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David Zupančič: Life in the gray zone



Youth book, 2022

Members of the medical guild are in many ways a special professional group. Many face the fine line between life and death on a daily basis. It often depends on their composure, knowledge and experience on which side the scales will tip.

It is probably the burden of fatal responsibility that awakens in them the need for creative relaxation in their free time. In no other profession can you find so much dedication to music, painting or writing. Let us recall Lojz Kraigher, Josip Vošnjak, Danilo Lokar, Slavko Grum and Bogomir Magajna, among contemporaries at least Jože Felc and Alojz Ihan.

Recently, they have been joined by two more, pediatrician Marko Pokorn and infectious disease specialist David Zupančič, the former middle-aged, the latter much younger, but also already experienced in writing. Both of them, rather than approaching literary excesses, are motivated by a peculiar necessity to write from personal experiences with people in need of medical help about questions and phenomena that are shaking our time in this area and which, with the covid pandemic, have acquired a terrifying planetary dimension, which is, not only in our country, mercilessly exposed the straits and shoals of an overburdened health care system. Both defenders of science against conspiracy theories of all kinds are also masters at softening the harshness of the most difficult moments with benevolent, even self-deprecating humor.

David Zupančič connected with his readers with his blog on Instagram and soon became one of the so-called influencers with tens of thousands of followers. Thus, his Scenes from the Life of a Young Doctor easily became a bestseller even before it was published in the book Life in the Gray Zone. The publishing house could barely keep up with the demand with reprints of the book, and the icing on the cake was the announcement of the book of the year.

The author won the affection of the readers with sincere modesty and at the same time the reality of a novice doctor, embedded in the traditional hierarchy, in the weeks and months when the rapid spread of many fatal viral pneumonias did not allow gradual adaptation. Coincidentally, he was the one who treated the first case of covid infection in our country. After that, everything happened with lightning speed. At first, there was more ignorance than knowledge, the savior vaccine was still in the laboratories, planning for the future was completely uncertain. The young doctor was there all the time. Hours and hours in a breathing suit, night and day, whenever it was his turn in the clinic or in the intense red zone that stretched to the edge of capacity. Amidst the efforts of an overworked but miraculously resilient medical staff to contain their already dwindling powers before the system fatally breaks down. When the witness at home is indescribably happy about his new life, in the hospital he realizes again and again that not all deaths are the same.

In the book Življenje v siva zona, he also talks about himself, his family, and his peculiar philosophy of life, which is based on the necessity of laziness, disconnecting when it’s not enough. Above all, it brilliantly describes the mood at the Clinical Center at the time with dramatic twists and turns with happy and tragic outcomes far from the public eye. He says that with the book, a good year after the peak of the crisis, he does not want to add fuel to the fire of passion ignited by the epidemic by condemning and theorizing, but he also does not retreat into dull relativization. Nothing is foreign to him, he finds the right word for everything, if necessary, even a bad word.

David Zupančič likes to help himself with picturesque parables and witticisms when he explains professional and slang terms on the fly. For example, that the covid emergency room and the gray zone are infectious clinics”some kind of joke, where you treat patients with suspected covid, but you still don’t have a smear result“. But he is unrelenting in his judgment that the human factor, with the escalation of intolerance, the fervent opposition of the profession and the unstoppable spread of disinformation, has contributed a huge share to the problem.”Public attacks on medical staff and epidemiologists have escalated in proportion to the number of covid cases. As if an epidemic of viral pneumonia had triggered a simultaneous epidemic of anger and hatred,” he writes. And he also finds a hint of understanding for this, saying “a man pushed into a corner convincingly enough can eventually lose his humanity“. According to the author, the most difficult thing remained behind closed doors “an absolute triumph from the point of view of medicine and epidemiology. Unfortunately, it gave people a false sense of security on the outside.

Zupančič’s conclusion that after an impressive meeting with the future in a medical center in Houston, Texas, more like a shopping mall than a hospital, he will prefer to stay at home and continue to ride his bike to work, finally also to the reader, who is still under the impression of verbalized creepy images, brings some relief.

From the show From the book market.

Source: Rtvslo

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