Recent Research – Disease Shopping and Condom History

If you’ve been reading this blog, you already know that I’m planning to publish a series of short stories called “Petroleum Sunset”. I am now working on my third story, and thinking of a fourth. It’s actually panning out kind of like a TV series. Think of a futuristic Waltons with imperfect parents, and with things like gas, medicine and birth control becoming scarce.

To that end, I’ve been doing a little research. First, I had to shop for the perfect disease.

Tetanus

Otherwise known as Lockjaw, tetanus is a soil-born disease thanks to the bacteria Clostridium tetani. It causes muscle spasms that start in the jaw, hence the name. Most of us were immunized against this as babies, and we had a booster when we hit adolescence. It does not come from rust; a common misconception.

I was especially interested in how long it takes before symptoms appear. The victim in this case is a healthy fifteen year old boy who would have gotten the first set of shots, but not the second. (Medical scarcities, you remember.) The story could be called “Quest for a Tetanus Shot”, but it’s not.

I also believe the loss of plastic would devastate the medical community. Plastic is a petroleum product, and in my future it is scarce enough that the boys are rummaging for scrap plastic at the dump at the start of the story. The hospitals would have to go back to glass everything–glass IV bottles, glass syringe bottles, etc. (I need to pick my nurse sister’s brain.) Medical tubing would have to go back to rubber/latex, which some people are allergic to. So that might make it into the story as well, and I need to research what was in use before plastic.

Birth Control

In my world, birth control is getting scarce along with many other forms of medicine. All these scarcities may eventually rectify itself as the world re-adjusts to horse-and-buggy transport, assuming the factories can stay in operation. For now, it’s scarce.

So, I figured that the demand for things like condoms would still be high. Since synthetic latex would be scarce, they would have to be natural latex. Latex condoms were used in the 1800s. They were stinky and aged quickly. The process (and product) was improved in the 20s, and condom sales skyrocketed. The condoms available in my story would likely be similar to these.

Despite the subject matter, this story is actually rated PG.

And dang–those are some diverse topics!

When was the last tetanus shot you got? I had a booster before a trip to India, about twelve years ago. I guess I’m due …

17 thoughts on “Recent Research – Disease Shopping and Condom History

  1. I think my last tetanus shot was not long after I turned twenty-one, but the shot I remember best was when I was about ten. I’d stepped on a rusty nail while playing on the edge of the woods. The nail went right through my flip-flop and gave me a nasty cut. Mom wasn’t in the kitchen, so I decided I was going to make everyone proud by taking care of myself so there I was, pushing this kitchen chair around to reach supplies, all the while tracking bloody footprints everywhere… when mom came in from the garden and totally freaked out. She lectured me, while fixing me up, about making sure I TOLD someone if I got hurt, then took me out to get a tetanus shot, because who knew where that rusty nail had been.

    One of the great things about my mom is that when she lectures me, it’s always a sign that she cares.

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      • I got the shot was at the twenty-four hour clinic, and my mom’s an RN. Between the two, I was well taken care of. And I wasn’t bleeding all THAT bad. I left some blood smudges on the floor. Mom’s the one who called them `great bloody footprints’ as part of her freaking out speech as she whisked me off to the clinic. To be fair, I think most parents freak out of they walk inside and find blood anywhere. (I don’t have kids, but if I did, that would probably send me right over the edge.

        I’d never heard before that tetanus wasn’t caused by rust. This happened about twenty years ago, so it must be a relatively recent discovery. (I know mom has to do a ton of reading each month to keep up with medical discoveries now that she’s back to nursing professionally.)

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  2. I don’t remember the last time I had a tetanus shot. For all the falling down I did as a kid, I rarely fell on anything that inspired talk of tetanus shots, letalone the shots themselves. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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    • My mom was pretty quick to take me to get a tetanus booster when I got some kind of dirty cut or another. I don’t recall the actual cut. :) But I remember the shot, which helped inspire this story.

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      • Since no cut is clean, that would have involved a tetatus shot every few weeks, and sometimes more often than that. I fell down a lot as a kid. Looking back, we blame the balance trouble that wasn’t diagnosed until I was a teenager. {odd smile}

        I’m not surprised that you remember the shot particularly well. {Sympathetic Smile}

        Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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        • It was only that one time. The benefits of a shot lasts up to ten years.

          Yes, I can imagine that having a balance problem mixed with being a growing kid resulted in a lot of injuries.

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          • It’s good for ten years? That’s good to know. I probably just don’t remember my tetanus shots. {Smile}

            I fell down often enough for my parents to think I was pretty clumsy. Which actually I wasn’t, as long as I was sitting down or standing still. My fine motor skills were good. So were my gross motor skills, really. They just weren’t up to the task of keeping me upright when I was walking or running, but only because my balance let them know too late when that changed to falling over. So I had a lot of skinned knees, scraped shins, and abraded palms as a kid. {lop-sided Smile}

            Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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  3. Guys might have more trouble with birth control than gals in this type of setting. Several plants contain estrogen-like substances that can work like birth control pills or morning-after pills. The one I remember off the top of my head is Queen Anne’s Lace seeds, but I know there are others, too. So you might want to look into that. {Smile}

    Anne Elizabeth Baldwin

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    • That’s a good idea and I may use it for some other story. I didn’t realize that there were dependable herb-based contraceptives.

      But the birth control in question is not actually used in this story. It merely serves as a catalyst. I am trying to keep these YA friendly. :)

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      • I don’t promise the seeds are as dependable as birth control pills. But then I don’t promise that older-style condoms are as dependable as modern ones, either. {Smile}

        I’m glad you’re keeping it YA friendly. {SMILE}

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  4. I’m glad you’re keeping it YA friendly. :) It’s amazing how much we take for granted, and how much the world would change if you take plastic. So many of the things you mentioned -like medical tubing- are things I wouldn’t have thought of, at least not off the top of my head. Hmmm… no pamper either. I guess parents would be back to sticking their thumbs with diper-pins to avoid accidentally jabbing the baby.

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    • I think when I went to the hospital recently, I thought of some of the things in this story!

      A future story might deal with childbirth and babies. We’ll see how well the first three stories do.

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  5. I guess it depends how far in the future we’re talking. If it’s a recent collapse, I suppose people will be scrounging for condoms –or Saran Wrap. :)

    If the collapse was several years ago, I imagine women would go back to the rhythm method. Won’t do anything for aids or venereal diseases though.

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    • The collapse was fairly recent–within the last five years. Probably recent enough that there are still a few fantastically expensive and difficult-to-locate condoms available. Funny about the saran wrap!

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