UnderWoman (UW) has not posted for a while…with good reason:
Her old walker wears a shelf that transforms it into a “standing” office..and joke. FALL RISK signs have been removed from the refrigerator and doors.
Now our hero is free to build brands, make media and ride her new tricycle unfettered through town and country. (At least THE TRIKE is unfettered. To her chagrin and her brothers’ delight, UnderWoman’s doctors insist on her wearing a helmet with chin strap, wrist and ankle guards, knee and elbow pads…and a yellow slicker, just to be safe.)
Life on three wheels is rolling along micely:
UnderWoman has launched ICE INFO™ as a way to improve and save lives.
Prototypes are underway for Droolery™ — customizable aprons and bibs for all ages and occasions.
And UnderWoman wakes up early each morning to make progress on “Med Libs: My Medical Adventure on Steroids” — a darkly comedic but deeply educational Mad Labs / WonderWorks production that parallels the multi-disciplinary med school curriculum based on her bizarre and complex case.
Above and beyond all of these glories, ImmunoMouse™ (IM) stands ready to be patented…at least in UnderWoman’s mind.
ImmunoMouse stands on OncoMouse’s (OM) amazing shoulders, so to speak, but expects to make a larger paw print still in the field of personalized medicine (PM) and PM’s accessibility, affordability and effectiveness.
When available, ImmunoMouse will be a lead player in UnderWoman’s entourage. Unlike Brisk-It (the attention deficit disorder dog), Risk-It (the myotonic goat) and Pig-It (the three-legged one), ImmunoMouse will have myasthenia gravis (MG), just like UnderWoman, and will be VERY PORTABLE. A pocket companion….
ImmunoMouse will be treated sometimes the same as and sometimes differently from UnderWoman. It will eat mouse-sized portions of what UnderWoman eats…or doesn’t. It will take tiny doses of her drug, tacrolimus, or variations thereof — azathioprine, prednisone, mestinon and methotrexate among them.
If UnderWoman is said to have “a big drinking problem,” ImmunoMouse will be said to have a small one. When UnderWoman dons her cape, ImmunoMouse will wear its version.
Notwithstanding, UnderWoman will never force ImmunoMouse to wear silly hats for her own amusement: She’d learned that lesson the hard way in third grade, when someone had the clever idea to superglue a Santa cap to Leland’s head. The poor class pet came back from Christmas vacation dead.
Meantime, a wee problem: Just as Central Casting had not yet sent in Anne Hathaway or Natalie Portman to play UnderWoman in a prolongedly intubated state, ImmunoMouse had not yet arrived on the scene.
Up on Ryder Farm, UnderWoman was busy minding her own and other people’s businesses, doing launderobics and straightening the back porch…. When what did she see in a tall glass vase with a bit of birdseed at the bottom but a frantically trapped baby mouse….
Again and again, baby mouse (BM) tried with all its small might to jump and scamper out, only to flop back in what looked like fear and exhaustion.
Could BM be the offspring of the two mice she’d met last night? A rather thin one kept running back and forth across the kitchen counter despite her flickering the lights on and off and singing badly enough to scare away any sentient being. Then, a fatter mouse (perhaps pregnant?) flung itself against a clear, covered bowl of pasta so persistently that UnderWoman could have cut off its tail with a carving knife…had she wanted to.
At the time, she’d assumed the mice were retarded rodents asking to be taken out of the food chain. In retrospect, perhaps they’d been trying to tell or telegraph something? Perhaps they were distraught parents of baby mouse — beside themselves with worry and longing for BM’s safe return? And the abundance and pattern of scat they’d left in an uncharacteristic broad-daylight trail were markers — far more potent than breadcrumbs could ever be — left in hopes of reunited family? Well, OBVIOUSLY!
UnderWoman wonders how she can further investigate what mouse family (MF) was really thinking, feeling, doing….
More immediately, she has a “WWYD” moment. To free or not to free baby mouse? And if to free, where, how and when?
Mind you, UnderWoman is NOT A FAN of mice in the kitchen. Or clawing under floorboards and in crawlspaces. Or suffocating in her backpack…swaddled in in her favorite sweatshirt…which she nonetheless has to wear for warmth on cold desert nights in the Golan Heights. She is NOT A FAN of the smell of mouse — dead, alive or in wine, for that matter.
UnderWoman is AGAINST people who use “Have a Heart” traps only to lack the good sense to free captured critters in farther fields instead of by their own front doors.
MICE have been a leitmotif of UnderWoman’s life. To rid homes of rodents, UnderWoman has used every form of mousetrap heretofore invented…and has cataloged each experience — human, animal and other — in her multi-sensory memory banks. POISON is no longer an option — too slow and hard a way to go for animals; too great a risk for the olfactory.
But more recently, myasthenia gravis and every step on her medical adventure has changed all that.
Now UnderWoman feels a respect and appreciation for mice — a kindredness that borders on the cosmic. If not for their genetic similarity and service to science and humanity, where would she be now? Where would any of us be?
Hadn’t Eric Kandel, after winning the Nobel Prize for his breakthrough understanding of memory, chosen to induce and cure schizophrenia in MICE…partnering with UnderWoman’s own amnesic neuro-anatomist Brian Liebman to do so?
Hadn’t UnderWoman been privileged to attend the most recent Myasthenia Gravis and Related Disorders conference at New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS) — the sole patient among a sea of researchers and practioners? She had vowed to write a blog post about it — “Of Mice and Men.” But when she’d better understood the findings, she was unclear what to make of them. So many myasthenic mice…like her but smaller…had died during drug trials.
Did she not owe them THANKS…a debt of GRATITUDE?
So what to do about this baby mouse — now alternately VERY FRANTIC and VERY STILL in its glass house?
She consults cousin Em, who simply says: “Use your own best judgement. And please don’t tell me what that looks like.”
UnderWoman HATCHES A PLAN and is ABOUT TO ACT ON IT…when a mission-critical conference call comes in.
Baby mouse and his glass house are lifted from porch floor to tabletop, so as to sit alongside UnderWoman in her outdoor office. While conducting a branding bootcamp for corporate clients, UnderWoman gives food and drink to baby mouse.
Baby mouse initially seems STARTLED by the water raining down on it…reminding UnderWoman of early experiments with laundry chutes and younger brothers. After lapping up some water, BM appears subdued. Next, UnderWoman drops down a small piece of bread and a relatively larger chunk. Soon BM is consumed only with eating. BM also seems to derive comfort from cuddling alongside and later nestling inside the bigger chunk of bread. BM appears to nap while UnderWoman continues her work.
When BM awakes, it begins to explore the bread and its environment with keen interest…and UW believes…increased intelligence.
UnderWoman flatters herself: Is it possible that her presence calms and interests BM?
Soon, BM engages the bread in what looks like unfettered exploration and deep PLAY. BM is rocking the bread. BM is in, up, under, over the bread…frolicking away. BM does the sort of somersaults that must have led man to invent the hamster wheel.
UnderWoman FALLS IN LOVE! She is at risk of turning back on what she’d known she would do all along….
She ***COULD*** take baby mouse back to the city, where perhaps BM could attend the World Science Festival with her and hobnob with neuroscientists telling hot stories at The Moth. Baby mouse could BE THE STORY! Plus, BM would be easier to care for than the “Tanks” (as in cantankerous) terrier she dreams of adopting. And hadn’t she, earlier in this same blog, beseeched Central Casting to send in ImmunoMouse?
When the conference call ends, UnderWoman brings baby mouse — now contented-seeming in its glass house — to the near garden. She inserts a stick into the vase. And voila!
Baby mouse IMMEDIATELY climbs the stick from bottom to top and back again. It walks the vase’s rim with what looks like relish.
UnderWoman is WonderStruck.
BM is BRAVE! BM is SMART! BM is LEARNING! BM is DECIDING!
What will BM do?
Ultimately, baby mouse chooses the garden. But for what feels like a long while, BM lingers close to UnderWoman and the vase.
If SMELL and RELATEDNESS are the powerful senses she knows them to be, perhaps baby mouse and its parents will find their way back to each other.
But just in case, UnderWoman leaves the vase in the garden, gently tipped, equipped with bread, water, stick and a little bird seed. She adds a blue string, which besides brightening the picture, could serve as a ladder or plaything.
Meantime, the cameras roll!
And as soon as UnderWoman learns to post video online (PLEASE HELP), she will share!
On the train to Manhattan, UnderWoman marvels at the videos taken but moments before…and convinces the conductor to watch them…twice. She rereads a New Scientist article on the self-domestication of wolves into dogs — Surivival of the Friendliest. The article echoes what UnderWoman has known all along…to be both SOCIAL and BOLD is good. To be SOCIAL and BOLD and ADORABLE is even better. She revisits a favorite thesis on how the “personalities” of mice might shed light on human resiliency and survival.
BM was SOCIAL, BOLD, INQUISITIVE, ADORABLE, ADAPTABLE.
Experiences with BM encouraged UnderWoman to welcome the REAL ImmunoMouse into her entourage.
It allowed her to practice what she teaches: ‘Tis better to give baby mouse new tools and the freedom to use them than….