Close Encounters with Science: Picks
Something Happened by Gwenellen Tarbet
A rush of blood soaks my pants and runs down my leg. I frown, and watch puzzled as it spreads onto the grimy pea green carpet. For a moment all I can think is, "That's going to leave a stain." Then, "Where is all this blood coming from?"
Kevin my co-worker stands motionless, staring at the red blooms at my feet.
Grey fog clouds my eyes and I hear my voice from far away. "Kevin, can you get me some paper towel?"
The glare of florescent lights against my eyelids pulls me from the darkness. My eyes tear and I pull my legs up as my abdomen clenches in rhythmic pain. Doug, my husband whispers, "You're going to be fine hon." and squeezes my hand. I want to tell him to let go and let me slide back into the nothingness, but my tongue is coated with lead.
Someone says, "Give her some Demerol."
Next time it's the doctor's voice that pulls me back. He waits for me to focus on his face and speaks slowly. "You've lost a lot of blood. Luckily you were only about ten weeks along, so it’s nothing too serious. We're sending you to Regional for a D&C. It will be like it never happened."
Doug squeezes my hand. I turn to him. "The doctor says it never happened."
The blood has stopped by the time they load me into the ambulance. Doug assures me that he will be right behind me in the car. I try to hold on to the idea that nothing's really happened, but it still feels like a funeral procession.
At Regional, the nurse tucks me into bed. I'm shaking violently and she piles warm blankets on top of me. We wait. This doctor has dark circles under his eyes and a permanent scowl. He's abrupt and efficient.
"I've ordered an ultrasound." He says over his shoulder as he leaves.
I shuffle gingerly into the twilight of the ultrasound room, and avoid looking at the black monitor. I don't need to see what won't be there. I lay back and count the holes in the ceiling tiles, pretending that I'm somewhere else.
"Well hello." The tech says softly.
I turn my head and see a silver flutter against the black of the screen. A tiny tadpole made of light, floating in an infinite universe.
"Isn't that a heart? I croak.
I lay watching. I don't dare take my eyes off the screen.
"How can you still be there?" I whisper.
The doctor comes in and the light from the ultrasound reflects off his face as he studies the image.
I grasp his arm. "They're going to do a D and C tomorrow."
Hey pats my hand. "Not anymore."
When I see Doug, I smile through the tears, “Something’s happened.”
Gwenellen Tarbet is from Penticton, BC