In Sickness, Health & Clutter

Some weeks ago – I have lost all track of time – I embarked upon an adventure with this year’s Not-the-Flu. Whatever it is. A bug you don’t want to mess with, that much I can tell you. One marker I do have: exactly two weeks and four days ago my good doctor – who assured me it was Not The Flu – estimated I was over the worst of it. Oh, well.Cold

The Not-the-Flu means you skip the chills and aches and fevers of the Real Flu (count your blessings) and you probably won’t die. But you still have the existential horrids and wearies, a little cough, snuffles, sore throat, and mostly you want to pull the covers up over your head and feel very sorry for yourself. This is not easy to do if you’re a fulltime caregiver, as I am, which in my opinion entitles me to feel REALLY sorry for myself. The caregivee, for his part, has spent the past weeks saying – every time I saw a potential opportunity to go back to bed and pull the covers over my head – “Why don’t you do that?”

In between, since the Not-the-Flu saps your energy but leaves your brain functional, you are left with the question of what to do with yourself. Leaving the house is not an option except for utter necessities, because staying away from humankind is #1 on the recovery-plan list. That leaves you to read the newspapers – which can definitely make you sicker – and drink liquids and take vitamins. Boring. OR! You can dig out past, present and future writing projects and finish them all. Then what?Clutter-desk

For me, the obvious answer is to de-clutter. A cleaned-out drawer is far more curative to this writer than a super-size bottle of mega-vitamins. So in an effort to keep myself from going totally stir crazy, I have now plowed through three formerly messy drawers, the box of Christmas cards – – – and my desk. This is not to say that orderliness, a virtue!, is an ongoing trait I can claim. Put stuff in drawers, close the drawer, most of the time I’m fine. But actually going through messes, throwing stuff away and neatening up – as we used to say in the old country – this is balm for my soul. And therefore, cure for whatever ails.Clutter-piles

Not so the caregivee. My excellent spouse thrives on piles. Piles of clippings, notes, magazines, letters, papers, God only knows what is at the bottom of some of his piles. They are everywhere he regularly inhabits, a comfort and balm to his soul. So ever since I undertook to clear out a few piles (and okay, filing cabinets too) in the small formerly-office room into which we plan to install a day bed, it has been acutely painful for him.

The Not-the-Flu presented a tipping point. A few hours sleep, say, between 3 and 7 AM when the caregivee is not always quiet and still as a churchmouse, made the day bed (it’s on order) ever more attractive; confinement to the house increased my neatening-up urges about 300%. Clutter-cornerToday emerged a pristine corner, utterly cabinet/clutter free.

In retaliation, the caregivee did what probably any respectable partner so threatened would do: he came down with the Not-the-Flu. Oh, me.

Hearts - 2

 

Doctors, neckwear & the male brain

Bob-baldric

Dr. Liner in his Baldric

This space is happy to offer up-to-the-minute insights, today’s concerning connections between neckties, germs, the male brain and other organs.

First, reporter Rebecca Smith writes in today’s Wall Street Journal that neckties may be helping spread flu germs, and many people inside and outside the health care industry think they should go.

“The list of things to avoid during flu season includes crowded buses, hospitals and handshakes. Consider adding this: your doctor’s necktie.

Neckties are rarely, if ever, cleaned. When a patient is seated on the examining table, doctors’ ties often dangle perilously close to sneeze level. In recent years, a debate has emerged in the medical community over whether they harbor dangerous germs.

Several hospitals have proposed banning them outright. Some veteran doctors suspect the anti-necktie campaign has more to do with younger physicians’ desire to dress casually than it does with modern medicine. At least one tie maker is pushing a compromise solution: neckwear with an antimicrobial coating.

BUT HOW ABOUT JUST SWITCHING TO THE BALDRIC?

My friend Robert Liner MD, a distinguished physician/piano player/tango dancer/fellow board member of Compassion & Choices of N.CA and general Renaissance man, made this switch some time ago. In rather characteristic Liner fashion, he then established a company which produces Baldrics in order that others may enjoy them.

Earlier Baldrics were worn by most respectable Scots so they would have something handy from which to hang their swords. But for the 21st century, as Liner writes on his company web site:

We are re-inventing the Baldric for present day men and women on the go. I originally conceived the idea of the Baldric as a new fashion statement for men. Instead of a constricting necktie, a man could dress up with a Baldric. Instead of carrying a sword, the modern man could employ his Baldric to carry his sword equivalent: a cell phone, I-Phone, Blackberry or other p.d.a.. Additionally, in place of a bulky wallet, he could keep credit cards, folding money and small personal items easily accessible in a secret pocket in his Baldric. The Baldric is a hybrid: it’s a necktie alternative that performs like a sleek, modified, minimalist messenger bag.

Contacted today about the germ issue, Liner reports he had indeed heard of such. “Of course, it’s seemed to me,” he muses further, “that the more significant problem with neckties from the point of view of health and world peace is the possibility that neckties reduce blood supply to the male brain. This may account for a good deal of what looks like irrational behavior on the part of my sub-species. This can especially be a problem during adolescence and at other times (ie. most of the time) when demand is placed upon the male circulatory system to divert blood to an organ that is not the brain but sometimes functions in place of the brain. Under these circumstances, the male blood stream can hardly afford to have any restriction placed upon the “choke point” by a necktie so that what little blood is left available to go north to the “main brain” is impeded, resulting  in chaos on a global scale.”

Considering the problems of H1N1 and other viruses, and the potential for advancing world peace as Dr. Liner suggests might happen with fewer neckties, this space hereby blatantly endorses the Baldric.