Desperately Sleep Deprived and a Little Progress

How can it be the end of July? Time froze in March, didn’t it? No, of course not. Time marches relentlessly forward. So onward I march. July was a month of being desperately sleep deprived and a little progress.

Mug inscribed with  "It's coffee o'clock" held the elixir of the desperately sleep deprived me

Sleep Deprived

The first week of July my fifteen-year-old Yorkie, Astro, had a dreadful night. He couldn’t settle down. I could find nothing wrong with him, but he’d only quiet down if I held him. So I held him a lot, thinking we were near the end of his time with us.

After a brief phone consultation with the vet’s office the next morning, I decided to keep him home and love on him. So, I drank lots of my magic elixir and we muddled through days and nights and then weeks.

He improved slowly. He’s weaker than before and can lose his balance easily. But he drinks and eats well—better than before his awful night. And he sleeps through the night again. Walking in the grass is much easier for him, so I give him plenty of opportunities to do that. And I’m still loving on him a lot.

WIP Progress Report

If I Should Die, book 2 in The Fellowship Dystopia series, is at 85,000 words. I didn’t make half the progress I had intended to in July. And after a few nights sleep, I realized that sleep-deprived writing isn’t good writing. I backtracked a bit and am moving forward again.

Learning

I continue to learn about marketing books and am beginning to see that learning turn into some profitable marketing. Yay!

I also took an amazing course from Margie Lawson’s Writer Academy. “Potent Pitches and Brilliant Blurbs,” taught by Suzanne Purvis, was worth every penny and every minute of time I spent on it. And now I have a blurb, or back of the book description, for If I Should Die. (It will be revealed in a few months.)

Reading

Line drawing of a boy leaning against his dog while reading a book and like him, despite being sleep deprived I read

I finished Writing the Other, A Practical Approach by Nisi Shawl & Cynthia Ward. It challenges you through discussions and exercises to examine your preconceived notions of the “other.” The other is any person whose gender or race or ethnicity or culture differs from yours. I’ve been aware of my white privilege for a long while, but this book opened my eyes further. I highly recommend this book for anyone who wishes to write “other” points of view.

I also finished Rogue Protocol by Martha Wells. I found this one to drag a little in the middle, but once all the setup process finished, it zips right along to a satisfying ending. If you haven’t read Murderbot’s stories—I recommend them.

In Review

I learned a lot. I’ve made plans for posts and for website improvements. New covers are in progress. And cars, yard, and house got some improvements. (A huge thank you shout out to my son for his help!)

We continue to stay home and follow safe distances, hand washing, and masking when we’re out.

While desperately sleep deprived and a little progress is the title for this month’s progress report, it doesn’t say it all. Love and health and forward motion end this rocky month on a positive note. How was your month?

How Long Do You Want to Live?

If you could choose, how long do you want to live? To 100, 200, 500 years of age? Perhaps your answer is, it depends—will I be healthy?

Photo of a wrinkled old woman smiling at the question how long would you want to live.

By the end of this decade, nearly 1 in 5 Americans will be 65 or older. Three out of 4 will have two or more serious health conditions. At least 1 in 4 can expect memory lapses and fuzzy thinking, while 1 in 10 will develop dementia.

You’re not part of the generation known as the Boomers? Don’t worry. You’ll age, too. 

Aging-Factors that Cause Disease

The research is extensive. And unfortunately, there isn’t just one thing that leads to age-related diseases. There are many: inflammation; a metabolism system that doesn’t work right; inactive stem cells; stress-related damage, environmental toxins, and more. These problems of aging cells lead to diseases like heart disease, stroke, diabetes, osteoarthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s, and cancer.

Fortunately, there’s been a “perfect storm” in anti-aging research. All kinds of treatments for age-related illnesses are moving into or already in clinical trials. They aim to make us grow old in better health. If you could grow old in good health, how long do you want to live?

Anti-Aging Research

A new class of anti-aging drugs called senolytics may give future you the opportunity to choose.

Senolytics remove certain cells that accumulate as we age. The cells create a low level of inflammation that blocks normal mechanisms of cellular repair. These cells, called senescent cells, create a toxic neighborhood for your cells. 

Halting Osteoarthritis

Image of the bones of the knee with inflammation at the knee joint

The goal of Unity Biotechnology, a biotechnology company in California, is to “halt, slow or reverse age-associated diseases, while restoring human health.” Their lead product is a treatment for osteoarthritis (OA) of the knee. It passed the Phase I clinical trial in patients with moderate-to-severe OA of the knee in June 2019. The patients in the clinical trial tolerated the single injection well and showed improvement in pain and in function of the knee. They will publish the results of the Phase II clinical trial within the next six months.

Age-Related Respiratory Illnesses

Winter colds, flu, pneumonia and other respiratory tract infections that send over 1 million older adults to the hospital every year and kill more than 75,000. And that was before Covid.

In studies of more than 900 people by a Boston-based biotech company, their drug reduced the risk for age-related cases of respiratory diseases. Statistically clinical trial patients had 31 percent fewer respiratory infections — (colds, flu, bronchitis and pneumonia). Those with asthma had 68 percent fewer infections. People 85 and older had 67 percent fewer infections. There were fewer severe infections, too.

This drug works differently. It inhibiting an enzyme that regulates growth and metabolism in cells but goes into hyper-drive during the aging process.

A Phase 3 study of this drug started in 2019. If its results are as positive, the FDA could approve the drug for use as early as in 2021.

Other Age-Related Research

would you take these capsules every day if you could then decide how long you would

There are tons of research being done in age-related illnesses. Dementia, particularly Alzheimer’s Disease, is one of them with some promising results.

A drug commonly used in other countries to control diabetes in human patients also has shown promising anti-aging effects.

And there are many more drugs with the promise of having anti-aging effect.

They need more research and testing to be certain, but treatments for things we thought inevitable may be just around the corner. 

How Long Do You Want to Live?

If age-related diseases weren’t an issue, how long do you want to live? Even if these drugs don’t extend your life for another hundred years, you could live to be a healthy 85 or 100. How would that change society? Would we still retire at 65? What would happen to Social Security? How much retirement money would we need to live another 35 or 40 healthy years? So many questions that need answers. Health at 85 sounds pretty good. How long do you want to live? Would you take a pill or two if it guaranteed you’d be healthy at 85?

The First to Discover the Sex Chromosomes

When women rarely went to high school, Nettie Maria Stevens (1861-1912) wanted to be a research scientist. We don’t know a lot about her personal life, but she became a biologist. And though she received little credit for it during her lifetime, she was the first to discover the sex chromosomes.

Photograph of Nettie Stevens the first to discover the sex chromosomes

The Incubator (courtesy of Carnegie Institution of Washington) / Public domain

Before the 1900s, the link between Mendel’s genetic rules and gender were unclear. Scientists didn’t know what factors determined the sex of an offspring. Some believed external factors such as temperature and nutrition influenced gender. Very few thought chromosomal factors were responsible for the gender of offspring.

Early Life

Born on July 7th, 1861 in Cavendish, Vermont to Julia and Ephraim Stevens. Records of her early life are sketchy. We know her mother died relatively early in Stevens’s life but don’t know what caused her death. 

Her father, a carpenter, remarried and the family moved to Westford, Massachusetts. He earned enough to send both of his daughters to high school, though it was uncommon to educate women. Stevens graduated from Westford Academy in 1880. She and her sister, Emma, were two of three women to graduate from her high school.

Teacher, Librarian, and Student

Stevens wanted to become a scientist but needed to earn money for her higher education. She became a teacher and a librarian.

She taught courses in physiology and zoology, mathematics, Latin, and English.

After teaching for three terms, she continued her education at Westfield Normal School (now Westfield State University) completing the four-year course in only two years and being graduated with the highest scores in her class.

She enrolled in the one-year-old Stanford University in 1896. By 1899 she’d earned her B.A. and graduated with an M.A. in biology in 1900.

For a year, she did graduate work under Oliver Peebles Jenkins and his former student and assistant professor, Frank Mace MacFarland. During this time, her work in physiology focused more and more on histology.

She earned her PhD from Bryn Mawr College in 1903.

And in 1904 she received a fellowship from the Carnegie Institution of Washington.

Discovering the Sex Chromosomes

She wrote and published a research paper in 1905. “Studies in Spermatogenesis with Especial Reference to the ‘Accessory Chromosome’” was one of the 20th century’s major scientific breakthroughs. 

Stevens studied insects and discovered the sperm cells would differ by one chromosome. Some sperm cells carried a large chromosome while others carried a smaller one. She noticed that unfertilized eggs did not have this difference and concluded that the smaller chromosome was responsible for sex determination.

Today we know these two chromosomes as X and Y.

Uncredited

Most scientists of the time did not embrace Stevens’s findings.

Edmund Wilson, another researcher, independently made a similar discovery. Because of his higher reputation (and in my opinion, his gender), he received credit for her discovery when his own discoveries and papers were not as strong or as accurate.

She remained uncredited for her discovery until scientific research and society grew to acknowledge and search for accomplishments by women.

Death

At 50 years old, Stevens had published more than 38 papers in cytology and experimental physiology. Finally, she was offered her dream job, a research professor at Bryn Mawr College, but was too ill to accept the position. 

She died of breast cancer on May 4, 1912. They buried Stevens in the Westford, Massachusetts cemetery beside her father and her sister.

They buried Stevens in the Westford, Massachusetts cemetery beside her father and her sister.

Legacy

The National Women’s Hall of Fame inducted Stevens into the Hall in 1994.

Google displayed a doodle showing Stevens peering through a microscope at XY chromosomes on July 7, 2016, her 155th birthday.

Westfield State University opened the Dr. Nettie Maria Stevens Science and Innovation Center on May 5, 2017.

The state-of-the-art building houses the university’s “STEM-related degree programs.” (Nursing and Allied Health, Chemical and Physical Sciences, Biology, Environmental Science and the master’s degree program in Physician Assistant Studies.)

It takes a special kind of strength to lead a life outside of society’s norms. This post is part of an ongoing series that celebrates women who are role models, leaders, and strong women.

Nettie Stevens was the first to discover the sex chromosomes and realize that one of them determined gender. Her discovery opened the doors of science and led to things like the identification of hereditary diseases, understanding human and animal development, and even the onset of forensic science. Tip of the hat to Dr. Nettie Stevens.