All my friends have the flu, I’m seeing all this bad stuff online, and I’m worried because of it. If my friends have the flu, then that means I’m next. I got a flu shot, but I keep hearing bad things, and I’m really scared.
What should I do?
You’re not alone here. As much as I’d like to claim to be Captain Fearless, I’ve been washing my hands so often my knuckles are hairless.
But, before we go any further, first, we’re going to take a deep breath. Ready. Go.
Now, hold it. Hold it. Hold it.
Let it go.
Feel that? That total-body feeling? You know what that is? That’s us NOT having the flu.
Okay. Now, let’s turn off TV’s, computers, phones, and avoid internet headlines in all caps like:
“THE WORST FLU IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND, CLICK HERE FOR DETAILS.”
Let’s go talk to Granny instead.
Granny will put our minds at ease by telling us that sickness like this is nothing new in history.
Case and point: before the Civil War, a worldwide bubonic plague broke out. They called it “black death.” It made today’s flu look like a day in Aruba.
Then there was the influenza pandemic of 1889. Nearly 1 million died. That was no picnic.
And I’m just skimming the surface. There’s a long list of adversities our ancestors fought. Yellow fever, smallpox, the Great Depression, World War II, gasoline shortages, Windows 98, and Barry Manilow.
Let’s start with the Depression. It was the end of the world for many people. Families without water, food, toilet, living in tents, picking cotton for pennies, dying from malnutrition.
Next, we’ll ask Granny about World War II. 80 million died during those hellish years. Let that number sink in.
Maybe Granny will tell us about boys like, Luke Jameson, who fought in that Great War.
He was a nice-looking boy. Six-foot-two. He endured measles and a Great Depression. Then, at age 16 he lied to the Army recruiter and enlisted.
They sent him to the war in Europe. He was wounded in the spine. While being carried by medics, a military vehicle ran over him.
He crawled to safety—nearly every bone in his body broken. He was in rehab for years. Years, with a “Y.”
When he finally made it home, his family was standing on the front lawn to greet him. He was in uniform. He walked with a limp. He was different, they say.
In a good way.
I met him when he was an older man. His room was peppered with photos of bass fish, bird dogs, and buck hunts. He was a jovial thing.
I asked how he managed to stay so happy.
“Simple,” he said. “I’m not afraid of anything.”
He went on to say that he had survived two heart attacks, one wife, war, famine, spinal surgeries, the measles. You name it.
“Once you’re not afraid,” he said. “Nothing can touch you.”
I’ll never forget those words.
So, Granny will probably tell us the same things. Then, she’ll remind us to keep the televisions off. She’ll tell us not to fear flu, famine, or even death.
Because Granny knows that worry is a sickness far more dangerous than flu. And worse, there’s no vaccination for worry.
So here’s a message from an old veteran who’s no longer with us: “Don’t be afraid of anything.”
And here’s one from me:
Wash your hands until your skin bleeds.