A healthy immune system

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Marty had a soft upbringing. I knew this, not because he wore cologne and always had clean brushed hair during a time in the '70s when most hippies were scraggly and unkempt. I knew it because every winter he came down with a cold and immediately, upon the advice of his mother, went to bed for a week or two.

"I always get a cold every winter," he said as he pulled another tissue from the dispenser; "and my mom always makes me go to bed and take care of myself." He wasn't living at home anymore, he was 20 and out on his own, but still, there he was in bed with tissue on the night stand.

It made me wonder if he had a weak immune system or a weak attitude from being fretted over as a child. Whatever it was, he got a cold at least once, if not several times, every winter and off to bed he went.

My childhood wasn't that soft. When I got a cold it was mom's overnight remedy; Vick's Mentholated rubbed on my chest, covered with a hot towel with additional Vick's spread under my nose before bed and off to school the next morning. Single moms didn't have the luxury of pampering their babies.

Of course, I'll take my mom's quick fix love over what I heard on the radio the other day. It was on a Christian station; the DJ was talking about the upcoming cold season and she was handing out free advice to her listeners. She admitted that she had a few germ phobias and then let it slip that she often thinks of her children as little carriers.

I'm glad she wasn't my mom; there's something about being tucked in bed by a mom wearing a paper mask and rubber gloves that might take away some of that closeness kids need.

"My precious little carriers," she whispers through the veil, "You know mommy loves you."

The children reply, "Is that you mommy?"

As the DJ continued, she warned of germs being everywhere; don't touch your eyes, don't touch your face and watch out for those grocery cart handles.

"I don't even want to tell you what they have found on those cart handles," she said. Then she went on about carrying sterile wipes on your person so you can wipe down the handles, etc.

About that time, I had had enough so I turned to a local rock station and what did I hear but a song with a completely different message. The song went, "Me and Cinderella, we put it all together, we can drive it home, with one head light." Young people do think they are invincible, don't they? We don't need two headlights, heck, tie a flashlight on the hood and I can make it home.

But isn't there a balance between the "nothing can touch me" attitude of the young and foolish and the phobia driven madness of the so-called wise? I know my wife is big on hand washing and isn't afraid to use a sterile wipe or hand sanitizer, while I kid around about intentionally not washing my hands after going to Wal-Mart just to strengthen my immune system, but I know better. Washing your hands is a good thing.

So where is the balance? For me, it comes from the Bible. I recognize conventional wisdom, but at the same time I know there is a higher wisdom. For example, if I have to choose between washing my hands before I eat and praying for my food; I'll choose prayer.

Proverbs 3:5 says, "Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear (or reverence) the Lord, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones." Isn't bone marrow where antibodies are made?