Editorials

It happens here

Thursday, October 18, 2012

You turn on the TV news, you pick up your daily newspaper, you tune in NPR on your car radio and you learn about people across the nation being infected by steroid injections containing fungus that can cause meningitis. It doesn’t really register because that is happening … elsewhere. Anywhere else.

And then you pick up your local weekly paper and read about a Milford man who was given such an injection and is worried that he, too, might be infected. Now it isn’t elsewhere. Now it is here. Of course, for the vast majority of us, this isn’t a worry. We didn’t get the injections. But of course, if we had back pain we, too might have gotten the steroid injections. We were all lucky on two counts – we didn’t have such back pain and we didn’t get the steroids.

But what has happened to James LeFebvre brings home the way of the world in 2012: It can happen here. And “it” can be anything that happens elsewhere. Oh, how life has changed.

Once, New Hampshire was something of an insular society in that we didn’t face the problems of even small cities like Boston, let alone those of huge cities like New York or Chicago. We had crime, of course; we had disease, of course, but it was nothing like what we see in the world, and in our state, today.

You could argue that crime and infectious injections have nothing to do with one another and certainly that’s true if you’re being absolute, but the fact is, we tend to view stories like LeFebvre’s as reminders that we can no longer assume things we once could.

Can we, for instance, assume that it is still safe to leave the doors to our homes unlocked? We might think so, then we read about a daytime attack upon a woman in Mont Vernon.

We can no longer assume that all will always go well if we just assume that it will. We might hate the idea of taking precautions like locking the door, but in the end, it’s better to be extra safe and feel a little silly (or nostalgic for a time when that wasn’t necessary) than to find ourselves in trouble.

The same, we’re sorry to say, is true about medicine. Doctors are quick to prescribe drugs, and all we can do is assume the drugs are safe. The sad truth is that in 2012, even in New Hampshire, we can no longer assume.

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