'Matter of Laugh or Death,' a humor column
By Bill Dunn
Interesting observations on this thing we call life
(appearing each week in the Republican-American newspaper, Waterbury, CT)
LYME DISEASE IS NO BLOODY JOKE, MATE
“Limey disease?!” I exclaimed to the doctor. “Does that mean I’m gonna develop a craving for fish n’ chips and spend me evenings in the pubs tippin’ back pints wif the neighbor’ood blokes?”
“Not Limey disease, Mr. Dunn,” the doctor replied. “I said you have Lyme disease.”
“Oh. That’s very different, isn’t it?” I said, this time without the cockney accent.
Yes, Lyme disease is different. And it is becoming more and more commonplace, as this nasty little epidemic spreads far beyond the region of Lyme, Connecticut, the place where the disease was first identified in the 1970s.
In my case it was easy for the doctor to make his diagnosis, as the bulls-eye rash on my stomach looked just like an advertising flier for the Target stores. Also, in my case the rash was a blessing, helping to secure an early diagnosis, which meant a regimen of antibiotics would have a very good chance of eradicating the tick-borne Borrelia burgdorferi (Bb) bacterium from my body.
Not everyone is so lucky. At least 30-percent of the people afflicted with Lyme disease do not develop the telltale rash. Unless they get a blood test when flu-like symptoms develop, they’ll never know they even have the disease. Eventually the aches and fevers subside, and the person feels fine again. But then, many months later, the untreated Lyme disease reappears to wreak some serious havoc, including crippling arthritis and permanent damage to major internal organs. (If’n you ask me, Guv’nor, I consider ALL me internal organs, regardless o’ size, to be bloody well major. O’rwise the good Lord wouldna put’um there in the first place.)
As the antibiotics and the Bb buggers were fighting it out for dominance of my body, a friend suggested I do an Internet search and type in the phrases “Lyme disease” and “Plum Island.”
It turns out Lyme disease is one of the many hot conspiracy theories burning up bandwidth on the Internet these days. Many people are convinced the Bb bacterium was developed at a secret government biological weapons testing laboratory on Plum Island, which is located in Long Island Sound. Somehow the germs escaped from the lab and a genuine epidemic started.
As far as conspiracy theories go, this one falls about halfway between the tedious (such as Area 51 in Roswell, NM, where the government supposedly has the remains of space aliens who landed there) and the profane (such as the claim that the U.S. government actually destroyed the World Trade Center with explosives that were planted inside the buildings before the planes hit; this theory, by the way, is being touted by a professor at the University of Wisconsin—your tuition dollars at work).
Depending upon which of the hundreds of Lyme disease conspiracy websites you happen to browse, there are other interesting notions, including the Nazi scientist whose sinister German experiments were expunged from his record so he could receive clearance to work on sinister American experiments, and the claim that this disease was purposely unleashed on the public so the government could observe its effects.
Well, I only know two things for sure: the epicenter for this particular illness is a short distance away from a facility that did or does some pretty weird biological experiments (coincidence? You decide), and the U.S. government already has a track record of letting citizens suffer in the interest of “scientific research” (the infamous Tuskegee Syphilis Experiment begun in 1932).
Oh, and I know one other thing: the litt’l buggers are tryin’ to chew up me innards, and I ‘ope the medicine bloody well works!
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