7z: I continue to cure zombies. My idealism is trialed.

Well, same old, same old. Still biting ten zombies a day. I’m not really learning any medicine, and so they are sort of talking about what to do with me. All my electives have been moved to this period, for the time being. This means that everything in third year is going to be a service month. I just don’t want to extend residency. I mean, if I wanted to do that then I would have tried for chief resident. But then, I’m neither social nor much of a gunner, so that particular honor is one that likely would have evaded me regardless.

Anyway, I’ve got bigger problems. The Institute has kept me personally under wraps, to some degree, which is a good thing. Dr. S has given several interviews, along with the CEO, and I have apparently been mentioned a few times. I learned this from my mom, actually. She was watching one of those morning TV shows where people sit on couches and talk blandishments (what’s the appeal of that format? it’s like sharing an interminable elevator ride with the most obnoxious people in the office). They aired that video of the faux-zombie being revived, and then Dr. S and the CEO came on the show as guests. They were surprisingly restrained, according to my mom. They said that a research team had developed a method for conversion of zombies to humans, but that it was risky and not yet suitable for truly wide-scale application. I was mentioned briefly by name, as a “highly skilled technician who is very adept at applying the Institute’s technique.” My mom said that Dr. S seemed like a very compassionate person who genuinely cared about his patients. I did not disabuse her of this notion.

This exposure, paltry though it was, made things a little harder for me at work. I have taken to coming in through a service entrance, but people still stop me and ask if I am really the zombie-biter. I mean, word gets around. The hardest thing about it was going to lunch. There are always some residents from my program who want to know the story, or some MICU fellow or surgery resident who wanted to tell me how worn out they were with all these train wrecks that I was sending up from the Revenant Unit – it got tiresome. Dr. N has allowed me to have a cupboard and a shelf of refrigerator space in the breakroom for my eggs and ramyun and various sauces. Also I have a little teapot and some Dr. Pepper, so things are all right.

While I am on the subject of eating: You might think that biting the shins of the undead all day long would be so disgusting that I would develop an oral aversion. I would have thought that as well. I cannot say that it is pleasant, but it doesn’t seem to be leaving any major scars. For one thing, it doesn’t really feel like biting a person, more like…..I don’t know, something else. Balsa wood? Maybe balsa wood with a layer of latex paint on top? Second, they are always pretty well cleaned off, and no one expects me to bite an area that looks injured or gnarly. And then, third…..it just doesn’t bother me that much. I don’t know why.

The other thing is that I don’t really have a strong sense of doing something great and good. This is very strange. I have always been very idealistic (that was what originally attracted me to the Institute, because patient-centered care “regardless of race, creed or socioeconomic status” has always been their stated guiding principle). I still feel that way. But this particular job that I am doing – converting zombies – just sort of seems like a brief diversion. I know that’s strange, but I am much more focused on being a primary care physician, even still. I guess zombies don’t interest me much.

Not so for my friend Nick. He comes up with a new theory about zombies and zombie conversion about every ten minutes. We are going to try to get a few papers out of this. Definitely there’s a lot here, in terms of methods, epidemiology…..Nick has some really interesting ideas in terms of taking some non-invasive measurements right at the moment of conversion (he listed half a dozen assays; the only ones I had heard of were surface EMG). He wants to get sense of the rate and nature of conversion relative to different types of tissue throughout the zombie’s body. Should be very interesting, and it could make his career.

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