“But Daddy, Zombies Are Real…”

That title isn’t just an abstract one; these are words that my 6-year old son chose to utter, just a few weeks ago. When I asked him what made him believe that zombies were real, he explained that he had seen them in “real shows,” not cartoons. So they must real. This not only prompted me to have an in-depth discussion with him about the realism of what he sees on television, regardless of cartoon or live, it also prompted me to thoroughly scrub his restricted list on Netflix, since he obviously accessed something he shouldn’t have been watching.

The unexpected result that it had, was it caused me to question how easy it would be to survive through a “zombie apocalypse.” This thought is further deepened by the fact that I’ve recently started re-reading a bunch of Brian Keene books, a well-known horror novelist. He’s had some really great ones, including The Rising and City of the Dead. But the one I’ve been reading recently is called Dead Sea, and it follows the story of a down-on-his-luck protagonist who saves a couple of kids from fires and zombie hordes when the zombie apocalypse comes. They wind up on a ship on the open sea, hence the title. CAUTION: There will be spoilers on this book, ahead. Here’s the cover, in case anyone is interested in looking it up:

So, you may be asking yourself, “Why are we talking about zombies on a Buddhist/Fitness/Diabetes blog?” Well, the answer is quite simple: because I can. But even more so, sometimes it can be refreshing to take a different perspective at things, and books often provide a means of doing just that. But what’s more than that (he says, calming his sarcasm) is that something that a lot of these stories bring up is a person’s propensity to keep fighting and survive, even when faced with what appears to be insurmountable odds. And as I mentioned in the second paragraph, it’s made me question and wonder what my odds of survival would be when faced with a situation like a zombie apocalypse.

First, let me start by pointing out that the possibility of zombies is something I find ridiculous at best, for a host of reasons. Between rigour mortis, decomposition and the concept that reanimating dead and rotting tissue in such a way as to allow mobility is an impossibility, I’m of the opinion that zombies are right up there with vampires and unicorns. Anyone with a medical degree that could correct me is free to do so in my comments section. Granted, at least the concept of a horse growing a horn out of its head is more likely than a reanimated corpse. But I digress…

The topic of this post is actually supposed to be about survival; a topic that the main character of this book touched on quite well in the first page of the first chapter. He said, “Listen… you never know what you’ll do until you find yourself in an impossible situation, so don’t ever say never. Survival instinct is a motherfucker, and when your back is against the wall, everything changes. Everything. I know. It did for me. It all changed for me.”

In the pages that follow, a number of specific aspects of dealing with any survival situation is addressed. The need for food, supplies, a safe haven for rest as well as the resources to protect yourself are all aspects of such a situation. And not only protection from whatever may have prompted the emergency, but from the people who would benefit from it as well. There are always some of those. Even in the face of our current pandemic, there have been people who have sought to use the current state of the world to their advantage, preying on those who may not know better.

I think the reason this story resonates with me so much, besides the fact I occasionally enjoy the horror/fantasy genres, is the fact that about midway through the book once everyone is aboard ship and cruising to relative safety, a character named Stephanie is identified as having Diabetes and being without insulin. She succumbs to a Diabetic coma and passes away in her sleep shortly thereafter. And THAT more than anything provides an important wake-up call for me, from a survival standpoint. It raises the question of how long would I last in an apocalypse scenario given that I would need to find some means of securing an insulin supply and the materials needed to inject it.

In all reality, I can live without my pump and even without a blood glucose monitor. It’s not ideal, but I could do it. I lived until my late 30’s without a pump. And in a total breakdown of societal resources where stores and retail locations would ultimately be looted and emptied of their contents, insulin may not be everyone’s top choice of things to grab. So I could potentially manage to scavenge and find an adequate supply. For a while. Even when you consider that a breakdown in utilities could mean that insulin supplies stored in pharmacy dispensaries would eventually spoil due to temperature extremes and lack of proper refrigeration.

But then what? If society breaks down, it’s doubtful that there’ll be manufacturers still producing insulin. So, although I could no doubt survive for a period of time (especially since the self-defence aspect would be no issue) there would no doubt come a point where, no matter how prepared I am, the Diabetes aspect of me will cause me to succumb to the new, apocalyptic environment in which I find myself. Maybe that’s why I enjoy these types of stories so much; because I know they involve an environment I couldn’t survive in and is the only format through which I can experience it. Not that I WANT to experience a disaster… I’m jus’ saying’…

Hopefully, we’ll never have to deal with an “apocalyptic”-level event in our lifetime, but it’s humbling to think about how a simple medical condition that I’ve lived with for almost four decades would bring about a swift end for me, based on the state of the world. It’s a bit of an eye-opener. Even if I fortified my home, stored non-perishable foods and did everything I could to be prepared in the event of a cataclysmic event, my downfall is more likely to be, not from zombies, lack of food or the inability to defend myself but from the lack of a small, glass vial. ☯

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Shawn

I am a practitioner of the martial arts and student of the Buddhist faith. I have been a Type 1 Diabetic since I was 4 years old and have been fighting the uphill battle it includes ever since. I enjoy fitness and health and looking for new ways to improve both, as well as examining the many questions of life. Although I have no formal medical training, I have amassed a wealth of knowledge regarding health, Diabetes, martial arts as well as Buddhism and philosophy. My goal is to share this information with the world, and perhaps provide some sarcastic humour along the way. Welcome!

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