The Love We Choose

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Chapter 16

Crossing the tiles of the emergency room floor, Huan found Evelyn, the middle-aged, cocoa-complexioned, Unit Secretary working at the desk. “Good evening, Evelyn. I was paged. Where’s the patient?”

A look of confusion was plastered on Evelyn’s face. Checking her notes, she didn’t see where anyone had requested her to page Dr. Zhang. No high level traumas had come in that would make it necessary to contact the surgeon on call. “I’m sorry, Dr. Zhang. You must be mistaken. I didn’t call you overhead or page you.”

Picking up his pager, he looked down at the numbers that came across again. “According to this,” he held up the small plastic block, “someone paged me to the ER.”

“Let me ask, Mike. Maybe he did when I stepped away from the desk.”

A squat, middle-aged, myopic doctor with salt and peppered short-cropped hair came up to the desk with a huff before she could move to find Mike. “Evenlyn, has the interpreter shown up yet?”

“No, Dr. Krantz. No one has come down from social services.”

“Just great. I can’t get anything out of this guy. He keeps grunting like I’m supposed to be able to understand him. I don’t have time for this. He could be seriously injured and I don’t know what to treat him for.”

Huan took the time to speak up. “I think I’m the interpreter you requested.” He told them.

Looking over at Huan the older doctor sized him up and dismissed him almost immediately. “I doubt it. We don’t need a Korean interpreter, we need someone who signs,” he emphasized the end of his sentence by waving his hands in the air.

Letting that micro-aggression roll off of his back, Huan kept a cordial appearance. “I can assure you that I wouldn’t be able to help you out if you needed a Korean interpreter being that I am Chinese and don’t speak Korean. Ah-ah-choo!”

“Bless you.” Evelyn told him, handing him a tissue off her desk.

“Thank you. Like I was saying, I am the American Sign Language interpreter on call today. Where’s the patient?” He asked, before blowing his nose into the tissue.

Flustered at being called out, Dr. Krantz extended his arm and pointed in the direction of Curtain 3, “he’s over here. They picked him up on the side of the road. He was disoriented, running a high fever, and shaking. They thought he was a drunk, but his Tox Screen came back negative. That’s when the nurse noticed him moving his hands.” The doctor told Huan as he followed him.

Walking behind the curtain, Huan saw a man, not much older than himself lying on the bed. His tan skin was frightfully pale and he was shivering despite being underneath a blanket. An emesis basin was next to him on the bed and had been used recently. Ignoring the stench, Huan placed a kind smile on his face before waving a hand in the man’s direction to gain his attention. ‘Hi, my name is H-U-A-N. I’m a doctor here. Can you tell me where your pain is greatest?’

The man on the bed perked up a little and signed back, ‘my name is J-O-R-D-A-N. My stomach is killing me. My head hurts. I am nauseous. I felt bad for days.’

‘Ok. We’re going to run some tests and get to the root of this problem.’ Huan’s calm demeanor put Jordan at ease as he continued to interpret the battery of tests and their results.

Later on, after Huan was done with helping Dr. Krantz’s with his patient, who turned out to have a perforated colon, one of the newer nurses came up to him while he was typing his notes up at the desk. Her name was Marisol. She was a buxom tanned woman with straight, shoulder-length chestnut brown hair streaked with blonde highlights. “That was amazing Dr. Zhang. I’ve never actually seen someone sign before. Your hand movements were so elegant, you must be fluent. Where did you learn? Do you have a family member who is Deaf?” She asked him eagerly.

“Sort of. My best friend’s older sister is Deaf and the whole family communicates with her via ASL. I spent a lot of time at their house growing up. She also bakes the most phenomenal cupcakes in the world and would only share her baked goods with me when I signed. So, I learned ASL and in exchange got to indulge my sweet tooth. You never know when learning a different language can come in handy.”

“You are absolutely right. I mean, who knows if we would have ever been able to communicate with that patient in there?”

Tilting his head and smiling at her he lightly nodded his head. “Yeah, you would have. Eventually, someone would have given him a pen and paper or figured out to use a tablet to communicate. He probably writes in English, but it wasn’t an idea in the forefront of your mind. Most Deaf people these days communicate with the Hearing community via texts on their cellphones. His is probably in his belongings bag because they found him unconscious on the street. I was just a conduit to speed up the process.”

“None-the-less, it was still admirable to see you ease the patient by being able to communicate with him.” She told him, placing her hand over his and gently squeezing it. “Your calm-cool aura and impeccable bedside manner is what makes a patient trust you. I’ve seen it happen multiple times when you come in and see patients. They are in agony and scared and you calmly explain what course of action you will be taking when you bring them to the O.R. You also make sure their family understands what is going on so that they will not be confused. It is truly admirable,” her voice was silvery and her eyes were fixed on his face.

“Well, thank you Nurse Marisol. My mother would be pleased to hear that the manners she hammered into me are paying off.” He chuckled before stretching his arms over his head, causing his scrub top and t-shirt to raise up slightly.

Marisol let her eyes linger for a few seconds longer than she should on the outline of Huan’s abdominals that appeared. Clearing her throat, she began to nervously play around with the chart in her hand. “Well, umm. I better be getting back to work. I hope I get to see you again soon Dr. Zhang,” she finished with a coy smile on her face.

“Likewise.” He smiled up at her before diving back into the computer before him.

Marisol threw a hopeful glance in his direction as she walked away from the desk to her next patient.

Unbeknownst to the two, Evelyn and Mike were watching the whole one-sided affair play out. The two audience members gave each other a skeptical look before Mike whispered to Evelyn, “so how long do you think before she tries to hook up with him?”

“I’m not sure. I mean, I think I heard someone say he’s single now. I haven’t seen that blonde woman waiting for him at the end of shift the past few months like she used to. She might have a chance.” Evelyn mused.

“Well, he better be careful. He has no idea what he could be getting himself into.” Mike stated as a woman in a red t-shirt and blue jeans walked up to him, holding her left arm close to her body. “How can I help you ma’am?”

XXX

Several hours and a numerous patients later, Huan was finally done with his shift. After being called in to cover a shift for another doctor in the ER in the middle of dinner with his family, the micro-aggressiveness of Dr. Krantz dismissing him as the ASL translator and assuming he was Korean, the mountain of paperwork he had to do in the past two days, and the congestive headache that was thudding behind his eyes, he was itching to get out of the hospital and into some fresh air. It had been a few days since he hit the gym and his body was in desperate need of exercising. Changing out of his scrubs, donning an old CBGBs t-shirt and the pair of red basketball shorts he kept in the extra gym bag in his locker, he headed out to the street.

Looking through his cell phone as he walked toward the exit, Huan didn’t notice someone coming towards him in the opposite direction until he ran into them, knocking the other person onto the floor.

“Shit! Sorry!” He apologized, realizing his error. “If I bothered to look up, I would have-”

“It’s ok. It’s OK, Dr. Zhang, I should have been paying attention as well. I was replying to an email and not focusing on where I was going,” Marisol said as she started to pick up the contents of her purse that had spilled onto the floor.

“Sorry, Marisol. Let me help you with that.” Bending down, he swept everything up into his hands before turning it over to her. As he stood back up, he offered her his hand to help her get to her feet. “Again, I’m sorry.”

“Thanks,” she told him with a coy smile on her face. “Well, I’m just on my way to grab something to eat, would you care to join me as an apology? I actually wanted to pick your brain about trauma surgery; I’ve been interested in switching fields from ER Nursing to Perioperative Nursing. What do you say?”

Huan weighed his options as he thought about grabbing a bite to eat with Marisol. However, he wasn’t exactly feeling capable of being effective company with other people at the moment, “I’ll have to take a raincheck today, but I’ll definitely join you another time. I’m headed to the gym for a desperately needed work-out. It’s been too long.”

“You don’t look like you need to work on a thing. Your physique is quite something. Definitely not what you would expect from a doctor.”

A slight blush spread across the tips of his ears. “You are far too kind.”

“Are you always so dedicated when it comes to maintaining your physique? That is inspiring,” she remarked, subtly leaning closer to him.

“I just do my best to make time for it as regularly as possible.” Huan scratched the back of his neck before returning to the original conversation, “Anyway, I don’t know how much of a help I will be with swaying you one way or another. Both trauma surgery and emergency medicine are my favorites. When I’m not on a surgical shift, I sign up for shifts in the ER, my second home. I was the overachiever who got board certified in both.”

“I don’t know how I haven’t run into you in the ER more often then,” she stated, staring at him, flipping her loose hair over her left shoulder. “I’ve been working in the ER for a little over a year now. I can’t recall working with you before.”

“I only take night shifts in the ER. I’m assuming you’re on the day shift. A-Ahhchoo!”

“Bless you.”

“Thanks. Sorry about that.” He rifled through his bag to find a tissue and came up empty.

“It’s a natural occurrence and small potatoes compared to what gets thrown at me in the ER. But yeah, I am on the day shift.”

“I only work ER night shifts. So little chance for us to run into each other. It happens.” He scanned his watch and noticed the time. “Sorry, but we’ll have to pick this up another day. I have to motor to the gym before it closes. It was nice chatting with you. I hope our next encounter includes less running into each other.” He bade her a polite nod as he strode out the door and headed to the gym.

“I wouldn’t mind running into you a few times,” she murmured to his retreating back as she headed to grab the rest of her belongings from the nurses’ station.

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A/N: Hello lovies! What do we think of Huan at work?
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