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            “Are you currently sexually active?”

            “No, I’ve never had sex before.”

            She raised a skeptical eyebrow at me and marked something on her clipboard. I raised an eyebrow back at her.

            “Do you plan on becoming sexually active in the near-future?”

            “I dunno. I haven’t really given it much thought.”

            “Have you ever been pregnant before?”

            “No. I think that’d be hard to do since I’m a virgin and all.”

            She pursed her lips and made another mark on the form.

            “Any miscarriages?”

            “Is there not a box for N/A items on the form?”

            She sighed and narrowed her eyes at me. “If you’re not sexually active, and you have no plans on becoming sexually active, then why do you want to go on depo provera, Miss Dickerson?”

            “It’s Dickinson, but it’s all good. That’s an oddly common mistake.”

She scowled.

I sighed. “I’ve had incredibly painful menstrual cramps for years, and now it’s just as bad when I ovulate.”

            “Have you considered taking pain medication?”

            “I usually go back and forth between Advil and Tylenol. I’ve had several doctors suggest something stronger like Vicodin, but it tends to do bad things to me.”

            “Well, then I guess birth control medication is a good idea in your case.”

            “That’s kind of what I was thinking.”

            “Alright then. Would you prefer your bicep or your buttocks?”

            “Bicep, please. Since we’ve only just met, I’d rather not drop my pants for you yet.”

            She finally cracked a smile, but only a little one. If I had to guess, her job had simply left her jaded. Too many teenage girls in crisis, too many hush-hush abortions, too many irresponsible people for her taste. I wondered if this was what she thought she’d be doing with her life after nursing school, but my ruminations were rudely interrupted by the large needle she shoved into my left arm.

            Her face came floating into my mind’s eye years later, and it bothered me that I couldn’t remember her name. It was a Tuesday, my second day on a new job, and I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe I was dying. When I got up that morning, my first thought was, Ok, whatever. Breakthrough bleeding. This is what I get for trying this hard to control my body. But then it got heavier.

            Around noon, I had my first fainting spell. My new manager sent me back to the break room to have some water and put my head between my knees. I stopped by the bathroom on the way there and discovered I’d soaked yet another sanitary napkin. Twenty minutes later, I soaked another one. And another, and another….

            They sent me to lunch, and I feebly fed myself, though the smell of food made me want to vomit. I thought about calling Matt to pick me up, but then I reminded myself it was only my second day, and bailing that soon wouldn’t look too great to my new employers.

            After a long internal debate with myself, I finally decided that I wouldn’t go to the emergency room, but I would at least call my doctor and make an appointment for the end of the week. If nothing else, I could always go to the ER after work.

            We had steak that night. It was life and death: if I had bloody, rare red meat, I knew I’d live. If I opted for anything else, I would certainly perish. I didn’t eat my potato, and I skipped the veggies. Just the steak. It was the only thing I could think of eating without wanting to gag.

            The bleeding continued through the next day just as heavily, and then it finally ebbed by Thursday.

            “Precious, I’m worried about you,” Matt kept saying. I’d stand up, begin to faint, and he’d have to catch me again and again.

            “I’m worried about me, too. I just have to make it to my appointment on Friday, and I’ll be ok. Oh, son of a bi–“ And then I fell to the floor yet again.

            I could barely keep my eyes open by the time I got to Half Moon Bay. My hands shook, and my head spun in hopeless circles. I must have looked as terrible as I felt, because when the secretary looked up at me, he immediately suggested I sit down. I took his advice and collapsed into a chair until the MA called me into one of the examination rooms.

            “What brings you in today, Karin?” Jessica asked.

            I had geometry with you in high school. What the hell? I’m not gonna tell you anything, I thought as I gazed at the MA.


            “Oh, sorry. I think I had a miscarriage this week.” The words fell out of my mouth before I could stop them. I could feel tears trying their best to escape, but I blinked them away.

            She seemed a little surprised, but she maintained her cool. “Ok, well, let’s take your temperature and blood pressure, shall we?” She scribbled something on my chart before reaching for the thermometer.

            I was below normal on both accounts, as usual, though that didn’t stop Jessica from putting little stars next to her findings anyway.

            “Dr. Carrington will be with you shortly,” Jessica said and smiled at me. She had a worried look on her face, but I wasn’t in much of a mood to care. I was dying…or something else had died…but either way I felt like shit, and I didn’t care what she thought about me. My head effing hurt, and it was almost all I could think about.

            Dr. Carrington had that same worried look after she glanced at my chart. She asked me to describe to her exactly what had happened that week, and when I finished, she asked why I hadn’t gone to the ER. I told her I’d just started a new job, and she let out an exasperated sigh.

            “Karin, when you’re bleeding so much that you nearly faint, that’s a sign that something’s very wrong. You should have gone to the ER on Tuesday.”

            “Woulda, shoulda, coulda….” I trailed off. It was hard to hold my head up, and my eyelids had suddenly gotten much heavier.

            “From what you’ve told me, I think you’re right. You had a miscarriage this week, and looking at you now, it’s left you very anemic.” One thing I’ve always liked about her is how direct and to the point she is.

            “I’ve been having steak with almost every meal since Tuesday night.”

            “Do you normally eat red meat?”

            “No. It’s the only thing that hasn’t made me want to barf, though.”

            “Yeah, I’d say you’re anemic. We could do a blood test, but I think draining you of even more blood is a stupid idea at this point. I don’t really want to put you on iron pills, because knowing you, they’ll seriously mess your stomach up. I think the best way to treat this is how you’ve been instinctively doing it. Keep eating high-iron foods, and if you don’t start to feel better in a week or two, call me, and I’ll put you on iron supplements.”

            I thanked her and left her office in a daze. Food. I needed food, and I needed it fast. I cautiously drove to McDonald’s on the other side of town, ordered at the drive-though, and ate my burger in the parking lot. It wasn’t nearly as good as the steaks I’d been having, but it did the trick enough to get me back on the road home.

            Matt was lying in my bed watching a movie when I got home. He looked up at me hopefully and smiled. “How’d it go, Precious?”

            Again, the words just cascaded out of my mouth, “I had a miscarriage, and it made me anemic.” I was surprised at how deadpan it sounded in my own ears.

            Shock plastered itself across his face, and I sat down on the foot of the bed as he closed the laptop and let it slide to the floor.

            “But, Precious, how could that have happened? You’re still taking your pills, right?” Typical male reaction straight out of a sitcom? Maybe.

            “Of course I am,” I whispered. A lump began to form in my throat.

            “Then how did this happen?”

            “I don’t know. A fluke?” I could feel the tears trying to return, and I took a deep breath, not even knowing why I wanted to cry so badly.

            “Maybe this isn’t the right time to ask this, but did you know you were pregnant?”

            The dam finally broke. I put my face in my hands and began to sob. My whole body shook, and though I was afraid I’d faint again, I didn’t try to stop the tears. “No,” I sobbed, “but if I had, I’d have done everything I could to prevent this. And I know I’m crazy about not getting pregnant, and I know I’m a fiend about taking my damn pills, but despite the odds, it still happened. Anything that tries that hard to live deserves a chance.” My voice broke, and for a brief moment, I could barely breathe.

            He wrapped his arms around my shaking shoulders and pulled me to the top of the bed and close to his body.

            “Oh, Precious, I’m so sorry. Did it hurt?” he asked.

            “I don’t know. No, not really,” I said between sobs.

            “Your poor little body. How do we fix this? Did your doctor put you on iron pills?”

            I shook my head. “She said to just keep eating high-iron foods.”

            “Ok, we’ll keep feeding you beef, then,” he smiled weakly and wiped a tear from my cheek. It was then that I really looked at him for the first time since that morning, and I realized that he, too, was weeping.

            “Precious, I didn’t mean to make you cry,” I whispered. I ran my fingers through his hair with a frail hand, and he caught it in his own before I let it drop to my side.

            “You are the love of my life, and you’re in despair.”

            I nodded.

            “I wish this hadn’t happened to you.”

            “Me, too.” I took a deep breath.

            He kissed my hand and pulled me closer to him. “Oh, Precious, I really, really wish you didn’t have to go through all this. Your poor little body. How can I help make it better?”

            I kissed his hand and then his lips. “You already have. I love you.”

            “I love you, too, Precious.”



Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Sven Dickinson
    November 9, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Jesus. I’m so sorry that you had to go through that. Sorry sister.

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