Sunday, January 13, 2013

MeanMesa, Old Wives Tales, Urban Legends & the Flu

The 2013 Flu

Naturally, we've all been hearing about the wave of flu cases rolling across the country.  "Attached at the spine" with all these warnings have been the predictable admonitions to roll MeanMesa's old bones right over to WalMart and get a shot of flu vaccine for $10 bucks delivered by the hands of a minimum wage pharmacist assistant.

Of course, while we hear this every year, this time around we may not be taking the news as seriously as we should.  Modern folks don't have the "cultural memory" of what has hit the human race in the past -- even in the fairly recent past.  For example, after WWI a flu epidemic swept across just about every continent, killing more humans than even the huge number who died in that war.

MeanMesa has watched more than one doctor -- most of whom look like they haven't been outside for fresh air and sunshine in the last decade -- honestly report that the vaccine is about 60% effective.  We have to assume that, with advice like this, the medical opinion of a blog in New Mexico can hardly compete with respect to credibility, so there won't be free advice about getting or not getting the vaccine doled out here.

This graph from The Atlantic shows the comparison. [Read the article here. ]

Now, MeanMesa is not among the conspiracy theorists who think that the flu vaccine programs are a scheme by the Bolivians to take over the country.  However, after quite dutifully reporting for a flu shot several years in a row, an inescapable conclusion presented itself.

When MeanMesa gets a flu shot, MeanMesa gets the flu.  Right away.  By the next day.

Those same doctors repeated tell us that this is basically impossible.  They explain that all the flu virus in the vaccines is dead, so no one will ever get sick from having a shot.  Those same doctors don't have to endure the on going torture of listening to MeanMesa, in the painful throes of a self-perceived, near death experience, complain in an unrelenting theatrical hysteria for a week.

So, What's To Be Done?

Well, advice-wise, we'll split the advice of the doctors into two sides.  On one side, we'll take their advice very seriously.  On the other, we'll strike out on our own just a bit.

Striking Out On Our Own

1. Take Echinacea

This supplement doesn't cure anything.  It boosts the strength and readiness of your immune system.
The medical researchers agree almost unanimously that Echinacea offers no benefit whatsoever.  Fortunately, MeanMesa's immune system can't read.  This supplement has had great results -- pretty quickly, too -- on all sorts of infections from sinus problems to the flu.  MeanMesa likes the idea that the battle will be between the immune system and the microscopic invaders rather than  chemicals or pharmaceuticals designed to kill anything that moves.  The only "side effect" ever experienced with this supplement has been an infrequent burp from the ground herb content.

2. Drink water

When the flu hit while 450 miles north of the Arctic Circle in the oil fields at Prudhoe Bay, the first line of defense was always the same: "drink water until your teeth float." 

In the more residential setting of MeanMesa's Galactic Head Quarters in Albuquerque, an additional "water tip" can be added to the mix.  Every morning while waiting for the coffee maker, a nice large pot of water is set to a boil on the gas range.  The steam humidifies the air almost immediately -- in New Mexico when the temperatures are low, the humidity is also low.

The old lungs can almost be heard saying "Thank you!"  It doesn't take much boiling time, either.  This seems to provide a meaningful, extra protection for lungs which have become dehydrated over night.  The dryness in the lungs may present a vulnerability to viral infection, so even a few minutes of increased humidity is a helpful thing.

3. Take Vitamin C

The "father of electron bonding theory," Nobel Laureate chemist, Dr. Linus Pauling, dedicated about the first third of his famous career to the electrons.  The second third was focused intently on stopping the Vietnam War.  The final third of his life was research dedicated to promoting the use of vitamin C.

Dr. Pauling often made the comment that the 60mg. of vitamin C specified in the FDA's  MDR  [minimum daily requirement] was just enough to  keep a healthy sailor from getting scurvy. Pauling's research suggested that much more was actually required for a normal human to have a healthy life.  His idea was around 5,000 mg of vitamin C per day.

MeanMesa, as a usual daily supplement, takes about half -- 2,500 mg -- of what the Doctor suggested.  But while the flu is roaring around, the 5,000 mg daily dose makes good sense.  It's water soluble, so you'll effortlessly dispatch any excess.

Embracing the Medical Side

4. Wash your hands

What the doctors say about hand washing is advice "worth its weight in gold."  Every influenza virus that is trying to get inside your body has to make a journey from where it begins to where it needs to go to start replicating.  

There are three primary entry points for that virus:  your mouth, your nose and your eyes.  In all three locations the main risk is from what is on your hands when they approach these portals.  MeanMesa suspects that aggressive hand washing may offer roughly the same likelihood of protection as that touted by the vaccine -- maybe around 60%.

The childhood aphorism may also make sense.  While washing your hands with warm water and soap, keep going long enough to sing "Happy Birthday" -- at least, long enough to sing it to yourself.

MeanMesa has prepared a little graphic which can be downloaded and printed on your printer.  Make a couple of copies and tape one near the wash basin in your bathroom and next to the kitchen sink.

MeanMesa's Flu Fighter's Reminder Card
So, everyone take care of yourself -- and take care of those who are important to you!

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