Back in the days of Og the Caveman, when men were Cro-Magnon and the women were too, there wasn’t much in the realm of medical science. Think about it. If you had a toothache, all you could do is suffer or try to knock the tooth out with a rock or something. There was no going to the grocery store for food — you had to go find your own, and if you were unlucky the sabertooth tiger found you before you found your mammoth. And if you caught the mammoth, what then? That in itself was dangerous, and it was pretty tough eating those mammoth steaks with all those bad teeth.
But even Og might be a little bit frightened if he lived today. There are so many modern ailments and injuries to watch out for that it’s enough to make even someone who is supposedly farther down the evolutionary scale worry.
Consider these modern potential hazards that are just waiting to take a bit out of you:
• The Concussion Conundrum. I’m sure that back in the good old days Og and his friends occasionally ended up being run down by a mammoth or just tripping over something and hitting their heads. Here’s the difference between them and us: they were intelligent enough to have this happen only by accident. We actually go out and attempt to knock each other out on the football field, wrestling mat, in the boxing ring or while pursuing various other athletic acts of prowess. Even the NFL (Not our Fault League) is acting concerned as evidence mounts that football in particular is a bad way to take care of your head. Maybe we’ll figure out a way to minimize the damage. Or maybe we’ve all been hit in the head so often it doesn’t matter.
• The Finger Fracture: In recent years, doctors who specialize in rotator cuff surgery and carpal tunnel syndrome have struck it rich. But the injury of the future will be a little farther down the arm, caused by the overuse of your index finger while swiping your phone, tablet or other electronic device. I know little kids who can’t utter a word but know how to fire up a phone and swipe away. All this swiping will result in Swiped Finger Syndrome and will require intricate (and expensive) surgery to repair.
• Twentieth Century Disease. You might have heard of this as Multiple Chemical Sensitivity. Basically, you can sum this up by saying there are so many chemicals and other things out there these days that just about everyone is allergic to something and lots of people are allergic to a lot of things and pretty soon we’ll probably all be allergic to almost everything, including each other.
• Cruetzfeldt-Jakob Disease. You know this as Mad Cow disease, but it sounds much cooler when you name it for a couple of German scientists. You get it from eating contaminated beef. There is no record of Og ever contracting this disease from a mammoth, but it is possible that if he lived today he could be killed by a hamburger.
Add in things like avian flu and chronic fatigue and auto immune disorders and it’s a wonder that any of us are still around.
In fact, if Og lived today he might want to go back and take chances with the sabertooth instead of facing the bewildering list of modern ailments, many which we seem to bring on ourselves. Life certainly was much simpler then.
David Lindeman is a Troy resident and former editor at the Troy Daily News. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.