Monday, September 10, 2007

A funny thing happened on my way to the microwave

Microwave popcorn is a survival food at work, something easy to store in a drawer and readily available when endless meetings make it nearly impossible to grab lunch. Popcorn is fast, filling, tasty and more importantly to those following a diet plan, relatively low in calories for a reduced fat mini-bag. The three times a week popcorn habit was met with an occasional comment on the need to make time for a meal, but more often then not went completely unnoticed. That is, until the announcement that a consumer contracted a rare but serious disease that is referred to as Popcorn Workers Lung.

Bronchiolitis obliterans is a condition in which the bronchioles become plugged and individuals affected have severely reduced lung capacity. There is no cure beyond a lung transplant. Around 5 years ago, the Centers for Disease Control announced that a high number of individuals working in the popcorn manufacturing industry were inflicted with the disease, thus the name Popcorn Workers Lung. The recent discovery of a consumer contracting this debilitating disease hit the news last week and my popcorn habit is now a hot topic of conversation in the office.

Complete strangers are popping in my cube to ask if I heard the news, asking if I am worried for my health, or joking that I now need to completely change my diet. For the record, I am not worried for my health nor am I going to change my 2 to 3 time a week trip to the microwave with my mini-bag of smartpop. Out of all the bad habits I could have (and do have), eating a high fiber, low fat snack that might cause lung disease when consumed in excess is not really a big worry. Drinking diet soda, eating red meat and French fries, rollerblading without a helmet, speeding on the highway, forgetting to do breast self exams, carrying an excess thirty pounds and neglecting to put little sticky things in my shower to prevent slipping are probably a bigger cause of concern for my health and well-being then my love of Orville Redenbacher.

The overblown concern over microwave popcorn demonstrates a much bigger issue on the role of the press in creating a culture of fear where people lose perspective and become overly concerned about trivial things. We are constantly bombarded by stories and images of random stuff that could threaten our health, reported in such a way where the threat seems bigger then it actually is. People worry about these stories that hit the news when there are so many other threats all around them; they will throw out all their popcorn to save their family yet forget to buckle their seatbelt on the way to work.

Today marked a comical moment where such a misplacement of concern and energy occurred. Starved, I faced the option of eating a bag of popcorn or a high fat donut; I chose the popcorn. A funny thing happened on my way to the microwave as I received comments that the microwave popcorn would kill me. These comments came from one severely obese man and two women returning from their cigarette break who obviously have bigger health concerns to worry about.

5 comments:

Alex said...

Well said, and I definitely agree about both the press and our culture. I'm reminded of the time you two went to Aruba and wadE complained that the only thing his co-workers wanted to know was whether or not you'd seen Natalie Holloway.

BreathinSteven said...

Hey Bombchelle!!!

I'm totally on your side on this... I mean, I know that whole concept about feeding a rat ten pounds of saccharine trickles down to the idea that, you too could get cancer from one... Whatever...

The only consumer documented thus far was eating SEVERAL bags of extra butter flavor every single day for several years... Effectively, HE was the rat getting ten pounds... Whatever again...

These stories always catch my attention for another reason -- I've received a gift that some of them need -- from a beautiful 17-year-old girl in Iowa who I think about every single day... She was healthy as a horse, but in the month before she passed, she told her family twice how strongly she felt about organ donation... In the meanwhile -- I was dying after struggling for 40 years with cystic fibrosis. Her name was Kari and I have both of her beautiful lungs...

I have a tribute to her at www.ClimbingForKari.org

You keep eating your popcorn -- buckle your seatbelts, wear a helmet while riding your bike, slowing down on the highway, and avoiding red meat... And maybe think about registering to be an organ donor and saving a few lives when you're through on this beautiful planet...

The reason I picked up your blog was that I was searching for "lung transplant" and your post popped up -- it made me smile. I love popcorn too...

Love,

Steve

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Thank you for sharing the link to your story BreathinSteven. You are a reminder to all on how precious life is and how much we all need to get out there and live it!

BreathinSteven said...

You're so very welcome!

And life truly is precious -- can you even imagine living your whole life with crappy lungs, never-ever-ever really knowing what it felt like to breathe "normally", then being given pristine, beautiful new lungs by someone who felt organ donation was a good idea???

Life was good when it sucked... maybe because I didn't understand it sucked... By the time I was 13, I knew I wouldn't have very long on this planet and I came to understand that every single day is precious...

Life is freakin' ridiculous now -- I never imagined breathing could feel this good. I never imagined the things I could do -- I never knew what I was missing... And I'm so lucky to know about my donor -- that doesn't often happen...

And when I'm doing those freakin' amazing things, or just walking to work, or just sitting across from my wife, I think of her -- I can see her beautiful smile when I close my eyes...

You take care... Thanks for taking a peek at my site...

Love,

Steve

husband said...

http://www.simpleprop.com/2007/09/06/popcorn-lung/

A chance to pimp and cross pollinate. :-)

I think if you aren't using buttered microwave popcorn you have nothing to worry about. they have that powedered butter stuff you could add after the fact (we have some at home you know!)

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