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Stories from the Verse
Verse Three, Chapter One
Chapter 57: Kondor 19
Table of Contents
Previous chapter: Chapter 56: Hastings 20
The hospital continued to grow over the coming months. By winter there were two additional buildings, one a new ward so that men and women patients could be housed separately, the other a classroom where medical knowledge could be taught to students. Kondor insisted that men and women students and professionals be treated equally; a man, he said, can deliver a baby as competently as a woman, and a woman can diagnose and treat a disease as well as a man. He also insisted that all learn to read and write (which he left to Friar Tuck, as his own handwriting was almost indecipherable to scholars of the time), and to do basic math sufficient for calculating dosages. He instructed them in basic pharmacology, and got them actively involved in patient care right from the beginning.
He also presented to them concepts they rarely needed, such as triage, the ability to determine which patients needed to be examined more carefully sooner and which could wait. They rarely had more than a couple patients arrive on the same day, and that was a busy week. But he realized that he had introduced to these people concepts and techniques which would not have been discovered for hundreds of years, and that in all likelihood he would become part of their history as the father of modern medicine, and he wanted to make certain his legacy to this world was as complete as possible under the circumstances.
But word was spreading. Patients were coming from farther away, and presenting with more severe illnesses. On the positive side of this, he was discovering what doses of which poisons were effective against which parasites, and soon this, too, became part of the curriculum. "One day," he would tell his students, "there will be ways to treat poisons, to replace body parts, even to pull people back from the edge of death. You must always be ready to learn more and to try new ideas. Medicine will always be changing and advancing."
Late the following year word drifted back to Nottinghamshire that Richard had returned. It appears that the merchants of England's larger cities had pledged to pay the one million pound ransom Prince John always insisted the state could not afford. It is doubtful whether they got their money's worth; no sooner was Richard home than he prepared his army to cross the channel so he could fight with the king of France about who owned the French coast and on what terms. John was still regent, the shire reeve was still demanding taxes, and the merry men no longer dreamt of the day when Richard would return and restore justice to the countryside. In a more enlightened age, Kondor thought, civil war would be brewing; but these people still accepted the divine right of kings, and would not consider raising their hand against the royal family. Why, probably the Magna Carta hasn't been signed. When was that, 1066? No, that was the Norman invasion; that already passed. Today was sometime in the 1190's, as well as he could gather from the mostly illiterate patients he met. And he asked a few, but no one, not even the relatively educated Friar Tuck, had ever heard of Magna Carta.
But the hospital continued to flourish, not only treating more patients more effectively, but teaching more students to do so. There was not that much to learn. Concepts of setting bones and bandaging wounds were already familiar, and required little change beyond the use of antibacterial cleansing and antibiotic treatments. Complete medical training took only a few months, given how few options there were, once the students could read and write and do basic arithmetic. Soon he had students teaching students, doctors treating patients without his assistance, many of them experimenting with new and better treatments built on what they had learned. And the following spring, while Richard fought in France and John demanded more money to support the armies abroad, a small group of graduates announced that they were leaving. With his permission, they would travel to London and build a new hospital on the outskirts of the city, where they would make medicines and treat patients and teach others to do the same. Inspired by this, another group said that as soon as they spent a bit more time here, they, too, would build a new hospital, outside Canterbury. The hospitals would keep in touch, sharing knowledge from their treatments as they advanced.
Kondor had changed the world.
There is a behind-the-writings look at the thoughts, influences, and ideas of this chapter, along with five other sequential chapters of the novel, in mark Joseph "young" web log entry #39: Character Futures. Given a moment, this link should take you directly to the section relevant to this chapter.
As to the old stories that have long been here: