Coming Along Micely: ImmunoMouse!

BM Nestles

UnderWoman (UW) has not posted for a while…with good reason:

For the first time in years, Wendy Do-It’s health is well controlled!

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.

Until yesterday!

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?

What Would You Do, Baby Jesus?  What would you do, John Quinones?

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?

UnderWoman Googles Michael Sandel, who has not yet addressed this JUSTICE issue online.

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.

BM in Vase

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? 

BM Emerges!

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.

Wendy Frees

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….

UnderWoman and Her New Calling: MISERY LOVES COMPANY

UnderWoman at MISERY LOVES COMPANY Take One:  Dealing with the hand dealt her...and HAVING FUN!

UnderWoman at MISERY LOVES COMPANY Take One: Dealing with the hand dealt her…and HAVING FUN!

 

On the first day of her first hospitalization for myasthenia gravis, UnderWoman bought herself a gift: MiseryLovesCompany.com.

She just wasn’t sure how she’d use it.  But she knew she would.

She would use it as in “LAUGHTER is the best medicine.”  She would use it for learning, creating, contributing.

She would use it for GOOD!

UnderWoman and her ! STILL HERE ! Year.


Though it’s been ages since she posted, UnderWoman is STILL HERE!

And sometimes, that’s the best you can say of a year…..

Or in her case a string of eight — eight years since her myasthenia gravis was definitively diagnosed; eight years of uninterrupted prednisone…often at astoundingly high doses. Eight years of ups and downs and what she calls “near-life” experiences because the crises familiarize her with all things “critical” while the recovery deepens and heightens her delight in all things simple — smell, touch, taste, speech, hearing, sight, being able to walk…or at least survive a fall.

Somehow, amazingly, she is able to find and make light in the face of it all.

As 2012 draws to a close, UnderWoman pulls her person, Wendy Do-It, up off the floor. Wendy is in the midst of a “Defile to Refile” campaign that entails reorganizing her medical records yet again.

Papers and folders are everywhere: If ever there was a time for FALL RISK, this is it! So Wendy stays close to the ground and wears grippy-bottomed skid-proof socks in an array of colors that reflect each admission she’s had and each ward she’s been on.

While to the world, Wendy and UnderWoman seem to have spent many months UnderCovers, in fact they have been hatching a plan: If they can bring even a bazillionth the kind of education, action and humor to healthcare that Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert have to politics, they will be HAPPY. If they can hold even a candle to what Alan Alda’s Flame Challenge does to communicate the complicated science behind the simplest things in a way that all can embrace and understand….If they can stand just a little straighter and longer than before…they will be OVERJOYED.

Who are they kidding? Despite it all — in large part because they are STILL HERE…and in larger part because of excellent family, friends and care (!YOUR NAME HERE!) — Wendy and UnderWoman are HAPPY, GRATEFUL, HOPEFUL and…athough a bit battered…remarkably WHOLE.

Though WE, Wendy and UnderWoman, apologize for all the times we fell…and fell out of touch…YOU were always in our thoughts and thanks.

We wish you and yours a most WONDROUS New Year — alive and vibrant with Happiness, Health, Hope, lots of LOVE and at least a little laughter….

UnderWoman Puts Her Thinking Cap On!

UnderWoman was overjoyed at the Society For Neuroscience Conference, where she delighted in Elsevier’s Brain Navigator, which enabled attendees to make their own Thinking Caps. As much as her cape had ever identified her as a SuperHero, her eye patch as having myasthenia gravis and her Medical Alert Card as a wildcard, the Thinking Cap announced her neuroscientific superpowers — the ability to know where and when in her own brain she was thinking and feeling what…and to similarly help others to know their own minds.

A “EUREKA!” thought begins forming in her Frontal Lobe:

March 12 – 18 Brain Awareness Week is still a few days away, and so much EDUCATION and CELEBRATION can be brought together for the occasion.

And so, UnderWoman preps Trephinations, her blog for fellow medical adventurers, for the flurry of activity that is to follow.

She mines NERVE — SFN’s Neuroscience Education Resource Virtual Encycloportal.

She steeps herself in Neuroscience Core Concepts; congratulates the winners of the National Brain Bee; and incites the residents of Seizure World (her new Maryland home) and the movers and shakers of TNYECONS — The New York EpiCenter of NeuroScience, of which she is a co-founder:

Put your Thinking Caps on! Discover what Brain Awareness Week is all about! Download and digest SFN’s Brain Facts: A Primer on the Brain and Nervous System and the International Brain Research Organization’s Neuroscience of The Brain.

And get set to know neuroscience, brains, behavior and your own minds like never before!

Then UnderWoman opens a window!

Inquiring minds want to know: What will you do with your new-found knowledge? How creatively and innovatively can you put it into practice? And what wonderful benefits can you derive from so doing?

UnderWoman is busy building out a showcase for YOU…and will be back SOON!

UnderWoman Takes a Break

UnderWoman Acts Over Her Egg

This “In the aftermath of the first snow” and !! MEDICAL ALERT !! stuff was all well and good.

But in January 2010, UnderWoman’s myasthenia gravis took a turn for the life threatening, and our hero very nearly died….

After a prolonged flare that could not be brought under control despite all the strong medicines and rigorous treatments tried, UnderWoman wound up intubated in the St. Cukes NICU, where they very nearly killed her before transferring her to her own TNYECONS (The New York EpiCenter of NeuroScience) and the very capable (but trembling) hands of the soon-to-retire Rich Granfeld and his caring, talented team.

As but one of the results of being ventilated (and literally unable to speak) for a week, UnderWoman’s Mom, Merrie Do-It, with the help of a concerted team of family and staff (and one disgruntled UnderWoman detractor), conspired that UnderWoman should move from Manhattan, her soul city of 26 years, to her home state of Maryland BEFORE UnderWoman could regain enough physical, emotional or financial strength to even think about it…much less protest.

In Maryland, Merrie Do-It could serve as UnderWoman’s chef, chauffeur, patron saint and pain in the a**.

So here UnderWoman is, at long last, back in the very land of encroaching suburbs and endless strip malls that she had worked so hard to escape so many years ago…and LOVING IT!!

Well, actually, it was a strange and winding road from her last backwards glances at Brian Liebman to “LOVING IT” on her own.

So more about that….

A COMMERCIAL / SPORTS Break for UW

In Maryland, UnderWoman has time to concentrate on herself.

What else is there to do, since she neglected to have kids and buy a house here so many years ago?

As soon as she has regained adequate physical and emotional strength, she calls the marketing department of Under Armour, also based in Maryland, in hopes of procuring potential sponsorship and cross-promotion opportunities.

Her tides must be turning, because UnderWoman almost immediately receives a call back from an Under Armour’s talent agent, who accuses UnderWoman of…having skinny arms!

What does he expect?  UnderWoman’s logo — unlike the expensive ones that her person, brand builder Wendy Do-It, has helped spearhead for major companies, projects and products — cost $0, and is in fact cut out from her Sweet Sixteen caricature, when UW was even more energetic than she is now…and very nearly anorexic.

The agency is not the first to proclaim that UW’s big eyes and thin thighs might send the wrong message to a world already plagued with eating disorders and misplaced aspirations towards them.

More importantly, UnderWoman asks, what does Under Armour PROPOSE?

Despite her disabilities, Under Armour proposes that UnderWoman take up weight training and at least one sport.

Well!  Intel had wanted Wendy Do-It to get good at golf shortly before her myasthenia gravis diagnosis.  Back then, Intel was launching the Tiger Woods Learning Centers, and thought that some some “course time” could extend Wendy’s schmoozing repertoire from after-hours drinking with clients (at which she excelled) into the daylight hours.

Simultaneously, Wendy had tried taking up tennis again.  But alas, the signs she posted in Central Park didn’t attract quite the attention she’d wanted:

“Middle-aged girl, with small head (racquets had enlarged since her last foray into the field) and no balls (why invest in balls until one needed balls…) seeks patient partner to take to the courts.”

Then, too, her AOL boss had been so big into basketball that he ultimately ended up owning the team!  Hopefully they would take in some home games together soon.

But first things first:

UnderWoman seeks an illustrator with bold Sharpie to bulk her up — ideally also replacing the heart from her Sweet Sixteen caricature with golf club, tennis racquet, basketball.

UnderWoman seeks a personal trainer.

And she seeks a few good sponsors….

For the patience and funds of Merrie Do-It are running short.  And UnderWoman longs to stand on her own two feet again….But this time, on stronger legs!

A New Look for UnderWoman?

UnderWoman likes her first logo!

Unlike days of brand building for Fortune 500s — with rich budgets and art departments around the world — UnderWoman Take One has cost nothing.

She is proud to have done something semi-artistic on her own:

She has, without serious injury, used an X-Acto knife to cut an image from a photo of a caricature of herself at sixteen. This image leaps out from an egg cracking open, made by using a Sharpie to nestle a W into the U. She loves the tag lines that this logo might lead to — UnderWoman Hatches a Plan, UnderWoman Thinks Outside the Egg, UnderWoman Acts Over her Egg, and more.

She is confident that X-Acto and Sharpie will sign on as sponsors soon.

Still, the feedback on the original UW logo does not come back unanimous:

Some say UnderWoman’s big eyes and thin thighs do no service to humanity.

Others are upset that she is missing a left hand. (It formerly held a “Sweet Sixteen” heart that Wendy found sappy and removed with a quick slip of the wrist….)

Taking all this feedback in stride, and now embracing her life in Maryland enough to safely return to New York without posing a flight risk, UnderWoman and entourage hop a bus to Manhattan and set off in search:

At the Central Park Zoo, UnderWoman susses out the caricaturists — judging them on a weighted average of talent, paper stock, pricing, boldness, accuracy, speed.

When she has found THE ONE, she presents him with her hope — holding forth the cut-out figure, presenting her preferred Pantone Matching System color palette, pointing to potential type faces, pontificating about the “happy medium” look that will “split the difference” between her younger self and her older self.

“Wait,” the Caricature King cuts her short: “You are looking for a LOGO, not a caricature!”

“Well, really more like a brand than a logo,” says UnderWoman, quite pleased.

“I can’t just do that for you, here, in public, in the park,” he hisses, “lest everyone in the line behind you also seeks to be a brand.”

“And the problem with that would be?” asks UnderWoman.

He hands her a card, and says, in loud whisper: “I mean, I would have to do this in private, at night, for more pay.”

UnderWoman considers the possibilities, begins to bargain: “Night would be WONDERFUL,” she purrs.  “Would you be willing to throw in some stocks of Obama, Oprah, Martha, Madoff?  UnderWoman would like to talk with them. UnderWoman also seeks thematic and seasonal backdrops as part of the packege. See! The cracking egg also resembles a tulip, which is especially heartening in the Spring. I’m thinking Colorforms, paper dolls. And….”

“Please stop now,” he says. “Google me. E-mail me. Call me. But don’t give people ideas….”

“Dessine-moi un mouton,” she says, pouting, strutting, as parting words.

He laughs…knows just what she means!

But it will be months before they pursue this path again.

For now, other things take precedence….

Dessine Moi?

UnderWoman decides that it’s best to proceed along the lines of Saint-Exupery’s Le Petit Prince, who truculently demands, dessine-moi un mouton….”

In Central Park, just north of Caricature King, armed with all the tools of her trade and a few work-for-hire forms, she will beseech strangers to draw their versions of she and her entourage.

Things do not exactly go as planned:

Brisk-It, her Attention Deficit Disorder Dog, runs off in all directions. Pig-It, the three-legged one, hops and limps along in sporadic bursts.  And Risk-It, the myotonic goat, faints whenever excited or scared…which is always.  The progress is slow. No people have been approached. No portraits have been drawn.

Risk-It faints yet again in the enthusiasm of entering Sheep’s Meadow…when Brian Liebman, the amnesic neuro-anatomist, UnderWoman’s co-star from myasthenia gravis night out…and so much more…comes running over.

As usual, he is brilliant, enthusiastic, and a little “off.”

It is as if they have not missed a beat…as if it has not been months since UnderWoman’s sudden disappearance from their intense but brief scene, narrated through the senses, with Central Park as sundial, meeting each other at every gate they could name…and at some that had not yet been named.

“Those are a lot of pencils in your pocket,” he says.  “You weren’t going to write me off, were you?”

She laughs.

“I would have called if you’d had a phone number or a phone, a name you could remember or one I could pronounce.”

She hands him a doctor’s note — a drastically shrunk-down top-line summary of her precipitous flare’s progression — from ocular symptoms that made it hard to see to bulbar ones that made it hard to speak, and then to swallow, and then to breathe, and that ultimately led to UnderWoman’s intubation / ventilation and her Maryland “vacation.”

“I asked after you as soon as I could talk again,” UnderWoman assures.  “But nobody knew:  Where where you?”

“Missing,” he says mournfully, shrugging his shoulders.

Brian hands her his notebook.

It brims with pieces of poem, snippets of songs, favorite math equations, and drawings that take her breath away.

Brian and UnderWoman incline their heads towards each other.  Both cry….

And then, Brisk-It pees on Brian’s pants leg again.

And the animals of Delacorte Music Clock strike up their march.

There will be time!  There will be time….

UnderWoman Goes “Om”

In the aftermath of the season’s first snow, Central Park glows.

It had been a glorious day – from dogs running free in the deep powder of the Great Lawn at sunrise and hundreds of families sledding on the slopes of Cedar Hill all afternoon to the view of dozens of snow men, women and sculptures catching the evening sun.

Now, night is falling, and the crowds have cleared.

What remains is mostly broken sleds, empty pizza boxes and water bottles, maintenance and security crews.

And, beneath a grove of pines, seemingly besotted and without bearings, unable to see or speak clearly, stumbling when she tries to stand…one woman.

And, making his way towards her, weighed down with scavenged bits of food, fabrics and discarded sections of the Sunday Times, one seemingly homeless man….

She tries to say something to him…either with a severe speech impediment or in a language he can’t understand.

With questionable motive, he picks up her purse from the picnic table and begins rifling through it — camera, calendar, cell phone, cash, credit cards….

She musters enough strength to elbow him in the chest, grab her wallet back and flash her !MEDICAL ALERT CARD! like it was some badge of courage.

“I have myasthenia gravis,” it says in bold letters, red and black, ”a disease that can make me so weak that I may have difficulty standing or speaking….Sometimes these symptoms are mistaken for intoxication.  If I appear to need help, please contact my physician or hospital immediately.”

Now the man is conflicted.  He seems to be in utter shock, to hover somewhere between criminal intent and genuine caring.

He pauses, picks up an abandoned blanket, puts it around her shoulders, offers food and drink, thinks for a minute, seems confused about the calling the contacts on her card, sits at the picnic table and begins to cry.

She sits next to him and cries also.

Some time goes by.

Then, the man seems to take heart, has hatched a plan:

“How many fingers am I holding up?” he asks, making the sign that doubles for “peace” and “victory.”

She also holds up two, and he seems pleased.

He touches his index finger to his nose.

She does the same.

Next, he begins reciting poetry:

“Let us go then, you and I,

When the evening is spread out against the sky

Like a….”

She fills in the next word, barely audible, “patient…”

He continues:

“Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats….”

Then, he spies a police officer out of the corner of his eye and flags him down.

The NYPD officer in his Interceptor is immediately on the scene…was, in fact, already on his way there…..

“What have we here?” he asks.  “A drunk and a derelict?  Or is there another way you want to explain it?”

The woman gestures to herself — “Endy Ubit” — hands the police officer her medical card, points to somewhere just beyond the perimeter of park, and says, incoherently, emphatically, drooling slightly,  “Om.”

The officer looks perplexed, and motions to the man:  “And you, Tarzan…under arrest?”

Endy shakes her head “No. Ero!”

“Zero?”  The officer is trying hard to understand.  Endy fishes in her purse for pen and paper, and holds up this sign:  “Hero.”

The man formerly suspected of stealing her purse seems surprised, but tries the word on for size:  “Hero…  Yes, I suppose so!”

“And that makes me…..?” asks the officer.

She holds up the sign again:

“Hero.”

They fall silent, stand in a circle.

Blare and flash of sirens approach.

“An ambulance?” asks the man.

“And a squad car,” says the officer.

“Om only?!” pleads Endy, who both men are almost starting to understand.

Medics assess Endy’s condition while the man undergoes a background check.

After some gallows humor and a little laughter, the cars leave, sirens off.

“Om only,” says the officer.

With Endy propped up in the middle, both men see her safely home.

At the doorstep:

“Om now,” offers Endy.

“You saw the “ero” in us,” says the gentleman.

“There’s got to be a name for that,” says the officer.

In fact, there is!

“UnderWoman,” says Endy, bowing her head respectfully, ducking inside.

It is a name she had bestowed upon herself only recently — in tribute to her relatively new “disability;” in honor of her lifelong ability to see and bring out the best in self and others; and in celebration of her talent for making fun, even if only of herself, in the face of it all….

It is the first time she has uttered the name aloud.

UnderWoman…Under Covers

Myasthenia gravis aside, mispronouncing her own name is nothing new to UnderWoman.

The first words she can remember saying were “Wendy Do-It!”

And it stuck!

It stuck for her parents, Archer and Merrie.  For her brothers, Scoot and Grog.

Even the Do-It Family animals — Risk-It, the myotonic goat; Pig-It, the three-legged oneBrisk-It, the attention deficit disorder dog — benefitted from a kind of exuberant individualism that belied what others on the block (the DuMores and BoyCotts, for example…) would see as obstacles.

So it goes for brand builder Wendy Dubit in the aftermath of a sudden myasthenia flare….

After recounting the adventures of the night before, in consult with her doctors, while undergoing a round of in-home intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG), she spends a few days under covers…and finds the time, the place, the climate delicious.

Into her boat-like bed she brings all-time favorite books and poems – St. Exupery’s “Little Prince,” all things Seuss, T.S. Eliot, Hafiz and more.  She brings pens and pencils of every color, sketch pads, writing pads.

She plays music, which has become the best medicine.  She occasionally atomizes the room with fragrances of lilac, linden, orange blossom, night-blooming jasmine.  She eats carrot-ginger soup with hearty bread, sips orange juice and seltzer zested with lemon, lime, kumquat and elixirs of elderflower and gentian.

She is refreshing her memory, enjoying the present, envisioning the future.

Her moss-green satin comforter would make a great cape….

UnderWoman, a.k.a. Wendy Do-It, is underway!