Monday, April 16, 2012

Going Dark

One of the folks from Louisville died in the night. I'm in a different part of the clinic, so I wasn't aware of it until I woke up a few minutes ago. Evans is going to do an autopsy, which as you can imagine is unusual.

Somehow, whoever was on duty missed the death at first. I've been a nurse's aide, I know it's not hard to do. Sometimes when people are sleeping soundly and you pop your head in to check on them, you can just make the assumption they're still breathing. After all, they'd been breathing for years without stopping.

In a nutshell, that means the guy on duty didn't know he had a dead body on one of his cots for nearly four hours. A body that had begun to mortify, which is again something unusual. The departed in question is currently strapped to a table just in case, but it's been at least six hours and so far has shown no signs of reanimating into a zombie.

In fact, everything we can see indicates that our fallen ally is just...dead.

I'm too groggy to speculate on what this may mean. The zombie plague is a complicated organism, but the human immune system is a powerful beast in its own right. Maybe after a long enough time some people will begin to build resistance to the infection, I don't know. That's going to be something Evans will try to determine through autopsy, I guess.

The worrying thing is that the guy didn't even get worse. The Louisville crew that have been here for weeks have had peaks and valleys in their illness, but last night there were no changes. No ragged breath, no gasping for air or crackling in the lungs. Just sleeping soundly one minute, lights out the next.

The medical team here is worried that the easy diagnosis for the Louisville group may have been the wrong one. Evans and Gabby sat with me a few minutes ago so I could listen to their thoughts and prepare notes for Will. They made some good points, though Gabby did most of the talking. Evans is a cranky old sawbones and very good at what he does, but Gabs spent the last few years before The Fall studying to be a Nurse Practitioner. Combine that with her love of medicine and endless curiosity, and you get one hell of a diagnostician. Evans isn't a slouch by any means, but he's just not up on the same things. His insight was extremely valuable anyway.

While we don't know exactly what killed the poor guy last night, there are several important factors to keep in mind. Evans told me about how rampant disease was back in Vietnam. There were a lot of soldiers on our side who hadn't had vaccinations through one error or another. Many were exposed to diseases that there were no vaccines for.

Which raises the alarming point that we're now operating in pretty much the same circumstances. Most of us have been vaccinated for various things, but that's the past. The passel of babies here haven't had that blessing, nor is it likely they ever will. All those crazy people who didn't give their kids vaccines and immunizations because of corporate greed or government microchips or whatever would just freaking love this situation.

Too bad most of those folks never looked into mortality rates of communities without those treatments.

Even that is a long-term worry. The immediate fear is that the Louisville people brought some unknown pathogen with them. If that's the case, it doesn't seem easily vectored to other people, because none of us are sick. I'd been working with these folks for weeks and living among them for nonstop for more than a week. Maybe not in the same room, but close. And I'm not sick yet.

Injuries are something we can handle. They're quantifiable problems that have definite solutions. Illness on any scale larger than individual is a whole other beast. Not one easily slain, if at all.

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