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Old August 9 2010, 05:21 AM   #1
Nerys Ghemor
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Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

This came about over at Ad Astra as a response to a prompt to come up with a day in the life of a character, and have them narrate it. Mine got a little detailed, so I decided to post it up here as a ficlet. The narrator is Dr. (Dalin) Sekdain Istep of the Trager, and this takes place a few days after the Battle of Lessek in The Thirteenth Order--so about the same time as the material that has currently been posted.

Obviously there are HEAVY spoilers for The Thirteenth Order, so consider yourself warned.

(BTW, these is Istep's mental "journal," not anything he spoke or wrote aloud.)

The title, "Shared Practices," is a reference to the fact that I hope a lot will seem very familiar about Dr. Istep regardless of the different species and experiences.

---------

Dr. Sekdain Istep
CUW Trager

I seem to have forgotten what sleep feels like. Most of the combat-wounded have either stabilized themselves or are no longer under my care for other (sadder) reasons, but that hasn't reduced the workload in the slightest, and I am still sleeping--as I do in emergency situations--in a cot in my office. I soundproof it at night...but for obvious reasons the one sound that isn't blocked out is the emergency alarm.

According to the chronometer I had been out for about four hours when it went off the first time this morning. Bolian male, anaphylactic shock--deathly allergic to red leaf, apparently. If this were one of my crew, once I had him healed I would have verbally ripped a few of his macroscales for stupidly experimenting with foods he knew would trigger that kind of reaction and putting himself in that kind of danger AND in the middle of a war, no less...we're all tested as children and memorize the information...but how could I expect these Vedrayçda to know what Cardassian foods they'll react to badly? I may order the tests for the rest of these people...because this is surely only the first.

The Starfleet nurse with us was just barely out of school, and even with the information she was giving us, not all of it was translating properly, which meant a lot of frenetic scrambling to 1) react to each symptom as it came without killing the poor man, 2) figure out what drugs to administer that wouldn't kill him, and what dosage, and 3) do all of this quickly before we lost him to a cup of red leaf tea. We succeeded, but it was a very tense experience for all.

Did you know it's possible to feel exhaustion while in a dream and asleep? I did, after I crawled back into my cot and returned to some sort of fitful sleep.

I gave up on that after another two hours and started work again.

I've never had to deal with this level of unpredictability as to what species I'll be dealing with and when...until a few months ago, almost the full extent of my practice has been Cardassian, with the occasional member of another species for one reason or another, and usually, species the Union has some kind of close knowledge of: a Lissepian, maybe, or a Xepolite. I actually didn't treat a Bajoran until a month ago, when we brought Folani and Spirodopoulos and a few others aboard from the Chin'toka system. I was most fortunate she was unconscious...I do not relish treating a conscious one. I actually look forward to that less than the idea of treating the Mathenite.

The Bolian was just the first harbinger of other stomach complaints to come. We pride ourselves on the thoroughness of our databases, of course, but there is some information one simply cannot garner by spying or whatever it is the Obsidian Order (bastards--and I can say that as LOUDLY as I want in my head, thank you VERY MUCH!) do to entertain themselves. And so much they do not know about themselves, understandably, when it comes to living on a Cardassian ship with our most limited repertoire of offworld recipes in the replicators.

Note: Arrange conference call with Hetalc, Pethec, and Polet. And get Spirodopoulos too, or have him designate a representative. Dieticians on from all ships' medical staffs needed urgently to design and implement supplement protocols and "avoid" lists for all species present on our ships.

I make the rounds and check on the patients still convalescing in Sickbay. Therapy will commence immediately for those who are able. Others I hope to release today. Two I definitely won't release--tests are showing potential precursors to stun-shock, one Cardassian, one Saurian. While I am capable of treating them myself, with the Sherouk in the area I will make an immediate transfer as soon as we are in a situation where we can use transporters again. If Hetalc's overwhelmed, at the very least I am sending the Saurian over. We all have the problem with multiple species, but Hetalc has done so much work in the area that he is now qualified as a specialist neurosurgeon and I would be stupid not to avail myself of that, for their sake.

Someone just passed out on Deck 12...human. These people need to drink much more water than they are; they're mammals...it's not that they can't live in Cardassian-normal temperatures (most of them, anyway), but they have got to recognize the need to monitor themselves closely. They have temperature control in their quarters, but still...

Note for conference call: Arrange for designated "cooling areas" near various work locations, on each ship.

Called in the Caitian lieutenant pre-emptively. Insisted on his wearing a monitoring device round the clock; his species is at high risk for heatstroke. We had quite an argument over that; no hierarchical instinct means very non-compliant patients. I am going to have to get used to that. I won, but I am going to have to be very careful to bite back some of my own instinctive reactions lest I go off on one of these people and start an incident. Also issued him an insulated canteen to keep on his person, and keep filled with ice water, and got much less resistance to that idea. Caitians don't even have the limited capacity to sweat that we do. [Because of our microscales and therapsid metabolisms, Cardassians only sweat if ill or near heatstroke, not simply because an environment is warm or hot to our perspective--for us, it's a sign that something is wrong.] Panting will help him but only in the short term; that has to be exhausting. Water will serve much better.

One of my nurses calls me...Gor Velek is near death. I attend him in his final moments, certify his death, and order his body transported to the cargo bay under the watch of the Honor Vigil. We can't take the bodies through the halls as we normally might because some of our people might raise a fuss about the aliens seeing, even WITH a sheet covering them. No matter how much I tell people that the burial instinct does not justify that kind of behavior some people STILL insist. I feel the same thing any Cardassian does around our dead. But that does NOT make me some kind of biologically-programmed bigot, because I know better than to let it.

Aforementioned conference call. Long call, but very necessary. I was so rude: ate the whole time and talked with my mouth full. Then again, so were the rest of them...getting our staffs to take breaks has been bad enough. We're doctors...we're even worse.

An Andorian tech electrocuted herself trying to repair a conduit. I think we'll be seeing a lot of those kinds of injuries from the aliens--they're trying hard, but they don't know all of the things to watch out for in our systems (or at least, they don't all look the way they do on a Federation ship). Thankfully the injury wasn't severe, but her reaction was. The shock went all over her body...so I ordered her to disrobe so I could do a bioelectric assessment along with the tricorder scan. Yes, she's an alien and her bioelectric field won't feel the same as one of our own, but that's why I use both methods. It's standard Cardassian procedure, but she reacted very, very badly to that order.

I realize we have a "reputation," but for Cardassia's sake, I am a DOCTOR, not a monster!

Apparently Federation physicians cannot order a patient to do that except under certain conditions...some sort of privacy regulation. Some of them don't even touch their patients short of setting a bone or doing surgery. She borderline threatened me, and I actually had to call Spirodopoulos down to Sickbay. We worked out a compromise...I did the assessment with her clothed and without actually making physical contact--but it felt wrong to me and I hope some of the others will be more understanding.

I am NOT having luck with blue people today.

More patients...more argument than I've ever dealt with from my patients in a single day--I pity the medical officers aboard these people's ships for what they must have to go through!

I have to take one of my nurses aside to counsel her for sharp words to a Starfleet patient. I realize it has been a long, exhausting day, but we are Cardassians--we are disciplined, and that is especially not acceptable under these circumstances. We cannot antagonize our allies. I write up a quick report and log it, and tie it to the security camera feed for this area; should I be asked by the human commander to provide a record of my corrective action, I want the corroborating data on hand. There is a saying I have heard comes from Earth (though it must have been an ancient human to judge from modern Starfleet), "trust but verify." I would not fault Spirodopoulos at all for seeking hard evidence if the incident reaches him; I would do the same in his position.

More physical therapy, more digestive disruptions, more heat exhaustion, and the various unpredictable things that happen any given day. I try to eat dinner in between seeing patients, but I keep getting called back to see someone else (usually not Cardassian), and my meal ends up half-eaten and cold.

Finally I crawl back into my cot, hoping my exhaustion and meditative discipline will force me into a deep sleep. Maybe sometime, if we continue, I'll feel comfortable moving back to my own quarters and my sleeping mat, but not yet. Tomorrow, I think, is not going to be any easier than yesterday.

But I know why I do this. For Cardassia...and for them: each of my patients.
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Old August 9 2010, 05:54 AM   #2
Gul Re'jal
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

You caught the different approach to a patient in different culture perfectly. My first visit to a doctor here in Asia, after moving from Europe, was a shock. I was like a Cardassian examined by a Federation doctor. He asked me for permission to examine me, he explained clearly he would have to touch me directly and made sure several times I understood that.
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Old August 10 2010, 02:55 AM   #3
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
You caught the different approach to a patient in different culture perfectly. My first visit to a doctor here in Asia, after moving from Europe, was a shock. I was like a Cardassian examined by a Federation doctor. He asked me for permission to examine me, he explained clearly he would have to touch me directly and made sure several times I understood that.
I am very honored to hear you say that! I've actually never been treated by a doctor from another country, so it's good to know I got that experience right. Thank you for reading!
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Old August 10 2010, 12:49 PM   #4
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

I was very happy to read it, I like your work very much
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Old August 10 2010, 06:15 PM   #5
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

Thanks again!
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Old August 20 2010, 03:55 PM   #6
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

Gul Re'jal wrote: View Post
You caught the different approach to a patient in different culture perfectly. My first visit to a doctor here in Asia, after moving from Europe, was a shock. I was like a Cardassian examined by a Federation doctor. He asked me for permission to examine me, he explained clearly he would have to touch me directly and made sure several times I understood that.
That's great and I wish more doctors were like that. Nothing is more awkward and uncomfortable than being poked and/or prodded and/or grabbed without adequate warning by a doctor.
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Old August 20 2010, 06:19 PM   #7
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

What an enjoyable little tale. a very interesting snapshot of what a Cardassian doctor's life might be like in such unusual circumstances
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Old August 20 2010, 06:28 PM   #8
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

Thanks...glad you enjoyed!
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Old August 25 2010, 01:34 AM   #9
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

A nice POV from who is basically a Cardassian Dr. McCoy.

I liked the snide remark to the Order...and I LOVED the quote from the Gipper near the end.

My compliments.
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Old August 25 2010, 01:55 AM   #10
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

Rush Limborg wrote: View Post
A nice POV from who is basically a Cardassian Dr. McCoy.
LOL! I'm not sure if he's AS cranky as McCoy, but ironically, Nevot--the area where this guy comes from on Cardassia Prime, I have modeled in some ways after the American South. It's similar, at least, in economic terms...very agrarian, with a definite "aristocratic" class because arable land is SO valuable on Cardassia. There's also a work ethic that comes with it, too.

I liked the snide remark to the Order...and I LOVED the quote from the Gipper near the end.

My compliments.
I figured you'd enjoy the comment--it seemed to fit the context!
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Old August 25 2010, 02:06 AM   #11
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

^^ Hmmm, he strikes me as far less "acid" and hot tempered than McCoy, more integrated into a settled outlook (but then he has a Cardassian's social hierarchial instincts). He also seems to me somewhat more weary and subdued, but yes, I do certainly see something of the good doctor McCoy in him - that deep concern for life that's wrapped in a cynical outlook. Slightly bitter but also strangely good-humoured old-man grumpiness ("I'm NOT having luck with blue people today" ). Plus of course "I'm a doctor, not a--", though I liked that here it's got a more sober twist with "monster", giving the unfortunate reputation of Cardassian doctors (thanks to Moset and his ilk being more visible to aliens than the normal doctors). That also helps emphasise the dark setting- I mean, it's a war; any good doctor hates this sort of thing on general theoretical terms, no matter how necessary it might be in practice. But I think McCoy is far more angry at the universe than Istep. Istep's more controlled, I think, less - well, as I said, less acid. Perhaps it's because McCoy doesn't have the Cardassian social instincts, and that he lives in a tolerant culture where he doesn't have to resort to shouting at the Order in his head, so he can show it openly. But Istep...I don't know. He seems more comfortable in himself than McCoy, and so less...exaggerated. I hope that makes sense.

Great piece as always, Nerys.

(I'll have to speak to Thor about mine/his...)

EDIT: Oh, she beat me to it!
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Old August 25 2010, 02:20 AM   #12
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

So much to like here - the fatigue and concern that any good physician might feel, amplified by the clash of cultures and differing physiology. Add in the suspicion that still exists between the Starfleet people and the Cardassian crew and the good doctor's job becomes that much more difficult.

Interesting to listen in on his thoughts rather than a more sterile (and highly edited) log entry. I enjoyed this!
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Old August 25 2010, 02:43 AM   #13
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: Star Trek: Sigils and Unions--"Shared Practices"

Thanks! McCoy definitely did seem exaggerated at times--or haunted, one of the two. Istep is actually not that old, at least in terms of the Cardassian lifespan, though like most Cardassians his physical appearance would make him seem younger to a human than he actually is. I would imagine he's in his mid-50s, maybe very early 60s. To a human eye in the 24th century, though, he would look as though he was in his early 40s.

Istep is definitely fearful of being lumped in with "doctors" like Moset. He was also very upset when he realized his order might be taken as being like those Cardassian soldiers who have raped women on worlds they attacked.

He's more controlled, yes...I know he CAN have a temper, though, but I don't think it emerges anywhere near as frequently as McCoy's.

EDIT: Thanks, TLR! I figured a doctor from a fleet where treating other species isn't the norm would really feel the strain. I'm glad you liked the rawer, more unedited aspect to it--I was worried about how that would come off!
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