Monday, October 5, 2009

It's Not the Bus You Need to Worry About

2000-2002 Ford E-350 photographed in Montreal,...Image via Wikipedia

Everyone jokes about getting hit by a bus tomorrow. I'm not sure how this phrase became synonymous with experiencing an unexpected tragedy, however I am reassured by The Explainer, Slate.com,
that the odds of this happening are very low. According to a footnote to an online article she wrote about health care titled The Explainer Gets Hit by a Bus:

According to the Department of Transportation, 10 pedestrians and bicyclists died in 2007 as a result of being run over by a cross-country or intercity bus in the United States. That's out of 5,400 people who were killed by vehicles of all types, including cars and trucks. (Not everyone who gets hit by a bus is killed, of course, and these numbers leave out all accidents involving municipal bus lines.)
So what should we really be worried about? Here are some statistics from the website Funny2.com, compiled from many sources by Howard Daughters, that sheds light on some of the things we should really be concerned about:

Chance of having a stroke: 1 in 6

Chance of dying from heart disease: 1 in 3

Chance of getting arthritis: 1 in 7

Chance of suffering from asthma or allergy diseases: 1 in 6

Chance of getting the flu this year: 1 in 10

Chance of American man developing cancer in his lifetime: 1 in 2

Chance of an American woman developing cancer in her lifetime: 1 in 3

Chance of a man getting prostate cancer: 1 in 6

Chance of a woman getting breast cancer: 1 in 9

Chance of getting colon / rectal cancer: 1 in 26

I mention these statistics not to be morbid or alarmist. I mention these statistics because I learned yesterday that my Internet friend who passed away suddenly on September 28 died from complications due to a massive stroke. A friend of the family shared this information with me and pointed out that she did have problems with high blood pressure and high cholesterol and was under a lot of stress from her job. It's hard to know if she was doing everything she could to address her health issues or if this stroke could have been prevented. I continue to be struck by the fact that she was only 49 years old at the time of her death, perhaps because I am currently in my mid-40s.

So you see, she didn't get hit by a bus and I probably won't ever be hit by a bus in my lifetime either. Her death is a wake-up call for me to start doing more about the things that might actually cause my death one day. Perhaps her death serves as a wake up call for all of us to do a better job of taking care of ourselves.

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