Kent Heckenlively Book Debut: PLAGUE – One Scientist's Intrepid Search for the Truth about Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue S
Posted Mar 01 2014 12:00am
By Kent Heckenlively
For those readers kind enough to notice my absence from the pages of Age of Autism for the past two years I’d like to offer an explanation.
If you recall my last articles, I had become very intrigued by the story of Dr. Judy Mikovits and her investigation of retroviruses and their possible connection to chronic fatigue syndrome/ME as well as autism. In many ways I felt her story, especially the campaign of persecution against her, mirrored that of many other honest scientists who have looked for answers to the questions raised by these diseases.
That inquiry has resulted in Dr. Mikovits and I writing the book, “PLAGUE – One Scientists’ Intrepid Search for the Truth about Retroviruses, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Autism, and Other Diseases” to be published by Skyhorse Press on May 6 2014. The web-site for the book is now on-line at www.plaguethebook.com and you can pre-order from the site as well as read some other interesting content.
As an autism advocate, one of the things which has long drawn my attention is that so many of the mothers of children with autism have been diagnosed with chronic fatigue syndrome at one point, or like my wife, appear to have sub-clinical indications of the disorder.
Dr. Judy Mikovits, a 20-year veteran of the National Cancer Institute was well-placed to investigate these questions when she started her work on neuro-immune diseases like chronic fatigue syndrome and autism in 2006. Dr. Mikovits has published more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, many in the world’s top medical journals and she has been profiled in Discover magazine as well as the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
I must confess that the two years I spent writing PLAGUE have changed many of my views. I’ve been deeply impressed by the humanity and compassion of many scientists, while at the same time have become more keenly aware of the political and financial obstacles which prevent scientists from making the type of contributions to the well-being of society that they imagined at the beginning of their careers.
On most nights I sit with my thirteen-year-old son, Ben, and we read for a few minutes before going to sleep. He prefers science fiction and fantasy and often he’ll run across a series he enjoys so much he demands I read it so we can talk about it. Ben loved the “Inheritance” series of books by Christopher Paolini, and would not rest until I’d read all four books. While I was working on PLAGUE I couldn’t help but feel that some of the themes of Paolini’s fantasy tale were applicable to the story I was writing.
In the Inheritance cycle, a teenage boy, Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, struggle to overcome the evil king, Galbatorix. At the climatic showdown, the evil king tells the young hero that any war Eragon might start would create more suffering than anything the king had done during his reign. And what the king says is true. A war would cause greater suffering than the evil Eragon was struggling to overcome.
But the young hero needs to find a way to defeat the tyranny of the king and lift the darkness that has descended over the land. The king has prepared himself for what he believes to be every possible line of attack by erecting a formidable series of physical and magical defenses. The young hero realizes that he cannot defeat the king by force of arms. But victory can be achieved if king truly understands what his reign over the land has cost the people.
Eragon casts a spell of understanding, (something the king never expected) so that the king can see the results of his actions and the misery he has caused. In the end, the king who had believed his reign was just, sees what he has truly wrought, and takes his own life.
I understand the passions these issues generate in some people. I do not seek to cause trouble. If there is any spell I can cast, let it be one of understanding and reconciliation, so that others may see that what they believe to have been so beneficial, may have caused harm to many people. There are no evil kings in this story, no dragons, and I am certainly no wizard. But the themes of truth and justice are universal.
If there is one wish I have it is that this book may work its way past the defenses of those who have armored themselves against our concerns and bring about true understanding. I believe that the desire for truth and to lend assistance to those in need is so much stronger than fear and indifference.
Call it a spell, call it a prayer, but my hope for the book, PLAGUE is that it helps many to “understand” some of the critical issues raised by these diseases. If we honestly look at these problems, I believe the answers can be found much quicker than anybody realizes.