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  Lt. j.g. N'Tazzia & Commander Stacey Harris, SD
 
Good Counsel - JDL Cmdr Stacey Bones Harris and Lt. j.g. N'Tazzia
 
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Good Counsel
Joint Duty Log: Cmdr Stacey Bones Harris and Lt. j.g. N'Tazzia

Under other circumstances, the cartoonish drawing of the woman with the spade-tipped purple tail and cat-like ears might have been amusing. I said it wasn’t me, but aside from the added appendages….it really does look like me.

In this case the picture served to add another piece to the complicated puzzle that was Ensign McMillian. At the moment, N’Tazzia was feeling ill-equipped to put that puzzle together. Glancing at the chronometer she regretfully noted that it was too late in the afternoon to enjoy a cup of coffee without violating the medical guidelines that she had been given.

Perhaps taking a walk will clear my head. She decided to try it, and she had the corridor on Deck 8 to herself as she contemplated why she was getting nowhere in her attempts to help Peter. It could be that I’m not thinking as clearly as I should be. She worried. I’m sleeping more with the new prescription than I was without it, but I can’t say the sleep has been particularly restful.

The initial hypospray she had been given had knocked her out rapidly and effectively but the medication from Nurse T’Zel wasn’t as powerful or as effective. During the last two sleep cycles N’Tazzia had revisited the dreadful situation that had occurred on the Nightingale….except that in her dreams, no matter how fast she moved or how hard she tried, she wasn’t able to reach any of the casualties fast enough — and life after life kept slipping through her fingers. She awoken drenched in sweat and shaking on both occasions. At least unlike poor Mr. McMillian she didn’t have trouble sorting out what was real and was immediately able to calm and comfort herself by recalling the people that she had helped….the lives that she was able to save. She was thankful that her medical training, even though limited, had been of use but was very glad she had not felt a calling to study to be a doctor as her profession. Experiencing that kind of carnage and knowing first hand the fortitude that it takes to get through it certainly gave me a new perspective on Dr. Harris.

Wandering down the hallway, she was so lost in her thoughts that she didn’t hear the door whoosh open and nearly collided head on with Nurse Temple.

“Oh dear! Excuse me Counselor!” Nurse Temple jumped back slightly. “Come to get your test results?”

N’Tazzia started to deny it until she looked up and saw that they were standing right outside of sickbay. Maybe I walked here for a reason. She mused as she nodded in affirmation instead.

“Well, you’ll find Dr. Harris in her office…” She said stepping out of the way to let N’Tazzia get by.

N’Tazzia thought it sounded like the nurse wanted to add something more to her statement but for some reason had stopped herself. She heard a hastily added “Good luck.” as she passed Nurse Temple and the door whooshed shut behind her.

Dr. Bones Harris was leaning back in the chair in her office grinding the heels of her hands into her eyes and was once again cursing the world. She sat forward and sighed when the chime rang. “Computer, door unlock…Enter!,” she shouted.

The door opened to admit Counselor N’Tazzia.

“Oh hey Taz, come on in, have a seat.” The counselor did so.

"I’m sorry, doctor, if I’m disturbing you…” N'Tazzia looked around.

Bones interrupted, “Oh Heavens no, you are a welcome distraction to the day…which has been sh***y so far if you’ll pardon my French. Now, what can I do you for?” Bones asked and then realized, “Oh, sorry, I’m an idiot. You are here for your test results, of course…” Bones started pulling them up on her computer as she continued to apologize, “Sorry I’m not 100% here today. It has been one of those days…here we go,” the doctor swiveled the terminal affording the counselor a better look.

She started pointing out areas of the brain and explaining what they were seeing. It was a lot of medical jargon but she finished with, “...so there is nothing physically wrong with you. We all have times in our lives that we suffer from temporary insomnia. For me, it was when I was a teenager, but medical school cured me of that. As an intern, you learn to sleep wherever and whenever you can to counter-act the grueling hours. Now a days, I could lean up against a warp core and take a nap…but trust me, that wasn’t always the case.

In my species, bouts like this usually last a week or two…your species is hard to say. If it was just the stress of the new ship, I’d think you’d notice an improvement by now. Still, there is nothing here that shows me anything is biologically off the norm. Apart from the instructions Nurse T’Zel left you and the sleep-aid, I’d say you might want to see a counselor to get to the root of the issue.” Bones winked and grinned at that bit of cleverness and leaned back. “So, is the sleep aid helping?”

Did she just take ten minutes to tell me it’s probably all in my head? N’Tazzia blinked.

“Uh….” she looked at Bones warily, sorely tempted to tell her that the medication was working fine and be done with it. “Somewhat….but….”

“Spit it out Counselor.” Bones sighed and shook her head at Taz. “You, of all people, should know better than to attempt to soft-pedal whatever it is that you’ve got going on in that head of yours. And frankly, it’s somewhat insulting to think you’d expect me to fall for it. I’ve got enough experience to know when my patients are trying to find a way to lie to me.”

Dr. Harris sounded a little annoyed but N’Tazzia could detect an undercurrent of concern behind her stern words.

“You’re absolutely correct doctor. I expect you to be forthright with me when I’m on the other side of the desk. I should be ashamed of myself to even contemplate attempting to fool you.” N’Tazzia took a deep breath. Bones could see that she was gripping the arm of her chair tightly with her left hand. “I’m sleeping longer with the medicine, but…my dreams are vivid and disturbing. I wake feeling…unrested.”

Bones chewed on her lip in thought and then sat forward a little. “Can you put your finger on what’s bothering you? What are your dreams about? Memories? Worries? Fears?”

“I dreamed that I wasn’t able to help save any of the people from the Nightingale. It seems I went from not being able to sleep to sleeping badly but I have no idea why.” N’Tazzia looked uncomfortable. “Could the medicine be causing the nightmares?”

“No, Counselor, the medicine is tailored to relax you so that you’re able to reach and maintain REM sleep. It’s relatively free of side-effects and nightmares have never been reported.” Bones looked at Taz expectantly.

“Until I stepped on this ship I never had a bad nights sleep.” She shrugged. “Nothing else has changed.”

Bones sat back and stretched. “Well, that, my dear, is where you are wrong. How can you say nothing has changed? You are not a cadet anymore. You’re a grown up…with grown up responsibilities and a new life. You’ve developed relationships here already, have daily interactions…it seems to me that a lot has changed. Your life of 6 months ago is hardly even recognizable to your life now, wouldn’t you agree? What did you do before you were assigned here to badger me and the rest of the crew?” Bones smiled to soften that, but she felt like she might be getting to the root of the problem. “Are you close with anyone back home? Family?”

Every time Taz opened her mouth to answer, the doctor thought of something else and continued, “You think that once I’m able to find some time to sleep I won’t have nightmares about the people we lost on the Nightingale? The people I lose all the God-damned time? Let me assure you, darlin’, that if you’re going to make a career in the medical profession- you better get used to that cause we all have ’em.”

N’Tazzia felt like she’d just been dunked in ice cold water. Dr. Harris spoke to her of growing up….and becoming a part of the crew.,…and she realized that while the method was somewhat rough around the edges there was a lot of wisdom buried in the doctor’s words.

“You’re absolutely right — I was only considering the physical move — not the greater implications of being a member of the crew.” N’Tazzia stared off into space. “And in answer to your questions, before I was assigned to the Excelsior I studied, worked on my sculpture, played a little dalni…” She trailed off…still not making eye contact and hastily added. “…and I haven’t spoken with anyone in my family since my mother died over six years ago.”

Bones nodded, “I see. Well I think we have just figured out why your mind doesn’t feel like resting when your body does.” Bones looked at the ceiling, she was much more comfortable curing plagues or performing surgery than dealing with mental disturbances. They were too…disturbing. Sure, she had a background in psychology as well and often had to play therapist to troubled crew members, but she was quite content to let the trained counselors and psychiatrists cover that arena whenever possible; but who counsels the counselor?

The doctor looked down, “Taz, I think you ought to explore this a little more. I think working through some issues you didn’t even know you had will do you a world of good. Don’t be afraid of your thoughts, fears, and insecurities. They help mold you into the person you are. Embrace that. Talk to people. Open up. That seems to be a prescription you willingly dole out to everyone else but don’t follow yourself. Also, take some time off to just hang out with friends and don’t worry about what you have to do next or who you have to impress…why don’t you spend some time with that big fellow, Lobrick? He seems like a sweet guy, and I think he likes you.”

Bones wasn’t sure if Taz’ species was supposed to turn that red, so she brought it back to a more professional level, “in the meantime, if you want, I’ll prescribe you Chelodyne. You can take 2 tablets before bedtime but only when you have a good 7 hours to devote to sleep. It inhibits REM so you won’t dream on it at all, but you’ll sleep well. You can only stay on it 4 days though so it’s up to you.”

She let what Dr. Harris had said sink in for almost a full minute. Considering the situation as objectively as she could, she realized that Dr. Harris had a point…there was a lot of psychological territory for her to explore. N’Tazzia knew that she was much better dealing with other people’s issues than her own.

She hadn’t taken any personal time since she’d come aboard, there was just so much work to do and she had felt she needed to prove herself and as a result had been obsessed with doing her job perfectly. There hadn't been any time to touch her dalni or work with her clay and she hadn’t even considered reaching out personally to any of the crew. Upon reflection she realized that some of them had tried to reach out to her…Vivien had expressed interest in trying more Tesshuan cuisine at one point and Ensign Engel had offered to instruct her in horseback riding but N'Tazzia hadn’t followed up on either offer…..then there was Lobren. She felt embarrassed that Dr. Harris has somehow picked up on the fact that she found Zarian....interesting…..and she was totally clueless regarding now to approach that topic. What if I do or say something…inappropriate? The idea was terrifying to N’Tazzia.

“Knock, Knock Counselor.” Dr. Harris’ voice broke into her reverie. “I’m sure you’d agree that this process works much better when both of the parties participate in the conversation.”

“Oh! Yes…I’m sorry….I was just wondering if being blind to one’s own mental state is a universal professional liability.” She laughed and winked at Bones. “You’ve certainly given me a lot to think about…..I think I’ll skip the new prescription for now and see if…exploration has any beneficial effect.” She started to get up but stopped.

“How have you been doing doctor? I haven’t had a chance to follow up with you recently.”

The doctor squirmed, her easy smile sliding off a bit as the tables were turned. “I’m fine, counselor, why don’t you worry about you for a change…like we JUST talked about,” although she was sure she wasn’t going to get off the hook that easy.

N’Tazzia knew it was probably unrealistic to think that the doctor would suddenly become a model patient and just open up to her. It’s just not her nature to share freely with a Counselor, she thought, but there’s a fine line between giving her enough time to sort through her issues on her own and letting too much time go between providing the help and support she needs. While Dr. Harris’ shift in tone and body language were minute, they were not so subtle that the counselor couldn’t easily discern that in spite of her protests, she probably really needed to get something off her chest…and N’Tazzia realized that there was another reason that she wanted the doctor to confide in her.

“You’ve got me there doctor. But you know that as the Excelsior’s Counselor, I have to ask. Our visit today has given me a lot to think about and you have my word that I won’t disregard your medical advice ever again.” N’Tazzia paused just slightly, Bones could almost hear the gears turning in the Counselor’s head as she leaned forward a tad and established eye contact. “I know you once said that you didn’t like me, and I accept and understand why you might have felt, and perhaps even still, feel that way. My early attempts to help you left a lot to be desired."

She had been half expecting Dr. Harris to cut her off, so she stopped and waited for a comment; but Bones didn’t say a thing. She wished Dr. Harris had broken in, because as hard as it had been for N’Tazzia to come to the realization how she felt, expressing herself was risky and immensely more difficult. So she continued, “But even considering that rocky start, thanks to our conversation today, I’m able to see that I don’t view you just as a case of unresolved grief or poor stress management — I’ve genuinely come to care about your personal welfare.” She looked at Dr. Harris expectantly.

“So, I’ll ask again – both as the Ship’s Counselor and as a fellow crew member. How have you been coping lately?”

The doctor sighed and sat back again, feeling like she was being beaten at her own game. She looked up at the chrono, 1853. Without saying a word yet, she reached down and opened her desk drawer, she pulled out 2 brandy glasses and a snifter of brandy, only then did she speak, “This, my dear, is Saurian Brandy. It is arguably the best brandy in the galaxy. This particular one is a good year too.”

She pushed a glass towards Taz. “I’ll tell you what…let’s pretend that it is 1900 hours and I’m officially off-duty, and just maybe then we can have a little chat.” The doctor poured a couple fingers for both of them and picked up her glass. Her eyes sparkled a bit as she went to toast the counselor, “But I think you should know…I NEVER share my good brandy with someone I don’t like.” The doctor grinned a bit and clinked Taz’ glass before taking a healthy swallow.

The counselor followed suit, albeit with a smaller sip since she had some bad alcohol experiences recently. The warmth sliding down her left her wondering whether it was the brandy, or the doctor’s words getting to her. She smiled back, "Thank you, doctor, " then again looked at her expectantly.

Bones took another greedy sip of fortitude and started off, “Thanks for all of your help on the Nightingale. I know it wasn’t easy for you…but I felt good about leaving you in charge of the triage while I went to find more serious patients. I trusted everyone was in good hands with you. I also…uh….well, I had a friend over there, a nurse. She was my roommate in college. I found her, broken back amongst other problems…”

At Taz’s sharp intake of breath, Bones held up a hand, "I think she is going to be alright. She’s getting good care on the base. I had her prepped for surgery and she had some complications. I got her stabilized again and then gave her some pain meds. I put her in a stasis unit to keep her still and had planned to give her 8 hours of rest before I re-started the procedure, " the doctor stalled guiltily, “I thought it would be a good time to get a few hours of shut eye for myself since I’d been in surgery for 18 hours at that point…it was stupid, I shouldn’t have left. While I was gone, they transported the whole kit and kaboodle of Nightingale patients over to the starbase…including Jen!” The doctor was up and pacing now, visibly agitated once again, “Of all the idiotic, moronic, ludicrous things to do! Transporting patients in critical condition!”

N’Tazzia worriedly looked at the closed door, not sure why the thought of Bones’ yelling carrying out to the main sickbay ward made her nervous…her staff was probably quite used to it. On second thought, she DID know why she was worried….she was worried that a casual listener might not understand her. They might be distracted by the decibel level of the doctor’s diatribe and not stop to listen to the level of feeling behind the her words. And if they didn’t listen and hear beyond the words, it would be easy for them to label Dr. Harris a self-aggrandizing, control freak who didn’t trust anyone else in the universe to take care of a patient. N’Tazzia heard it all. Compassion, pain, concern, frustration, guilt, fear…

The doctor continued pacing and waving her arms around, “I swear if they screw up on that dozen patients, I’ll write a nasty letter to Starfleet as long as their bureaucratic arm….”

N’Tazzia made no move to stop her or quiet her. In fact, when she mentally reviewed the content of the doctor’s ranting, she made quite a few excellent points…certainly ones that were understandable under the circumstances. Seven minutes and thirty two seconds later Bones plopped back down into her chair, her hair in disarray. She picked up the bottle of Saurian Brandy and started to pour herself another glass.

END




   
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