If you had a magic wand, what single disease would choose to never, ever get?

You can choose something statistically unlikely but horrific – like hepatocellular carcinoma, or ebola, or Creutzfeld-Jacob’s disease – or you could choose something common with awful consequences, like diabetes or a CVA.

Whatever you choose, you are 100% guaranteed to never get it.  Everything else, your odds stay exactly the same as they were before.

Sometimes I think I’d choose diabetes, but today I think I’d choose gastric cancer.  Even though there’s next to no chance I’d get it – the symptoms are non-specific, I eat all the terrible foods you’re supposed to avoid, and the 5-year survival rate sucks.

It would just be nice to get it off the table, possibility-wise.

How about you?

29 thoughts on “If you had a magic wand, what single disease would choose to never, ever get?

  1. Occasional reader here! Alzheimer’s disease, probably. Something about the confusion and the internal depression and frustration I’d probably feel over it scares me more than physical pain.

    • I’ll have to second Alzheimer’s disease. Just the thought of the mind slowly deteriorating, and sometimes you have enough mental clarity to realize it, and in those moments it would be the most depressing thing ever.

      • Yeah, who said reality was so great? Anyways, nowadays they have fake towns and fake bus stops just for Alzheimer’s patients. It makes them feel more calm and gives them a sense of purpose.

  2. What a horrible yet intriguing question…

    Probably ALS or locked-in syndrome in terms of things I wouldn’t want to get. But the odds of ALS are so low, it seems like a waste. Weighing odds, I’d probably say a stroke, since that would include locked-in syndrome.

    Practically every patient I see has diabetes. I mean, it sucks but you can still live a good life.

    • Definitely stroke, for pretty much the same reasons. Even if you don’t end up with locked-in syndrome you’d face a long road of difficult rehab. On the plus side, you may be able to make a living as a subject of neuropsychological research.

  3. Having seen a lot of it recently, in the common but awful categorey, uncontrolled Crohn’s. Lung Ca has a shocker of a five year survival, as does heart failure.

  4. Can I do something generic and just say “cancer” and cover my butt from all cancer? That’d be nice. Otherwise I think I’ll play my odds and say atherosclerosis, since that seems like the most likely thing to do me in, getting that off the table should give me another 10 years of life or so.

  5. mesothelioma. my mom died from it and it seemed like no amount of heavy duty pain meds could even begin to put a dent in her pain and suffering for her final two months on earth.

  6. ALS. My mom had it when I was a teenager, and now well-loved administrator at my oldest’s school has it and is starting to decline noticeably. When the best thing you can say about a disease is that “at least his kid is in college already”, you know you’re getting to the bottom levels of hell.

  7. Heart failure or COPD – I can’t even imagine what it would be like to have such poor quality of life that you can’t even get yourself to the toilet etc.

  8. HIV. Every day I work in hospital I am in constant fear of getting pricked or having a mucosal blood splash. And a very large proportion of my patients are positive, and taking PEP sucks big time. I hate constantly having to be careful.

  9. Long term mechanical ventilation without meaningful neurologic function. Worst disease ever.

    The last thing I would want would be to “live” indefinitely with no prospect for meaningful recovery until VAP or MRSA bedsores finally did me in. Don’t get me wrong: I am most certainly not willing to sign a DNR/DNI. If I can be given even the slightest chance to communicate my wishes again, then by all means do what is necessary. However, I would rather die from ebola or pancreatic ca or even be locked in than “live” out the remainder of my “life” as a completely non-interactive body.

    There are fates worse than death, and if I had one wish, it would be to prevent long term mechanical ventilation without prospect of even the slightest meaningful recovery from ever occurring.

  10. I’m surprised that no one has said obesity. It’s in the list of risk factors for virtually every disease out there. Take that off the table and your chances are pretty good at avoiding a lot of nasty things.

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