Taking the Leap

Life is a leap of faith, sometimes a bigger lunge than other times. It is about trust, hoping the other shoe doesn’t fall, counting on the brakes don’t fail on the 18-wheeler barreling toward the intersection, expecting that the tangerine you eat won’t be laced with some nasty pesticide or that your car’s brakes won’t suddenly fail just while you begin your decent down a slippery, snow covered hill or that the tiny screws that holds the second floor air conditioner to the bracket don’t come loose sending the machine crashing down on your noggin or that you didn’t get the COVID 19 vaccine that was accidentally doubled in dose by the quality control technician who tied one on last night and just wasn’t watching.

I got my second dose of the anti-plague vaccine yesterday morning and I’ve been waiting for the other shoe of side effects to fall. I’m tired but I’m always tired, I have a slight headache but that also is not unusual. Is that twinge I feel in my chest the start of horrible flu-like side effect symptoms and is my relatively asymptomatic state just the calm before the storm? We shall see.

I am among just 8.1 percent of Americans who have received both vaccinations and that makes me feel special, knowing that there is a 95 percent chance that I will never come down with COVID 19, although that leaves a 5 percent chance that I will get sick and there’s always those pesky viral variations that keep popping up and challenging the vaccine. But I won’t think about those things because I will probably be just fine. Probably.

I have to trust that the technology will work, that the vaccine has been fully tested, that the best scientists around have faith that they have been right. But really I have to just close my eyes and hope, some would say, pray, because I am well aware that technology can go awry. Think of the recall of your Toyota because the air bag just might explode in your unsuspecting face or the recall of thousands of heads of lettuce because the vegetables were sprayed with a toxic substance when they were harvested in Mexico by people making $1 a day or the thalidomide sedative that women counted on before they found their babies were born with two heads or maybe you will be that one in 100,000 people who suffers from a serious drug side effect, like death, and what if you unknowingly took an aspirin with that super duper medication and the combination has a serious side effect, like death,or that maybe 10 or 20 years from now, the cumulative effect of that seemingly innocuous and safe medicine will cause your arms to fall off. Especially, I have to cross my fingers when taking a medicine that some drug company developed and made billions in the process, but it never really boils down to profit and dollars, does it?

It boils down to good luck, bad luck or dumb luck, fate, good fortune, misfortune, there but for fortune.

All things considered, I took my chances with the COVID 19 vaccine and I urge everyone to get the shots because you really don’t want to tempt fate by avoiding protection, even if it is not 100 percent.

And stay out of Texas because the good governor has eliminated mandates to wear masks because he doesn’t want any more stores to close. I put people above retail, but that’s just me.

And my trust in the government certainly took a hit when the former quack-in-chief suggested bleach and a lot of light will counteract COVID-19 which would magically disappear anyway but we are gone from those dark years and I expect that President Biden has a lot more respect for real science.

If you’re curious, here are some of the most outrageous medical treatments in history.

Snake oil was actually used in the 1800s and it was effective in reducing inflammation and to treat arthritis and bursitis. Problem was that charlatans started marketing fake snake oil that was ineffective at best and thus, the infamous “snake oil salesman.”

Cocaine was hyped in the mid-1800s as a wonder drug to treat toothaches, depression, sinusitis, lethargy, alcoholism, and impotence. Allen’s Cocaine Tablets cost 50 cents a box and you didn’t need a doctor’s prescription but it turned out that cocaine caused rather than cured ailments and resulted in sleep and eating disorders, depression and hallucinations and oh yes, addiction.

Phentermine and Fenfluramine, commonly known as Phen-Fens. were popular miracle pills in the 1990s used by many women to cause weight loss. Patients thinned down and 6 million Americans swore by it until in 1996 the drug lost its appeal after reports increased of grave side effects, including serious heart valve abnormalities.

In the late 1880s, heroin or diamorphine was introduced as a safe and non-addictive substitute for morphine to treat sore throats, coughs and cold. Bayer advertised a heroin-laced aspirin in 1898, and bottles depicted children eagerly reaching for the medicine, with moms giving their sick kids heroin on a spoon. The FDA eventually banned heroin after patients got hooked and doctors reported many very bad side effects.

And don’t forget lobotomies to treat mental illness and electric shock treatments to cure impotence, both later found to have no positive effects. And then there was the 19th century vibrator used to cure the female “disease” known as hysteria, believed to cause anxiety, irritability, sexual desire, insomnia, faintness, and a bloated stomach. The vibrator was used as a “pelvic massage to induce “hysterical proxysm” also known as an orgasm. The hysteria remained but at least women got something out of it.



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Phil Garber

Phil Garber

Journalist for 40 years and now a creative writer