Mallora Vossti/Sleeplessness Mystery

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((Counselling Suite, Deck 7, USS Gorkon))

Mallora entered the counselling suites and found them friendly and inviting, just as was the case with the Counselling Center at Starfleet Academy. There was soft lighting and bright colors; there were comfortable chairs and couches; there were a handful of doors on the far side that would lead to smaller interview rooms.

But most importantly, there was Lieutenant Fortune. The two Betazoid women had struck up a bit of a friendship early in their shore leave on Deluvia IV, and it was that pre-existing relationship more than any of the decor that helped to put Mallora at ease.

Vossti: I’m here for my appointment. I’ve told too many people that I have one to skip it now.  ::Her smile was just a hair short of a full laugh::

Fortune: Well! I’m glad you made it, at least! Come come, sit sit. ::she waved to a chair, hopping up to take a spot across from the other.::

Mallora sat down in the indicated chair, admiring how soft and comfortable it was. She wondered to herself if the Lieutenant needed to fill out requisition forms to get replacements when these became too worn or damaged.

Vossti: I guess it’s about time we sat down and talked about what’s going on with my insomnia.

Fortune: Sounds like a plan. Would you like some tea before we begin?

Vossti: I’d love a cup of Silverleaf tea, sweet.

Silverleaf was a rare tea that she had acquired a taste for when she was living on the Crystal Star, and not many people elsewhere had even heard of it.

Corliss hopped up again, heading to the replicator. She easily made up two cups of warm tea, heading back and sliding one to Mallora.

Fortune: I’ve got sweets too, if you’d like some?

Vossti: I’ll have the tea first and then the sweets. I don’t want the two flavors fighting each other.

Corliss took a slow sip before returning her cup to the table, hands laced together in her lap as she smiled.

Fortune: Alright, well, let’s talk then. Let’s start with...well, when did you first become aware of it? Or, if you were too young, were you diagnosed at a certain age?

Vossti: Well, I can’t pinpoint exactly when it started -- as in which day -- but I know that during my time in the Academy, I slept more or less normally. When I graduated and moved on to Starfleet Medical, that’s when I started having sleeping problems.

Mallora took a sip of her tea, glad that she had taken the time to program her favorite floral tea into the ship’s replicators.

Fortune: Not unusual at all. First you’re in a new place, that is to say, far from home. And second, Academy often inspires insomnia due to its rigorous training, and Medical even more so. I can’t say I’m surprised.

Vossti: I more or less self-diagnosed insomnia during that first year at Medical School. I also tried a bit of self-treatment, but none worked without very unpleasant side effects.

Fortune: That’s a reason why they don’t rely on sleeping tablets as much. They tend to backfire, but they are useful in getting someone back on their rhythm in the short term.

Mallora nodded and sipped her tea. She wondered if the Lieutenant intended her statement as a question, but there was little to disagree with, so she remained silent for the moment.

Corliss hummed softly, tapping her fingers together in thought as she nodded.

Fortune: You haven’t been onboard long, and normally when assigned, everyone tends to find themselves getting back to, or finding a new, sleeping rhythm. It helps to have others cover shifts when needed, so on. The main question, I think, you think it was the environment influencing your insomnia?

Vossti: I can’t imagine that it would be the physical environment of the school; there wasn’t much difference there. I think the social environment was a big change, though. In the Academy, I nearly always felt supported and encouraged. There was a spirit of teamwork in a way, like all of the cadets were part of one large team.  ::She smiled at the memory, then her smile faded as she recalled the next part:: Medical was … much more competitive. Each student was striving to be the best; there didn’t seem to be any teams there.

Fortune: Well there’s only so much I can guess at. I suppose I could equate it to someone telling you their elbow hurts, and you assuming on the basis that they’re a ball player, that they’ve played too much. But if you ask them, then they may admit they’ve recently gotten hit there, and it’s either broken or dislocated. ::she hummed to herself, hands unlacing as she shifted in her chair.:: How are you doing onboard, I mean? Do you feel things are getting better or staying the same?

Vossti: Well, I’ve only been on the Gorkon for about a week at this point. The first two people I met were Commander Nkai and Lieutenant Vorin. I don’t think I made a very good first impression on the Lieutenant.  ::She flashed an embarrassed half-smile:: But Commander Nkai was very welcoming. Actually, I don’t think I’ve had a chance to properly thank him for his help when I first came aboard in the middle of the Skarbek thing.

Fortune: Lieutenant Vorin can seem very...hard to crack I suppose. But he’s a rather sweet guy, I assure you. ::Speaking of, she promised to find that very old story about L’Rin and Kaya, the marooned crewmembers of a kidnapped ship who just happen to get beamed aboard in time to save the day. Vorin had asked her about it, so she made a note to look around in the sites again.:: If you like writing, that is.

Vossti: The rest of the crew have been mostly friendly. I probably just caught Lieutenant Namura at a bad time; I’ll likely have some more opportunities to get her to warm up to me in the near future.  ::quietly:: I hope.

Fortune: You will! She’s very kind, I assure you. Perhaps strict when on the job, but you can be assured she’s very good at what she does.

Vossti: Oh, I have no doubt of that. It’s just that, well, at medical school, you can sort of tell  ::she tapped her temple with one finger:: that some of the best doctors are just, I don’t know, cold … ~~on the inside~~.

Fortune: How has your week gone, then? With sleeping, that is? Did you find it easier to fall asleep or harder?

Vossti: I think it’s been just about the same. I got one decent night’s sleep -- well, a few good hours anyway -- the night after my lunch with Doctor Namura. I found her description of the Sto’Vo’Kor lounge to be fascinating.

Fortune: It is, she’s right. It’s quite lovely.

Vossti: I think I dreamed about the lounge. Not the real place, though. I still haven’t visited there yet. But I guess I dreamed about some idealized version of the Sto’Vo’Kor based on what she’d told me.

Fortune: Ah! The brain tends to try and fill in with what information it has when you think about things. Like, none of us know what the depths of an ocean may have, but internally we know water is blue and that it gets darker the further you travel down.

Mallora wasn’t entirely sure what the counsellor was trying to get at with that metaphor. She took another sip of her tea instead of answering directly.

Fortune: Unfortunately the brain can morph things around...then you end up swimming in jello for an hour. ::she chuckled, waving a hand.::

Vossti: I think I might be hesitant to go and visit the Sto’Vo’Kor because I’m afraid it won’t live up to the expectations -- that may not be the right word -- that I’ve built up in my imagination.

Fortune: Aww. I can understand that, but it’s quite fun! There’s pool and fun drinks...Mek is a great guy too!

Vossti:  ::smiling:: Well all I know about Mek is that he’s a Klingon and he sometimes cooks.

Fortune: I invited him to a scary holoprogram I found. We got a little lost for a bit but eventually won.

It wasn’t quite the rush she was trying to get, so she had found a few more to save to try with him again, or perhaps Loxley, if she could convince him. She did have to strike out a few containing the word Dinosaurs, however…

Fortune: So, when you do sleep, you find yourself dreaming?

Vossti: I already mentioned the one dream about the Sto’Vo’Kor. Beyond that, I don’t really remember any actual dreams. Maybe there were flashes of something -- images or impressions -- but not full dreams.

Fortune: Besides the one about the lounge, are they usually okay dreams or would you classify them as nightmares?

Vossti: I guess you’re asking about the emotional content of those small flashes I get, but I don’t think there is much emotion to them. At least not any that I can remember.

Fortune: Hmm...well, not that odd either. Some don’t feel anything towards their dreams, or they’re just confused.

Vossti: I usually wake up feeling more tired than when I went to bed. Which is why I sometimes just stay up.

Fortune: you know how many hours you’ve slept at that point?

Vossti: ::finishing off her cup of tea:: Hmm, let me think. Over the past six days, I guess I’ve really slept for … about fourteen hours or so. That one night when I dreamed about the Sto’Vo’Kor probably was five hours all by itself.

Fortune: One way to battle some parts of sleeplessness is with exercise. Some people find themselves not able to fall asleep, or sleep an hour but wake up feeling exhausted. There was a study done where a few people were asked to do light exercise, like walking around their quarters for ten minutes, or doing simple stretches, and then try and go back to sleep. Some reported that they fell asleep faster, and stayed asleep longer, than when they tried to lay in bed and fight it.

Vossti: As soon as we’re done with this shore leave, I’m going to try to find an exercise partner for the gym. Commander Neathler mentioned a “Lieutenant Sevo” as a possible partner, but I haven’t met them yet.

Ah! Ayiana. Yes, her ‘exercise’ could tire out anyone, including Corliss. She vaguely recalled catching her during a punching bag attempt. She was pretty sure she had some bruised knuckles after that one. She continued on for now.

Fortune: It could simply be that your body has too much energy versus what you’re putting out. Someone once used to exercise suddenly sitting down for 12 hours a day will definitely be out of sorts. Their body is expecting the exercise, not ‘resting’, one might say.

Vossti: I don’t know if that’s the case for me, sir. I definitely experience fatigue -- quite a lot of it -- but I just can’t manage to fall asleep usually.

Fortune: Oh yes, absolutely. It’s...well, it’s difficult to explain, that is. The body with the mind. It’s quite difficult to tackle sleep when it’s either one, or the other, or both that’s going against you.

Mallora reached over to the bowl of peanut brittle, hesitating for just a moment until she remembered that the Lieutenant had already offered it to her. She took a small piece and popped it into her mouth. The sweetness exploded there, and she smiled, her eyes rolling back in her head for a moment.

Vossti: Oh, that’s good!

Fortune: Isn’t it?! ::she couldn’t help nabbing a small piece as well, hiding a giggle.:: My mother sends them to me, or I make a little on the side. ...oh you aren’t sleeping tonight.

Vossti: I haven’t been trying to stay awake. I go to bed and lie down, but sleep just doesn’t happen.

Fortune: The Admiral likes to partake when she has lots and lots of paperwork. You can imagine. Or, she tells me that she doesn’t sleep at least. Maybe it’s the coffee that helps along with it…

Vossti: I don’t drink coffee. I’ve tried it, but it’s just too bitter for me, even when I pour in sweeteners. Tea is much more to my taste when I want a hot drink.

Mallora remembered those first tastes of coffee when she was a teenager. The look of repulsion on her face must have been extreme to inspire the other kids to laugh so raucously at her expense.

Fortune: Coffee knocks me out! I do like tea’s just a little sweet, giving a little balance to all the sugary snacks.

Vossti: I guess I had a lot of studying and homework at Med School, but I don’t think it was significantly more than at the Academy. And again, I didn’t really have any problems sleeping until I got into the Med School.

Fortune: That definitely sounds like the catalyst. I think we should start with trying to get acclimated with your new schedule. It’s only been a week, you’ve had an odd dream, but it’s still not long enough to get things rolling.

Vossti: I also haven’t started my hypothetical exercise routine yet. I should try to get to the gym within the next two or three days and see what’s there. And hopefully Lieutenant Sevo won’t be too hard on me right away.  ::she smirked, knowing that they both knew it was half-true and half sincere::

Fortune: If nothing seems to be relieved in say, another week, or things get even worse, I think you may have to try a sleep study. It could be less about med school, and more about age or genetics.

Vossti: I haven’t done a sleep study yet, but my last physical from Starbase 118 was mostly normal. A little bit of low-iron, but that’s a secondary effect of the insomnia, and I’m taking multi-vitamins to help supplement my diet.

Mallora knew her diet wasn’t the best, but she just didn’t have as much appetite as most other people her age. The vitamins she took were a bit unpleasant, but she forced herself to take them because dietary deficiencies could be hundreds of times worse.

Fortune: Some things don’t activate until a certain age, and some sleep problems fall in that category. Some also are activated by genetics, which can also fall in with age. It’s going to be hard, I’m sure, but I think if we work at it, we’ll get our answer!

Vossti: From a strictly medical standpoint, I doubt the insomnia is purely age-related. If it were, some biochemical change would have shown up on my physical exams when I went from the Academy into Med School. There was no physiological change at that time, so I suspect that the cause is something else: environmental, or psychological, or sociological, or something like that.

Mallora shrugged her shoulders. She had tried on her own to figure out what the cause of her inability to sleep might be, but the only clues she had found were the timing of when it started and the fact that there was no strictly physiological cause. If the cause was psychological, she was too close to see what it might be.

Fortune: It’s possible, that’s true, but even technology is fallible. All we have to do is try, try again. One step at a time, as they say!

Vossti: I’m really glad we’ve had this time to talk about this in an official setting. I’m still taking the Melorazine that you prescribed, but it hasn’t really helped my sleep yet. I’ll keep you up to date on my sleep-related experiences, and I guess I’ll see you again here in a week, right?

Fortune: Yep! Keep an eye on the medication, and if you need an increase-or decrease-by next week, we’ll discuss that too. I’ll send the information over to the medical side and then, that should be that! You’re free to go on next shift, so long as you feel so inclined. If you’re tired or anything, you can skip it. Counselor’s orders. ::she winked with a grin.::

Mallora stood up, hesitated, then quickly grabbed another piece of the peanut brittle. She glanced at Corliss to see if the counselor was judging her, but turned away just as swiftly. That candy was just too delicious to have only a single bite. Corliss hid a grin, chuckling softly. No one could resist the super sweet treat!

Vossti: Take care of yourself, too, sir.  ::quietly, to herself:: Damn good stuff.

She popped the second piece into her mouth, enjoying the mix of sweet flavors. She departed the Counselling Suite and back toward the nearby Main Sickbay for her next shift.