Doctor Barrow
Chapter 8

Copyright© 2020 by UtIdArWa

I had just started my morning rounds. There had been an admission the previous day. A trooper, breaking a new horse, had broken his arm when the horse threw him. It was a simple break, easily set. But I wanted to observe him for a couple of days, just in case, something else came up.

When I came up to his bed, I could tell that the enforced rest was chaffing at him. “Good Morning, Trooper Bailey. How are you feeling?”

He grinned at me, “Mornin Doc. If’n I tell ya I’m fine, will you let me loose from here?”

I chuckled, “What? You tired of us already? Food not good enough? I know you want to get back to your troop, But I think it would be best to stick around for a couple of days. Give that arm some time to heal up. Speaking of which, how do you feel? Any pain? are you comfortable?”

“Yeah, Doc, No worries there.”

“Are you sure? I can get something for pain if you need it. You’ll heal up a lot faster.”

“You talkin bout that laudanum stuff? Don’t need it, Doc. That stuff scares me. I seen guys in the field hospitals get hooked on the stuff. Seems to me, the cure was worse than the sickness.”

“Well, Yes, laudanum is dangerous. But if it’s used correctly, in the correct doses, it will do wonders for pain.”

“Pain? Well, Doc, I’ve got this here stuff my mammy taught me bout. She was from back up in the hills. Claimed she was taught from injuns, Cherokees.”

As he was talking, he pulled a leather poke from his haversack that was beside his bed. Inside was some dried-out plant. He took a couple of big pinches and sprinkled them into his water cup. “I just let that steep for a couple of minutes, Then drink er down. Works like a treat when a body’s hurtin’.”

I was somewhat concerned, but at the same time, curious. “What is it? I’ve heard that some of the old Indian cures work pretty good.”

“Mammy called it wild lettuce, grows all over the place. You can make a tea, like this. Or chew on the fresh leaves. Even make a tincture from the juice. It comes out like a milky white sticky stuff. If ya get enough, you can boil it down. Works real good.”

We were interrupted when Corporal Wheaton came onto the ward. “Doctor Burrow, we’ve got a patient coming into the emergency. They need you.”

I wanted to learn more about this wild lettuce, But I knew it would have to wait. As we walked to the ER, Wheaton filled me in that the patient was a civilian coming in from the desert. He didn’t know anything else.

When we arrived, the orderlies were bringing him in on a stretcher. Wheaton directed them to a bed as I was washing up and getting into a gown. I looked at the body from the washbasin. “OK, Don, Let’s get those clothes off him and get started.”

Before I got my gown on, Wheaton spoke up, “Um, Doc. We’ve got an issue here.”

I stepped up to the bed, and the ‘Issue’ was immediately obvious. “OK, I see what the problem is. One of you orderlies run and get Agnes. Don, In the meantime, let’s start my exam. You take notes.”

“On first look, we have a young, white, female. Probably 13 or 14 years old. Malnourished. Pretty bad sunburn.” I pinched her arm and then released it. The skin was slow returning to normal. “Dehydrated.” I pried open one of her eyes, the pupil was normal, but the whites had a yellow tint. “OK, confirming the dehydration and possibly some liver issues as well.”

As I was speaking, Agnes showed up. I continued, checking her arms and legs. “Great, Glad you’re here, Agnes. We need to get this young lady into a bed, and start getting some fluids into her. Go light at first. A wet compress on her forehead, and let her suck on another. When she wakes up, you can start with small amounts, say a teaspoon. See how she tolerates it. You can increase that, slowly, up to a half-cup. Let me know when you get that far. I don’t think she’ll need food just yet. We’ll cross that bridge later.”

I looked at Wheaton, “Don, I think this would be a good time to try that cactus juice the Shoshones told us about, Aloe Vera? Use a liberal coating on those sunburns. If it works, great.”

One of the orderlies poked his head into the treatment room. “Doc, you’ve got some folks out here, wanting to talk to you.”

“OK Owens, just give me a minute.” I turned back to Agnes and Don. “Any questions? Any problems?” Neither one seemed confused or anxious. “OK guys, Let’s get this little girl comfortable.”

I stayed long enough to see that My orders were being carried out, then stepped out of the treatment room. As I expected, Colonel Anderson and a Lieutenant were waiting for me.

“Well Colonel, Lieutenant, the patient will survive. Despite malnutrition and dehydration, she will be up and about soon. However, there are some other issues that need to be discussed.”

“SHE? the patient is a woman?”

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