You can’t hide from reality, we aren’t immortal

We all gotta go sometime.

For most of us, that time is later: eight, nine decades of wringing out every last drop of life, if we’re lucky. A few tucks here, a little dye there, hours at the gym, smaller meals, and we might manage to get a year or two more — although, as Barbara Ehrenreich reminds us in her new book “Natural Causes,” you can run from your own mortality, but you can’t hide.

Some time ago, Barbara Ehrenreich decided to forego most recommended medical tests.

It wasn’t because she was feeling rebellious; instead, she thought that such tests seemed to be looking for problems that didn’t exist, with “overdiagnosis” as an end result. And besides, Ehrenreich decided, she was “old enough to die.”

The fact of the matter is, we all are. The freedom to acknowledge that, and to reject panicked unnecessaries concerning our health, “is worth celebrating.”

It all begins before we’re even born, in what Ehrenreich calls “rituals.” Until the 1970s, for example, women gave birth in positions more convenient to their doctors, and they did it without question; before that, laboring mothers were often rendered unconscious to have their babies. The tide turned, in part, because women were empowered enough to start demanding change.

Yes, Ehrenreich admits, there are many good reasons to have vaccines, tests, screenings, and exams – but there are many good reasons not to. Some cancers, especially those that hit elder patients hardest, are slow-growing enough that it’s safer not to treat them. Going for a full head-to-toe physical may make you feel better, but that doesn’t guarantee that a problem won’t crop up a week after you’ve had one. Some treatments, she says, can even backfire, and make things worse.

Okay, so you’ll just self-monitor, try to eat right, and stay active, then.

Sure. But remember one thing….

Says Ehrenreich “Many of the people who got caught up in the health ‘craze’… – people who exercised, watched what they ate, abstained from smoking and heavy drinking – have nevertheless died.”

And there you have it: author Barbara Ehrenreich’s book is not so much an anti-medical-establishment treatise. Though not always complimentary about medicine in general, she’s balanced. She’s not against healthy lifestyles at all. Instead, “Natural Causes” is more of a reminder that you can rant, wail, avoid “junk food,” and exercise until your muscles scream, and you’re still not getting out alive.

Even so, reading this book will make you see your body in a different light. Ehrenreich writes about cutting-edge science and in doing so, makes the human body seem like a cellular-level Ninja Warrior. That total badness can work quietly, unseen, against us, as researchers recently discovered to their horror, which proves the whole premise of this book: when it comes to our health, we only think we can control it.

Yeeks, that’s a sobering idea but it’s softened by wry humor and fascinating, eyebrow-raising info that’s irresistible. For science geeks, the health conscious, and anyone who dreams of immortality, “Natural Causes” is a book you gotta go get.

More in Life

Auburn Symphony Orchestra Chamber Series comes to Kent, Auburn

Musicians to perform works by Beethoven, Britten and Loeffler

You’ll want to read ‘Dracul’ with the lights on

It was just a little scratch. You wouldn’t have even noticed it,… Continue reading

This book will help you talk about death with loved ones

There’s plenty of food for all. You can see that, and it… Continue reading

Kent-area community calendar | Oct. 18

Events Recycling Collection: 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Oct. 20, Hogan Park, 24400 Russell… Continue reading

Trava Mayes, left, plays Mirabelle, and Anne Cameron is Bernice in Pamela Loyd’s “Lunch Ladies at L’ambrosia Luncheria,” on stage at the Kent Senior Activity Center this month. MARK KLAAS, Kent Reporter
Knot Quite Write Players present fall lineup

The Knot Quite Write Players (KQWP), the Kent Senior Activity Center’s Readers… Continue reading

‘November Road’ is the nail-biter you’ve been looking for

Catch me, if you can! And the chase began, one of you… Continue reading

‘A Healing Justice’ should be on your bookshelf

Your pup is a pretty respectable watch dog. If anyone merely considers… Continue reading

Look. Listen. Learn.

Puget Sound Fire celebrates Fire Prevention Week by holding a contest and creating two new forms of non-emergency contacts.

Mira Slovak driving the original Miss Wahoo unlimited hydroplane in 1957. COURTESY, Museum of Flight
Legendary pilot and hydroplane champ profiled in Oct. 13 lecture and book signing

‘A Race to Freedom: The Mira Slovak Story,’ plus Slovak hydroplane and stunt plane on view

Ryan Gosling plays astronaut Neil Armstrong in the film, “First Man.” COURTESY PHOTO
Museum of Flight hosts exclusive display of costumes and props from the new feature film

The Museum of Flight presents a special collection of costumes and properties… Continue reading

Country stars to perform Dec. 6 in Kent at Hometown Holiday concert

Combs, Morris, Ballerini, Brothers Osborne, Davis and Tenpenny

Auburn Symphony Orchestra presents fall concert, Pines of Rome

Oct. 14 program welcomes new music director, features renowned young violinist