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Internecine family fights

I think I need to be a little more restricted in what “news” I read. Some news are just plain depressing. Other news, while humorous, don’t add much value to my life. And then there are news that leave me wondering if we’re not just better off abandoning the whole idea of “public health” and just let humanity go out of existence in a cosmic blink of an eye.

From several sources comes to us the story of a woman in Manhattan who is suing her 8-year-old nephew. Why is she suing him? Is he some sort of punk that did something heinous to her? Did he burn down her house? Nope:

“Jennifer Connell claims the boy, [redacted] of Westport, acted unreasonable when he leaped into her arms, causing her to fall on the ground and break her wrist four years ago. This week Connell is asking a six-member Superior Court jury to find the boy liable for his actions.
She is seeking $127,000 from the boy, who she described as always being “very loving, sensitive,” toward her. The boy is the only defendant in the case.”

The boy lost his mom last year, just to add salt to the wound. Aunt Jennifer talked about the suffering she’s dealt with due to the injury:

“But, Connell continued, her life was turned upside down as a result of the injury.
“I live in Manhattan in a third-floor walk-up so it has been very difficult,” she said. “And we all know how crowded it is in Manhattan.”
And then there is the damage the injury has done to Connell’s social life.
“I was at a party recently, and it was difficult to hold my hors d’oeuvre plate,” she said.”

Oh, the horror!

There’s a story in the Bible where God wants to take out Sodom and Gomorrah because the people there are so wicked. Abraham makes a deal so that God won’t destroy the cities if He can find ten good people there. As we all know, the ten good people were hard to come by, with only Lot and his daughters making it out alive. Now, can you imagine if this scenario played out today, and if God happened upon the court docket of this woman suing her now-motherless nephew because, well, she couldn’t hold her ors d’oeuvre plate?

We’d all be screwed.

"Fire and brimstone for everybody!!!"

“Fire and brimstone for everybody!!!” (You would only get the reference if you’ve watched “Tron: Legacy”.)

Reading this bit of news reminded me of some of the internecine family fights I’ve seen and experienced in my life. While I don’t like to think about them, I can’t deny that some of my relatives went at each other’s throats with a lot of vitriol. Sometimes, things got downright scary. Sometimes, siblings said things to each other that I wouldn’t say to a dog that just bit me.

Or a bird that just took my seed.

Or a bird that just took my seed.

But I guess we’re human, and we see other humans as threats or allies depending on a lot of factors. Things within and between families are not always peaceful and bathed in a sense of collaboration and love. Things can get bad very fast.

I won’t bore you with the details of the biggest fight I’ve seen within my extended family, but I will tell you that it’s still going on today. Some of the adults are not behaving like adults, and some of the children are being thrusted into adult roles. Both these scenarios are just asking for something really bad to happen, bad enough to tear everyone apart. As it is, I have very few expectations of the (eventual, maybe next year) child to ever meet their cousins, which is sad because I had a great relationship with my cousins.

Then again, I have a great relationship with my siblings. They’re my most trusted allies. In some matters, I trust my brother more than I trust my wife. (They switch rankings between #1 and #2 depending on the situation. The wife gets #1 in all things medical.) Also, my wife has a really good relationship with her brother. So maybe the (eventual, maybe next year) child won’t be all that alone. But is is sad that they will not get to run in the streets of Mexico, barefoot, right after a rain storm, with a gaggle of cousins running behind him.

Or maybe they will find a way to follow the (eventual, maybe next year) child and, in the end, join them in the sun.

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René F. Najera, DrPH

I'm a Doctor of Public Health, having studied at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health.
All opinions are my own and in no way represent anyone else or any of the organizations for which I work.
About History of Vaccines: I am the editor of the History of Vaccines site, a project of the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. Please read the About page on the site for more information.
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3 replies

  1. I wonder who she would have sued if she broke her wrist like I did a few months ago: I fell in my bathroom while trying to put on jammy bottom as I sat on the edge of my tub.

    Good grief, less than a week later I had surgery to reconnect my wrist to my arm with titanium plates (I broke both bones), and just a couple of weeks later to actually use the wrist so it would not stiffen up. I was threatened with physical therapy if I did not stop using the wrist brace and sling.

    My next door neighbor is a physical therapist at a burn center. She describes her job as torturing burn patients, but of course she does it to actually help them.


    1. Having gone through physical therapy a number of times, due to a number of injuries in an overly exciting life, I lovingly call them physical terrorists.
      In spite of a couple of misadventures with a therapist making an error (such as one that forced my leg straight, which injured my knee and it instantly blew up to twice normal size), I recovered from the injury that sent me into PT. 😉
      Well, sort of. Today, I’m stiff as a board in the morning and my gait is very distinctive.


  2. As far as families go, my paternal family constantly reminds me that while Alex Haley had Roots, I’ve got weeds.
    They’re much like that walking human excrement that is suing a now 12 year old boy for doing just what excited boys do.
    When there’s a death in the family, they’ve ceased circling before the body is cold to try to get what they want from the estate of that deceased relative.
    Hence, the number of that part of the family that I trust can be numbered in one hand and I’d still be able to hold my coffee mug.
    So, to avoid becoming angry, I simply ignore them and pretend that they don’t exist. Even if they caught fire.


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