San Antonio doctor writes sci-fi viral Twitter story about COVID-19



Dr Sayed Tabatabai has spent hours treating critically ill COVID-19 patients, giving dialysis and other treatments for kidney failure.

But earlier this year at a medical conference, weeks before the coronavirus became a global pandemic, the San Antonio nephrologist envisioned an even bleaker future.

“It occurred to me: what if I was at a conference and the topic was ‘What went wrong?’ ”Said Tabatabai.

This thought led to a sci-fi story he wrote on his Twitter account, @TheRealDoctorT, about a world 40 years from now that has wiped out COVID-19 but has never really recovered.

Tabatabai paints a bittersweet picture through 19 tweets, as an unnamed veteran medic recounts the historic pandemic to a new generation of faces behind high-tech masks and video screens.

The untitled story, for lack of a better term, has gone viral. Tabatabai’s Twitter story has over 8,500 likes and 4,600 retweets. He even read it on National Public Radio.

“In a nutshell, the reaction has been overwhelming,” he said. “I think it has been extremely positive. I think people were moved by it. There were a lot of people who said they were in tears after reading it.

Tabatai said this is probably because his story speaks both of a future where COVID-19 is no longer reality, which is in a way reassuring, but also of a future where a great price was paid which fundamentally changed behavior.

Tabatabai tells the story through the eyes of an 80-year-old former doctor who survived the pandemic. Although not identified, Tabatabai said he based the character on himself.

The short story begins with laid-back sci-fi flourishes. A space age hotel with automated showers that deliver the perfect water temperature. A cyborg janitor who knows how to tie a tie.

Then, as the narrator leaves his bedroom, we learn that he is a reluctant guest speaker at a conference titled “COVID-19: Echoes From the Past, 2060”.

As the narrator walks to the hotel’s main conference room, he notes the casual passerby smiling through an invisible mask made of nanotechnology, and how most conference attendees are there by video rather than in person. .

“Most people don’t risk crowds anymore,” says the narrator. “They haven’t done it for decades.”

Turns out COVID-19 was just the start. The story mentions other viruses, with names like COVID-35 and FluVAR-59. Wearing a mask is compulsory; offenders face a rapid response from a drug rehab team.

“But people want to know the original,” says the narrator. “After all, our original mistakes are what changed everything. Original sins.

He remembers “those early news broadcasts. The denial that was rampant. The confusion. Darkening. Masks and anti-masks. The fear.”

Tabatabai said when he first heard of the coronavirus months ago, the speech was that it would likely be contained and pass with only a few isolated cases like previous viruses.

But while the opposite was happening, he saw the “what if?” »Scenario he had imagined as an increasingly possible and plausible reality.

“Normally I write for fun,” he said. “But now I’m writing to deal with those feelings, and also to convey to people the world they can’t see. Because the truth is, there is a world outside the hospital, and then there is a world inside the hospital. And the truth is, COVID is in both worlds. “

Tabatabai has written over 100 short stories on Twitter as well as several “day in the life” observations of her time spent in COVID-19 units.

But for his recent news, he said he wanted to write about the reality of COVID-19 in human terms through the connections between us as people. Especially at a time when the virus has become politicized.

“And it’s vitally important that we are together,” he said. “That the way to stop this is to take care of this person who might disagree with whatever you stand for. To take action that might actually protect them, and count on them to do the same for you.

The mock COVID-19 conference is a far cry from the real, otherworldly events Tabatabai used to attend when he wasn’t on the clock as a kidney doctor.

A die-hard “Star Wars” fan, Tabatabai also dresses up as Darth Vader for charity events and occasional comic book conventions.

But unlike his alter ego, he doesn’t dwell on the dark side.

The narrator of her story ends her conference remarks “on a hopeful note”, mentioning how vaccines and coronavirus therapies “have brought us out of obscurity and helped mitigate subsequent waves” and how ” investment in our health systems ”and“ massive societal overhauls ”has finally arrived.

And even though Tabatabai’s tweets lean more toward dispatches from the COVID frontlines, he’s cautiously optimistic that his sci-fi work won’t become a fact of history.

“It is only a possible choice, a possible result,” he said. “And it’s in our hands to make it a better one. “

Read Dr. Tabatabai’s news.

[email protected] | Twitter: @reneguz

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