I’m enjoying “Barrayar” right now, from Lois McMaster Bujold, and I thought I’d share an excerpt. Bujold is a keen observer of human interactions, and readers with complicated medical problems might relate to some of this.
Commander Cordelia Naismith (also known as Lady Vorkosigan), a former Betan military commander, is in a doctor’s office on Barrayar. She is being checked out after a series of traumatic experiences.
Her new husband Aral Vorkosigan is regent of the planet Barrayar, a planet of intrigues and assassinations and politics gone mad. Five weeks ago, they were the victims of a poison gas attack, and the antidote that kept her alive was teratogenic. Her fetus was transferred to a Betan uterine replicator for treatment. (The uterine replicator is new technology on Barrayar; they have babies the old-fashioned way.) It is known that the baby have skeletal abnormalities if he survives, and disability of any kind is feared and despised on Barrayar.
A military coup was then attempted by an opposing faction. Cordelia narrowly escaped, heroically saving some of her people (including the five-year-old Emperor-to-be), and has been on the run for a period of time.
The doctor doesn’t have the previous medical records, so he’s starting afresh.
He shook his head and keyed up a new form on his report panel.
“I’m sorry, Lady Vorkosigan, we’ll simply have to begin at the beginning. Please bear with me. Do I understand correctly you’ve had some sort of female troubles?”
“No, most of my troubles have been with males.”
Cordelia bit her tongue.
“I had a placental transfer, let me see – three, plus – ” She had to count it up on her finger. “About five weeks ago.”
“Excuse me – a what?”
“I gave birth by surgical section. It did not go well.”
“I see. Five weeks post … partum.” He made a note. “And – what is your present complaint?”
“I don’t like Barrayar, I want to go home, my father-in-law wants to murder my baby, half my friends are running for their lives, and I can’t get ten minutes alone with my husband, whom you people are consuming before my eyes. My feet hurts, my head hurts, my soul hurts.”
It was all too complicated. The poor man just wanted something to put in his blank. Not an essay.
“Fatigue,” Cordelia managed, at last.
“Ah!” He brightened, and entered this factoid on his report panel. “Postpartum fatigue. This is normal.” He looked up and regarded her earnestly. “Have you considered starting an exercise programme, Lady Vorkosigan?”