The past two days I have been stuck in bed, sick with the flu. I’m not one to usually get sick, so when I am under the weather I do everything in my power to get better as soon as possible. With the flu that means lots of rest, water, and cold medicine. Having a high fever, cough, my entire body aching, a headache, and nausea, I have only left my room once in the past two days. I live in Juniper Hall in pod style dorms which means I have a roommate and about thirty other people who live in the same area as me. All year people have tensed hearing a sneeze, knowing how easily and quickly sickness can spread in such close quarters. I noticed this particularly as I have been sick, as people have stayed as far away from me as possible. I quarantined myself in my room partially because I don’t have the energy to move somewhere else, but also because I don’t want others to catch what I have. It’s interesting to see which people full on ignore me and who braves the possibility of infection to check in on me and see how I am feeling. Naturally as I have sat here with not much energy to do anything besides contemplate life, I tried to trace back the origin of my sickness. I believe I caught it from by friend who was sick the previous week and I offered assistance to make her feel better. I gambled by risking my health to help and friend and ultimately lost out.
People like to think they’re immune to sickness until they actually become sick. Very few people go through their everyday lives fearful of the next sickness they might catch. One can overcome sickness rather easily with modern medicine, so sickness itself is not as much the fear as is the loss of the ability to live life as they wish. Esposito discusses the idea of how people want to live their lives in believed immunity saying, “What frightens us today is…uncontrolled and unstoppable diffusion throughout all the productive nerve centers of our lives” (pg. 2-3). Getting sick affects more than our health, it hinders our ability to be productive, functioning members of society and that is many peoples worst fear. One of our primal goals in life is to be a part of society and seen as an able member who is capable. People fear their immunity being penetrated, because doing so can lead to every aspect of their life being penetrated by the sickness and changing what they know to be normal. Not being able to function in what is considered a normal way, means the person is disabled in that they cannot do what is expected of them from society. I definitely relate to this as my plans for the past couple of days have gone out the window with my sickness. I could not even look at my laptop for more than a short about of time without my headache becoming unbearable.
For some reason, humans tend to point out those who are disabled and set them apart from “normal” people. This disability could be something like a sickness or a mental illness which can both impair a person. What is interesting is that some disabilities are seen as a novelty while others scare us. Rosemarie Thomson discusses how we find entertainment in disability saying, “the body that we think of as disabled becomes a cultural artifact” (pg. 1). In this instance, she is referring to abnormalities that are put on display for others to gawk at. People like to examine those who are considered odd so they feel like they are normal in comparison and better off because they do not have to deal with the disability. Knowing this I expected more people to come in and check on me to get a glimpse at the infected, but contrary to what I thought, not many people stopped in. Sure, people texted and snap-chatted me to see how I was feeling, but very few actually came and visited me. No one wanted to risk their immunity to help a friend.
This whole thing made me question how place importance in regards to health and disability. A key part of immunity is putting a part of the bad thing inside so the immunity can build. If we don’t want the sickness to spread and infect everyone, we need those who are willing to go into the sickness to stop the penetration and create the immunity. Should we put more value in those who are immune and protect their immunity or those who risk their immunity to help others?