SIM:JP Lieutenant Isabel Pond & Ensign Tu'Peq - Finding Lorak
((Jirissa Gardens, Oscion))
Tu'Peq was engaged in a solitary stroll through the garden when he heard the tell-tale chirp of his combadge demand his attention.
Pond: =/\= Pond to Tu'Peq, please report to the Atlantis sickbay at your convenience. =/\=
Tu'Peq: =/\= Acknowledged, Lieutenant. =/\=
Dr Pond was stationed aboard the Atlantis. This situation appeared to be unusual to him, but surely there would be a good reason for it. The problem he was having was very personal and while he didn't think that anyone on the Blackwell would think ill of him, especially not his new friend Doctor Lux, he preferred speaking to someone further from home.
((Timeskip - Main Sickbay, USS Atlantis))
The Atlantis's sickbay was smaller than the Blackwell's but that was to be expected, as the Blackwell was, for all intents and purposes, a moving hospital in space. He spotted an officer in the teal uniform of science with two pips on her collar and assumed that this was the doctor who summoned him.
Tu'Peq: Greetings. Dr. Pond, I presume?
Pond: Very true, nice to meet you.
Isabel knew that it probably no use to wait for a sincere "nice-to-met-you-too from a Vulcan, but she'd never give up on trying.
Tu'Peq nodded in response.
Pond: Follow me into my office.
It felt quite good to ask somebody into her office. Previously, she had always just occupied the space when the CMO was not around, but now, she was the CMO and in that function main owner of the small office overlooking both the ward and the medical lab. The walk to there was far too short for any conversation, seconds later, they were at the table.
Pond: Please have a seat. Do you want something from the replicator?
Tu'Peq: Thank you, Doctor, however I am not presently in need of su= stenance.
Pond: Very well.
The Trill got herself a cup of coffee with a massive amount of sugar. To avoid critical looks from all around, Isabel had taught the replicator to accept "Cafe de Trill" as a code for coffee with far too much sugar, even though neither drink nor this particular variant was common on Trill.
Pond: I've got your message that you're seeking assistance in a delicate matter. So, what's this all about?
He shifted in his chair; if he wasn't a Vulcan, one might have gotten the erroneous impression that he was uncomfortable.
Tu'Peq: I have experienced...difficulties. With my emotions. I have always had a bit more trouble than my peers at controlling my...
Even saying the word pained him.
Tu'Peq: ...Emotions. But now, not only that, but I appear to be making...mistakes.
Isabel quickly applied her attentive listener face. A Vulcan having trouble with emotions was not your everyday case. This surely will be interesting. The Trill wished she could take notes, but in the space age, the notes are taken for you.
Pond: What do you mean by mistakes?
Tu'Peq: Well, when I was on the bridge, I seemed to see things that weren't there. For example, the Captain asked me what the status of our sensors were and not was I unable to give him a correct answer, but I apparently had "forgotten that starships only had one system of sensors and suggested that Lieutenant Thoran's, our tactical officer, sensors might be working. So as you can see, these are not simply mistakes one makes in the heat of the moment.
Pond: How do you draw the line to your emotions? Couldn't it just be that you've been on a ship before that had two sensor system. You only joined the Blackwell's crew very recently.
The doctor had not much of a clue about the technical side of sensor systems. To her, a secondary sensor array would be a reasonable thing to consider and therefore the question made kind of sense.
Tu'Peq: The Blackwell isn't just my first assignment, it is my first ship. Furthermore, upon meditation I have come to the conclusion that I know of no ship that has multiples sensor systems. The power requirements would be simply too great for a ship of any size. But that isn't what concerns me most, what concerns me most was that I looked down at my console and reported to the Captain what I saw. Yet what I saw, or rather, thought I saw, wasn't actually happening.
It was obviously hard to tell what was really going on in a Vulcan's mind. However, Isabel got a feeling that he must be nagging on that quite a bit. Mostly because she knew how much emotional problems are a big deal in Vulcan society. She began to understand why he was going out of his way to seek the advice he needed, visiting her on a different ship and all.
Pond: I see you're quite concerned. Is this the only happening of this kind, or have there been others?
Tu'Peq: Towards the end, when I was writing my dissertation at the University of Alpha Centauri, I had a similar episode where I was reading a paper that seemed to give me exactly what I needed to solve my problem, so I brought the PADD on which I was reading the paper to the board where I was working. Only, what was on the PADD was not a paper of any kind: it was a recipe for Plomeek Soup
The word episode made the Trill think of something periodical that could very well cause such anomalies.
Pond: What is your current state in the Pon Farr cycle?
Tu'Peq swallowed hard. Pon Farr was something about which Vulcans never spoke and certainly not the non-Vulcans. However, Lieutenant Pond was a doctor and she needed every last scrap of information if she was to solve his problem.
Isabel noticed the swallowing, not because it was something rare that people don't like to talk about matters concerning sexuality, she noticed it because a Vulcan showed such an obvious reaction. This surely was another piece of evidence that there might actually be something wrong and that it is not just something imaginative.
Tu'Peq: My last Pon Farr was three years ago
Pond: Alright, so we can rule out this at least concerning the recent event. Also if you say it started a couple of years ago, it isn't something caused by a recent event. Have there already been other consultations about the issue?
Tu'Peq: No, I dismissed my previous episode as being the manifestation of my own fatigue. I was working myself quite hard to finish my dissertation, you see. However, these types of...hallucination are quite similar and thus have caused me some concern.
Stress and pressure, probably paired with sleep deprivation. Isabel's favorite cause for any unexplained occurrence.
Pond: I see, you were under a lot of stress and pressure then. Was it the same this time? Maybe this is some sort of trigger for this episodes, as you call it.
Tu'Peq: Perhaps. Although, one thing that I forgot to mention was that I received a head wound and visited Doctor Lux on the Blackwell for treatment. He conducted a scan and found no signs of concussion, I don't know if that helps.
Pond: It sure does! I'll quickly pull the logs from the computer.
It was done in an instant
Pond: Were you injured before or after this incident on the bridge?
Pond: Interesting. Maybe the blow was responsible, but did not leave any permanent damage for Doctor Lux to see Did you receive the same sort of minor head trauma during your time at the university?
Tu'Peq: I did not, in fact I actually abstained from physical exercise during my time there.
Pond: Anything that could have a similar effect? Maybe some high G training or something?
The Trill had more suggestions in store which were further away from the "no exercise" rule, like a slap from an angry girlfriend or a ride at the amusement park, but as far as she knew, Vulcans had no amusement parks and did not hit each other.
Tu'Peq: Nothing that I can recall. Did that scan that Doctor Lux conducted show no signs of anomaly?
Pond: It did not, but he searched for a concussion, possibly on a very lowresolution. I would do it that way. I am already thinking of doing a more thorough scan, but it would be nice to know a little better what to search for.
Tu'Peq nodded. It seemed that what was most likely was that he didn't have something neurologically wrong with him but rather psychological. The last thing he wanted to do was speak to one of the ship's counselors about it. That was for the illogical.
Tu'Peq: I understand. I can assure you that I am giving you as detailed an account as I can
Pond: I am absolutely sure about that. Now this was your first critical encounter in Starfleet, wasn't it?
Tu'Peq: Yes, it was. I did have stressful situations in the Academy and I participated in a Suus Mahna competition in my final year. I received more than one blow to the head, though I don't recall ever experiencing one of these episodes.
Pond: Indeed, I'd say we'll set aside the concussion theory for now. But would you rate the stress in the Academy on a significantly lower level than the ones during the red alert and the dissertation pressure?
Tu'Peq: I would have to concede that, yes.
Pond: I think we're onto something there.
Tu'Peq sat forward in his chair. While no one wanted to have anything wrong with them, he would rather have something concrete that he knew was wrong with them, then going on never knowing when the next episode could happen again.
Isabel was not entirely convinced about the true nature of this problem. It surely would be the easiest way to just refer him to the counselor. However, it would be a back and forth if there was nothing on the mental side of the spectrum, so better check him through thoroughly.
Pond: It sounds like something we should be able to reproduce. Likely something physical. Please follow me over to the ICU.
Something physical. He liked the sound of that. Even in the 24th century, the Vulcans held a certain degree of stigma towards mental illness.
Tu'Peq: Certainly, Doctor
He rose from his seat and followed the doctor to the adjoining room. They walked passed the various beds in sickbay and towards the back of the room. It housed a single biobed in a cylindrical chamber. Doctor Pond gestured him towards the bed and he lay himself down flat. The panels from either side of the bed enclosed around him, making him glad that he wasn't claustrophobic.
Pond: I am running a detailed brain scan, try to move as little as possible and think about nothing.
Isabel knew it was hard to think about nothing, but usually thinking abou t how to think about nothing was "nothing" enough. Additionally, if there was a species that could think about nothing, it surely would be the Vulcans.
Tu'Peq was well practiced in meditation, doing it every night before going to sleep. He found it centred his mind and, considering his current state of duress, it would likely prove quite useful for him. He closed his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest taking a deep slow breath in through his nose and permitting it to leave out through his mouth, slowly and controlled.
Before long he was in a state of pure relaxation, floating in his own sea of tranquility.
Pond: oO Woah, that's a whole lot of nothingness. Oo
Isabel saw the entry into meditation quite clearly on the read outs. For a moment, she was almost worried about the quick decrease on nearly all measure points. However, it would make an excellent data point to compare with stored images in the database.
The whole process was taking a couple of minutes while the computer calculated averages of the fluctuating values. Even though there wasn't much fluctuating anymore. After the border of the LCARS changed from yellow to green, she knew that the scan was complete. With a press of a button, the round scanners slid back into the sides of the table.
Pond: Uhm, Ensign, do you hear me? I'd have finished now.
Tu'Peq opened his eyes, looking much calmer now than he was before. He looked over at the doctor.
Tu'Peq: Thank you, Doctor, what have you found?
Pond: I must compare the data to reference images of Vulcan brains from the database. The computer will run the program for a while, I'll call you when I get the results.
Tu'Peq: Certainly, Doctor. I will adjourn to my lab and return when you call.
He rose from the bed and adjusted his uniform jacket, exiting sickbay. His mind returned to being preoccupied by the possibility of a neurological disorder. He would have to meditate longer than usual tonight.
((Timeskip, the next day - Sickbay, USS Atlantis))
Just a day later, the results were in. Isabel had run a couple simulations to verify the computer's findings. It was a small, but rather influential anomaly the computer had found, and with her own expertise, she was able to actually find out what the anomaly caused and even a first idea how to deal with it.
Pond: Ensign Tu'Peq, thanks for coming in again. Please have a seat.
Tu'Peq simply nodded his acknowledgement and took a seat, eager to discuss the Doctor's findings.
Pond: Still don't care for something to drink?
Tu'Peq: Some tea would be agreeable, I think. Vulcan Spice Tea, perhaps?
Isabel was already halfway seated, as the request surprised her. However, she was quick on the reaction and transferred the motion into a "pushing the chair out of the way"action, which left her standing right next to the replicator. She ordered the beverage and offered it to the Vulcan, while her own cup was still half full from the last patient.
Tu'Peq grabbed the cup and took a long sip. It was a beverage that many people didn't like, on account of its taste being, as the name would suggest, spicey. But he liked it; the spice kept him on his toes.
Pond: If you don't mind, I cut right through to the main point. I have found a small anomaly in the prefrontal quaternary layer. Under the influence of catecholamines, a mutation in the genome inhibits the production of the Vulcan glucocorticoid, which is essential in the ability to redirect emotional influences. Do you follow?
Normally, Isabel wouldn't have bothered with such a scientific explanation, but Vulcans normally appreciated the details.
Tu'Peq: My father is a Professor of Neurobiology and the Vulcan Science Academy. I appreciate your thorough explanation, Doctor.
Pond: Long story short, under stress your logical thinking is not working properly. I searched through the medical journals, it doesn't seem to be a well documented condition with a specific name, however, I found a few cases which could be linked to this issue. And I think there's a surprisingly easy solution.
Tu'Peq sat back in his chair with an eyebrow raised. The problem that he had was one that he would want fixed sooner rather than later and if the solution was an easy one, so much the better.
Pond: I took inspiration of a very common Human condition called Diabetes. See, the solution to every imbalance in the hormonal economy is to bring it back into balance. Normally, the glucocorticoid is responsible for cutting back the catecholamines. However, if the very presence of the latter makes= the production of the first impossible, instead of the other way round, we have a problem. Is that the case, you can bring the level of stress hormones back with synthetical anti-stress hormones. Simulations have shown a very clear threshold between everything's working fine and the problem occurring.
Tu'Peq: Is this something that I will have to visit you for regularly?
Pond: I am sure the Blackwell's medical technicians can easily construct a pocket size device that measures your catecholamine level. It can give you a signal whenever you're close to the threshold. At that moment, you can either meditate or if that's not possible, I will prescribe you a shot of synthetic glucocorticoid.
Pond: It is very important that you only take it when you're in the danger zone, if you want to call it that way. It is highly addictive.
Tu'Peq: Yes, I understand, Doctor. I assure you that I will take it only when necessary.
Pond: I will make a note into your records, it will be a topic in your regular physical. Besides that, you don't have to change anything. I give you two phials for a hypospray. You won't be able to replicate it yourself, you'll have to consult a physician after every use.
Tu'Peq nodded, he was very glad that he would be able to solve the problem without changing his habits. The last thing he wanted to be was infirm, so if all he needed to get by was a quick hypospray when he was in trouble, then that was fine by him. The possibility of addiction didn't bother him; he was a Vulcan after all.
Pond: If you run into any issues, you can always contact me or your physician on the Blackwell. That would be all from me, do you need anything more or have any questions?
Tu'Peq: No, Doctor, I believe I have everything I need. Thank you for your time.
He got up to leave but then stopped, remembering something.
Tu'Peq: You said that this hasn't before been recorded. What shall we call it then, Doctor?
Pond: Of course that is subject to further studies in exchange with the Vulcan medical society. But I am pretty sure it's something new. My Vulcan is really subpar oOmeaning non existentOo, do you have an idea?
Tu'Peq: How about... Lorak Syndrome? Lorak is a word in archaic Vulcan. It is somewhat difficult to translate but it roughly describes the feeling that early followers of Surak felt when attempting to first control their emotions. It is a portmanteau of the word Lo'Kar, which means "longing for a state of being" and his name, Surak.
Pond: That is a very good idea. I'll surely put that into review alongside with my findings. We'll have to conduct studies of how often this genome mutation is present and how likely it is to activate and to be handed down to potential offsprings.
Tu'Peq: Of course, I hadn't considered the likelihood of it being congenital. I thank you for your time, Doctor.
Pond: No worries. Have a nice day!
Lt Isabel Pond
Chief Medical Officer