A while back I noticed an almost imperceptible rhythmic bumping sound when I pulled my car out of the drive. It was so faint that if the road was too rough I couldn’t hear it. After a week or two it got a little louder but not enough to alarm me. I took a flashlight and looked under the car and couldn’t see a thing. About a week or so after that I was driving and – BANG! – I thought a SCUD missile hit the car. A tire blew out and I don’t mean started leaking air. I mean it blew a hole large enough to shove a soccer ball through.
It’s a good reminder that big things start out as small things. Wisdom tells us to attend to those little things. Laziness tells us to ignore them. For a little sobering reading spend some time on the Center for Disease Control website and read about current concerns and outbreaks. Many stories start out with the story of someone with a scratch that they left unattended. Through that scratch crept some unknown bug that now ravishes the body. Would a wash with soap and water and application of topical ointment have kept them healthy? Maybe.
Closer to home I remember when my Father’s shoulder began to hurt him. He thought he felt a little ‘BB’ rolling around deep inside. He called a friend – a doctor who taught at a medical school – who said he had probably just pulled something. Had he attended to the small things he would have gone to see his oncologist at the first sign of something amiss and discovered that he had treatable lymphoma. By the time he was sure he felt something abnormal in his shoulder cancer had spread through much of his body. Again: would immediate diagnoses have changed the outcome? I don’t know. What I do know is that your best chance in anything from a cold to cancer is early diagnosis.
So just like every journey starts with a step, and just like the road to better health can start with one decision, the path to disease, illness, and injury can start with a simple scratch that goes uncared for.