Wednesday, March 25, 2009


I get unreasonably irritated every time I hear something along the lines of:

-- Cases of breast cancer within the city limits of Kalamazoo have risen 24% over the past ten years!

-- Your chance of developing testicular tumors as a adolescent girl are 200% better than they were last month!

-- If one of your parents is dead, chances are you will be dead within the next 48 years!

Not that very long ago, people died at relatively young ages. The life expectancy in 1900 was only into your early 30's - in 1950, it was 58 - up until the current statistical chance of living well into your late 70's.

My maternal grandmother died at age 34 - probably hemorrhaging or infection following childbirth at a farm. Her father died at age 29 - and his father at age 34.

Autopsies were not performed. Cancers were not diagnosed. People just 'died.'

And you died from the flu - from a cut - from what we would consider a minor childhood illness.

But you didn't hear about people suffering from depression. There weren't headlines in the papers about cocaine addiction (although in the 1910 cocaine was still an actual additive to Coca-Cola - whole other story there).

Was that because, like cancer, it simply was not recognized and/or diagnosed? Or was it because you normally didn't have a lot of extra time or energy after growing your own food, working an exceedingly physical job, walking almost everywhere, not having television, a radio, or a whole lot of books to read.
So was it high levels of endorphins from all the physical labor? Because no one knew (or cared) about the stock market? Or when you married someone it was almost impossible, both socially and legally, to divorce them? in 1900, that one in every five children died before their fifth birthday?

I'm not really expecting any answers, I'm just expounding on a thought process that began yesterday when I was dealing with a semi-suicidal, clinically depressed spouse.

Somethings I think we just have too much free time. Too much information. Too many little tiny things that get blown way huge out of proportion.