Caring Christopher

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#69 Jigsaw puzzle


When I reach the lab to pick up Abby’s test results and see Dr. Gio’s intern already there, frowning at the tablet in front of him, my heart stops for a moment. Why would Dr. Gio send someone down to the lab when she knows I’m headed here? I saw the notification pop up on my screen, and she must have known that I’d hurry down here the second my shift was over.

“Hey,” the timid male intern says, looking up at me through his glasses. “You’re Dr. Davids, right?”

“Yes…?” I say, giving him what is apparently an intimidating look, since he swallows audibly and his cheeks flush.

“Dr. Gio told me that she doesn’t like you breaking hospital protocol by doing tests on her patients without her knowing about it.” He doesn’t look at me while he talks, his eyes fixed on his tablet. “She wants to see you in her office.”

“You know I’m the head of the pediatrics department, right?” I can’t help but ask, surprised to be spoken to like this in my own damn hospital.

“She told me you’d say that, and I’m supposed to tell you that you’re a pediatric surgeon, not a gynecologist, and that next time you put her name on bloodwork without consulting her first, she won’t be so lenient.”

I roll my eyes, knowing Amanda won’t file a complaint against me. It’s not like I murdered someone. I only put her name on the bloodwork because it’s a little weird for a ped surgeon to order bloodwork to have a grown woman’s blood analyzed for hCG levels that indicate pregnancy. Besides, if Abby is pregnant like I hope she is, she’ll be Dr. Gio’s patient anyway, so I only sped up the inevitable.

“Thanks for letting me know,” I tell the intern, not wanting him to feel like I’m mad at him. Being an intern is stressful enough without having random doctors yelling at you. “I’ll go see Amanda now.” I hurry to her office and let myself in without knocking. Sure enough, she’s waiting for me with crossed arms.

“What the fuck, Chris?” she asks, sounding annoyed. “You put my name on Abby’s bloodwork?”

I shrug. “Come on, Amanda, we both do this kind of stuff all the time. It was just to speed up the process. Abby might be pregnant, and I wanted to know sooner rather than later.”

“Chris…” She sighs and rubs her forehead, and her expressions turns soft and worried. That frightens me in a way her anger and annoyance never could. “You should have let me handle this. She’s my patient now, so let’s call her in so I can tell her what we found.”

“Is she pregnant?” I ask, sinking down into the chair opposite her, my stomach turning. “Is something wrong with the baby? Or with Abby?”

She’s my patient, not you,” Amanda reminds me. “Which is exactly why you should have come to me instead of taking matters into your own hands. Do you really want to be the one to tell your own girlfriend something is wrong with her or your hypothetical baby – if there is, which I’m, not saying there is, obviously, but…” She trails off, sighing deeply. “Call her. Tell her to head over here.”

Oh God.

“How bad is it?” I ask, having trouble to remain coherent. I can’t lose Abby. I just can’t. What if she’s sick? Normally, an hCG test only checks to see if a woman is pregnant, but just in case, I ticked a few other boxes to make sure Abby is healthy. I discovered recently her health insurance is crappy – which I want to remedy as soon as possible – so she hasn’t been getting checkups as regularly as I’d like her to. Judging from the look on Amanda’s face, they found something.

Something bad.

“I can’t tell you, but it’s probably not as bad you as you think,” she says, trying to sound soothing. “Call her. I’ve got time to fit her in. We’ll sort this out right away.”

It takes me a few tries to call Abby, because my hands are trembling so much. She picks up right away, sounding chipper.

“Hey baby,” she greets me, a lot of noise around her. “I’m in the store, picking out some wine for tonight. Figured that we should have some fancy red wine in case I’m not pregnant, to soften the blow. Or for you to drink to celebrate if I am, of course.”

“Do you think you could head over to the hospital when you’re done shopping?” I ask, forcing myself not to freak her out. “I used Dr. Gio’s name to get the bloodwork done, and she found out and is insisting to be the one to give you the results.”

She laughs, unaware of my internal battle. “Oh Chris, you rebel. Sure, I’ll be there in half an hour. Need to swing by the house to drop the groceries off and then I’ll be on my way. See you soon! Love you.”

“Love you too,” I breathe, barely keeping it together.

I stay in Dr. Gio’s office while I wait for Abby, relieved that my shift is over already. I’ve been here all night and morning, so I’m tired, but I’m not concerned about getting some much-needed sleep right now. I’m worried about Abby.

When she arrives, Dr. Gio goes to get her. I stay seated, pulling my hand through my hair and taking deep breaths to steady myself. I’m being paranoid. It’s probably nothing. A minor issue. Amanda is very careful about privacy, which is why she’s being so anal about this. I shouldn’t jump straight to the worst-case scenario, but I am.

“Hey!” Abby’s calm expression falters the moment she meets my gaze, and she curses loudly. “How bad is it?”

Amanda gives me a hard look, silently telling me that this is exactly why I should never be allowed to treat a member of my own family. I’m a level-headed guy, a skilled surgeon, and I don’t freak out at the job, but this is different. This is Abby we’re talking about.

“She hasn’t even told me if you’re pregnant yet,” I say, trying to smile.

“Sit down,” Amanda says, gesturing for Abby to take the chair next to me.

“Give it to me straight,” Abby says just like she did when we were in Timothy’s office to find out if she had the gene for early-onset Alzheimer’s. “Am I pregnant?”

“No, you’re not,” Amanda says, smiling ruefully.

My heart sinks. I made the mistake of getting my hopes up and now I’m disappointed. We’ve only been trying for a month. I know the statistics. This shouldn’t come as a surprise.

“Well fuck,” Abby says, taking my hand in hers and squeezing. “There’s more, isn’t there? I wouldn’t be here if everything is okay. Chris wouldn’t look like he’s about to puke if he didn’t think something was wrong. Do I have cancer or something?”

“Nothing indicates that,” Amanda assures her, typing something into her computer to pull up a file. “We did find some irregularities in your bloodwork that lead me to believe it would be wise to do a sonogram right away, just so we know what we’re dealing with.”

“What?” I ask, motioning for her to turn the screen so I can see what she’s talking about. Abby may not be able to read a chart, but I sure am. I want to see for myself.

“I’m not sure if-”

“Show him,” Abby interrupts Amanda. “He’s going to be my husband in two months. He’s the person I’m trying to have a kid with. Show him any test you did, let him see all the complicated doctor stuff.” Her hand is squeezing mine so hard it hurts.

“Okay,” Amanda agrees, giving me a tight-lipped smile. “Here.” She turns the screen so I can look over the test results. High FSH, high estradiol… None of the levels are what they should be. Not a single one of the tests is showing the result I hoped. Abby’s body is all out of whack, apparently. She definitely needs a sonogram.

“So?” Abby asks, getting impatient. “Tell me.”

“Well, your FSH-”

“Not you,” she interrupts Amanda again. “Chris. Explain it to me in simple terms, none of that medical mumbo jumbo.”

“The levels of certain hormones aren’t ideal – none of them are ideal, actually. If that’s all that’s wrong, you should be able to get pregnant, though, with some medication or a simple fertility treatment.”

“Okay,” Abby replies, sounding eerily calm. “That’s not too bad. And we’ll find out at the ultrasound if this is all that’s wrong or if there’s more?”

“Exactly,” I agree, happy she’s taking this so well. Then again, I shouldn’t be. She’s been through worse. Her steady, calm attitude reminds me exactly who of she is. My rock.

“Can I get one right now?” she asks, looking at Amanda now.

“That’s the main reason I had Chris call you over,” the OB-GYN confirms. “We’ll do a transvaginal ultrasound to see if everything is right where it should be, functioning properly.”

Abby nods and gets up, pulling me along with her. “Let’s go.”

I’m way more nervous than Abby is, probably because I know every single possible thing that could be wrong. A few out of whack hormone levels might be the least of our problems. In a way, I’m happy to be finding out right now, when we’ve only been trying for a month. It would suck to have been at it for months or even a year before realizing something is wrong.

It might all be okay, I remind myself, knowing I’m getting ahead of myself again.

Abby goes to the bathroom so she’ll have an empty bladder for the internal ultrasound, and when she returns to the examination room, she’s in a hospital gown. She looks a little tense now, but she still smiles at me and kisses me softly before lying down on the examination bed

“I will put the probe into your vagina slowly,” Amanda explains, showing her the transducer she’s putting a condom over. “If you’d just put your legs in the rests and bend your knees for me… Good… I’m using warm gel to make this feel more comfortable, but it might feel unpleasant.”

I stay near Abby’s head, not wanting her to feel uncomfortable with me staring at the probe going inside of her, even though I’m quite familiar with that part of her, obviously. She takes my hand in hers and presses a kiss to it, trying to calm me down. Guess I’m not doing a great job at being there for her, huh? If anything, she’s the one holding me up, even though we don’t even know if anything is truly wrong yet.

“Painful?” Dr. Amanda Gio asks when she sees Abby wince a little.

“No, just uncomfortable,” Abby says offhandedly. “Keep going.”

When the probe is all the way in, Dr. Gio turns the screen in our direction. Abby looks at it with unseeing eyes, probably just seeing black and grey shapes that don’t mean anything to her. To me, they do mean something. I have to keep myself from gasping.

“Oh my,” Amanda says, sounding a little breathless.

“What?” Abby asks, narrowing her eyes at the screen. “What am I supposed to see?”

Amanda and I lock eyes, and I know right away that she’s seeing what I’m seeing. She moves the probe around, making sure we both get to see every single part of Abby’s uterus.

“It’s not quite clear yet,” Amanda says vaguely. “We’ll need to do a sonohysterography.”

“A what?” Abby asks, sounding annoyed. “Can you please use small words around me?”

“Another internal ultrasound, using a fluid so we’ll be able to see everything clearer,” I explain, somehow managing to sound like I’m not looking at a fucking train wreck on the small screen in front of me.

While Amanda prepares Abby for the sonohysterography, I manage to keep a smile on my face, assuring Abby that we don’t know what we’re seeing quite yet. I don’t want to give her bad news before both Amanda and I are absolutely sure we’re right about this.

Once Abby is relaxed, the fluid is inside of her, and Amanda is using the probe to give us a better view of what’s going on inside of Abby’s body, I need to sit down. My legs are trembling so much I can’t possible remain standing. Each time a new detail appears on the screen, I feel like the ground is getting shakier underneath my feet. I’m not the expert here, Amanda Gio is, but I know enough to see right away that there’s no way Abby will be able to conceive a child with blocked fallopian tubes, cysts, fibroids and polyps everywhere, and it everything looking… well, wrong. Some parts of her uterus look like they’re not even in the right place. The sonogram doesn’t look anything like the pictures you see in medical textbooks.

Abby’s uterus looks like a fucking Jigsaw puzzle.

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