A/N: somewhat plotless, semi-h/c fic. I recently had to call in sick to work due to a serious migraine, something I've suffered from since I was a teenager although less frequently as the years have gone by, and this fic sort of came from a coworker's irritation at what was deemed a flimsy excuse for calling in sick. Anyway, I hope you enjoy. Please read and review!
It wasn't, Margaret Houlihan reflected, as if she hadn't had any warning. After all, she was no stranger to migraines; this was her third this month. They always started the same: she'd wake up feeling just a little bit off, not quite nauseous and not quite exhausted, but just queasy enough that she didn't quite want breakfast, and just tired enough that she wondered if she'd slept seven hours instead of her customary eight. Usually at this point she wouldn't put the pieces together and realize it was the start of a migraine, but it generally only took another thirty minutes to an hour before a creeping, dull ache began somewhere between her shoulder blades. That's when she'd realize what was brewing, and with a little bit of luck could fend off the very worst of the debilitating tension headaches by doing some extra stretching, taking a hot shower, and drinking a full glass of orange juice and an extra canteen of water with her eggs. She could never stop the pain altogether, but she could usually at least ensure that she stayed functional by taking care to hold her shoulders in a relaxed posture and avoiding turning her neck too quickly.
Of course, for every couple of migraines that she was able to manage, there was inevitably one or two that got away from her. Such was the reality of Army nursing, especially at a MASH unit – it wasn't always possible to eat a full breakfast, drink extra water, take a hot shower, or even take time to stretch. If she happened to feel a migraine coming on right when Radar went running through the camp with his customary yell of "Choppers! Choppers!", there was very little she could do besides run straight for the OR and pray that the session was short enough that she'd be safely back in bed when her vision inevitably went white and the vomiting began.
So far, she'd been able to hide the condition from everyone at the 4077. She was sure that not even Frank suspected. She was careful to always appear gruff and perhaps even somewhat standoffish, so she knew that on her migraine days nobody thought twice about it when she snapped at anyone who looked her way. And after all, it was only a few times a month; she suspected that people probably weren't paying close enough attention to the frequency and thus would assume it was simply related to her menstrual cycle, and while the thought was somewhat embarrassing to her, it was tolerable.
As a nurse, she had sometimes wondered why it was so easy for her to care for her patients, but so hard for her to admit that she needed help herself. If it were a patient suffering the migraines she experienced a few times a month, she would've surely reacted differently – pushed Hawkeye or Trapper to refer the patient to a neurologist, given painkillers, insisted on IV fluids and hot water bottles and whatever else she could find that might bring some comfort. But when it came to her own health, she just didn't feel the need to react as strongly as she would have if it were another human being entrusted to her care. But, as she reasoned, it was probably only one in every three or four migraines that ever reached a level of intolerability. She could handle that. No need to let anyone know of her weakness.
Unfortunately, today was shaping up to be one of her intolerable days. She knew it the instant she stood up from her cot, tried to pull on her bathrobe, and felt a shooting pain in the side of her neck, which seemed to settle somewhere behind her right ear. Sighing, she resigned herself to the fact that pushing fluids and taking a hot shower wouldn't help, although she vowed to try anyway.
It had been a quiet week at the 4077 and really in all of Korea. The US military hadn't made a push in quite a few days, and the South Koreans were at the moment holding their own against the Chinese. There had been the odd patient here and there, but it was mostly minor injuries that honestly probably hadn't required a MASH unit and could've been handled by an aid station. Margaret hoped that the trend would continue again today – if it did, she could slip off to the showers, then head to the mess tent, force her way through breakfast, bring a canteen of water with her to post-op where she was scheduled for an eight-hour shift, and then hopefully head back to her tent right as the migraine was reaching its peak, with no one any the wiser.
Alas, it was not to be.
Margaret was just grabbing her towel and shower kit when she heard the door to the mess tent slam loudly. She groaned, knowing what was coming.
"Choppers!" Radar yelled. He made his way past her tent, knocking on her door as he did. "Choppers! Choppers! Incoming wounded! Lots of them!"
With a regretful sigh, reaching back to rub the soreness out of her neck, she stretched her right shoulder until she felt a resounding pop. Her shoulder clicked as she experimentally swung it back and forth, and for the briefest of moments her right ear began to ring. She frowned as she realized that this particular tension migraine was progressing much faster than hers had usually done – not unheard of, but definitely not a good sign headed into what promised to be a long and grueling OR session. But she was a nurse first, and the patients were her priority.
Throwing on her uniform, Margaret was halfway to pre-op before the doctors and the rest of the nurses had even made it to the chopper pad. Impending headache forgotten, she quickly assessed the status of supplies. There were numerous bottles of IV fluids, and the blood bank was fully stocked. The pain med supply was readily accessible and fully loaded. There were extra gas bottles in the scrub room for the anesthesia. Tray after tray of sterilized surgical tools sat ready, covered in sterile drapes. The 4077 was as ready for the day as it would ever be.
She had just started scrubbing when Hawkeye Pierce burst into the room next to her, somehow already wearing his white scrubs, skidding to a halt at the other sink.
"Margaret, good, you're here," the man said. "And since you're already scrubbing, you're with me today. It's going to be a big one," the doctor told her. Margaret nodded. "Who else is scrubbing today?" the raven-haired man asked.
"Kellye, Baker, Thompson, and Connell," Major Houlihan replied briskly, knowing the OR schedule off the top of her head. "Bradbury and Meyers are running post-op, and I've got Flanders and Chambers running triage and pre-op. Garcia is circulating in the OR."
"Good," Hawkeye approved with a nod. Like clockwork, nurse Garcia appeared in the scrub room, helping Hawkeye into a white gown and then holding one out for Margaret to carefully slip her arms into.
The patient was already on the far table when Hawkeye and Margaret entered the OR, the anesthetist already fitting a mask to the young man's – no, boy's, Margaret corrected herself – face. The kid couldn't be eighteen yet, and Margaret was no surgeon but she was a very good nurse and she could tell at a glance that this one wasn't going to make it. She saw the grim set to Hawkeye's face, mouth hidden by his surgical mask but eyebrows furrowing tellingly. And she admired Hawkeye just a little bit, though she was loathe to admit it, because she knew that he was going to try his very best anyway.
Hawkeye was efficient and had made his first cut by the time Trapper and Colonel Blake entered the OR, Frank hot on their heels. Each surgeon received a patient, and as their grueling day began, Margaret allowed herself to be lost in the sights and sounds of the MASH unit's effective workflow.
Hawkeye finished sewing up their first patient, and as she met his eyes over the table and saw the shake of his head, she knew that although the surgery had stopped the process for now, the patient wouldn't survive the night. But there was no time to dwell on it, as nurse Garcia brought over new sterile gloves and helped Margaret and Hawkeye into them just in time for Klinger and Rizzo to place a new patient in front of them.
Hawkeye paused after their third patient, calling to Garcia for some orange juice between glove changes, and Margaret realized for the first time that she hadn't yet had anything to eat or drink today. With that realization came a corresponding sweeping wave of nausea, and she was suddenly certain that it was a good thing she hadn't consumed anything. Garcia paused to offer Margaret some juice as well, but she politely brushed off their newest, youngest nurse with a gentle shake of her head (which left her right ear ringing again). The ringing in her ear was the first sound she was conscious of hearing since the OR session began, and suddenly her awareness expanded explosively. She realized that the OR hadn't been silent as she'd first thought; in fact, it was filled with the usual banter, dropping of tools, and requests by surgeons for clamps, scalpels, suction, retractors, followed by the same words repeated by nurses as they handed the items over. Each sound, especially the dropped tools, reverberated in her skull painfully, and she wished desperately for the return of whatever fog her brain had previously, mercifully placed over her awareness.
"Kellye, hand me the right clamp or get away from my patient!" Frank suddenly shouted, and Margaret winced as Trapper quickly came to the nurse's defense. Margaret loved Frank, but she knew full well that Kellye had handed him exactly the clamp that he'd asked for, and in that moment she felt a flare of irritation for the man who was her lover. The irritation wouldn't fade, even as Hawkeye asked for a scalpel which she handed over with a soft smack as the object entered the palm of his hand.
By the time they'd closed their fifth patient, Hawkeye had taken two more orange juice breaks and Garcia had, of her own accord, mopped Margaret's clammy brow a few times.
"Margaret," Hawkeye said quietly, surprise and admonishment coloring his tone as she once again turned down a drink. Her stomach was rebelling inside of her, and she truly wasn't sure she'd be able to keep anything down. She turned her head to look at the surgeon in response to his tone, and the movement of her neck sent a flare of pain so intense from her shoulder blades all the way to her temples that she felt herself cringe. Hawkeye, of course, noticed, and underneath his mask she could tell his lips had drawn down at the corners. "Margaret," he tried again, when she made no moves to respond. "We've been at this for over seven hours already, and you've had nothing to drink," he reminded his favorite (though he wouldn't tell her so) nurse cautiously, aware that his words might spark her temper. And spark her temper, they did – although she was currently suppressing the urge to gag due to the pain she was feeling, so she didn't say anything.
"Margaret," the raven-haired man tried again, "Did you eat breakfast this morning?"
The nurse gave a quick shake of her head. Hawkeye frowned.
"Garcia, bring Major Houlihan here some orange juice," he insisted. Garcia complied quickly, pulling down her boss's surgical mask so the older nurse could take a sip. Margaret contemplated the straw with distaste, debating whether to risk putting anything in her stomach. At the table behind her, Trapper cauterized a bleeder, and the smell answered her question for her. She shook her head, reflexively leaning away from still-closed patient in front of her in case she lost control of her stomach. Garcia and Hawkeye exchanged a look, and Garcia stepped back a few paces to watch from the corner, ready to act if needed.
"Margaret," Hawkeye dropped the volume of his voice to a murmur, and it was lost to all but her in the banter of the other surgeons and nurses. "This isn't like you. I can't have you passing out during surgery."
"I'm fine, Pierce," she said softly, but at that moment Frank let out a shout as he pinched himself with yet another clamp, and the echoing cacophony that reverberated through her skull caused her vision to erupt with black spots as she gripped the operating table tightly and held on for dear life.
"Margaret!" Hawkeye yelled, and the nurse had just enough time to register that she was falling, but could not coordinate her limbs to stop herself, before she hit the floor. The pain in her head blocked any discomfort from the fall. "Corpsman!"
To her relief, she didn't actually pass out. Her migraines sometimes made it impossible for her to stand, or eat, or drink; and she definitely needed a dark, quiet room, stat – but her migraines had never, ever made her pass out before, and this was no exception. The fall, she knew, was a combination of dizziness and pain from the migraine, and hypoglycemia (which, she also knew, was not helping her headache any).
She was too nauseated and disoriented to be of much assistance to the two corpsmen and nurse Garcia who came to her aid, and she knew that if she opened her eyes the light would just make the situation a hundred times worse. As it was, the ringing in her ears was spectacular. She did make an effort to stand, but ended up a tangle of limbs on the floor again, and in the end she allowed the corpsmen to carry her out of the OR to the bench in the hall between the OR and post-op. Sparing a moment for embarrassment, she felt her face heat up as Garcia bent over her, feeling her forehead with one hand and her pulse with the other.
"Major, can you hear me?" Garcia asked, and Margaret nodded once.
"I'm fine, Garcia," she slurred. "Migraine. Go help Pierce."
"No need, Major. Connell took over for you."
Margaret didn't reply as she felt Garcia wrap a blood pressure cuff around her arm. The cuff tightened, and Margaret waited.
"Major, your blood pressure is low. 90/56." There was a pause. "Open your mouth, Major – let me check your temperature." The two waited, Margaret desiring nothing more than to brush Garcia off and tell her that this was unnecessary, but knowing that Colonel Blake would insist upon it anyway. "Well, at least your temp is normal. 98 Fahrenheit."
"Nurse, what've we got?" a kind but fiercely worried voice asked. Speak of the devil, Margaret thought to herself, as she felt Colonel Blake kneel beside her.
"She's complaining of a migraine, Colonel," Garcia answered. "Pulse is 96, blood pressure 90/56, temperature 98. She hasn't opened her eyes since we brought her out here, but she's awake and answering appropriately."
"Margaret?" Colonel Blake asked, his hand landing gently on her shoulder.
"I'm fine, Colonel," she reiterated, cracking an eye open in time to see him roll his own eyes at her.
"Sure you are," Trapper's voice suddenly chimed in, and she glanced towards the sound to see him pulling his scrub cap off his head as he entered the hallway. "That's why you passed out in there."
"I did not pass out," the nurse defended stiffly.
"Close enough," Trapper said sarcastically, but his gentle hands belied his tone as he placed his own palm on her forehead.
"What do you think, Colonel?" Trapper asked, and Colonel Blake sighed. Margaret closed her eyes and groaned.
"I appreciate all of your concern," she said, and she truly did, despite the rocky relationship she had with most of the staff of the 4077. "But it's really not necessary. It's just a migraine; I get them all the time…"
As soon as she said it, she knew she'd made a mistake.
"Oh, you do, do you?" the Colonel asked, and Margaret didn't like the tone of his voice. She opened her eyes again to glance up at her commanding officer, catching Trapper's eyes in the process and noting the stunned disbelief she found there. "Interesting that I haven't read about this in your medical record." Margaret blushed. He was quite right, of course; frequent migraines were something the army would want to know about, but it wasn't in her record because she'd never mentioned it to anyone.
"Garcia," Trapper muttered softly, "We don't have any beds in post-op, but I'll help you get her to pre-op and onto a litter. Start an IV and hang some saline, wide open. Also give her some juice. Hawk told us before we left the OR that she hasn't had anything to eat or drink today, and her blood sugar will be low. We'll get some painkillers on board and then we'll run some tests and see if we can diagnose a cause for these migraines."
"McIntyre, that's not necessary," Margaret started, but was cut off by Colonel Blake.
"Sounds like a plan, McIntyre," the Colonel agreed, ignoring Margaret completely. Suddenly Margaret found herself being pulled up gently into a sitting position, and her head protested vehemently as the room spun. With Garcia supporting her on one side and Trapper on the other, Margaret fought her stomach the whole way to pre-op, barely making it to the bed they deposited her in before she reached for a bedpan and vomited bile into it.
"Whoa, hey, you're okay, Major," Colonel Blake had been following behind the trio, and now he rubbed her shoulder in support. "Better out than in."
"Garcia, let's give 2mg of IV morphine," Trapper said, and Margaret was surprised to find herself grateful as Garcia deftly inserted the IV into her arm and then slowly shot the morphine into it. It didn't take long at all before the drug began to work, dulling the pain to a bearable level. As the pain left so did the nausea, and Margaret even accepted a couple of sips of orange juice from Colonel Blake before flopping back onto the cot and curling into a tight ball. Someone pulled a blanket over her, and then Garcia was back, borrowing her arm to hook up the ordered bottle of IV fluids and then letting her curl up again.
"Margaret, I'm going to draw some blood," McIntyre told her, while Colonel Blake asked Garcia for a new set of vital signs in 15 minutes. Margaret allowed the morphine to work as she relaxed, feeling the creases in her brow smooth out as she began to drift to sleep, now loaded with morphine and free at least from the sharp migraine pain, which had now receded to a dull headache.
Margaret didn't answer, suddenly realizing how exhausted she was, both from the migraine and from the long OR session. She briefly felt bad for leaving Hawkeye, and wondered for the slightest of moments why she wasn't asking for Frank, and then in the next moment both Frank's and Hawkeye's voices joined the ones already surrounding her and she let her concerns go and drifted off to sleep.
Margaret woke slowly, as one often does from a deep, refreshing sleep after they've spent far too long on their feet. For a while she hovered, in that in-between state between waking and sleeping, still asleep enough to be half-dreaming and awake enough to try and force herself back to sleep. It was a pressure on her arm that ultimately work her, and her eyes opened slowly to scrutinize the offending object. It took her longer than it should've to realize that it was a blood pressure cuff, and even longer than that to realize that there was a hand there, too, holding a stethoscope to her inner elbow. She followed the arm up to a face, seeing raven-black hair and an expression of deep concentration. She noted she was no longer hooked up to an IV, and the needle was gone from her arm.
The doctor clearly noticed that she was awake, but carefully kept his gaze on the sphygmomanometer as she slowly felt the pressure on her arm decrease. She watched as he pulled out the ear pieces of his stethoscope and draped the device around his neck. She automatically moved her arm away from her body slightly to aid him as he undid the Velcro holding the cuff in place, and she watched as he rolled the instrument carefully, placing it on the mattress down next to her feet. Only then did the man seem to take a deep breath, as if to collect himself, and turned his hawk-like blue eyes, those eyes that missed nothing, onto her.
"Feeling better?" Hawkeye asked, and Margaret blushed as she made eye contact with him, somewhat embarrassed to be in a bed as his patient instead of standing next to him as his coworker.
"Much," she admitted anyway, because she truly was feeling one hundred percent better.
"Your pressure's better," Pierce informed her, even as his right hand settled over her carotid. "110/72." She resisted the urge to shake her head in an effort to dislodge his hand. "Pulse is better, too. 70. Much better than the 90s you were running before."
"Good," she said, meaning to sound confident and controlled, but another blush rose to her cheeks when she realized that she sounded subdued, even to her own ears. She tolerated the thermometer that Hawkeye placed under her tongue only because she didn't want to have to speak again. The raven-haired man, for his part, didn't seem keen to break the silence, either, settling instead for staring at her. Margaret began to feel uncomfortable under his gaze, like a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar, and she couldn't help the way her hands fidgeted with her blanket. Finally Pierce took the thermometer from between her lips, and as he looked away from her face to read the mercury, she allowed herself a deep breath and cleared her throat softly.
"How long was I asleep?"
"About 12 hours. It's about 0200. Frank was here for a while, but he finished his shift at 2300 and left. You're stuck with me until 0700."
She was somewhat relieved that it was the middle of the night. At least she wouldn't have to face anyone else, not yet, anyway.
Pierce, for his part, seemed to be at a loss for words for once, and Margaret watched him carefully as, with uncharacteristic silence, the doctor pulled out a flashlight. She cooperated as he shined the light in her eyes, checking her pupils.
"Any pain?" he asked, his words clipped somehow.
"No," she denied.
"White spots in your vision? Black spots? Ears ringing? Dizziness?"
"No, no, no, and no," she answered calmly.
"How about when you turn your head?"
She tried it a few times, carefully at first but then turning her head more fully and more quickly from side to side. Her neck remained pain-free, and there were no symptoms of her previous migraine.
"Nothing," she informed the doctor, watching as he seemed to deflate, apparently running out of questions to ask and tests to run. He leaned forward in his chair, elbows on his knees, and allowed his head to hang for a moment before running both hands through his hair. She allowed him the silence he obviously desired, taking the time to turn her head and look around the post-op ward. She vaguely remembered someone saying that there hadn't been a free bed in post-op, but the question died on her lips when she thought of the first boy that she and Pierce had operated on earlier in the day, and decided that she didn't need to know. Her gaze settled on a soldier in the bed to her left. She didn't recognize him from the OR. He was obviously unconscious rather than sleeping. Guilt began to stir, somewhere deep in her chest, as she realized she was taking up valuable bed space – and the doctor's attention – which would have been much better distributed to the real wounded.
"Margaret," Hawkeye said, distracting her, and she turned her head to see those piercing blue eyes burning a hole through her. "What were you thinking?"
She opened her mouth to retort, to say that a migraine really wasn't such a big deal, that it was nobody's business whether she suffered from headaches or not – when she realized that he was serious, really and truly serious, in a way that she'd never seen him be serious before. Her mouth closed with a snap, and she waited for the elaboration that she could see was coming. It was obvious that he was working himself up into a frenzy, and she had no doubt that a Hawkeye Pierce lecture of epic proportions was rapidly headed her way.
The doctor didn't disappoint.
"Margaret, you passed out in the OR. We had a patient on the table. We're lucky that I hadn't opened him yet, and that there was another nurse available to step in to assist. What would have happened if everyone had been tied up with other duties and you'd fainted on me during a critical moment? We could've lost the man."
In truth, this had only peripherally occurred to her, and she flinched as she realized the truth of the statement. Her motivations had been good, wanting to help the patients and ignore her own needs, but she hadn't considered that in doing so she could actually be putting the patients at risk. However, she didn't have a chance to think on this before Hawkeye plowed on.
"You live in a camp that is literally swarming with doctors and nurses. Every single one of them knows how to deal with hypoglycemia and migraines. If you had just asked someone for help, we could've covered your shift, let you rest, given you an IV, kept your blood sugar up. You allowed yourself to go on being miserable when help was readily available! Margaret, why would you do such a thing? You're a nurse! You know better! Not to mention that this wasn't even mentioned in your medical record. What's the deal with that?"
Margaret opened her mouth to reply that she really hadn't wanted anyone to make a fuss, but Hawkeye didn't seem to notice, or ignored her. He continued on.
"Next time you work with me in the OR, I won't allow you to go so long without taking a drink of juice," he said, and this time she noticed a strange quality in his voice, a tone that was half irritation with her and half self-castigation. "How you managed to keep these migraines hidden for so long, I don't understand," he added, "But no longer. From now on, Margaret, if you start to feel a headache coming on, even a small one, you need to come to me. Or to Trapper, or Henry, or a nurse, or even Frank, if you must, but you have to tell someone."
Margaret started to say that she didn't feel that to be necessary, but a sharp look from Pierce had her biting her tongue.
"Henry's already put a call out to the army's top neurologist," Hawkeye informed her, and Margaret bit back a groan. "He's unavailable until next week, but he'll be here at his next opportunity to see you. In the meantime, you're on light duty."
"Oh, come on, Pierce," she said, "That's not necessary." Hawkeye shook his head, looking at her steadily, and she suddenly understood that there would be no debate on the matter; that this was something that had already been discussed between the camp's four resident physicians.
"It's necessary and it's non-negotiable," Hawkeye argued, raising his eyebrows in challenge. She recognized defeat and huffed viciously, but let the matter drop. Beside her, Hawkeye let his eyes wander around the post-op ward, and she followed his gaze as it flitted around to each individual patient, her nursing instincts automatically kicking in as she stared intently at each chest for just long enough to determine that the blankets were rising and falling with breath before moving on to the next bed. Silence reigned for a long moment, until eventually Margaret found it to be unbearable.
"I should've said something about the migraines," she acknowledged softly. Hawkeye shifted his gaze to her, she saw from the corner of her eye, but she resolutely kept her gaze on the patient behind him. "I was stupid. I… I was embarrassed. It's only headaches. It didn't seem that important. I realize now that I was mistaken."
"I was worried," Hawkeye murmured, and at first she thought she'd misheard him. He shook his head, then spoke a little louder. "We all were. Frank was beside himself. Even Henry was upset. I know we aren't exactly friends, Margaret, but when I saw your eyes go blank like that, when I watched you go down… God, Margaret, you scared the hell out of me."
"I'm sorry, Pierce," she said softly, and despite the fact that he was right, and they weren't friends, she could see that he was being genuine, and she truly was sorry that she'd scared him. And, though she didn't want to admit it, she was touched by his concern.
A low moan sounded from across the ward, and Margaret and Hawkeye both snapped their attention toward the sound. Margaret began to sit up, instinct again driving her to seek out which of the two patients in the far corner had made the noise, but Pierce made a soft noise of protest and placed a gently restraining hand on her shoulder.
"Go to sleep, Margaret," the doctor said. "I've got it. You're my patient tonight, not my nurse, remember?"
As if she could forget. With a sigh, relishing the fact that she wasn't about to be discharged before morning shift meaning that she could at least get another four hours of sleep, she sagged back against her pillow, rolling onto her left side to get comfortable. She heard Pierce's footsteps as he hurried across the ward to check on his patients, relaxing as she grudgingly acknowledged that they were in good hands and she was not needed at the moment. She was almost asleep when she heard the doctor's footsteps return some moments later. She felt, with a small part of her awareness, his presence as he hovered at the foot of her bed, and she sighed contentedly as the weight of a second blanket settled over her shoulders.
"I'll wake you up bright and early to check your vitals," Pierce promised, and she felt her lips twitch involuntarily in response to the mischievous, devilish humor that she could hear coloring his tone. Somewhere in the back of her mind, she understood the sudden return of his usual banter to have a hidden meaning: that she was forgiven for her deception, and that this would blow over and things would return to normal. And then awareness faded, and she drifted off into the deepest, most restful sleep she'd had in months.
Pierce did indeed wake her up at far too early an hour, though the irritation she felt was mitigated somewhat when he allowed her to return to the comfort of her own tent after declaring that she was no longer sick enough to take up a post-op bed. She managed to talk Henry into letting her back into the OR three days later, though she had to fight to ignore the worried looks that she felt thrown her way every few minutes. She cooperated through more than one abbreviated neurological exam, most conducted by Frank, and if she purposefully piled extra powdered eggs onto her plate each morning at breakfast in an attempt to keep her blood sugar up, then nobody had to be any the wiser.
The army's neurology specialist cleared her for full duty a week later, though with strict orders to report any further migraine activity. The doctor had given her a stern reprimand for hiding her headaches in the presence of Colonel Blake and Frank, who had been with her for the neurologist's exam. The incident still brought a blush to her face whenever she recalled the disappointed looks the three doctors had fixed on her, and she knew she'd seriously hurt Frank, at least, with what he seemed to feel was her mistrust in his abilities as a doctor.
It was with this in mind that she found herself in Colonel Blake's office two weeks to the day after the OR incident, sitting at his desk with her head in her hands as he shut off his lights and fetched her a glass of water. She'd expected a much greater fuss, and indeed the commanding officer of the 4077 did offer her a bed in the nearly-empty post-op, where Trapper was on duty, but to her surprise and delight he agreed to forego the IV drip and routine vital signs checks if she agreed in turn to drink the entire glass of water and a glass of orange juice in his presence before returning to her tent to take a nap. She was unsurprised to wake later to the red-headed doctor checking her vital signs, anyway, though he left quickly when it became apparent that her migraine had been largely averted and she wasn't in danger of suffering a syncopal episode.
Knowing now that she would receive no judgment for her migraines, she didn't try so hard to hide them, and she was surprised to note that the less she felt the need to sneak around, the more infrequent her migraines became. She still seemed to suffer one to two severe headaches each month, but each one was handled gracefully by the rest of the staff, who did what they could to take the work load off her shoulders while she spent a few hours recuperating. And if she found an extra glass of orange juice in the scrub room with her name on it before every OR session, well…
She couldn't say she wasn't touched.
It dawned on her that maybe, just maybe… she did have friends at the 4077, after all.