Sunday, February 13, 2011

Germ Warfare On The Social Sphere

I woke up on Friday morning feeling dry. Dry on the inside. Not "female dryness" (I hope to never have that problem) but nasotracheal dryness. I don't get sick often, but when I do, I know it's coming. And I'm pretty aware of how or when the virus invaded my body.

I was out the night before at the Bust Magazine Sex Issue release event. There was a vodka open bar and everyone was evicted from their personal space. The mixing and mingling spilled onto Delancey with French men and to the pizza shop with...

We can't avoid other people all the time - we still have interactions in the flesh. We're exposed to all things contagious - yawning, laughter and conjunctivitis. And that can take down the best social butterflies.

You stay out late. Then you only get 4 hours of sleep before you have to get up and go to work. Minus 3 for the immune system. The body needs rest.

When you were out the night before, you drank. A lot. Or maybe just a little. But alcohol dehydrates the body. Dries out the membranes. Leaves you susceptible to viruses. And you didn't drink water or eat enough fruits or veggies for adequate hydration. Minus 3 points. Then minus another 2 for not only too little sleep, but poor quality sleep because alcohol wrecks sleep.

At some point in the evening we're networking, crowding around a photo or work of art at an exhibit or flirting. We all become close-talkers because the music is too damn loud. Just like the coworker who won't keep their ass home when they're sick, there's a disease carrying guest at the event you attended, infecting anyone within reach of their spittle.

Repeat this cycle 5 nights a week.

We probably won't eradicate all viruses and bacteria (that would probably do more harm than good anyway). I'm not a fan of hand sanitizers and antibacterial soaps for that reason. I will use them when I'm in a hospital, but that's it. Otherwise, I'm a huge fan of soap and water. It does wonders. A little exposure to pathogens can build the immune system. Being assaulted with influenza-laden sputum, not so much.

This time my body just sent me a warning. I hadn't been drinking a lot of water recently (apparently I underestimated how much water is in chocolate pudding) and I haven't been sleeping much the past few days. Then I pushed my luck by traveling on a Megabus for 4 hours to DC for my book reading. It was uncomfortably hot and there was intermittent throat-clearing and wet coughing around me. Not cool. But I made it without contracting anything.

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