Lab Rat Plot Twist: Zinbryta Pulled Off The Market

I was on the line at the post office when one of my local MS doctors, Sandra Parawira, called to give me the news before I heard about it through the media.
Zinbryta, the MS drug that has staved off my MS attacks for the last 12 years, had just been pulled off the market. A few Zinbryta patients in Germany, and one in Spain, were found to have developed encephalitis. Sandra urged me to come into the office to visit with her on Wednesday. If her concerned tone of voice hadn’t done enough to convey the urgency of the situation, the immediacy of my next appointment in her busy practice surely did.
But was I worried? Not particularly. I have NPR to thank. On my drive to the post office, I’d been listening to an interview with a medical researcher on Science Friday. The researcher, Dr. Kang, was promoting a new book about “cures” throughout history that had done more harm than good. As I listened to Dr. Kang recount Marie Curie’s fondness for the radium which would later kill her, I’d idly wondered which of the drugs or supplements I was currently taking would later be exposed as a toxin. Five minutes later, I got the call that the drug I’ve credited for giving me my life back has been taken off the shelf.
While I have my doubts that a drug I’ve taken safely for 12 years was about to give me encephalitis, I am still seeing this change as an opportunity. Many new players have entered the MS landscape in the 12 years I’ve been on Zinbryta. Perhaps the drug I’m assigned next will improve my life as drastically as this one did.

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Love and Death on Cape Cod

I’ve spent all but one day this week imprisoned in fatigue, but on that day I got to walk my dog, catch up on laundry, and begin an essay for your entertainment. The essay isn’t done yet. I’ll throw you a scrap from another piece of unfinished writing, the opening to my novel-in-progress, Love and Death on Cape Cod. If it leaves you wanting more, welcome to my world.

Love and Death on Cape Cod
in Memory of Esme
Chapter 1. This Is Not My Beautiful House. This Is Not My Beautiful Wife.
It was the oil hemorrhaging into the Gulf of Mexico; it was in the traffic clotting eastbound 95; it was the ever-expanding estimates on NPR; 1,000 gallons a day; 6,000; 25,000.
It was his complicit commute.
It was the dispersant; the unknown quantities of unknown compounds with unknown effects. It was the nation-wide malaise. It was the end of Yes We Can. It was mass extinction. It was global warming. It was mountain top removal. It was plastic. It was that vast continent of plastic, silent as a tumor, floating somewhere in the Pacific, unnamed. It was overfishing. It was overpopulation. It all came down to overpopulation. It was hormones in the water supply.
It was Laurel Hansen’s raging hormones.
It was 3 am on Saturday, June 5, 2010— Day 44 of the BP catastrophe.
Jay Carr lay sleepless in his beachside cottage in Madison, Connecticut. Laurel lay beside him, her breathing as steady and rhythmic as the Long Island Sound lapping against the sand. Jay suspected Laurel was dreaming—literally dreaming—of mothering his child. Over six billion people on the planet already, and somehow Laurel found her world incomplete without the promise of one person more. Laurel was thirty-eight, on the verge of thirty nine, on the verge of too late. Jay was familiar with the feeling of a world, incomplete. There had been only one person who had managed, however briefly, to make his world complete.
Only one.