Conspiracy Theories – Everywhere?

Admittedly, I love conspiracy stories; either in book form or big screen. I can’t seem to get enough of them, so I guess it’s not surprising that is my favorite writing genre. With a very divisive election behind us and polarized masses, I think it has become even easier to envision a conspiracy on any number of levels.

So what makes for a good conspiracy? I believe it must have components that the reader can either relate to, or believe could be easily set in motion. Simply, it is taking something from our everyday lives and giving it a sinister shading or background.

My personal area of interest is the field of medicine. Given this, there is a lot of potential fodder in that category. There are the cries against GMO’s, chemical alterations in plants, added substances to food items, the growth of Big Pharma, and testing on pharmaceuticals that may not be totally ethical. My novel, Against Their Will dealt with ethical treatments and practices on unsuspecting patients.

There is also the component of money in medicine. Corrupt practitioners who may push a treatment on a patient, not for the best interests of the patient but more for the financial or other benefit of the practitioner is one area with potential. Other possibilities could include harvesting organs for the black market, or even the legitimate market but with non-legitimate means. Just think of motivating factors to obtain the end result, money or power, and you’ve got a story in the making.

Power and money are just two examples of motivators for characters. What other things could define your character and provide motivation for them? Is it love? Or, acceptance, or even hate that pushes someone into action?

The blank page is your canvas so they say. But sometimes we need a nudge to put something on that canvas. Think of what motivates you and what you would be willing, or even unwilling to do? There you have a beginning for a new character!

Happy writing, everyone!

Emerald Beach a novel by Nancy Livingstone

Against Their Will by Nancy Livingstone

 

 

 

 

Big Pharma, Friend or Enemy?

My "Big Pharma"

My “Big Pharma”

Everyday it seems we are subjected to yet another “new” study that insists we must do this or that to better our health. Sadly, so may accept these “announcements” as total truth without doing any background research on the subject. Being constantly bombarded by media, we tend to start believing everything we hear. Since it’s coming from the news, it has to be true. Does it? Really?

As I mentioned in my last post, most anyone can concoct a stunning web site and post most any information on it. And because it looks professional, it immediately gains credibility with the reader. Again, really?!!!

I too, have been fooled by snazzy sites and flashy reports that claim to have the “only” way to make my life better. A blog I follow, and have found to have mostly good information, recently came under attack for “selling” items and information on the site. The author responded with an apology, but said that was the only way he could afford to continue posting the info. It’s a shame that he has to do this, but certainly understandable. In today’s business models, profit is important, and even just generating enough to cover costs is necessary. A necessary evil we all live with.

But, I digress. I didn’t start this post to complain about business and the economy. Actually it is due to a recent article I saw on the web regarding cholesterol. As we age (and I’ve done my fair share of it!), we all get more and more concerned with the issue. Lately, I’ve read a number of articles slamming the mainstream cholesterol medications as being bad for us. And there are just as many out there preaching we must do (eat and take) all that the mainstream medical profession says we should.

We should all be aware of the fact that “Big Pharma” spends boat loads of money trying to influence the front line of health care providers to prescribe their drugs. Yes, there is very much a profit motive. But, at what cost, our health?

With new research and the spate of lawsuits regarding fairly recent drugs, (can you say Xarelto, Avandia, and many others?) those who are astute in following these developments have a very real reason to fear what might be forced on them by well meaning health care practitioners. Sadly, most people receiving health care don’t bother to read up on the drugs they are prescribed and many do not follow recent developments in the pharmaceutical industry.

Granted, there are many great drugs out there. And my heart goes to all front-line health care practitioners as they have a very difficult and stressful job. I believe they are following the guidelines given to them with the full intent of doing what is best for the patient. The trouble is, the Big Pharma companies don’t have the same goal. They are about money, and more money. And that is the conflict of it all.

In my book, Against Their Will, this mentality prevails. Scientists, hired in secret by the US Government, have discovered a new class of drugs that show serious potential to cure a lot of diseases. Even more importantly, they see how they can use their discoveries to make big money. It doesn’t matter to them the human life cost. They are immune. Their instructions are to produce the drug and multiply it at all costs.

When I first started writing this book, these assumptions were considered scandalous. Sadly, it is so much more believable today that it is downright frightening.

What can we do? Do we have any options? Or, do we have no choice but to comply? I believe it is up to each individual to determine this. However, there are things we can do.

We can find informative sources and research them to determine their credibility and therefore make our own decisions. We can search for and engage health care providers who understand our concerns and work with us to find solutions. And, we can say no. No to what is being prescribed. No to what is being strongly suggested we must take to save our lives. No, to those who don’t care about us and our health, but care more for their own pocketbook.

We need to open our eyes and decide for ourselves what is best for us and take advice from those we truly trust and know have our best interests in mind. Being responsible for our self in every way, especially our health, is the only hope we have.

We have so much right at our fingers. Do we know or care?

What some call weeds, others call medicine.

What some call weeds, others call medicine.We have been blessed with so much, not just the material things in our lives, but the things Nature has given us.

We have been blessed with so much, not just the material things in our lives, but the things Nature has given us.

Those in past generations knew about some of the naturally occurring medicines provided by nature; things such as berries, roots, bark, leaves, etc. But as humankind advanced and began to make our own medicines, it became very convenient to forget about what was given to us by Nature.

Today, there seems to be a rising awareness as to the bounty of natural substances that are ready and waiting to be discovered and used. New interest is growing in the use of herbs, nuts, various plants, trees, and shrubs to cure, heal and even enhance our lives. Books are proliferating on shelves that discuss and dissect the entire topic of herbal and natural healing.

When our world was created, we were given all we would ever need to survive. But, we were challenged to discover and perfect our knowledge on our own. All the medicines to overcome the frailties inherent in our species were provided, but cloaked or hidden in various plants or in nature itself. This is a great thing to realize we have it all, but mankind is too often blinded by his or her overblown sense of self.

Those with determination, the will and the ability can study and learn how to use these medicines and how best to harness their power. Win-win, right? Not necessarily. Humans aren’t perfect and our inner core screams out to take care of self first. From there it is a slippery slope into outright deviation from doing good, to just doing what is best for the self. I think we all have a point of corruption. Given enough rope, (some need more than others) we would all hang ourselves. Given no boundaries to stop us, we would all eventually self-destruct, all in the pursuit of self pleasure.

In Against Their Will, scientists have discovered a natural substance in pine rosin that shows promise to cure many diseases and even enhance the human life. They develop a series of compounds that can cure multiple dreaded diseases, change personality traits and even give extraordinary longevity to humans. Sounds great, right? Sadly, these wondrous discoveries fall into greedy hands and are manipulated to serve selfish interests, not the greater good.

Should the abuse by some cancel the good that is done by others? That is the question, both in my book and in life. If seeing how this dilemma is played out in one scenario, read the book Against Their Will. If you’re interested in learning about some of the valuable plants that can benefit your life, read more at the following Healthy Holistic Living

Why do I write about medicine?

Why do I write about medicine in my novels? A good question. It’s been said that there are two things most important to people, their money and their health. How many headlines do you see each day that have to do with one or the other? ‘Nuff said, right? Well, maybe not.

Medicine affects us all, regardless of our health status. While some may only care about their personal outcome in a medical situation, others, like myself, are fascinated with the workings of the field. Okay, I have to admit that I have more than a little personal involvement in the field. I come from a family of physicians, radiologists, and lab technicians. I grew up hearing about all the issues concerning the field. I considered med school myself, for a while, until I realized it was going to be next to impossible to get over my fear of needles. So, I settled for an undergraduate degree in biology. And, when it was time to inject mice in a microbiology lab, I made my lab partner handle the needle!

After finishing my Master’s degree, I worked in a major Houston hospital (a location used in Against Their Will) as well as managed a group of physicians’ offices. It was there I learned what it is really like behind the scenes. My empathy for practitioners began growing at this point.

In recent years, I’ve been a patient more times than I can count. A hip replacement, back fusion, knee replacement, two rotator cuff surgeries and numerous other less invasive procedures have brought me face to face with some of the finest practitioners in the field. All of these life experiences have provided me with a wealth of material to draw upon in writing.

World-wide symbol of first aid; one of the first of the first responders

World-wide symbol of first aid; one of the original first responders.

Medical themes are popular; in books, tv shows and movies. We seem to be fascinated with what it is like to be a miracle worker, helping to heal people of a myriad of diseases and injuries. But, how do these miracles come about? Are those who create them always altruistic in their motives?

Against Their Will shows some of the other side of this scenario. As humans, we’re all imperfect and we all have that tendency to look out for ourselves first. When presented a scenario in which one can make wads of money while rationalizing that it is for the good of the people, who can say no? I’m not sure I could and I wonder how many others would as well. The characters in my book face that dilemma. Can any of us truly rise about the human condition to put the good of others above ourselves? Please share your comments as there are many sides to this subject, all worthy of hearing.

 

What rights do we have to new medical treatments?

The State Fair

The State Fair

We love our Twinkies, Krispy Kremes, and Oreos. We live in a country where we are free to make those decisions on what we eat. But, when our bodies need help, especially from the latest in medical research and testing, what are our rights? Are we owed access to new drugs and treatments just because they have been developed? Or, are those new discoveries the property of the entity that developed it?

This dilemma occurs in my book Against Their Will. The characters are used as test subjects without their knowledge or consent. Despite all things, cures area found for some dreaded diseases, yet others are harmed by the same drugs. If one person can get a cure from a new drug discovery, is it worth the death of three others to do so? Should we be given the freedom to continue to make our own choices; in food or lifestyle? Or, should the government regulate or dictate our choices? If we don’t take care of ourselves, do we have the right to seek medical treatment for maladies we created? Or, should we be left to suffer the consequences?

Our freedom includes the right to eat whatever we want, right?

Our freedom includes the right to eat whatever we want, right?

There are no easy answers to these questions, and it is not likely this debate will go away anytime soon. It will be interesting to see what conclusions people have on this issue after reading Against Their Will. Share away, the forum is open!