Beathard: Keeping a cautious sense of humor | AspenTimes.com

Beathard: Keeping a cautious sense of humor

Jill Beathard
Editor’s Note

Jill Beathard

Generally speaking, I've always considered widespread panic over some new or weird disease a little silly. The images of masses of people wearing masks out of fear of avian flu comes to mind — probably a good idea in certain parts of the world, but never enough of a risk in mine for the paranoia to seem reasonable.

People often criticize the media during events like this, saying it's blowing things out of proportion with its coverage. So far most of the articles I've read about Ebola have been informative and have actually served to calm fears. But then again, I'm checking the Dallas Morning News, not tuning into CNN or following every link I see on Twitter. I think right now while we're still learning about this disease, more information is better than none, at least for this Dallas girl, who's also trying to plan a visit home soon.

Not to be one of those journalists spreading panic, but as a person, I'm starting to get a little worried about the presence of the Ebola virus in Dallas. For the first time, one of those scary diseases is hitting rather close to home, and while I'm not panicking, I am finding myself checking in with folks and reading up on any Ebola news emerging from Dallas.

The first people I thought of were obviously my parents and their proximity to what was happening, which is a pretty good distance. But now, a nurse at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital who was caring for the Liberian Ebola victim has been diagnosed with the disease, and she turns out to be a girl I went to school with in ninth grade.

Maybe this isn't interesting to anyone here, but it's becoming a real concern for me. It's pretty scary that it spread to even one other person, especially someone who should have been taking a lot of precautions while interacting with that patient. Meanwhile, we don't know if any other hospital staff members are walking around with the disease, and one of my closest friends lives in the neighborhood around Texas Health Presbyterian.

That same friend is also talking about being Patient Zero for Halloween. Probably not the most politically correct costume you could choose, but hey, a sense of humor goes a long way in situations like this. Because as serious as the disease is, and while I am earnestly trying to keep up with it, you can't live in fear.

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Take nurse Nina Pham for example. From the sound of it, she's staying in good spirits, communicating with friends and family via Skype and phone from isolation. Medical professionals trying to treat this disease do so at great risk, but it's their job, and an admirable one at that. Sick as she is, she is still doing her job by trying to help the hospital find out how she got sick, and she did the responsible thing and drove herself to the hospital when she had a low-grade fever. She has a lot of people rooting for her, and I hope and pray she recovers.

Jill Beathard is the editor at the Snowmass Sun. Contact her at jill@snowmasssun.com.