They call it post-traumatic stress disorder. Psychologists; they always did like their important-sounding illnesses, as if making something five syllables or couching something in pleasant syllables makes it easier to deal with. In psychology, there's nothing that sounds like "gut wound".
"So, BJ," Sydney starts, and immediately you tense up, resenting the appointment. It's unfair as well as ungrateful - Peg asked, and the army paid, and Sydney flew out to see you just because you flat-out refused to have your head examined by anyone else anymore. Everyone bent over backwards to get you the gig that you wanted.
"Sydney," you say, pleasantly enough.
"I sense some repressed hostility here, BJ," he says, and grins. "Care to elaborate?"
You get up, start pacing. "You know me," you say, and try to be honest if you can't be civil. You're the doctor; you're not supposed to be sick. He looks at you. Finally, you say, "I'm sorry, this just isn't. I mean." You run a hand through your hair. "I don't really want to be doing this."
"Then let's forget it!" he replies immediately, and slaps his hands on his thighs. It's a classic move, one of Sydney's best. He adds, "let's go to the bar. I'll buy."
You eye him. "I don't drink anymore." Finally, you sit; if Sydney is having to be this confrontational with you right away, you realize, you must really be in bad shape. He knows you don't drink anymore, just like he knows he won't forget it, even if you want to. "Fine. you want me to elaborate on repressed hostility?" Sydney watches you patiently. You bite the inside of your cheek, wishing he'd do *something*. "I don't know why I'm hostile," you mutter, and sit down. "Happy?"
"Oh, BJ," and Sydney leans forward a little bit. "Why would I be happy?"
"Aren't we supposed to be sharing?" you ask. "I'm supposed to be telling you about myself, right? To fix things?"
"BJ," he says, quite seriously, "you know what's wrong. Saying it out loud won't change that."
Psychologists have all these tricks up their sleeves to help fix you. Sydney was a big believer in pushing people as far and as fast as wasn't dangerous in order to make people feel *normal* again. He handled Hawkeye--
"They say I have some kind of post-trauma disorder," you mutter.
"They do say that," Sydney replies easily. "Do you think so?"
you pause. "I don't know why I would," you say.
Sydney looks at you with sympathy, and tilts his head. Peg refuses to sleep in the same room as you anymore, because of the nightmares. The hospital put you on leave because twice in the operating room you froze up, unable to even cut into the patient much less close them. You never cracked over there, why should San Francisco be any different?
"--the best sometimes can't deal with the pressure," Sydney is saying. "Some of our closest friends couldn't handle it, remember," he says, and you swallow; you'd rather not be reminded of that.
"That's just it," you say finally. "There isn't any pressure here," and that's it in a nutshell. Everything and everyone in San Francisco makes sense, is calm, is rational, is easy. There are no thirty hour shifts, there are no bed bugs, there are no maniacs. Even the hospital emergency room is a piece of cake. The hardest part is looking at someone's face and realizing you may actually get to talk to them for more than five minutes before they're evac'ed out to Seoul.
"You choked in the operating room, BJ," Sydney says quietly. "Why?"
You look down at your shoes - sandals. "It was the multiple gunshot wound, I think," you say. "I don't know."
"Maybe the emergency room isn't for you," he offers.
"it's not that," you say, and stand. You made Sydney come because there is only one other person in the world you could tell this to and he's on the other side of the continent, and you won't call him and ask him how to deal with this. It won't help either of you if you're both sick. "It's," you start, and then, "you're going to think this is stupid."
"Probably not," Sydney says. "Remember, I met Frank Burns."
"Ferret-face," you say with a grin. "Now there was a nutball."
"BJ--" Sydney begins, and you blurt,
"there aren't any helicopters here."
You figured out what it was that was triggering the panic attacks last week, when you were standing in a store, and on the radio came the sound of the rotors and suddenly you couldn't move. you've heard mortar fire on the news reels, you've listened to gunshots and were fine, but the sound of a helicopter made the adrenaline pump and your body tense up as if it were back in Korea. In the ER, you were constantly waiting for that sound, but it never came.
Sydney watches you for a long moment. You grin; "funny, huh? I wait till I get home to go crazy."
"It's not crazy," Sydney responds. "The army did this. It's a trained reaction."
"A post-trauma disorder," you say.
"No," Sydney says. "a gut wound."