Monday, December 3, 2012

Get hot, y'all

I have never had a flu shot. Even a few years ago when swine flu was being touted as horribly dangerous, I thought about it for five minutes, then decided not to.

Contemporary western medicine is designed to keep people going 24/7. It is meant to keep us upright, working and living our lives without interruption. There is a perhaps unspoken assumption that good health means you should never have to call in sick so as to spend a day in bed. You should never have to cancel your tennis date or avoid going to the gym - never, not EVER.

It's a bizarre and distinctly mechanical way to think about health. Should you, a typical human being, develop a symptom, there's a pill to counteract it, or to help you ignore the messages your body is sending you. I think this is crazy, blowing off your health so you won't miss that important meeting at work? What is that all about?

Sometimes, in the drug store, I stop and stare at the painkiller aisle. From floor to ceiling the shelves are packed with every kind of pain killer that can be sold without prescription. In my society, you really are not supposed to have any kind of physical sensation. It's alarming.

Most over the counter pain killers are also anti-inflammatory, which means they will reduce a fever. That, until very recently, was seen as a good thing. A fever is uncomfortable and unnerving. But recently, it has been revealed in the world of what I call "Well - DUH" medical research, that developing a fever in response to infection by bacteria and viruses is Very Therapeutic. Well - duh!

Fevers clear all kinds of crap out of the body including serious diseases. Hyperthermia is the new big thing in cancer treatment. There is plenty of evidence that a high fever can shrivel tumors. Here's a link to a story about someone whose leukemia was cured completely by way of a high fever.

If a fever can kick cancer, it can surely help us in many other ways, right? If you google "fever therapy" you'll find tons of serious - also tons of silly - websites about the miraculous impact a fever can have on a variety of ailments.

Catching a cold or what we call "the flu," once or twice a year, and therefore developing a fever as a result, is a sign of a vigorous immune system. It's a natural, healthy process. When this happens, the smartest, most beneficial thing you can do for yourself is to call in sick, get in bed, eat chicken soup, drink tea, watch stupid movies or read magazines and sleep. Monitor your fever of course. For adults, it shouldn't go above 101 F. Wrap yourself up, let the fever do its job. If it climbs too high, take one aspirin to bring it down to 101 or below. If the fever lasts for more than 24 hours, call your doctor. After a few hours, the fever will "break" with a big sweat and a feeling of relief.

At that point, take a nice warm shower and sleep as long as you can. When you wake up, take it easy for a day or two. In this way, you will return to your regularly scheduled life renewed, cleansed and usually feeling far better than you did before you got sick.

Every time you kick a cold or "the flu" without medical intervention, you strengthen your immune system. A hearty immune system is the backbone of good health. That we continually attack our own immune systems not only with pain killers but also with antibiotics, in order to make sure we never stop working, never stop going going going full blast, is very unfortunate.

People who say they never get a cold? They creep me out. I wonder what is festering inside them that could be dispensed by a fever, some congestion and nose blowing, and a couple of days of rest. Yikes.

This advice is for healthy people. People whose immune systems are compromised have to be much more careful. However, even those with weakened immune systems can slowly rebuild the body's natural response to unwanted bacteria and viruses, but please do so in conjunction with close monitoring by your doctor. And if your doctor thinks it's stupid of you to want a hearty immune system, switch doctors ASAP, please.

May you be well. When you come down with a cold, may you respect that moment, may you respect the messages your body sends to you. May you dare to break your routine for a few days and in so doing become stronger and more resilient. May it be so!

Shalom and Gesundheit. To your health!


ellen abbott said...

I've never had a flu shot. I do think about it every year, like you, for about 5 minutes. It seems to me it's a good way to get the flu. The whole idea kinda creeps me out. I rely on my immune system to keep me healthy. That and not being around people. Someone [posted on FB recently wondering if she should get one. Most of the responses were in the negative but one person was really angry saying that those who didn't get it were being irresponsible and we would be spreading the flu around.

Reya Mellicker said...

Wow. Irresponsible? That's so extreme.

Oh well.

Kerry said...

What is irresponsible is to get sick and then not stay home. Even I have done this, because it was too damn hard to prepare for a sub. :( That's bad, I know, I know. Sooo many parents send sick kids to school that I have gotten flu shots every year for a while, trying to avoid the worst of the flu bug. This fall I was going to skip it, but then got one anyway, because I didn't want to take the chance of picking up the flu & passing it on to my 91 year old mother, or tiny grandson while visiting them.

I do think fever and chills are beneficial & generally tough it out when I'm sick. Now that i'm retired I don't have to hire a sub!

Reya Mellicker said...

It's hard to balance everything that's expected of us in this society. I don't judge anyone for getting the flu shot. I have never had one, but I did go get antibiotics when I had pneumonia. I was so amazed at how well they worked. Wow! Hadn't had one in about 30 years.

I believe all medicine is necessary. What I don't believe is that keeping all the balls in the air at once - all the time, no matter how sick one is - is cruel and unusual. I don't understand.

Reya Mellicker said...

I was thinking that I'm not around a lot of people, but it's not true. I live in a city, I ride the subway all the time, rub shoulders with lots of folks at the museums, in restaurants and such. I get sick once or twice every year, some years more than that, some years, less. I trust that my body will take on a flu virus if necessary.

I am so not mainstream. Sigh.

Reya Mellicker said...

I DO think keeping all the balls in the air at once is cruel and unusual.

The Bug said...

I never get a flu shot (needle-phobic) & I never get the flu. I do get a couple of colds a year. And I used to get a low grade fever every month (like clockwork - I would tell Mike that I was coming down with the flu & we would both look at the calendar - ha!). But now that I'm in menopause where will I get my fevers from? Hmm...

I do a GREAT job of not doing too much. I called off sick yesterday because I was sick Saturday night & felt like I needed another day to recuperate. My Protestant forebears don't seem to have much influence on me.