Tuesday, May 11, 2010

American Apocalypse IV - Heartland Chapter 4d

Moving everyone was about what I expected. The women were used to hardship but they knew where they were going was better than where they had been so their spirits were good. They were better at moving in the woods then most people were prior to PowerDown but they had no idea how to move as soldiers. They didn't have their eyes where they needed to be. They were wary rather than watchful.

When we stopped to take a break and Carol sought me out. Everyone knew something was going on between us. That was obvious from the way their eyes tracked the both of us. That was probably the biggest problem I had with living in close quarters with people. Everything became amplified. Emotions echoed and ricocheted. It was annoying.

She sat down next to me and said "I'm sorry."

I told her "Not a problem." and smiled. She looked at me, searching for clues I suppose on how to play it. Then with the directness I always admired in her she dug into her bag of belongings, well mostly other peoples belonging she had looted on our way out. She dug out a small t-shirt and handed it to me. This is Zane's. Then she began reciting her facts:

"He is 4"5' and he is skinny. He has blondish brown hair and he always looks tan."

"No kidding" I thought.

She continued "He has a four inch scar on his right arm from when we were crossing all those fields. Damn farmers love barbwire. I was lucky. We still had some neosporin left. Plus he was healthier then. I am pretty sure he is in West Virginia now. Some Army Colonel has his own private kingdom out there. He has tie ins to the Brethern and a few other groups including what is left of the government. He supposedly isn't a slaver or a racist. He just wants young men like my son to raise. I heard talk that he wants to build a new Sparta whatever the hell that means."

She stopped. I thought she was done so I got up. As I did she grabbed my arm and then let go of it just as quickly. "It was daytime and she could see my eyes now" I thought. Then the anger went away when I saw the need in hers. "Find my boy G. Please."

I bit back what I wanted to say and instead gave her what I hoped was a reassuring grin and said "Sure." Then I told everyone else "Lets move."


  1. Tetanus will be a big problem,MRSA is already everywhere (I learned THAT one),cholera will come back,TB in the camps,Giardia is already in every stream and river,polio,encephalitis...People who don't pay attention have no clue about how many can die from what are now usually minor problems.Effing idiot rich people think plagues stop at the gate of their communities.Talk about painful lessons.

  2. Tom, if we indeed suffer an apocalypse, it will be history repeated. The original inhabitants of the Americas were not conquered by the military might of the Spanish, or, subsequently, the English. They were conquered by the microbe, the virus and the bacteria. More than 70% of the indigenous populations were wiped out before ever seeing a white face, because European diseases traveled much faster than European men. Had the indigenous people been immune to the diseases carried by the Europeans, they probably would never have been conquered.

    Some things, like MRSA, might not survive an apocalyptic future because they kill the host too quickly to survive (without hospitals to preserve the hosts). Basically, they are too virulent to succeed in a society without advanced medical care. Anywhere groups of men live together, without sanitary water and sewage disposal, in close contact with cattle and fowl, will be a breeding ground for diseases that we haven't needed to fear for hundreds of years.

  3. I am well aware of what killed most indigenous people here.I was,however,under the impression that Staph was an extremely common and adaptive organism and that the drug resistant varieties were extremely widespread already.Am I wrong?

  4. Staph (Staphylococcus aureus)is common. Up to 1/3 of the population carries it in their nose. It is also frequently present on the skin. As long as it stays there, it's not a serious problem, more of a pest. It becomes a problem when introduced under the skin, for example, in the blood. If a surgeon was to cut open the skin without first cleaning it, staph can get into the blood, causing sepsis. Handwashing and general good hygiene limit the bacteria's transfer. Regular staph can be killed with penicillin.

    MRSA is a hospital-acquired infection. Nasty stuff. It has started to show up as a community-acquired infection, but that's still rare, thank goodness. (Don't stop taking antibiotics when you feel better - finish the damn prescription!) In hospitals, it can live for months on polyester fabrics, or be transferred from human to human. Only the newest antibiotics can kill it, and only then, if it's caught early enough.

    So, you're right that staph is widespread. It's been with us for eons. Luckily, the drug-resistant varieties are not widespread. Most likely, if you contracted it, you did so while in the hospital. The sad thing is, it's not inevitable or something to be categorized as an "act of god," despite how hospital risk managers try to spin it. There are good studies out there that show how basic hand-washing and room-cleansing practices can nearly wipe-out hospital acquired infections, including MRSA. But that costs money, and admitting that it can be controlled would open up hospitals to civil liability for malpractice.

    Full disclosure: I'm not a doctor, or a scientist. I'm a lawyer who at one time represented plaintiffs in personal injury cases. I came upon this knowledge by representing people with horrific infections that they acquired in hospitals. Some lost limbs, some died. (Further disclosure - I no longer do personal injury; tort reform has taken away the rights of most people to pursue any case of medical malpractice in my state.)

    In any event, if you ever find yourself in a hospital, make damn sure that every doctor, nurse or attendant washes their hands before touching any part of your body. Also, try to get out of the hospital as fast as you can.

  5. Some Army Colonel has his own private kingdom out there.

    Nova never let's a good character go to waste. Another cool reunion for Gardener.

  6. Thanks d^2.Mine was acquired from a splinter while splitting wood.I immediately washed it with soap and water,then hydrogen peroxide which is my standard treatment.I know of 2 other recent cases,both due to gardening cuts.Your recommendation to continue the antibiotics until the recommended course has been completed can not be over emphasized.And yes,I am familiar with the changes in Tort Law,they are shameful.

  7. I interned in a medical office in preparation for the M.D. I hope to get one day.

    The doctor I worked with was the head of an ER for 18 years before he opened his own private "emergency type clinic"

    He said that when he shadowed a doctor as I was doing for him that MSRA was almost unheard of 70 years ago, maybe 1 case a year, when he was there shadowing they had 1 a month, when he was a doctor 14 years later or so they had 1 a week, and currently he treats at least 1 a day.

    He was very nervous about what kinds of things I would have to deal with when it came to supermicrobs. At least I know how to do a good I & D (incision and drain). I&D in conjuntion with strong antibiotics is the only real treatment. Unfortunately the use of antibiotics is only encouraging even stronger strains.

    btw first post but I've read everything here for a while. I enjoy the story very much.


  8. Hey Dreamer

    Thanks for reading.

    I would have been dead for years now without antibiotics. I like antibiotics. I just don't like needing them. Plus my skin felt on fire every time I was in the sun for more than a few minutes....

  9. Edit: 4'5" instead of 4"5'