Sunday, March 3, 2013

Seek the Metaphors

It is probably good timing, in the midst of my melancholy MS anniversary approach, that I find myself engrossed in studying for a national certification in order to maintain my recent promotion. While I work in a scientific field, science and mathematical reasoning do not come naturally to me.  In order to help my brain comprehend the heavier scientific concepts that I am studying, I will rely on the trick of the metaphor.  Luckily for me there were plenty of excellent poet/philosopher/scientists that steered me through my studies in school and taught me this clever trick.  Leopold, Steingraber, Terry Tempest Williams and even Edward Abbey…thank you for turning science and environmental studies into stories and art.
My posts for the next two months, as I prepare for the exam, are likely to feature some of my lessons learned each week.  Interesting facts.  Disturbing realities. Latin names. And last but not least, metaphors.  I will actively seek the metaphors for two reasons.  They will help me remember the scientific rules and facts…but perhaps even more importantly, they allow me to see the patterns of nature in my day-to-day life. To apply the laws of science to what can seem a chaotic emotion charged situation.  Despite my propensity for fiction and creativity, logic has always brought me comfort somehow. Just maybe it will bring you some comfort as well.

This week’s interesting fact: The human respiratory system has an exposed surface area as large as the surface area of a tennis court.  Wrap your head, and alveoli, around that one!

This week’s ‘found’ metaphor for parents: In addition to the dangers of underprotection, overprotection (against chemical exposure) may be health threatening because of the physical and psychological strain.
Wrap your arms around your children. But not too tight and not too long.

This week’s ‘found’ metaphor for chronic illness: Emergency Management essentially consists of four areas: Prevention or mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.
Prevention: Eat healthy, exercise, get your rest, and take your medication.
Preparedness: Get some disability insurance if you can, have a savings, keep your health insurance. Create an ‘emergency response’ plan. What are your biggest fears? Now make a plan for what you would do if those things happened. Old environmental health saying, “If it can spill, it will”.
Response: Don’t panic! Pull out your ‘emergency response’ plan and follow it. See your doctor if something weird is going on.  Do not stick your head in the sand.  Be flexible. Federal law requires emergency notification in the event of a spill- go ahead and call on friends and family and let them know you need a little help.
Recovery: Be patient. This phase is often much longer than the response phase.

I will leave you with this.  Beware of vectors people.  Beware of vectors that are people. Technically, vectors are insects or arthropods that spread disease to humans, often by biting or sucking. Think mosquito. Now if you have any vectors in your life that can walk and talk, you will need to consider the seriousness of the problem and the degree of intervention needed. Integrated Pest Management is complicated and I suggest the assistance of a trained professional.
Hug your kids, get your rest and stay clear of mosquitoes …until next week.

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