Valerie has accused me, on occasion, of being against doctors. This is a grave and serious crime for someone who is marrying a person who wants to **be** a doctor. I have assured her that this is not the case. The problem is not that I don’t like doctors, it’s that I’m not very good at the physical realm. Give me metaphysics any day. I’m very inclined to be one of those Manichaen types who call the physical bad, the spiritual good, and have done with it. Alas that I am addicted to truth and know that it cannot be so. God created the physical realm, and called it good, and it has ever been so. Nevertheless, I’m not good *at* the physical realm.
I am, however, decent in economics, and I hate the insurance industry. By my keen understanding, it looks more like a cartel than an industry to me. Case in point: It’s my understanding that my place of work pays an average of about $15,000 per year per employee for medical benefits. What we have is supposed to be really good coverage. I couldn’t tell you the difference. But I can tell you that $15 K is 60% of my wages. I’m getting married in 2 months. I’d love to take a gamble have them give me half of that $15,000 and waive the insurance. I’m not at risk for cancer or heart disease. Seven thousand dollars would be a lot more useful to me than to visit a well-paid man in a white coat so he can tell me I’m not sick.
I did visit the nice man in the white coat, by the way. He poked me and prodded me and told me I wasn’t sick. Then somebody else paid $300 for me and I went my way. If they gave me an extra $7,000, I’d be most willing to give a nice man $300 myself to tell me I’m not sick.
Speaking of not being sick, I’m not sick right now. I just have sniffles. I’m pretty sure it’s not a cold because colds usually come with a sore throat. In fact, I’ve nipped sore colds in the bud (I think) by gargling Listerine and other noxious antiseptics and killing all the germs. What I’ve got now came with sneezing. That makes it allergies, right? Except I haven’t had allergies for forever.
Except a couple of years ago… I had just gotten back from a school trip to Europe, and I had jet lag, and I was visiting Valerie’s grandparents, and it was hay baling season, and I was attempting to prove how manly I was by toting loose strung bales of hay onto a truck. But I got asthmatic then, and I’m not asthmatic now, so maybe it’s just a cold. On the other hand, I have been playing ultimate Frisbee every Sunday for the past couple of weeks, and I’ve discovered that diving for the Frisbee and rolling in the grass makes my legs and arms itch, a phenomenon which does not happen to the soles of my bare feet. It could be bugs, but they’d have to be awfully quick bugs. So maybe I’m allergic to chlorophyll.
Anyway, Valerie has convinced me that a runny nose has no known health benefits. Up to now I had always assumed that when the body starts doing something, it knows what its doing, so that if you have a runny nose, there’s something in you that your body’s trying to get out in the most efficient way possible. Any system that can transform a half-gallon of diet Pepsi into properly salinated sweat in less than half an hour is a work of genius and is best left to its own devices, in my book. So I would just carry around my tissue and blunder through it. Now Valerie has convinced me that a runny nose is actually a case of your body’s normal system being overridden by an indeterminate source. You are trying to flush something out, but you’re trying way way way too hard. It doesn’t speed up the recovery process whether you take drugs or not. Eventually your body catches on and your cold is over in about a week, with or without medication. Or not, and then you have allergies. Either way, the runny nose doesn’t do any real good, and the drugs make you feel better.
Now, all other things being equal (which I’ve been assured they are) I am so not opposed to feeling better. So I’ve started taking drugs, bright orange ones, whenever I have sniffles. Except that what they brush under the carpet is that drug that turns off the faucet in your sinuses also turns off the Geiger counter in your brain. So no wonder you feel better if you sleep through it. The marketers of counter-top narcotics understand that, to keep your business, you have to actually be alert enough to know you feel better. So they add some other drugs to keep you out of a 6-hour coma. The name of the other drug? Caffeine. I think I’ve already [pointed out](http://www.neumatikos.org/2004/10/sigh/) to you the [miraculous effect](http://www.neumatikos.org/2004/05/caffeine/) that caffeine has on me. I’m getting jittery already.
Now I ask you, which would you rather have me be: a paranoid hypochondriac or an ignoramus?