Friday, December 24, 2010

Doctor Who?

It took me a while to convince him that people knowing his first name wouldn't be such a bad thing. It brings me great pleasure to finally be able to call him something other than "the new doctor" or "the other doctor". His name is Phil. 

That's right. Doctor Phil. 

We don't call him that, of course. We never call Evans "Doctor Evans". It'd just be weird. Thinking about it, though, makes me wonder if he didn't want us to tell people his name just so no one would make that stupid joke...

We've been doing a lot of work around here lately. People are still coming in here and there, some staying while the majority move on or go back home. We've had patients from as far as three hundred miles away come to us. I wouldn't have thought so many people would have the resources to make it so far, but one thing about being able to look outside and see the dead walking is that it greatly increases your ability to handle surprise. 

And trust me, we can see them walking out there. A lot of people were living out in their cars or in tents before the large groups of cold-proof zombies started to show up. The parking lot for this hospital is walled in, so none of them were in too much danger, but I get why so many of them wanted to have more brick between themselves and the undead. 

We've picked up some interesting facts from the people that come to us for treatment. Phil has an amazing bedside manner (which is strange considering that most doctors are...well, that's just the nurse in me coming out...) and people tend to open up to him easily. For instance, there is a farm about forty miles south of where we are that has almost as many people as the compound did before we fled, and the people there have managed to stockpile truly huge amounts of food. Also neat is the tip we got about a small oil refinery a hundred miles down the road, one that has plenty of gas ready for the taking. 

We've gotten dozens of nifty tidbits like that thanks to Phil. He's sort of the opposite of Evans. Where Evans is, and I say this with love, sort of a surly bastard, Phil is gentle and caring. The flip side to that coin is that while Evans has forty years of practical experience with trauma and emergency medicine, Phil is racing to relearn the basics of those things. He's not an idiot or anything--it's just that once he specialized in working on cancer, he didn't need to keep up with much else. 

I really don't want to make it sound like Phil is doing anything wrong or isn't pulling his weight. He's working ten or twelve hours a day with patients, then spending at least two hours with Evans and a few of the students learning surgical procedures, treatment options, diagnostics...he's actually pretty amazing in his work ethic. 

We're doing a good thing here, no matter what else is going on. Thinking about how things have gone in the last weeks makes me wonder if running from the compound doesn't have its major upsides. If we hadn't, we would never have met most of the people we've been caring for, never built what connections we have made. Our group has achieved communication and a lasting good will with so many other survivors since we left home, and I don't think that should be dismissed. 

I would like to think that eventually, we would have trained enough people that we could have sent some out into the world to do exactly what we're doing now. The truth is that I doubt it would have happened. Risking a resource as limited as a person who has the knowledge, gained over years, to cut you open and fix you, then sew you back up? It's a hard leap to make, at least for me. 

I wish the soldiers from Richmond hadn't done this to us. In a way, I'm glad they did, because I don't know that we could have reached a point of stability in my lifetime to make the citizens of the compound willing to take the risks we're taking now. It took the threat of total destruction or complete oppression to put us on this path. 

And as long as we're forced to be on it, I will take solace in the good we're doing. It's that easy. 

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