Sunday, July 25, 2010

outline for "Remember Mercy, Manhattan's OTHER Project,1940-1945"

As always, subject to changes, and changes back, and forth....

The cover will feature a group of the main characters clustered around a hospital bed, in mid August 1944, Presbyterian Hospital, New York City.

Clustered, as if posing for a photograph.

I don't know if any happy friend or relative of a family brought back from the brink of
death by Dr Dawson ever did take such a celebratory snapshot.

But I would be very surprised if none ever did.

The artwork painting is a vignette. A half circle of light emerald green paint ( aka institutional green) swirls across the top.

In huge hand lettering around that half circle of green, is Remember Mercy, letters so big they threatened to burst out beyond the edges of the paper.

From across a bookstore, those two words should be all that you can distinctly see or read.

Below the clustered figures and the hospital bed, in much smaller hand writing, is Manhattan's other Project, 1940-1945. Those words now curves upwards at either end, to symbolically complete the circle with the words above.

Below the words, the green emerald paint vignettes off.

This is the cover 'teaser' copy.

On the inside title page, the actual subtitle is simply Mo goes Po ,beneath  Remember Mercy.

Also on the title page, I mention this book is dedicated to the memory of Judith Hamel, "who like Dawson, was much too willing to step into the breach, when she was needed..." and indicate that I wrote it to inspire young people, considering a vocation in the Health Science...

Now back to the figures clustered around the hospital bed.

I don't know the name of the young mother in the bed, with her happy soldier husband and her new baby at her breast, only her age and her initials and the  key dates and medical details.

G.L. was 21 in 1944, born 1923 +/- , had had a child on March 5 1944, despite a history of Rheumatic Fever leading to serious heart problems.

I can only imagine many saying her getting pregnancy-induced terminal SBE served her right.

Dawson didn't agree.

On July 22nd he started her on Penicillin and in three days her blood was sterile of SBE bacterial colonies. On August 19th she went home to be with her husband, who had been granted leave, presumably to bury his wife and put his new child up for adoption.

Seen in 1945-1946 she remained a picture of perfect health .

But the date I am photographing is a little earlier, August 15th 1944,  it is the day that the very starts of the story effectively take leave of the story.

 I see GL having an IM drip of bright glowing yellow white penicillin flowing into her arm and the yellow glow of the fluid bag on high dominates the entire image.

But back to the two departing starts to this culmination scene.

Start #1 is Charlie Aronson, Patient One of the Age of Antibiotics, has been cured a second time of SBE by Dawson and penicillin.

He is almost certainly in a wheelchair, has had a stroke,perhaps is on a IV fluids bag, but he is a survivor,has beaten much worse.

Sure enough,Charlie, the patient with nine or more lives, is still around, when last checked in upon, in March 1946.

In another wheelchair, perhaps, is Start #2 , Dr Martin Henry Dawson, for whom August 1944 is also wrap in many senses.

Curing GL and Charlie is a wonderful end to this run of patients . JAMA's editor Morris Fishbein, head of the national medical censorship forces, has agreed to publish a long article from Dawson on his SBE successes since September 1940, in early 1945, so the article has to get started right away.

Since his own doctors and Dawson himself privately wonder if Dawson will be alive in early 1945, the earlier the publication the better: as a fitting culmination to a life well lived and a symbol of his triumph over the resistant of the medical elite, Fishbein among them, to his vision of what penicillin can do for SBE.

Dawson's name is on one or two more papers, but perhaps more in tribute, he is getting more and more life-threatening MG 'incidents' where his lung muscles suddenly stop working - ambulances, emergency care, oxygen
tanks, stays at home in enforced bed rest while he frets about his patients.

Perhaps Dawson has an oxygen tank with him this day, attached to his wheelchair, like Charlie.

Both Charlie and Dawson, frankly, look deathly ill. But they are grinning ,ear to ear, their two arms feebily locked in a victory clasp.

beside them is Marjorie, with her cane, for her bad days with her hip - here to take her husband off to celebrate.

Meyer & Chaffee are off busy with their hydraluronic acid work and Hobby is working at Pfizer - so the rest of the Mercy Project aren't available for this historic photo.

But Floyd Odlum is here, in his crutches and so is Dr Tom Hunter in his crutches.

The weak and the foolish, pause, for a photo shot, to mark their victory over the mighty and the wise....

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