Anyone who knows me understands that I am not a proponent of drugs, and certainly not of the pharmaceutical industry. But, recent reports about an outbreak of measles is very personal to me because I lost 100% of the hearing in my right ear due to measles when I was nine years old.
The vaccine had just become available.
I remember my sister and I were so sick with measles my mom called my grandmother who traveled from the Pittsburgh area to Columbus Ohio to help take care of us. I remember all the drapes being drawn to keep bright sunlight from hurting our eyes. And I remember my grandmother pacing, wringing her hands, and praying over my high fever.
Since I was only nine years old the effects of having suffered through measles were not fully known for some time. My schoolwork suddenly declined, and I was moved to a slower group of children in my classroom. No one, not even I, realized my hearing had been dramatically affected by measles. I could hear, but it took awhile for anyone to notice I could only hear and understand someone if they were speaking directly in front of me, or on my left side. My right ear was, and is to this day, completely deaf as a result of a damaged hearing nerve from measles.
Today we understand how important hearing is to learning and childhood development. Although many wonderful teaching and learning strategies have been developed to teach the deaf, they aren’t available to children who are thought to be hearing.
You might wonder why it took so long for me to realize I was 100% deaf in my right ear. Simply put, I could hear all sounds on my left, so it never occurred to me, to my family, or even the doctors that deafness due to measles was the root of my sudden perceived learning disability.
For me, a simple relocation of my seat in the classroom solved the problem, and I learned to adapt in life. My son and my husband know to walk and talk to me on my left if they want to be heard. Others have accused me of selective hearing, or of being rude.
I believe in the rights of parents to decide what’s best for their children, including what medical care they receive. But, I also believe strongly that great responsibility comes with that right. Measles, and the risk of deafness and other side effects shouldn’t be taken lightly.
Please do your research before you decide not to have your child vaccinated against this preventable disease.
Spring can’t get here soon enough this year.
We moved in minus nine-degree weather, shivering with the doors wide open while the movers hefted our belongings into a truck in the snow.
It’s not just me; the entire country has endured one of the harshest winters on record. Who else is ready for some warmer weather, and sunshine?
I have to admit I’ve been stalking local nurseries, driving slowly past gated, and chained storefronts, peering in at greenhouses full of colorful flowers and plush evergreens. Cabin fever has me delirious, longing for Spring bulbs that will soon splash our yards with colorful tulips, daffodils, and irises. I can almost smell the fragrant Hyacinths and dainty dianthus that will sooth me while I sip iced tea, and read a book while soaking up some vitamin D. Remember to apply sunscreen if you’re out for more than twenty minutes, though.
How much longer must we wait? A quick check of my calendar indicates Spring is only a week away! I’m elated! In fact, in makes me so happy I’ve arranged a Countdown to Spring with a one-week sale on my book, Hope, Inc.
This is how it works…
March 14 & 15 Hope, Inc. will be available for just 99 cents on Amazon.com
March 16 & 17 buy it for only $1.99
March 18 & 19, the last two days before Spring grab a copy for $2.99
Once Spring arrives it goes to full price again, so hurry!
If you know someone who loves crime mysteries pass this along and let’s Countdown to Spring!
My family probably thinks I’ve gone ‘round the bend, but after a close call with cancer I’ve done enough research to be appalled at the American food supply. I’m convinced the pesticide laden, genetically modified foods, pumped with growth hormones is unhealthy, and may actually contribute to a plethora of illnesses that plague Americans.
Salad with a side of pesticides, anyone? A glass of wine with hormone laden cheese?
No thank you.
Buying USDA certified organic food is expensive for most budgets. Who can afford to pay over $9.00 for a head of cauliflower? Yes, I recently looked at my grocery receipt and discovered I paid nine dollars for a single head of cauliflower! Yikes!
My husband and I enjoyed patio-home living. No grass to mow, no walks or driveways to shovel. It’s a great lifestyle, but it also means no digging up or occupying any part of the yard for a garden.
“Besides,” my husband said, “you’re a writer, not a farmer.”
Nevertheless, as if December wasn’t busy enough with Christmas, my son’s birthday, and our wedding anniversary, we decided to go house hunting.
A small ranch-style home with an equally small yard caught our attention. Small is the operative word here, but we reasoned, small also means manageable. We’re empty nesters, and I’m no longer interested in cleaning four bathrooms.
After some negotiation, we bought the house, which will have to last through retirement, because I am never–did you hear me–never moving again. Especially not in Colorado’s snowy, minus nine-degree winter. But, I digress.
We went to the Colorado Garden and Home Show to take a break from unpacking. The displays were stunning. One vendor offered a healthy supply of organic seeds, which I bought. Another merchant mentioned a book called Square Foot Gardening by Mel Bartholomew.
I bought the book and am enthralled with the idea!
The concept of square foot gardening is a revelation. If this pans out, I can:
- Grow my vegetables in 20% of the space it would take for a traditional garden.
- Use raised beds to save wear and tear on my back and knees.
- Vary the sizes of my containers to make the yard and garden visually pleasing.
- Use only 6” of a specialized light weight soil mix.
- Eliminate fertilizers and pesticides.
- Move the garden containers around the yard, if needed.
And the real kicker… Are you ready for this? No weeding! This is apparently because you don’t use weed-infested dirt from your yard. Instead, you mix three simple, lightweight ingredients, and put the mix in a container.
Someone re-invented the garden while I was busy reading Harry Potter books!
Can I really grow carrots in six inches of soil that never needs weeding? I don’t know, but this is my spring and summer project and I’m about to find out.
Seth stood up, and raised his champagne glass. “To Nolan, whose research is on the brink of saving millions of lives every single year.”
“To Nolan.” Amy, Bridget, and Suzanne said in unison, and clinked their champagne flutes with Nolan’s.
“Suzanne, you must be so proud of your husband.” Bridget said. “I can’t help but notice the admiration in your eyes. It lights up your whole face.”
Susanne nodded. “I couldn’t be prouder. And Nolan insists the three of you are equally responsible for the success of his research.”
“Not true,” Amy said. “Nolan is our fearless leader, and we are merely minions doing his bidding.”
“Look!” Seth pointed at Nolan. “His head is getting bigger by the minute. You girls better knock it off with the compliments or his enormous ego won’t fit through the door of the lab in the morning.”
“Seth!” Amy punched him on the shoulder.
The steak and lobster were mouthwatering. But Seth could hardly take his eyes off Amy the entire evening. That little black dress, those long legs even sexier in stilettos, hair flowing like silk over smooth shoulders. Her southern charm and gentle way came out more with each sip of champagne. He found her irresistible tonight.
They celebrated into the evening until Seth noticed Suzanne’s eyelids getting heavy.
Nolan reached over, and took her hand. “Ready to call it a night, love?”
Suzanne tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a yawn. “I guess all the excitement tired me. I hope the rest of you will stay. Nolan will leave his credit card with the waiter.”
Seth pushed back from the table. “I’m stuffed and getting tired myself.”
Pulling his keys from his pocket, Seth nodded toward his car. “Is everyone okay to drive? I switched to water and coffee awhile ago; I can chauffer all of you.”
“I wouldn’t mind a ride.” Amy seemed grateful for the offer.
“I’m okay, but thanks Seth.” Bridget hugged Suzanne, and smiled at Nolan. “Thank you again for a decadent dinner.” Waving, she headed to her car. “Have a nice evening, everyone. I’ll see you all in the morning bright and early.”
Seth chuckled, and watched as Nolan took Suzanne’s hand, waved at his colleagues, and started across the street.
“Nolan!” Suzanne shouted, and Seth turned just in time to see the see an old Cadillac sedan slam into Nolan’s back with a sickening crack, sending him soaring.
Nolan felt his wife jerk his arm, but the force ripped him away from her. In an instant he was in the air. Higher, higher…
Dizzy and confused, he looked down and saw Suzanne’s eyes wide, her mouth open in a piercing scream.
Can’t breathe! Panic gripped him. Pain seared his spine. The impact knocked the air from his lungs, and everything went into slow motion. He could hear Suzanne crying out for him in the street below. The pain of a thousand tiny razors coursed fiercely through his body.
He gasped for air, arms and legs flailing. His heart raced with panic when he realized the black pavement was rushing toward him. He could see all of them; hear their shouts, and then… Nothing.
“Nolan!” Suzanne screamed.
Seth rushed to keep her from running into the street, quickly looking over his shoulder to see if Amy and Bridget were safe. He whipped around in time to see the sedan speeding away into the night; horrified that he never saw its brake lights come on.
“Oh, my God, stop!” Seth screamed after the car.
Nolan crashed to the street with the horrific sound of shattering bones.
“Call 911!” Bridget shouted. She struggled with her purse to find her cell phone.
Amy sank to her knees on the sidewalk. “Oh, please, please, somebody help us! We need an ambulance!”
Seth was in the street, at Nolan’s side in an instant.
The angle of Nolan’s body was frightening. His left leg and foot were twisted and mangled, left arm bent at his side, and right arm lay lifeless above his head. Blood saturated the pant legs of his suit and trickled onto the street, but most alarming was the growing puddle of blood oozing from the back of his head.
Suzanne crumpled beside Nolan, wailing hysterically.
Seth took off his suit jacket and draped it around her, but she ripped it off, reaching out to place it under Nolan’s head.
“No, Suz, don’t move him until the paramedics get here.” He took the jacket from her and draped it around her shoulders again, crouching over to warm her.
She trembled so violently it shook the two of them.
He shouted toward the restaurant, “Has anyone called an ambulance! We need an ambulance here now!”
Chapter Two – Sneak Peek
Nolan’s cell phone rang just as he settled down at his computer. Before he could answer he heard Seth scramble to get out of his chair without falling. Shaking his head, he picked up the call. “Nolan Jennings. Oh yes, Ms. Davenport how are you? Good, good. Uh huh. Yes, a site visit can be arranged at your convenience. Perfect. I’ll see you in a few days. Thank you for your consideration. I will, I will. Have a nice day.”
“Yes!” Nolan pumped his fist in victory. “We’re at the top of the heap! Mona Davenport is coming to our little ol’ laboratory. She wants to do a site visit, and she’s bringing some members of her advisory board.”
All three of them burst into his office high-fiving, Amy jumped up and down, her long dark ponytail bouncing behind her.
“You’ll make history, Nolan.” Bridget’s eyes glistened with tears that hadn’t yet spilled over. “In the company of Salk and Pasteur.”
“Yes you will.” Seth nodded and smiled.
“Our team will make history,” Nolan emphasized. “It’s always our team. I couldn’t have done this without the three of you.”
Nolan beamed. His research was finally ready for prime time. Ready to test in human clinical trials, and if it worked in humans the way it worked in mice, it could save millions from a horrible disease.
Nolan buried his head in his hands in mock despair. “If we get funding I’ll have another truck load of paperwork to get permission from the FDA to test it.”
Amy patted his shoulder. “Awww, there’s always a down side, but it’s so worth it.”
A timer went off in the lab. “Back to work.” Bridget shoved on her glasses and headed toward the experiment she’d set up.
“And I need to get this morning’s data recorded in the database.” Amy turned gracefully on her heels and followed Bridget out the door.
Seth extended his hand to Nolan for their secret handshake, and nodded.
Nolan called his wife, Suzanne, to tell her the good news, took two big bites from his donut, and chugged half his coffee.
He never minded publishing and research–those were the gratifying aspects of his work. But, grant proposals also went with the territory, and even after eighteen years as an immunologist Nolan much preferred to be in his lab with his test tubes and mice.
Dr. Nolan Jennings swiped his security card in the reader, and walked briskly through his lab calling out a happy “Good Morning” on the way to his private office.
His research team was already performing their morning check on the mice, and making notes to enter into the animal trial database. Eager for an update on their findings, he quickly listened to messages, hoping for at least one response to his latest round of grant proposals.
The research had been peer reviewed, and published in the prestigious “Journal of Immunology and Science”. This was groundbreaking science, and he was absolutely confident in his findings. But, securing funding to advance this type of research was proving to be difficult. In medicine, the biggest breakthroughs were often met with the most resistance.
Is the world ready? He wondered for about the hundredth time. A quick scan of his email revealed nothing urgent, so he pulled on his lab coat and strode into the lab.
“How is everyone this morning? And how are our little ones faring?”
“Still no evidence of disease.” Bridget Mallory leaned over one of the cages, then stood up and removed her glasses, as she did about fifty times a day.
“Excellent! What about the group bred for disease?” Nolan asked.
“None of them have developed a single symptom.” Seth McCleary called out from his desk, which was nothing more than a lowered continuation of the black lab counter top with the addition of a few built in drawers and cubbyholes he’d stuffed with mail, notes, and journals. “Any word from the foundation?”
“Not yet. It takes time.” Nolan surveyed the wall of cages that housed the mice, sticking his finger through to pet a few of them.
The door buzzer sounded, and Bridget moved quickly to open it for Amy Garcia, who balanced a tray of coffee, and a box of donuts. Setting the pastries down in the designated break area, she passed out coffee, and took a read of their faces. “No word yet?” She asked in her Texas drawl.
“I’m sure we’ll hear soon.” Bridget smiled, put her glasses on, and bent over to observe the mice.
Nolan took a sip of his coffee, plopped two donuts on a paper towel, and headed back to his office. “If anyone needs me I’ll be up to my nose in another grant proposal.”
Amy called after him, “When are we going to sequence your DNA so we can clone your metabolism?”
“It’s not genetics, it’s gender,” Nolan called back.
“It’s because you don’t sleep,” Bridget teased.
“Gone home.” Dani Driscoll laughed, and peeked around her cubicle to see Editor in Chief, Samuel Cooper, coming her way carrying a fistful of papers.
“I can see that.” Coop raised an eyebrow. “I’d like you to take a look at this press release. Can you squeeze it in before the Romano piece?”
“What’s it about? Some new-and-improved sports car that perhaps runs on solar?” Dani teased.
Coop rolled his eyes. “No. I think you’ll find this more interesting. It’s not strictly your beat, but I’d like you to cover it from a human-interest view point.”
Dani snatched the papers out of his hand, and rolled her eyes. “This is all scrunched up, Coop. Have some respect for my work.” She smoothed the papers on her desk, and read the first few lines out loud. “The Rush Institute, Denver, Colorado. Promising research gives hope to millions.”
“You’re right, I don’t do medical. Pete will be mad. Why me?”
“I want a woman’s perspective on this; the story behind the story,” Coop told her.
“Great.” she said. “But you know I have no background in medical research.”
Scanning the next few paragraphs she gasped, and looked up at him with wide eyes.