As our staff is stricken with “could be,” “maybe,” I’m not sure,” I don’t wanna say” it’s a cold or the flu, we take time to reflect on the experience of running a facility where none of the children
can catch or spread respiratory infections. According to the CDC
, “nearly 22 million school days are lost annually due to the common cold
.” These school days aren’t just felt by the children, often times it’s the parents and teachers that feel the impact of these walking-talking-contagious kids. Days like today help us recognize that we’re fortunate to work with children who can only spread one type of virus.
Even so, zombies are vulnerable to certain ailments, most noticeably those that arise from their state of chronic decomposition. Roni
, a bubbly fifteen year old with hair like Raggedy Annie, is the zombie
child most afflicted with this.
Redhaired annies aka Raggedy Ann (Photo credit: almost witty)
Prior to her arrival at our facility, she spent at least a month wandering the back roads and woods of Maine
. We can’t be certain, but we believe she was dropped off in the woods when her parents could no longer take care of her. We base this on the fact that no other zombies were found with her and normally as new zombies are infected they link up with the nearest group. Additionally, there were no zombie outbreaks reported in the county she was found in, making it likely she was transported from another area.
By the time she was found and transferred here, she had been wandering the woods for several months. Her hair was matted and thick with leaves and dirt. Her skin was covered with tears and cuts from the underbrush. Porcupine quills dotted her legs and several of her toes were missing. After a thorough washing and disinfection, our team of plastic surgeons
went to work, suturing her lacerations, attaching toes, and tightening loosened and sagging skin. When they were done, she wasn’t the prettiest zombie in the room, but she had the biggest smile.
Our greatest concern, once the surgeons were done with her, was that she wouldn’t integrate with the other children as she had spent her entire zombie life alone. Zombies that are used to a pack, for lack of a better word, adjust easily to our facility and tend to follow along in activities and mimic the behavior of the others. Without any socialization, we feared Roni
would fear the other children. Surprisingly, the first day we held her in isolation, she spent the day trying to walk through the fencing and join the other children. After a number of attempts, she gave up and stood at the fence, one hand clutching the cold metal, and moaned in harmony with the other kids. The second day, we allowed her to interact with two children while five of our staff members stood by, ready to intervene if necessary. Our worries were groundless. She had no hesitation in joining the group and spent the rest of the day happily following along. By the third day, we’d moved her into our least restrictive environment where she has remained to this day.
In spite of her massive reconstructive surgery and the almost weekly repairs that must be made to her skin, Roni remains pleasant and unafraid of our surgeons, seamstresses, and other staff members. Like the Energizer bunny
, she continues to bounce back.
Zombies Invade San Francisco! (Photo credit: Scott Beale)
And, to give you an idea of what our work is like, in a normal residential children’s facility, one would spend this time of year looking for lost mittens and misplaced boots. We spend our time looking for missing fingers and misplaced toes. Keeping Roni intact is a big job, but we are up to the challenge.
Remember, we feed the zombies so you don’t have to.
Zombie Emergency Relief Organization