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The Thirty Days of Magrat (part four)

Joe Spivey's picture
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Magrat returned with the bandaged boy from the waiting room. Maisie wasted no time on pleasantries but got down to business by pointing to the chair recently vacated by Winnie Barrow.


The boy sat down heavily in the chair, his truculence obvious. Maisie filled a tray with the necessities of wound dressing before pulling up a stool to sit facing the boy.

“This is Evan.” She explained as she started to carefully unwrap the bandage that was protecting the left side of Evan’s face. “He’s one of Arch Stanton’s young ‘uns. Of the three brother’s he’s probably the ‘good’ one although that ain’t saying much.” The bandage unravelled to reveal two deep gashes down the youngster’s face. “His big brother is another story, Hope will be a better place when he leaves. Bad to the bone that one.”

Evan squirmed in his seat and the glare he was giving the head nurse would have fazed a lesser woman. Maisie, however, never gave his expression a second thought as she leaned in to examine the wounds.

“Lord alone knows how his baby brother will turn out.” Maisie sat up and beckoned Magrat to take a look while she prepared some gauze on the tray. “Take a look at these lacerations and tell me what you think.”

Magrat bent down to get a better look.

“How’d he get them? Fighting?”

Maisie was soaking lengths of narrow gauze strips in a bath of clear liquid.

“Nope. Him and his cronies were playing chicken. Running across the ploughed field. Evan tripped up and got leapt on by a Blood Rabbit. He was damn luck his daddy was close by.”

Magrat was puzzled by the state of the wound.

“This looks days old. Why isn’t it stitched up?”

Maisie held Evan’s head still with one hand while she gently dabbed at the wounds with a wet gauze pad.

“Doc. Troy’s idea. Normally we’d suture a deep cut like this. But, it being on his face and all, she reckoned to use secondary intention instead.”

“What’s sec…”

But Maisie was already answering Magrat’s question.

“If a laceration is too wide to stitch up we use what’s called ‘secondary intention’ healing. The wound heals from the bottom up.” She finished cleaning the wound and reached for an implement from the tray. “Makes for a good strong scar but that ain’t why the doc chose to do it this way.” Magrat waited for Maisie to go on while watching what the experienced nurse was doing with the stitch cutter she had picked up. “Letting it heal this way also makes for a less noticeable scar. I guess the doc didn’t want him growing up scaring the girls away.”

Maisie held the stitch cutter up for Evan to see.

“Now you hold still. You flinch when I do this and I might slice your damn face off.”

The look on Evan’s terrified face suggested that he would remain statue-like while the large nurse did what she was going to do.

Maisie indicated Magrat to get closer.

“See here? See where little bridges have formed here and here.”

Tiny bridges of skin had formed between the sides of the lacerations. Magrat nodded. Maisie tightened her grip on the boy’s head making him groan.

“Well, they can be a problem so we need to cut them away so the wound only heals from the bottom up.”

At the mention of ‘cutting away’, Evan’s breathing became noisily more rapid and he clutched the seat of the chair with both hands. Maisie wasn’t impressed.

“Oh, give over, we’ve done this before. You can’t hardly feel it, you just think it hurts.” With that, two quick flicks of her wrist and the job was done. Evan, however, had gone white and was blinking back the tears. Maisie checked her handiwork and sat back.

“Good job, if I do say so myself.”

Magrat gave Evan an encouraging nod. He hadn’t flinched at all and felt it was a little unfair that her boss hadn’t even acknowledged the kid’s bravery. Maisie, however, was now lifting up the long strip of gauze she had soaked in the antiseptic bath.

“Now we just need to pack the wound with this to help prevent the sides bridging again. You watch close now because you’ll be doing this twice a day from now on.”

“How long does it take to heal?” Magrat asked.

“That’s the downside. Five to eight weeks, and that’s if there is no infection or other complications.”

Magrat thought about that while watching the head nurse’s deft fingers ever so gently pack each laceration with the thin gauze. All that time, and all the resources it would need, just so a little boy wouldn’t have an ugly scar into his teens. It wouldn’t have happened in the camp.

By now, Maisie was rewrapping Evan’s head with a larger bandage to keep the dirt out. She glanced at Magrat.

“How are you with a syringe girly?”

Magrat and young Evan shared the same worried look.

“Ummm, I’ve done a few inoculations and a sedative once.”

“All intravenous. Evan here needs an antibiotic shot which has to be intramuscular, different technique. Here, finish wrapping his head while I get it ready for you.”

Magrat took over and was just tucking the knot into a fold in the bandage when Maisie returned with a loaded syringe. She handed it to Magrat then turned to Evan, who still wore the worried, apprehensive look from learning that a shot was on the cards.

“Okay you. Drop your drawers and bend over that table.”

Evan’s look of apprehension turned to one of horror at the command from the grinning head nurse. He stood up and took a step backwards in the direction of the treatment room door.

“No way.” He glanced at Magrat and swallowed. “I ain’t dropping my pants.”

Maisie scowled.

“Why in hell not? You’ve done it every day you’ve been coming here.”

Evan’s voice rose in pitch.

“Not in front of her I haven’t”

“What’s so damn different about her? And if you take another step towards that door you’re going to be making me chase you and you sure as hell don’t want that young’un.”

Evan stopped his retreat to the door.

“She’s a girl!”

“I’m a damn girl, in case you haven’t noticed, and I’ve seen your little hiney more times than I’ve a care to!”

Evan stared at the large scary woman standing in front of him with her hands on her hips and tried to find words that wouldn’t get him killed.

“But… that’s different. You’re… You’re…”

Maisie’s eyes narrowed.

“I’m, what?”

Evan swallowed again.

“I mean…” He extended an arm to where Magrat stood holding the syringe up in front of her, thumb on the plunger, and looking totally bemused. “I mean, she’s… Young…er.”

Suddenly Magrat got it. So, while Maisie was looking for words, she strode over to where Evan was still looking terrified by the whole situation and spun him around. Holding his shoulder, she whispered in his ear.

“You just need to lower them a bit. Just so I can stick this in the top of your butt. Do it quick before she…”

But Evan was already pushing his britches down just far enough to reveal the top of his buttocks. Right now, all he wanted was to get out of here as quickly as possible before having to face the wrath of the head nurse.

Magrat might not have given an intramuscular injection before but she had been paying attention. Top half of the buttock, outside. Near but not too close to the hip bone. Push firmly and…

“There all done.”

The look of gratitude Evan gave Magrat was one that would ensure a growing friendship over the coming weeks.

When he had gone, Magrat turned to find Maisie looking at her curiously. Then the older woman shook her head and picked up the tray.

“Come on, let’s get this cleaned up.”


Hyle Troy's picture

I'm loving this !

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

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