Magrat gave Evan an encouraging nod. He hadn't flinched at all and felt it was a little unfair that her boss hadn't even acknowledged the kid's bravery.
Maisie, however, was now lifting up the long strip of gauze she had soaked in the antiseptic bath.
"Now we just need to pack the wound with this to help prevent the sides bridging again. You watch close now because you'll be doing this twice a day from now on."
"How long does it take to heal?" Magrat asked.
"That's the downside. Five to eight weeks, and that's if there is no infection or other complications."
Magrat thought about that while watching the head nurse's deft fingers ever so gently pack each laceration with the thin gauze.
All that time, and all the resources it would need, just so a little boy wouldn't have an ugly scar into his teens. It wouldn't have happened in the camp.
By now, Maisie was rewrapping Evan's head with a larger bandage to keep the dirt out. She glanced at Magrat.
"How are you with a syringe girly?"
Magrat and young Evan shared the same worried look.
"Ummm, I've done a few inoculations and a sedative once."
"All intravenous. Evan here needs an antibiotic shot which has to be intramuscular, different technique. Here, finish wrapping his head while I get it ready for you."
Magrat took over and was just tucking the knot into a fold in the bandage when Maisie returned with a loaded syringe.
She handed it to Magrat then turned to Evan, who still wore the worried, apprehensive look from learning that a shot was on the cards.
"Okay, you. Drop your drawers and bend over that table."
Evan's look of apprehension turned to one of horror at the command from the grinning head nurse. He stood up and took a step backwards in the direction of the treatment room door.
"No way." He glanced at Magrat and swallowed. "I ain't dropping my pants."
"Why in hell not? You've done it every day you've been coming here."
Evan's voice rose in pitch.
"Not in front of her, I haven't."
"What's so damn different about her? And if you take another step towards that door, you're going to be making me chase you and you sure as hell don't want that young'un."
Evan stopped his retreat to the door.
"She's a girl!"
"I'm a damn girl, in case you haven't noticed, and I've seen your little hiney more times than I've a care to!"
Evan stared at the large scary woman standing with her hands on her hips and tried to find words that wouldn't get him killed.
"But... that's different. You're..."
Maisie's eyes narrowed.
Evan swallowed again.
"I mean..." He pointed to where Magrat stood holding the syringe up, thumb on the plunger, and looking bemused. "I mean, she's... Young-er."
Magrat got it. So, while Maisie was looking for words, she strode to where Evan still looked terrified by the whole situation and spun him around so she could whisper in his ear.
"You just need to lower them a bit so I can stick this in the top of your butt. Do it quick before she..."
But Evan was already pushing his britches down far enough to reveal the top of his buttocks.
Right now, all he wanted was to get out of here as quickly as he could before having to face the wrath of the head nurse.
Magrat might not have given an intramuscular injection before, but she had been paying attention. Top half of the buttock, outside. Near but not too close to the hip bone. Push firmly and...
"There, all done."
The look of gratitude Evan gave Magrat was one that boded a growing friendship over the coming weeks.
When he had gone, Magrat turned to find Maisie looking at her curiously. Then the older woman shook her head and picked up the tray.
"Come on, let's get this cleaned up."
Magrat returned to the treatment room followed by the man who had been sitting next to Evan. He was walking slowly and holding his side in apparent discomfort.
She directed him to sit on the vacant chair, and he did so slowly, grimacing all the while. Magrat passed a handful of patients' folders to Maisie.
"There's some more people out there."
The head nurse took the folders and quickly triaged the newcomers from the forms they had filled out.
"Yup. Just another day in paradise." Satisfied that there were no immediate emergencies, Maisie turned her attention to the man.
"Hey, Jake. What's ailing you?"
Still wincing in pain and breathing in short gasps, Jake explained.
"Fell off mah damned horse. Reckon I busted a rib."
Maisie nodded to Magrat.
"Help mister Johnson off with his shirt."
Jake gave Magrat a dirty look but let her help him ease his shirt off. She folded it neatly and lay it on the treatment table.
Maisie leaned back against the sink and folded her arms.
"Jake reckons he's bust a rib or two. Take a look, tell me what you think."
Magrat only managed a single step towards the seated patient.
"Hey! Hold on now." The indignance in Jake's voice was mirrored by his body leaning away from the approaching teenager.
"You're letting your little flunky examine me? I came here for help, not to be pawed at by some Devil's Own savage."
Magrat was shocked, but not really surprised. Johnson's body language even in the waiting room, had clued the teenager in on his attitude towards her. Calm, and with authority.
The mantra helped slow her quickening heart rate.
"Mister Johnson? I am not a flunky. I'm training to be a medic, and I've dealt with broken ribs before. I assure you..."
"You assure me?! The hell you do. I don't care what witch-doctory you get up to out there with your 'tribe'. But you're in civilisation now girl, and I want a civilised doctor examining me."
"M... Mister Johnson. I... was taught by Doctor Troy... And... And..." The mantra was failing, and Magrat was even having a hard time looking the increasingly angry man in the face.
From her position at the sink, Maisie watched the confidence, which had bubbled and fizzed in the girl only minutes before, begin to leak away. Come on, kid. Pull it together.
And Magrat made a sterling effort. She stepped forward until she was standing over Jake Johnson. ...With authority.
"... And I'm every bit as civilised as I need to be to treat a broken rib."
Whatever Jake was about to stay didn't make it out of his gaping mouth. His eyes glanced in Maisie's direction and took in the hard stare, and tight lips aimed right back at him.
His shoulders slumped, causing him to once again grimace as sharp pain burned in his side.
"Fine. I guess even a devil-dog can learn a trick or two." He looked up into Magrat's pale but determined face. "Get on with it then."
Maisie relaxed and watched as Magrat held out a hand towards her patient.
"Stand up please."
"I only just damn well sat down." But Jake took the proffered hand and let the girl help him to his feet.
Magrat began her examination at the place where Jake had been holding his side. Maisie's voice floated in from behind her.
"Talk us through what you're doing. Remember, explaining what you're up to helps relax a patient who is a pain... sorry, in pain and prepares them for any discomfort from your examination."
Magrat swore silently. She had known that, she'd just forgotten is all.
"I can see bruising around the lower right side of the rib cage. This suggests it is where mister Johnson's fall hit the ground.
" Magrat rested her fingertips very softly against the bruised skin. "The area is hot to the touch, an indication of at least minor damage below the skin."
She glanced up into Jake's tight-lipped face.
"I'm going to press gently around the bruised area. Let me know where it hurts most."
Johnson nodded briefly and took an uncomfortable breath. Watched closely now by Maisie, Magrat began to probe around the bruised area that lay over the bottom of Jake's rib cage.
Magrat moved her finger and pressed again.
"OW!" This time the man flinched.
Moving her finger upwards slightly to where the bruising was most livid, Magrat pressed again.
"OW! Fer fuck's sake you little bitch!"
Magrat stood up and looked into Johnson's barely contained rage and pain-filled face. Calm. Authority.
"Mister Johnson. You've broken one rib and maybe cracked the one below it."
Jake's eyes were almost popping out of his head.
"You don't..." His own rage prevented him from getting his words out. "So, now you've had your fun, what are you going to do about it?"
Magrat turned to Maisie.
"The ninth lateral is definitely broken; I can feel the break where there's a ridge but no movement. The tenth may be cracked too, but I can't feel any break."
Maisie pursed her lips and nodded.
"Sounds about right. What next?"
Jake butted in.
"Wait, ain't you gonna check? What if she got it wrong?"
"No, Jake. I'm not going to check. Broken and cracked ribs are easy to diagnose. Hell, you even did it yourself.
And it don't matter too much if there's a rib or two more that's busted up because the treatment is just the same."
Magrat helped Jake sit down again.
"Okay, Mister Johnson. We're going to give you some pain killers, but the main treatment is just to rest.
A broken rib will heal up all by itself in a few weeks, depending on how well you look after it. It's important that you breathe normally and cough when you need to.
If you try not to cough then mucus is going to start to form in your lungs and that leads to infection." Jake looked unhappy but resigned to the long healing process. Magrat felt sorry for him.
"For the first week or so you might find hugging a pillow when you have to cough makes it less painful."
Johnson still didn't look happy.
"Ain't you even gonna strap it up, wrap a bandage around my chest or something?"
"No. That doesn't actually help and just constricts your chest, making it harder to breathe."
Maisie came forward from her position at the sink.
"What we, I mean Magrat, will do though, is strap on a temporary compress to bring down the swelling from the bruising."
Magrat found what was needed to do this in the cupboards and set about bandaging the poultice to the bruised area by wrapping several turns of bandage around Jake's body.
Which is when it happened.