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Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Microstory 982: Antiseptic

Most people think I’m a germophobe, because I carry a bottle of hand sanitizer on my belt loop. I haven’t always been this way. In some ways, I’ve gotten worse, but from my side, I’ve gotten better. I’m a firm believer in letting kids go outside and get dirty, so they can boost their immune system naturally. I watched the first episode of an old scifi series called Earth 2. One of the plot points was that, in the future, children born in pristine environments easily contract diseases because their bodies don’t know how to handle the invaders. Now me, I used to get sick all the time, and I think if a pandemic spread through the world, I have a pretty good chance of being completely immune to it. I was 24 years old before I started carrying hand sanitizer around, and not too terribly much younger when I finally discovered it existed in the first place. The truth is that I’m not actually scared of getting sick. Like I said, it used to happen to me all the time, and I always got through it. I’ve known elderly people who spent all their lives in perfect health. You would think that would be the best way to live, but until such time that we conquer all diseases, no one escapes death. Everyone who doesn’t die from some external trauma, like a vehicular collision, or a bullet, dies from an illness. It’s impossible to die from old age itself; something always comes for you, and if you’ve never experienced anything like it before, it’s probably going to be a lot harder for you to cope. I’m not worried about some deadly pathogen, because I understand what’s happening there. I know how to seek treatment, and I would be able to wrap my head around the concept of hopelessness, if I were to be told that there’s nothing the medical professionals can do. No, I carry hand sanitizer around with me because I have trouble with cross contamination, because when I’m clean, I want to stay that way. And if I go around touching dirty things with my hands, I can’t then go around touching clean things, because then those things are also dirty. This has just reminded me that I’ve already been over this, so I’ll move back to what this entry is really meant to be about. Donnie Darko once pointed out that the greatest invention in history was soap. Antiseptic is still considered one of the most important ways of preventing the spread of disease. As with many rampant pathogens, scientists still can’t be sure exactly how the Spanish Flu began, but we know why it got so bad. I use this as an example, because I’m preparing to explore this time period in a story. One thing we do know about it is that its spread could have been halted with a little more soap. If you’re reading this, you’re probably lucky enough to live in a region with unimpeded access to antiseptic, but not everyone lives like this. So just don’t forget to be grateful for that.

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