Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Miles to go until I sleep

When you spend a lot of time walking around in the field (or doing various repetitive tasks in the field), your mind tends to wander. In my case, I end up making lists of things: stuff I want to eat when I get home, stuff I want to do when I get home, things I should try to prioritize during my second year. And, sometimes, most likely ways to die.

In my personal accounting, based on what I do with most of my time in the field, should I die while working the most likely causes would be:

1. Car accident
2. Falling off of a cliff (on foot/in a car when this happens is probably 50/50)
3. Disease/medical condition. Something insect- or water-borne and/or my appendix bursts too far out in the field. I like to think that my Evac. insurance would prevent this from becoming deadly, but if I'm honest with myself I know it probably wouldn't.
4. Bitten by poisonous animal/insect/whatever
5. Something dog-related: mauling might be more likely, but I also count rabies, even though I have the vaccination that would buy me more time and I keep it up to date
6. Equipment-related accident. Large metal things falling on my head, in particular.
7. Shot by some yokel (I don't really think this is likely, but I guess it should be on the list because it's strictly possible). This category also includes bullets falling from the sky, which is probably a more likely scenario than intentional shooting.

In contrast, in the States I think my list looks something like:

1. Cancer
2. Car accident
3. Other accident (ya know, I fall off a ladder, or do something equally stupid)
4. Flu/other communicable disease (I do work with snotty students)
5. Heart attack/stroke (I don't think these likely, but I guess they are strictly possible).

The top causes of death in the States, as reported by the CDC are:

1. Heart disease
2. Cancer
3. Stroke
4. Chronic lower respiratory diseases
5. Accidents (unintentional injuries)
6. Diabetes
7. Alzheimer's disease
8. Influenza and Pneumonia
9. Nephritis, nephrotic syndrome, and nephrosis
10. Septicemia

Honestly, I expect it to be Cancer many years from now; when I go into the field I don't really expect that I won't be coming back. But these are the things my mind spends its time on when I'm busy doing other things, like walking. Morbid? Maybe. A good time-waster when you need something to occupy your brain? Definitely.


T said...

Hand sanitizer. Best advice anyone ever gave me when I started teaching - keep a bottle on your desk and use it, religiously. So far so good for me (knock on wood).

Karina said...

Wow! My list of potential causes of death while doing fieldwork would be remarkably similar. I'd rank them as:

1. Car/motorbike/bicycle accident.
2. Aforementioned vehicles going off a cliff.
3. Disease/medical condition (though I've already had an appendectomy)
4. Animal-related death.
5. Equipment or natural things (fruits, branches) falling on me.

I don't think dogs or shooting are high on the list for me. Number one is far and away the greatest risk.

In the U.S. the only thing I worry about is getting in a collision with on bicycle.