

I think it's mostly the Facebook plugin and the blog links that seem to take ages and ages and BLOODY AGES to load. That and the flash maps and dangles and things :)

I would suggest going back to HTML; after all, it's a blog, not a christmas tree :)

TreeX said...

Also, there's no such thing as WEAK antibiotics. Either need it or, or STAY OF IT FOR FUCK'S SAKE!! You're creating MASSIVE, and I mean, Jupiter-sized problems that will strike within a few years or even months, what with the rate bacteria multiply. (Sorry, this is a favourite topic amongst my friends and I; I'm pretty much the only one NOT studying medicine, or bio-chemistry, or stuff like that)

Hart Johnson said...

Alex--exactly! Drugs as last resort!

Jenny-I know there are TIMES when the meds are needed... I just generally err toward waiting, and nearly always, that works.

Joris, I'm not willing to reduce the blog roll or ways to contact me, and I KNOW it got slow when I changed backgrounds, so I think it is the OVERLAY of all that stuff onto fancy that does it.

Natasha said...

I did know we were Twins. And I was thinking of the same thing yesterday. About how the only time I have taken antibiotics has been after a hospital visit- I have never abused it for a cold/ viral/ blah/ blah/ blah. And about how most people start popping the penicillin the moment they sneeze.

Anonymous said...

Hope your leg soon recovers fully - you too - your health, your mental health, and all those parts that write with you in the bath also.

Have a nice day, Boonsong

Ted Cross said...

The only time I want a pro giving me revision help is when it is the agent and editor for my publisher. I want to know how to make my books the best they can be on my own.

Sue said...

Yep, keep of the anti-bs' as long as possible. Sometimes it goes pear shaped (not your leg I hope, but the situation), and they're NEEDED, but until then, avoid. Leads to needing stronger or different ones, as infections become resistant. Not good.

Love the analogy.

Do give yourself TLC in the form of chocky and champers (or whiskey?) for being so stoic with the impalement. Perhaps a bit of added drama in the form of a walking stick could assist with TLC from others?

Hart Johnson said...

CaH--I just saw you up there! Not sure how I missed it yesterday. Yes, I do read when I walk. Yes, a little unusual, though I may have inherited it. My mother does it, and I didn't know that until my own habit was well established.

Natasha-they won't give them for a COLD here (nothing viral) but for ANY infection they are very quick to (ear infections, for instance) and often you really CAN fight those.

Boonsong-thank you--yes, the mental health and bath/writing parts could use the help too!

Ted-I love a poke for ADVICE from a pro, but want to DO IT myself until the real pros headed to publishing get on it. A 'this piece isn't working' or a 'you need more tension here' is fabulous, but telling me how to word it, not so much.

Sue-I hadn't heard the pear shaped term, but yes--that is what I like the pro for--to tell me the signs that I HAVE to do something. With a wound I know those signs (swelling, puss), with illness I would say fever and such, but I like a little advice. Oh! A walking stick! Excellent revenge against the offender!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

I think I learn a ton from ripping up my manuscript each time. :) Good luck to you with your revisions!

Anonymous said...

Love the Monty Python pic. No arms and no legs, he still wants to fight. And thinks he can win. Fortunately, my MS stayed intact from beginning to end. I did edit out a ton of data dump and redundancies though. Better to take out then put in.

Stephen Tremp

Southpaw said...

I need to know if the stick has been charged or if it got away with it?

Not Hannah said...

I need a professional writer at this point to write my stuff for me. I'm going to blame it on the weather. OR the fire ants. One or the other. I LIKE this metaphor.

Cheeseboy said...

I think it's a fine metaphor. Makes perfect sense to me, and I DO get a flu shot every year.

Hart Johnson said...

Elizabeth--so it's worth it then? I feel sure it SHOULD, but having not yet reached success...

Stephen-sounds like either you planned well or were lucky! Since I am not yet DONE editing, i don't know what it will take.

Holly *snort* I would have broken it, had I not fled before I assessed the damage, but I think it might believe it was only getting revenge for me stepping on it.

Heather- teehee--You can do it... you will hopefully have TIME some time soon.

Cheeseboy-you work with munchkins, and so are exposed to your towns brand new germs. I think school workers and health care workers are the exception because of the greater exposure.

Jane Kennedy Sutton said...

My young grandson has reminded me about the powers of “kissing an ouwie to make it better.” Of course, one might have to be a contortionist to kiss her own calf, so I suggest drafting a family member or friend. In any case, I hope you mend quickly.

I do learn from my own revisions, but I have to admit I learn more from editors. I like to think with their help I am accumulating knowledge that will someday pay off. I’m quite sure that my manuscripts have been improved by their wisdom – I know my grammar has.

Jessica Bell said...

I hate medicine. I always try natural methos before going to see a doctor. I haven't seen a doctor in 10 years! Ever since I refused to take any more antibiotics, and I got over stuff on my own, I've also hardly been sick! What's that tell ya? Medicine kills. ;o)

Are you a writer? Then you MUST enter this CONTEST!

Deb said...

I am a non medicine gal myself. Except when I'm not. Sometimes you just gotta. But I'd rather just let the body do it's thing. Menopause was my big accomplishment. NO HRT. Almost killed myself and the neighbourhood at large, but still. Loved the metaphor.

Anonymous said...

I was dumbfounded when my son's pediatrician mentioned the chicken pox vaccine. Egad! I just got the stupid stuff when I was 3 and called it done. People have subjugated their own judgment in place of listening to the people who are supposed to be the experts and thereby call those MD's for EVERYTHING. "My child doesn't sleep through the night yet - what do I do?" and the like... I'm honestly flabbergasted by how much people rely upon the doctors for these days. Not saying there aren't very good and relevant things to call about and be assured of, but seriously... Btw - I'm more naturopath/homeopath than traditional medicine. Immunizations and certain infections being the exceptions. [Ear infection - please give my kid drugs. Really.]

Hope you feel better soon!