The last major incident was about 10 years ago when the flesh-eating virus was in full swing. In order to protect myself, I stopped going to nail salons and refrained from trimming my cuticles for fear that the virus would find a path into my system. I also thought twice about going out into crowds. It worked because I am still of sound mind and body. I once thought I had contracted AIDS when I took sick with dire stomach pains in the middle of the street, but when I traced it back, it was from a baked potato I had left in the oven overnight. Now it’s the avian flu virus, and I am taking precautions because I am convinced that a strain with my name and address on it is headed straight for me. I recently asked a nurse acquaintance of mine about the symptoms of the virus, and she said that it is a high fever accompanied by aches and pains, and if the fever gets too high, say about 103 or 104, then you will go into convulsions before you die. She also said that there are 10 million shots for the 270 million people in this country. The good news is that health care workers are the first in line for the vaccinations. I think I have found a new calling. Gail Tzipporah Saunders is a San Fernando Valley writer.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREBlues bury Kings early with four first-period goals “Quite frankly,” I said, “I think I have a brain tumor.” “You don’t have a brain tumor,” he said, laughing. “You’re not going to run even one test?” I asked, disappointed at being robbed of my moment of drama straight out of a hospital series with a gown in a shade that flatters my coloring, flowers and tubes with colored liquid next to my bed. “No,” he said. “You’re anemic. You need to take iron pills.” As it turned out, the man was right. But this was only the beginning, and every time there is a pandemic, I sit waiting for the shoe to fall like some prognosticator. A recent news report stated that a 57-year-old man is suing a store because he got stuck to a toilet seat that had been covered with glue as part of a prank. This never would have happened to me. I know better than to sit on a public toilet seat because I know about the cesspool of germs and bacteria that often live there. This to me is not just part of my survival instinct; it’s part of a general lifelong pattern of avoiding germs, plagues and all pandemics that I believe are headed my way. This is probably why I am an insurance salesman’s dream. I will buy a policy to cover just about any malady imaginable, even for things that do not run in my family. I always believe in being prepared. This tendency has even seeped into my professional choices. I once thought about becoming a psychiatrist so I could write prescriptions for anyone who got on my nerves, yet this never came to fruition. It wasn’t only because I was opposed to operating on a cadaver as part of a yearlong course prescribed by all medical schools, but because I am the kind of person who would be convinced I had contracted a disease just by learning about its symptoms. It started in my twenties, when I noted that the room was tilting back and forth while I was watching certain television programs. So after a few bouts of this, I contacted my family doctor. After he was done with the basic, cursory exam, he called me into his office. “What do you think it is?” he asked me, with his hands clasped together in front of his face like he was praying.