23.2.12

Doctor's Excuse

Thursday, 23 February 2659 - Cambridge, UK

I must apologize to everyone on Twitter for ignoring you the last couple of days and not reporting on Henry’s operation. I told you last Monday that his surgery would be the next day. I had every intention of being with him even if I could do little more than wear out the waiting room rug. Still a friendly face is nice when you come out of surgery.

That evening however, IT hit. IT hit hard. I came down with the absolute worse bout of diarrhea and vomiting--at the same time. Thank heavens I could reach the sink from my seat. Soon it was just dry heaves from one end and nothing but liquid from the other. (Do pardon my crudeness. It was even cruder living through it!)

I decided it must be food poisoning, uncommon in the 27th century, but common enough in the 19th when they were just discovering what caused it. I recalled a bit of beef I hadn’t scanned properly back in 1872, although the reaction hadn’t been this violent. I knew once out of my system it would go away.

It didn’t go away. After a sleepless night of running to the loo, I barely managed to get dressed in the morning. As I sat--all right, lay on my chair trying to gather my strength, Mum came in to take me to London to catch a transport across the pond. She took one look at me and took me to the clinic.

The clinic took one look at me and wanted to know what play I was in. (I was wearing my usually top hat and frock coat.) When I told them I was a temporal anthropologist all bedlam broke lose. There is the fear that one day one of us will bring back an extinct disease the world will have to cure again. The Institute of Time Travel is very careful about that sort of thing, so it has never happened. Still there is that one in quadrillion chance. I told them I had been home for over a week. Surely some bug from the field would have shown up before now.

Not good enough. I was rushed off to the University Hospital by large burly men in hazmat suits and tossed into an isolation unit. They did give me an IV. Apparently I was dehydrated because I did make me feel a little better. Still nothing was staying down. I was given nausea medicine and a diet of plain rice, toast and other exotic treats. Most of Tuesday and Wednesday were spent running to the loo, and then sleeping off the exhaustion brought on by the excursion.

It turns out that several people who attended my lecture Saturday in Pullman at Washington State University came down with the same illness I had. At first they thought I might be the culprit, but I assured them my lectures only put audiences to sleep. I don’t recall every making anyone actually ill. They were already calling it the Wazoo Flu, although there was talk of calling it the Howe Heebee-jeebees.

My reputation was saved when the illness began popping up off planet. Apparently it originally came from Radconia. There was in fact several scholars recently arrived from that planet attending my lecture. For those who never get off-planet (like me) Radconia is a small rock that wasn’t good enough for colonizing but was situated in a spot midway between everything. It became a trading post where goods and ideas are exchanged.

I understand they have a Temple of Debate, where holy men, philosophers and scholars come to debate religion, politics and the like--all done in a polite manner. It was only after humans showed up that there was a real need for strict ground rules and weapon frisking. (So far, we are the most dangerous creature in the galaxy bright enough to throw a switch.) Currently the topic at the Temple of Debate is who is the idiot that brought this species-jumping disease to share with everyone. There is a lot of finger and other digit pointing.

I’m still considered a carrier of what is now called the Radconian Runs. I’m locked in a sterile room with a robot nurse. The University, the city of Cambridge and everyone in the British Isles doesn’t want me passing this virus around. I’m not allowed visitors, although I have gotten a lot of calls from family, friends, colleagues wanting to know if I’m still alive. When their face pops up on the screen the first thing they do is grimace and say “Good God, Wendell! You look awful.” Even Henry thought I looked awful, and he just had a leg attached.

As if my luck wasn’t bad enough, one of the faces to grace the screen was Dr. Warwick! Normally I would be thrilled to see Matilda, but I certainly didn’t want her to see me looking like this! Unbathed, unshaved, looking half dead, I did not cut a dapper figure, I fear. On top of that we hardly ever get to see each other. She’s in some Medieval convent while I’m in some Victorian city. Now we are in the same time, and I can’t even give her a hug.

Thankfully Matilda was with Henry, so he came out of surgery to a face much prettier than mine. She offered to come to Cambridge, but I told her to stay with Henry. No one was allowed to get near me without a hazmat suit. It would be a wasted trip. She did a wimple strip-tease for me, shaking her loose hair most alluringly. It was all the excitement I could take right now. (Get your mind out of the gutter. A wimple is medieval head wear.)

The good news about Radconianinitusviriticus (now you know why they call it Radconian Runs) is it seems to be a short run virus. I’m still weak as a kitten, but I now feel like a very much alive and not half-dead kitten. However, I’m not being released from my prison until they are convinced I’m no longer a carrier. God forbid I take this to the Victorian Age. Louis Pasteur already has his hands full.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oh gosh, Professor! :(
I hope your robot nurse can at least make you a cup of very gentle ginger tea..

~ @mousewords