Personal health: did ignorance use to be a bit more bliss?

I am a hypochondriac of sorts. I worry about my health a lot. I went through a four-year period in which I had terrible PVCs (benign but very, very annoying heart arrhythmia), and I saw my father die a horrible death of heart disease. You could call me a heart worrier. I’m not the kind of worrier, however, who likes to go to the doctor. When I had my problem, they basically could do nothing but help me worry with tests.

It’s great that technology can save so many lives these days. I work as a medical interpreter, and recently I was in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) a lot helping a family whose baby was born at 31 weeks. President Kennedy’s baby was born five-and-a-half weeks premature in 1963 and soon died. Breast cancer surgery and treatment is a lot better than it was just 10 years ago. And so on.

OTOH, I feel compared to, say, the early 1970s on backward in time, we are inundated constantly with negative information about health:

• Know the risks of a heart attack! Which can be, um, pretty much any symptom you can imagine. (Great for heart worriers like me.)

• Know the risks of every other effin’ disease under the sun. Take precautions! Examples: skin cancer, drinking too much, eating too much, diabetes, strokes, high blood pressure, STDs, etc. etc. And don’t you dare fuckin’ smoke you dumb fucker!

• You’re gonna die die die DIE and you’re just generally kinda fucked.

You know what I’m saying? It’s like in your face all the time, and the vibe is grim. But if we go back to the early 70s and before…

It just seems as though media were just more positive about health and what your prospects were. You know, go get your yearly physical (which many now claim are pretty useless, which seems probably true to me) and your biannual dental checkups, and things will be fine. Promise! Docs had a handle on things, and Jesus Christ is probably watching over you and protecting you. Drug commercials certainly made it seem as though Bayer and Geritol and Alka-Seltzer were going to work wonders for your health.

I know there were warnings. I was watching a episode of “What’s My Line?” from the 1960s, and John Daley gave a quick PSA about undiagnosed diabetes. But it was gentle in tone.

I know a lot was fucked up, and a lot was just pretending. The ignorance about smoking, indeed probably the worst thing you can do to your health short of a speedball, was appalling. But I’m not talking about the actual practice of medicine, which I said at the outset was a lot worse. I’m talking about how managing one’s health and one’s likely health outlook were portrayed.

I’m sick of worrying about health. I want someone to tell me that it’s going to be OK. But that’s not what we hear about these days. It’s doom and gloom and living wills and Altzheimer’s and DNR and death.

I could be wrong, however. Maybe you were alive in the 50s or 60s and didn’t feel secure at all. Tell me how things were.

No, I’m pretty happy with more knowledge. For instance, when my diverticulitis flares up, instead of wondering why I’m in such pain and why I’m constipated and why I have a fever, I don’t have to wonder; I know what it is. What’s even better, I know what I need to do to let it cure itself. And if that fails, I know that I can go get some antibiotics to cure the infection.

I got all that information, of course, from a doctor that I went to when it first presented.

Several thoughts…

Which ads you pay attention to change as you age. As a kid you never noticed the medical ads. As a retired person it seems like that’s all you ever see. Now you ignore the ads for bridal stuff or back-to-school sales.

When they repealed the prohibition against advertising prescription meds there was an explosion in ads that tell you about obscure diseases and wonder cures. Nobody had ever heard of ED before Viagra was invented. But flabby old penises have been plaguing humanity since long before 1998.

US society has become much more safety-obsessed since 50 years ago. Health worrying is just one part of that.
Truth be told, we’re not that far from recognizing that if we could get the people who practice bad health to practice good health we could increase average lifespan by a couple decades. That wouldn’t do too much for those of us who’re already doing the right things. But the cost and productivity savings would be huge.

True. And it would be especially great if there were jobs for those non-dead folks. :slight_smile:

Cost and productivity savings from increasing the average lifespan from the early 70s to the early 90s would work how, exactly?

Information and awareness might not increase your lifespan. But it could make the difference in whether your last decade on this earth is spent in good health or severe suffering, in my mind.

I’ll take more knowledge and awareness any time, thanks!

We live in society now that is panicking over heath problems. With news, media and commercials all panicking over it.

We more knowable that the human body is fragile and can breakdown that leads to sorta of hypochondriac that we are going to die.

Fact is most people live to 70’s and many will not make it to the 70’s.

The human body was not built to live past 30 years old. The fact that we live so long now people in their 70’s a and 80’s we are finding a encyclopedia of heath problems:eek::eek::eek::eek::(:frowning: And it is hard just to read it and memorize it all, that alone do research and come up with cure on each one.

The human body was built to reproduce and die. Not live to age 70.

Now we have encyclopedia of heath problems and diseases.

I’m sorry but the human body was NOT built to live this long.

The US spends more on healthcare than any country in the world.

Bliss is putting your head in sand and enjoy life than having anxiety and fear knowing how fragile the human body is and what can go wrong with it.

More you read on the human body more anxiety and fear you will have. Just how fragile the human body is and encyclopedia of heath problems and diseases.

OP if you have anxiety and fear may be you should stop reading stuff on the human body and stop looking at different diseases and such you just have more anxiety and fear.

Stay away from the topics on cancer.

Almost all of which boil down to “all things in moderation”. By definition, risk is not certainty: the only certainty is that we must all die of something, sometime, but until then, the best we can do is manage our lifestyle with the aim of keeping as many known indicators as possible within the “normal” measures. These are pretty broad, and finding yourself outside them at any one time, especially if only marginally, is not the end of the world - it just means you rein yourself in for a bit.

How much working time is lost to folks of working age being disabled through alchohol or drugs? How much paid working time is lost to smoke breaks? How much money is spent on security guard, police courts, etc., to attempt to control crime that’s done to feed drug habits? How much money is spent on obesity & diabetes treatments for people of working age? How many kids are made expensively asthmatic by parental smoking?

The point of making more people more healthy throughout their working years is not that suddenly we’d have lots of people being 100. We’d just have a lot fewer dropping off at 30 or 50.

I agree there’s an interesting public health / public finance question of whether Uncle Sam comes out ahead net-net when a smoker offs him/herself at age 67 once you consider the impact on SS (benefits paid for fewer years) and Medicare (more spending on last-year-of-life care).

If they’re alive, they’re consuming. If they’re consuming, they’re creating economic demand. Whether economic demand creates jobs depends on whether there are robots. Yet.

See, I don’t understand this attitude at all (which isn’t just yours, sweat209, you just express it coherently).

The doctors I know don’t walk around in a state of anxiety and fear. Why should I?

If you boil it down, the best advice seems to be this: Eat a decent diet most of the time, including lots of fruit and veg; don’t smoke; take some exercise; manage your known medical conditions based on evidence-based medicine; use condoms with unknown sexual partners (and get tested regularly); and see a doctor if you notice anything weird that doesn’t clear up on its own in a week or so. Keep up with the recommended tests you should have under the USPSTF guidelinesand have them done if your doctor thinks it appropriate.

Are you asking how people living longer in retirement constitutes a productivity saving?

In my view retired folks are, under most measures of productivity, consumers and not productive units in the sense that the modern capitalists system thinks of workers. The idea that only work related output constitutes productivity is a relatively modern thing but is all pervasive.

I don’t know what is so hard to understand. Most people will live to the 70’s or 80’s !! Many will not make to their 70’s or 80’s !!!

The human body was not built to live to 70’s or 80’s.

The encyclopedia of heath problems and disease could kill you in your 30’s or 40’s the unlucky people to make it to their 70’s or 80’s or kill you in your 70’s or 80’s.:eek::eek::eek:

The reason the encyclopedia of heath problems and disease and such or hypochondriac people aka walking around with anxiety and fear is major problem today is the human body was not built to live this long like we are today.

People want the human body to live to 100 or over the age of 100 and the human body was not built for this.

The human body was built to reproduce and die. Just making to the 80th birthday is some thing to NOT take for granted.

I get what sweat209 is saying, but I would add that Nature doesn’t intend us to have any particular age. There have always been people who lived rather long because they made it through the “filters” of accidents and, especially, infectious disease.

Today, most of us make it through those filters, so we get to “enjoy” our bodies eventually slamming up against old age. And it’s not all that pretty. A very small percentage of people will just die in their sleep without having gone through heart disease, cancer, a stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, etc. We know the clock is ticking and one or more of these things is our fate. We do not even have the luxury of knowing when the first thing is going to hit us so we can plan. My ex (with whom I still live) just had breast cancer surgery, and she is 43. A guy I know had his aortal valve go out at age 29, and he’ll have to be on blood thinners the rest of his life. In my role of interpreter, I’ve seen a guy in his 30s taken off life support right in front of me who had been in a car accident (and his only injury other than having his brain turned to jelly by the g’s was a fairly minor leg injury), I’ve seen a woman in her early 30s basically told she had a couple years max to live (pending biopsy results, which were almost certainly going to be bad), and so on.

I feel that society used to do a better job of comforting us about this path, whereas now it just emphasizes the above with no softening at all.

Well said overall.

IMO what we’ve got going on now is the aging of a generation that was raised on near total denial of mortality.

Everybody “knows” they’re going to die. But many people don’t really accept it. Somehow it’s going to happen to somebody else, not them. And as in Lake Woebegone, most of us expect to get the peaceful easy death that barely 10% of people actually do.

Unlike our grandparent’s generation and before, death in the US since about WWII has been pretty antiseptic and out of sight. Many people aren’t invited to, much less attend, a funeral until they’re in their 50s. Granny dying in an upstairs bedroom after living in decline for a few years was (and still is) relatively rare. As are the accidents and infectious diseases which used to carry off many of the otherwise young and vigorous.

The Baby Boom generation is just waking up to their mortality. And the wakeup call is their age-related morbidities coming up through the woodwork.

So of course modern commerce has a response: to sell a fix, or at least an amelioration, for all of this. Which advertising, plus the medico-industrial complex, ensures everybody is aware of the drumbeat.

There are few more powerful emotional upsets in life than denial being comprehensively denied by impinging reality.

Since there is no avoiding it, death that is, I have just started reading A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last by Stephen Levine.

It is brief and easy reading and I figure unless I prove to be immortal it will not be a waste of my time.

Interesting interpretation!

So people are basically like sock-eyed salmon, huh? But there are some people who live to 100.

I have no cite, but I think this was an NPR program I heard about 2 years ago on the radio that said back in the 70s, more people rated themselves as in ‘good health’ compared to today. Today despite people actually being healthier, people have a lower opinion of their own health. But I forget the program or where that statistic came from.

I’m going to assume it is like crime. Real crime (or war for that matter) has been declining while media coverage of crime (or war) is increasing so now people think we live in a more dangerous world that is actually safer than it has ever been.

Also the standards of ‘healthy’ keep getting stricter and stricter to the point where very few people qualify. Most people have one of the following conditions: overweight/obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol, etc. Something like 70-80% of elderly have hypertension, about 2/3 of people in the US are overweight/obese. So the standards of ‘healthy’ keep getting stricter.