Rounding Up Zebras

Sometime during that first week of medical school, I learned that the world belongs to horses.  Except when DH has a bloody nose: he has leukemia.  Or I have a headache: glioblastoma multiforme …  or cysticercosis.  Now, The Kid is coughing: yup …  swine flu.

I remember skipping over the Reagan era — I was in college, then graduate school, then medical school.  The internet was not ubiquitous; DH used the old DARPANET as part of his graduate work, and completely underestimated the possibilities.   Me — I had my first encounters with computer while using LOTS.  It was an experience mercifully aborted as I realized I hated being with a bunch of geeks at 2 in the morning.  Then I had a Mac, which I used for churning out a truly awful “bodice ripper.”  The Mac didn’t last long — it probably died of embarrassment after that romance novel.  The point is — the Reagan era was not a happy time for liberals — or for the country, for that matter — but I didn’t know that because I didn’t live in a world of instant news.

So now the WHO has advanced the swine flu problem to phase 4 — and I can’t help knowing that because I spend way too much time on the computer.  The doctor in me thinks it’s  a real problem almost certain to become a HUGE problem, but I also have  faith in the medical community.  And yet I am absurdly unnerved by all the up-to-the-minute news, the doomsday headlines, the painstaking accounting of cases.  I remember when AIDS began, and newscasters would give that same accounting of the number of deaths.  When did they stop counting?  At 50?  At 100?  When people no longer could — or wanted to — absorb the numbers?

The Kid is coughing, and I try to think my way out of my fears.  I take comfort in that I  apparently survived the 1968 Hong Kong flu pandemic — a pandemic I didn’t know about until yesterday.


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