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A Long Story Short

Posted on 23 Jul 2022 @ 10:12pm by Commander Calliope Zahn & Lieutenant JG Hannah Wagner

Mission: M3 - Into the Deep
Location: OC, Sickbay
Timeline: MD02 Late Morning
2144 words - 4.3 OF Standard Post Measure

Humming along to a pleasant ear-worm in her head from her exercise regimen music, the patient sat waiting on one of the available bio beds in main sickbay. The orion woman was in work out clothes- all black but with an oil spot sheen in places, and a neon orange tank layered loosely over top. She'd obviously been sweating and was dabbing at herself with a small hand towel while she waited her turn to be seen.

When a new doctor arrived, Calliope looked at her curiously. She was small, and she was blonde but apart from those superficial characteristics she was definitely not Dr. Mazur. "I thought I knew everyone in this place. You're new," she surmised pleasantly.

"I am." Hannah agreed pleasantly, looking at the Orion woman with a faint curiosity in her gaze. Orions were not commonly found in Starfleet, and she didn't think she'd ever met one that was an active officer before now. "Doctor Hannah Wagner, at your service."

"Nice to meet you." Calliope motioned to the monitor where she was used to nurses and doctors pulling up her stats and taking the scans. "Not a lot of service needed. I'm just here for the daily vitals work up Dr. Mazur is requiring as part of my post-treatment. It'll be obvious on my chart."

"I understand, let me give it a quick read." she murmured one side of her mouth quirking up in a smile. Pulling up her chart on the PADD, Hannah began to read and frowned as she saw the length of the information included.

Calliope made lips like a fish while waiting. "It's a bit of a novel. The short story is that if I ask you for Vamiraxil you can probably get my ass kicked out of the fleet," Calliope said with dry humor. "I took it for countering my pheromones since puberty. But it had some nasty side effects which I wasn't... taking maybe as seriously as I should have. I've been in recovery and I'm not supposed to be on any hormone drugs. Dr Mazur had me living in the medical ward a while, but released me on the condition of daily check ins for my vitals." Not that they couldn't be tracked with her comm badge. She knew Mazur mostly wanted to keep it fresh on Calliope's mind to keep to the path now. "She doesn't really see me anymore, since anyone can log the readings."

"Mercy. " She muttered as she continues to skim the information provided. "One one hand, I see her point. On the other..." Her words trailed off and she gave the Orion woman a half smile. "Let's get the vitals bit over with. Any withdrawal symptoms you're noticing?".

Calliope rubbed her neck in thought. "Just... when I get up in the mornings. It feels the worst then. Headaches, shivers. But it usually passes once I get into my routine. I seem to be past most of the weakness and nausea and I'm sleeping better."

"That sounds better than I was expecting honestly. Hormone inhibitors of any kind can be tricky business. " Briefly she wondered if she dared ask any further questions along those lines. "Anything I need to know, anything out of the ordinary?"

"I'm not sure I'm in any ordinary territory, to be honest." Calliope suspected the new doctor was trying to be respectful. "Look, if you're the new Doc likely to help with my case, then I want to start off as transparent as I can be."

"That's a fair observation. Please..." A hand gesture indicated that she should continue speaking.

"It's been a long and complex treatment series. But I've gotten in the habit of catching up my various specialists in medicine and counseling." She exhaled. "I'm done scraping around to try to control image or even reputation. It just forestalls the inevitable and prevents real trust. I have to swallow my pride and tell the truth of it. If I've learned anything, the truth is the only way through."

"It does cut to the heart of things, and prevents assumptions being made." Hannah leaned back on the table to meet her patient's eyes. She was content with the status of her vitals for the moment.

"I took the prescription after I was abused as a young adult. New research came out about the risks when I was in academy, but I just signed the waiver and kept getting the prescription. It's still a fairly safe drug for most Orion women. But not for me. My doctors kept increasing the warnings about it as more research of the side effects was coming out until they wouldn't accept the waiver, and I got around them to find the drug else where. I didn't think I could have a career and deal with the pheromone effects on others. All my reasons were about the effect on others and my service opportunities, and I didn't want to think through the risks because, what else was I going to do? That's how it seemed at the time anyway."

Making an acknowledging noise, Hannah continued to listen. She chewed on her lip faintly at the problem she saw there. "Could there have been alternatives to that treatment at the time?"

Calliope snorted at that.. "Just the one Mazur Prescribed." She made air quotes. "'Self Management' — learning to live with the effects of the pheromones. It was twenty years ago when I was put on the vamiraxil. It was intended to be a stop-gap, I guess, to help me adjust after the trauma. But it's a lifelong drug for a lot of Orion women in the fleet. They take it until late age. People don't really talk about it so they assume that it's not a problem. But if you ask an Orion woman in uniform, they're usually on something either daily low dose like I was, or else a long acting treatment taken every few months. There are other drugs but they are all in the same family of effects and come with similar complication warnings, now a days."

"That seems singularly unhelpful."

She sighed as she continued. "On the Paracelsus, my last post, I had a doctor who recognized my problem and agreed to give me the prescription. What I didn't know was the game he was actually playing." She smiled, picking at the hem of the neon orange shirt. "I learned more recently that Dan was walking down the drug concentration. Detoxing me, sneakily. But I transferred away kind of suddenly when I was called to serve as First officer here. Mazur took me off the hormone drugs completely when I checked in. I was so afraid, I didn't tell her I still had a few doses. I just... spread them out a little and panicked. I tried to find more of it." She tried to keep the shame out of the retelling. What seemed sensible then, she knew better now and didn't want to walk through the pain of it all over again. It was what it was. "I know. It's every addict's story. But I didn't feel that way at the time. It felt like something I couldn't live without. I felt I couldn't function without the vamiraxil. I couldn't be myself. I couldn't serve like I should."

Hannah's eyes narrowed at this, wondering how a doctor thought they would get away with something like that. It was upsetting from simply an ethical point of view. If he knew that it was hurting her, then he should have addressed it up front. "It was a safety measure for you, and while I am sure the doctor there thought he was doing what was best for you. I am not so sure about it."

"Maybe. I gave him the same runaround I gave all my other doctors before him when he tried to get me off of it in the first place. I just found other sources. I had come up through the operations division and I could source anything, anywhere. I was well connected. Dr. Dan Ryder was more than my doctor though. He's like a brother. I think I wasn't giving him much choice and he was trying to rescue both me and my career by telling me he'd fill it and keeping me coming to him so he could walk me down. Addicts... aren't exactly the most reasonable about their addiction. I was a little upset when he fessed up about it, but I know I put him in a really bad position. It was too little too late, anyway."

"He should have been up front with you about his plans to cut your dosage down, however I can see why he did what he did. Either way it doesn't matter, as he did it, and it's done."

"By the time Mazur denied the vamiraxil, the effects had accumulated and... it was too late. Everything came crashing down. My health, a lot of my relationships. My job. I was initially treated on the Ardishir, then transferred back to Mazur. All of the details of the Doctors and specialists that conferred on my case should be in there. It's a small army of people in teal uniforms, and I don't think I can really ever repay what they've done for me, even while I made it difficult for them at first... I've had extensive care and support for a couple of months now."

"That's quite an extensive tale, and I will read about it in much more detail I am sure." A smile hovered at her lips for a minute before fading. "Is there anything you'd like from me as a new practitioner for you?"

Calliope opened her hands in a big, wide shrug. "I'm not sure. I'm just trying my best to actively heal." She flipped the corner of the workout towel. "As I've gotten my strength back, I've got an end to end regimen I've built with a health coach. My counselor says I'm on the right track. My husband and I have never talked things out like we have in the past couple of weeks and, it's just so relieving. I'm just thankful to have my feet back under me. I keep getting warned about relapsing. And I know there are other health treatments I need. Mazur... talked about a fertility treatment course, if we planned on... you know.... having a kid. But when I tried to bring it up with my husband... he just said we're not really ready to think about it. And we're not old but...."

Calliope kicked her heels gently against the bio bed frame. She wasn't sure exactly why, but she found herself opening up about the toughest thing confronting her in her next phase of treatments. The thing where Mazur was just acting like it was a box Calliope was going to tick on a menu of options, while she had this whole impossible conversation weighing over her. "Lance and I. We're not old. But we're not exactly young, and with all of my health issues and our careers. I don't know what to do with that hot potato. I feel like... like the unspoken idea is that the decision is mine to make, and his to live with either way. And that doesn't seem fair. For either of us."

"There is no reason that we can't make that happen for you, when both of you agree the time is right." Hannah quietly reassured her "You're certainly not too old to do so, and your issues do not preclude pregnancy though I would have to monitor certain things more closely in you than your standard Orion hybrid. "

Calliope nodded. "Yeah. When both of us agree," she echoed, though it still seemed impossible to make the whole thing plain at all. She gave a smile and kind of shrugged off the subject."Anyways. I've got a swim to fit in before my nap and lunch and yoga appointment. If I'm cleared to go?"

"I don't have a partner, or anything...but I understand how it feels to want a child. We're not really ready to think about it, isn't a good answer if you are thinking about it already. Sit down with him and talk about it. It might not be an easy conversation to have. If he won't you might consider letting one of the counselors help you have that conversation with respect to both sides, if it's truly something you want. And yes, you're cleared to go. Have a nice swim."

Calliope hopped off the bio bed with a beleaguered sigh over the fertility topic that would probably remain unanswered in spite of all the great advice. But that wasn't the good doctor's fault. The ball, once more, was in her own court. "I will. Thanks Doctor Wagner. I'll check in with you again tomorrow."


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