(2530-05-24) It's all in Skyler's head
Summary: Skyler is not feeling well, turns out it was all in her head. John sees his first patient.
RL Date: 24 May 2020
Related: None
john skyler 

Eavesdown Clinic

Examination Room 1 Eavesdown

A simple windowless examination room in which a slightly outdated doctor's bed
takes center stage. With any luck it will even spring into action when
needed and the readout screen over the head of the bed will display stats
for the patient that occupies it. Nearby is a small desk with one plastic
chair, a cortex screen, and a mass of clipboards, medical gadgets, and old
magazines.

The opposite wall is lined with cupboards and storage cabinets as well as a
sink and a pantry workspace. There is little space to work though as it's
piled with bandages, bottles, a rack of hypo-guns, and other miscellany.
An e-poster on one wall displays medical information, rotating through
colorful and informative displays dealing with proper diet, stopping
smoking, and the forty-five types of cancer you're likely to get by
stepping outside of this nominally sanitized space.


Enola, who says she is Skyler but whom they know at the clinic and whose paperwork claims she is Enola Ollonfew, with address and insurance unverified, is complaining of throwing up and a headache that won't go away. Clearly, she's dying. It's also Saturday afternoon, not Sunday. She is checked in by the receptionist, escorted back by a nurse who takes her vitals and deposits her in a room. When the nurse informs Doc Holliday he has a patient, she tells him, "Good luck. She asked for Dr. Harris." Who is not working, at the moment. As she waits, EnolaSky shuffles a blue deck of cards.

"Guess it's time to earn my ridiculous salary then." John takes the admission tablet from the receptionist and makes his way to the room. He knocks on the door and waits for an acknowledgement before entering, studying the tablet as he waits,

Enola shuffles, bridges, shuffles some more, then looks up at the door knock, "Uh…come in?"

"Miss Ollonfew?" John asks upon entering, still gazing at the tablet, his lips set in thought. He looks up at the young woman, "Vomiting and headaches? How long has this been happening?" His tone is matter-of-fact, on the edge of brusque. He watches interestedly as she shuffles the cards, but doesn't comment at the moment.

"McKellen," Skyenola says. "It's changing." There also happens to be a nurse who works here named Donna McKellen. Coincidence? If a connection hasn't been drawn, it might be when she says, "Since Donna asked me to come to her house for dinner."

"McKellen. Right." John sets the tablet down, "And what did you eat?" He checks the vitals the admitting nurse took and makes sure nothing seems abnormal there, "Any known food allergies? Difficulty breathing?"

"No. Donna and me had Indian food at the mall. It had squash in it." This is just an extraneous piece of data. "Actually, I feel better now, a little. My head doesn't hurt quite so much and I haven't thrown up since…Just after the gun fight at the docks." Skyler brushes curls out of her face and informs him, critically, "You ain't Dr. Harris."

Note, her chart says that she has a rare form of anemia, and a complicated blood type. AB- For someone with no 'verifiable insurance' she has a long history with the clinic, including a stay for "detox".

"A gun fight? That was exceptionally intelligent." John says, "And might explain your symptoms as your adrenaline wears down but something tells me you're not a rookie on that front." John studies the chart again, "Give me your hand." He pulls out an O2 sensor and gets ready to put on one of Skyler's fingers, "I want to make sure you're not having any oxygen deficiency. No fever, so you're not running an infection, so probably not food poisoning."

If Skyler sounds anxious when she mentions Donna, John is completely clueless.

Skyler stares at him. Pull my finger? She shuffles again and says, "Black Jack. You win, you get my finger." She starts to deal cards. Gamblers just seem to KNOW, right? They find each other like horny snails in a giant garden. "I was okay. Someone tried to steal somethin'. I just watched. But the headache was there and I was already throwin' up the night before, when Chandra locked herself in her room and Max was sad so I pretended to think she was killin' herself, so she'd come out, but once I had that thought it seemed like it could be true, and then I puked. But I already felt sick before that, even. Since lunch."

John attaches the sensor and checks the monitor, and smirks at the blackjack comment, "Never hit if the dealer is showing a six or lower, make the dealer take the hits. O2 sat looks good." He looks at Skyler for a bit, "So when you started feeling nauseous the night before, what was on your mind?" Perhaps a tenuous connection is being made, and he finally addresses an earlier comment, "You're right, I'm not Dr. Harris. I'm better."

Skyler stares at him and blandly says, "That wouldn't be hard. At least you're not the old guy who makes stupid jokes." She wrinkles up her nose at him, "What? You think I have a brain tumor or somethin'? Why would what's on my mind matter to what's in my stomach?"

"Because, kid, the mind controls all sorts of things. No, I don't think you have a brain tumor, but if you want I can scan your head." John replies dryly, "And my jokes are bad, so I tend to keep them to myself." He removes the oxygen sensor, "Indulge me. I have a hunch."

The card that's face up, for John, is a 8 of hearts. Skyler has a queen of spades. "By the way, just so's you know, you ain't playin' with a full deck. I'm missing at least four cards, last I counted em. I gave my good deck to Gideon so he has somethin' to do besides masterbate when he's up in space for weeks. I gotta get paid again so I can get a new one - I don't steal no more, if that's what you're thinkin'." She considers the idea of indulging him for a minute, then says, "I was thinkin' about getting stuck alone again."

"Before troops would drop into Serenity Valley, guess what they would do, seven out of ten times?" John doesn't wait for her to answer, "They threw up. They had headaches. We called it combat anxiety. In kids that have stuff on their mind they really shouldn't have to have on their mind, we call it anxiety." Watching Skyler handle the cards, "Hit me." He adds after a beat, "With an additional card. So what else has been on your mind?"

"Lykers gonna be haters, and Enola is Alone," the kid muses thoughtfully as she flips a 7 of clubs onto John's 8. "Well, lots of stuff. Donna's tryin' to get the name Skyler all legal, so she dredged up some stuff that shoulda been left dead, but that's no big deal really cause she's smart and it can't find me. But I need the legal so's I can get a real job, and not just crap jobs. And I got a place now. And I'm doing school to try to get a degree for even better jobs. And there's a annoying Fed, but that's sorted, maybe, I think." Skyler rambles off a summary of her current life.

"And before you were going to meet with Donna, since she dredged up some stuff, how did you feel about seeing her?" He looks at the total, 15 to her queen, "Give me another one." Whatever the legal is isn't germane to the discussion, nor is Gideon's proclivity for autoeroticism, "And you're worried about your future life, school, that's a lot of stress to be taking on. I could prescribe some anti-anxiety medications, but I think it would serve you better for me to teach you some breathing techniques, and I'd also suggest keeping a journal so you can track how things affect your mood. And if you really want to go to the next level, find someone to teach you how to do guided meditation. Another thing you can do is lie down and do progressive muscle relaxation exercises. Lay down on something comfortable, and flex and relax every muscle from your feet to your head."

Enola turns the top card on her deck to lay it atop the 7. It's a 4 of hearts. "You're totally kidding, right? I been through the rehab. I did all their breathing hocus pocus and group and sharing the fuckin' feelings with stupid junkies. I don't need a journal. I need a one way ticket outta here."

"I am not kidding. And I'll stand there." John looks thoughtfully at Enola/Skyler, "Well if you think that's bullshit, then let me suggest something different." Noting that she seems agitated, and hasn't thrown up or complained of headache since the conversation started, "Think of something that makes you mad, or happy, or whatever, just something to reset your head. I'd be willing to bet that one way ticket out of here that if you can distract yourself and learn how to address your stress, you'll feel better. Or I can give you some diazepam (Valium) and you can just drug it out of you. But then you'll probably not be so good in a gunfight. Your call."

"I don't think you're sposed to offer drugs to a druggy," Skyler points out. "You sure you're a REAL doctor?" She reveals the dealer's second card, which is a jack of diamonds, "Twenty. All that psychology stuff makes me nervous. I got a psychologist, and he's okay, but I ain't allowed to see him at The Center no more, cause I don't live there. He's always pokin' at the past like it's a hornet's nest."

"A real doctor? No, I just printed a certificate while on my here." John smirks, "Well, I can say with fair certainty that you're being overly anxious about things, and that's making you sick to your stomach. I mean, I can do allergy tests, blood tests, give you a broad spectrum antibiotic if you think you have food poisoning, but I'm pretty sure it's not. And yes, I'm saying it's in your head, but it's not made up. It's very real. If you don't have anyone to talk to, we can always talk over a game of cards if you want someone to just talk to without trying to get into your head too much." He reaches into his lab coat pocket, and pulls something out and tosses it towards Skyler, "And good card sharp always needs to have a good deck of cards on his or her person." It is indeed a deck of cards still wrapped in cellophane.

Enola catches the deck and looks down at it. See. That's medicine she can GET. "Thanks. I ain't a good card sharp, no more. I'm all legit." His cards: 2 8 7 4. Hers: J Q. "Don't tell Donna, okay? That her family made me all sick in the head? That ain't fair to her. She's just tryin' to be nice."

"Ever hear of a thing called doctor patient confidentiality? What you tell me stays with me." John replies, "Nice win, kid." He pulls out a fifty credit note, "Get yourself something. And once a sharp, always a sharp, you just have different goals now." John offers the kid a slight smile, "And that offer for a game stands."

Skyler snatches the money and says, "Suddenly, my stomach seems all better. Headache? What headache?" She slides off the table. "Thanks Doctor. You're way better'n Harris OR the old man and his stupid jokes." The incomplete deck is slid into one pile and she tells him, "Gotta keep these. They're what I build houses with. That's why there's so many missing." Card houses inevitably fall.

"What do you call a mosquito wrapped in tin foil?" John asks, and quickly replies, "A bite in shining armor." He smirks, "Didn't want you to think you escaped bad jokes." He catches the metaphor, "Make sure you know when to build a house of cards, and when to build a structure, kid. You got smarts, I can see that. Put them to good use."

Skyler considers his advise, and her stomach suddenly clenches. Yeah. That's what she's trying to do. Build a structure with an incomplete deck of cards. "Haha. That's a funny one." She refuses to treat his joke with the derision it deserves! Off she goes, into the great, wide, teenager-devouring world.

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