History instructs us, oft the best predictor of the future.
Infectious plagues, epidemics and endemic, have molded the course of human history. The Black plaque, or black death - Bubonic/pneumonic plague of the 14th century has been called the greatest European catastrophe in history. Houses were emptied, villages abandoned, fields were littered with dead. The mysterious disease syphilis followed soon after, infecting many prominent world leaders, forever altering the course of human history. Henry V111, Francis 1 of France, Pope Alexander Borgia, Ivan the Terrible, and many more. Napoleon's madness was perhaps molded by Typhus. Epidemics of malaria, yellow fever, tuberculosis, influenza and AIDS were yet to come. The Spanish flu of 1918-1919 killed more people than WW1. Woodrow Wilson, the American president, contracted the flu while in Paris working out the details of the Treaty of Versailles. One could ponder: would things have worked out differently if he had been well?
Syphilis is perhaps the most pertinent to our story. A painless frequently unseen chancre is followed by a benign secondary stage a long latent stage and then a tertiary disease with protean manifestations. This "great imitator" can attack almost any organ in the body, frequently with central nervous system involvement. End stage disease,"general paresis," manifests itself with various symptoms: headache, "lightening pains," impotence, epilepsy, joint pains, progressive personality and cognitive changes, frank dementia and many more. Some infected have no symptoms and still transmit the disease to the unborn.
Every point in history, has to some extent, been intertwined with and perhaps influenced by its own epidemic(s).
Perhaps epidemics can be less obvious and still alter the history of mankind: no putrid cough and waisting of consumption/tuberculosis.
Perhaps there can exist a silent epidemic: an insidious creeping crawling yet quiet plague.
I know someone. An acquaintance let's say. A fifty something, suffering with fatigue, depression, joint pains and cognitive problems. He believes his family doctor and believes in the "system." The Lyme test was negative. Not Lyme. "Please see 'Under Our Skin.'" Not interested. The person, as of this writing continues to see a panoply of specialists and even non-traditional herbalists. Not Lyme.
I cannot raise the topic of Lyme, now a touchy subject. "You think everything is Lyme."
Arthritis. Fibromyalgia. Chronic fatigue. MS. Early dementia. POTS. "not feeling as well as 80 year old parents." All on the rise - and others.
A quiet epidemic. Denial. "Aches and pains of daily living." "Anti-science. Unseen.
True story: Tall sailing ships, those of Christopher Columbus were sailing to the Island of Hispanola. The natives scanning the horizon could see nothing. Perhaps a perturbation of the waters. After all, such things could not exist in their universe. They called the Shaman. He saw the ships. Only then could the people see them too. (to their detriment, but that's another story)
The 19th century European obstetrician. Semmelweise literally lost his mind trying to convince the experts that puerperal fever (child bed fever). a lethal epidemic, was caused by germs and that hand washing was the cure. He gave up everything to fight the battle against prevailing world opinion. Not living to see the paradigm change - slowly, he died pitifully in a mental hospital.
What can we see in the calm - no turbulent waters?