Thursday, August 19, 2010

Being civilized means not being able to see anything else as a possibility

A Guardian article about the rise and spread of multi-drug resistant bacteria features a list of scary things that will become commonplace in a post-antibiotic world. And you know, I'm not going to lie, I don't want to live in that world, but there are worse things, you know? And this one is just silly:
Pneumonia becomes once more "the old man's friend". Antibiotics have stopped it being the mass-killer it once was, particularly among the old and frail, who would lapse into unconsciousness and often slip away in their sleep. Other diseases of old age, such as cancer, have taken over.
OK, picture this:

You're old. You're frail. You're near the end of your life. You're going to die sooner rather than later. You're magically given the option of two different ways this death can come:

1. You will lapse into unconsciousness and slip away in your sleep.
2. You will linger painfully for months or even years as your own body turns on itself and grows a poisonous devouring mass that destroys you from the inside out.

I know which one I prefer.

PS I should also point out that although the article is vaguely about a real problem, it's also deeply inaccurate and scaremongering. In case that wasn't obvious.


Randal Graves said...

We're bound to get black deathed again at some point, although fear must be given credit, it sells almost as many things as sex.

Ethan said...

Black death, of course, being another disease of civilization.

Given the choice between sex and death, I, uh, again, know which one I choose. Heh.

Asp said...

I'd choose cancer. It's an undignified death, those last months you spend bedridden and dependant on others' help and care to sustain you. The worst of the people comes out in those moments, as well as the best. I've witnessed my two grandparents die of cancer and one great uncle (intestine cancer, brain tumour and lung cancer respectively). I'd still choose that over slipping into unconsciousness. If only because I'd get to say goodbye to people. (And, who knows, maybe I'd survive. Maybe they'd come up with a miraculous cure just as I was on my deathbed.)

Ethan said...

Interesting. I tend more towards this perspective (i.e., I'm not afraid of being dead so much as I'm afraid of the process of dying), but I can see it.