Julie and Sarah spent the two weeks following the 'Cindy' incident, studying hard by the day and assisting in testing the 'Freeman-Fritz Method' in the evenings. The experiments were going well. The girls had been made numb in areas of their bodies that they didn't know they had! Even their gums had been anaesthetised and supposedly the nerves to selected teeth, but luckily there was no dental drill handy to check that in practice...yet!
Nothing more was said about Cindy, who had herself, been very quiet, complaining of headaches in the evening. The girls reckoned that the headaches were genuine, as Cindy was missing valuable drinking time in the students' bar.
Hugo was still wacking his credit card (amongst other things) on the Internet and Anna was still trying to work out why Cindy's Central Nervous System had fedback an unexpected response.
Jackie Graham, the University's 'Projects Administrator' was seriously pissing off both Hugo and Anna. Constantly reminding them of the 'need for results', to justify the budget. There was an agreement that if the machine was successful, the University would get a cut of the sales.
"Why don't we invite her to a demo of the machine?" Asked Hugo, in debate with Anna after an evening's testing had finished, over what to do about Jackie.
"Hugo. You know sometimes you really do show signs of hope!" Replied Anna.
"Leave it to me. I'll call her in the morning and invite her." Continued Anna, smiling.
"Jackie. Hi, it's Anna Freeman over in Anaesthetics." Said Anna, on the 'phone to Jackie the following morning.
"Hello Anna. What can I do for you? Have you got a working product for me yet?" Asked Jackie.
Anna counted to ten and kept her temper.
"Ha ha. No, not quite. Would you like to come to the lab one evening and watch a demonstration of the machine? What about next Monday? We should have fully anaesthetised our two volunteers by then, so you can view a full outing of the Freeman-Fritz Method." Suggested Anna.
"Er, OK. Next Monday. What time?" Asked Jackie, fumbling with her diary.
Anna suggested that seven-thirty would be a good time and smiled a cunning smile to herself after Jackie had accepted the invitation and the call had ended.
Hugo arrived at the lab at six o'clock that evening. Anna was already there.
"Hugo. Listen. I've invited Jackie Graham to see the machine working next Monday. We must be able to show her a fully anaesthetised patient." Said Anna.
Now of course, Anna knew that full anaesthesia was quite possible and safe, but Hugo hadn't been present during those little moments.
"We need another week Anna. You know as well as I do we need to take more measurements prior to attempting full anaesthesia." Argued Hugo.
"If we don't show that woman something working, we won't need to worry about measuring vital signs anymore, at least as far as this project is concerned." Countered Anna.
"Yes, yes. You're right. Test the machine on me. We can't ask Julie or Sarah." Suggested Hugo.
"Only you and I know how this machine works. We need to be awake whilst we're testing! I'll ask the girls when they arrive shortly." Said Anna.
Hugo reluctantly agreed. Thoughts of respiratory depression and cardiac arrest were racing through his mind.
Almost perfectly on cue, Julie and Sarah made the familiar journey through the lab doorway.
"Hello girls." Said Anna and Hugo.
Julie and Sarah reciprocated.
"Girls. Listen to me, this is important." Announced Anna.
"That damn woman, Jackie Graham, is pushing us for results. She is a pen-pusher and has no idea about medicine, or how this machine works, but, she can cause us problems with the budget if we don't appease her." Anna continued and then went on to explain that they really needed to bring the full anaesthesia test forward a week.
"You don't have to agree." Added Hugo, when Anna had finished.
"I'll do it." Said Sarah.
"And me." Said Julie.
"Thank you girls." Said Anna.
"We'll schedule it for tomorrow night." She continued.
They all agreed and continued the rest of the evening testing partial and regional anaesthesia.
Over in the her shared room in the Halls of Residence, Cindy was suffering one of her recently acquired headaches. It wasn't that her head ached, more like it buzzed. She had taken a couple of tablets and was laying on her bed, staring straight at the light hanging from the ceiling.
"That light is so fucking bright." She thought as she began to wrench herself up to go and turn it off. There was a gentle ping from the bulb and the room fell into darkness.
"Oh! Now the fucking bulb has blown." She thought, slumping back down onto the bed. She would report it in the morning, she thought as she drifted off to sleep.
Back over in the lab, the evening's testing was complete. Julie and Sarah were about to leave. A PC bleeped. Anna ran over to it.
"No!" She cursed under her breath.
On the screen was the legend, 'Code 40'.
At seven o'clock the following evening, Julie and Sarah let themselves into the lab. They were almost as nervous as they were the first time they had ever entered. Tonight was to be the first time, as far as they knew, that they were to be fully anaesthetised.
"Hello girls." Said Hugo and Anna.
There was some idle chat and then the evening's work began.
"Now. Are you two still sure that you want to go ahead with tonight's experiment." Asked Hugo, praying that they would say 'yes'.
Julie and Sarah looked at each other and then answered 'yes' in their characteristic unison.
"Julie. We're going to anaesthetise you first, so if you'd like to make yourself comfortable on your couch, please." Requested Anna.
Julie went and layed down.
"Good luck girl!" Said Sarah.
"OK Julie. We are going to send you to sleep for about five minutes. During that time, we will perform some tactile tests. We will monitor your vital signs throughout." Said Hugo.
The screen above the couch was already displaying Julie's vital signs, which were being recorded as a reference to her condition before the experiment commenced.
"They look normal." Said Anna to Hugo.
"Systolic BP is a bit high at one-seventy over seventy-five, but that must be nerves." Said Hugo.
"Is your heart pounding then girl" Teased Sarah, who's own heart was pounding.
"Shut up." Said Julie.
"OK Julie. Now close your eyes. I'm going to count backwards from ten. Are you ready." Asked Hugo.
"Yes." Came Julie's reply. She took a quick look at Sarah and then closed her eyes.
"OK Hugo." Said Anna, at the main PC.
"Ten, nine, eight, seven, si..." Hugo was interrupted.
"She's under." Said Anna.
"OK." Said Hugo, glancing at the screen above the couch. Vital signs were holding at normal.
Over in her room, Cindy was trying to do some studying. It seems that a side-effect of her headaches, was a desire to work harder and what better to read than 'Gray's Anatomy'. A must for every medical student.
Cindy had been reading and making copious notes for about thirty minutes, but now her head was buzzing. She closed her eyes and massaged her forehead.
"Oh my head!" She muttered, as she persuaded herself to stand up and go to the kitchen for some water, so that she could take something for her head.
"Where are those tablets?" Cindy mumbled.
The tablets were in a little cabinet, in the bathroom. Cindy went to get them on her way to the kitchen. Her head was buzzing, but a little less painfully than it had at other times. She turned on the light and stepped into the bathroom. Cindy reached out her right hand to open the cabinet. The door opened before she had touched it.
"Huh!" said Cindy, blinking in disbelief.
She convinced herself that the door was already open.
She reached her right hand towards the little box of tablets. It glided into her palm.
"Arrrgh!" Cindy screamed, dropped the box and ran out of the bathroom.
She didn't know what to do next. For lack of a better idea, she ran into her bedroom and just lay in the darkness. The buzzing in her head stopped shortly afterwards.
Back over in the lab. Julie was begnning to wake up.
"Julie. Julie. Are you OK?" Said Hugo, leaning over the couch.
"Yes. I'm fine. I thought you said five minutes." She said.
"You were out for nearly seven minutes." Said Anna, walking over.
"Vital signs are all OK." Said Hugo.
"What was it like Julie." Asked Sarah.
"Well, er, like nothing. Just blank. One minute Hugo was counting and then he was calling me." Said Julie.
"We did some tactile tests whilst you were asleep. Did you feel the pin-prick's?" Asked Hugo, pointing to Julie's right forearm.
"No. Nothing at all." Replied Julie.
Hugo looked at Anna.
"I think that this is going to work." He said.
Anna smiled. They decided to end that night's session and continue the next day. It would be Sarah's turn next for full anaesthesia.
Cindy was woken up by one of her room mates coming in.
"Cindy! Cindy! Are you OK?" Called Helen.
Cindy slowly emerged from her room.
"Yes. Yes thanks." She said.
"Have you had one of your heads? You must have dropped these." Said Helen, picking the tablet box up from the bathroom floor.
"Oh. Yeah. Sorry." Said Cindy. She didn't dare tell Helen what had really happened.
Julie and Sarah went to the bar, perhaps Cindy would be there tonight.
A very scared Cindy went to bed.