A Patient of a Different Sort
Yoshino walked quickly but carefully into Medlab, her long sleeves bundled around Kuri’s battered body, trying not to jostle her. T’rar walked just behind, a solicitous shadow. “I need to see Doctor Trassano, at once, please.”
Mira stood by a biobed, talking to one of the recuperating Rangers. The MedLab had calmed down quite a bit, at last. She looked up at the sound of her name. “Yes?” She blinked in surprise. “Yoshino?”
“Doctor. I need your help. It’s Kuri …” The operations officer held out her sleeves, showing the injured cat pillowed there.
Mira opened her mouth to say something that never came out. Instead, her jaw continued to open until it tapped the floor. After a moment, she snapped her teeth together again. “What is that?” she whispered.
Yoshino managed to sound apologetic despite her obvious anxiety. “I know you’re not a vet or anything, but you are all I have. This is my cat.”
Mira glanced around quickly. Miraculously, there was an empty bed. She motioned to it. “A cat? I thought they had feathers and breathed water…” She crinkled up her brow. “I suppose not.”
Yoshino carried Kuri over and carefully put her down on the bed. Mira bent closer to look at the small creature, lying on its side. It was small — perhaps three kilos in weight — with white, black, and russet fur and a stubby tail. “Cats are … domestic pets,” Yoshino explained. “Well, moderately domestic anyway. She’s warmblooded.”
“What is wrong with it?” Mira frowned as she noticed hitches in breathing and other signs of pain. The cat was badly cut in several places, and had a compound fracture of one foreleg. I don’t think that it should have it’s leg bent around at that angle, she thought. At least, I am certain it should not have cuts open and oozing like that.
“I know her leg’s broken. She might have some broken ribs, too. I didn’t want to check too closely for fear of hurting her more.”
Mira nodded. “That’s a good thought. Keep it. It’s usually correct. Warm-blooded…. the biobed scanner should be able to scan it… her?”
“Yes, she’s a neutered female. Her name is Kuri.”
Kuri lifted her head a little and miaowed weakly. At the sound, Mira straightened up and scooted over to the scanner terminal. As she tapped the required keys to begin a scan, she turned to Yoshino.
“What does she have reactions to … do you know? I cannot operate or seal her cuts if she is awake….” Becoming distracted by the reading on the terminal, she frowned and muttered something in Centauri.
“In terms of drugs? The same anesthetics that work on humans should work on her — in lower doses, of course — but the most common analgesics would be toxic.”
Mira nodded. “Computer! What is the most commonly used anesthetic for … ahh… Cats?” In response to Yoshino’s anxious look, she said, “Just to be certain. I would not feel good if I accidentally poisoned her.”
“Of course. Do you think you can help her?”
Mira dug around in her pockets for a moment, producing various tubing, skintabs, and packages of sterilizer. “I hope so.”
Yoshino stroked the cat, who began a weak rumbling sound. “You’ll be all right, Kuri-chan.”
The MedLab computer chimed and displayed the requested information on the biobed’s connected terminal. Mira scribbled the information on a scrap of paper which she shoved into one of her pockets for future reference. Then, she started digging around in them. Nodding, Mira said to the cat, “Yes, yes… of course you will be fine.” She threw T’rar a glare and muttered, “You should have said that cats understood spoken language.”
T’rar looked confused. Yoshino tried to explain. “I think she understands me. But then, anyone will tell you that about their pet.”
At Yoshino’s explanation, Mira looked even more confused than T’rar. “Ahh… yes…” she muttered, “pets.” Picking up a skin tab exhumed from her pockets, she frowned at it.
Yoshino blushed. “The truth is, they do not understand spoken language — except perhaps their names, and a few important words. But they understand tone … posture … emotional things.”
Mira waved the tab she was holding. “This is the correct drug but the dosage is a little high for three kilos …” She nodded to Yoshino. “Tone, posture and emotions go a long way for many people. They tried to teach us that in Medical Training. I have a terrible beside-bed manner, I’ve been told.” She tore the tab in half. “That should do it.” She reached to put it on the cat and stopped. “Oh, dear, she has no bare spots.”
“I guess….. you’ll have to shave one,” Yoshino said. “Or try the pads of her feet.”
Mira inspected the bottom of one of the cat’s good legs. “Yes, this will do. Not as thick as Narn skin, so, it should be fine.” She pressed the tab in place. “We will have to wait a moment for the drug to take effect.”
Dr Trassano went and sterilized her hands, put on gloves and mask, and picked up a tray of implements. She glanced around her MedLab and beckoned for one of the idle nurses to assist her. As she returned, she frowned at Yoshino, who had continued stroking the cat as she fell asleep. “I don’t usually allow family members to watch as I tend to the patient.”
Yoshino stepped obediently away from the bed. “Where can I wait?”
“Will you wait quietly?”
“Of course. As quietly as T’rar here.” Yoshino managed a wry smile.
Mira quirked an eyebrow and glanced between the two of them. Then she motioned to her open office door, two beds away. “In there, but if you distract me I’ll have you thrown out.” Yoshino and T’rar retired to that room without another word. Mira bent her head towards the wounded cat and dismissed everything else from her mind.
An hour later, Mira sighed and stretched, checking the scanner readings. The cat lay very still, except for the rise and fall of her chest as she breathed. Most of her body was shaved to better reveal the sealed cuts. There was a white gauze bandage around her ribs and a cast on her broken leg.
Behind her, Yoshino peered out the office door. She was obviously anxious but silent. Mira nodded to the nurse who had been assisting her and headed for her office, stripping off and disposing of her gloves and mask as she spoke. “I think that she is as repaired as I can make her. I sealed her cuts. They should heal fine. As should her ribs. Her leg was quite difficult and took the longest to repair. I am rather unfamiliar with the configuration of those bones. I modeled them after her uninjured leg. But, I might not have gotten it entirely correct.”
Yoshino heaved a deep sigh of relief. “It’s all right, Doctor. She’ll live.” Tears of joy started to flow from eyes reddened by grief. “When I got back to my quarters after the battle … there’d been a hull breach … I thought she was gone.”
The doctor sterilized her hands quickly, before heading for her desk. Settling herself into her chair, Mira asked, “She was sucked out of the ship?” Despite her weariness, she still felt surprised.
“I was afraid she had been,” Yoshino said, shaking her head. “Apparently she got out of my quarters before then. T’rar found her in the cockpit of his fighter.” The Narn added a confirming nod, along with a sympathetic pat on Yoshino’s shoulder.
Mira chuckled. “Clever creature…”
“She is. She’s been with me since I left Earth; I couldn’t bear the thought of losing her.”
“If she wakes from the anesthetic, than she should be fine. I am hesitant to use any of the healing accelerators that I have available on her. So, she will be a long time healing until I can do some research. You must make her allow the wrappings on her ribs. If they are loosened then her ribs will heal badly. The cast on her leg should also be left alone. And the sealant on her cuts, but they are not as desperate as the cast or wrap.”
“I’ll do my best to keep her quiet. Did you want to keep her here for a while?”
Mira considered, frowning. “Yes, until she wakes … it should be a few hours more. You are welcome to sit with her.” The assisting nurse appeared, wheeling a tray into the office. The shaven and bandaged Kuri was laid out on soft towels on top of it.
“Technically, I’m still on duty. I’d better go back to the bridge for a while at least. Can you … can you call me when she awakens?”
“Yes, of course, she will be here with me, while I do my paperwork.” Dr. Trassano sighed, “The captain does insist on her reports.”
“I will tell her you were unavoidably delayed,” Yoshino said, smiling.
Mira chuckled. “Perhaps that might placate her.”
Yoshino bowed very deeply. “I am in your debt, Doctor Trassano.”
Mira waved it away. “Nonsense. I am a doctor. You cannot bring something wounded to me and expect me NOT to try and fix it.” She paused for a moment, thinking. Then, she winked. “Even if I don’t quite know what exactly the something is.”
Laughing at her own joke, Mira shooed Yoshino and T’rar out of the office. “Both of you, go to your duties and try to rest.”
“Thank you.” Yoshino moved to leave, then paused. “If she wakes up and seems frightened, scratch her behind the ears. Or, look her in the eyes and blink slowly.”
“Scratch and blink. I will remember.” Mira nodded seriously. Yoshino bowed once more, and left Medlab, T’rar just ahead of her.
Mira frowned at T’rar’s back. “I don’t have a physical on record for you. Make an appointment with the nurse, T’rar,” she called after him. He turned and nodded emphatically, then left, moving a little more quickly than before.
Mira sighed and turned back to the sleeping cat. “Scratch my eyes and blink her ears?” she muttered. “That can’t be correct….”
Copyright (C) 1998 Mona Hinds, Jamie Lawson and Smith Self. All rights reserved.