Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Renaissance of Aspirin by Glenn Parris - First Medical Thriller Featuring Fibromyalgia! Finally!

"You know what Fibro is? It's the Devil's favorite torture. Hurts like hell, but doesn't leave a trace of evidence. Not a mark..."
--Dr. Jack Wheaton


March 12, 2010
Boston, Massachusetts
FaM DaS Study Phase II subject #328: account of protocol deviation

They made an unlikely pair that first day in the waiting room--a plump, middle-aged southern divorcee and a skinny, sixty-year-old African American hotel worker from Roxbury, Massachusetts. They huddled over a Sudoku booklet like two schoolgirls: subjects 328 and 329, respectively. Going over the details of the process and recounting their late autumn introduction into the clinical research project, they crafted their plan.
The induction chaos had settled down to an organized crowd of mostly women with something in common to talk about: pain and misery. That's when Helen and Annie had found one another and clicked right off the bat. Their attention had refocused on a distinguished figure passing them in the aisle between chairs. One of the principal investigating physicians had made her way to the front of the room. The attractive woman looked serious and bore the smooth contoured face of one who didn't laugh enough...
Dr. Thomas was young, younger than any of the other PIs, but her voice carried the same self-assured confidence. She asserted  a commanding presence. "Those candidates assigned odd numbers to my left, those with even-numbered cards to my right...
When the randomization process was over, Helen and Annie found themselves headed toward different rooms and down different paths. Helen was in the active arm while Annie was in the control arm. Neither they nor the study investigators knew who got what, as all participants were blinded to placebo versus active drug. That had been three months ago. But this time, before they split, the twosome sat side by, conspiring to beat the system.
"Now you can't tell anyone that you'd already known how the real drug would work when you get it, okay, Annie?" Helen Holcolm looked furtively from side to side as she whispered to the woman seated beside her...

Annie waved back, hopped into her solid American car, and made for the parkway to Roxbury. She merged onto the I-90 and felt a funny little flush followed by a shiver...The sensation of an army of ants crawling on her scalp began building, and the image of the I-90 melted into a swirl of colors as she drove. That was the last thing Annie saw. The traffic reporters described  the accident as one of the most horrific in years...

The Renaissance of Aspirin
By Glenn Parris


The important part for me was that once I had read the statement about Fibromalgia that started the book, I learned two things: the pain my sister has gone through for so many years is far beyond my earlier comprehension, and, there is yet no cure for Fibromalgia. Dr. Parris is the first author that has used fibro as part of a novel. A shout-out to him for doing so! May it bring about interest to medical researchers in the field so that this silent torture of so many women and men, which leaves no trace of evidence, may someday end...


Dr. Jack Wheaton, a second-year medicine resident, came into the story by virtue of his position while Dr. Thomas, as a brilliant, young research investigator was part of a drug trial study being conducted... 

The most important issue is that she has realized and created a safe, inexpensive agent as opposed to the drug now formally being tested after years of research. Now, unfortunately, we all know where this is going to go, right?

Fortunately, one official got involved and relocated Anita Thomas, complete with a new background, and she becomes part of Wheaton's team. But he's soon concerned since her expertise seems beyond what it should be for her position...

And then Helen Holcomb showed up there as a patient! Seeing Dr. Thomas, she immediately called out excitedly, explaining where and how she had met her... Once Jack got over the shock, they grew closer and worked as a team... But then, Anita learned of Annie's death...and then Helen soon dies thereafter...

Dr. Thomas had come under watch because she had become involved with a small group of students doing research. All of them innocent, but eager to complete the project they were doing and Dr. Thomas had agreed to help...

Thanks to those watching, the team members had begun to die off...in ways that looked like accidents, of course...

Readers soon know who and why this is happening, but that doesn't detract from the suspense, especially as something new keeps coming up.


Hamilton Medical Center dealt with the problem [of overcrowding] the way most hospitals in that setting did: it allowed fellows and senior residents to moonlight for an hourly fee as long as they weren't on ward duty that months. This arrangement augmented the complement of four medical teams composed of two interns and a senior resident, two of which were on short call and two on long call.
This particular night the ER resident had burned through the two teams on call, the house esident who was to take the overflow in such situations, the three moonlighters, and even the three attending physicians on call. The cycle came back around to Jack's team for an eleventh, twelfth, and thirteenth admission.
Triskaidekaphobia--the irrational fear of the number thirteen. Jack never believed in it before, always thought it was silly. But July 23 changed all of that.
Helen Holcomb showed up in the ER at 2:00 am, the thirteenth admission. The admitting resident assigned her to blue team directly without first assessing her. She was seizing when she rolled into the main hall by emergency medical services.
"Sam, come on. Give us a break, will you? We've already taken twelve hits. Now this train wreck as number thirteen? Are you serious? Where's the workup? Where's the prep and assessment? Scan her, tap her, stabilize her, contact the family, hell, hold her over till morning for God's sake," Jack pleaded...
Jack decided to do it himself and assign it to Al when the sun came up. Jac talked one of the EMTs, Karen Gleason, into helping him start an IV.
Mrs. Holcomb's right arm was thrashing around. She was conscious but not responding to verbal cues. Jack selected her left arm to start the the IV...
~~~

And one of the things was that while Jack and Anita had been called to work on Helen Holcomb when she was brought back to the hospital as an emergency patient, was that Jack had been infected with her blood as a technician had been trying to help and stabbed him instead of the patient, with the needle full of the patient's blood!  After that, he had demanded that Anita tell him what had been given to the trial members of that research program she'd been involved in! Whew!

While Anita shared with Jack, I found it ironic that Jack estimated there were probably a few hundred thousand individuals with rheumatoid arthritis and was quickly corrected to two million... Then proceeding on with the medical costs, she pointed out there are four or five times as many fibromyalgia patients alone as rheumatoid arthritis, not to mention those treated for chronic fatigue and other closely related diseases... In other words,  major drugs needed by millions on a continuous basis!

The tension increases as Jack Wheaton and Anita Thomas try to respond to the deaths that have already happened and to Jack's wound filled with infected blood of some sort... But there's also a little fun and romance coming up, so that by the end we have a quite satisfactory conclusion... Especially with the Afterword, where Dr. Parris claims, at least in his opinion, that the pharmaceutical industry is working to improve the world's health and together with the medical community using the best people and other resources to eliminate even more in the future. It might not be soon enough for my dear sister, Dee, but her daughter, who also has been diagnosed with it--I pray that relief is in the near future!

At the same time, Parris assures readers that we'll see more of the same characters in the future! Great, because I really did enjoy them, especially Khandi Barr... who protects Jack from being discovered by criminals in a very intriguing manner! LOL... Enjoy!


GABixlerReviews



As a board certified rheumatologist, Glenn Parris has practiced medicine in the northeast Atlanta suburbs for over 20 years. He has been writing for nearly as long. Originally from New York City, Parris migrated south to escape the cold and snow, but fell in love with the southern charms of Georgia and Carla, his wife of 22 years. He now writes cross-genre in medical mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. The Renaissance of Aspirin is his debut novel.