Title: Previous Conditions
Rating: PG - Gen - Outside POV
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Outside POV - AN ER doctor meets an odd couple of frat brothers.
He really wondered sometimes just what exactly he had been thinking to have ever wanted a job like this one.
Almost a decade of school. A not so small fortune in student loans and a salary that still had him on ramen noodles. Torturous rotations that lasted for days on end without any useful chunks of time between to get any decent sleep. A Ford Focus that wouldn't start half the time. Maybe the beginnings of a stomach ulcer. The sum of his life seemed to be composed of unpleasant things most people did their best to avoid. He had once dreamt of a noble role in this occupation. Striding confidently from case to case that came through the emergency room doors with purpose and power. He would look the wounded in the eye and ease their pain and fear with just his mere presence.
The thought made him laugh out loud to himself and cause the lone staff nurse behind the admissions desk to look over at him questioningly.
Reality was usually as different as it could possibly be from what you did your best to dream up. The busy downtown ER he had been sentenced to didn't see many gloriously interesting things. The majority of the humble masses the staff saw come through the doors were mostly junkies and drunks. Half of them were over dosing and the other half were trying to score something from the attending so they could try. Some of these guys came back in once or twice a night.
It was a depressing business that had long since started to wear him down.
When his residency was over he had plans to look into some small practice somewhere. Maybe a woman's clinic that needed someone certified to fill out prescriptions for birth control. Maybe take a look at his school credits to see if he couldn't make that leap over to a nice dope free Veterinary gig. Too bad he was allergic to cats. He finished what was left of his bottled caffeine enriched sports drink while looking up dubiously at the blank marker board. It was what organized and labeled the ER's various rooms and stations. And for once, it didn't have a single thing on it.
Much too quiet for a Monday.
It seemed like even the addicts stayed in with the bad thunder storms that were roiling overhead. A night like this, now this was the kind of night that gave you a lot of car accidents. In fact, there had been a pile up just an hour ago on the highway. All ten victims had been sent to the much larger county hospital that was better staffed and more aptly equipped.
This ER wouldn't see any of that action. Wouldn't want to fill up their beds so the homeless crystal meths users had no free warm place to sleep it off now would we? He yawned and stretched until all the muscles in his arms and shoulders did some semblance of relaxation.
Speaking of sleeping it off...
No harm in catching a little shut eye until the next earnest teen came in to insist that they'd somehow misplaced their weekly allotment of methadone. He'd find that coffee stained couch in the break room and just stretch out like it was a king sized bed at the Waldorf Astoria--
"Hey, we got someone coming into Station 1."
As they say, duty calls and the head nurse waits for no man.
"What we got?" He took the clip board from her and scanned it briefly for the highlights.
Elevated temperature. Nausea. Dizziness.
And look at that, a 10 out 10 in pain described.
"This one of our fun filled street friends?" He asked with a sigh.
"I'm not sure."
He looked back over at her when he heard the uncertain tone in her voice.
His wonder at it was set aside as he quickly reviewed what the triage nurse out front had scribbled down. Satisfied that all was in order, he arrived at the station. It was more or less a recessed room that was partitioned by a pastel curtain that ran along the ceiling on a track. He flipped it easily aside to enter.
The patient was awake. Caucasian male. A quick look back at the insurance info had a birth date. The year written on the chart made this man 36 years old. He felt himself start to click his tongue. It was a habit he picked up when things he read on paper and the immediate read of what he saw with his own two eyes didn't quite add up. Already placed in a hospital gown, there were no tell tale grimy clothes to easily identify if this was going to be a typical plead and cajolingly act for pain killers.
At least this man didn't appear as if he was completely faking his pain. His breathing was labored and he was perspiring lightly. But withdrawal could do some pretty awful stuff to the body.
"Hi there, I'll be your medicine man for the evening."
It was always good to start off with some stupid joke. It made people who were suddenly almost naked and under fluorescent lights feel a little bit more comfortable. At least he hoped it did. That kind of crap would have never worked on him if their roles were reversed. The patient gave him a weak half smile back. There were shadows under his eyes that were typical of someone who had been sleep deprived. Those were a common enough sight around this place.
"I'm just fine doc." He said. "All I need is some extra strength aspirin and you can send me right on outta here."
Here we go. What would he ask for next? Some Vicodin? Percocet. Xanax. Maybe even some morphine. With a sigh, he picked up the clammy wrist and dutifully stared at his watch as he timed each beat of his patient's heart. So far, so good. This guy didn't seem to be hopped up on anything besides what was commonly called 'white coat syndrome'. The sight of a doctor could make a few things a little more stressful than they already were.
Even though a nurse had already done so, he slipped the cuff up around the man's bicep to measure his blood pressure. He had started inflating it steadily in his fist, his eyes trained on the sphygmomanometer gauge when the curtain suddenly screeched on its track and was yanked backwards.
Startled, he dropped the pump and stepped backwards.
"Hi. Sorry." A large person was standing there awkwardly holding up some papers. "I think you have to fill outta a form to fill out a form around here..."
"Don't you ever knock?" The patient in the gurney bed asked the new arrival.
Considering that all that was there was a flimsy curtain, the doctor appreciated the joke that was about as lame as could have managed himself. The young man that had so suddenly appeared shifted nervously in place as he realized he had just scared the hell out of them both.
The doctor cleared his throat. "Can I help you?"
"No. I mean yes? Sort of. I'm with him. He's my br- my Fraternity brother?"
"Usually only family is allowed--"
"He can stay." His patient sighed wearily from behind him.
The doctor was grateful for that news. From the size of the guy he wasn't sure he wanted to ask or demand anything one might be unwilling to do.
The pump was back in his hand. "In that case, do you mind....?"
"No, of course, please go ahead." Instead of sitting down in the plastic chair in the corner, the kid stepped up right beside him to watch what was going on. "Is he okay? What do you think is wrong with him?"
Unused to having someone right over his shoulder as he did his work, he cleared his throat again. "Not quite sure yet."
"Because-Because it might be something maybe you've never seen before or maybe--"
"Would you shut the hell up and leave the guy alone?" Came the weak reprimand from the gurney.
Something he'd never seen before. That'd be a good trick.
"Don't worry, there's not a whole lot I haven't." He placed and replaced his stethoscope under the gown on his patient's chest.
"Dunno." The man murmured tiredly between the deep breaths he was asked to make. "You'd be surprised doc."
He jotted down the heart rate and the systolic and diastolic, all the while keenly aware that the visitor was standing right up behind him reading it all.
His patient shifted restlessly in the silence.
"So what's the verdict? Can I go now?"
"How long have you been feeling this pain?"
Instead of the patient, the large young man spoke.
"And where exactly is it located?"
"In his stomach."
Fraternity brothers? He was getting the impression they were a little more than that. A cursory and covert check of both of their pupils showed no signs of the type that screamed stoned, high or tweaking.
"Then he started throwing up this morning." He went on. "Like really bad 'can't even drink water' puking."
The doctor pulled the blanket back and wasn't shocked when his hands were stopped. He forgot sometimes that not everyone was passively waiting to be exposed by a stranger even if he was the one with the degree. It happened every now and then. Mostly in times like this one when he hadn't bothered to explain what he was about to do next.
"I am going to pull your gown up so I can examine you."
"For what?" The patient asked suspiciously.
"Your wallet." It was his turn to make another lame joke again. But it worked. The firm grip on his wrist was released and he was begrudgingly allowed to wad the gown up to reveal the chest and abdomen.
There was a lot of scar tissue here. Some shallow with the tell tale signs of amateur stitching that always left pale dots of the sutures behind. Some were much deeper that appeared to have never been properly treated at all. The worst being two somewhat severe puncture wounds that had healed roughly in the lower left quadrant.
He looked back into the man's fatigued green eyes with professional curiosity.
"Were you in an accident?"
It was always better to suggest the most benign so they could volunteer the much worse truth themselves.
"Stabbed." His patient answered offhandedly.
The doctor felt his brow furrow.
Seeing the reaction, his patient sheepishly but quickly attempted to regroup his thoughts to explain. "I uh... used to be a uh, cop. Security cop."
Nodding back absently, he took note that the previous fabrication of college had been either momentarily forgotten or somehow circumvented to explain the damage he'd found. He had thought 36 was a little too old to be in a Fraternity. Although if he had to guess he'd say this man was more likely in his mid-twenties.
The visitor was getting agitated again.
"Just so you know...um..." He stammered. "We were uh, out on Friday and he um, he might have gotten sick from something that touched him-- I mean he might have picked up something--"
The strung out drug users that came in every day were much better liars than these two. What he couldn't quite understand was what it was exactly they were lying about. Especially when he greatly suspected just what the problem that brought them here was.
"On a scale to 1 to 10, 10 being the worst, tell me how this feels?"
Using the palm of his hand, he pushed down into the flesh of the patients lower right belly, just over the hip. He quickly withdrew the pressure.
With a smile he knew he shouldn't have, he expertly slid one hand under the man's back and had the small plastic tub under his face in about as much time as it took his patient to figure out that he was about to throw up once again. The smile wasn't for the discomfort of the guy, it was for the confirmation of his suspicions. A small victory against the ailments that made to cause harm on the human body.
It was strange how refreshing it was to find some pain that hadn't been self inflicted.
"Would that be about a 10?"
The patient nodded miserably over the bucket.
"Well, I don't know what you picked up on Friday when you were out..."
The visitor had the decency to blush at hearing his vague ludicrous explanation repeated.
"But this has nothing to do with it."
The tall young man somehow managed to get even closer to him. "What is it? What's wrong with him?"
"We'll have to do an ultrasound and a CAT just to be sure but I think what we're dealing with here is appendicitis."
There was an uncomfortable moment of silence as both men blinked at him.
"That's it??" The relief in the kid's voice was palpable.
"Well, I wouldn't exactly say--"
"Hear that!" He clapped his prone friend hard on the shoulder making the patient wince.
"Well," The doctor flipped the chart closed. "Looks like you'll be getting another scar to add to your um, collection."
The pale man swallowed back another wave of his nausea. "Super."
The doctor turned back to the oddly pleased kid. "We'll have to admit him for a few days and get it all worked out."
The patient groaned.
"Everything will be just fine." He added when he realized he had never actually quite told them that it would be. "It was good that you came in when you did. These things always get much worse the longer you wait."
"I told you dude." The guy said under his breath down to the despondent man in the bed.
Ignoring the frail ire, the tall young man happily took the doctor's hand and shook it firmly enough to hurt.
"So great! Thanks! Yeah, um, here."
The grinning kid handed him the insurance information that had held him up in the first place.
Paperwork for the office girls. At least he was spared that tedious part of the job. He briefly used the phone that sat on the wall. Everything upstairs was getting ready to get this guy ultra-ed, x-rayed and probably under the knife before the clock hit midnight. It wasn't the most exciting surgery but maybe he could even assist. With a grateful exhale of breath, he slid the billing forms in with the rest of the chart as he made his leave.
His eyes lingered with mild surprise on the patient's full name.
Wallford Q. Shimshelewitz.
With a low whistle and a shake of his head, he slipped the clipboard into the wall rack with the rest.
His patient had been right.
Maybe he hadn't seen just about everything just quite yet.