Doc Ch. 24

bykingkey©

As I was slowly regaining consciousness, I tried to look around, but it seemed as if every little movement was a new experience in pain. Giving it up as a bad idea, I quickly drifted off to sleep, again.

The next time I regained consciousness, I noticed a woman whom I did not recognize. I tried to call out, but what came out of my mouth, was more of a dry croaking sound. At least it got her attention. She rushed out of the room. A few moments later, Doc Williams came rushing, in with the woman on his heels.

"Damn, I'm glad to see you back with the living, Doc. You have been unconscious for the last three days. I was starting to get worried a mite."

I tried to ask him what had happened, but again, all that would come out was a croaking sound. Hearing this, the woman brought me a cup of water. Putting it to my lips, she gave me several small sips. I finally thought I could form words.

"Doc Williams, what happened? All I can remember was it seemed we were winning, when it felt like I was kicked in the back by a mule."

"We were winning. Then suddenly, this big Indian rose up from behind a stack of supplies, and shot you in the back. We learned later that his name was Red Dog, and that he was the leader of the renegades."

"Damn! Did he get away?"

"Nope! Right after he shot you, this other Indian... the one that brought the reinforcements, Tall Bear, I think his name was... shot him! Then, as soon as the fight was over, Tall Bear went off by himself and started wailing. It turns out this Red Dog was his brother."

"Damn, I promised him that the braves would not have to fight their family. Nevertheless, he killed his own brother, and probably saved my life by doing it."

"Spotted Owl said Tall Bear wanted to talk to you, if you lived."

"That makes me nervous. I wonder if he's going to want to fight me for breaking my word about him having to fight family, and kill his own brother? I may owe him an honor debt.

"What about the others? Were any others wounded or killed? And how many prisoners are there and where are they?"

"They didn't seem too mad at you, not even Tall Bear. We had five wounded, and you are the worst. Two of the Indians were killed. I think it was because their weapons were so poor in quality. They don't seem to know about the upkeep of them. They were surprised when we told them that we needed to clean our guns.

"We didn't take many Indian prisoners, but the white men? About half of them gave up when it was clear we were winning, and they couldn't get away. The renegade Indians kept trying to fight, to the last man. We only took four of them prisoner, and that was only because they were too badly injured to keep fighting."

"That's understandable. They know Red Cloud will have them put to a very painful death, for disobeying his orders, and endangering the tribe."

"I guess that would stop them from surrendering. Spotted Owl and some of the men from Silver City escorted the prisoners to Hill City. I got them patched up, using some of your medical instruments.

"Speaking of those, they are the best instruments I've ever seen. Where can I order some?"

Trying to cover up that my instruments were from a different time, I said, "I had the lot of them made for me by this fellow from Germany, while I was back east in school. I don't know how to find him, anymore, or even if he's still alive. I think if we can find someone that can copy them, we might be able to get you some. I don't know how he did it, but they are plated, somehow, to keep them from corroding. I just ordered a lot of new stuff in the Montgomery Ward catalogue, too. Speaking of my doctoring stuff how badly hurt am I? I can tell you I seem to hurt all over?"

"You were lucky. The bullet, as far as I can tell, missed all your vital organs, but it did a lot of muscle damage, and you're going to be sore for a long time. What concerns me is even though I'm pretty sure I got the wound cleaned well, and got all foreign substances out, you are showing some signs of an infection. I'm just not sure how to fight it. I'm a horse doctor. I do pretty well with cattle, too. I can patch up people in a pinch, but I just don't know enough."

"Sounds like you did a pretty good job. If you'll get my bag, I think I have something in it that will help get rid of the infection."

After he got my bag, I had him give me a quarter of the normal dose of laudanum. You had to use laudanum carefully, because of the high chance of becoming addicted. However, for this time period it was the best painkiller available.

I had him take some hydrogen peroxide and a small cleaning brush, and thoroughly clean the wound. I told him to keep at it, until it stopped bubbling. That let me know that most of the infection had been cleaned away.

I took my syringe, and filled it with five milliliters of penicillin. I didn't at the time remember that my penicillin was from a veterinary supply. It was actually penicillin used on horses and livestock, and said so on the label.

"What's this? It says it's for horses?"

Thinking fast, I said, "It's something new I brought from back east. It's not really on the market yet, because they're still testing it. I found that it works very well combating infection. The only supply I could find was for horses, because it hasn't been fully tested for human use, yet. However, as long as they're not allergic to it, small doses can be used on humans. It's actually quite easy to make, which is what I'll have to do when my supply runs out. It's made from the blue-green mold that's found growing on citrus fruits and bread molds."

"That's amazing! If this works out well at combating infections, you'll have to show me how it's made. You say it can be used on humans as well as animals?"

"Yes, although some humans are allergic to it. So if they have never had before you need to watch them closely the first time. They may have a severe reaction."

"Okay, I can see where that might be a problem. Just, really, if it prevents infections, it may be worth the risk. Infections seem to be the main problems. They cause deaths or having to amputate."

"Yes. This also works for other things, such as helping fight diseases. But you must use it sparingly, as the patient may develop immunity to it. Then it is worthless."

I then went on to tell him of the story of the saloonkeeper in Deadwood, and the 'room girl' at work for him. She was spreading the clap. I had charged him for the penicillin to cure her. I told him of making the saloonkeeper pay the girl until she was disease-free.

He said he knew the guy. He thought it was funnier than hell that the guy had paid me so much money. He said that the guy was one of the cheapest bastards he knew.

While we were chatting, I couldn't help but notice the woman buzzing about the room trying to make everything more comfortable. Noticing me glancing at her, Doc Williams spoke up.

"Where are my manners? Clay this is my sister, Elizabeth Starr. This is her house in Silver city. She has been assisting me in trying to doctor you back to health. She seems to have a real flair for it, and would like to become a doctor herself, except that she knows no one would come to a woman doctor."

"I don't know about that. Times are changing. I think the new standard is women have a good chance of being accepted as doctors, if they are good enough. Did you ever think of sending her back east to a good medical school?"

"As you know, I'm just a horse doctor, but Liz seems to have a real flair for medicine. What she really lacks, is the confidence. She's not sure she is good enough to learn to be a doctor. Is there any chance you might teach her some to prove that she can learn medicine?"

"You know, it takes years to learn to be a doctor. However, I was thinking that with winter setting in, I could teach some of the people in the various areas first-aid. It would never be as good as actually having a doctor available, but it may save some lives to be able to help them until a doctor can be fetched for them. I can teach her that in about a month, and we can see if she has the confidence to actually attend medical school.

It won't be easy for her to become a female doctor, or to gain a patient's confidence in being treated by a woman, but it can be done."

"That's a great idea, Clay. That would let her learn some medicine, and find out if it's right for her. When would you be able to do this?"

"Well, you know I'm going to be laid up for a while with this wound... Why don't you spread the word to the outlying towns? Find out if anyone else is interested in some 'first-aid' training. I think we can handle maybe eight people.

"Have them come to me at our ranch, where I can give them about thirty days of instruction. This should let us finish, and they can still return home a few weeks before winter sets in. This could help save a lot of lives, when people are snowed in. Also, I'll have some sort of medical help, if needed. One thing you might point out, is that midwives would be really good prospects for this training."

We sat around chatting about these ideas for a while, and then heard the knocking coming from the front door. Elizabeth went to answer it, and then we heard some excited voices coming from the front room.

"Oh, no! It's going to hit the fan, now!" I said, recognizing the voices of my wives coming from the front room.



Edited by TeNderLoin & The Old Fart

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