"Johnson!" Hawkeye cried, making a mad dash over to the other end of post-op.
"Not again!" B.J. groaned, his face fraught with tension and worry. He was already leaning over the patient, trying to ascertain the corporal's vital signs. "Hold him down, Hawk," he directed, and the other doctor obeyed. Hawkeye held the thrashing corporal's arm still long enough for B.J. to take his pulse.
His friend's grim expression told Hawkeye all he needed to go. "Baker!" he shouted, attracting the attention of the nearby nurse. "Get the sedative!"
The corporal, one Arnold Johnson, twenty four though barely showing that age, had been treated for a rather serious abdominal wound. While his condition looked grim for a while, slowly he was beginning to stabilize. The doctors were hopeful that he would recover and find himself with a one-way ticket stateside, the only good side effect of being wounded in Korea.
He had just started showing signs of improvement when the seizures began. Johnson would convulse erratically, striking out with violent force in all directions. Major Winchester already had a nice shiner from being the unfortunate doctor on post-op duty when the first seizure occurred.
This was the third time in two days. The doctors were worried because they couldn't find a cause. It seemed that the corporal needed to be kept heavily sedated or else his body would erupt with seizure. By now the doctors were tracking a pattern: when the seizure subsided, the corporal would seem to rest in peace. Then his vital signs would begin to fluctuate, his body temperature would rise slightly, and he would sweat as if in the throws of a fever much worse than what he was actually suffering from.
This time they saw it coming and still were unable to prevent it.
Baker returned with the sedative and once again Hawkeye held the thrashing patient down while B.J. administered the injection. The effect was nearly instantaneous, and Corporal Johnson once again slipped back into peaceful oblivion. His vital signs, though still off from normal, had stabilized and his breathing was deep, slow, and even. All seemed as it should be for one supposedly in a healing sleep.
"That's the third time!" Hawkeye exclaimed, exasperated, as he sat himself down on the vacant cot next to the now-peaceful corporal.
"And we still have no idea what's causing it," B.J. added, finishing his friend's thought for him.
Hawkeye shook his head. "It can't be epilepsy. "He wouldn't be in the army."
"Unless it was undiagnosed," B.J. pointed out.
After brief contemplation Hawkeye shook his head. "You'd think someone would have noticed before now."
B.J. half-shrugged. "Diabetes?"
"His blood sugar doesn't fit that," Hawkeye countered.
"Well it can't be an allergic reaction," B.J. proclaimed, and this time Hawkeye nodded.
"Unless he's allergic to the sedative."
If either of them hadn't been so distressed and tired from dealing with this case, they would have noticed how B.J. had discovered the solution inadvertently. Ironically, such attention on the part of the doctors was unneeded in this instance. Corporal Klinger, in his nurse's uniform, was also on post-op duty. Knowing that he'd just be in the way he'd backed himself into a corner when Johnson began convulsing. Once the patient was settled again, Klinger returned to his duty of sweeping the floor. However, his head turned sharply when he heard B.J's last statement.
"Excuse me, sirs," he said tentatively, approaching the two doctors with caution.
"What is it, Klinger?" Hawkeye asked tiredly.
"Well, it's just that I couldn't help but overhearing. And I was wondering, well, is—I mean, do you—ah, that sedative," Klinger stammered. "Does it have morphine in it?"
"Of course," answered B.J. "Why?"
Klinger fidgeted slightly. "Well, you see sir, when you mentioned that he might be allergic to the sedative, it reminded me of something,"
B.J. and Hawkeye exchanged a glance.
"You think he's reacting to the morphine in the sedative?" B.J. asked.
Klinger nodded briefly, then quickly changed his mind and shook his head. "Not exactly sir," he corrected. "More like he's reacting to the lack of it."
"Addiction!" Hawkeye proclaimed suddenly. Klinger nodded while B.J. slapped the cot in frustration. "I knew it! Or at least, I should have."
"That's easy then," said B.J. "We just change the brew. Knock him out without morphine."
"We'd better tell Colonel Potter," Hawkeye pointed out, then looked pointedly at Klinger, who got the message.
"You'd better tell him to call Sidney," B.J. added.
Klinger was halfway to the door, but he turned and nodded anyway. He had just pushed the door open when Hawkeye called out to him.
Klinger instantly stepped back through the swinging door.
"How did you know about the morphine?"
Klinger's eyes darkened as his gaze shifted quickly to the sleeping corporal. "I've seen it before," he answered to the body on the cot. His voice was low and distant, and once again the two doctors exchanged a glance.
"Where?" B.J. asked softly, his voice colored by quiet concern.
Klinger tensed slightly as he blinked against the sudden resurgence of memory. His pause was long enough that the captains thought he might not answer, so transfixed he seemed by the patent on the cot, though who it was he was really seeing they couldn't tell.
"Back in Toledo," he answered finally, as he tore his eyes away at last. "My old man died from it."
The silence that fell on the heels of that admission was deafening. The two doctors were, perhaps for the first time in a long while, rendered completely speechless. It didn't matter, though. Klinger didn't stay to see their reactions to his statement. No sooner had he admitted the fact that he turned and exited the post-op ward, heading off in search of the colonel.