Disclaimer: See Chapter 1
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Nydia came out of the trauma room, handing the chart over to Trudy. “Can you put that up with the others?”
“Sure, is it finished?” Trudy asked, placing the chart with the others.
“No, I'm having her taken down for some X-rays to see if any of the ribs are fractured. When she comes back up we can do a final exam. Right now there's no extreme danger, so we can put this off to the side until she comes back up.”
“Okay, no problem.”
Over the last week, Nydia was able to maintain a sense of professionalism when it came to her new duties. There had been a few cases that had come in, and she handled each one without too much trouble.
“You know, Nydia, I've been meaning to tell you I think you've been doing really well. You've been nothing but compassionate and professional since you took this new position. I thought for sure I'd have to clean at least one officer's body off the floor by now.” Trudy laughed.
Nydia thought back on it and had to agree with Trudy. She, herself was surprised at how well she was handling things.
“Gee, thanks for the vote of confidence,” Nydia said in a good-natured tone.
“Well, you have.”
“Thanks. I didn't think I could pull it off at first, but it's getting there.”
Nydia thought back on the last few days and the cases she had worked. Most had been relatively easy. Nothing more than your average cuts and bruises that seemed to be associated with any physical altercation. For the most part this allowed her to keep her distance from the police officers handling the cases. The only time she had a confrontation was when a somewhat more serious case had presented and one of the officers pushed her beyond her patience.
Nydia opened the rib spreaders hoping to get better access to the source of the bleeding in the woman's chest cavity. She was forced to get her nurse's attention when the door to the trauma room opened suddenly. “Steve, I need those sponges,” she called out. She took the time to glance up to see the source of the distraction. Standing with a pad in his hand was a uniformed police officer. Nydia took the time to notice his face go pale at the sight of her hand going into the patient's chest.
“What the hell do you think you're doing in here,” she demanded. “Get out!”
The officer made an attempt to gather himself. “Hrmph, I need a statement, in case she doesn't make it. It's SOP.”
“Listen moro… officer, I don't care about your standard operating procedures, get out.” Nydia told him without taking her focus away from her primary concern, her patient. If you need a statement from me I'll give it to you when I'm done. Now get out.”
“No buts. Trudy would you kindly escort the gentleman out of here? I'll give him a whatever he needs when I'm done here and not a moment sooner.”
“Yes, Dr. Gilman,” Trudy said, as she took the officer by the elbow.
Later, only after Nydia had washed up she answered the officer's questions in a short, direct fashion.
“I never doubted your ability to be professional, but I do notice you keep you're contact with the police to a bare minimum.”
“Yeah, perfect I'm not. It's enough I have to put up with them at all. Don't ask for too much. In the past I've had to listen to those people say, and do anything for each other. I'll only give them enough to do my job. Anything more, they don't deserve.”
“I know how hard it is for you Nydia, believe me. You won't let it interfere with your patients and what they need. You know me; I think you're the best we have, giving more compassion and empathy than most doctors.”
“Well, the police have been behaving themselves for the most part, so I don't see any reason not to cut them a little slack,” Nydia told her.
“Now if the patients were all that easy. Why some of them refuse the help we offer is beyond me.”
“The most we can do is offer everyone the same opportunities, compassion and assistance we would want for ourselves. I don't understand them myself, though. You would think these women would jump at the opportunity. Why would anyone put up with abuse? Do they really think their partners will change? People like that never change.” Nydia said.
“I understand. So, are you about ready to head out of here?” Trudy asked her as Nydia took her lab coat off.
“Yeah, it's been a long ass day today.”
“I'm sure, having that many traumas in one day will do that to you.”
“It was that last one that did me in. I hate working on little kids like that. I mean I love being able to help them, but it just breaks my heart to see them so broken. Does that make sense?” Nydia asked looking up at her friend from her seat at the desk.
“Yes it does. It means you have a good heart.”
“All the same….” Nydia's comment was over ridden by the squawk of the EMT radio behind her.
“Riverview ambulance Unit 3 with a possible assault victim, multiple traumas, ETA five minutes to your location.”
Trudy grabbed the microphone, and began getting the victim's vitals from the ambulance crew.
Meanwhile, Nydia grabbed one of the techs walking by, “Get Trauma 1 ready for an incoming.”
“Sure thing Doctor Gilman, I'm right on it,” the young man said as he rushed off.
Before Nydia had a chance to do anything more, she heard the radio go off again.
“Riverview Ambulance Unit 2 to Riverview Hospital, we are ETA three minutes to you. We have a male patient with a compound fracture to his arm.”
“Oh great just what I needed right now,” she said turning to see Trudy respond to the calls. “Meet me in Trauma 1. Goddard can handle the fracture.”
“Right behind you lady.”
Based on the details Trudy was given by the crew, she and Nydia spent the few moments they had getting the room set up the way they needed it.
Now it was a waiting game.
Nydia walked out of the trauma room, taking her gloves off and throwing them into the biohazard bin next to the door. She walked outside and met Trudy.
“Nydia, the patient you just had, her sister is waiting in the family room for you”
“Ok, thanks. I just wish I had better news for her.”
“I'm sure you will be gentle and caring, just as you always are.”
“You'll be fine, take a deep breath before you go in,” Trudy said, opening the door for Nydia to enter.
Nydia walked through and saw an older woman, the woman looked up as the door opened, a tissue in her hand. Her eyes were red and puffy from crying.
Nydia sat down in the seat next to her, “Hi, I'm Dr. Gilman, I treated your sister Stephanie today. I wanted to go over what her current state is and what we are doing to help her.”
“Doreen,” the woman said, by way of simple introduction. “How is she? I can't tell you how many times I told her to leave that bastard. This isn't the only time we've been here. But it's never been this bad.”
“Well, your sister did sustain some serious injuries. We got her stabilized; right now she's in surgery.”
“Will she be okay?” Doreen asked, wiping at her fresh tears.
“She suffered several injuries, some of which are very serious. We can't know the extent of her internal injuries until the surgeon can get a chance to look inside. That's where she is now. At the same time they will see if there are any head injuries that need to be taken care of. Stephanie's other injuries were a compound fracture of her left leg. Once she is done the doctors will transfer her to Recovery, and then the ICU.”
“What is a compound fracture, can I see her?”
“You'll be able to see her once they have her settled upstairs. I'm sure she'll be glad to have you with her when she wakes up. A compound fracture is a break of the bone that has come through the skin. Sometimes they can tear arteries when they do. Luckily that didn't happen to your sister, so the surgeon should be able to set it.”
“If only she had listened to all of us. My mother and sisters have been after her for years to leave that piece of shit. Sometimes I just wanted to drag her away from there, but she always insisted he loved her. That we just didn't understand. Bastard!”
“Doreen, Stephanie will need your support now more than ever. I can see your concern for her,” Nydia said, watching the tears fall out of the sad and troubled eyes. “But now it's your strength she needs, not your anger. Just keep remembering that she is alive, and for now that is all that matters. She will recover, that is what you need to focus on.” Nydia placed a reassuring hand over the woman's clasped ones.
“Thank you so much for what you've done for my sister, Dr. Gilman. I'll never be able to thank you for saving her tonight,” Doreen told her, looking up with a look of respect and gratitude in her eyes. “I'm sorry I lost my temper. I'm just so frustrated.”
“I understand, but remember she's not out of the woods, quite yet. I'll send the transport orderlies in to take you upstairs, and you can speak to her surgeon when he's through.”
As Nydia stood to leave, Doreen quickly rose and enclosed her in a comfort-seeking hug. Nydia returned it, trying to offer what little she could, given their roles. Once Doreen let go, Nydia walked out the door looking back as she pulled the door closed behind her.
The door closed behind her and Nydia walked over to the nurses' station to finish her paperwork on her last patient.
As she approached, she noticed raised voices coming from across the nurses' station desk, “Just what I need right now.” Nydia, by habit, ignored it as typical ER background noise. Standing nearby as she filled out her patient's chart, however, she couldn't help but overhear the heated discussion.
Nydia became aware that the subject was more than a normal spat based on the volume coming from one of the participants. Glancing over her shoulder, she saw a man wearing a police uniform. “Reason enough to ignore the idiots,” she muttered to herself, looking back at her work.
“I don't care what you want.” Nydia heard the woman say angrily, nearly shouting.
The police officer responded, “What I want is this collar, Powers. If that woman dies, I get the scum who did it for murder. That will get me one step closer to detective.”
“It won't get you squat except a lot of paperwork explaining why you went into that house without backup when the dispatcher told you to wait for us to get there. You can also inform everyone how a guy you cuffed suddenly broke his arm.”
“I don't have to explain shit to anyone, and you know it Powers. The only thing that matters to anyone is who you know, and we all know I got that covered.”
Nydia was disgusted with the conversation. “Typical.” She was sure no report would be made concerning the suspect's arm, or if it were it would just be covered up. “The only thing cop's care about are their own reputations, and how to get ahead of the game,” she muttered.
“I'm sorry, what did you say Dr. Gilman” the nurse asked.
“Nothing Marisa, just confirming an observation to myself.”
“Oh, okay,” Marisa said, raising her eyebrows, as she turned and left to check on something.
Quickly the pair's raised voices broke through to Nydia's attention again, “Listen Junior,” the voice said with disdain. “I don't care who your daddy is. You don't get the collar, and you better hope the suspect doesn't press charges, because no one in my unit is going to back you up on any lame ass story you come up with, so don't involve us in your mess.”
“Fine, Powers but don't think you've heard the last of this.”
With that last comment, Nydia heard the familiar sound of police issue shoes storming off. She could never understand how the solid staccato of police shoes could irritate her so much. She signed her name to the bottom of the chart and left it with the others.
Nydia stood quickly feeling the need to escape to the doctor's lounge. Only as she turned did she realized too late that somebody had come up behind her. Nydia ran into them. “I'm sorry,” she said, bending down to pick up the file she had dropped, some of the papers falling out.
“No, it was my fault. I shouldn't have been standing so close.” A woman's voice said. A figure bent down to try and help Nydia retrieve the papers.
Nydia suddenly recognized her as the officer she had treated a few weeks ago, and most importantly, one of the two voices she just heard arguing. She felt a smile envelope her face before she realized it was happening. She remembered the easy banter, and flirting between them with a feeling of affection inside her. The self-confidence with which the woman carried herself was evident. Most of all, Nydia liked the way the woman stood up to her fellow cop. It was unexpected.
The policewoman placed her hand on Nydia's arm. “Are you okay?”
Nydia felt warmth through the light fabric of her lab coat. Realizing she was staring, Nydia quickly tried to look anywhere but in Jo's eyes. Unfortunately, her own eyes then were instead drawn to the woman's chest and the way the tailored shirt she wore did nothing to hide her ample breasts. “Uhm, yeah I'm fine thanks.”
“Well, I just wanted to say thanks for how you took such good care of me when I was in here.” Jo said.
“No problem officer, I was doing my job,” Nydia said in a serious tone. Deep down this woman was still a cop and nothing would change that.
As Jo took her hand away, Nydia felt the immediate loss of the touch, and thought she saw the same in Jo's eyes.
“Even so, I really appreciated it.”
“Well, I was glad to help, Officer Powers” she said, as she found herself looking at the woman, and feeling the corners of her mouth begin to lift into a smile despite her intentions.
Jo reacted with a goofy grin, but shook her head, as if remembering her reason for being there. “I was wondering how the woman was that was brought in? The beating victim?”
“Oh, yes, I was supposed to go over that with the new head IPV Unit officer, I forgot.” She said as she looked around for another police officer.
“Well that would be me, so you're in luck.”
“Oh,” Nydia said with a surprised look. It was her experience that woman weren't usually given lead roles in the local police system. “Alright, yes, well, she will be touch and go for the next 24 hours. She is up in surgery now and they are working on stopping the internal bleeding in her abdomen, as well as her brain. If there is no more swelling to the brain and they can stop the other bleeding, she should live. We'll have to wait for her to wake up to ascertain any cognitive damage. Hopefully it will be minimal. I don't foresee too many complications other than infection, and the head injury.”
“Do you have anything as far as evidence goes.”
Nydia's anger rose at the callous question. Her jaw muscles clenched as she responded. “No, I'm sorry Officer we were too busy saving her life, we just didn't have the luxury of time for that. You can take pictures and what not when they take her to ICU.”
Jo raised an eyebrow. “Okay between the pictures, her injuries and what we recovered at the scene that should be enough to go on. I hope she comes out of this okay, like you said.” Jo responded.
Nydia noticed Jo's questioning look. For a moment she caught a glimpse of the intelligence within those eyes and felt guilty about her reaction. Feelings were not something she was not used to from most of the police she had the non-pleasure of dealing with. Then again she usually didn't care enough to look that hard.
For some reason Nydia looked past the uniform with Jo. She didn't want this meeting to end today. Her mind was going against everything she believed in. She had learned over the years, not to enjoy such interactions, but still she wanted to prolong this particular encounter with this one unique officer.
“Uhm, would you like to grab some coffee? I mean if you want to go over the details or something.” Nydia heard herself ask before she had the time to think.
Nydia noticed a smile cross over Jo's face.
“I'd love nothing more right now,” Jo said, as Nydia began leading the way.
Nydia could have sworn she heard her add, “Except to spend time with you,” but because of the loud background noise of the ER she couldn't be sure. However, the thought of Jo saying such a thing brought a sense of joy to her.
Nydia took them towards the doctor's lounge. As much as she hated it, Nydia couldn't help the instinctual shudder that came at the noise Jo's badge made as it clinked when she walked. She had always hated the sound of that and police equipment belts. It created a visceral reaction in her. But, as Jo came around to hold the door open for her, her unease vanished and she was able to put it out of her mind. “Thank you,” Nydia said.
“My pleasure entirely,” Jo said with a grin and a wink.
Nydia couldn't help but look back at the woman, and casually reached out to touch the hand on the knob of the door in thanks. Slowly removing her hand, she said, “Grab a seat. I'll get the coffee. How do you take it?”
“Milk and a little sugar are fine.” Jo watched Nydia pour the coffee with intensity in her look.
Nydia was hard pressed to miss, watching Jo out of the corner of her eyes.
Nydia placed a coffee in front of Jo and took the seat next to her. “So what happened? When that woman came in, she was in very bad shape,” she asked Jo.
“Stephanie Wilkes, that's her name. We got a call to her house from one of the neighbors. It was the fifth time we had been called there in the last several months. Each time Ralph, her boyfriend, had beaten her worse than the last time. Each time she refused to press charges and we didn't have enough on it to pick him up.” Jo said looking down into her coffee with a frown. “He was a smart one. He left no visible marks. But you could read the pain in her eyes. This last time the unit car that responded didn't wait for us. Some hothead went running in there alone, said he found Ralph kicking her all over with his work boots.” Jo let out a deep sigh. “By the time we came on the scene Ralph was handcuffed with a broken arm, screaming about police abuse, and Stephanie was lying on the floor bleeding all over unconscious. We called in the ambulance. The rest you know. The pictures we will take of Stephanie's bruises should match up with the work boots. He left some pretty good impressions on her from what I saw on scene. We'll have that along with the blood all over them.”
Nydia enjoyed it as the two sat in silence for a few minutes, each drinking their coffee. Nydia was lost in their own thoughts.
“Why do it?” Nydia asked, breaking the moment. “I mean why work on the IPV Unit? It never changes. The people just keep going back.” She knew it sounded callous, but the idea of being in such a position herself frustrated her. Even then, she dealt with such people in the ER herself. Then she could force herself to only focus on the trauma, not the person. Once they were out of the ER others took over the fight. She helped where she could, but understood her limits. She knew the statistics. Most would go back to their abusers and would be returning to the ER soon enough.
“I do it for the people who we can save. For every Stephanie, there are others willing to be saved. I admire those who can take a risk on the unknown, and get their children, and/or themselves, out of that kind of situation. They want to make a better life for themselves, and their kids.”
Nydia could see the pride on Jo's face, and hear it in her voice when she talked of her job. She was surprised. Jo seemed like an officer who was doing the job for all the right reasons. To be someone who actually protected and served the community. Not to gain power and control over others, or try and bend people to her will. Nydia felt actual admiration for this woman. Something she had never felt before with a cop. Lightly placing her hand on Jo's knee, she said, “That's very admirable.”
Jo squeaked out a reply, blushing at the compliment. “Thank you but it's just my job, and I love doing it.” Clearing her throat she continued, “So, why do you do what you do?”
Nydia sat quietly for a moment unsure what to say. She thought about giving some pat answer, but then she looked at the woman next to her. She thought of the honest answer she had received. Nydia couldn't let herself give anything less. With a deep sigh she admitted, “I'm not sure anymore.”
“What makes you question yourself?”
“I just don't know if I still care as much as I used to. There was a time I lived and breathed this job. Helping people was my main concern. The adrenaline rush and solving medical mysteries were secondary to me. Now I feel like I care more about that than the people I work on. I'm constantly repairing the damage others do to people, or to themselves. I guess I'm just burnt out.”
Jo looked at her with a surprised expression, “You're not old enough to be burned out.”
“Thirty four is plenty old enough.”
“No it's not. I think you just need some time to yourself. I bet you have no life outside of here, do you?”
Nydia gave a small smile to Jo, “No, not much of one.”
Jo offered an idea. “Well, I bet if we fixed that you'd begin to feel better about things. You know what they say about no play.” Jo quickly sat up straight in her chair. “I've got the perfect solution, bowling.”
“Bowling?” Nydia asked incredulously. “What is that going to do? I haven't been bowling since high school.”
“Well there you go. You've gone through bowling deprivation.”
“Bowling deprivation?” Nydia's face showed signs of her disbelief, “You've got to be kidding.”
“No, I'm serious. I never kid about bowling. We need to get it back in your soul.” Jo said with a broad smile that lit up her face.
“My Soul?” Nydia was truly beginning to enjoy the ridiculousness of the conversation. “And how do you propose we do that.”
“Are you working tonight?” Jo asked.
“I get off at six o'clock tonight. Why?” She asked.
“Fine, I'll pick you up here at six. We can go out and grab a bite before we go.”
“'Pro-Star Lanes', of course. I'm taking you bowling tonight.” Jo said, as she stood up. Without waiting for a response, she walked away and opened the door. Turning back around she said, “It's a date then. I'll see you at six.” With that, she closed the door behind her.
Nydia sat alone in the break room in stunned silence. Did Jo just ask her out on a date?
She was still sitting there when Trudy walked in. “Oh, there you are. I need you to take a look at the guy in two.”
“What?” Nydia said, trying to shake herself out of her disbelief.
“I said I need you to look at the guy in two.” Trudy looked at her friend closely. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, but I think I'm going out on a date tonight.” Nydia said almost to herself. “With a cop.” She added. She felt a lump from fear form in her throat. With effort she swallowed it down. She could feel the panic as her hands began to shake. Nydia took a deep breathe and forced herself to relax.
“Yoohoo!” Trudy yelled out, putting the chart she was holding down on the table as she sat down. “So you finally agreed to go out with tall, dark, and gorgeous.”
Nydia looked at her friend with shock. “What do you mean finally? She just asked me. Well, told me really.”
“Oh, admit it. You two were eyeing each other from the moment she stepped into this hospital.”
“I was not. I told you I don't date police officers.”
“Well apparently you do now,” she said with a smug expression on her face, walking out.“Apparently,” Nydia repeated, as she looked at the now closed door.
To Be Continued
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