Sunday, February 20, 2011

There Be Zombies...

People think Zombies aren't real, but they are. I see them every morning when I'm lined up for my Tim's Large Double-Double, all pasty-white with angry faces. They must really hate weekends to end - judging from the number of them I see in line for their coffee (Monday mornings in particular). I used to wonder why Zombies don't go on a rampage rather than wait in a coffee line. It would seem like a pretty easy buffet for them. And I'm sure that people like me have too much fight in us before that first Double-Double of the day. Even the slowest Shambling Zombie could do pretty well for himself (herself? itself?) if they got in line before 6am.

Conclusion #1: We give Zombies too much credit. They're dumb. Very dumb. And their eyesight is suspect, too. If you look like a Zombie - and who doesn't before that 6am Double-Double? - then you're safe. If you're hanging out with a crowd in a well-lit space - have you ever seen the line-ups at Tim's for that 6am coffee? - then you're safe.

Conclusion #2: If you want to keep on the good side of Zombies, heed Conclusion #1. That is to say: don't go places late in the day where Zombies might be hanging out.

So all this build-up is to point out a massive safety concern with the process used by London Health Sciences Centre (LHSC) to provide patients with MRI scans. My daughter has been having a bit of knee trouble. Nothing life-threatening - likely a result of years of horse-back riding and the odd 'bum fight' to earn a few extra dollars. Nevertheless, her doctor ordered an MRI just to see what's going in in there and she was put on the LHSC MRI waiting list.

Now everyone knows someone who knows someone else who had to wait 10 months for an MRI when, dammit, Americans living just a few hours a way can buy an MRI with just 10 minutes notice and the option of taking one home on rental. But if you're willing to take an appointment on short notice and/or attend an appointment after-hours, the wait is more manageable - at least here in LHSC-land. And so it was that we waited just a couple of weeks to get in for that MRI scan - provided we were cool with an appointment at 11pm on a Sunday night, which we were.

The thing they don't tell you in the brochure is that the area of the hospital where they keep their massive MRI machines is actually deserted at 11pm on a wintery Sunday night. From the all-but-empty parking lot, we entered Block C of the hospital to find a lonely security guard - all of 12 years old - sitting behind a makeshift desk where she pretended to 'check us in'. That was kind of cute, actually.

From there we followed the arrows taped to the floor down a semi-dark hallway, turning left, then right, then left to the elevators. Up one floor, we followed more darkened, deserted hallways until we found (quite by chance) the MRI waiting room - also devoid of people but with better lighting.

Now I ask you: is this setting not a open invitation for Zombies? I've played enough video games and seen enough movies over the years to recognize this particular recipe for the Apocalypse. Dark hallways in a deserted hospital, people wandering about on their own, one lone security guard with inadequate firepower - it's open season on brains if you ask me.

This part is true: in the empty waiting room there was a table supporting a telephone and a small sign that instructed us to call a certain phone number to let someone know we were there. After following these instructions and wondering how much Zombie-proof glass was surrounding the disembodied voice at the other end of the phone-line, we simply waited 20 minutes for the inevitable Zombie-attack. Thankfully, it was not a Zombie that come to collect my daughter for her MRI, but don't think I wasn't worried. Letting my mind wander back to the Ninja training I always regretted not taking, I bided my time while my daughter's screams were muffled by the gigantic MRI magnets somewhere down the hall. An hour after we entered Block C, we were running for the safety of our minivan and then home.

And don't think my wife and I didn't inpect our child for bites and scratches. You can't be too careful, right?