Good News Monday #10: Nuns, Narratives, and Worms

Richard Scarry's Lowly Worm was one of Wrestler #2's favorites. I couldn't resist adding this picture.

If I wasn’t already worried about COVID-19, this video of the 1918 Flu really scared the bejeezers out of me.

Loved-One couldn’t work today because of the Stockmarket circuit breaker.

So where’s the good news this week?

Lucky for me, I clipped and saved a few nuggets.

On a local Level: The Fraternite Notre Dame will build their boarding school

I started following this story in 2015. The Fraternite Notre Dame supports a small Catholic community of nuns in a rural area not too far from where I live. The locals objected to the nuns special use permit to construct a gift shop, boarding school, and a brewery and winery with tasting offered. The nuns planned to eventually build a retirement/nursing home for their order. From the beginning, I thought local objections seemed to be coming more from fear of these French speaking Catholics than reality.

Locals objected for various reasons including traffic, open space, and worry about consumption of alcohol. A golf club next door offers a full bar. Although I can see neighboring houses in the distance, no one lives next door. The nuns had already agreed to keep 60% of their property as open space.

A Federal judge ruled that the county imposed a substantial burden on the organization’s ability to practice freedom of religion. The county still plans to impose reasonable building size restrictions and the number of boarders for the school.

Northwest Herald

On a National Level: Narrative Medicine

When Rita Charon was a young medical student in the 1970s, she paid a visit to a cancer patient on her usual rounds.

“So this is it,” [the Patience’s] said upon seeing her name tag. 

In Greek mythology, Charon is the ferryman of Hades, transporting the souls of people who’ve just died across the river Styx to the underworld. The patient thought the appearance of a Charon at his bedside… meant his time was almost up.

Two days later, he died. Charon was gutted…

“As I came to understand my mission, it’s to know that pass very well — to know that journey, to know that river,” she recounted recently. “And so, from then on, I felt my task was to live up to it.”

Charon loves the writing of Henry James, this line in particular: “Try to be one of the people on whom nothing is lost.” Click here for more on this story.

Dr. Charon practices and teaches Narrative Medicine. She understands that the average 15 minutes of pummeling patients with questions is not the best way to get to the root cause of ailments.

Patients have a story to tell. And just like literature, there are symbols, plot twists, metaphors, and characters to consider. The patient has one perspective, and perhaps the wife or neighbor has another. Dr. Charon emphasizes that just like unraveling good literature, the doctor must resist jumping to a final conclusion with a patient before the story unfolds fully.

Dr. Charon teaches Narrative Medicine at Columbia. One of her students, Annie Robinson, started a program at NYU School of Medicine. To read more about Dr. Chraron and Narrative Medicine go to VOX.

On a Global Level: Waxworms may save the planet

If you’re a regular reader of Black Tortoise Press, you know that I try to recycle, reuse, and reduce. Especially plastics. A recent YouTube video made me hypersensitive about the amount of single-use plastic I use. Click here to read how I joined the no-plastic challenge. You may also be aware of my wonder and amazement at the human microbiome. (Just type in microbiome in the search panel and you’ll find several articles, or click here for one.)

This week I discovered the lowly waxworm may be our savior form micro plastics. This ugly fellow can digest plastic.

I read about waxworks on CNN. Click here for more.

And guess what? It seems to be the gut flora of the lowly worm that makes it all possible.

Years ago I interviewed for a job to help run bioreactors that grew nematodes. The nematodes helped eliminate corn-borers. Once the corn-borers were gone, the nematodes dies and contributed organic matter to the soil.

Just think, bioreactors full of waxworm microbiome, designed to digest plastic waste. Okay, maybe I’m getting carried away. We do need to think about what else these microbes might want to digest.

What’s on your good news radar this week?

The CDC recommends I don’t go to churches, schools, or other areas where there are lots of people; the stock market is tanking; and reducing my plastic footprint is way harder than I imagined.

I can use more good news. So, please help.