This morning, being a new month and a Monday, I decided to go get my annual flu shot (ouch!). Nobody enjoys going, but I have found that for me, at least, it makes a difference between catching the dreaded bug, spending some miserable days at home on the couch, or biting the bullet, getting the shot and continuing on. If I do get the 'bug", it has been very mild, and a Bayer aspirin helps make it barely noticable.
Well, historically, the influenza, or flu as commonly known, has occurred around the world, at unpredicable times, for centuries. Even Hippocrates in 412BC described a flu-like disease in the North of Greece.
In the late 1400's, a flu-like malady swept across Britian, called the "Sweating Sickness", and took out flocks of people. Doctors knew very little about these sicknesses, and perscribed tobacco juice, lime juice, emetics, bleeding as cures. Perhaps the lime juice might have been like an infusion of vitamin C! But, I don't know about the bleeding escapades?!
Above, see a print of King Henry VIII leaving the palace to get away from the plague. At the time, catching the flu was a virtual death sentence.
The term influenza comes from the Italian word meaning "influence", with the popular belief that the stars influenced health and disease.
By the 18th Century, there were at least three major outbreaks of the flu, 1729-1730; 1732-1733 and 1781-1782. The pandemic in 1781 caused huge mortality among the elderly that spread across Russia from Asia. People still knew very little about the spread of bacteria and viruses. Bleeding was still a very popular form of cure, doctors believing that this removed toxins.
These forms of disease prevention and cures sound so bizarre to us today, knowing what we know now about the spread of germs, but I guess someday, our methods will appear equally archaic.
Today, take megadoses of vitamins and herbs as preventatives. We sweat out in extreme heat in saunas; we exercise until we wear out joints; we even inject toxins to plump up wrinkles as if keeping a youthful appearance will stave off physical aging!
Right about now, my arm is starting to feel a little hot and bothered. We'll see what happens later. I think tonight a nice scotch on the rocks and a good movie will be just what "the doctor orders"!!