15 October 2021

Published October 13, 2021 by rochellewisoff
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The next photo is the PROMPT. Remember, all photos are property of the photographer, donated for use in Friday Fictioneers only. They shouldn’t be used for any other purpose without express permission. It is proper etiquette to give the contributor credit.


Genre: Realistic Fiction
Word Count:100


Life is made up of challenges, isn’t it? What more can a person do than play the hand she’s been dealt?

My mother often spoke of the vicious morning sickness she suffered during her pregnancy in the 1960’s.

            “My doctor called it a miracle drug,” she said with tears streaming. “One little pill cured my nausea.”

You would think I’d be used to the gawking stares. Born with fingers protruding from my shoulders, I resigned myself to the merry-go-round of prosthetics and wheelchairs a long time ago.

Nonetheless, I dream of winning a foot race.

If only I had feet.

Some may remember the Thalidomide scandal in the UK in the 1960’s. In England the drug was called Destival. Taken by pregnant women for morning sickness, it caused horrendous birth defects. It’s only recently come to light that, while the drug wasn’t approved by the FDA in the States the Wm. S. Merrell Co. distributed it.

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94 comments on “15 October 2021

  • I have a certain understanding and sympathy for some of the anti-vaxxers. This was a side-effect that no-one would know to test for. Today’s vaccines, and their protocols, are much better researched and controlled – and the paranoia that they might contain 5G chips??! 🙄

    Liked by 3 people

    • Dear Archon,

      Oy, the paranoia is getting to me. I don’t worry that I have micro chips running through my veins as a result of the vaccine. Nor to I believe my DNA has been altered. I do understand the apprehension some anti-vaxxers have but I’ve no patience for some of the outrageous. There’s a lot behind the chilling Thalidomide story. Thanks for reading and commenting.



      Liked by 2 people

  • Yes I remember my mother was offered it but did not take….a huge scandal, one of a few we must remind ourselves, but that one really so unacceptable.
    Well told in such a wry style…

    Liked by 1 person

  • I remember. “Thalidomide Babies.” It was such a nightmare, and news began spreading that the drug was producing horrible birth defects, women were terrified if they had taken the drug. Imagine going through the next six months or so wondering if you had created a child who would never be “normal.” As I recall, the drug was removed from the market, but not in time to save SO many kids!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Linda,

      I, too remember the stories. Sadly, the US babies remained hidden from the public view for decades. I wonder if there were any normal babies born to women who took the drug. Having had nine months of constant nausea with my third child, I can’t blame anyone wanting to take a pill to get rid of it.



      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t remember, either, Rochelle. I just remember thinking I was glad the drug was no longer available. I was fortunate–my nausea was usually gone before the second trimester–but it was awful while it lasted. I could never seem to throw up. It just sat there and sat there. . .


    • Dear Bear,

      Call the Midwife did a fabulous job of jogging our memories. I do remember the magazine articles back in the 1960’s when I was a kid. Although at the time it seemed to be England’s problem, not ours. However it’s come to light over the past few years that our country kept it under wraps better. 😦



      Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    I can only imagine how much a suffering-from-morning-sickness mother would jump at the chance for relief. It is a horrible bit of history what resulted from this. I didn’t realise it had crossed the pond either. Now I’m curious to search for Canada – though I’d be surprised if we didn’t, us being a commonwealth country and all.

    I love how you brought this piece of history to light.

    Shalom and lotsa understanding love,


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dale,

      I’ve watched quite a few documentaries and read some articles. They do mention Canada, but I can’t remember to what degree. Australia was also greatly affected by the tragedy. Interesting to note the scientist who discovered the drug was a former Nazi.
      With nine months of nausea with baby number three I totally understand any mother wanting a miracle drug to make it stop. Thank you re my story.

      Shalom and lotsa defect-free hugs,


      Liked by 1 person

  • An important story, as always well told. It was a horrible tragedy, in Germany also. Here, it was called Contergan and recommended for pregnant women as a safe headache remedy.
    I will throw my two € into the debate: It is a good thing to be critical of Big Pharma. However, the criticism has to be rational and based on facts. That means that people need to make the effort to learn about scientific procedure and not just quote what fits their worldview. Todays quarrels are products of fear, myth, fantasy, and also greed and power-hunger of a different kind.
    Apart from that I find it important because people with disabilities even today are ‘unseen’-and that has to change.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Dear Gabi,

      Actually the drug started in Germany. I can’t imagine the insurmountable guilt doctors must’ve experienced. Thank you re my story and for your magnificent comment re today’s debate. I’m fully vaccinated, boostered and weary of it all.



      Liked by 1 person

      • I’m weary, too. Didn’t have my booster yet since I’ve been vaccinated twice with the Astra (Oxford) vaccine (too old for the mRNA cross-vaxx at the time) and have to wait til the end of November for my booster.

        Liked by 1 person

  • A well told story that brings to light that terrible time when so many babies were affected. We all need to remember the incredible life saving drugs that have eliminated so many diseases and saved so many lives and not get paranoid about all vaccines.

    Liked by 1 person

  • If this one example of a history of extreme examples doesn’t convince anyone of the evils of Big Pharma, I don’t know what will. Big Pharma is one example of the sickness of our “new and improved” civilization. I can’t imagine being a child born from this evil practice or a parent, blaming themselves for wanting relief from nausea 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lisa,

      It is a blot on history, isn’t it? It’s appalling how Big Pharma gouges the patient. I’m on a medication that, were it not for my military insurance, would cost a fortune…at least 10 times (no exaggeration) what I pay for it.
      Sadly the women who took Thalidomide for nausea had no idea of the consequences. I imagine a few doctors suffered the guilt as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.



      Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Liz,

      I was given Bendectin with my second one in 1978. It was taken off the market for potential birth defects. It helped the nausea. Fortunately it didn’t cause my son any problems. I had nausea for nine months with my third, with no relief. Just toughed it out.




  • Dear Rochelle,

    In the early ’60’s my Mom was given something to help her nausea by a doctor who had newly arrived from England and Mom miscarried. I wonder now if that was due to thalidomide. She never told me the name. Funny, how horrors like this that affect hundreds of thousands of people are swept swiftly under the rug by corporations and governments. The companies change their names, their executives face no charges, and life goes on until the next atrocity. God bless the many who continue to suffer the effects of such crimes to this day. They should be compensated voluntarily by these pharmaceuticals.

    In one hundred words, you broke our hearts. That’s some storytelling.

    Shalom u’vrakha,

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Dora,

      It sounds like your mom dodged a bullet in the 60’s. I’d be willing to bet the drug was Thalidomide. Sadly the valiant survivors are still fighting to be compensated. It shouldn’t even be a question, should it?
      Thank you re my story. There’s no higher compliment a writer can get than knowing her story evoked strong emotion.

      Shalom u’vrakha,


      Liked by 1 person

  • Oy, My Dearest Rochelle,

    I quote from Stephen King’s, “On Writing.”
    “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered, anyway.” Stir the pot. It’s fun!

    Also, this reminds me of the seventh stanza of the song, “We didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel…

    “Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
    Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, “Bridge on the River Kwai”
    Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
    Starkweather homicide, children of thalidomide”

    Many thanks to you for this, and to all the dedicated peeps in HHS and its agencies as they work hard to prevent such catastrophic bungling.

    Peace (except when whipping up trouble) 🙂


    Liked by 1 person

  • Hi Rochelle,
    It’s been awhile and I hope you’re going okay. I’ve been doing a lot of research and writing on the WWI soldiers, but am trying to get back into writing flash fiction as well. An Australian doctor William McBride blew the whistle on the effects of thalidomide, although the Australian Government was slow to let people know of the dangers causing unnecessary disability and heartache. a link: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-47703344
    My second cousin was born without a hand and I’m not sure whether than was agent orange or thalidomide.
    Best wishes,


    • Dear Rowena,

      Nice to see you back. I guess it depends on how old your cousin is to determine whether it’s Thalidomide or Agent Orange. Both can cause birth defects. I once posted a story about the latter and a horrifying video of what it’s done to the post war babies in Vietnam.
      Thank you.



      Liked by 1 person

  • I’m rather amazed that you must have close scrutinized the image, to notice there is a wheel chair in it – and then let your imagination run so freely, unfortunately to a dark and lonely place. I know that initially I just was wondering how you made such a leap, but now I see. As for your story? Always some horror or such that prevails, blowing an ill wind, in this case, long-term. Your story, however, is written with sensitivity, and a respectful nod to the issue.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear WildChild,

      Confession. I honestly didn’t see the wheelchair. I had this subject on my mind and the prompt seemed to fit. I’ve been binge watching (for a second time) Call the Midwife where they dealt so beautifully with the Thalidomide crises. This prompted me to search the internet to find out what happened to these deformed children. What I learned about the plight of these now adults seeking compensation from the drug companies made me weep. Thank you for your wonderful comments.



      PS You’ll find that I often go far afield from what’s actually in the photo. This time, I didn’t go as far as I thought. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

      • okay, so this time, it was a “happy coincidence” 😂 The only reason I noticed it was because I magnified the image, seemed like something a bit “odd” in the frame – and then I saw it, so naturally, I thought you had too. Either way, the image inspires and points us off to explore – as do all the other things that infuse or are steeping in our brains …. once again, a very well written flash – even for as hard and horrifying the topic (I still can’t wrap my head around the Thalidomide crisis) …..


  • Thanks, Rochelle, for this. I have a snippet of a memory as an adult somewhere in the mid-to late 1970s/early 190s of a thalidimide survivor. While I’ve lost the context (could be I took a class with her), I do clearly remember a young woman pulling her sock off one foot with the other. And then, picking up (somehow placed for her use) and putting a pen and another time a coloured pencil between her toes and writing and drawing, rather than use prosthetic arms (my online spell check doesn’t work, my apologies). I think these were uncomfortable and expensive. I was amazed then at her courage and her adaptability. Thanks for reminding me of her with this story. And again, sorry for my the length of my misspelt 10 cents worth. Now off to post my Friday Fictioneers story.

    Liked by 1 person

  • Your original story is poignant and the comments certain add multi-flavored topings. As I said in my comment to Dale, a relative had a very close call with this drug, and since they only ever had the one child, we’re so thankful for that “lost” scrip. I did read once that the “clinical trials” testing the drug were a pretty haphazard affair with sloppy records.

    I didn’t realize some anti-vaxxers feared deformities. I’ve heard a few health risks mentioned but what we hear from our anti- kin stems from different fears. Govt trying to control us all, etc. Since I’m not a subversive, tracking my activities would be a waste of someone’s time. 🙂

    I don’t knock science. Having discovered that gr-gr-grandma, two of her children and father-in-law all died within three months circa Jan 1864 –one record says of smallpox– I’m very thankful for the cures science has given us for those one-time killers. I learned that there as strong resistance to smallpox vaccination for half a century, but it finally won out. In a perfect world gross human errors–and cover-ups– would never happen…and people wouldn’t fight so hard against advantageous changes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Christine,

      I didn’t know about the resistance to the smallpox vaccines. I’ve often wondered if there was the same resistance to polio vaccines. Two I’m grateful for.
      Apparently, until recent years when US Thalidomide survivors found each other, the issue has been swept under the rug. It appears there were many more than the “handful” claimed in the past.
      As you pointed out, if the government were putting nanos in my bloodstream as a means of tracking, they would be über bored. 😉
      Thank you for such a wonderful comment.



      Liked by 1 person

  • I’ve watched docos on this nasty drug. For me, what is equally bad is the way children and adults with disabilities were treated back then. Terrible enough to be born with impairments… but with the right help, attitude, and resources most people can have a fulfilling life.

    Liked by 1 person

  • A terrible and important reality for too many still, and yes, it was also distributed in the US (and elsewhere). Thank you for voicing what is so often looked away from or forgotten.
    And, interestingly enough, the photo may have resonated in the realms of what’s not seen or spoken of … for look where it took mine … xoxo Na’ama

    Liked by 1 person

  • Forgive me for skipping out this week. I was against a deadline. I needed to have my new regalia in some sort of working order for tomorrow. I know, I know, I should have had it done weeks ago. Fiddly thing this supply chain issue. Anyway, I’ll see y’all next week. Shabbot shalom, Bear

    Liked by 1 person

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