FACTS I’VE LEARNED BY WRITING FICTION – BOOK TWO

Continuing with the topic from my previous post, I’m sharing more of the facts I’ve learned by writing fiction, and in particular, researching the Aimee Machado Mysteries, featuring a health sciences librarian.

Librarians are trained researchers. If they’re curious, they look things up. Here are facts I came across while my protagonist searched for the solution to the mystery in CHECKED OUT, the second book in the Aimee Machado Mystery series.

BOOK TWO: CHECKED OUT

QUESTION ONE:
How many people in the U.S. get Lyme disease within a given year?

FACT: The Center for Disease Control estimates 300,000 cases per year.

In the U.S., Lyme disease is spread through the bite of a tiny blacklegged tick.

Most infections occur in three principal areas:

  • Northeast and mid-Atlantic, from northeastern Virginia to Maine
  • North central states, mostly in Wisconsin and Minnesota
  • West Coast, particularly northern California

The areas listed are based on where people live, not necessarily where they became infected. Cases diagnosed and reported from an area where Lyme disease is not expected are almost always travel-related.      

A national survey found that nearly 20 percent of people surveyed where Lyme disease is common were unaware that it was a risk. Half the people interviewed in another study did nothing to protect themselves against tick bites during warm weather.

For more complete information on Lyme disease, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.  https://www.cdc.gov/lyme/index.html
Image courtesy of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

BOOK TWO – QUESTION TWO:
How much can a champion cutting horse earn in one year?

FACT: A three-year-old cutting horse taking first place at a National Cutting Horse Association (NCHA) event can win as much as $250,000. By competing in several events during a given year, the same horse can earn as much as a million dollars. Worldwide, total cutting horse event winnings in one year average more that 30 million dollars.

For more complete information on cutting horses, visit http://www.nchacutting.com/

To contact a cutting horse trainer, call 530-945-6079, or visit https://www.facebook.com/RandyBrooksCuttingHorses
Cutting horse photo courtesy of Randy Brooks.

Visit www.sharonstgeorge.com again soon for facts I learned by writing Book Three of the Aimee Machado Mysteries.

Books in the hospital-based Aimee Machado Mysteries, published by Camel Press, are available for purchase from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from your local bookstore in trade paperback and as ebooks.

Call a doctor, or call a librarian?

ID-10099085If you’re in need of immediate medical attention, you’d best hightail it to your nearest hospital emergency room. Once you arrive there, your problem will be identified and treatment will begin. Maybe. Or maybe your condition is one that is so rarely encountered that your doctor will need the help of someone with more specialized knowledge about your  treatment. You may be surprised to know that the specialist your doctor calls is your hospital’s Health Sciences Librarian.

What? Wait a minute. Seriously? Call a librarian? Yes, indeed. Health Sciences Librarians are the unsung heroes/heroines of the medical profession. They directly impact patient care by helping physicians stay abreast of new developments in their fields.

A physician’s mind is crammed with all the information learned in medical school, but suppose your doctor graduated med school ten years ago? Twenty years ago? What’s new since then? Doctors are required to attend continuing education programs often enough to keep their licenses in good standing, but they can’t possibly keep up with all of the latest treatment methods used in the rarest of medical situations and conditions. Here’s one example:

Hypertrichosis, “Werewolf Syndrome”Image result for images of wolfman syndrome

In this syndrome, patients develop abnormal hair growth on their bodies. Their faces can be completely covered in long hair. The condition is on most lists of the rarest known medical conditions.

Your medical problem may not be as visually obvious as this one, but when your doctor needs help in order to diagnose and treat you, a Health Sciences Librarian may be the best source for rush information. A well-trained librarian knows where to find that information immediately—from the most credible sources—thus enabling your doctor to readily access literature that explains the condition and offers the most up-to-date treatment.

So take comfort in knowing that after you seek help from your health care provider, he or she  may turn to a little-recognized but highly qualified and capable medical information specialist—a Health Sciences Librarian.

Some characteristics of effective Health Sciences Librarians include: technological aptitude, creativity and curiosity, service orientation, ability to thrive in a constantly-changing environment, excellent communication skills and teaching ability. For more information about Health Sciences Librarians, including where they work, education requirements and earning potential, visit https://www.mlanet.org/career/career_explore.htmlsc

Image of doctor courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

 

Lyme Disease is Fact, Not Fiction

In Checked Out, the second book in the Machado Mystery series, a pivotal character is suffering from a lethal combination of tick-borne illnesses. Many lives will be affected by whether he lives or dies. Can an arachnid as small as the head of a pin really be that deadly?

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Look closely. Can you see it? Even in this nearly invisible nymph stage, the tick can infect a human and cause an avalanche of symptoms and complications.

 

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At first, the infected person may notice what appears to be a mosquito bite. But it doesn’t go away. It grows, expands, and eventually turns into the classic bull’s-eye rash. Not a pretty picture, but it gets worse. Joints begin to ache, the body reacts with headaches and fever, and nerves begin to twitch. The heart works overtime, and fatigue sets in.

In the worst case, the tick is carrying not just Lyme, but other diseases that are even more dangerous. The Centers for Disease Control recently estimated that there may be 300,000 cases a year in the U.S. There is no vaccine, so the best protection is to take precautions against tick bites. Although most common in the Northeast and Midwest, Lyme and related tick-borne diseases can occur wherever deer are present.

If found and treated early, Lyme disease can be cured with antibiotics. Unfortunately, there is no reliable diagnostic test to identify Lyme disease within the first month after the tick bite. The best protection is constant vigilance in any situation where a human, or even a pet, may spend time in an area populated with deer. The tiny troublemakers can hop from a deer, hitch a ride on a cat or dog and invade your home to find a human host. You.

Will the infected patient in Checked Out recover? How will his outcome affect the other characters in the story? It’s fiction, so anything can happen. But in real life, it’s a good idea to have the facts.

For more information about Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, visit these links.

www.cdc.gov

http://www.lymediseaseassociation.org/