Monday Zombie Fest: Part 1/4

This October, we’re having a Monday Zombie fest. I mean, isn’t everyone half dead on Monday anyway? And, October is the time to do spooky things. We’ll be talking with Dale about his eventual forthcoming novel about zombies and how he conceived the idea and made it medically feasible.

If you leave a comment on any of Dale’s posts and you live in the USA, you’ll be eligible to win a zombie prize pack that will include David Moody’s novel Autumn: The City and K. Bennett’s novel: Pay me in Flesh. The drawing will be midnight on October 31st which is also the one year anniversary of this fine blog.

We’re going to start our Dale/Zombie fest with a few medical questions.

Dale asks:

I was watching the first episode of The Walking Dead with my mom, and we were talking about what if this was real? What if you awoke from a coma in a world now in an apocalyptic condition, in this case zombies.

First off, the main question that struck me was how would the lead character, Rick Grimes, go into a coma from being shot behind the shoulder? I know that when I was a teenager, I had my finger smashed in a metal drawer and passed out for 30 seconds, so it can happen, but how? The injury had nothing to do with his brain, nor did mine.

Second big question, how long can coma patients survive without the IV bag being changed?

Jordyn says:

Aaahhh… how sweet to be watching zombie stuff with your mom! That’s awesome. As to your first question, the mechanism between your passing out from your finger getting smashed and Rick Grimes coma from being shot in the shoulder are likely different.

Dale, likely what you experienced was a vasovagal reaction. This can be a physical response to pain and causes low heart rate, lower blood pressure and eventual loss of consciousness. I did a post on this here that explains it more in depth. Not all people lose consciousness but may swoon. The same thing is occurring.

The mechanism behind this character’s comatose state was likely shock. These two things are distinctly different. If a character is shot, he experiences blood loss. If you lose enough blood, the remaining level of red blood cells won’t be enough to supply all the oxygen to each cell. This lack of the body to meet its metabolic demands is termed shock. There are many possible causes of shock but the end result is the same– your body can’t deliver oxygen to its cells.

Your brain is very sensitive to lack of oxygen and can be starved of oxygen in this manner. If the brain is deprived of enough oxygen, it can lead to the patient slipping into a coma.

How long a patient can survive without their IV bag being changed has numerous factors. How fast was the IV running? I think a better way to look at this question would be to understand how much total water the patient would need for the day.

I actually found a pretty good resource to help my followers figure this out and it takes into consideration body weight, level of exercise and climate. You can find that here:

Once you know that, you can determine when his IV would stop running. A normal IV rate for an adult patient to stay hydrated would be 100-150ml/hr. IV fluids come in liter bags containing 1000ml so this would last approx 6-10 hours. After that point, he would no longer be receiving hydration.

Probably after three days, your character is going to be in dire straits. You can read more about how long you can live without water here:

What other thoughts do you have for Dale?

Author Dale Eldon lives in a Macomb, Illinois, and takes care of a sick mother while working overnights at McDonald’s. He spends his free time with loved ones and writing his butt off. Between blogging and writing anthology submission calls, he is currently working on a zombie trilogy for a series of novellas and a novel.

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