Talking about our sex and love lives while doused in blood and other people’s bodily fluids is par of our course.
When Athena and I work the same shift, we always take the opportunity to gossip and catch up on each other’s news. While everyone else is enjoying the first taste of spring in the Montreal air, it’s just another Saturday night in the emergency room for us.
“Oh my God Kiara! He’s totally going to ask you to marry him!”
I roll my eyes and wait for Athena to throw her surgical gloves into the hazardous waste trash. After she readjusts her ponytail that is now completely undone because of the chest compressions she was performing, I wait for her to throw me a new pair of scrubs after she has put on her own. Her efforts to revive her patient were for naught and even though I had come to help, the bleeding was far too fast and furious. The patient never had a chance.
“Shut up and throw me some scrubs, will you?”
I peel off the ones I’m wearing, sidestep the pool of blood creeping closer towards my feet and grab the fresh set she hands me.
This is my third scrub change in as many hours but somehow by the grace of God, my white coat is still fluid and stain free. I’m definitely on a roll today but not in a good way.
So far, I’ve been lied to by a drug addict trying to score pain medication, pooped on by a diarrhea-ridden toddler whose parents could barely vote, and ass-grabbed by a rowdy homeless man. But the crème de la crème was being called the “N” word under an old ladies’ breath. She assumed that I was the nurse and then proceeded to tell me not to touch her. When I introduced myself as the doctor, she blinked in surprise and gave me a thorough once over.
I could see the wheels spinning in her head but it wasn’t to find a politically correct way to dismiss me, it was to come up with a palatable lie. That lie came in the form of telling me that she wanted to be attended to by a “real” doctor since I looked too young to know anything. What I did know is that what looked like her broken arm wasn’t going to be examined by me.
Granted, I do look way younger than I really am but we both knew that her refusal had nothing to do with my youthful looks. If anything else, her use of the “N” word under her breath was self-explanatory. I was quick to have her sign off on her right to refuse care and be on my way to assist someone else. Little did the old battleaxe know that being a non-emergency case, she had just placed herself far back on the triage list and that once word of her attitude spread, she would reap the benefits of basic perfunctory care, not the above and beyond we pride ourselves on as care givers.
Nine hours left on my shift…
“I’m serious Kiara. I had a vision that Bruno proposed to you. And you know me and my visions.”
I scoff and roll my eyes again. “You mean those crazy visions that never come to pass? Yeah, right. If you’re not careful, I’ll send you off for evaluation one of these days,” I tease. She slaps me on the arm as we head out into the hallway.
Back in the triage area, patients are overflowing the room. Working a Saturday shift is always like being in a zoo full of people when a full moon is out. It’s crazy but the adrenaline rush of never knowing what is going to fly through the ER doors is an addictive high.
A bus load of kids from a flipped over school bus, a hit and run victim, a pregnant mother in distress…I love the challenge of taking action, thinking quick on my feet and making my patients feel better. I may not always get to the root of my own problems but at least I can usually solve theirs and send them home feeling better.
Most of my colleagues, including my boyfriend Bruno who is a cardiologist at the hospital, say that they can’t picture themselves doing anything else but practice medicine. But though I’ve never said it out loud, I can picture myself doing something else. My problem is that I don’t know what that “something else” would be. It took me almost all of med school to realize that though I excel at being a good doctor, becoming a doctor was never my dream.
I’m not living my best life and I know it. But it is what it is.
“Athena, all I said was that Bruno is acting weird lately. It could be the stress of opening up his new office but I really don’t know. On some days, he’s distant and barely talks. On other days he’s super-attentive and can’t get enough of me. How does any of that relate to a marriage proposal?”
As we make our way to the hospital cafeteria for a coffee break, I smile and individually greet the orderlies and nurses we pass. With so many hours spent within the confines of this hospital, they are all like my second family to me. When we cross paths with Mike, one of janitors in that section, he stops mid-mop to say hello.
“How’s your wife’s new job working out Mike?” I ask.
Mike’s eyebrows raise high. “Oh…It’s been a few months already and she’s loving it! Wow! You never cease to amaze me with that memory of yours Doc. How do you remember all that stuff Kiki?”
Every time any of the supporting staff call me by my first name without the “Dr.” title, Bruno’s disapproving face flashes through my mind. He hates that I don’t insist on being called “Dr.” almost as much as my folks do on the rare occasions they have appointments here.
“I try Mike. I try. Don’t work too hard now.”
I try to remember because I know what it feels like to be invisible. Remembering the little things about people are important and make them feel like they matter.
In the cafeteria, we grab coffees and muffins and head to our usual table by the window away from listening ears in case our voices carry. The hospital is a great place to work but it’s also a place where gossip abounds.
“Okay Athena, tell me why you think Bruno is going to propose?”
“Well, a few months before Oscar proposed to me, he did the same type of thing. He would get really quiet and pensive like something was weighing on his mind. Then, he would disappear without telling me where he was going. I thought that he was stepping out on me and I almost broke up with him because of it. I was so totally convinced of it that…well, I did a kind of …uh…took action.”
Athena screws up her face and gives a big sigh. Knowing her, whatever she did was epic because if you look up drama queen, you would find Athena’s face.
“I’m afraid to ask so just spill it already.” I have long forgotten about my coffee as I wait for her to dish the dirt.
“Well,” Athena lowers her voice. “Like you, my folks would have disowned me if I had moved in with Oscar without a ring on my finger. But I did have a key to his place…”
My body tenses up. I already know what Athena is going to say.
“No. You. Didn’t…Please tell me you didn’t!”
“Yes. I. Did.” Athena nods like one of those bobblehead figures on the dash of a car. “I searched Oscar’s apartment from top to bottom like the jealous bitch that I was…well, I still am…while he was at work and looked for evidence of his cheating.”
If it’s one thing I know, Bruno would never cheat on me. Besides being obsessed with working, Bruno is quite boring and it’s hard to even get him to go places on our days off.
“But of course Oscar wasn’t cheating and you didn’t find anything…”
“No, I didn’t find anything but I did comb through his browsing history on his laptop. That’s when I hit pay dirt.”
“Pay dirt?” I let out the breath that I’ve been holding in anticipation. “You’re killing me. What did you find?”
© Copyright 2019 Marquessa Matthews. All Rights Reserved
For my email subscribers, you already have the link to access Part 2 of this installment.
If you are interested in reading the rest of this installment, feel free to sign up for my email list and I’ll add you to my private folder as soon as I can (depending on the time-zone difference).