I’m the Doctor Now

So here we are, zombie fans, in post-apocalyptic Alexandria. It’s The Walking Dead, of course. What else is there?

She sits on the floor, cramming from a book as if she has the biggest final of her life in the next hour.

Which she does, actually. 

“I’m the doctor now,” she informs the others, in the infirmary looking for aspirin for a headache. 

The other town doctor is dead. No spoilers for you, but, he’s dead. 

“I’m a psychiatrist, actually, but…”

So she has now been thrust into the biggest, baddest assignment she’s ever had, playing Dr. Kildare to a town full of dreamers with flowers in their hair and realists with guns in the belts, all living behind a flimsy metal wall, thousands of zombies just down the road. Piece of cake, right?

It’s a freaking nightmare. 

I’ve thought about it before. Haven’t you? Really?

I have a nice steady life, doing a nice steady job that I feel qualified to do, in a place that is reasonably comfortable and keeps me safe from most bad things the world could throw at me. In other words, I live in a pre-apocalyptic Alexandria. But let’s face it, my friends, it could all change tomorrow, couldn’t it?

I’ve seen and felt a very small piece of it. The time that always comes to mind for me is working in Mississippi and Louisiana just hours after Hurricane Katrina roared ashore and changed that part of our country forever. I found myself on a plane to Jackson, then in a car, then a house on the hard floor in a sleeping bag in the hottest room I had a ever tried to sleep in. And that was just the first night. It was miserable. 

As I was deployed and began to talk to people who were displaced, hundreds and then thousands of them, I was struck, hard, with the isolation of the work, even amidst those thousands of people. After the first eighteen hour day, I was tired, hot, dirty, hungry, thirsty, sweaty, sad, angry, and missing home very badly. I had a cell phone, thank goodness. I could connect with the folks back home. It was a cherished lifeline. That first night, I didn’t know if I was going to be able to stay. I didn’t know if I could do it. It was too overwhelming. It was too devastating. It was too hard. 

There weren’t even any zombies in Mississippi. 

We live in a crazy world. People hate other people. People kill other people. Bombs go off. Buildings fall. Busses explode. 

I don’t believe we’ll ever have a zombie apocalypse, but another real disaster is a definite possibility. 

What would I do I f I found myself in a situation where I was the only person with medical training, the only person who might be able to save a life if an appendix burst? What would I do if I was the only one in the room when the baby’s head started to crown? What if someone was bleeding out from a severed artery after a shrapnel wound? 

I wonder sometimes if I would be up to the challenge. Would I be good enough? Would my general medical and surgical training, so many, many years ago, kick in and shore me up in time of need? 

Would I be able to say, “I’m the doctor now”?

We live in stressful, scary times. The threats are real. The enemies, internal and external, are real. The dangers are real. The challenges are huge.

We must not be afraid, but we must be realistic, prepared and willing to do whatever it takes if the time comes to survive in post-apocalyptic Alexandria.