FREE E-BOOK EVENT

FREE E-BOOK OFFER for 4 DAYS JANUARY 23-26

FATAL FEAST  &   DEADLY PYRE

Four days: Thursday January 23  through Sunday January 26

DSC04616 Betty and Val WF LkFollow this link to my Amazon Author Page: FREE BOOK LINK

Please share the event with friends and write a review. I hope you enjoy the books.

FATAL FEAST    A Biological Thriller

Fatal Feast is set in Montana. A prion pandemic threatens the world as brilliant young Fatal Feast 3D Book Cover Mockupresearcher Dr. Callie Archer vows to find a cure for the aggressive variant of mad cow disease that killed her father. Like unstoppable super-bugs, the deadly prion proteins infect livestock and wild game, threatening world food supplies. Unknowing humans who eat infected meat become paranoid, violent and die horrible deaths.

As the disease spreads in ranching and hunting country, authorities suppress public information to save the country from economic disaster. Callie’s promising treatment may be the only hope to prevent a world-wide pandemic. With forces against her mounting, can she save mankind and herself?

FREE BOOK LINK

DEADLY PYRE   A Medical Thriller

Deadly Pyre – Book One in a medical thriller series is set in Seattle.

deadly pyre betty kuffel 3d cover mockupDr. Kelly McKay struggles to complete her ER residency at Seattle’s Harbor Medical Center. Ferocious competition, burnout and an unpredictable lover complicate her life. Besides unexplained deaths of patients under her care jeopardizing her career, a sudden increase in stabbing victims points to a serial killer stalking women near the hospital. Will Kelly be next?

FREE BOOK LINK

 

Posted in A new book, Biological Thriller, Chronic Wasting Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Fatal Feast, Mad Cow Disease, Medical Thriller, Prion Disease | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Birthing a Book

Writing a book is a lot like pregnancy. You think about having a baby for a long time, often years before making the decision. You research many aspects and even take a clas1969s or two to help prepare for the beginning nausea and exhaustion as the process starts. Then, the middle with expanding girth and files, till finally the painful labor of weaving words to reach the end. But writing those wonderful words actually mean there is some serious work to be done in the form of final tedious editing and only after that, finally, a book is born.

I just delivered my seventh book, Fatal Feast. Some people say after your first, book or baby, each one that follows is easier. I can speak to experience with birthing multiple books but only one child. I was driven to write my first three medically related science-based nonfiction books. The next four, medical thrillers, were easier. Instead of being totally fact-based and tedious, the novels were much more fun because you just make it up.

My interests in neurology and infectious diseases meshed with the outbreak of mad cow disease in Great Britain thirty years ago and evolved to the bio-thriller concept for Fatal Feast. The strange contagious protein killing cattle spread to hundreds of people who died after eating infected beef. Three decades is a very long gestation, so you can imagine, giving birth felt like a great achievement. With Chronic Wasting Disease, a frightening prion variant of mad cow disease spreading through wildlife and threatening humans, the Fatal Feast delivery is timely.

I am in a recovery phase, getting back in shape, and exercising more after book cover design and intensive weeks of editing to produce the final product. Now, I have more time to read and catch up with non-writing projects. Newborns sleep a lot but need attention and if you are going to show off your new child (or grandchild), marketing must become a prime “postpartum” focus.

Most writers are not skilled speakers, nor do they like to talk about themselves. As for me, I’d rather be writing than spending time showing off my offspring. However, like any project, marketing requires research and possibly stepping outside your comfort zone. One common method to provide books an avenue to expand visibility and generate reviews is to offer E-books free of charge for special events.

So, with this birth announcement I am also announcing a four-day free event for two of my medical thrillers, the new baby, Fatal Feast, set in Montana, FF #3b -black font - 2and my first ER based medical thriller Deadly Pyre set in Seattle.5-6-2018 DEADLY PYRE new front cover-1

The event begins tomorrow January 23rd and extends through January 26th. Please share the event with friends.

My next blog will post with the information and hot links just after midnight tonight.

Thanks for stopping by to meet the babies.

Betty

 

Posted in A new book, Biological Thriller, Chronic Wasting Disease, Deadly Pyre, Fatal Feast, Medical Thriller, Prion Disease | 1 Comment

Chronic Wasting Disease in Wildlife

CWD Concerns

I have followed prion research since the outbreak of mad cow disease in Great Britain three decades ago. With a mad cow variant prion causing the Chronic Wasting Disease epidemic spreading in wildlife, this blog is an overview of a disease I believe carries great risk to man and beast. My new biological thriller, Fatal Feast, is set in Montana, featuring pandemic spread of prion disease.

Amazon

Hunting in Montana is a way of life. In some families, killing your first deer is a coming of age event. Mounting a trophy on the wall, filling the freezer with venison or elk each fall, and hunting into old age are common. But is it still safe to eat venison, elk, moose and other wild game? Maybe, maybe not.

Across the United States and in Canada the public have been alerted to the epidemic spread of a fatal neurological disease in wildlife. They are cautioned not to eat infected meat, to handle meat with caution, and instructions to limit spread from infected carcasses.

However, the infectious agent is invisible and will contaminate surfaces and tools in contact with blood and other body fluids. All contaminated surfaces should be washed with soap and water, then soaked for five minutes with 40% bleach. Infected tissue must be incinerated to stop infectivity. Prions are not killed by usual sterilization techniques. In fact, people have died after being infected by disease transferred to them from “sterilized” surgical instruments

It is true no humans have been identified with CWD from eating prion-infected meat, but research has shown, both spider monkeys and macaques are susceptible and die from eating infected venison. With these non-human primates having genetic makeup so close to humans, the likelihood of CWD disease jumping the species barrier and infecting humans is possible.  CWD is a variant of mad cow disease that killed humans in Great Britain in the 1990s. Humans died after consuming infected beef.

The first CWD positive deer was identified in Montana in 2017. Since that time, the infected animals have been identified on both sides of the Rocky Mountains. Twenty-seven states and three Canadian provinces now have spreading CWD. Alaskan caribou have the genetic makeup risking spread of the disease to them. In Norway, 2,000 reindeer were exterminated in an attempt to stop spread in an expansive herd. In Montana and elsewhere, kill zones, like the one in Libby, are organized to euthanize large herds of animals at risk for spread.

Prions are stable in soil for years and are taken up in growing plants that may be able to transmit the disease. Carcasses left in the forest contaminate the ground for years, sometimes decades, depending on the type of soil. In the wild, prions are spread naturally to scavengers such as mice. Crows are known carriers. Studies show transmission in herds from licking behavior and ground contamination easily spread disease.

Ill animals are easy to identify when the disease has progressed. They appear weak, confused, thin, unafraid of humans, uncoordinated and drooling. Early in the disease process as prions spread through the body, the animal appears normal but is contagious. Friends of mine driving along the west Hungry Horse Dam road stopped their vehicle to watch an ailing doe with twin yearlings. The young ones were lively and beautiful. The doe appeared unstable, thin, and stumbled up to their car and pressed her nose against the side window, peering in at them with vacant eyes. No positive CWD deer have been identified in that hunting zone, but it appears CWD has arrived there, too.

After the unusual protein, a prion, acting like an unstoppable super-bug, enters the body, disease begins in the small intestine concentrating in lymph tissue. Gradually, over about a year and a half in deer, prions spread along nerves to the brain before symptoms are visible.

Clumps of the abnormal protein disrupt nerve function and destroy brain tissue. Microscopic examination of brain tissue shows resulting cell damage and holes making it look like a sea sponge, thus the name spongiform. Mad cow disease is called bovine spongiform encephalopathy. The generic term for an array of prion disorders in animals and humans is transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE). There are many forms. Some human forms are inherited.

CWD information is available on state hunting websites.

http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/diseasesAndResearch/diseases/chronicWastingDisease/management.html

Posted in Beef, Biological Thriller, Chronic Wasting Disease, Creutzfeldt-Jakob, Deer, Fatal Feast, Mad Cow Disease, Medical Thriller, Prion Disease, vCJD | Tagged | 1 Comment

A Lucky Dog Turns Seventeen

Valkyrie a Wonder DogOld.sq.vingette

Many of you may know Valkyrie. She has been a wonderful part of our lives for so many years. I want to share her story with you as she reaches a landmark of survival for a large dog. Tomorrow, Thanksgiving Day, is her 17th birthday. She is moving slower than her puppy days but still filled with life and is loved dearly.

April 2019 marked the 16th anniversary of Valkyrie surviving a plane crash in the mountains of Idaho and being found after disappearing in snowy mountain lion country for ten days. On an outing with friends in two other light planes, carburetor icing stopped the fuel flow in our composite home built Prospector resulting in engine failure near the summit of Lost Trail Pass on the Montana-Idaho border. With nowhere to go but down, Tom turned away from the mountain. As past search and rescue volunteers with the Alaska Civil Air Patrol, we knew survival was unlikely.

Within seconds, we struck tall pines at 100 mph ripping off both wings, spinning the plane like a violent crashing carnival ride from hell, impacting nearly inverted on a snowy slope. To our surprise, we were alive, but for how long. Tom was trapped in the wreckage with his upper body resting on the snow. I was awake, talking, moving everything, but a lower leg bone stabbed through my favorite jeans. Not good. As an ER doctor, I knew what to do, but that’s another story.

This is Valkyrie’s story.

Valkyrie, an experienced flying 1-year-old German Shepherd mix puppy survived impact uninjured and hopped out via the broken canopy. She appeared confused and sat a few feet away up on the mountainside looking down at the crashed plane. Val remained close as I used the pant leg as a sling to lift my dangling leg and slide out onto the snow through the broken plexiglass.

First thoughts were thankfulness we had survived but concern about rescue grew. We knew our friends would report us missing and mount a search. Tom tested our ELT; the electronic locator transmitter was working so it could help searchers find us. Using my cellphone that often didn’t work well even in the city, on one bar, after many tries dialing 9-1-1, a voice answered. I didn’t know if my rapid-fire description of our crash with two human survivors and a dog reached the operator before I lost contact and was unable to connect again. It was noon and hours to go before darkness. Valkyrie disappeared at times circling the crash site from a distance, between resting within view above us as if on guard.

To cheer me, Tom chose Valkyrie at a few weeks of age, from a litter of pups born to a German Shepherd mama left at the Humane Society. I was in mourning after the recent death of Valentine, our beloved German Shepherd. Valkyrie was our sixth dog and one that proved to be the biggest challenge to train. The super-alpha female ran like the wind, lept from couches to tall bookcases in a flash to check out interesting books or toys on high shelves.

Offering her a treat for good behavior or performing tricks interested her little. She tested our wits and patience. With help from professional trainer Kristen who suggested little stinky Vienna sausages as treats, Valkyrie improved. But, at the time of the crash, she was still excitable, not food driven and wouldn’t come when called. I worried about her getting lost.

Lying on the windy snowy mountainside trying to shield ourselves took a toll as we waited, hoping for rescue before dark or hypothermia set in. Six hours after the crash, we heard snow machine engines above us and soon, voices called out. Rescuers stomped down the slope in deep snow following our little dog. The skilled rescuers told us they’d tracked the impact radio transmitter with difficulty to find the crash site, but when they saw Valkyrie had hope they were closing in. (This photo was taken two months before the crash.)

Rescuers chain-sawed Tom out of the wreckage, stabilized him on a board and hoisted him up in a wire basket with the help of a motorized assist to snow machines on a trail. We both received stellar care and stabilization. Valkyrie was frightened and came to me shivering as I lay on a sled behind a snow machine. I tied the string from my jacket hood to her collar and told the rescuers I wouldn’t leave without her.

They said I wasn’t thinking straight due to hypothermia and would care for her. The noise of a nearby snow machine starting frightened her and she jerked from my grasp, disappearing in the forest. They assured me they’d find her. I had to leave and was soon airlifted by helicopter to St. Pat’s hospital in Missoula.

The next few days were a blur of decisions and activities. Tom in ICU, both of us with numerous surgeries under the care of a skilled trauma team, but heart broken. Valkyrie was missing.

Barb, a close friend and a friend of dog trainer Kristen mounted a search for Valkyrie, notified the newspaper and set out to search for her. The front page news article drew volunteer dog searchers from miles around, many of them carrying cans of Vienna sausages after hearing it was one of few foods that enticed Valkyrie. Barb arranged to have someone come to the hospital and do audio tapes of our voices calling. “Here, Val. Come. Let’s go for a ride. Here, Val. Here little girl.” You get the idea. They played the tape in their cars driving in the vicinity of the crash.

No dog. A few hopeful sightings. Days went by. After a week, Barb and Kristen had to return home and gave the tape to searchers from the local Humane Society, Vara McGarrell and friends took up the search. On the tenth day after Valkyrie’s disappearance, they spotted her about a mile from the crash site near a highway rest stop. Vara’s “bait dog” Chigger was playing with a tennis ball in the parking lot. Valkyrie’s love for balls and other dogs drew her from hiding. Thin and weak, she made her way to visit Chigger.

Vara rushed to her car and turned the tape on high volume, attracting Valkyrie to our voices. She came to the car but was too weak to get in. Vara picked her up, placed her inside and closed the door. Safe. Trapped and very skinny, Valkyrie crept to the front seat and looked under the dash, listening to our voices.

Happy crying rescuers popped open a can of Vienna sausages offering the starving dog some food. A trip to the veterinarian found no unexpected problems, but when Valkyrie’s close friend Barbara arrived, the dog went into such a wail of relief and excitement, the vet techs moved them into a private room until Barb could calm her down.

By that time, I was out of the hospital and on crutches, but Tom remained in ICU. Friends carried the weak dog to visit Tom for a joyful reunion. Vara has become a close friend and parties with us each year at our Crash Survival Celebration.

What do I attest Valkyrie’s long life to? Choosing the right dog and human parents, a strong will, a cheerful attitude, lots of exercise, good food but not too much, and many friends. Just like people, dogs thrive with social involvement and love.

Happy 17th Birthday to Valkyrie.

 

Thank you to the search and rescue team members from Salmon and Gibbonsville, ID, and to everyone from the Humane Society and surrounding area who helped look for Val, especially her friends Vara, Barb and Kristen.

 

Posted in Dog, Longevity in dogs, Finding lost dogs | 5 Comments

Fatal Feast – A Biological Thriller

A New Publication

Announcing the publication of Fatal Feast on August 30th, a biological thriller set in Montana. I began researching the topic 30 years ago with the outbreak of mad cow disease in Great Britain. Prion disease is an infectious protein currently epidemic in wildlife in Montana, in twenty-five U.S. states and in Canada. This book will be of particular interest to beef eaters and hunters.

Brilliant young researcher Dr. Callie Archer vows to find a cure for an aggressive prion variant of mad cow disease that killed her father. Like unstoppable super-bugs, the deadly proteins infect livestock and wild game threatening world food supplies. Unknowing humans who eat infected meat become paranoid, violent and die horrible deaths.

Federal authorities isolate Dr. Archer’s primate research project at an NIH high-risk laboratory in the mountains of Montana for protection from radical animal rights activists. While she risks her life to stop the catastrophic disease that could prove fatal to millions, a sexist director, sabotaging cohort, and a handsome rancher obstruct her progress.

Dr. Archer closes in on a cure, but murderous activists penetrate her lab, steal infected animals, and nearly kill her. As the disease spreads in ranching and hunting country, authorities suppress public information to save the country from economic disaster.

Callie’s promising treatment may be the only hope to prevent a world-wide pandemic. With forces against her mounting, can she save mankind and herself?

Fatal Feast is available as an e-book and paperback. I would love to have you write an honest review on Amazon.

Thanks for stopping by.

 

Check out my two April posts on prion disease in humans.

Purchase on Amazon

Posted in A new book, Biological Thriller, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Deer, Medical Thriller, Prion Disease | 1 Comment

A Tribute to Mom

 

Eight large bookcases in my home support heavy medical texts, tomes of biology and chemistry, writing reference books and evidence of broad reading interests through the years. Some might call me a book hoarder. While sorting and rearranging books, trying my best to part with some for a garage sale, I ran across Modern Medical Counselor. Seeing Mom’s “doctor book” interrupted my progress and prompted this blog.

I sat down to read parts of the book that guided her while raising four daughters. I was impressed with the solid basic health information I found in the book published in 1943. Anatomy, bandaging methods, germ theory, sanitation, pregnancy and mental health issues were meshed with information on normal bodily processes, common illnesses and proper exercise. She consulted the text for natural remedies and medical information to help make decisions before calling our family doctor who often made home visits.

Mom was an avid reader, homemaker, seamstress, baker, canner and self-taught nutritionist. A Betty Crocker cookbook and collection of recipes from her mother and the other farm women in the small community of her childhood provided amazing meals. Dad’s stable income from railroading provided a solid income, but Mom’s high school education and reading gave her added skills to keep us well-fed and healthy.

In the back of the book, she recorded health histories and immunization records on all of us. A photo of Mom over my desk reminds me each day of her love and caring over a lifetime. In her eighties, she remained active with senior groups in her community and was teaching cribbage to students when she suffered a fall and died following complications.

At eighty-nine, her mind and outlook were bright, and her spirit strong. She had much more to live for but doubt she left anything undone. She loved her family dearly and with the help of my sister Bev, they published and distributed a book of favorite recipes requested by her family. After her death, we found beautifully wrapped gifts for her two beloved unborn grandchildren she would never know.

In the end, she died as she lived, surrounded by her family in her home on the shores of a peaceful Minnesota lake. Best wishes on Mother’s Day.

 

Happy Mother’s day to my sisters.

Posted in Appendices for Download | 1 Comment

Prion Disease in Humans

 

ELK.jpg

Luckily, prion disease in humans is rare, like one in million. However, the rapid spread through wild game animals and the history of transmission of a similar disease to humans from eating prion-infected beef means knowing about the disease is important.

Overview

Misfolded proteins called prions cause a group of deadly neurodegenerative disorders in humans called Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD), named for the men who first described them. Three main forms are:

* Sporadic CJD – most common (85% of cases), unknown source/cause but the microscopic prion structure is like the type in sheep

* Hereditary CJD – 10% of cases; in families with a history of the disease and test positive for a genetic mutation

* Acquired CJD – transmitted by medical procedures or eating contaminated meat, or as in kuru from cannibalism.

The diseases are collectively known as Transmissible Spongiform Encephalopathies (TSEs) in animals, a descriptive term depicting the holes in brain tissue from abnormal protein accumulation. CJD is the most common of human prion disease; others include Fatal Familial insomnia (FFI), and Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker disease (GSS).

Symptoms of CJD

Neurologic symptoms in cattle bear some resemblance to prion-infected humans. Variant Creutzfeldt – Jakob (vCJD), the human form caused by mad cow prions, begins with visual changes, color variation and distortion of figures. Progression occurs over months and is varied depending on the area of brain most affected.

Symptoms include emotional instability, (crying, laughing, anger outbursts), visual hallucinations, slow thinking, memory loss, and impaired judgment. As the disease worsens, tremors, poor balance, stiffness and jerking muscles cause trouble walking. Ultimately, the person is bedridden and lapses into a coma. Symptoms overlap with other neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

Diagnosis

Neurological evaluations for these symptoms often include brain MRI or CT scans and spinal fluid testing. A brain biopsy provides the definitive diagnosis, but new blood and urine tests are available. Microscopic findings show characteristic protein accumulations with holes, making brain tissue look like a sponge. To identify the origin of the disease, differences in the abnormal folding of prion proteins can be determined at the Human Prion Surveillance Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

We have hope for rapid diagnosis and treatment with researchers around the world andBaby black ears.edsquare.jpg in Montana at the NIH Rocky Mountain Lab in Hamilton, searching for ways to stop prion disease. The current concern is saving the wildlife.

 

 

 

More information can be found online at the NIH Fact Sheet website:

https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Fact-Sheets/Creutzfeldt-Jakob-Disease-Fact-Sheet

I am finishing final editing on Extinction, a prion medical thriller and will soon be ready to query agents.

Thanks for stopping by.

IMG_4281

Betty Kuffel, MD

Posted in Beef, Biological Thriller, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Deer, Medical Thriller, Prion Disease | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Prion Disease in Man and Beast

I just finished writing the second of a two-part series on prion disease for my Montana Woman magazine monthly Lipstick Logic health and lifestyle column. The prion topic is important, and few people really understand this fatal disease and potential for contagion.

Over two-hundred people died after consuming prion-infected beef during the epidemic in the 1990s. Today, 1 in 2000 British people show evidence they carry mad cow prions but have not yet developed symptoms.

The cause of the mad cow epidemic in Great Britain was from animal food contamination. Rendering plants accepted prion-infected cattle and sheep carcasses and processed protein slurry carrying the deadly prions was made into animal feed. By the time the source was identified, it was too late. People died and millions of cows had to be destroyed.

Feeding cattle animal protein was banned and is still banned in the U.S. The few cows detected positive for prions today are thought to be from mutations and not spread from other animals. Just as the many types of prion diseases in humans, some are inherited mutations. Sometimes in the past, prion disease was caused by infection from contaminated surgical instruments, tissue grafts, corneal transplants and human-based growth hormone. Surgeons and pathologists have died from accidental contamination. Funeral homes have special safety regulations for body handling. Cremation to destroy the prions is encouraged.

The disease first made news in the 1920s when members of the Fore tribe in New Guinea were found to have kuru from ritual cannibalism. They called it “laughing death” because of the terrible neurologic symptoms victims experienced before finally lapsing into coma and dying. Parts of the contagious corpse were sometimes eaten by tribal members and spread the disease.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) considers prion infection in wildlife an emerging disease. Epidemic spread in wildlife is occurring. Currently 25 states have identified infected wild game animals including deer, elk, antelope, moose and reindeer. Captive bison have also been infected. It is also in Canada, Norway and in imported elk in South Korea. Hunters and anyone who eats game meat should know about the disease and use caution.

Today, 1 in 2000 British people show evidence they carry mad cow prions but have not yet developed symptoms. This estimate is based on tissue biopsies appendectomies from people without neurologic symptoms. No one know what this means. Are they carriers who will someday develop prion disease? Can they transmit it to others? Is it in their blood? On the blood donor questionnaire there is a list of over 40 European countries where possible exposure to CJD may have occurred.

At this time, no human has been identified with prion disease from eating infected wild game, but a recent Canadian study confirmed primates (Rhesus monkeys) died from eating CWD infected venison. With a close genetic relationship to humans, CWD prions crossing the species barrier from deer to the monkeys suggest it could happen in humans like it did with mad cow infected beef. What can we do to prevent potential human prion disease from big game?

In the past two years, the Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks detected 26 cases of CWD in Montana along the northeast Canadian border and in numerous counties extending from North Dakota into an area south of Billings. Surveillance of hunter kills, and planned hunts where infected deer are found are carried out to cull potentially infected animals to slow the spread.

Of concern is ease of transmission and the epidemic spread among wildlife. The Montana FW&P website details the process to test animals for hunters for a small fee.

Prions are difficult to destroy. To avoid the disease, you must avoid contact and consumption. Cooking the meat well-done does not kill infectivity. Incineration is recommended for contaminated items and cremation for all prion-infected human and animal remains.

Recently, studies showed hypochlorous acid (Briotech) can kill prions on surfaces. Before Briotech, lye solutions were effective in destroying prions but usual hospital sterilization techniques failed, leaving surgical instruments contaminated and able to spread disease.

In a press release from the University of Washington: “Briotech (BRIO HOCL PrP Formula) has been laboratory tested and proven to be the world’s first safe method to eliminate all detectable seeding activity of misfolded infectious proteins and is safe for skin and mucosal contact.”

For more information contact:

http://fwp.mt.gov/fishAndWildlife/diseasesAndResearch/diseases/

FWP Wildlife Health Lab at (406) 994-6357 (for testing information)

The next blog will be on disease symptoms and diagnosis.

Thanks for stopping by.

IMG_4281Betty Kuffel, MD

Posted in Beef, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease, Deer, Prion Disease | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Free E-book – Alaska Flight

Fly Away to Alaska!

ALASKA FLIGHT E-BOOK IS FREE MARCH 1 & 2

 

If you would like to taste life in the wilds of Alaska, this is your free transportation! Take a thrilling trip with a flying doctor, and a nurse trying to escape her past.

Flight nurse Liz Elliot quits her Arizona job and flees to Alaska to cool hot emotions after a medical helicopter piloted by her lover crashes, killing him and two close friends. Her escape from grief backfires when she meets Paul Lasher, a charming flying doctor in need of her emergency skills in the Alaskan bush. They learn her friends were murdered. Will Liz be next?

I had fun reliving my life flying around and working in Alaska. I hope you have a safe trip. Please write a review on Amazon when you return.

Betty

Check out my site on Author Shout

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Posted in Medical Thriller, Romantic Adventure | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Writing and Technology

Technology Chaos and A Mouse

Desk

Before I embark on my tech story, allow me to introduce myself.

I am a retired medical doctor. My specialty was internal medicine and I spent most of my medical career in ERs making rapid diagnoses and interventions. Since retirement eight years ago, I have authored eight books and indie-published six of them. I am up most days before sunrise at my computer, writing.

A few weeks ago, without warning, my desktop computer gasped and turned blue. I immediately recognized it as the blue screen of death. With the speed of an ER doc, I grabbed my laptop, and sought a solution on Amazon. I found what I needed — a new one-terabyte hard-drive. This magical piece of technology that 40 years ago would have filled a room, arrived within two days, sealed in a small bubble-wrap envelope. My ill computer and the new hard-drive took an ambulance ride with me to a Tech ER.

The computer doc greeted us and immediately went into resuscitation mode. He surgically removed the old-hard drive and performed a transplant before my eyes. With a flick of the switch my desk top computer came to life, data saved, with no residual brain damage.

Experiencing personal relief with no residual Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, I returned to my passion of writing. Up before dawn, words flowed from my brain through my fingers and onto my screen with the speed of light. My new terabyte transplant operated at Mach speed and showed no signs of rejection. I believed my technology problems were over, but within a week, I experienced another technology catastrophe.

Without warning, my lifeline to the world experienced an energy failure. The battery of my cell phone refused to hold a charge.

When patients complained about old age, low energy, bad joints or a sleep problem, I understood. With age, the body slows down and sometimes needs a boost – a thyroid hormone, a joint replacement, or sometimes, just a good night’s sleep to recharge the body’s biological batteries.

Maybe all my cellphone needed was a good night’s sleep. I turned it off, plugged it in and checked it in the morning. Nothing. A visit to an urgent care battery clinic seemed simple enough. The expert carefully removed a warped battery looking like it had an aneurysm ready to blow. He confirmed it wasn’t low thyroid after all, but a function of old age.

The new battery didn’t charge. Battery-man turned to electronic diagnostics for help, but alas, the phone flat-lined.

My phone was not repairable. At least my phone had died a natural death. My two previous cell phones had experienced terrible drowning deaths. One took a dive in an outhouse, the other glugged to the bottom of a delicious latte, taking my data with it.

My search for a new phone began that same afternoon. Unwilling to pay the price of the latest model, I looked for a refurbished phone — the search took me down a rabbit hole of hundreds of phone options and unfamiliar terminology. I needed a technology specialist’s help.

Using my landline, I called a techie relative and took his advice. I found a refurbished cellphone online. Two days later it arrived in a bubble-wrap envelope. I visited my Straight Talk service provider who transferred my data and sent me on my way feeling connected once again. Back home, I added new apps, including an exercise calculator to remind me to get off my chair and move around more. It’s like having a personal trainer in my pocket.

I returned to my writing, enjoying the new technology. Everything ran smoothly for several days, until another shocking malfunction occurred. It was 6:00 am. I had been working at my computer a little over an hour when my Fitbit reminded me to get up and and start counting steps. I walked to the kitchen, made a fresh pot of coffee and returned with a steamy cup of my favorite brew to continue editing my latest novel when both screens suddenly went black.

I followed a tangle of umbilical wires from monitors to computer. They were braided together with telephone, lamp and microphone wires, cords that had functioned for years. In the end, the main monitor was “undetectable.” Seconds earlier that same monitor was working fine. This looked like sudden death. Had the hard-drive totally failed? After wiggling a lot of cords, both monitor screens flickered and lit up, but without icons, mouse function or anyway to access my computer or the internet.

I went to my trusty laptop again, to troubleshoot the problem. After reading through many forums, I concluded my computer needed a new monitor driver.

After more reading and looking at a couple instructional YouTubes, I changed my diagnosis. The computer needed a new video card. I wasn’t exactly sure what a video card was, but I did find a large selection on Amazon. I had to do more research before placing an order, so watched a few more YouTube tutorials. I had trusted cute guys in bib overhauls to help me through fixing my dishwasher and tiling my laundry room but was not feeling confident they could guide me through a video card transplant.

I decided to continue untangling the rats’ nest of cords from behind and beneath my desk. The cords ran from monitors to computers, to a backup laptop, two external hard-drives, a landline, a video camera, and cell charger. I carefully labeled all the cords at each end and re-checked my connections. It took several hours of sitting on the floor with dust bunnies running by and dead flies surfacing from beneath the tangle of cords.

A final check suggested the cords were all connected properly until I moved the monitors to dust behind them. The main monitor cord looked like a highly diseased neuron. The sheath over the wire was severely damaged. Tiny missing chunks exposed bare wires. Defects along the wire looked like nibble marks. Hmmm.

Could that adorable mouse that visited me a few months earlier have been chewing on my main monitor cord? I had met him eye to eye when he was sitting on the top of a can of beans in my pantry munching on a trail-mix bar. It was probably tastier than the covering on the monitor cord.

His round pink ears looked far too large for his little head. Black eyes stared back at me looking as though he had to seriously consider whether to drop the delicious trail-mix bar and run away, or not. I couldn’t kill him. He was so adorable.

I told him to stay put but that I was issuing an eviction notice. I turned on the vacuum and sucked him through the hose into the transparent dust catcher. He landed on a cushion of dog hair and looked out at me from his plastic cage. I would have scolded him for chewing my computer cord had I known at that time what he’d been up to, but he was so little and frightened, I took him outside and let him go find a new home.

I decided my desk top computer needed a complete check-up and I wasn’t up to the task. The gnawed cord was not the problem, but I replaced the cord and dug out an old laptop to use as a secondary backup while the desktop went back to the hospital.

I plugged in my old laptop and found out it was just too old to run anymore. The XP operating system was no longer supported by Microsoft or anyone else. Besides, it was locked and required an administrator for access. I am its administrator, but do you think I could remember the password? Not on your life. It was inaccessible in my brain data bank.

I returned to my new laptop to contact the Best Buy Geek Squad to help me figure out how to get the desktop computer and monitors functioning again.  Suddenly, an alert appeared on the laptop screen telling me to immediately change my password. Someone in a nearby town was trying to log onto my computer.

I quickly changed my password and wrote it down in a secure location.

The Geek Squad gave me an appointment time and said to bring my computer and monitors in for a complete diagnostic exam. I unplugged all those cords I had just finished labeling and rearranging. I loaded up my computer and made an ambulance run to the Best Buy ER, staffed by amazing geeks with crazy hairdos, body art, and so many facial piercings I was concerned they might short out. Within a day, they discharged the computer to my care in fine shape.

I diligently save and back-up my work on an external hard drive. I also save my work in a cloud where mice don’t live.

My computers and monitors are up and running. I have returned to writing medical thrillers full-time. My books are available on Amazon. Check them out. All proceeds from the sales of my books will probably go to the repair or purchase of new technology so I can keep writing.

I love technology – when everything works.

Thanks for stopping by.

Author Betty Kuffel, MD

Feather women

Remember, nothing is black and white.

 

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