Look after yourself

Golden grapes: good on the skin, trouble elsewhere

For many of us, 2012 began with infections that remain difficult to shift. There must be some pretty virulent strains of microbes out there. Maybe our immune systems are depressed by pushing ourselves too hard. There’s a link between stress and disease, and worrying and feeling ground down by intractable circumstances reduce the ability of our immune systems to deal with disease. As we get older, we need to be mindful of ourselves—love your neighbour as yourself, not better than yourself. This is easy advice to give, but oh so difficult to take. And when people are in the midst of losing their jobs, wondering where the next cent will come from, and the general family and neighbourhood concerns that affect us all, it is even more difficult to stop worrying. It’s as well to remember (and I wish I could do this more effectively) that worrying does nothing other than harm the worrier. It doesn’t change future or past, though rational thinking might well lead us to a new way of coping. Remember, we are no good to anyone else if we don’t care for ourselves. Should we take antibiotics? Yes, of course. The more we encourage antibiotic resistant organisms to evolve by overuse of antibiotics, the sooner the human race will be wiped out, and evolution can start again. Perhaps there will be a better result next time round.

Some people forget that microbes are with us all the time. We need them for digestion and healthy surfaces, to name but two things. They cause trouble when they get into the wrong places. E coli are essential in the colon, but cause trouble when they get to other places. Are microbes part of Divine creation? If so, what right have we to kill them with antibiotics. Maybe I am an adherent of Jainism.

What do you make of this image? Lunar landing craft? Child’s toy? No, it’s a virus. It’s a needle with a reservoir on top, and legs to allow landing and positioning on the surface of a cell. And it’s length is a fraction of a millimeter. And we think we’re sophisticated. Here is a video of a similar virus in action. You can be sure of one thing (apart from death): bacteria and viruses will continue to roam the cosmos long after animal life has passed into history.

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