Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #213

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #213

… “It would be a good idea to confine everyone to their deck, to keep mixing to a minimum,” Harv suggests…

Pandemic

Writer/director JOHN DRYDEN

As Harv and the ship commander chat, the subject turns from boats sinking, to young men dying.

“What do you think about some medical experts’ assertion that troop and transport ships are to blame for the outbreak of Spanish influenza?”

American Troops Embarking, Southampton, 1918 by Sir John Lavery

“What do I think? As far as I can see, we are damned if we do or damned if we don’t. If we don’t have a million American troops at Argonne, we are not going home right now.” Admiral Sims speaks about an enemy more invisible than the submarine. “I would avoid interviewing the crew. Keep your distance if you do.”

“Good advice. I hear that IT is killing one person a day onboard. That’s pretty scary.”

“We have twenty sailors in sick bay as we speak. I’m told they are bad off.” He takes off his cap, running his hands through his graying hair. “And we are only one day out to sea.”

“It would be a good idea to confine everyone to their deck, to keep mixing to a minimum,” Harv suggests.

“Did you hear that crewman?” he speaks to the helmsman. “Make an announcement over the loudspeaker. Everyone is to be confined to their deck and avoid physical contact with each other. And tell them not to cough!

“We will figure what to do about the mess hall later. Do you have an idea on how to handle the mess hall, to feed 200 men, scattered all over this boat?”

All suggestions would be welcomed.

“Are there any crewmen who have successfully recovered from the influenza?”

“Two, I believe, but I don’t think they want to get sick again.”

“That is the idea. They can’t.” Rear Admiral Sims looks at Harv like he has lost his mind. “No really, we did an article on disease specialists and one of the things they were working on was figuring out, why once a parson has contracted an illness that they seem to be immune from getting sick from that same disease.”

“I see, so they can mingle with the crew!” He gets it. “You would make a great officer, Pearson.”

“I am a little too old to join the Navy.”

“That may be true, but I lost my First Officer to the sickness and I am hereby appointing you second in command.”

“I’m not very fond of uniforms… no offense intended.”

“Since we are going to spend the next eight days on the bridge, I am going to need your help, if you are wearing a uniform or not.”


Alpha Omega M.D.

Influenza WWI

Episode #213


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #209

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #209

…Mentor and friend Doc Ziggy is felled by a simple act of compassion, unnecessary risk for the sake of healing; a trait passed on to a willing and eager student…

Ziggy-001

So A.O. Campbell is compelled and propelled into the front line of a serious domestic battle. As one day turns into two, three patients swelling to ten, he is joined by doctors Clifton Moor and J. Kenty Johnson, both of whom already spend their days looking down the lenses of a microscope and are anxious to get a magnified view of this biological invader. A good core group of nurses come to the third floor as well.

But before day-two is out, Ziggy’s 85 year old body seems to have plain given up, fluid laden lungs laboring in his sagging chest. And with a hellacious fever to boot, no quantities of Love ice able to stem the upward spiral. Tending to his spirit is all A.O. is able to do. “Laura Bell’s fever is breaking, Ziggy, see–she’s waving at you from the bed across the room. I have all I can do keepin’ her from takin’ my job.”

“In bed vhere she belongs! I don’t vant her paying for my mistakes,” The old German forces out words with precious little breath.

“Mistakes?” A.O. is curious.

healers

“Ya, I treated some sick Indians, from za reservation up north, Laura’s people. Didn’t think they had a plague.” He is regretful to the end.

          “It’s not the plague, Ziggy, somethin’ no one’s seen before, influenza they’re calling it. Clifton and Kenty have isolated a bacteria or maybe a virus.” He attempts to take the pressure of guilt out of Ziggy’s condition.

          “I should have known better. Too many of zose indians vere sick, bad sick.” He pauses to draw a painful breath, a chance to reflect. “I am glad Frieda vent before me. She did not have to be alone. You make sure you take care of Laura unt Maggie, they will be alone now.”

“No Ziggy, you can’t leave me. Please hang on until they can come up with a serum, you’re too stubborn…”

Stubborn does not leave A.O.’s mouth before Doctor Siegfried Endlichoffer eyelids drop over his tired blue irises. He is a fairly early victim that will eventually number 800,000. He is felled by a simple act of compassion, unnecessary risk for the sake of healing; a trait passed on to a willing and eager student.

The student must resist embracing his expired friend, the natural reaction given the moment. Instead he gives way to a trained team of amateur undertakers, whose job is to isolate the corpse for later burial. There is not much room for tender moments, unless you risk your own life in the process.

  A.O. Campbell is left to suffer in silence, removed from the rest of the world by his choice, while witness to an ever mounting carnage, even to the loss of his comforter, the reason for his vocation.


Alpha Omega M.D.

COMPASSION2

34 Compassion Paintings by John Schlimm

Episode #209


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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #208

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Alpha Omega M.D. – Episode #208

…the war will be killin’ two ways; if a bullet don’t get ya, the flu will…

During a day of work in early September at Florida A&M Hospital, an institution that he has helped to grow, from modest beginnings to respectability, A.O. attends a staff meeting concerning the sudden outbreak of influenza. Miss Virginia Hilyer supervises a stable of promising young doctors at this mostly black college facility and she is determined to get a handle on the cause of this spreading calamity, utilizing research labs to isolate what they think is an offending bacteria.

She says there is reason for alarm. Not only is this strain deadly, but it kills in a single day, taking down those considered the strongest, vital men and women in their 20’s. It has migrated out of the Orient, as do most flues, making a devastating stopover in Spain, leaving but a small percentage of its population untouched, before making port at Boston in late August. It seems that the increased coming and goings across the Big Pond, with the war as the cause, has provided the disease a virulent conduit… and it is spreading like a wildfire in the jack pine forests native to the Florida panhandle; tinder dry underbrush feeding sappy needles, fanned by Gulf breezes.

“We are seein’ our first cases already and I’m not takin’ any chances. We are closing off the top floor. It will serve as an isolation ward for the whole county. I lost my mother to the plague in 1914 and I won’t be repeating New Orleans’ arrogant mistakes!” Miss Jennie, as she is known, is also on staff as one of the top career nurses in the nation, dedicated to the care of others, even to the expense of her own personal life.

       No better example for a young physician than she; listen, attend, heal are her watchwords. And do not think that any of these qualities is lost on A.O. Campbell, who grew up watching the sternly skilled hands of Doc Ziggy work minor wonders, forever laced with compassion and kindness.

          Before the sun can reach its zenith and much to Campbell’s dismay, two of the first admissions to the isolation ward are familiar to him, one ill leading the other for care. His mother-in-law and his mentor look as though they’ve been to hell and back, sweating bullets on a cool-ish late summer day.

“I’ll be caring for them, Miss Jennie—my kinfolk and such—that’s if you don’t mind?”

There is gravity to the request. “You may have to stay with them until it’s over,” she informs him, as they are led to the electric elevator, too delirious to recognize A.O.

“I’ll have them good as new in a day or so,” he thinks.

“I don’t think you understand. Them means all of them, two or two thousand. Once you are exposed, we can’t have you infecting the rest of Leon County.”

He hesitates for a moment, staring the subtle hazards of epidemic straight in the eye. It is staring back at him.

  “Would you please go to my house and tell my Maggie that her mother and Ziggy are here and I’ll be caring for them… and anyone else who is struck down.” He has made up his mind. “Tell her not to go out of the house with the baby.”

“That is sound advice Doctor Campbell, somethin’ the whole world should do, but I have a feelin’ the war will be killin’ two ways; if a bullet don’t get ya, the flu will.


Alpha Omega M.D.

Self Portrait With Spanish Flu 1919 by Edvard Munch

Episode #208


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