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On the Third Hand: Sandy

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This will be a fairly short blog, because I work in the Hoboken, N.J., office, which is in or pretty close to the projected path of Hurricane Sandy, and area emergency officials have pretty much given folks like me a couple of free work-at-home days.

For me, Sandy is still at the stage where it’s affecting the lives of other people, not really directly affecting my block, so, honestly, I want to play hooky and go sit in a cafe and surf the Internet while drinking caffeinated beverages that probably will decrease my level of wellness.

Some thoughts:

- A looming natural disaster is a great mind clarifier. I don’t really need multiple hands for my opinions today. My opinion is: I’m happy for the work-at-home days, but I really don’t like the idea of a hurricane possibly coming nearby.

- A looming natural disaster is also a great wellness coach.

I was in the drug store, buying essential hurricane preparedness supplies, such as candy bars (OK: maybe natural disasters aren’t great for dietary discipline motivation, although I got the candy bars for others, not for myself; I got low-carb breakfast bars for myself), when I noticed that the drug store offered vaccinations. It hit me that, if the apocalypse might be coming, maybe one good thing to have in the post-apocalyptic world would be a current tetanus booster. (I got my last one when my daughter was born, 10 years ago.) So: I got a tetanus shot! Yay, wellness.

Last year, some emergency management officials tried to get people interested in disaster preparedness by linking a preparedness campaign to the zombie craze. Maybe wellness coaches could get consumers in a better, more preparation-oriented frame of mind by linking wellness campaigns to invasions of zombies, vampires, aliens, etc.

“Do you think an alien invasion would be a good time to get a painful case of shingles? No? Well, then, the aliens are probably coming any day now! Go get yourself vaccinated against shingles, you silly human!!!”

- I am too discombobulated to do the research needed to back this up, but my suspicion is that, even if Sandy is really, truly As Bad As They Say, the total cost of the property damage won’t even be close to the effects of ordinary bad diet, pollution, stress, lack of exercise and other potentially controllable factors on the annual cost of ordinary health care for the people in the affected areas.

Even if Sandy is, God forbid, deadly, it probably won’t kill nearly as many people as social factors, behavioral factors and stupid gaps in health care research kill in a typical year. If only we could be as obsessive and bipartisan about, say, obviously unhealthful food as we are about Sandy, a lot of good things would probably happen. 

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