from my Pepper Bibeau mystery
FOR EVERY ACTION:
“Ma’am, can you tell me how to find the books on diseases?”
The librarian directed me to the elevator, reciting floor and wing numbers for their medical section. Before long I had several books relating to anemia laid out on a hardwood table, ready to refresh my memory about sickle cell anemia. The first book folded open to an article on gas gangrene. Among the symptoms listed was acute anemia. An illustration of a gangrenous patient fired my memory and I envisioned a different scene, a lifetime removed.
It is the first morphine injection I administer since arriving here, ten milligrams. The ulcerated areas remind me of the moist gangrene of an advanced diabetic. I detect a putrid smell present in the discharge.
His body heat is palpable from three feet away. His entire body appears affected. Mercifully, he remains unconscious when they unload him from the helicopter. His chest isn’t moving but as I lean closer to check for respirations, a keening howl shatters my concentration.
Conscious now, he suffers extreme pain. I quickly give him another ten milligrams, this time without orders.
I closed the library book and inhaled deeply, trying to clear my sinuses of phantom odors. For the next few hours, I studied medical articles that explained the difference between disc-shaped, normal red blood cells and the crescent-shaped cells of sickle cell anemia.
According to one article, doctors agreed heredity affected the birth rate of babies born with the disease. Another article stated sickle cell was not only an African disease, but was also found in the Middle East.
I reminded myself I wasn’t gathering information to compile a dissertation. I only needed enough facts to ask relevant questions about the claims, if Dr. Patel ever made himself available for an interview.
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