It’s not all missions and metal-eating rodents on Haumea Colony! Sometimes, hapless reporters volunteer for assignments that humanize Starfleet staff on civilian colonies. Which may end up with a reporter staring at two rather drunk Starfleet officers bumble their way through their retellings of historic events! This month… the beginnings of epidemiology.
Inebriated Retellings of History!
Location: Captain Mahone’s Cabin
Timeline: MD – 10 2143 Hrs
2114 words – 4.2 OF Standard Post Measure
If anyone mentioned to the Federation’s new Starfleet press advocate Riha Gawaris that she was interviewing two rather hearty medical types, she may have come a little more prepared for her first task. But, armed with a single cameraman and a shipment of beverages that would make any Romulan question how long the intended imbibers planned to go.
But there she was, placed in front of both Captain and interim CMO, watching in awe as they both seemed to down whiskey like it was part of their lives. Perhaps it was. She had heard multiple rumors throughout her time at university that the med students were notorious for imbibing large amounts of alcoholic drinks.
The scene in front of her served as her realization, as the pair were well beyond the point of doing more than perhaps assessing a medical diagnosis, and even then, that was suspicious…
“So, now that we have all those pleasantries set aside,” she began, sipping at her water, she turned to the camera. “Good evening. I am Riha Gawaris and this is Inebriated Historical Events. With me I have… Captain, Captain please.”
Luka, by this point, had himself sunk down in his seat so far that he may as well have been laying down. He looked over at the young Bolian, giggling. “This is gonna be on a bunch of screens isn’t it…”
“Yes it is, Captain. Can we begin?”
“Oh. Yes.” Luka slowly pushed himself back upright in his seat, clearing his throat. “I’m Captain-am I Captain?” he turned to Gunnar.
“Já, you’re the Captain, Doctor.” Gunnar’s brows drew down a moment. “Captain-Doctor Or Doctor-Captain? …One of those…”
“… Right. We’re in charge of stuff. I’m Captain Mahone and this-this is… he’s…”
“Ég er…” The tall Icelander paused and cocked his head to the side as though mentally replaying that. “…sorry… sometimes …forget to use Standard when I’m zorched.” He straightened a little concentrating on using the right language. “Lieutenant Arnason… somehow still acting CMO,” he laughed, rocking back merrily as though that was huge joke. Though clearly Nordic, Gunnar rarely put anyone in mind of his viking ancestors, but at the moment he looked like he’d be right at home in Valhalla – at least the Mead Hall part of it.
“And we’re gonna… talk about – what are we talking about again…”
“Sögu,” Gunnar replied not very helpfully. “…um, I mean… history, ja? And medicine …of medicine?”
“Waitwaitwait. Wait. You’re still acting CMO because you’re good at it.” Luka waved his hand in front of his face. “We’re-you’re awesome. Don’t sell yourself short. But yes. Yes, medicine and history. History and-and medicine.”
Gunnar waved a hand back. “Neh, you’re awesome – couldn’a made it through without you.” Leaning unsteadily toward the reporter, he loudly drunk-whispered, “Do… do you know how amazing it is to have a CO who knows medicine – and likes it.” He widened his eyes as if describing a miracle. “Most of ’em… well, you hav’ta …trick… them into even showing for a physical.”
Riha gave the pair an incredulous look. “I did not know the Captain studied medicine.”
“Studied it so much it took me right outta Starfleet – ” a topic even drunk Luka wanted to gloss over, instead turning his determined attention to Gunnar. “I had all this – hic paperwork to do. I can’t heal anyone from the command chair. It’s gotta be someone who can focus on medicine. You happen to fit the role perfectly.”
Gunnar shook his head, then blinked a moment, nudging his staggering train of thoughts back toward the subject. “So, jah, medicine history …medical history? …whichever isn’t what drugs a patient takes.”
“I think-” Luka began, leaning in to Gunnar reaaaal close. “I think it’s medical history.”
Any commentary Riha had for the pair was spoken in her native Bolian tongue. Her brow raised as they continued on. “You were going to give me a history in public medicine,” she urged.
“Right!” Luka grinned. He could talk doctor stuff. He loved talking doctor stuff. “Where do we start. How do we start. Gunnar, what do we have? That’s a big ol’ topic…”
“Big… Geysimikill!” Gunnar threw his hands out to signal the vastness of the topic. “Serious stuff’s pre-UFP… but which world? All diff’rent histories there.”
“Yes, Federation or-“
“Earth! Earth.” Riha cut in, perhaps too hastily. “Pre-Federation. You both wrote this down too. You wanted to discuss a history of-“
“Public health and epidemiology! That’s right. Yes. That’s right.” Luka squinted, pausing. We could – we could start all the way with Hippocrates. Or is that too far? Gunnar, is that too far?”
“Hippocrates was…2…” Gunnar paused a moment, fingers moving as though he was trying to count something, “….almost three millenia ago. Hversu lengi -,” he paused,”…er, How long do we have?”
“As long as you’d like,” the Bolian reporter said with a neutral smile. “I can cut out anything that seems unnecessary.”
Luka’s jaw dropped about as fast as Riha’s sentence ended. “You can’t… you can’t cut anything out, it’s all important!”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” Riha replied neatly. “So, did you two want to start with Hippocrates?”
“We could. He did do a lot for health, science, and epidemiology. But I feel like we can start later. Like, oo! Maybe with people like Graunt and Farr in old London. They were in charge of some of the first records of data analysis involving illnesses. Or… or… oo! Or we could start with John Snow and the John Snow pub. That might be the best place to start…”
“Since there’s a pub…” Gunnar laughed and lifted a glass, drained the last remnant of booze, “Jah, Jon Snow seems good for today though he was a…” he dropped his head, shaking it and laughing, “…teetotaler? …I think that’s the word?”
“He was! But I think that makes it more ironic.” Luka set his glass on the table in front of them, clearing his throat. Then he paused, squinted at Riha, and cleared his throat again. “We ready?”
Riha let out a happy sigh. “Yes, we are.”
Luka sat upright. “Okay, so. John Snow was a pioneer of medicine. He was also a vegetarian and-and… he was a tee…teeetoooo…. he didn’t like alcohol. He was raised poor, and at the time not everyone had clean water, so there was all sorts of nasty stuff in there. Gross… Oh I have to get to the CEO to make sure we have our water purifiers in order or we’ll end up repeating history-“
“You’ll let me know if I should boil my water…or stick to alcohol,” Gunnar laughed, nodding at his glass. He looked, somewhat blearily, at Riha. “That threw Snow off a bit – local brewery used the same water but …didn’t make people sick. Ultimately ‘nother point for germ theory rather than miz…mias… bad air.” He tipped his head to the side. “More irony, since proving out inhaling stuff for anesthesia was his other claim to fame.”
“Issfine.” Luka held a hand up, before looking over. “We should… we should get … Cornelius and his moustache into another one of these to talk about the history of beer and it’s santa… sammi-… I’m hungry.” He frowned. “What are we talking about?”
Riha coughed out a small laugh. “… You two were talking about John Snow and his pioneering of epidemiology.”
“Oh. Yes. Right. Well, after Snow’s findings in anasthesia, an outbreak of cholera cropped up – a second time mind you – in London. And it was Snow who discovered that the first victim was a sailor who caught it from who knows where, who rented a room that was then rented out by another man… and I bet you can see where this is going.”
“We can see it now, but then… já, they knew contagion spread… Ekki hvernig.” Gunnar stopped, waved hand as those dismissing the non-Standard words. “er, not how. The accepted idea was,” he paused, determined to get the word right this time, “miasmas – foul gases …and it made sense: the air was bad. Coal fire heat and power made it dirty, people rarely bathed, they threw garbage out in alleys, transportation was horses and septic was crude so …waste in the streets and dumped right in the main river…” he made a face cringing at the thought of living in those conditions, “London smelled foul …little wonder people assumed bad air carried disease.”
“If the air smelled all funky like that, I’d think there was something in it. Maybe not cholera. We’ve all but eliminated that these days though.” Luka squinted over toward the crate Riha and her cameraman had brought with them. “How much… how much more of whatever this is you got in there?”
Riha gave the crate a sideways glance. “… I think I should cut you two off-“
Luka made a noise, sinking further into his chair. He decided to press onward with the ramblings. “Well, Snow had to deal with all the other experts at the time, who believed that miasmas were where the outbreak came from, so here’s this one guy and he’s trying to track down the source of the outbreak, so he can prove to officials that the air’s fine and clean and all that. He finds the culprit for this outbreak in … Soho. Sooooohooo. That word sounds funny, doesn’t it? Soooooo-hooooo. I bet we can make it a song…”
“Soo-hooo, Soo-hooo, off to epidemiology we go!” Gunnar sang, and then broke down laughing as he imagined T’Ango drolly remarking that he was awfully tall for dwarf…
Riha let out a long, drawn out sigh. Humorous as this was, if she let them keep up, they’d be there all night. “Please, continue.”
Recovering from that bit of drunken silliness, Gunnar made an attempt to get back on topic. “But he had an advantage – he’d seen cholera before, but the outbreak was among miners and the miasmas theory didn’t fit that. Plus, he reasoned some disease might be airborne, but the ones that were tended to hit the lungs rather than the gut, like cholera.” The medic looked up and to side as if weighing that idea. “Of course, that isn’t always the case… Luckily for the history of epidemiology, it was true for that one,” he added brightly.
“Yes!” Luka piped in, “So… he discovered that the source of this cholera was coming from a frequented water pump on… I can never remember the street names. Broad? Probably broad, it’s general enough. But he found-he found the source and went to the officials at the time about his findings. How people who were drinking water from this pump were coming down with this disease. And the ‘officials’ were all skeptical because it went against just about anything they had said, but-but! But.” He paused. “But they disabled the water pump anyways, and sure enough – No cholera!”
“Actually…. I think he removed the pump handle himself,” Gunnar said. “He’d taken a scientific approach – which sadly medicine wasn’t known for back then – made maps of outbreask, interviewed people about where they go their water… real legwork of epidemiology as we know it. But even after cholera went away people still refused to believe him …fixing the sewers would cost money so they didn’t want to…” he shook his head, “…back in that period human society was worse than Ferenginar’s…”
“I don’t think that subject’s taught consistently anywhere,” Luka pointed out. “Because all the research I had done on this topic said that he had grumbly officials taking down the pump, and then they proceeded to ignore him on everything else.” He sounded rather matter-of-fact for a moment, before devolving into a series of mumbles for another few moments. “He spent most of his career proving his theory – or trying to – but… I don’t think epidemiology had a huge leap until Koch took his research a step further, but… but that’s another man entirely…”
“Koch was decades later when there were better instruments, so he could isolate the bacterium,” Gunnar pointed out. “Really the best proof Snow got afterwards came from a minister who was trying to prove him wrong …wanted it show it was a plague from God in judgment for …something… ” he muttered a bit, possibly candidate sins in an incomprehensible mishmash of his native tongue, Dosadi, and Romulan, “…Anyway, the minister’s data is what tied the outbreak to the cesspool leaking into the well.”
He leaned back, smiling drunkenly. “So maybe there is a God and the deity has a sense of humor.”