More than One Way to Go
A first glance at the Washington Post today resulted in articles on dying and the toxicity of plastic – not exactly how I intended this day to go. But interesting, just the same.
“A Life Worth Living” by Claire Panosian Dunavan (now at UCLA) focuses on her experiences with death as a young resident. She recognizes that at 27 she was far more ready to label a patient’s situation as hopeless than she is decades later. She is still troubled by the memory of a beautiful young spinal cord victim who bled to death through her tracheotomy while no one attended. But in her medical practice she has come to have a healthy respect for the human spirit’s power to “survive, rebuild, and soar.”
The next article reported the first decrease in life expectancy for women since 1918. It is fairly localized to the Deep South, Appalachia, the lower Midwest, and one county in Maine, but it is not limited to a single race. The culprit? Probably obesity and a rise in women smoking.
The final article is the one that really disturbed me. It looks at the toxic effect of plastics on our lives. We are surrounded (literally) by plastics these days: water bottles, food containers, food wraps, CD’s, toys, you name it. Scientists are now saying that man-made components in plastics can leach chemicals that get absorbed into our bodies causing increased rates of cancer, asthma, neurological disorders and infertility. My immediate response is to think how I can eliminate such plastics from my life, concluding it would be difficult. Then I wonder if I’ve already sealed my fate by microwaving my broccoli with Saran Wrap stretched tightly over the container for years. I wonder if drinking spring water out of plastic bottles is worse than drinking tap water containing trace elements of multiple drugs. Could I buy my food in non-plastic containers even if I wanted to? This health what-if-ing always leads me down a slippery slope.
So I closed the Post with the declaration that I had had enough enlightenment for one day. I haven’t touched a piece of plastic today, I promise!