A personal connection
I have to confess, it is not without deep emotion that I share stories like this, for a similar tragedy took the life of my own son, my beloved Frankie, who died at age 4 from the smallpox epidemic of the 1730s. Ironically, even though I was one of the leading proponents of inoculation at the time, and promoted it extensively in my newspaper, we were not able to inoculate Frankie in time, so consequently he was particularly vulnerable to contracting the disease.
The great fear gripping people right now is that Ebola may soon be spread from Africa to this country. And in a strange twist of fate, there is again a groundswell of opinion developing which looks skeptically at the medical community. What if the disease is spread through infected healthcare workers, some ask. There is no good answer to that question, although I might share some additional details about the smallpox epidemic of the 1730s.
Innoculation and the 1730s epidemic
Back then, there was growing evidence that this new procedure called inoculation was extremely effective in combatting the epidemic. A number of prominent physicians of my time came out as advocates of inoculation. But, alas, the general populace was as skeptical of the effectiveness of inoculation back then as people are today about healthcare professionals being able to quarantine themselves before Ebola is spread to other patients in hospitals.
So, back in the 1730s, wary members of the public resisted getting inoculated out of fear (at the time, an unfortunate side effect of inoculation was developing a case of smallpox). And today, in a similar fear-motivated situation, people could become suspicious of healthcare practitioners, resisting visits to hospitals or other facilities out of concern that they might be exposed to Ebola.
Ben's own story
To that I would respond, once again, with my own story. As my wife Deborah and I wrestled with the loss of our son, the conclusion we came to was this: To this day, I regret not being able to have Frankie inoculated in time. I say this for the sake of people who neglect seeking treatment, for you would never forgive yourself if you or a family member died from that decision. But yet, as I learned from our own circumstances, the regret may be the same either way. So therefore, the safer route should be chosen, that is, trusting the medical professionals to keep you safe and well.
I say this not as someone who had close friends who were physicians (which is a fact), but as a father who still mourns the untimely passing of his son, knowing that the responsibility for protecting my dear Frankie rested on my shoulders, and I was not able to do my part, for his sake.
I sincerely hope this little message may guide you in your own healthcare decisions.
Your humble servant,