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Vote first, then wash your hands, exercise and be healthy

MARC CARLISLE

First things first. Early voting has begun at the county courthouse and runs through Friday, October 29. Colorado is a critical, battleground state for the control of the White House and the U.S. Senate, and your vote will count, but only if you actually vote. And afterward, wash your hands. It’s flu season, and hand-washing – as childish as it sounds – reduces your chances of catching a cold or the flu. It’s too late to do the best thing you could have done to avoid getting sick, and that’s eating right and getting regular exercise. Taking care of yourself requires a regular, lifelong commitment, and it’s outrageous in this country how few people make the effort in favor of the quick fix. Our response to the flu is as good an example as any of good old American laziness, and the irrational state of health care. There’s a shortage of flu vaccine in this country; a key supplier of the vaccine, a Canadian company (go figure) failed to produce enough safe serum in time, and so we’re treated to the spectacle of folks pushing and shoving at pharmacies and clinics in a desperate attempt to get what’s coming to them. Ironically, as they push and shove, the very people trying to avoid the flu increase their chances of getting it. There’s a direct correlation between the more people you come in contact with and your chances of getting a cold or the flu (and so we wash our hands as our mommies told us to).

Moreover, pushing and shoving and waiting in line for a shot is stressful, and stress can trigger viruses such as the flu. So while these folks may ultimately get a flu shot, they may get the flu as well. But do these people really need or deserve a flu shot? There are, indeed, people who need a flu shot. The Centers for Disease Control recommends flu shots for anyone, adult or child, who has a chronic heart or lung condition, recently out of surgery, who have certain diseases such as diabetes, or who have problems with their immune systems. Seniors 50 and older are encouraged to get a flu shot if they’re in a nursing home or hospital that houses folks with long-term diseases. But if you’re healthy and take care of yourself, a flu shot is not that critical. Of course, in this country, many people don’t take care of themselves, and insist on the quick fix instead. Surely they know, in their heart of hearts, that the hip problem the doctor gives them pain relievers for, or has given them a whole new hip for, really wasn’t a hip problem at all, but a result of hauling around too much fat.

Surely they know, in their heart of hearts, that there’s something very wrong with taking a cholesterol-reducing drug that can increase the risk of heart problems, rather than getting regular exercise, eating right and stretching. But the system lets them get away with it, by charging the healthy and strong the same for health insurance as they charge the lazy and the weak-willed. While the doctors and the government and the Canadians may be part of the problem, the real problem is the mass of fat and lazy people who clog the health care system demanding expensive medical treatments rather than assuming responsibility for themselves and their own health. And its these same folks, with no sense of personal responsibility, who are training future generations of fat and lazy Americans in poor health; childhood obesity is officially an epidemic in this country, along with heart disease and AIDS. By trying to balance creation and evolution in our schools, the crux of Darwin’s theory of natural selection -where the weak, lazy, and fat perish, and the active and the strong, at any age, survive – is lost on adults and kids alike.

Perhaps only the healthy should be eligible for a flu shot, thus weeding out the fat and lazy rather than penalizing those who’ve made the effort to keep well. In a country that idolizes highly paid athletes, and pledges allegiance to capitalism, it’s the depth of irony that the largest sector of the U.S. economy revolves around catering to the whims of the fat and lazy and the weak-willed, providing them with health care services regardless of cost. So get a flu shot if you must, if you can find one, but take your mind off the sting of the needle not with an ice cream cone but with a Jonathan apple, right after your walk.Marc Carlisle writes a Thursday column.


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