Coping: Flu Link to the Shaman in the Living Room?

This is getting old: That chest cold I was telling you about earlier this week has come back for “round 2” and although it’s bad, there may be some good to come of it.  Takes a little explaining, but here’s my logic:

As you remember, my son came back from Skydive Spaceland with a really hoarse voice and a bit of a cough.  Nothing serious, so I chalked it up to a “no risk” event.  Since then, he’s gone back to Seattle where he’s on the job for the health department and university up there and feeling fine.  He was symptom-free in 72-hours.

So I talked to him Wednesday and wondered why I was feeling like crap.  “Well, you know dad, since I’m a first responder on just about everything up here, I have not only the regular flu shots but also two kinds of investigational flu shots in my.  So I’m immune to bird and swine in all the variants we know of, at least as of when the studies started.  Have you broken into your Tamiflu yet?”

Could it be something as simple as that?  Could he have had a close brush with one of the new flu’s and I’ve simply gotten a version of one of those? 

One way to check on your temperature, if you don’t have a thermometer handy, is to run your blood pressure with a BP cuff.  G2 has me do that and it came in as 113/69 with a pulse of 74.

Doesn’t seem like more than a degree, or two, dad.  The way we figure it on the fly is for every degree of elevated temperature, the heart rate can go up about 10-beats per minute.  Last time I had a bad flu and 105, my heart rate was up around 110-115 resting.  So you don’t have anything bad…at least not yet.  But keep an eye on the heart rate…”

One reason I am super-sensitive to chest colds is that as a life-long asthma sufferer, I remember the nearly fatal combination of cold, fever, and “seeing the blue light” and all from where I was very young and had been rushed to the ER for oxygen and treatment.  For the last 40-years, being aware of allergies has moderated that and between one pill and a puff or two on an inhaler every day or two (albuterol and QVAR) the lungs have been dandy.

Until this cold, this week.

So I went back through my allergy/eating habits and nothing had changed. “What is going on such that I feel like I’m being…..waterboarded?”

OH-OH…. I just solved my own question!!!

Last Saturday, Elaine and I ordered an Amazon Instant Video: Escape Plan with Sly Stallone and
Arnold Gubernator.  Hugely entertaining flick.  EXCEPT for one minor detail:  There are lots of scenes in the movie where the heroes are having all kind of difficulty breathing.  Such things as being underwater on the prison ship they’re on (“The Tomb”) and, in one scene in particular Stallone was being waterboarded.


About here I began to play back a number of things we all know about television, starting with Pappy’s sage advice, issued while I was watching the early Untouchables” series:  “Don’t sit so close to the TV, you’ll get blood all over the place…”

Some where in there, he also mentioned that one of the rare games that his crew down at the fire house would do on the odd evening in the station when there wasn’t a fire or mayhem afoot, was the firemen would count the number of killings per episode.  I think the high was something like 31-deaths in a one-hour show.  I think a fireman named  Califano kept score, if I remember…

There was even some wonderment at the time whether the wildly escalating number of murders on television would spill over into “the projects” that were in pappy’s district, although it was a busy enough station they didn’t have time for full-on research like that.

Fast-forward: We already know (or at least presume you know) that sitting on lard butt in front of the tube is all kinds of bad for you anyway.  The reasons are simple enough:  No body movement, often accompanied by binge-eating and it’s no wonder heart disease, type 2 diabetes, and even Alzheimer’s are linked to too much butt-time in front of the tube.

But what there doesn’t seem to be too much data on is the shamanistic potential of the television.  Especially when a person’s normal “hard shell” has been softened or weakened by some kind of illness.

The roll of pain and suffering in shamanism is touched on in a 2005 article by Drs. John
Ankerberg and Weldon.  (two Johns)

This one quote in particular, to borrow a cite in their work, drives home my point:

The Salish shamanic initiation includes first a period of torture and deprivation: being clubbed, bitten, thrown about, immobilized, blindfolded, teased, starved. When the initiate “gets his [shamanic] song straight,” or the slate that is the mind is wiped clean, the guardian spirit or power animal appears [to possess the shaman].[

Oh my!  It all gets me to wondering if watching television which sick (or in diminished capacity) might have the same effects on the subconscious?  Could this be the mechanism by which young men under 30 are programmed to commit murder and mayhem?  Is there deliberate (or even inadvertent) shamanistic ritual included in certain shows that could make a person more susceptible to a more serious version of the disease (like my chest cold) than would otherwise happen?

The government’s (savory/excellent) cites something like 76-pages of research into the effects of watching television.  We know that it’s linked to obesity,  it can be a management tool in epilepsy, eating while watching television increases energy uptake in women, so eating with the telly on may be a bad thing, too.

There is one paper in particular that touches on the more general mechanism that I sense around my Stallone movie experience.  It’s the paper “Media’s role in broadcasting acute stress following the Boston Marathon bombing.”

So what is the “learning” to be had from all this?  Perhaps this is too gross a statement, but it seems it will be borne out over time:

When you are ill – even so much as coming down with a sniffle – immediately institute television watching controls.  Limit television intake to those shows that are nonviolent and educational in nature.  Shows that are “uplifting” would likely be OK, too.

But steer away from shows of unknown content (like my watching “Escape Plan” where there may be subliminal permissions implied (drowning, waterboarding) that may expand the subconscious inclination to “fill in” details that might result in a more serious healthcare episode that the one you’re presently in…

There’s a shaman in your living room.

It’s a sad testament to the acuity of present medical thought that the link between content inputs versus clinical outcomes has been so poorly studied.  But, as I’ve said before, if television had to do an environmental impact statement (or video games, for that matter) there would be a lot better content (and games) around that what we have today.

Don’t hand me a pill in the future:  Hand me the remote, first.

DDT Polio Link

Oh-oh….something for reader George from reader/researcher Nancy who has been collecting data on the DDT-Polio link:

As your reader George was espousing the benefits of DDT, he apparently didn’t hear of DDT exposure being the real cause of polio

(See chart here) 

*Note the close correlation to the spraying of pesticides and the worst polio epidemic in US History. “…Before 1940, relatively small amounts of such chemicals as nicotine, rotenone, pyrethrum, and the aresenicals (sic) were used for insect control. During and following World War II a rapid changeover to DDT, heptachlor, dieldrin, TEPP, malathion, and related compounds occurred.” [5]

I have to admit I didn’t know about the polio-DDT/Pesticide link previously.  Related:  Michael R reports “The Epigentics Heretic” in Science magazine notes that pesticide damage can be passed to future generations.

WoWW:  Slippery Time

In Thursday’s column (I think it was, with cold meds, it could have been any time in the past six centuries) I mentioned a reader’s (Doug) experience with time dilation at moments of high stress like playing football.

More details about the phenomena from Big Al:


The time dilation effect is called Tachypsychia.

It’s in Wiki and Massad Ayoob writes about it in his recounting of gunfights.

It is an effect of the “fight or flight” dump of adrenalin, norepinephrine, dopamine, etc. in a state of panic, or danger, or the like.

I experienced it in a teenage car crash.

Big Art was driving moms Cadillac, and I was riding shotgun.

He left a stop sign and here came a woman late for work on a 5 lane (3 traffic two parking) one way street we were crossing.

She must have wanted to be first, because if she had kept going straight she would have gone behind us as we traveled west to east.

Instead she swerved across all five lanes trying to go in front of us, and connected with the passengers door where I was sitting.

She bent the 72 Cad we were in around the front of her 67 galaxie like a horseshoe.

I ended up still strapped in my seat belt, sitting in Arts lap under the wheel.

I remember when I saw her coming and it all s l o w  e   d   d   o    w     n   Like a Sam Pekinpah movie.

Then after the crash everything speeded up just like a movie where the film caught on the cogs in the projector like they had been slipping and then suddenly caught and jerkily caught back up to regular speed.  I was totally alert through it all.

I think the adrenalin dump makes your synapsis fire so fast that everything around you goes slow mo.

Ayoob says it also effects sensory perception (hearing is dampened, fine motor skills are lost to gross strength, eyes go tunnel vision on the threat). I noticed all of this in the crash.

It’s interesting that your other writer was able to control it like a switch.

Big Al in Birmingham (Temporarily in Pueblo).

Other than experiencing it in mid-fall off a ladder, or when my shop was trying to catch fire from a defective outlet which gave way while I was welding once, I haven’t had too many of the time dilation experiences. But it would sure be cool to  have modern pharma come up with a one-hour long version of whatever it takes.  Can you imagine an intimate moment last what seems like weeks?  Or, while playing golf, having plenty of time to think about (and adjust) your swing on the down stroke?  Oh my…what a pill that would be, huh?

Tinfoil Hat Dept.

Reader Andre grokked the note on tin foil hats this week…

i laughed at the reference to the colander headwear. one of my old time hippy friends wears a colander from time to time. tell anyone so inclined to join the church of the spaghetti monster and make it legitimate. the church could probably use the public acknowledgement. ha. i have come to enjoy some of the fun and absurd oddities of human nature. it lightens the dreary reality of the not so entertaining control issues humanity embraces. p

And if you haven’t been there, the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster is looking for people like you.  Perhaps you could become a Pastafarian minister…Hmmm…wonder if getting “sauced” could become a related new ritual…

Idiot-Level Spam

Loved this one which popped up this morning: – Do you want fuller, plumper lips?

Hmmm… Last week an email asked me if I wanted larger, firmer breasts, too.  There’s a war on us last 37 remaining straight guys, I’m telling yah…I’m just sure of it now…OMG look!  A lingerie ad!  For me?  WTF….

Write when you break-even…