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The Thirty Days of Magrat (part three)

Joe Spivey's picture
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Maisie watched Magrat help Winnie out of her loose-fitting jacket and then the equally loose-fitting man’s shirt she wore underneath. The girl’s care and gentleness were immediately apparent but Maisie was tensely poised to take over, just in case.

Having Winnie sit on a chair next to the treatment table, Magrat had held the jacket away from the old woman’s torso so that she could remove her arm without brushing against the painful blisters that would likely have formed by now. Very aware of the head nurse’s eyes on her, Magrat did the same with the old shirt, one probably chosen because of the oozing puss from the blisters beneath. She took Winnie’s shirt and lay it on top of the treatment table. Behind her, Maisie folded her arms.

“So, girlie-girl. Tell me what you know about shingles and then tell me what you are going to do.”

Sitting between the two medicos, Winnie picked up on the slight edge in Maisie’s voice. Anyone that had ever been treated by Nurse Maisie soon learned that she didn’t suffer fools, either gladly or any other way. She turned her head to see the young trainee medic’s reaction.

Magrat, however, had spent half her life being intimidated by arseholes intent on getting a reaction from her. She soon learned that to do so was a very, very bad idea. But letting them walk all you wasn’t going to work either. By the time she was ten, Magrat knew how to tread the fine line.

“Shingles,” She began, plucking what she could remember of Doctor Troy’s casual but information laden commentary from the only time she and the others had witnessed her treating the infection. “Can happen to anyone who has had Chickenpox…”


The sudden question caught Magrat by surprise, derailing her train of thought. It took her a couple of awkward seconds to find the fallen boxcar that held the answer. While she floundered, Winnie flicked her attention to Maisie in time to see the smallest of sneers twitch against the corner of her mouth. In that moment, and rather to her surprise, Winnie found herself rooting for the young Devil’s Own gang member.

“Because they are both caused by the same virus.” Magrat had found the boxcar amongst the wreckage and was now looting its contents. “The virus remains in the body after chickenpox has cleared and can reactivate at any time, leading to shingles.”

Maisie was actually impressed. She had expected the girl to be familiar with gunshot wounds, knife wounds, broken bones and everything else likely in a gang society. But shingles? Maisie had had another question ready, but instead she just nodded.

“Okay, good. Go on.”

Putting the train back on the tracks Magrat determinedly sought out every other thing she could remember.

“A rash forms after a few days of feeling unwell and this often becomes painful blisters.” She stopped to indicate Winnie’s nest of livid looking pustules. “Ummm. During the… ermmm, the period of the rash or blisters the patient is infectious and can pass on the virus to anyone who hasn’t had chickenpox…”

Winnie was grinning like a cat that had stole the cream. You go girl!

Maisie held up a hand as Magrat took a breath.

“So how do you treat it?” She then tipped her chin to the still grinning, half naked old timer on the chair. “And what are you going to do now?”

Magrat was rolling.

“There used to be anti-virals but we don’t know how to make them anymore for shingles. Instead we just have to treat the symptoms until it clears up.”

“And how do we do that?”

A quick rummage through another boxcar found the answer to that one.

“Painkillers. Erm, keep the rash clean and dry.” Magrat put her hand on Winnie’s shirt. “Wear loose-fitting clothes. And use a cold compress a few times a day.”

A silence followed as the teenager seemed to have come to the end of her list. Maisie raised an eyebrow.

“Anything else?”

Magrat’s mind went blank, but a small cough from Winnie attracted her attention to where the old woman was gently tapping at her rash. Magrat’s eyes lit up.

“Calamine! Calamine lotion.”

Maisie threw Winnie a suspicious look before returning her attention to a grinning Magrat.

“Very good. So, what are…”

Magrat was already in action, confidence positively glowing from her like light from a beacon. As she worked she described everything she was doing and why.

“Firstly, we need to gently dab away the old calamine residue, checking for signs of infection…”

Maisie watched, ready to step in should Magrat put so much as a finger wrong. But, by the time Winnie’s rash had been cleaned and dressed, the head nurse had to admit that she couldn’t have done a much better job herself. Maybe a bit quicker, but Magrat had nailed it.

After completing her notes, Magrat led a very happy Winnie away to the clinic’s exit.

Back in the treatment room, it was a thoughtful Nurse Maisie who cleaned up ready for the next patient.


Hyle Troy's picture

Nice read with my breakfast.  Brought to me by an nice young man..  huyy, The privations I have to endure !


Magrat 1- 0 Maisie :)  So far.  Let's  see if Hana Barret turns her ankle or Mr. Lattergas traps his thumb in his cash box. or...  or,,,, 

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

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