Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Of Babies and Submarines.

Last night's Pigboats game went off into an odd direction. The Captain and XO were discussing how to get through the 300 mile long Makassar Strait, and had just decided on running through it full speed on the surface at night, when the XO thought aloud "I wonder how Hope is doing?" Hope is the name they gave the baby they rescued from the Sampan. I had also been wondering about her, so I rolled a d20, low good, high bad as befits a roll-under game. I rolled a 20.

I told the XO that she had been crying for some time, and he could hear it up on the bridge from the forward torpedo rooms, even over the diesels. Signals Officer O'Grady went to see what was going wrong. He found her being cosseted ineffectually by a torpedoman, who told O'Grady she was hot. O'Grady felt her skin - definitely feverish.

Some time ago, O'Grady had learned that the Skipper had received Corpsman Training - a very odd thing - which meant he was more qualified medically than the ship's "Doc", a mere Pharmacist's Mate, who the XO had gotten hastily and partially trained in battlefield medicine on his own, in case one of the flyboys they might rescue on Lifeguard duty had been shot. He sent the Torpedoman up to get the skipper, while he took Hope and went to get the Doc.

He found Doc Kendall pulling a sheet up over Hope's father's head. The Malay had gotten a depressed skull fracture, striking his temple on the hatch coaming on the sampan, and had lingered for several days after the sampan incident. The sub had meanwhile submerged as dawn was coming up.

in the Captain's quarters, Doc Kendall reported "The girl is an orphan now, sir. Her father just died. We'll have to bury him tonight - he's Muslim." The Skipper  nodded and asked for Hope. He placed her on his bunk and began to examine her. Kendal took her temperature. "She's at 104, Skipper. Not good. Looks like an infection to me." O'Grady asked "Is there anything I can do? Can we cool her down?" Doc handed him some gauze and a bottle of diluted alcohol. "Moisten a cloth with a little alcohol, and wipe her down gently. It will cool her as it evaporates. Be careful that she doesn't take a chill!" O'Grady did so, and as she cooled, she calmed down.

The Skipper looked her over - mouth, eyes, nose, but when he touched her left ear, she screamed. "That's it!" said the skipper. Kendall handed him an auriscope, and the Skipper bent over her, looking into her ear. "She's got an infected flea bite in her ear. It's badly swollen and blocking her canal. What have you got for this, Kendall?" He unrolled his never-used surgical implements. The skipper chose his tool with care. "I have some wicking for abcesses, plenty of gauze, and sulfa powder." replied Kendall, rooting through his supplies. He set them out.

O'Grady held her steady. Hope looked into his eyes, whimpering a little. "Poor little thing!"Kendall held her head as the captain cut into the abcess. Blood and pus spurted out as hope screamed and twisted her head violently. "Shit!" shouted Kendal as she twisted her head out of his grasp. The Skipper hadn't fully withdrawn the blade, and her ear was gashed. She screamed louder. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry!" shouted Kendall as O'Grady tried to comfort her, singing softly to her, and the Skipper cleaned out the ear, sprinkling it with sulfa powder before suturing the gash. Kendall packed the abcess with the wick, with Hope bawling the whole while. She quieted down to whimpers again when they finished.

O'Grady started back to the forward torpedo room, walking very slowly, and holding the girl like a package of nitroglycerine. He stopped and turned to face the others. "Thank you guys. I know you're doing your best." He turned back and moved on towards the baby's bunk.


No comments:

Post a Comment