Dancing Around The Problem: Episode 4

Pedro is talking to Bibi in her office, and trying not to engage in any of his more obnoxious habits like tapping his foot (because his nager oscillates in phase with it).

Bibi is trying not to sound defensive, but it isn't easy.

Pedro: I quite understand, Hajene Bibi, that you weren't in any position to manage a crush injury by yourself. But was it really necessary to get the local butcher involved? I mean, this village may be primitive, but it's hardly a disaster zone.

Bibi: He was taken to the surgeon before I heard about his injury, and the Gen did manage to save Sosu Cristal's life, when I wouldn't have been able to myself.

Pedro: Of course. But surely you see what a bad precedent it set? What if this -- surgeon -- insists on involving himself in Cristal's care in future? Or other Tecton employees?

Bibi: He has no authority to do so without their consent.

Bibi wonder whether she should have left off the last phrase.

Pedro: I assume he had Sosu Cristal's consent this time, though.

Cristal: Yes, Sosu Pedro, or at least so I'm told.

Pedro: You're told?

Cristal ~~ defers to his channel ~~.

Bibi: I discussed it with Sosu Cristal at the time, and he consented. However, due to the trauma, and perhaps the anesthetic, he doesn't have a clear memory of the discussion.

Cristal nods.

Pedro: I see. Well, in that case, I'll take your word for it, Hajene.

Pedro tries to keep the condescension out of his nager.

Bibi: I was present during as much of Sosu Cristal's treatment as was possible for me, and used channel's methods to stabilize his vital signs to the best of my ability before and after the procedure. Immediately afterwards, I sealed the surface of the incision to prevent infection.

Pedro: Quite so, quite so. Well, as you know, I'm only an investigator: I don't have the authority to pass judgments. But my recommendation will carry some considerable weight. Is there anything else that either of you thinks I ought to know about the incident?

Cristal remains prudently silent.

Bibi: Sosu Cristal has told me that he believes the right course was taken.

Bibi hopes Cristal will pipe up and say he's glad to be alive and didn't leave Bibi Donorless again.

Cristal: [not quite mimicking Pedro, but almost] Quite so, quite so. Not to mention the obvious value to the Tecton of a surviving TN-2 -- and QN-2.

Pedro elevates his eyebrows but says nothing.

Pedro: Hardly that. Or do you imply that your Controller would have failed to send another Donor, if worse came to the worst? ~~ oily ~~

Cristal: Hardly that.

Pedro suspects he's being mocked, but he can't prove anything, so drops it.

Pedro: In any case, I suspect the rules will be tightened up to prevent, er, experimentation on vital Tecton resources in future.

Bibi: The surgeon was impressed by the value of channel's methods in producing faster and better healing afterwards, especially in the reduced scarring. Which of course promotes better understanding and more favorable attitudes among the out-T population.

Bibi spreads her tentacles.

Bibi: I assure you, Sosu Pedro, that if I had been capable of saving Sosu Cristal's life myself, I wouldn't have countenanced something as unorthodox as surgery.

Bibi hopes her slant on the truth won't come across as insincere.

Pedro takes notes of all these points.

Cristal: I think -- I hope -- the circumstances are rather unlikely to recur.

Bibi nods in ~~ agreement ~~.

Pedro: Very well. If there's nothing further --

Pedro relaxes now that the official part of the effort is over.

Bibi: Would you like a cup of trin before Ghan drives you to the station, Sosu?

Pedro: Thanks, Hajene. I'd appreciate that.

Doctor Tavis bustles up to Bibi's office and raps briskly on the door.

Tavis is ~~ excited ~~.

Bibi thinks the timing couldn't be worse. She opens the door.

Bibi: Good afternoon, Dr. Tavis. I'll be right with you. Would you care for some refreshments?

Tavis: No, no, I've just got a moment before I continue on my rounds. But I wanted you to see this.

Tavis holds up his black bag.

Bibi: Cristal, could you look after Sosu Pedro, please?

Bibi would like to keep Pedro and Tavis as far apart as possible.

Tavis: Oh, Cristal should see this as well. It concerns him, after all.

Cristal goes out to fetch fresh trin.

Pedro switches to English.

Pedro: Sosu Cristal will return shortly, Doctor ... Doctor Tavis?

Pedro's eyebrows head for the ceiling.

Tavis: Yes. And you are...?

Pedro: Sosu Pedro Nott, an investigator for the Tecton. I was just questioning Hajene Bibi and Sosu Cristal about the -- medical incident.

Tavis: Ah, then you'll be interested as well.

Bibi: Sosu Pedro, you may find the technical aspects disconcerting.

Bibi thinks "disconcerting" is a more tactful adjective than "nauseating".

Tavis plops his bag down on Bibi's desk, opens it, and after fumbling a moment among the medicines, pulls out an envelope.

Cristal returns with Pedro's trin and serves it.

Cristal: Hi, Doctor Tavis. Glad to see you.

Tavis: Hello, Cristal. This is the article I've drafted on your case for the New Washington Journal of Medicine. I hope to present it at the next annual meeting.

Cristal: Hmm. Will I understand it?

Cristal chuckles.

Tavis: You already know the gist of it. Here, take a look. I'd appreciate any comments you and Hajene Bibi may have about the details that fall under your expertise, not mine.

Cristal pages through the article, and winces at the amount of medical jargon in it, keeping the wince out of his field of course.

Bibi: Can you leave it with us, doctor, so we can study it carefully?

Cristal: It's remarkably similar to the sort of reports our people prepare on these cases. Even the title sounds similar: "Accelerated Post-Operative Healing After Splenectomy". I assume "splenectomy" means what I think it means?

Tavis: Yes. Surgical removal of the spleen. Often combined with removing the appendix. In your case, I didn't do that, because you'd already lost too much blood. However, it's always easier to remove the appendix when you're inside the abdomen anyway, rather than waiting until it becomes infected.

Pedro is still stunned by all this, and hasn't managed to say anything.

Bibi: Appendicitis is extremely rare in Sime Territory, doctor, even in Gens.

Pedro: Yes. Er. Channels, you see. But of course it can be very serious when it does. Happen.

Tavis: Well, it's not like it has to be fatal. The surgery is serious, but pretty routine.

Pedro: Ah, would you object if I also added a copy of your article to my report, Doctor?

Tavis turns to Pedro.

Tavis: I'm afraid this is a pre-publication draft. The New Washington Journal of Medicine takes a dim view to publishing material that has been released elsewhere.

Tavis is ~~ apologetic ~~.

Pedro: Ah, quite. It would be held as confidential medical information by the Tecton; does that make a difference?

Tavis: Perhaps it would be better if you simply read the draft and took notes? If you wish, I will send you a reprint when it's released. That shouldn't be more than a year, at the outside.

Pedro: Very well, Doctor. I will attempt to write a precis of it, but I may need assistance with some of the terminology. May I come and see you tomorrow about it?

Bibi's heart sinks. It sounds like Pedro has his teeth into this and isn't going to leave on the afternoon train after all. And here she'd been getting along so well with Tavis lately.

Tavis: Certainly. I'm usually done with rounds by noon, and I try to take an hour off for lunch before I open the clinic.

Pedro: It's a date, then.

Tavis blinks, somewhat ~~ disconcerted ~~ at this use of the out-T idiom.

Tavis: Err...whatever you say.

Tavis edges a step away from Pedro.

Pedro: Have I said the wrong thing somehow?

Pedro ~~ appeals ~~ to Bibi, the expert on Genlan.

Bibi: Sosu Pedro isn't a native English speaker, doctor. Most people find idioms like that the hardest part of English to learn to use correctly.

Tavis: Humpf. I take it, then, that you were not declaring a sexual interest in me, Mr. Pedro?

Pedro: Certainly not! And my apologies, of course.

Pedro flipflops between emotions.

Tavis: Good.

Tavis turns back to Bibi.

Tavis: I would be particularly interested in your opinions of the section on what you were doing immediately before and after the surgery. Normally, with that degree of damage, a patient wouldn't be conscious at all.

Bibi: I'll do my best, doctor. Unfortunately, most of the relevant technical terms don't have English translations.

Cristal thinks Doctor Tavis's audience wouldn't understand them if they did.

Tavis: I realize that. I've got to describe what you did, though, and how it affected Sosu Cristal's condition, because that's the whole point of the paper.

Bibi: I'll read what you've written. It should be possible to describe the objectives and effects of what I did without the technical details of how I did it.

Tavis: I appreciate that. This will cause quite a stir, I expect, and I want to make sure the technical details are correct.

Bibi smiles.

Bibi: I don't suppose an appendix in Simelan would be possible?

Tavis shakes his head.

Pedro looks up.

Tavis: To tell the truth, I doubt the publisher would even have a Simelan font, much less someone who could proof it.

Bibi: Yes, I would imagine that's the case. At any rate, I think the important aspect is to let doctors know that channel's methods can be complementary to their own.

Tavis: Yes. Are you sure you don't want to write a similar article for publication in one of the Sime medical journals? I'm sure it would be just as useful for your channels as for New Washington doctors.

Bibi spreads her hands, keeping her tentacles retracted.

Pedro: I think that it would be politically very difficult for a Second to publish such an article, Doctor. The Tecton doesn't reward boat-rockers, and surgery... Well. I'm sure you have heard enough on that subject from our local people here.

Tavis: How do you expect to make progress, if you don't let competent professionals advocate new ideas?

Cristal spreads his hands.

Cristal: Why do your people resist Sime Centers and treatment by channels so energetically, Doctor?

Tavis shrugs.

Tavis: A fair number of my patients are also Hajene Bibi's, as you well know. It's not like that in a lot of other towns, I know. But really, shouldn't people in your situation be allowed to choose a treatment that might help, even if a channel can't administer it?

Pedro: I personally have no objection except in the case of Tecton personnel.

Tavis: Why? Would you rather Cristal was dead? What purpose would that serve?

Pedro falls back on the bureaucrat's defense.

Pedro: It would be inappropriate for me to discuss that with an outsider until policy has been set.

Tavis: You're a paper pusher, then? Rather than someone who treats actual patients whose actual lives can't wait for you to get around to forming your policy?

Pedro: Just so, Doctor. My job is to collect facts to help decision makers do their work better. Surely you agree that medicine works better if the treatments with successful outcomes are used?

Tavis: Certainly. However, surgery has a track record of success that is longer than your channels have, by at least a thousand years. The Ancients used it extensively, you know.

Pedro: Doubtless. But neither Simes nor Gens are Ancients.

Tavis: We were doing surgery on Gens long before your first channel started to practice, if I understand history properly. Surgery on a Sime might present some novel difficulties, but I assure you that Cristal's surgery was strictly routine, as such things go.

Pedro: Well, I won't try to compete with you, Doctor. As you say, I'm not a front-line medical practitioner, except in emergencies.

Tavis: Don't you think those front-line medical practitioners, and their patients, should be allowed to seek out effective, proven treatments on either side of the border, particularly when such treatment isn't available from their regular medical practitioner?

Pedro chuckles.

Pedro: You are attempting to press me for a commitment, but I just can't give you one.

Tavis: I just hope your superiors refrain from imposing artificial, unjustified restrictions. I assure you, I know at least one patient who would be quite willing to make an interterritorial incident over it -- and the Tecton already lost one battle with Miz Brown.

Pedro makes a note of the name.

Pedro: In any case, I do look forward to reading your paper this evening and discussing it with you tomorrow.

Tavis: As do I.

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