Open Thread: Sickness

(by chris the cynic)


I once wrote a story (well, fragment) in which a survivor of the Zombie Apocalypse (zompocalypse) says that the thing he misses most from the days before the collapse of civilization is cold medicine.  I’m feeling like that character a bit and it doesn’t make it easy to think, so you get sickness as a prompt.

As usual anything related to that can be used as a jumping off point.

Examples include: something about how you feel about sickness, where money should be allocated in dealing with medical research, the fact that “Cat’s Cause Schizophrenia!” should in fact be written, “Certain cats are hosts to a parasite known as ‘toxoplasma gondii’ exposure to which can increase the risk of developing schizophrenia in humans especially when those already at risk are exposed as children,” or anything else even vaguely related to sickness.


[As a reminder, open thread prompts are meant to inspire conversation, not stifle it. Have no fear of going off topic for there is no off topic here.]

7 thoughts on “Open Thread: Sickness

  1. christhecynic October 24, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Zombie Apocalypse story mentioned above is here. My current state of being is here.

    We need to invest more, a really, really fucking huge amount more, in Alzheimer’s research. That’s just a moral obligation and also has to do with the numbers which are, frankly, terrifying. (Sixth leading cause of death in America, third amoung the elderly here.)

    But honestly I’m just very against anything that might fuck with my brain. By the time I am elderly I want all things that could screw over my cognition as an elderly person to be dealt with and soundly defeated.

    Is that selfish? Yup. Unrealistic? Very much so. But it’s also a good goal. In addition to bad things being bad, medical research (well, most all research) yields unexpected benefits.

    It takes two medicines to let me sleep well. One of them was developed as an antihistamine (Diphenhydramine=Benadryl.)

    Toxoplasma gondii is apparently harmless to cats but it’s mental effects are not limited to humans or indeed primarily related to them. To wit, it screws up rodents. The rodents are less averse to cat smells (particularly urine I guess) and more sluggish in reaction time. The result is that cats have an easier time hunting affected rodents.

    So for them it’s not so much parasitic as symbiotic. Cats infected with toxoplasma gondii have an advantage over cats who are not because hunting is easier for them.

    While parasite can exist in all kinds of things, it’s only able to sexually reproduce within cats (it asexually reproduces elsewhere.)

    Looking over the information, it seems like the only defense against the thing is prevention by avoiding things that might put you at risk. That’s … not a good solution. We need some kind of inoculation we can give to humans (especially children) because cats are … well, cats. If you’re not willing to jump through the hoops needed to possibly-maybe keep your cat from getting infected (lock it up, never let it be tainted by the world) then it becomes a thing of “Try not to come in contact with any cat stuff.” Good luck forcing that on children.

    “I know a kid with cat alergies who responds to seeing a kitty by picking it up and hugging it, and showing it love, and basically doing everything short of rubbing it over his body.”

    So we seriously out to find a way to deal with this thing that operates on the assumption human beings will get infected, rather than the far out belief that avoidance is possible.

    Of course, not all cats are infected, but even so they’ve managed to pass on the infection to 84% of the humans in France (why France? no idea) and 30 to 50% of humans worldwide.

    As near as I can tell it doesn’t seem to be a problem for humans unless you have risk factors (compromised immune system can lead to it doing bad things it normally wouldn’t do, children at risk for developing schizophrenia are at higher risk if exposed to it) so only certain people would need whatever treatment to prevent infection (there are actually several different strategies for doing that, but I’m only familiar with them as they related to viruses, not parasites.)

    Good medical care should be a basic human right. The life of someone with no money, no home, and no standing in society is worth just as much as the life of someone who can pay a metric fuckton on their medical care.

    I’m not just talking about catastrophic things. Consider mental health.

    My sister has often opened her home as a temporary place for traveling homeless people to stay. The people in question are homeless by choice, when they work they get paid in cash, they don’t have insurance, and they couldn’t possibly have a primary care provider because they’re transients who are always on the move.

    Not unsurprisingly, I’ve noticed that some (not remotely a majority, but more than I see in homed society) have some major mental health problems and while it’s possible none of them would seek treatment if they had the choice, the fact remains that they should have the choice.

  2. DawnM October 25, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    One of my teachers mentioned that Toxoplama also causes depression. I think that would explain a lot.

  3. alexseanchai October 25, 2015 at 7:24 pm

    Five Wishes Online, for anyone who needs a living will / advance medical directive / medical power of attorney (which is to say, everyone who doesn’t already have those documents in place) and has $5 to pay for it. Entirely valid in most United States jurisdictions! (Though as I just discovered, in order for it to be fully legal, I need to print it off and get two people to witness it! But then I do need to finish figuring out the Add Details bits, so.)

    Also, everybody should have a Last Will and Testament. But I dunno how to do that cheaply and legally.

  4. Firedrake October 26, 2015 at 2:51 am

    Regarding wills: in the UK, and I believe the US, if there’s a clear intent in the document then that will usually be taken into account, so if you’re on a minimal budget it’ll generally do to write out your intentions, sign that, and get two non-beneficiaries to witness it. It’s harder to cut one’s spouse/children off without a penny than it used to be, but for most people that’s not a problem. One point that most people don’t know: a will is invalidated by marriage, but not by divorce.

    (I’m not a lawyer, I just work for them.)

  5. lonespark42 October 26, 2015 at 9:13 am

    OMFG every single second since this thread was posted I have SO SICK. SICK!!!

    It’s miserable-sick, not life-threatening sick, but it is not getting better in a reasonable amount of time and I do not at all feel like figuring out what doctor I can go to in this state. And I keep having to cancel appointments, which requires talking on the phone, which is impractical, because I can whisper fine, but actual talking leads to coughing up various organs.

    I have had to cancel/reschedule the same psychiatrist appt. 3 times now, ergo my meds are aaaall messed up. I think I can unmess them by driving to the clinic (privilege! I haz it!) but I should probably, like, call first to confirm that? The people who invented text messaging are even more my heroes than usual, but none of my dr. offices and stuff let me text or email them. AFAIK. It’s worth inquiring further…

    I will probably be back later to complain about my grocery-ruining children.

  6. alexseanchai October 26, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Firedrake: Thanks. Though I believe my state won’t take holographic wills, which I think is what you’re describing.

  7. Firedrake October 26, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Hmm, the terms are unclear (what a surprise). I don’t think any jurisdiction would object to a word-processed, signed, dual-witnessed will, even if it didn’t adhere to a specific form of words. Mind you if there’s any sort of complexity it’s probably worth talking to a professional anyway.

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