401,000 Deaths

Happy Labor Day Weekend!

Since the weather outside sucks, let’s spend some time discussing death.

What? Too morbid? Just grab a beer, man up and listen.

The CDC, ever the source of joy these days, just announced that if we do not quit fucking around, up to 401,000 people may die from corona virus.

Now, here’s the thing: As an oncologist, death does not really perturb me, however, numbers fascinate me.

See, here is the problem. While this number will cause many to grab their heads and start screaming, “Oh my God, Oh my God!”, what is missing is perspective.

Each year, EACH YEAR, about 480,000 die from smoking related illnesses.

Each year.

It’s been over 450,000 for years.

And, it is due to the use of tobacco products that can be legally purchased nearly everywhere.

So, why then do we freak out about the potential corona virus deaths (which are not certain to happen) and we do not freak out over the significantly larger number of smoking related deaths each and every year?

I believe this is partly due to the manner in which the information is being presented.

See, with smoking (including second hand), the feeling is you brought this upon yourself (and maybe whomever you’ve been blowing smoke at).

On the other hand, with corona virus, you can be portrayed as the careless victim if exposed to someone not wearing a mask, or as a cold blooded killer if you are not wearing a mask.

You see, you are at fault no matter what. You either didn’t avoid it, because you are stupid, or you spread it, because you are stupid.

But, why are these lives more important than the ones dying from tobacco?

Black lung lives don’t matter?

No, they do, yet we allow smokers to die, because they are “free’ to smoke.

Yet, corona has curtailed many of our freedoms. Why the dichotomy?

I think that we misunderstood the reason for lock down.

It was started to stop the disease from overwhelming our health care system, and we were very successful.

Now, we simply have got to emerge from our cocoons.

Yes, more people will get sick, more people will die, but even with lock down, that is happening.

We just need to watch that the health care system does not get overwhelmed again.

I don’t think it will. We know who is at highest risk, and we know how to protect them.

The vast majority of the remainder will survive it just fine.

Death is a part of life. As my mother would say, “We all have to die of something.”

This will not be the last pandemic. There are certainly more to come.

We have to realize that we simply cannot hide in our bomb shelters for the remainder of our lives.

We need to be careful, within reason, just like we are when we drive (and occasionally, also get killed).

We need to start getting out, because this is taking it’s toll in so many other ways.

I firmly believe the rage expressed in protests, while justified, are a result of the stress and anxiety built up over these past six months.

People protest, because they can get outside.

So, yes, be careful, wear a mask in stores, but otherwise, get out and get some fresh air before another lousy Chicago winter sets in.

And, if people try to spook you with Halloween worthy corona virus tales of horror-STAY SKEPTICAL!

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Filed under: Health Care

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