He took a deep breath, rolling his shoulders to loosen the tension. “Okay, let’s see what else we’ve got here.” In an orchestrated rhythm, the nurses and interns began to reveal the other wounds for Dr. Peterson to inspect. There were eight additional wounds that they proceeded to stitch together, like lacing up a quilt, starting with the deep wound on her left thigh.
“She is definitely going to need an angiogram to check for …” Dr. Peterson’s words trailed off suddenly, as he looked at the unconscious woman’s face for the first time. The hurried activity that had filled the room only moments before came to an abrupt halt while everyone watched and waited for direction from Dr. Peterson. He continued to stand there, his arms limp by his side, staring at the woman lying motionless on his table. One of the nurses looked at him tentatively.
“Dr. Peterson?” No response. “Dr. Peterson, is everything all right?”
They all waited, still nothing but awkward silence. Hit with an unbelievable wave of emotion, Dr. Peterson found he was utterly speechless. He felt drawn to this woman, as if he knew her, but he had never seen her before tonight. Overcome with an intense feeling of worry, he was frozen with the fear that he might not be able to save her.
An intern walked over, gently tapping Dr, Peterson on the shoulder, which finally seemed to startle him out of his momentary trance. Dr. Peterson finished his sentence in a hushed whisper, “… She needs an angiogram to check for internal bleeding. Get her up to the dye room right away. Her blood pressure is still too low, so there’s got to be other bleeding going on. We’ve got to find it and stop it.” The nurses and interns stood staring at Dr. Peterson still wondering what had abruptly come over the doctor that never lost his cool. “Well, are you just going to stand there, or are you going to get this woman upstairs?” Dr. Peterson jolted them back to reality. They began to wheel the gurney out to the elevator, and Dr. Peterson grabbed one of the interns by the arm, leaning down to whisper instructions. As the elevator door closed, one of the nurses pushed the button for Tenth Floor X-Ray. There was a long silence as they all stared at the intern, until at last one nurse pleaded, “Come on tell us what he said to you.”
“All I know is she must be a friend or a relative, or something, because he told me to take good care of her. Weird, huh?”
Dr. Peterson sank down on the rollaway stool in the corner of the exam room. He knew he had only a few minutes to himself to gather his thoughts before the staff would come in to ready the room for the next emergency. He couldn’t understand what had just happened. What had come over him in there? Something about this woman took him off guard, and at the same time he had felt he was staring down at a dear friend. He had been overpowered with feelings of tenderness and protectiveness for her, and yet he didn’t even know her name. It was the strangest thing he had ever experienced. There was no logic to it, no explanation for the feelings that came over him, no way to make any sense out of it. He slowly leaned his head back against the concrete wall and closed his eyes. He couldn’t get the image of her face out of his mind. He also couldn’t stop agonizing over whether or not she was going to make it through the next few hours, let alone through the night.
Copyright © 2010 Helen Laibach. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or retransmitted in any form or by any means without the written permission of the author.