Not Your Contagion

There are some days when I realize that my anger is somewhat more personal than that of other people angry at the same thing, but that I don’t necessarily expect those who are supposed to be my allies in anger to understand WHY it is so much more personal for me.

To wit: This article in the Los Angeles Times, which has been making the rounds of the Internet. Now, there are very few reasons as to why the rate of measles should have tripled within the span of two weeks, and they all pretty much boil down to people not getting vaccinated or vaccinating their kids. Granted, there is no data correlating the rise in the disease rate to the decrease in vaccination rates for those two weeks (being the health care data geek I am, I would like to see that), but it should not be too far a stretch to draw that conclusion.

I recognize that the whole vaccine debate is rather fraught. I will say that my arguments in favor of vaccinations are based on a pretty thorough understanding of how herd immunity works, combined with enough years working with pharmaceutical companies to know that vaccines are actually dirt cheap. Where pharma DOES turn a huge profit is on drugs to treat the diseases that vaccines prevent. So there is no great conspiracy on the part of pharma to make money off of vaccines at the expense of people’s well-being.

But I digress.

The more relevant datapoint here is that if I was to walk down to the end of my street and throw a brick about half a mile, it would land in Orange County. The other relevant datapoint is that to the untrained eye, my condition can look like measles. If it is a really bad allergy season, I will also have red, watery eyes.

So yes, I live right next door to a county which has seen the rate of measles triple in two weeks. While having a completely non-contagious skin condition that looks like, well, measles.

Are you starting to see the problem here? Because of the current flurry of news stories about the upswing in measles that is just down the street from me, I am now more likely to be side-eyed as one of those measles cases every time I go out in public.

Let me tell you how those conversations usually go:

Concern Troll (at the top of their lungs, so as to all the better draw attention to me): “OMG, WHAT IS THAT THING YOU HAVE THERE??? IS IT CONTAGIOUS???”

Me (in my best professionally polite voice): No.

Concern Troll: “IT SURE LOOKS CONTAGIOUS!!! MAYBE YOU SHOULD HAVE IT CHECKED OUT JUST IN CASE IT IS???”

Me: I said that it is not contagious.

Concern Troll: “WELL I THINK YOU SHOULD HAVE IT CHECKED OUT JUST IN CASE!!! BETTER SAFE THAN SORRY!!!”

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that unless Concern Troll is my health care provider or my health insurance company, federal law says it is *not their business,*  I am now suddenly viewed as a contagion rather than a human being. And of course, with all the recent media hype in my area, the chances of this have just gone up exponentially.

So I will say this again: I am NOT your contagion. If I tell you so, your one and only further course of action is to step off and stop pestering me. If you don’t, I am not above telling you that I lied and actually have Ebola. Before patting you on the hand to reassure you.

 

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One Response to Not Your Contagion

  1. M'jit Raindancer-Stahl says:

    Maybe you should yell back “My doctor said I’m not contagious,” and walk away?

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