Chicago O’Hare Airport 7:26 AM: I pulled out of our farmhouse driveway at 3:24AM and wondered if I’d make the plane. I’d overslept by over an hour and hadn’t packed before hitting the pillow last night. I thought I wouldn’t be able to drive my usual 70mph on I-94 into the Twin Cities because it would be three hours before the pedal-to-the-metal commuters would be screaming into Minneapolis. I hadn’t realized that 3 AM belongs to the long-haulers and that they set an aggressive pace that sheltered my Impala from any radar sweeping the roads.
Thanks to the semi traffic I got to the airport in record time, made the first flight to Chicago and I’m now waiting for the connecting flight to Washington, D.C. To be honest, I’m a bit nervous. Even after a long career in public relations, and years in television and radio journalism, and more than a decade coaching executives, scientists and elected officials on how to deal with hostile media, I’m concerned about tomorrow – meeting with FDA reps and members of Congress to let them know that we’ve got a problem. A big, big problem.
According to reports from the Centers for Disease Control, and the World Health Organization, we’re at a point of crisis when it comes to having the antibiotics we need to fight disease. In the US, 23,000 people die and 2,000,000 suffer illness because bacteria have become resistant to the antibiotics that served us so well for many years. Why? It seems these superbugs are the result of the low-level antibiotics routinely fed to livestock in industrial ag operations. The medicines go into their feed to boost weight gain (think profits) and to combat the crowded conditions of industrial ag feedlots. These conditions have promoted the evolution of superbugs – bacteria resistant to antibiotics.
I’ll be one of 30+ moms, dads, grandparents, scientists and others who will be making the case to stop this overuse of antibiotics. The event is called Supermoms against Superbugs, and it’s organized by Save Antibiotics, a program of the Pew Charitable Trusts.
This afternoon, the event organizers will give tips on how to speak effectively to our Congressmen and FDA representatives. I really want to do a good job because I want antibiotics to work should my children or grandchildren become ill. Don’t you?
Will our elected officials listen? Will they do something because a couple of dozen people traveled to Washington, D.C.? We won’t have the tens of millions of dollars the other side pours into lobbying in Washington every year. It’ll be us – regular people – making a case for sanity and public health.
Wish me luck. And please check out the Save Antibiotics link. We need your voice to influence our Congressmen and policies that will protect the antibiotics we have.