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The Thirty days of Magrat (part five)

Joe Spivey's picture
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Magrat returned to the treatment room followed by the man who had been sitting next to Evan Stanton. He was walking slowly and holding his side in apparent discomfort. She directed him to sit on the vacant chair and he did so slowly, grimacing all the while. Magrat passed a handful of patients’ folders to Maisie.

“There’s some more people out there.”

The head nurse took the folders and quickly triaged the newcomers from the forms they had filled out.

“Yup. Just another day in paradise.” Satisfied that there were no immediate emergencies, Maisie turned her attention to the man.

“Hey Jake. What’s ailing you?”

Still wincing in pain and breathing in short gasps, Jake explained.

“Fell off mah damned horse. Reckon I busted a rib.”

Maisie nodded to Magrat.

“Help mister Johnson off with his shirt.”

Jake gave Magrat a dirty look but let her help him ease his shirt off. She folded it neatly and lay it on the treatment table.

Maisie leaned back against the sink and folded her arms.

“Jake reckons he’s bust a rib or two. Take a look, tell me what you think.”

Magrat only managed a single step towards the seated patient.

“Hey! Hold on now.” The indignance in Jake’s voice was mirrored by his body leaning away from the approaching teenager. “You’re letting your little flunky examine me? I came here for help, not to be pawed at by some Devil’s Own savage.”

Magrat was shocked, but not really surprised. Johnson’s body language even in the waiting room had clued the teenager in on his attitude towards her. Calm, and with authority. The mantra helped slow her quickening heart rate.

“Mister Johnson? I am not a flunky. I’m training to be a medic and I’ve dealt with broken ribs before. I assure you…”

“You assure me?! The hell you do. I don’t care what witchdoctory you get up to out there with your ‘tribe’. But you’re in civilisation now girl and I want a civilised doctor examining me.”

Calm, and…

“M… Mister Johnson. I… was taught by Doctor Troy… And… And…” The mantra was failing and Magrat was even having a hard time looking the increasingly angry man in the face.

From her position at the sink Maisie watched the confidence, which had bubbled and fizzed in the girl only minutes before, begin to leak away. Come on, kid. Pull it together.

And Magrat made a sterling effort. She stepped forward until she was standing over Jake Johnson. …With authority.

“… And I’m every bit as civilised as I need to be to treat a broken rib.”

Whatever Jake was about to stay didn’t make it out of his gaping mouth. His eyes glanced in Maisie’s direction and took in the hard stare and tight lips aimed right back at him. His shoulders slumped, causing him to once again grimace as sharp pain burned in his side.

“Fine. I guess even a devil-dog can learn a trick or two.” He looked up into Magrat’s pale but determined face. “Get on with it then.”

Maisie relaxed and watched as Magrat held out a hand towards her patient.

“Stand up please.”

“I only just damn well sat down.” But Jake took the proffered hand and let the girl help him to his feet.

Magrat began her examination at the place where Jake had been holding his side. Maisie’s voice floated in from behind her.

“Talk us through what you’re doing. Remember, explaining what you’re up to helps relax a patient who is in pain and prepares them for any discomfort from your examination.”

Magrat swore silently. She had known that, she’d just forgotten is all.

“I can see bruising around the lower right side of the rib cage. This suggests it is where mister Johnson’s fall hit the ground.” Magrat rested her fingertips very softly against the bruised skin. “The area is hot to the touch, indication of at least minor damage below the skin.”

She glanced up into Jake’s tight-lipped face.

“I’m going to press gently around the bruised area. Let me know where it hurts most.”

Johnson nodded briefly and took an uncomfortable breath. Watched closely now by Maisie, Magrat began to probe around the bruised area that lay over the bottom of Jake’s rib cage.


Magrat moved her finger and pressed again.

“OW!” This time the man flinched.

Moving her finger upwards slightly to where the bruising was most livid, Magrat pressed again.

“OW! Fer fuck’s sake you little bitch!”

Magrat stood up and looked into Johnson’s barely contained rage and pain filled face. Calm. Authority.

“Mister Johnson. You’ve broken one rib and maybe cracked the one below it.”

Jake’s eyes were almost popping out of his head.

“You don’t…” His own rage prevented him getting his words out. “So, now you’ve had your fun, what are you going to do about it?”

Magrat turned to Maisie.

“The ninth lateral is definitely broken, I can feel the break where there’s a ridge but no movement. The tenth may be cracked too but I can’t feel any break.”

Maisie pursed her lips and nodded.

“Sounds about right. What next?”

Jake butted in.

“Wait, ain’t you gonna check? What if she got it wrong?”

“No Jake. I’m not going to check. Broken and cracked ribs are easy to diagnose. Hell, you even did it yourself. And it don’t matter too much if there’s a rib or two more that’s busted up because the treatment is just the same.”

Magrat helped Jake sit down again.

“Okay, mister Johnson. We’re going to give you some pain killers but the main treatment is just to rest. A broken rib will heal up all my itself in a few weeks, depending on how well you look after it. It’s important that you breath normally and cough when you need to. If you try not to cough then mucus is going to start to form in your lungs and that leads to infection.” Jake looked unhappy but resigned to the long healing process. Magrat felt sorry for him. “For the first week or so you might find hugging a pillow when you have to cough makes it less painful.”

Johnson still didn’t look happy.

“Ain’t you even gonna strap it up, wrap a bandage around my chest or something?”

“No. That doesn’t actually help and just constricts your chest, making it harder to breath.”

Maisie came forward from her position at the sink.

“What we, I mean Magrat, will do though, is strap on a temporary compress to bring down the swelling from the bruising.”

Magrat found what was needed to do this in the cupboards and set about bandaging the poultice to the bruised area by wrapping several turns of bandage around Jake’s body.

Which is when it happened.

At first Magrat thought it was an accident, but then she felt Jake’s fingers snake between her legs and around her thigh from behind.

In shock and panic, Magrat staggered backwards across the room and crashed into a medical trolley, sending it and its contents flying into a crash of broken glass and jingling metal instruments.

Johnson sat back, grinning… Well, that was until the lights went out.

When he came too again, the pain in his side was subservient to the new pain in the middle of his face.

Magrat had gone. Maisie didn’t know where and couldn’t leave the clinic to find her. Right now, she was finishing applying a nose splint to Johnson’s very broken nose. With not even the hint of gentleness, Maisie fastened the knot tight behind the man’s head. Realising he was awake, she leaned down so that her own nose was barely a centimetre from the triangular splint that covered the ruin behind it.

“You son of a bitch. You take your busted ribs and your busted nose and don’t you dare show your face here again unless you are on the brink of death.” She stood up straight, staring down in disgust at the man, his bare chest covered now in the blood that had gushed from his nose after Maisie’s sizeable fist had pulverised it. “And even then, you better make an appointment so I don’t have to be the one to treat you.”

Johnson climbed painfully to his feet. The world only just finishing coming back into focus.

“You broke my fucking nose!”

“Damn right I did.”

“You can’t do that! I’ll complain to…”

Maisie got right up into the man’s face again.

“To who? The doc? Our new constable? How about the mayor? Sure, you go straight to the mayor and tell her that I punched your lights out.” By now, Jake Johnson was backing towards the door with Maisie matching him step for step. "And while you’re at it, you tell her how you put your filthy hands on a fifteen-year-old girl right in front of me. See what she has to say about that!” Maisie stopped because she was seconds away from punching the man again.

“Get the hell out of my sight!”


Hyle Troy's picture

(( O.O  

I would rather die peacefully in my sleep, like Grandad, than screaming, like his passengers

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