Every few months I'll learn some horrible new thing I have never heard of in my entire life, which at this point is starting to seem weird, and a little bit creepy. Are there a lot of horrible things I don't know about? Not obscure horrible things--I'd just as soon not know about those--but regular horrible things, the kind of horrible things you can find on Wikipedia?
Things like Miller Fisher Syndrome, for instance. Until 2013 I had not heard even the words "Miller Fisher Syndrome." Then one Wednesday my next-door neighbor and friend started coming down with a cold and by Friday she was completely paralyzed.
I had spent years avoiding spinal cord injuries by not riding a lot of horses or bicycles, and come to find out all it takes to end up helpless and hallucinating in the ICU is catching the wrong kind of cold.
(My neighbor is fine now, thank God. She recovered quickly, too, much more quickly than I expected after a couple of sessions with Google.)
Anyway, Miller Fisher Syndrome. A new one on me.
Then yesterday I read the news and found….polar vortex.
I grew up a a farm, for pete's sake. My dad's crops lived or died by the weather. I thought I knew every catastrophic, life-altering storm and/or temperature change on the menu; in fact, I was confident I did. Yet somehow, in all these years, the words "polar vortex" never came up.