"Any history of heart problems?" Cameron held a clipboard tightly, filing out the answers to her questions in neat writing.
Ms. Zimmer, Josie's mother, sniffed quietly, trying her best not to cry. "Her great grandfather died of a tumor in his heart, but it was lung cancer that had spread." She paused. "He smoked, but I don't! No one she is around much smokes!"
Cameron nodded. "Thanks," she said stiffly. For some reason, she didn't feel quite comfortable around Josie and her mother. Why? She wasn't sure, yet. She knew she would get to the bottom of it.
Just then, Josie started to cough, and her body heaved with the force of it.
"Oh gosh," Ms. Zimmer said, getting up and hurrying over to her daughters bed. She helped Josie sit up, rubbing her back slowly, trying to ease the fit. "You okay, honey?"
Josie nodded weakly. "Can I have some water?" she asked, her voice barely above a whisper. Her mother nodded, poured a glass of water from the bedside table, and handed it to Josie. "Thanks," Josie whispered after she'd taken a sip.
Ms. Zimmer turned back to Cameron. "Is there anything I can do?" she asked, desperation in her voice. "I mean, she's been really sick before, but never quite this sick."
Cameron gave the distraught woman a small smile. "We already have her on IV fluids and antibiotics, but that's all we can really do. We should have the pneumonia under control within the next few days."
"I understand," Ms. Zimmer said, sniffing slightly. "What about the, uh, zebra? Was that what the blond doctor called it?"
Cameron smiled. "Doctor Chase? Yes, he may have mentioned a zebra." She motioned for Ms. Zimmer to sit down, doing the same. "You see, the department I work for is called the Differential Diagnosis department. When other doctors fail to diagnose a condition, we try." She paused, letting it sink in. "We diagnose the zebras, whereas most doctors diagnose the horses."
Ms. Zimmer thought about it for a moment. "So do you mean my daughter has a rare condition?" she asked, her voice squeaking on the last word. She cleared her throat, trying to sound together. "And is that why she always is sick?"
Cameron nodded. "We think so. We also think it has something to do with her leg weakness and delayed motor skills." She folded and refolded her hands. "And we will do whatever needs to be done to fix her."
House M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M.D.
"So, people, what did you figure out?" House extracted his vicodin out of his pocket and took the lid off, popping two into his mouth. He dry swallowed, then glared at his ducklings. "Come on! It's not like she's getting any better!"
"Her history was fairly clean," Cameron said, glancing over the notes she had written. "Well, at least up until last year. She's been getting perpetually sick since then. Mostly chest infections, but she has seen quite a few doctors for her leg weakness, as well as some when she was younger for the delayed motor skills."
"Let me guess," House said, rubbing his scruffy chin. "The other idiot doctors found nothing."
"Exactly," Cameron said. "They just diagnosed her with having slight cerebral palsy."
"Except her muscle weakness came on at about age 13."
Foreman cleared his throat trying to gain the other's attention. "Tox screen was clean." He passed around a piece of paper. "Nothing there."
"Her liver function seemed slightly low," Chase added in, passing around the blood panel. "But she has an infection, so it's normal. Her white blood count is up too."
"Really?" House said sarcastically. "Who would 'a thunk?"
Chase ignored him. "Red blood cell count is normal." He turned to Cameron. "So it's not anemia."
"Did you test for Lyme and West Nile?" Foreman asked, take a sip from his steaming coffee mug.
"Yes," Chase answered, sounding annoyed. "I am competent, just to let you know." He paused, taking in a breath to calm himself. "She was negative for the antibodies for both."
"Good," House said sarcastically. "Because that's just what we needed to hear."
Just then, everyone's beepers went off simultaneously. Everyone pulled them out, looking at the message.
"She's hallucinating," House said, his eyes narrowed.
House M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M. M.D.
"Get them away! Get them away!"
Chase, Cameron and Foreman hurried into Josie's room, with House not too far behind. Cameron's eyebrows immediately shot up as she read the monitor beside Josie's bed.
"Her temp's up to 105.2. We need to cool her down." Cameron quickly turned to the nurse who was standing helplessly in the corner of the room. "Ice packs! Stat!" The nurse hurried out, almost running into House.
"What do you think she's hallucinating about?" House mused, stroking his chin. He walked over to Josie's bedside. "Hey, kid, what's happening?"
"I'll eat you before you can eat me!" Josie yelled, her voice raw. "So leave me alone!" She broke out into a fit of coughing, her oxygen cannula ripped out and laying on the floor.
House smirked. "Oh, you're much too young for me to eat," he said.
Cameron's jaw dropped. "House!"
Chase glared at them. "If you two don't mind, our patient will die if we don't do something." He grabbed her wrist. "Her pulse is racing. We really need to get her fever down. I don't think ice packs will be enough."
"Putting her in an ice bath would put her in shock," Foreman argued. "That would kill her."
"House!" Cameron said, waving her hand in front of his face. "What do we do? Play it 'safe' and use ice packs? Or cool her down via an ice bath?"
House stood up, seemingly ignoring Cameron. He limped to the door, flung it open, and bellowed, "Hey! New, hot nurse! Yes, you! Get an ice bath in here! Now!"
Cameron looked worryingly at Josie, who was pale and sweaty, tossing and turning as she muttered incomprehensible things about being eaten. She quickly grabbed an oxygen mask from the corner of the room and fitted it over Josie's face. "If we don't fix her pneumonia soon, it'll kill her before whatever else she has does."