Resting in the Arms
By Ainsley Wallace
"Dr. Elliot, please," Kim said, the phone jammed between her neck and shoulder. She wrote down treatment orders for a new admission while she waited for Nancy's office extension to ring.
"Nancy Elliot," a voice said.
"Hey, Nance, it's me, I'm phoning to check up on you. Is this a good time?"
"Yeah, sure, I'm sitting here in my bathing suit with a pina colada, just watching the waves come in."
Kim chuckled. "I meant more like, are you with a patient, but I know it's hard for you to speak two consecutive sentences without being a smartass."
"Hey, how are you, sweetie? You sound worse than me and I'm on medication."
Kim shifted the phone and sat back in her chair until it squeaked dangerously. "I'm fine, just tired, I think. That and I just went ten rounds with a resident who I thought was going to clock me."
"Sounds like a good day."
"Yeah, well, what can you do?" Kim sat up and took the receiver in her hand. "Anyway, I won't keep you long, I just wanted to talk to you, see where you're at."
"I have a 24 hour a day headache from that goddamned Effexor but I might be starting to feel it work. And I slept last night, more than I have in a while."
"Well that's good," Kim said. "How's your mood?"
"I'm still crying a lot. Feeling totally overwhelmed and despondent. But somehow, I'm getting through the day."
Kim drew boxes on a blank notepad. "This is the part where I say that you shouldn't be working, in fact should be taking it easy someplace and you blow me off."
Nancy laughed. "Well, at least we're saving time, aren't we?"
Kim smiled, in spite of herself. "You sound a little better today. Am I off base?"
There was a pause. "Maybe a bit better."
"Okay," Kim said, "well, look, I've got to go. I've got a session in ten minutes but I wanted to confirm that I'm going to see you in person tomorrow around five o'clock."
"I'll be there," Nancy said.
"Any suicidal thoughts you want to tell me about?"
Kim heard a soft laugh. "None. I told you I'd call if I did."
"All right, see you tomorrow Kim."
"Say hi to Craig. Bye."
Kim dragged herself up the last flight of stairs and pushed open the heavy metal door to the roof. The air smelled faintly of fall and mainly of city, but she pulled in a lungful as if it was actually fresh. Some days, it just got to her, that pervasive smell of steamed cafeteria meals and disinfectant. This was one of them.
She let the door bang behind her and she stretched her back and neck and looked at the sky. The sun was setting and the clouds were thickening. Rain tonight.
She should be pleased, really, and she knew it. She might very well have just presided at the first breakthrough in communication that had ever happened in the Lynch family. It had been a tense hour with Major Dad sitting ramrod straight in his chair, arms crossed over his barrel of a chest, refusing to speak. But, as she'd suspected, it was actually Mrs. Lynch who made things happen in this family unit -- in quiet and subtle ways, but make them happen she did. As Kim had watched, Michael's mom had worn the old man down like a trickle of water working over a stone face. It took time, but there was a beginning of some sort made before their time had concluded -- at least the expectation that they should all sit down and talk some more. Kim had watched and listened to Mrs. Lynch, whose first name had turned out to be Audrey, and she had thought about the Grand Canyon and how a little bit of force applied over a very long period of time can transform things. Even really big things.
She turned and ambled along the wall towards the side of the building where, on excruciatingly clear February days you could sometimes see the lake, only to find her favourite vantage spot occupied by someone in nurse's scrubs.
"Hey, Dr. Legaspi," Abby said. "I didn't know you came up here."
"Only when I'm thinking of jumping," Kim said and it took Abby a moment to realize she was joking.
Kim leaned her forearms on the wall and looked at the traffic that was knotted into rush hour. Abby held her pack of cigarettes up to Kim.
"No, thanks," Kim said.
"Oh," Abby said, putting them down again. "You don't smoke."
Kim chuckled. "Not today. But ask me again tomorrow."
"A whole run of them, actually."
"Never mind Malucci or what he said about Dr. Weaver," Abby said blowing out a thin stream of smoke. "I don't think he even knew what he was saying."
Kim nodded, watched clouds skidding across the horizon. "He was upset." A thought struck her and she turned to face the tiny nurse. "Abby, do people talk about us? I mean, about Kerry and me? Are we -- I don't know -- still grist for the gossip mill?"
Abby took a drag on her cigarette and cast a glance down at the traffic. "Don't bother yourself with it. People are like that. They talk."
Kim smiled at Abby's discretion. "What do they say when they talk?"
An uninvited smile blossomed on Abby's lips. "Randi thinks you make a cute couple."
Kim laughed out loud and then realized how long it had been since she'd done that. "A cute couple. Well," Kim said. "That's something." She studied the tiny brunette. "Do they say anything else?"
Abby took a final pull on her cigarette and stubbed it out in the cinders. "A lot of the time I just walk away, to be honest. I've got enough on my own plate, I don't need to listen to other people's stuff, you know?" She stuck her hands in the pockets of her smock. "But I can tell you this. Ever since you and Dr. Weaver have gotten together -- I've never seen her happier." She smiled shyly. "You must be good for each other."
Kim stood there turning this over in her mind until her beeper jolted her out of her reverie. She peered at the readout. "Of course, the ER. Haven't been there in, oh, almost an hour."
Abby chuckled and they fell in step as they headed towards the door to the stairs.
Kerry met her a few steps from the elevator. "It's Alice," she said, quickly leading the way to the exam room where the tortured schizophrenic woman waited. "She broke a window at a diner downtown, cut herself pretty badly. One of the cops recognized her from his beat and had them bring her here." Kerry's face was tight with worry. "She's very agitated," she said as she opened the door. "We haven't even been able to get her into restraints."
The door slid open and Kim heard Alice's mournful cries and another, slightly accented voice speaking soothingly. Kim slipped in and walked directly into two large policemen who were blocking the door.
"Excuse me," she said and she pushed her way between them before they could react, only to find Alice, hands dripping with blood, in full psychotic tilt, handcuffed by one arm to a gurney that she was managing to drag around the room, a few feet at a time. Chuny, bless her soul, was staying just out of arm's reach, shadowing her, trying to calm her down and keep her away from trays of instruments and other sorts of projectiles.
A blood pressure cuff flew at the two beefy cops, who ducked a little.
"Who the hell told you to put handcuffs on her?" Kim said, turning slightly to face the cops, while keeping an eye on the woman with the hockey helmet.
"Well, the nurse said she couldn't get the restraints on her, so we thought ."
'You thought," Kim repeated. "Yeah, well, I doubt that. She's a paranoid schizophrenic. Do you have any idea what being handcuffed must do to her?"
Both cops looked at her. "Well, geez, we're sorry, we didn't know."
Kim sighed and pulled herself back to the point. "Well, it's done now, so let's just get her out of the cuffs so we can calm her down."
A pair of bed pans hurtled across the room, slammed into the windows and crashed to the floor.
One of the men was fiddling with a pocket on his belt. "Do you want me to do it?" he asked.
"No," Kim said quickly. "She doesn't know you, it'll just freak her out. Give me the keys, I'll do it."
The two cops glanced at each other, both shrugged, and the cop gave her the keys.
"Can you guys wait outside, please?" Kim said. "The fewer people in here, the better." She waited while the two men exited, then she motioned to Chuny. A cart overturned, skidded along the floor briefly.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Legaspi, they had the handcuffs on her before I could stop them and then I couldn't get close enough to her to get them off."
"It's not your fault, Chuny, Alice is a handful," Kim said. "I'm going to try to get the cuff off her and hopefully she'll calm down a bit. If that doesn't work, we may have to sedate her first and then deal with the cuts."
"Okay," Chuny said, nodding. "What do you want me to do?"
A tray of instruments slammed into the wall above and to the right of Kim's head. Both women winced.
"Five migs of Droperidol and four of lorazipam," Kim said. "We've got to get her off the ceiling."
Chuny slipped out of the room and a moment later, Kerry slipped in. She glanced at Alice who was sobbing violently, saw the handcuff keys in Kim's hand then looked at Kim.
"Are you sure?" Kerry asked.
Kim nodded, her eyes on Alice. "We have to calm her down," she said.
Kerry bit her lip. "Be careful."
Kim smiled a little, never taking her eyes off the woman handcuffed to the bed. "I always am," she said.
Kim took a small step forward. "Alice," she said. gently. "It's Dr. Legaspi. I'm here now, Alice and everything's going to be okay. I'm not going to let anybody hurt you."
Alice sobbed on, tethered to the rail of the gurney, howling in pain or in shame, Kim wasn't sure which.
She moved very slowly forward. "I need to come over closer to you, Alice because I have the keys to unlock the handcuff. We don't want you handcuffed and I'm going to unlock them, okay?"
"They're going to kill me!" Alice shrieked and Kim saw that she had a bloody handprint on her battered white hockey helmet. "I'm trapped here! I'm trapped! And they're coming!"
Kim made it to the opposite end of the gurney, keys in one hand, the other raised slightly as if to calm the crying woman. "I know you're scared, Alice. I know you're really scared right now. And I want to help you, okay? I want to help to protect you."
Another small step. "Will you let me? Can you let me unlock your handcuff?"
Kim heard the door open and heard the cadence of Chuny's footsteps. She edged towards Alice, saw that she was almost within range of touching the cuffs. And now there were three of them to gently get her into restraints if Kim struck out with this approach.
"Alice," Kim said. "You have to trust me now, okay? I'm going to unlock the handcuff now. And then you and I can talk."
Alice's sobs were leveling out and although she was pulling her body as far away from Kim as she could, Kim thought she could detect the slightest nod. She closed the last bit of distance and grasped the handcuff that held her to the bed. She fiddled with the small keys, glanced at Alice's face again, then down at the lock. How the hell did these things work, anyway?
"Dr. Legaspi!" An urgent young male voice from the door.
Kim lifted her head. And saw the helmet coming at her a moment too late.
She saw stars as she stumbled backwards, bright cartoon stars that rushed towards her. Meteor showers, right there behind her eyelids, which would have been pretty in an odd sort of way, had it not been for the crunching sound her nose had made and the thudding pain in her skull when her head hit the floor.
She was dazed for a moment, the world reduced to a tangle of legs and a crutch, Kerry's voice hollering to Chuny to administer the drugs, Alice screaming and screaming because she didn't like blood, it frightened her and Kim's nose throbbed, tears sprang to her eyes and she decided that she must have one hell of a nosebleed.
And then it was much quieter, Alice having been sedated and laid to rest on the gurney to which she was attached. Kerry and Chuny's faces were hovering over her and Kerry was calling for a stretcher.
"I don't need a stretcher," Kim said and she pulled herself into a sitting position, felt blood start to trickle down over her lips and chin. She tried to look down at herself, saw the dark blots on her blouse and sighed. "Aw, dammit. This one was new."
"Kim, don't move, I need to check you out," Kerry said and in the tiny part of Kim's mind that was still a little stunned from the blow, she wanted to giggle at the fact that she was sitting on the floor of an exam room in the ER, and her lover, the formerly very closeted Kerry Weaver, was running her hands all over her body, checking for injuries.
"Uh, Dr. Legaspi," and it was that boy's voice again.
She looked up and saw one of the newer orderlies from the psych floor with a clipboard and a pen. She looked at him, puzzled.
"I need to get your signature on this," he said and he held the clipboard out towards her.
Kerry pushed him out of the way to look at the back of Kim's head, feel around for a bump.
"What --?" Kim said.
"It's for your patient, Michael Lynch. His parents want to take him out to dinner tonight and they need you to sign the form to let him leave the hospital."
"Jesus Christ," Kerry snapped. "You barged in here to ask her that?" The young man retreated a step or two, alternating between staring at Kim's blood spattered face and watching Kerry cautiously.
Kim sighed and tried to focus on the form in front of her. Two drips of blood landed with a splat on the form before she managed to sign it.
"Here," she said and she handed it back to him.
"Thanks," he mumbled and he disappeared from the room with great speed.
Chuny was suddenly holding ice and she had gauze to soak up the blood still dribbling down Kim's face.
"Okay, let's get a wheelchair, Chuny, and get her to an exam room. I need to do a neurological exam."
Chuny nodded and stood up.
"You are not putting me in a wheelchair, Kerry," Kim said and she struggled to get to her feet.
"Kim, you might have a concussion," Kerry said. "If you're not stable on your feet--"
"Oh for heaven's sake, I have a nosebleed, that's all. I can walk."
Chuny, not forgetting for a moment who ran the ER, waited for the nod from Kerry before they both took hold of Kim's arms and helped her to stand. She swayed for a moment and then righted herself and Kerry could see the shiner already starting to form under her right eye.
"Chuny, would you set her up in Exam 1, please. I'm just going to check Alice's cuts and then call up to psych to have her admitted."
Chuny nodded and took Kim's arm. Kerry watched them walk out of the room, Kim's head tilted at a strange angle, little blots of blood trailing along behind them.
"Kim, you have to have a CT scan. Or at least an x-ray," Kerry said, adjusting the cotton wadding that was stuffed in Kim's nostril.
"No, I don't, Kerry, I told you, it's not broken."
"You don't know that."
"Yes, I do."
Kerry gave her a look.
"I do," Kim insisted. "It's my nose. I should know."
"You should still have an x-ray,' Kerry said. "It might be broken."
"It's not broken."
"You don't know that."
"I do know that. I broke it when I was in high school. I know what a broken nose feels like and this isn't broken."
Kerry lifted Kim's hand which held the ice pack, peeked at the swelling and regarded her beautiful partner with a half smile. "High school, huh? How did you do that?"
"Playing field hockey," Kim said, somewhat reluctantly.
Kerry's eyebrows shot up. "You played field hockey?"
"Yes -- and why do you say it like that? What's wrong with field hockey?"
Kerry blinked. "Well, nothing, I suppose. It's just that it sounds well, a little barbaric."
Kim gave her a half-hearted glare. "I was pretty good at it, actually."
Kerry nodded. "Except for the broken nose?"
"That wasn't my fault."
"It wasn't. It was Mary Ellen Giamaria's fault. She played defense for St. Anthony's and in the last game of the season in my junior year, I was setting up to take a shot which very likely would have been the winning goal of the game and she swung her hockey stick at me."
Kerry looked at Kim, her mouth slightly open. "She just swung it at you?"
"At your face? She swung her hockey stick at your face?"
Kim sighed. "She was pretty competitive."
Kerry stared at the blonde woman with the ice pack on her face, struggling to find something to say about the incident that didn't involve repeating the word barbaric. She couldn't, so she retreated to familiar ground.
"I think you should go home," Kerry said. "Your shift is almost over."
"Carl's already been down to talk to me," Kim said, "so save your breath. I'm not going to see patients for the rest of the day. But I am really backlogged on paperwork, so I think I'll spend some time digging out from that." Kerry's look was one of concern. "Really, I'm okay, Ker. I promise," she said. "Nothing that some Advil won't take care of."
"You're going to have a shiner you know," Kerry said.
Kim touched her cheekbone gingerly and winced. "Yeah, I thought I might." She replaced the ice bag. "Any word on Alice?"
"Carl took care of everything," Kerry said. "She's been admitted and Carter sewed up her cuts. They weren't too bad."
Kim nodded but Kerry saw the sadness creeping into her eyes.
"Go home," Kerry said again.
Kim shook her head. "But can I keep the ice pack for a while?"
Kerry chuckled. "It's yours."
The Advil had helped with the headache at least and if she sat very still and didn't move her head around too much, she almost felt normal.
For a while, anyway.
She leaned her head back against the wall and stretched her long legs out before her, crossing them at the ankles. The bump on the back of her head was mercifully small and the ice had kept the worst of the swelling down and, as for the black eye, it added character, she thought.
She sighed and decided to stop trying to talk herself out of the pain. When she was done here, she'd call Kerry and ask her to bring home some Tylenol 3's so that she could get some sleep tonight.
The gleaming door at the end of the waiting room opened and Charlotte emerged. "Mon Dieu et tous les saints!" she gasped when she saw Kim. "What on earth happened to you, chérie?"
Kim rose and tried to smile. "An unfortunate bit of timing with a patient." She shrugged self-consciously. "I'm okay. It looks worse than it is."
Charlotte's sharp gaze pinned her in place for a moment and Kim knew that she wasn't buying any of it.
"I have the thing," the little woman said and she turned on her heel and strode into her office, Kim following along, closing the door. Charlotte opened a cupboard that revealed an impressive little bar and in a moment, she was handing Kim a glass of Campari on ice and ushering her into the comfortable wingback chair. Charlotte sat herself down on the edge of the sofa, took a healthy draft of her drink and then fixed her eyes on Kim again.
"You are in pain?"
"A little," Kim said. "I'm going to take something for it when I get home."
A pause while Charlotte studied her. "And yet, still you come to me today. The things we discuss, they are very important to you, are they not?"
Kim's brow wrinkled in thought and she immediately winced. "I guess they are," she said finally. "I never even considered not coming."
A nod and Charlotte smoothed her skirt. "Because still you are worried that you are helping no one. That your efforts are in vain." She leaned forward and smiled slyly at her. "That perhaps there is no healing."
Kim's grip tightened on her glass at Charlotte's last sentence. "I don't want to think that, Charlotte. I don't know how I would go on if I didn't think that it was at least possible to --"
"Chérie, what is it that your patients want from you?"
Kim screeched to a halt. "I'm not sure what you mean."
"Ah, but that is the thing, is it not? How often to do we stop to ask ourselves what our patients want?"
Kim looked at the small woman, sitting there on her sofa smiling like some sort of French Cheshire cat and she wondered why she had come, after all. "They want to get better," she said, after a moment. "They want to stop suffering. They want to be healed, to be whole again."
"And you, the priestess of the Great God Pharmaceutica, you can give them that?"
Kim hesitated. "Well, no," she said. "I mean, yes, I can, sometimes. Sometimes I can prescribe drugs that can help them, but that's not all I do. I talk to them and listen to them, I organize support for them outside of the hospital." Kim's voice trailed off.
"But do you really hear what they are asking you for?"
Kim stared at the older woman, a questioning look on her face.
Charlotte took a sip of the bright red Campari and sat back a little. "It is so easy, you know, to be a doctor of the ER. You come in and you say to the patient, 'What can I do for you?' The patient is holding his arm, which is bleeding and the patient says, 'My arm is bleeding and it hurts. Please fix this and make me feel better.'" Charlotte leaned forward, arms on her tiny knees. "And so it is clear what is the mandate, is it not? Clean up the wound, disinfect it, bandage it and manage the pain. So simple. So straightforward." Her eyes burned into Kim's. "But in psychiatry, it is not so simple or straightforward."
Kim sipped her drink and considered what Charlotte had said. "Maybe not."
"In psychiatry, we must listen to the patient with our eyes and with our hearts, as I told you last week. Especially with our hearts. And only then will the patient tell you what they want. What they need."
Charlotte leaned back again, considered her drink and smiled a nurturing, motherly smile at Kim. "I will demonstrate this important technique now, by asking you, Kim, what is it that you want? What is it that you need?"
Kim sat motionless in the big wingback chair, her own voice echoing hollowly in side of her. Tears were a breath away when she spoke. "I don't know anymore, Charlotte."
Charlotte studied her face some more and Kim thought she saw a slight softening.
"Eh, bien," Charlotte said. "I will ask another question. Your last relationship, the one before the beautiful and talented ER doctor, how long did it last?"
Kim blinked, her head almost spinning from the change in direction. "Uh, almost two years, I think."
"And the one before her?"
Kim eyed her carefully. "A year and a half, but we didn't break up because of --"
Charlotte held up a tiny hand to silence her. "It is no difference why you parted. I am interested in, shall we say, the life span of the relationships." She quizzed her all the way back to her first year in college when she'd had her first sexual encounter with a woman. The longest was just over two years.
"Why are you asking me this, Charlotte? I don't see why this is relevant," Kim said.
"It is not only relevant, chérie, it is the point. Do you not see how you are running away, time after time, fleeing some intimacy that scares you?"
Kim's grip on her drink tightened and she sat up straighter. "Charlotte, that's not true -- you know that I'm not afraid of intimacy. And anyway, we're talking about six or seven different relationships here. The dynamics in each of them was different."
"Ah, but you were always the same."
Kim stared at her and tried to process her words. Was there some door deep within herself that she was trying to avoid opening? Some fear that she wasn't ready to drag into the light of day?
Why had she been thinking so much about losing Kerry lately?
She leveled Charlotte in her sights. "You think I'm going to do it again. You think I'm going to run away from Kerry like I've run away from all the others."
Charlotte's gaze fell coyly to her drink for a moment. "I am not a psychic, chérie. I do not predict the future." She took a ladylike sip of her Campari. "I am rather more an archaeologist, who sifts through the past and tries to learn."
Kim blew out a frustrated sigh. "I'm not going to do anything to jeopardize my relationship with Kerry," she said. "She's different. She's she's my soul mate." Kim suddenly shook her head fiercely, which made her nose and forehead throb a little. "And anyway, I didn't come to see you about Kerry, Charlotte. That's not the problem. I came to see you about work, about the sense of futility that I have."
"You worry that you are helping no one," Charlotte said, "that there is no healing."
"I remember we had this conversation not long before you finished your residency, do you recall?"
Kim nodded. "I felt so overwhelmed. I was near the end of my formal training, yet I didn't feel that I'd really learned enough to be able to practice unsupervised." She shook her head at the memory. "And I'd had some runs of pretty hard patients. Some people who were very sick."
"And do you recall what I said at the time?" Charlotte asked.
Kim chuckled. As if she could forget a single word that this formidable woman ever uttered. "You said that we all had to just do the best we could and try to live to see another day so that we could help a little more."
Charlotte nodded, a pleased smiled in place. "I am encouraged that you remember, but I wonder why you have only learned half of what I said."
Kim started to replay the words in her head, searching for the answer to this newest riddle, but Charlotte was going on.
"Healing is not ours to give, Kim," she said. "It is not some sleight of hand we perform, not some great favour we bestow. Healing can only come from God."
Kim's smile was weary. "And what if you don't believe in God?"
"Oh, that does not bother God very much," the little woman said with a mischievous smile. "He can still use you quite capably to His ends."
Kim ran a hand across her forehead. "Charlotte, I don't know if that --"
"You have always had such a light in you, Kim," Charlotte said and she was looking at Kim with such intensity that Kim wanted to squirm in her chair. "The first time you came through that door, so many years ago, I saw it. And I knew that you would be a brilliant psychiatrist, the very best kind of psychiatrist, if you simply nurtured and protected that light. If you didn't let it grow dim."
Kim's protest died slowly on her lips and she found herself searching the recesses of her mind for an association, some link that was just outside the illuminated circle.
"It's that light that attracts people to you, especially those who are ill or who are suffering. It's that light that lets you calm them by your simple presence." Kim thought suddenly of Kerry, sitting with that old woman last week, the one from Zimbabwe and they had both glowed, somehow. Kerry had that light too, Kim thought and suddenly it clicked into place, the darkness cleared in her head. Kerry had it too and it made her a great doctor. It also made her so attractive, so charismatic, so desirable. It was also what had made Kim go out of her way to spend time in the ER and engineer ways to bump into her, meet up with her, just spend time in her presence. Kim had been drawn to Kerry in a way she hadn't ever been able to describe.
"You can call it God, or chi, or life force or electromagnetic energy or any damned thing you like," Charlotte said. "But it shines in you, chérie, and whether it was a gift from the fates or simply a happy connection of genes, you must take care of it."
Kim felt the hot tears rise in the back of her throat and she had to take a breath to steady her voice. "But that's just the problem, Charlotte," she said. "I'm the one with this light. I'm the one who's supposed to be strong, who's supposed to help everyone else heal." She struggled and a fat tear escaped her blackened eye.
Charlotte smiled a sympathetic smile at her and reached over and touched her leg. "What is that expression they say?" She searched for a moment and then nodded. "Old habits, they die hard, no?"
Kim chuckled through her tears.
Apparently they did.
Kerry made her way through the kitchen towards the living room, following the thin sound of television laughter. The lights were off and the room glowed a flickering blue. Kim was lying on the couch, her head propped up by several pillows, a facecloth draped over her eyes.
"Hey," Kerry said softly, approaching the sofa.
"Oh, hey," Kim said, pulling the facecloth off and sitting up. "I'm sorry, I didn't hear you come in."
"I was quiet," Kerry said, seating herself on the edge of the coffee table. "I thought you might be asleep."
Kim shook her head. "No. Although I remember now why I never watch television."
"How does your face feel?" Kerry asked, studying the swelling and bruising.
Kim shrugged. "It's kind of sore, but it's manageable." She reached out and took Kerry's hand. "How was the rest of your shift?"
"All right," Kerry replied. "But really busy. I never had a chance to stop for any supper and I'm starving." Kerry ran a hand through Kim's hair, tucked the out of control curls back behind one ear. "I wondered if you'd maybe want to order a pizza. We could called Freddy's and get that vegetarian one you like with artichokes and everything. What do you think?"
Kim smiled and studied Kerry's earnest green eyes. "That sounds great," she said.
Kerry nodded and got up to look for the portable phone. "Oh," she said, "I brought you some Tylenol 3's for the pain. They're in my coat. I'll bring you them in a minute."
Kim watched Kerry crutch her way into the kitchen, yellow pages in one hand, phone under her arm and she called out, "Hey, Ker?"
Kerry turned, a question on her face.
"You're not hungry at all, are you? This is really about the fact that I didn't have any dinner," Kim said, with a smile. "Right?"
Kerry pursed her lips and tried not to look guilty while she thought. "No," she said, "I am a little hungry." She disappeared to get Kim's painkillers.
Kim laid back in the pillows and wondered why she suddenly felt like crying.
By the time she'd gotten to the hospital the next morning, Kim had quickly discovered that the world was made up of two categories -- the whisperers and the gawkers. You encountered the whisperers most often in elevators or at pedestrian cross walks, or at the newsstand. They would look, look again with wide eyes and then pretend never to have looked at all by burying their face in their newspaper or their briefcase, all the while trying to quietly get the attention of their companions so that they could point out the woman with the black eye and slightly swollen nose.
She'd heard "Why doesn't she just leave him?" whispered more than once as she'd passed by.
Truth be told, the gawkers were easier to manage. Except for the young man at her regular Starbucks who, until today, upon seeing her come through the door would always shout out "Double tall non fat vanilla latte for the shrink!" This morning, he'd taken one look at her discoloured eye and swollen nose and gaped. Four tries later he still couldn't record Kim's order in the cash register and she was considering coming around and helping him with the buttons.
Other than that, she'd coped. People generally gave her a wide berth on the ward and no one was even stopping her to ask what had happened, which confirmed what she thought about the hospital grapevine -- it moved much faster than the elevators.
She keyed her way into the locked ward and there was Ben, sitting at the nurse's desk, his hands folded behind his head, grinning at her.
"Don't even," she said, and she put down the small CD player she held and picked up the sign-in clipboard.
"I didn't say a thing," he said, eyes wide with feigned innocence. "You here to see Alice?"
"Yeah," Kim said, looking up. "Why?"
He shrugged. "I just wondered if you were looking for a shiner on the other side, you know to balance it out." A grin escaped him and the quickly tamped it down again.
Kim tossed the pen onto the counter and collected her CD player. "What a funny guy," she said with a sharp smile.
"Aw, I'm just kidding you, doc. I think it makes you look dangerous."
Kim stopped outside of Alice's door and waited for Ben to unlock it. "Yeah that was just the look I was going for," she said. "Dangerous."
Alice's room was still and at first Kim thought she might be awake, but then she noticed her eyes: dull, fixed, staring. A pang of sadness ripped through her and Kim moved closer, pulled the only chair in the room near to Alice's bedside and sat down.
"Alice," she said softly and there was no change in the lifeless eyes. "Alice, it's Dr. Legaspi. I'm here with you."
Kim reached out and touched Alice's hand which had been bound by a wide leather restraint to the side of the bed. Her hand was cool and remarkably soft for someone who lived outdoors as much as she did. Kim looked down at Alice's hand. It was a muscular, disciplined hand and Kim could imagine it holding a bow or dancing delicately up and down the neck of a cello.
"Alice, I brought something for you," Kim said quietly. "Something for you to listen to." She put the small CD player down on the floor near Alice's bed and plugged it in, then pressed play. A faint hiss and suddenly the room was infused with the sound of a solitary cello, mournful and joyous, exalting and despairing.
"It's Bach's Six Suites for Solo Cello," Kim said, glancing at the jewel case. "And the cellist is Yo-Yo Ma." She glanced over at the prone woman and chuckled self-consiously. "But I bet you already knew that, didn't you?"
Kim sat back down on the small wooden chair, leaned her elbows on Alice's bed, and let herself be transported by the music. When the prelude to the first suite ended, Kim opened her eyes and looked at Alice. The woman's eyes had relaxed somehow and she blinked lazily from time to time, nodding her head oh so slightly as she conducted the music.
Kim smiled and sat back in her chair.
"Dr. Legaspi, they need you in the ER," the voice on the telephone said.
Kim peered at her beeper. "Nobody paged me," she said.
"I realize that, but there's some sort of mix-up going on down there and there's no one else who can go."
Kim's brow furrowed. "Well of course not, I'm the one who's supposed to be covering the ER."
A sigh on the other end and Kim decided there was no need to shoot the messenger. "Okay, thanks, I'm on my way."
She was there in less than two minutes, having cruised onto an elevator right away. She headed straight for the admit desk to find out what was going on.
"Randi, did you page psych for something?" she asked as soon as she could catch her eye.
"Oh, geez. Dr. Legaspi," Randi said and she stared at Kim.
Kim ducked her head a little to prompt a response from the desk clerk. "Yeah, hi. Did you try to page me?"
"You know, I have some foundation and concealer in the lounge," Randi said. "I could fix that right up for you." She chewed and snapped. "Or at least, you know, disguise it a little bit."
Kim shook her head. "No, that's fine, Randi, thanks anyway." She put her clipboard down on the counter and leaned both elbows on it. "Was I or was I not supposed to be paged?"
Randi continued to stare, a little distracted by the ringing phone she wasn't picking up. "Yes," she said.
"Yes?" Kim repeated. "Yes what?"
Deer in the headlights and Kim could see her thinking furiously.
"Randi," she said and it was subtly threatening.
"You weren't supposed to be paged but apparently you're here." She handed her a chart.
"Why wasn't I supposed to be paged? I'm covering the ER today." Kim said.
Randi threw up her hands and started backing away. "I was just taking orders," she said, "I do as I'm told. And anyway, I'm not getting in the middle of this. Ask her."
Randi fled before Kim could ask who 'her' was, but judging by the desk clerk's reaction, there wasn't really any need to ask. Kim scooped up the chart and her clipboard and set off to find Kerry.
"Mrs. Einhorn, I'm finding it hard to believe that your injuries are a result of falling down the stairs," Kim said, gently.
Mrs. Einhorn, a woman in her early thirties, sat there on the edge of the bed, wearing a hospital gown, trying not to tremble.
"It's especially hard to believe when I see that you've been treated no less than six times in the past year at this hospital and two others for injuries just like this." Kim looked at her, tried to draw those haunted eyes out. "Can you see why I find it hard to believe?"
She nodded abruptly and forced herself to laugh a little. "Well, Rob does say that I'm so clumsy," she said. "I guess he's right."
Kim sat there looking at the woman and trying not to shake her head. There had to be something that would shake her out of this. At least she'd figured out why Kerry hadn't wanted to pass this case to her, not after last week's series of tragic events. But why did ER Chief Weaver's policy of 'get-back-up-on-that-horse' not apply to her, she wondered? She'd wanted to ask her, had planned on pinning her to a wall actually, but Kerry had been up to her elbows, quite literally, in a trauma and Kim hadn't wanted to interrupt.
Abby sailed in just then and looked at Kim with a question in her eyes. "You wanted me, Dr. Legaspi?"
Kim smiled and indicated the small boy who was playing with a stethoscope on the floor, pressing the diaphragm to the bed, the wall, Kim's leg.
"Abby, this is Andrew and I wondered if he could spend some time with you while his mom and I talked."
Abby's eyes slid over his mother's injuries and to the fair haired child on the floor. "Sure he can," she said. She walked over and crouched down. "Hi, Andrew, I'm Abby."
He regarded her stoically, then nodded. "Hi."
"I have some cookies and juice in the lounge. Would you like to have some?"
Another skeptical look. "What kind of cookies?"
Abby chuckled. "I think they're chocolate chip."
A short period of consideration, then another nod. "Okay."
He took Abby's hand and left with her, giving his mom a little wave as he went.
"He's a great kid," Abby said. "Is he in school yet?"
"He just started this fall," she said. "He loves it. He's drawing and painting and he wants to learn to read in the worst way."
Kim smiled along with her for a moment.
"Have they given you anything for the pain yet?" she asked.
The woman shook her head. "They were starting to, but the doctor who saw me, the one with the red hair, she got called away for an emergency."
Kim skimmed the chart, saw what Kerry had ordered. "I can go get that for you," she said, but before she could get to her feet she sighed. "You know there are lots of places you could go," Kim said. "Places with good security, who take great care of kids." She watched Mrs. Einhorn's face and waited.
Her expression dissolved and the tears began to flow. "It's no good," she said. "It's no good."
"Why is it no good?" Kim asked.
The woman pulled herself together and met Kim's gaze. "He'd find us," she said.
"A lot of shelters can help you to move right across the country if you want to, they can help you set up a new life, where no one can hurt you again."
The woman laughed but there was no joy in it. She swiped at her tears. "You don't know him," she said to Kim. "You don't know him. He'd find us."
Kim pursed her lips and wanted to sigh.
"I know he's threatened you. He's probably told you that if you leave him, he'll track you down wherever you go. Or maybe he's threatened to take Andrew from you. But the only real power he has Mrs. Einhorn, is the power you give him by staying."
The woman studied Kim's face, her eyes drawn to Kim's bruises and swollen nose. "God, you know, don't you?"
Kim cocked her head. "Beg your pardon?"
"I mean, did somebody --?" She pointed at Kim's face.
Kim shook her head. "No, I just had an accident," she said. "But I talk to an awful lot of women who are in your position."
The woman was just opening her mouth to say something when the door to the exam room opened and a tall, athletic looking man strode in.
"Gloria, honey, how are you doing?" he asked and he quickly moved to Mrs. Einhorn's side, slinging and arm around her.
The woman winced and said, "Rob, I don't think you're supposed to be back here, the doctor said that --"
"Nonsense," he said and he dropped a kiss on the side of her head, keeping a tight grip on his wife's shoulders. "There are lots of family members in these other rooms and I was going out of my mind out there, not knowing how you were?" He glanced at her. "They haven't stitched you up, yet, have they? Have they given you something for the pain at least? What about Andrew? Where is --"
"You're hurting your wife," Kim said and her voice sounded loud and sharp even to her own ears.
Rob Einhorn looked at her and from his expression, Kim gathered that he wasn't used to being spoken to like that. Kim indicated his arm on her shoulders.
"She was a possible dislocation and some cracked ribs. You're hurting her with your arm, Mr. Einhorn," Kim said.
"Oh," he said and he removed his arm quickly.
"Andrew is with a nurse, having a snack. He's fine," Kim said.
"Jesus, looks like somebody cracked you a good one, " he said to Kim, "Are you the doctor? Why aren't you stitching her up? She's got a bad cut on her arm, did you see it?"
Kim nodded. "I saw it. And we're doing everything we can for your wife. Now if you'll just go and take a seat in chairs, I'm sure that you--"
He crossed his arms. "I'm staying right here to make sure that my wife gets the care that she deserves."
Gloria Einhorn sat mutely on the bed and silently pleaded with Kim.
Kim stood up and out of reflex, Rob Einhorn also got to his feet.
"Listen, Mr. Einhorn," she said, pleasantly, taking his arm and leading him a few feet away. "I just need a few more minutes with your wife and then I'm going to personally see that she gets the medical treatment she needs." Kim opened the door and ferried him through it. "You have a seat in chairs and we will call you as soon as she's comfortable, okay?"
Something in his eyes shifted as Kim watched, realizing she'd very gently just put him in the hallway. "Wait a minute, I have a right to --"
"You don't have a right to anything right now, Mr. Einhorn," Kim said and her voice was low and reigned in.
"You're not even a fucking doctor, are you?" the man said, his voice beginning to rise. "You're one of those social workers, that's why you don't have a white coat. What the hell are you telling my wife in there?" He started to put a hand on Kim's shoulder to pull her out of his way. Kim blocked his hand.
"That's where you're wrong, Mr. Einhorn," Kim said. "I am a doctor. In fact, I'm the kind of doctor who can lock your ass up in a psych ward for three days because you presented a threat to another person. So if you're smart, although I doubt that you are, you'll be very careful about whom you threaten." She pulled in a breath and her voice lowered so that only he could hear. "Furthermore, you pathetic son of a bitch, please put your hand on me one more time, because I'm just dying to call security and I only need you to give me one more reason."
Rob Einhorn held her gaze for as long as he dared, then thought better of it and backed up a half step, glancing around to see who might have heard and taking on the appearance of a man who had just had a friendly tête-à-tête with his wife's doctor.
"All right," he said in a casual and friendly way. "I'll just go have a seat in the waiting room and wait for Gloria." He turned and ambled along down the hallways towards chairs.
Kim slipped back into the exam room to see Gloria Einhorn's eyes wide with more emotions that Kim could discern.
Kim stopped in the doorway, still shaking from the adrenaline rush and tried to smile at the woman. "I'm just going to go get that painkiller for you, okay?"
Gloria nodded but there was something hanging there, waiting. Kim urged her on with her eyes.
"Why are you doing this for me?" she asked.
Kim let the door slide shut and she came to the foot of the bed. "Because it's my job. Because I want to try to help people who are in trouble."
Gloria Einhorn nodded blankly, but knew that wasn't it.
Kim smiled sadly. "And because last week I met a woman just like you, with three kids and a husband who beat her. And I told her one day he was going to kill her if she didn't get out."
Fear descended like a curtain on the woman's face. "Did he?"
Kim nodded. "That same day, he beat her to death with a baseball bat."
Gloria fiddled with her nails, looked down at her hands. "That's so sad."
"No, that's pathetic," Kim said, "and there's a difference. It was pathetic because she could've tried to help herself, to help her children and she didn't. Or couldn't. But what's sad, what's heart-wrenching actually is that she didn't help her three kids. Now they have no mother and in all likelihood, they watched her die."
Gloria Einhorn was stricken now, hands over her mouth, tears hovering in her eyes in great pools.
Kim felt exhausted suddenly and the headache that had required Tylenol 3's to quell was inching its way back. "I'll go find Dr. Weaver so that you can get some painkillers and she can get you stitched up and everything. We can talk some more later, if you want."
Gloria Einhorn watched Kim leave and then she started to sob.
"Here you are," Kerry said, pushing her way through the door and into the lounge. "Randi said you wanted to talk to me. Do you want some coffee?
"Not from that pot," Kim said, not lifting her eyes from her work.
Kerry glanced back at her while she poured herself a cup. "So how did you do it?"
"How did I do what?"
"Convince Mrs. Einhorn to press charges." Kerry poured milk into her coffee and searched around for a clean spoon.
"I just told her what my experience with battered women was," Kim said. "I guess she found that pretty persuasive." Kim looked up at the tiny redhead who was navigating the maze of furniture. "That and I was willing to do almost anything to have the satisfaction of watching that bastard hauled out of here in handcuffs."
Kerry watched Kim's expression carefully. "So why are you still down here?"
Kim put her pen down on the stack of forms neatly spread out in front of her. "I thought since I was covering the ER, I should stay really close in case you need me," Kim said, crossing her arms and giving Kerry a cool look. "Since my pager obviously isn't working."
Kerry flopped down on a chair close to Kim and cursed. "That Randi has the biggest mouth of anyone I've--!"
"She didn't tell me," Kim said. "I figured it out myself, actually." She sighed. "Why did you do that, Kerry? Why did you try to shift me away from this case just because it was a domestic abuse situation? Do you have that little faith in my abilities?"
Kerry sat up quickly. "Whoa, wait a minute. This had nothing to do with your abilities, Kim. You are an exceptional psychiatrist --"
"So why try to divert me from the case?" Kim asked.
"I was just giving you one case off, call it a break if you want --"
Kim leaned forward. "Kerry, don't give me that bullshit, okay? If I had been anybody else, you would have moved heaven and earth to make sure I got that case so that I didn't get too soft about handling them. I've heard you say it a thousand times to residents, 'Get back in there and take care of your patient.'"
"And that's exactly what you did. You managed to convince her to accept help and you may have, in a very real way, saved her life."
"What do you mean?"
"I know there's something else here, Kerry."
Kerry sighed and ran a hand over the tabletop. "It's just that -- in your work, in the kinds of cases that you see, you become so personally involved with your patients--"
Kim threw up her hands. "Don't lecture me on the dangers of getting personal with patients, Kerry, because you don't know--"
"That's not what I was saying," Kerry said and Kim realized that Kerry's eyes were wide and she almost looked afraid to speak.
Kim reigned herself in. "What are you saying then?"
"I've come to understand that that's how you need to do your job, to be effective," Kerry said. "What I'm worried about is the toll it takes on you." She waved a hand at her. "I mean look at you, you're exhausted, you're bruised and you're so full of sadness these days."
"Nevertheless, I'm still a regular attending at Cook County Hospital and it's not a good idea for you to treat me differently," Kim said, her anger dissipating. "And anyway, I don't need you to protect me, Kerry,
Kerry watched her for a few seconds before she finally spoke. "Sometimes I think you don't need me at all," she said.
Kim looked at her, momentarily speechless. "How can you say that?" she asked and her voice was tiny and lost.
Kerry looked at the floor, then met her gaze again. "Why do you always make it so hard to give you anything?"
The door to the lounge banged open and Abby's head popped in. "Sorry to disturb you Dr. Weaver but we've got three GSW's coming in, sounds like a gang fight. They're two minutes out."
Kerry was on her feet immediately. "Prep the two trauma rooms and exam room two. Page Dr. Corday, she's on call for surgical, I think. Alert Carter and Luka and then call security, I don't want a bunch of bangers coming here to finish the fight."
"Kim," Kerry said and there was such apology in her voice, "I didn't mean to--"
Kim waved her off. "Go, you have three traumas arriving, go!"
Kerry sighed, obviously torn, then said, "We'll talk later, okay?"
Kim nodded and motioned for her to get moving. "Okay."
Kerry rushed away and disappeared into the hallway, the bright lights making her hair glow an ethereal shade of gold and red for just a moment. Kim sat in her chair, without moving, until she could hear the sounds of sirens in the ambulance bay and Kerry's voice shouting orders over the noise.
A quiet tapping on the office door that she'd left partly open. Kim looked up from where she sat on the floor. Michael shyly pushed the door all the way open and peeked inside to see Kim sitting in a yoga-like position in front of a dozen or so stacks of papers and forms. He raised his eyebrows in a question.
"I'm playing administrative solitaire," Kim said, with a smile as she got to her feet. "I'd lost control of the paperwork so I'm trying to sort it into some kind of system. Come on in. It's okay, I won't bite."
Michael stepped in and stood there, backpack slung over his shoulder, anxiously moving from one foot to the other. Kim faced him and smiled.
"So," she said. "Big day today."
He nodded. "My mom and dad are coming to pick me up in about fifteen minutes. I'm a little .wired."
Kim nodded. "And dinner went well last night."
He waggled his hand back and forth. "It was tense, but it could have been a lot worse." He gauged Kim's reaction. "I mean, you've gotten to know my father."
"But it was all right, overall?
"Yeah," he said. "And in a way, I'm kind of glad that they're going to stick around for a few days while I get settled back in." He smile sheepishly. "My mom is really helping a lot. It's good to talk with her."
Kim nodded. "That's great," she said. "This morning, I spoke with Dan, you know, the therapist I referred you to? You've got an appointment at one o'clock tomorrow with him." She saw the flicker of fear. "He's a great guy, Michael, don't worry. You've done much harder stuff already -- seeing him will be easy."
Michael nodded, eyes wide, clearly wanting to believe her.
"And listen," Kim said, "if there's anything you need, anything you want to talk about, if you just feel yourself starting to get into trouble, you just call me, okay?" She snatched one of her cards from her desk top and handed it to him.
He took it and held it in both hands, studying it intently, then he raised his eyes. "Thanks a lot, Dr. Legaspi. For everything," he said. "I -- you've done so much for me. I don't know if I can thank you enough."
Kim smiled then reached over squeezed his shoulder. "You being happy and well is lot of thanks for me, Michael."
He nodded again, then tucked her card carefully into his shirt pocket and turned to leave.
"Take care of yourself," Kim said.
"You too," he said, looking over his shoulder. "Take care of that eye."
Kim chuckled. "I will," she said and he was gone.
Kim was on the phone when she spotted Nancy's face at the door. She waved her in with a welcoming smile, never missing a beat of her phone conversation.
"Well, that's my point, Bob. These people are institutionalized schizophrenics. If we start rescheduling their social skills group every other day, it's going to mess them up. They need the structure of knowing that on Wednesdays as 2:00 p.m., they'll be in the lounge, learning social skills."
Nancy wandered in, noting the neat piles of forms placed all around on the floor. She took off her long black trench coat and shook the water off it, then ambled around the room, looking at Kim's things, running a hand across a surface, stopping to stare at a photograph as if she were trying to commit it to memory. Kim watched her with one eye while listening to the man on the other end of the phone blather on.
"No, Bob, see, that's where the problem is -- we need to do this centrally. Some system where we all have equal access to sign up for places and --" She listened for a moment with an annoyed look on her face. "No, I don't think we need Carl to referee, Bob, for crying out loud, we're not only professionals, we're supposed to be grown-ups."
Her eyes flicked up at Nancy who was standing in front of the window, looking out at the rain. "Listen, Bob, I'm going to have to call you back, okay, I've got an appointment."
A moment later she was off the phone and standing up to greet Nancy. "You're early," Kim said, moving to the couch where she gratefully flopped down.
"Yeah, a little, I hope that's not a problem," Nancy said. "I have another appointment in about a half hour, but I wanted to check in with you first."
"You look good today," Kim said, taking in the calm demeanour. "Wet, but good."
"You look good today," Kim said, taking in the calm demeanour. "Wet, but good."
Nancy snorted. "Yeah, it's a little damp out," she said.
"So, how are you doing?" Kim asked.
Nancy drew in a long breath and sighed. "A little better, I think. A little calmer. I think the meds are just starting to work."
Kim nodded. "Some people can start to feel these new ones in about a week."
"And I'm sleeping better, which is really helping," Nancy said. "It's letting me just see things more clearly, you know?"
Kim nodded. "Any suicidal thoughts? Preoccupation with death?"
Nancy shook her head. "I might kill Craig if he doesn't stop haranguing me about taking my meds on time, but no, no thoughts of killing myself."
Kim studied her friend for a moment. "You need to remember, Nance, that these drugs are just beginning to get a toehold in that twisted brain of yours. You're far from out of the woods, you realize that, don't you?"
Nancy nodded reluctantly. "Yeah, I know. But I guess these past couple of days I've just realized that at some point, things are going to be okay."
Kim's eyes narrowed. "Yes, but you are not to resume your full work load or anything ridiculous like that. Depressions are not healed in fast forward, Nance, you know that. They're painfully slow to resolve themselves."
Nancy smiled. "Painfully slow," she said. "That pretty much covers it, doesn't it?"
Kim nodded sympathetically. "Hey, listen, I was thinking that maybe next weekend, I could take you out for a movie and then coffee and dessert at one of those European pastry places you like. You can pick the movie, as I'm told my taste is, and I'm quoting here, puerile."
Nancy laughed a little. "That sounds great, Kim. I would love that." She got to her feet and adjusted her skirt and jacket. "Are you this good to all your patients?"
Kim shook her head. "Nah. I don't usually let them pick the movie."
Nancy chuckled and reached for her coat. "I really owe you for this, Kim," she said, shrugging it on. "You're -- well, you're amazing."
Kim got up and walked slowly to the door with her. "You deserve nothing but the best, Nance," she said.
Nancy paused and looked back at Kim as if she was considering that thought. "I'm not sure I deserve you." She kissed Kim's cheek and gave her a long, warm hug. "But I do know, you've been a wonderful friend, Kim."
Kim held onto Nancy's hands a moment longer than necessary. "Take care of yourself, okay? This is a tough part, this coming up from the bottom of a depression, so be gentle with yourself."
Nancy nodded, gravely.
"See you at five tomorrow," Kim said.
"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Nancy replied and she strode away, checking her watch as she went.
Kim saw her from the end of the hall, her fiery red head bent over a chart, no doubt writing orders in her precise, fluid script. Kim greeted a nurse or two on her way past the exam rooms, then sidled up to the admit desk across from where Kerry worked.
"Hey," she said.
"Hey, yourself," Kerry said, looking up over her glasses at Kim. "I thought you might have left already."
"No, but my shift is over and I'm starving," Kim said. "I was hoping that I could talk you into some dinner when you're done."
Kerry took off her glasses and studied Kim's face. "Dinner would be marvelous. Have you got something in mind?"
Kim shook her head. "I'm open to nearly anything. So long as we have it together."
Kerry's expression turned analytical and she regarded Kim for a long moment.
"What?" Kim finally said.
"I thought we were still fighting," Kerry said. "I hadn't realized we'd gotten over our conversation in the lounge."
"Oh, yeah," Kim said. "We're way over it. Especially since I decided one of us was taking everything a little too personally and acting like an ass."
Kerry's eyebrows rose. "And that person would be me?"
Kim shook her head. "No, me. I owe you an apology, Ker. Just because I disagree with something you do as Chief of ER doesn't mean I have to drag it into the forum of our personal life. I acted like a self-centered adolescent and I'm sorry."
"I see," Kerry said, shifting her weight and repositioning her crutch. "So, would it matter to tell you that after some thought and especially after hearing what you had to say to me earlier, that I've decided that I was wrong in steering you away from the domestic abuse case and that I was treating you like my girlfriend and not the very capable psych attending that you are?"
Kim chuckled. "So, we were both right and we were both wrong."
Kerry considered this. "That pretty much covers it."
"Well," Kim said, "all that's left is to decide who's paying for dinner?"
Kerry opened her mouth to put in her two cents, when Haleh pulled up beside her and interrupted.
"We've got a single vehicle MVA on the Ryan coming in," she said. "Do you want me to page Luka?"
"No," Kerry said, "he's having a dinner break, leave him alone. I'll take it."
"Okay," Haleh said, "they're five minutes out."
Kerry nodded. "Prep Trauma One."
Haleh bustled off.
"So when could you sneak off for some dinner yourself?" Kim said, leaning both elbows on the counter.
"In a little less than an hour," Kerry said.
Kim smiled as she peeled herself away from the counter and headed back towards the elevator. "Okay, then. Come and get me when you're free. I'll be in my office playing solitaire."
"Solitaire?" Kerry repeated.
Kim waved her off. "Never mind, long story."
Kerry stood there, watching her walk down the hall, her smile blossoming with every step.
Kerry crutched her way out into the ambulance bay to meet the gurney.
"Female in her early thirties, not wearing a seatbelt, single vehicle accident. She slammed into an overpass on the Ryan, must've been doing eighty, eighty-five at least," the paramedic hollered as they rolled the gurney through the rain to the shelter of the ER. He held an ambu-bag over the woman's face and was squeezing it rhythmically as they ran. "LOC at the scene, head and facial lacs as you can see. Respiratory arrest en route, pulse 74 and weak and BP has been falling since we left the scene, right now it's eighty over thirty. Oh and her right foot has been dislocated, but frankly that's the least of her problems right now."
They slammed through the trauma room doors and the woman's broken and bleeding body was transferred onto the stretcher in a matter of seconds. Kerry listened for her breathing and heard nothing.
"Haleh, get me an intubation tray and then I want a Chem 7, CBC, urinalysis, ABG, type and cross match 6 units, now," Kerry said. "Abby, get two large bore IV's going and get radiology in here right away!"
Nurses scurried in all direction as the paramedics tried to exit with their stretcher.
"Did you get a name?" Kerry hollered after them, positioning herself at the head of the gurney, noting the bleeding in her forehead and face. She'd gone at least partly through the windshield judging by the amount of glass that was still embedded in her skin.
The paramedic shook his head. "No, she was crashing, we just scooped and ran," he said. "Good luck."
Abby and Chuny were efficiently cutting off the woman's tattered and blood stained clothing when Abby felt something fall from the coat pocket of the woman's trench coat.
"I've got a wallet, Dr. Weaver," Abby said, quickly opening it and scanning for ID. She found the driver's license and pulled it out. "Her name is Nancy Elliot." She read a moment longer. "Oh, it says here that she's a doctor."
Kerry whipped the lead out of the tube and moved aside for Haleh to attach the respirator. "What did you say?" Kerry said. "What was the name?"
"Dr. Nancy Elliot," Abby said.
Kerry's face blanched. "Let me see that," she said, reaching for the driver's license. "Oh my God," she said softly when she saw the picture. She looked at Abby. "Page Dr. Legaspi, right away."
Abby froze, a puzzled look on her face. Her eyes flicked towards the unconscious woman on the table. "You want a psych consult?" she asked.
"Just do it!" Kerry yelled and she moved herself down towards Nancy's bare midriff which was distended and which bore the ripening imprints of the steering wheel and dash. She palpated her belly and turned to Haleh. "Get whoever's on surgical in here now!"
Haleh moved quickly to the phone but not before exchanging looks with Chuny about the tone Weaver's voice had suddenly taken on.
Less than sixty seconds later, Elizabeth Corday sailed through the trauma room doors, snapping on gloves. "Kerry, you called for a surgeon?" she said.
Kerry didn't look up from her examination of Nancy's pelvis and hips. "Single vehicle MVA, not wearing a seat belt. Blood pressure and pulse are slowly dropping, as is her temperature. She's going into hemorrhagic shock but I can't find any penetrating trauma. Belly was doughy and full to the touch."
Elizabeth was already pressing down on Nancy's belly in different spots. "Good Lord," she said, looking at Kerry, "she's bleeding out into her belly. We have to get her to the OR quickly." She reached for Nancy's chart.
"Elizabeth," Kerry said, quietly, "she's a close friend of Dr. Legaspi's."
Elizabeth's face froze for an instant and then she gave Kerry an almost barely perceptible nod. "All right then, I need to see the labs, where are the labs?" She pulled the room's ultrasound machine closer to the gurney and squirted jelly onto Nancy's discoloured abdomen.
"Dr. Weaver?" Abby said from the door. "Dr. Legaspi's not answering her pager and the service said her shift is over."
Kerry pulled in a breath to make herself sound calm. "She's up in her office, Abby. Go upstairs right now and get her down here, even if you have to take her physically by the hand and lead her down the steps, do you understand?"
"Yes, ma'am," Abby said and she scurried off towards the elevators.
"Oh yes, we have a full belly," Elizabeth said, peering intently at the black and green screen. "And I think " She moved the ultrasound wand a few centimeters. "Yes, there is it -- there's a tear in her abdominal aorta and the inferior vena cava and surely there are rips in her liver. I can't tell how big yet, but that accounts for the bleeding. We've got to get her aorta clamped if we're going to --"
Every monitor in the room exploded into a symphony of discordant beeps.
"She's in V-fib," Haleh said, "and her pressure has dropped to 50 systolic."
"She's bleeding out," Elizabeth said.
"Push an amp of epi and an amp of dopamine," Kerry said and she was already reaching for the defibrillator paddles. They charged and Kerry fired them, made Nancy's pale, half-naked body jerk and jump on the table. All eyes went to the cardiac monitor.
"She's still in V-fib," Haleh reported. "Charge again?"
"Two fifty and another amp of epi," Kerry said and she shocked Nancy's heart a second time, to no avail. "Three hundred!" Kerry shouted.
"No, Kerry, wait, it's no good. She hasn't got the blood volume to get her heart pumping again." Elizabeth glanced at the freeze frame of the ultrasound. "I'm going to have to try to clamp it down here. Haleh, open a thoracotomy tray and Chuny, set up a sterile drape. Quickly, now!"
Kerry stood there, impotently holding the defibrillator paddles and she watched Elizabeth readying the sternal saw. She wondered suddenly whether she hoped Kim showed up soon, or whether she didn't come until it was over.
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