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Basic precepts to staying healthy

Richard "Doc" Rioux · February 16, 1997

There can be moments during sickness when you think you will never again feel well. Apparently the strain of flu that has knocked people off their feet this season has made some of its victims want to die. And many have died in this country from pneumonia and associated disorders. The Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta estimated that we were losing between 20 and 40 people a week to influenza.

Two doctors advised me about the positive effect of zinc lozenges for reducing the intensity and duration of colds. They don't know quite what the mechanism is that works, but studies have shown that the length of a cold can be cut by as much as 50 percent when victims take zinc lozenges. Lots of vitamin C is helpful, too.

I don't know about you, but I'm a terrible patient. I tend to go to work when I should take to a bed. Television bores me, reading only happens at night when the kids are asleep, and the paper on my desk at the office piles up when I miss just a day.

Anyway, a week ago last Friday I took a day off, dozed most of the morning, drank lots of liquid, and forced myself to eat. Three weeks of not giving the bronchitis and flu room in my life caught up to me like a hammer. Down I went with a big thud!

Ya' know, the time away from the office gave me to wondering about the meaning of life, the spread of disease, God and all those things people think about when they're not painting houses, raising kids and pushing paper across their desks. So I put a log on the fire, lit up a candle and burned some incense while light jazz mellowed the room.

What characteristics to admire most in others? Honesty, gentleness, courteousness, a caring nature are about the best you can find in combination in the people you meet. I really like folks who go out of their way to help others.

That's why I've been enamored with the little nun in Calcutta known as Mother Teresa. She and her sisters have certainly modeled the right kind of behavior for us to try to emulate. They've been taking in and treating the sickest of the sick and the dying for decades without looking for celebration or acclaim from those of us who've been watching from afar.

Our bodies can be incubators for disease. Some of the bacteria that have mutated to escape being killed by the antibiotics now available are a resourceful bunch. Pharmaceutical companies have been hard-pressed to keep up with the demand for different and more potent antibiotics to fight the clever and virulent bacteria.

It is fundamental for us to wash our hands often. It's critical that schools teach children and have them practice basic hygiene. Schools that have reintroduced washing of hands as part of the curriculum have experienced a 40 percent reduction in colds and poor attendance due to sickness. As parents, we should demand that our schools require our children to wash their hands before lunch and after going to the bathroom. On the other hand, we as parents should make sure that our children wash their hands before they sit down for dinner.

My daughter, Stephanie, is 26 and helps manage a small retail store in Castaic. She hasn't been sick in years, in part because she washes her hands several times a day and especially before she eats. It's a simple prescription to follow, and we should all try to do better in this department of our lives. How many times have you been in a public bathroom and witnessed people coming in and out while never stopping to wash their hands? Scary.

I wonder why God created a planet with most beings on it fighting to survive at the expense of other species? I mean, every place you turn to, there is someone or something trying to take you out. It could be a human devil hitting you over the head and robbing you, or a bad virus thinking you're a good hotel in which to rent a room. Hey, stop that! Can't we just get along? There is plenty of room for everyone.

Ever since Cain murdered Abel and the first man caught a cold, we've been at odds with one another and every creature on the planet. God must have wanted to make things tough for us. Maybe it's because he wished to graduate human beings toughened by the experience on earth to the vacant places left by the angels who fell from heaven with Satan. If people would practice good morality and the rules God gave to Moses, there would be much less disease in the world. There is such a thing as natural law. We would be wise to practice its precepts to stay healthy. Don't eat too much, don't be promiscuous, don't murder anyone, and wash your hands before you eat.

Have a nice Sunday morning. My friend Bill died on November 14, 1996, of pneumonia. He was 85. God bless America. He would have wanted me to say that.

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