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Stories from the Verse
Old Verses New
Chapter 20: Kondor 48
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Previous chapter: Chapter 19: Hastings 50
Captain John took the matter in stride. Informed of Doctor Evan's condition, he came to medical to see for himself. Kondor told him that the doctor would probably be unconscious for at least a couple hours, and would be in great pain when he revived, but the captain wanted to see for himself immediately, and to be informed the moment Evan could talk.
Doctor Evan did awaken sometime before dinner; Kondor was in the galley preparing the meal, but heard that Evan's first words were, "Why am I alive?" Pieter, who was watching him, told of the operation, and also said that the captain wished to see him, but Doctor Joseph didn't want him sitting up or left unattended yet. Evan said that the instructions not to sit were unnecessary, as he had no desire so much as to flinch given how much it hurt to lie still. Further, he didn't much want to be alone at that moment and preferred to know what the situation was as far as casualties and treatment before reporting to the captain. Pieter gave him the information he wanted, but also said that Doctor Joseph had already given report so there wasn't really any reason to be concerned about that. However, he asked a passing crewman to inform the captain.
Long before he knew any of that, Kondor received word that the captain wanted to see him. He left Palma to finish serving dinner.
"Joseph," the captain began, "I've discussed this with Evan, and now I need to discuss it with you. It's clear from your report and his condition that he will not be able to continue as head of our medical department for the remainder of this trip. That means I need someone to run that, to oversee the duty roster, make sure meals are served on time, and care for the crew. Evan and I agree that that man should be you."
"I'm honored, sir," Kondor replied, "but I really don't have the shipboard experience. I'm sure I'm the last person in that department, in terms of seniority."
"I'm not interested in seniority, Joseph. Granted, had we not found you in our cargo hold I would be putting this burden on Palma. Palma's been working on ships for many years, and quite a few of them in medical. I would not have hired him if I didn't think he could take over in an emergency. But he's not a doctor, at least not yet. You're the obvious choice."
"There's a lot he knows about shipboard medicine that I don't," Kondor argued. "And that's not to mention that he knows more about running the galley and stocking the pantry. I've never even seen how things operate when we're in port."
"There are at least two men on this ship who, as far as I can tell, would be dead now had you not been here to save them. You're the best man for the job. Are you turning me down?"
"Oh, no sir. I don't want there to be any hard feelings, though. If Palma expected to be promoted through this misfortune, I wouldn't want him to resent me for it."
"That shouldn't be a worry. First, I think Palma knows as well as anyone else on this ship that you're a remarkable physician. Second, it isn't your decision, but mine—and Evan agrees, so it's not like anyone would expect different at this point."
He couldn't think why he was arguing. He had hoped to be a doctor when he was on the spaceship, and he was one in Sherwood Forest and, to some degree, in other worlds he had visited. "I'm honored, sir, and will do the best I can."
"Oh, and Joseph?" the captain added. "Call me John. You're an officer now."
"I'll try not to let it go to my head, sir." He smiled, and returned to medical.
There were a few simple things that were not practiced that Kondor swiftly implemented. Washing hands between patients was one of them, and he whipped up some antibacterial soap from the supplies on board and a variation of the salt and lard recipe he used before. He also requested a bit of paper from navigation, and began keeping records on crew members, and particularly on any such as Evan who were kept in medical overnight. He had the medics record the condition of patients at regular intervals, including an estimated pulse and rate of respiration, an evaluation of color and skin temperature, any visible conditions such as sweating, and patient reports of pain. These were all very subjective, he realized, as the instruments to accurately measure such things did not exist here, not even so much as a watch that kept time on a ship. Still, they were a step above what had been done before, which was generally to treat the patient and send him to his quarters hoping he would be well enough to work when his shift came.
He decided not to attempt to transfuse Evan; more research was needed into blood types in this world than he was ready to undertake. He did put the patient on a liquid diet which was heavy in protein-laden broth and such fruit and vegetable juices as he could find, and ran a brief course of his precious antibiotics. Anemia could be life threatening; but he hoped Evan would be able to replace his own lost blood quickly enough to survive. The doctor patient would not be on his feet much for the remainder of the journey, so at least he wouldn't faint from it. Still, it was a concern, and although he had assisted on a few operations, Kondor had never done anything quite like this on his own.
Being the doctor also meant administrative duties, and the first order of business was to reorganize the duty roster so that everything was covered by one less man. It wasn't quite so difficult as it sounded, as the crew complement was organized for a four-man medical team, and although he wasn't there then it was fairly simple to determine how the workload was divided. The men were pleased to hear that he was going to stay on the morning shift; they were not so pleased when he explained that as long as there was a patient in the medical bay there would be someone present constantly. That meant more work for everyone, even without his insistence on a higher standard of cleanliness for everything. But he was taking a lot of that extra work on himself, so although they grumbled a bit they really couldn't complain.
Fortunately things were relatively uneventful across the remainder of the Greater Syndic, and soon they were pulling into port in Durnmist.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with eight other sequential chapters of this novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #82: Novel Developments. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter. It may contain spoilers of upcoming chapters.
As to the old stories that have long been here: