Friday, October 17, 2014

My Time in Quarantine and What I Learned From It

As I've listened to the news about Ebola, I've reflected again and again on my own experience with a serious disease. Twelve years ago, I contracted a bad case of Hepatitis A (a food-borne form of Hepatitis) and had to spend three weeks in quarantine. Despite significant damage to my liver, I recovered and am able to live a normal life now. I often reflect on how blessed I am to be healthy.

Lately, I have heard over and over again that African cultural practices are responsible for the spread of Ebola. I agree. However, having experienced quarantine in the U.S., I can also say that American cultural practices could lead to the spread of Ebola. There are three American cultural practices in particular that I wanted to address in this blog post. First, that American medical professionals tend to scoff at self-diagnosis. Second, that health departments generally quarantine individuals only after diagnosis. Third, that Americans tend to perceive quarantining as the equivalent of ostracizing. My personal story illustrates all three of these weaknesses.

If You Self-Diagnose, You Must Be a Hypochondriac
Back in 2003, Hepatitis was the last thing on my mind. All I knew was that I had an incurable desire to lie on the couch watching Oprah. This wasn't something I normally did, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong. I rationalized that I was really tired of the contractors working on my bathroom. But no matter how much I rested, the fatigue grew worse. Finally one day, I noticed that my hands were yellow. I looked in the mirror. My face was yellow. So were the whites of my eyes. Because I'd served a mission in Africa, I knew I had Hepatitis. I immediately called my doctor. At my appointment, I told him I thought I had Hepatitis A. Like most doctors, he wasn't impressed with my self-diagnosis. He ordered a blood test to appease me, but also scheduled an ultrasound because he was sure I was having trouble with a gall stone.

I've thought about this a lot in the context of Duncan Eric Thomas. What if the doctor had simply asked him, "What do you think might be wrong with you?" Then, what if they had listened and considered that he could be right?

Quarantining After Diagnosis, Instead of Before
By the time my doctor got the results of my blood test, I was already starting to feel better. He immediately called the health department and told me not to go out in public. I remember thinking, "Wait, now that I'm feeling a little better, they're going to quarantine me? Wouldn't it have made more sense to start the quarantine a few days ago when I felt like I was going to die?"

This is a problem that also showed up with the nurses who worked at the hospital in Dallas. They weren't quarantined until after they showed symptoms. It looks like the government might try to reverse this practice by quarantining those who've had contact with the disease. Yesterday, for example, we heard about a nurse from the Dallas hospital who's been quarantined on a cruise ship. The news is making a big deal about her quarantine, but the truth of the matter is that she has no symptoms. It's a precautionary quarantine.

The Stigma of Quarantine
The health department called me the same day of my diagnosis. I provided them with a list of everyone who'd had close contact with me, including the contractors who worked on my bathroom. Every one of those people had to get gamma globulin shots at the health department. (That was pretty embarrassing for me, and in hindsight, it was hard to say everyone's name, knowing they'd all have to get a shot.) After that, it was a long, lonely three weeks at home. I was blessed to have people from my church who helped me shop and prepared meals for my family. I'll admit, though, I felt a little ostracized. I'd never known anyone else who'd been quarantined, and I wondered if people would judge me as someone who had poor hygeine.

We need to turn the stigma of quarantine on its head. People who submit to quarantine are brave and generous. They are protecting their communities. They deserve thank-you notes, phone calls, and applause from the media. No, we don't want to be around them, but we can give them the respect they deserve.

My prayers go out to the West African people and those elsewhere who've been affected by Ebola. I hope as a world, we can find a way to end the suffering.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Falling in love with Fall

I love summer, but now that it's over, I'm really excited about fall. One fabulous thing about living in Utah is that the leaves change colors in the mountains long before they change everywhere else. This picture is of Silver Lake, a really gorgeous place to visit in the fall. 

The leaves are just beginning to change around my neighborhood. We have so many beautiful golden yellow trees around us right now. My favorite, though, are the maple leaves that turn red. I've never posted a poem before, but this is one of my favorites (a sonnet) that I wrote about a maple leaf.

Maple Leaf
by Rebecca Jamison
I saw a silk tiara starched with sun
where once an old clay goddess laid her head
beneath this tree with autumn just begun
and stretched her wind-glazed limbs on grassy bed.
Or here the scale fell off a dragon's tail
engraved with fiery patterns, lines of skin,
to mark this sight where princesses turn pale
while knights, unheeding, thought what might have been.
Perhaps it is an ancient parchment sent
from far-off moons on rippled waves of air
with crooked words to spell a testament
of other peoples, other worlds to share.
But really winter's shiver shook this tree
and rained a witness of infinity.

Another great thing about fall is Halloween. I have been on the look-out for a good knight costume for years, and I finally found one last month at Costco. Whoohoo. Here's the preview:

Friday, October 3, 2014

Meet me in Bountiful

I'm so excited about this Saturday night. I'll be signing books with Jennifer Moore, who wrote Becoming Lady Lockwood. We'll be at the Deseret Book in Bountiful, Utah from 6:00-8:00 p.m. I'll also have chocolate and free bookplates.

It's been a fun week to be an author. My schedule has finally calmed down enough for me to get some writing done. I also got a great review for Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale in the Deseret News. (Click here to read the review.) 

Among other things, the reviewer wrote: Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale is more than a regurgitation of Austen’s classic. It’s almost a supplement meant to enrich an already wholesome, moving story about the strength of sisterhood and family.
Jamison, a Brigham Young University alum, has written a few other Mormon-targeted Austen adaptations, and her storytelling only gets better with each novel."
I hope you have a great weekend!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Our Favorite Family Movies

My husband loves movies, especially classic movies. I do too. I've already posted a list of some of my favorite black and white movies here. My husband has been making a list of movie recommendations for his friends, so today I'm sharing his list. We prefer clean movies, and these are clean enough for us. But everyone's standards are different. You may want to check the reviews on some of the newer movies before watching them.

Here they are:

African Queen
Back to the Future
Bedtime Stories
Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure
Bridge Over the River Kwai
Bringing Up Baby (Cary Grant, Katherine Hepburn)
Cast Away
Christmas Carol (George C. Scott)
Christmas Story
Christmas with the Kranks
Desk Set
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
Ella Enchanted
Father Goose (Cary Grant)
Follow Me, Boys!
Friendly Persuasion
Galaxy Quest
Get Smart
Gods Must Be Crazy
Gods Must Be Crazy II
Groundhog Day (Bill Murray)
Harry Potter, series
High Noon
His Girl Friday (Cary Grant)
Hunt for Red October
I Remember Mama (Irene Dunne)
It Happened One Night
It's a Wonderful Life (Jimmy Stewart)
Karate Kid
Lawrence of Arabia
Life with Father
Lilies of the Field
Lord of the Rings
Magnificent Seven
Modern Times (Charlie Chaplin)
Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House (Cary Grant)
Music Man
My Fair Lady
My Favorite Wife (Cary Grant)
Nacho Libre
Napolean Dynamite
North by Northwest (Cary Grant)
Philadelphia Story (Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Katherine Hepburn)
Princess Bride
Princess Diaries
Rear Window (Jimmy Stewart)
Seven Brides for Seven Brothers
Sky High
Some Like It Hot (Tony Curtis, Marilyn Monroe)
Sound of Music
Star Trek
Star Wars IV, V, VI
The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer (Cary Grant)
The Court Jester
The General (Buster Keaton)
The Gold Rush (Charlie Chaplin)
The Incredibles
The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (John Wayne, Jimmy Stewart)
The Quiet Man (John Wayne)
The Robe
The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2014)
The Seven Samarai (foreign film)
The Wizard of Oz
To Catch a Thief (Cary Grant)
Toy Story
Treasure Island
Uncle Buck (John Candy)
What about Bob? (Bill Murray)
Willy Wonka
You Can't Take It with You (Jimmy Stewart)

How about you. Do you have a recommendation that's not on our list?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

So You Think You Can't Dance?

I'm going to go out on a limb and make a very politically incorrect statement here. Most white men won't dance. My husband is no exception. He will slow dance, but he will not fast dance in public. Ever. Even if I drag him out into the middle of the dance floor and dance around him. Here's what I've learned--it actually draws more attention to see a tall white man standing perfectly still in the middle of the dance floor than to see him dance. People come up to us and say things like, "You two are so cute" as I dance next to him.

After our last escapade on the dance floor at a wedding reception, I told my husband I wished he'd take dance lessons. A few days later, he came up with a deal for me. He would take dance lessons if I went to a gun class with him. (I have been refusing to go to said gun class for about a year now.) That got me. I said I would do the gun class if he went to the dance classes first.

Friday was our first dance class. I was surprised how many people were there—about 20. And, get this, there were MORE men than women. The men were also, in general, younger than the women. I about fainted.

The class consisted of some young couples who were there to learn to dance for their weddings. Then, there were singles, who I guess go there to meet people. And there was one older couple who was there for fun. The single guys were really nice. I danced with a couple of them while my husband was dancing with the instructor. Not that I'm looking to trade up or anything--especially now that hubby's taking dance lessons.

We learned the waltz, the rumba, the swing, and the hustle. Most people think waltz is the easiest. Not us. We did best at swing and hustle. I guess we're just cool like that.

The beginner’s class was at 7 pm. Then they had a dance party at 8 pm. Lots of older couples and singles came to the dance party. Since we’d already paid for the class, we could stay as long as we liked without paying again, so we stayed and practiced during the party. It was great for people watching. There were some really great dancers there--including old people who danced circles around us and sometimes bumped into us because we didn't know what we were doing.

It was fun to watch the single people. Like I said, there were a lot of young single men—mostly not white men. (What is with white men and dancing?) But here was the most interesting thing: the older single women got to dance over and over again with the young single guys. (Hint hint, ladies.) Who would have thought a ballroom dance class was such a great place to meet other singles? Not me. Now I'm wondering what other places are great for meeting people.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Win New Fiction Titles

This month my publisher is sponsoring a giveaway on You can enter to win a copy of Sense and Sensibility: A Latter-day Tale or another great book like these:

Just click here. Then scroll down to fill out the entry form. You'll need to enter the titles of the books you'd like to win and what format (paperback, kindle, etc.)

I have won books at this site before, so it's not impossible.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Prelude Chains for LDS Hymns

Most of my kids play the piano and, thanks to their awesome teacher, they love it. I love to play the piano in the privacy of my own home. I'm not so sure about playing anywhere else. I have a motor-control problem with my eyes that makes it hard to read notes quickly. I almost always make mistakes when I play. However, sometimes people get desperate enough to ask me to play at church. Right now, I am playing the hymns for our Relief Society meetings.

One of the challenges I had when I started was that I needed to find peaceful prelude music to play before the meeting started. I google-searched "prelude chains" trying to find lists of hymns in the same keys that I could play together. No such luck. I only found music books I could buy. Instead of spending the money, I made my own prelude chains.

Once I had my list, it was so easy to play beautiful prelude music. I carry my list in my purse all the time and just prop it up beside my hymn book when I play.

In case this might be helpful to others, I'm posting my three favorite prelude chains. The numbers indicate the hymn number in the LDS hymnbook. You're welcome to copy and paste. Here they are:

Key of D: 113, 122, 129, 131, 134, 145, 220, 295, 298, 301, 304

Key of G: 97, 98, 108, 133, 135, 136, 141, 22

Key of F: 9, 44, 67, 81, 100, 124, 125, 143, 270, 278, 296, 300, 303