When It Rains, It Pours
SUMMARY: Carson runs into a medical emergency while off world: himself.
SEASON/SPOILERS: Set season two, shortly after Runner. References made concerning that ep and Seige III, but nothing too bad.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: Yep, another hankering to whump Carson. Guess I'm just trying to even the score between him, Shep, and McKay, lol. This one was inspired by my online pal, devra, who doesn't even watch Atlantis, but still reads my fics and says Carson's the only reason she'd watch anyway :). All medical stuff mentioned here has been researched so hopefully nothing appears glaringly wrong.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Stargate: Atlantis or anything associated with it. I'm simply borrowing, but I promise to return all in one piece. Eventually.
Carson's stomach tightened again as he tried to tuck himself into a little ball inside the darkened cave. Just a few feet away, the rain poured and created almost a concrete sheet of freezing water.
He felt a cool hand touch him. Teyla was feeling his forehead and the Athosian was frowning.
"His fever is not abating."
"I know," Sheppard answered from a few feet away. "I can't find the damn Tylenol in here. Doc, what the hell did you pack in here?" Sheppard had emptied most of Carson's pack, throwing the various medical articles to the ground.
"We already gave him Tylenol, Colonel. It obviously isn't helping," Rodney snapped. "He isn't getting any better and we're stuck."
"Thanks for stating the obvious, Rodney," John fired back and set the pack aside. He approached Beckett. "Carson, you gotta help us out here. Any idea what's wrong?"
He closed his eyes. Oh, he knew what was wrong, all right. The irony of it all was that as doctor, he knew exactly was wrong. Hell, he even had the tools to fix it if it absolutely came down to it, since he made sure all off world personal was well prepared. The only problem was he was the one person who could actually help himself, and that obviously wasn't an option.
The doctor needs a doctor, but the only doctor around is the actual doctor himself, he thought and his head ached from the paradox. When it rains, it pours, his mum used to tell him and this, combined with the rest of events for the last couple of months, certainly made her words ring true.
He hadn't felt right that morning. His stomach had an odd tinge here and there, but he'd just been through an Atlantis flu outbreak and towards the end, he had succumbed to the virus himself. He was back at work and all seemed well, so he dismissed the slight pain as a by-product of his recovery.
Besides, Sheppard and his team were all ready to do and Carson wanted to get this over with as soon as possible. Sheppard, and Weir apparently, wanted certain civilians to spend more time out in the field.
"You need to get out more, doc. Get some more field experience," Sheppard had told him the day before as he took inventory after the recent flu epidemic.
"I've plenty of field experience, thank you." He scanned his checklist and for the first time in almost a year could say he was pleased with the current stock. "It's a deserted planet." "Aye, then why do you need a doctor going there, then? It's a waste of your time, Ma-Colonel." He caught himself; Sheppard's new title still needed some getting used to. "Weir wants more people from each department to bone up on their gate skills. And seeing as you're as high up as they get on our medical side and you've already been off world, I've elected you." "Aren't I the lucky one?"
"I've plenty of field experience, thank you." He scanned his checklist and for the first time in almost a year could say he was pleased with the current stock.
"It's a deserted planet."
"Aye, then why do you need a doctor going there, then? It's a waste of your time, Ma-Colonel." He caught himself; Sheppard's new title still needed some getting used to.
"Weir wants more people from each department to bone up on their gate skills. And seeing as you're as high up as they get on our medical side and you've already been off world, I've elected you."
"Aren't I the lucky one?"
"Exactly! Come on doc, when have I led you into danger?"
Carson turned to him. "Oh, really? My recent surgical stint with the lion doesn't count then, does it?"
"Hey, I told you he wouldn't hurt you and he didn't. I'd never intentionally lead anyone into danger." "Right." Carson laid down his clipboard. "You're not going to leave me alone until I agree, are you?" Sheppard appeared to mull that over for a second, then shook his head. "Probably a safe bet."
"Hey, I told you he wouldn't hurt you and he didn't. I'd never intentionally lead anyone into danger."
"Right." Carson laid down his clipboard. "You're not going to leave me alone until I agree, are you?"
Sheppard appeared to mull that over for a second, then shook his head. "Probably a safe bet."
He sighed. "Fine. I'll give you one day."
Carson had never imagined that shortly after they arrived, they'd find themselves in mist of the heaviest rain he'd ever seen in his lifetime. It was even worse than the massive storm that had almost destroyed Atlantis. The water came down so hard that the pressure of the rain drops hurt as they hit your face. The river had quickly overflowed and backed them into a small cave on high ground; it was the only place that offered any type of dry protection.
That was when Carson's stomach twinges came back. He figured it was just fear. Man versus nature was not a fun game and they were all wet and tired from running. Rodney was complaining up a storm of his own about the fact that even his underwear was wet and poor Teyla looked a bit like a drowned rat as her hair hung in wet clumps down her back.
After some false starts, it was Teyla who managed to get a fire started and some dry clothing was found due to the extremely waterproof gear the SGC had sent back with the latest shipment from the Daedalus. Carson settled back against a cave wall, just happy to be out of the rain.
Than the pain got worse. It was certainly not fear and not a muscle cramp, he soon realized and tried to hide it from the others, but that didn't happen. The pain, first centered in the middle of his stomach, grew and he started running a low grade fever. The nausea hit not long after. It was only after the pain migrated down to his lower right quadrant that Beckett knew he was in serious trouble.
Acute appendicitis. Moving into the later stages, most likely. For a while he tried to convince himself his self-diagnosis was wrong. It could be a million things - a really bad urinary tract infection or a kidney stone were two other diagnoses that went through his mind - but the more time that passed, the more he felt his initial thoughts were right.
Lovely. Just lovely.
He opened his eyes and saw Sheppard was still looking at him for an answer.
"Appendicitis, I think," he finally said. Oddly enough, verbalizing his internal diagnosis made him felt better, despite the fact that it did nothing to physically help him. He could only hope his case remained acute until the rain passed. The pain would be difficult, but it would help him monitor his condition.
"Appendicitis?" Sheppard repeated. "Well, that's treatable, right?" He looked back at Rodney, whose eyes had widened. Teyla looked perplexed.
"What is appendicitis?" she asked.
"Inflammation of the appendix," Carson answered, holding his stomach and answering as if on autopilot. "It's a small tube-like structure attached to the large intestine. It has no known function and you can live just fine without it."
"Yeah, if you get it removed when it's inflamed," Rodney put in. "Damnit, Carson, why didn't you say something?"
"Didn't hurt before," was his reply, although it sounded weak to his ears. He knew he felt a little off, but he expected this to be a simple trip. He should have listened to his instinct.
"This is just great," McKay muttered. "The whole ocean is coming down on us, trapping us in some cave miles from the gate, and the only one of us with any medical expertise has appendicitis. I don't think this day could get any better."
"Rodney." Sheppard ran a hand through his hair. "Can we do anything?"
"We could get him back to the gate." Rodney started pacing.
Sheppard ignored McKay's comment. "Doc? Painkillers, maybe?"
Carson shook his head. "They'll just mask the symptoms and the pain is the best way I can monitor my progress, I'm afraid."
"The constant pain is a good thing, really. When the appendix ruptures, the pain dissipates because of the release of pressure," Rodney put in and both Carson and John looked at him with surprise. "What? I am a genius after all. And I do read."
"And frequent hospitals," John muttered.
"I heard that. I can't help it if I get sick a lot."
"Uh huh." John looked back at Carson. "He right then?"
"Aye. After the pressure is released, the pain will get better for a while. Then it will get worse."
"Calm before the storm?"
He closed his eyes again against the throbbing pain his side. He'd like nothing more but to crawl into the corner of the cave and pass out, but that wasn't an option. "I guess you could put it that way," he agreed through slightly gritted teeth.
Teyla reached out and rubbed his shoulder. He was grateful for the small comforting gesture.
"So, unless one of you has a medical degree I don't know about, I'm afraid there's not much to be done."
"You called this condition acute. What happened if it ruptures, like you described?" Teyla asked. She sure knew how to skip to the chase.
"It'll most likely cause peritonitis. Which I do have antibiotics for, but unless the underlying cause is removed..." He trailed off and bent slightly, hoping to find a position to curb just a little of the pain.
"We need to get back to the gate," McKay repeated, but this time the sarcasm was gone from his voice. In fact, Carson could swear he heard just a hint of fear in his tone.
"Or get someone here, at least." Sheppard had moved back towards Carson's pack. "Just how long do we have before this gets dangerous?"
Carson opened his eyes and pushed himself back against the wall as straight as he could go. His stomach protested the move, but he pushed past it. "I'm not sure," he admitted. "I need to lie flat, I think."
"Okay." Together, Sheppard and Telya helped him into a prone position and as soon he was flat, he pulled his shirt up and raised his head up to look down. His stomach exploded and he was forced to lie down again. "I need one of you to check," he finally asked.
"Check what?" Rodney was searching through Carson's pack this time, looking as if he hoped the physician's equipment came with an easy-to-read manual.
"For swelling." What he probably needed was a rectal exam, to be honest, but that was not happening and the thought of it gave him the creeps. "Here." Carson pointed to his stomach behind his belt. He saw Sheppard and McKay exchange a glance. Teyla, however, wasn't gun shy and unbuttoned the trousers without a thought.
"Here?" she asked and brushed her hands against his lower right side. He groaned.
She frowned. "It does not look right," she said, "It obviously causes you pain."
"I know, which is probably why I'm going to regret this. I need you to push down on it."
"But it will hurt you, Doctor." She looked hesitant.
"I know. And you can call me Carson, you know. You unbuttoned my trousers, I think you earned the right."
That got a laugh from Sheppard and a smile from Teyla. "Of course. Carson," she said and hesitated another moment before pressing her hand gently on the area he pointed to. Carson groaned when his fingers touched him, but when she let go, he nearly bit back a scream. Teyla jumped.
Rebound pain, check. He bit his lip. "It's okay. I'm okay," he reassured her.
"You are lying," she replied and he smiled.
"Aye, I guess I am. But it's nothing you did lass, I promise."
"We need to get to the gate," Rodney repeated yet again.
"No shit, Rodney." It was Sheppard's turn to get up and pace.
Teyla shook her head. "I do not think he could walk that far, even if the rain were to abate."
Carson closed his eyes again. Right, the gate was far way. He didn't even want to think about walking.
"She's right," Rodney agreed, quietly. "We need help."
Sheppard nodded, and headed straight for his pack.
"You guys sit tight. I'm heading back to the gate."
"But the river-"
"It's that wide. I was a lifeguard in high school, I'll survive."
Carson cracked his eyes open. "Colonel, you're just asking for trouble. I could be fine for a few hours."
"And if you're not?"
Carson didn't say anything; he was already painfully aware of his situation and what would happen if he didn't get help.
Sheppard nodded. "Stay in radio contact. I'll be back as soon I can."
Carson turned his head to watch him disappear into the rain before curling up into a ball.
The river really wasn't that wide and John wasn't afraid of it, truthfully. What was more disturbing was the fact that the rain didn't allow you to see more than two feet in front of you. He had no clue if he was even heading in the right direction of the Stargate, let alone how far it really was. They'd already crossed the river before the rains had started and when the water began creeping up unto the soil, it had been their cue to look for safer ground.
If he was honest, the water hadn't crept too high, just high enough to seep into your ankles and cause his shoes to sink into the mud. There was no way they'd be able to get Carson back to the gate without major help. Even if they devised a stretcher, it would be slow moving and extremely hard to maneuver.
He was soaked to the bone within seconds and as soon as he walked a mere hundred yards, he could no longer even determine what direction he had come from. He was working on pure military instinct here, and hoped all his training was good for something.
Especially since he felt guilty. It was his fault.
Well, that wasn't exactly true. He didn't give Beckett appendicitis, but he did convince the doctor to come through the Stargate. He and Elizabeth had been discussing civilian gate travel and the issue of Beckett and his slight "gate phobia" came up. It was quite a while after Hoff that Carson stepped foot through the gate and even so, he was still resistant and somewhat nervous. John knew the physician could be a brave man when it came down to it. He'd seen it during the Wraith attach and Beckett didn't hesitate to pack his surgical gear and operate in the field on a man who might be dangerous and was holding a gun on Teyla.
Sheppard trusted Ronan - still did in fact, seeing as he was still on Atlantis and John had begun pressuring Elizabeth to lead him join his team - but that didn't mean the guy still wasn't capable of tearing a man apart. Carson was damn good at his job and Sheppard had only hoped to get man out of his lab now and again. Gate travel had done a world of good for Rodney, so there was no doubting it could help Beckett as well.
Of course, after this experience...well, it might bring him back to square one.
Oh well, he'd deal with that if he had to. Currently, he concentrated on what little he could see ahead of him.
He reached the river and realized that he could barely see half-way across it.
Yep, this would be fun.
For Carson, things got worse after Sheppard left. The pain he'd been feeling continued to increase. Teyla tried soothing him and Rodney tried digging through their supplies again, doing the best he could.
Then the pain stopped.
Carson knew he was in trouble. The symptoms of shock would most likely appear and he'd spiral downward after that. He figured his BP would drop first and therefore, he needed fluids, which thankfully, since SGA-1 was prone to so many injures on so called simple missions, Carson insisted they have. He'd also taught Ford and Sheppard how to start an IV and had plans to show Teyla and Rodney.
Guess there was no time like the present, especially since he needed the line to keep him stable if he hoped to survive this mess.
"You want one of us to stick you with a needle?" was Rodney's reaction. Then the physicist actually grinned.
"You don't need to enjoy it, Rodney," he said as Teyla gathered up the supplies he'd asked her to.
"Of course I need to enjoy it. You take pleasure out of sticking me with long pointy objects. It's only right that I take the same satisfaction in a little payback."
"Right," he muttered and gritted his teeth. It took McKay five tries to hit a vein. He'd have a bruise for sure, but he felt better when he knew the line was up and running. He'd already shown Teyla how to take a blood pressure reading ages ago, so she had no problem completing that task. He wasn't surprised to discover it was low. Hopefully the fluids would help. A temperature check revealed his fever was now hovering around 39.4 degrees Celsius and he frowned. He was now fairly certain his appendix had ruptured.
He closed his eyes again and hoped Sheppard would be able to find the gate.
Sheppard dripped over all over the ramp as he made his way towards Elizabeth. The diplomat was frowning.
"You're early," she said. "And where's the rest of your team?"
"Long story short. Lots of rain. I mean lots. Drove us up to cave about three miles from the gate. Stranded for a while. Oh, and Beckett's got appendicitis and needs help."
Elizabeth did a double take. "Doctor Beckett has appendicitis?"
Sheppard nodded. "Near as he can diagnosis. The ground is crap, Elizabeth. There's no way we could get him back to the gate. It took me over six hours to get there and that was just me. I don't even know if he's still got that much time." He met her eyes. "We need to go to him, I think."
This time, it was Elizabeth who nodded. "Report to the infirmary and get who and what you need."
It was getting unbearable. Carson couldn't find a comfortable spot. He could see or feel anything but the pain. It latched out to grab him. He'd been told that appendicitis was extremely painful but he'd never imagined how bad it actually was.
Teyla was rubbing his back and he tried concentrating on her touch rather than pain, but it wasn't working. Rodney kept offering painkillers, but he refused. The pain let him know he was still alive and what they had it their packs would only probably take the edge off at best and would affect his consciousness more. He needed to be alert, listen to his vitals, and dictate what needed to be done. He was the doctor, after all.
Rodney was pacing again when the rain started to lighten. Carson turned weary eyes towards it. Then he heard it.
It couldn't be. He was hallucinating. His fever had gotten too high because that wasn't Sheppard standing in the doorway with Rob Harper, the surgeon on his staff.
He closed his eyes. Dreaming. He was dreaming, that must be it.
The next thing he knew there were hands on him and orders being shouted. There was warmth and then cold hands pushed down on his abdomen and this time, his eyes popped open and he yelped when they pulled away.
"Sorry," he heard and he saw Harper rummaging through a case marked "sterile." Something was about to happen, he realized.
"Doctor Beckett?" Harper again and this time Harper was staring at him. He was holding a syringe with a milky white liquid in it. Carson frowned. He should know what is was, it looked familiar, but he couldn't place it. He was suddenly fuzzy and the pain seemed farther away. What had they given him?
"Carson?" Oh, Harper was using his first name now. The surgeon was a rather rough around the edges kind of guy, all professional and lacking a bedside manner, so the fact that he'd used someone's first name meant something was up.
"I'm here," he mumbled, which was funny, since he hadn't intended to mumble. Sheppard was in his sight line now too, next to Rodney. They looked worried.
"Good." Harper had snagged something and had stuck the needle it in. IV port, Carson realized a second later. "I need you to count backwards from ten."
Count backwards? Why? Oh, his appendix... The drug started to hit him and he felt his eyelids droop. "Ten," he whispered and that was the last thing he remembered.
"Is he supposed to pass out like that?" Sheppard stood a distance away was alarmed at how out of it Beckett was. But at least he was still alive.
"It's just the anesthetic," Harper answered as his assistant slipped an oxygen mask over Beckett's face. Sheppard watched Harper pick up a scalpel and made a face.
When he'd first stepped foot in the infirmary, he'd had a fairly brief conversation with the surgeon who grilled him on vitals and "hmm"ed a lot. Ten minutes later he was packing up equipment left and right - lots of the same stuff Beckett had carried through the gate only a couple of weeks ago. Sheppard winced when he remembered watching Beckett cut into Dex's skin and Carson was a lot gentler than the gruff Harper. But Harper was good; one of the best Beckett told him, or he'd have returned to Earth. Of course, Sheppard didn't really trust anyone but the Scot, but since he was the one in need of help, Harper would have to do. On the other hand, the man had done a massive amount of patchwork during the Wraith attack, and that counted for a lot in John's book.
"I could use some help if you're not squeamish, Colonel."
John shook his head. "What?" he asked. He looked towards Rodney, who had backed off towards a corner, and was absently munching on a power bar. He and Harper banged heads considerably the last time Rodney had been in infirmary and since then McKay wouldn't let anyone but Beckett near him. Not that anyone else really wanted to go near him anyway. Teyla watched the display, seemingly engrossed.
"Did Dr. Beckett teach you how to take a BP?"
John blinked. "Yeah..."
"Good. That's what I need you to do. That and to let me know if he's showing any signs of consciousness."
Someone handed him a BP cuff and a stethoscope and he stared at them a moment. He didn't do things like this. He flew planes and fired guns; hell, he wasn't even sure how many Tylenol to take when he had a headache.
"Colonel." Harper was staring at him again and John did as he was told, still feeling very out of place. He tried not to look as Harper cut and concentrated on the sound of the rain outside and Carson's breathing.
Somehow, he figured they might just about be even after they got back to Atlantis.
Sounds surfaced first. A soft beeping. Then touch. Something soft tickled his cheek and he turned his face into it. His brain was fuzzy and his mouth was dry, but something was distinctly missing.
He tried to get his mind around that thought. Dry. He was dry and the pain...
The pain was gone. Well, not gone completely. A dull ache remained, but it was nothing compared to before. A tug on his hand revealed an IV, probably keeping most of the discomfort at bay. There was a brush of air at his nose and it itched. He reached up to pull at it.
"No, Carson, you need that." He knew that voice. Now if he could just open his eyes...
Atlantis. He was back on Atlantis. He was in his own infirmary, wired and plugged in. And a very fuzzy Rodney and Sheppard stood on either side of his bed. He blinked, trying to clear his vision.
"What happ'ned?" he asked, and winced at the sound of his voice.
"You had your appendix out," Rodney told him.
"Oh." He thought about that. "Did it happen outside? I remember rain." He paused. "Thirsty."
Laurie, one of his favorite nurses, chose that moment to walk by.
"He's thirsty," Rodney repeated and she nodded.
"I'll get you some ice chips," she promised and he'd never thought the promise of ice chips would be so wonderful.
"Outside?" he repeated. "There was rain."
"Yes, I'd say there was rain," Sheppard answered. "Lots of it considering your appendix ruptured off world. Don't you remember?"
"Bit and pieces," he admitted. "You left to go to the Stargate. Rodney poked me entirely too many times with a needle, then, well, it gets a wee bit fuzzy." Laurie returned with the precious ice chips and a spoon and Carson tried to reach his hand out, but it didn't get very far. He figured the anesthetic was still in his system.
"Hey! You asked me to poke you, may I remind you. And I got it. Eventually."
Carson tried again to reach the ice, but failed. Sheppard got the hint and took the spoon and scooped up some of the ice.
"Open the hatch," he teased, and Carson glared. But the moment the ice went down his throat, he was eternally grateful.
"You scared us," Rodney told him, but was quick to amend his statement. "Well, I mean, I wasn't scared, but Teyla was."
"Sure you weren't, Rodney," Sheppard muttered. "I think what Rodney meant to say is don't do anything like that again. I'll be trying to get water out of my ears for the next week as it is."
"I'm won't," Carson agreed. "But all things considered, I think I'm better off staying on Atlantis."
Sheppard just grinned and shook his head. "Nah."