He stared at Jeeves. He had never seen a robot look nervous before, but the Old Chap 7 was showing some odd behavior, taking off his hat and spinning his umbrella. Dr. Mann tried to concentrate. He had Jeeves pull up everything he had on the treatment of embolism. The modern treatment was to inject clot-eating bacteria, modified to the specie. This was out of the question; the nearest xeno-genome lab was two days from the asteroid.
He looked further back in the medical journals. Before bacteria lysis it was Q-beam radiation, and before that mini-robots with lasers. He had no Q-beam facility and rigging up mini-robots with lasers would take at least two days.
Jeeves poked him with his umbrella. What was wrong with the crazy robot? Dr. Mann had gone all the way back to the 20th century looking for an option. Then it hit him. He had read about something called an IVC filter. Perhaps he could fashion something to block the ambassador’s oversize vessel—but what? Jeeves poked him again.
Dr. Mann grabbed the umbrella from the robot and was about to snap it in two when an idea hit him. He pulled the fabric from the metal skeleton, ran to the radiation sterilizer, and sanitized the remains of the umbrella. One hour later it was inserted in the ambassador’s main vessel, ready to catch any further errant clot. Hopefully he’d live until a cruiser with a well-stocked sickbay arrived
Dr. Mann stared at Jeeves. Perhaps he had been wrong about his robot assistant. It had helped save the ambassador. Then Dr. Mann checked the captain, noticing for the first time how ancient the being looked. The captain had worsened acutely, its breathing labored, a sick wheezing sound coming past the rigid fiber that made up the upper part of its mouth.
Dr. Mann grabbed an intubation tube. The captain needed to be on a ventilator. Luckily Dr. Mann had had experience with this type of geriatric vegetable-like creature. He tried three times unsuccessfully, but managed on the fourth to slide the tube pass the rigid maxilla.
Dr. Mann sat on the floor. He was exhausted by the efforts of the day, especially the stressful intubation. Jeeves rolled over to him, and placed his bowler on Dr. Mann’s head. With a sly robotic wink his print out read, “Stiff upper lip, old bean” TH
Jamie Newman, MD, FACP, is the physician editor of The Hospitalist, consultant, Hospital Internal Medicine, and assistant professor of internal medicine and medical history, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minn.