I couldn't sleep last night, and the reason for it made me remember why I started this glob way back when. Given that the world might kill me at any time in any number of boring ways (cancer, traffic accidents, heart disease), I thought it would be fun to court the weirdest and least likely methods of passive self-destruction. It makes me feel better about the ways in which I'm actively self-destructive: motorcycle racing, for example. (I mean, if I've already been infected by the mad cow virus, which I might be, perhaps via contaminated contact-lens solution, which can happen, by the way, I read about it on the Internet, then why not go ahead and take some risks, seeing as how I'm doomed already?) The best part is the suspense: incubation periods on some of these things are immense.
Anyway, lately I've been certain that the radiator in the room above my room is going to come crashing through the floor/ceiling and crush my head while I sleep. This is unlikely. But no part of the building strikes me as being terrifically sturdy. And my radiator struggles daily to unbolt itself and walk across the room; I have to assume the other radiators feel the same way. If it does happen, it'll be a nice echo of one of my favorite books from childhood, Flat Stanley.
I'm also terrified of/fascinated by deep vein thrombosis. The words alone: deep vein thrombosis. I fly a lot, and every time I'm on an airplane, if I can't fall asleep, I spend the whole time with the ominous voice of a cheap TV announcer in my head making echoey pronouncements about deep vein thrombosis. Days later I worry that I picked it up on the plane and any second now it'll drop me.
Over Christmas break I got some information from my dad about food poisoning. That's another good one. Who hasn't had a little bout of food poisoning, right? You barf your lungs out, crap your guts out, think you're at death's door, and then you get better. Usually the only lasting effect is that you never eat at that restaurant again. However! Did you know that sometimes, the food-poisoning bug sticks around, lurking in there somewhere, unnoticed for decades? It's true -- it's even in a story by the Associated Press, which I would quote for you except that doing so violates copyright laws, probably. Anyway, the AP says scientists have found links between E. coli and kidney failure, salmonella and arthritis, and campylobacter and a "mysterious paralysis" 10 to 20 years after an episode of food poisoning.
That's right: paralysis. Exciting, isn't it?
Campylobacter, by the way, is the most frequently diagnosed form of food poisoning, infecting up to 4 million people a year. Of course not all 4 million of them will end up mysteriously paralyzed 20 years later. It's a gamble. Unfortunately, my research has failed to determine whether the odds are better or worse than those for mad cow, bird flu etc. We'll just have to wait a few decades and see how it turns out.
Not that I think this is really a fair comparison, but only about 88,000 people were injured in motorcycle accidents in 2006. Most of them were also not paralyzed. The main difference here is that one group is going to have to explain that what happened was they ate a chicken sandwich.
How cool is that?