It has been a terrible day. Friday, 13 October. Not that he was superstitious. He just had a bad damn luck in general. How else could you explain the fact that he was sitting in the exam room of the Chicago General at 8 pm on a Friday instead of wearing the stress from the workweek off in a bar with his brother or, even better, chilling at home in front of his brand new huge and expensive TV. Instead, here he was in this small white room, lying on the cot and pressing a cloth to his bleeding nose. He sighed and pried the cloth away experimentally to check if the bleeding has stopped.
The cloth was half soaked in bright ruby fluid but the bleeding seemed to finally cease. The metallic smell of it was giving him nausea. How much longer was he supposed to wait here for a doc to come and check on him? He toyed with the idea of skedaddling. The bleeding has stopped, right?
As if on cue, he felt another droplet run down his nose and onto his lips. He cursed and pressed the cloth back to his nose creating pressure. Today it had been a particularly long and intense episode of bleeding. Maybe his brother was right, after all. He did need to get it checked. Who knows how long he would have kept ignoring this situation if today the bleeding hadn't started during his afternoon meeting, right when he stood up to present the project in front of a bunch of important customers. It was fierce, blood running down in a tiny but strong current, dripping onto his crispy white shirt and leaving dark deep red stains on the papers splayed out in front of him on the table. He cursed out loud again. At least he was able to convince his assistant to go home after she had helped him to fill the forms and made sure he was taken into the exam room. He could only hope she didn't call his brother because if he would show up at the hospital now and see him in his bloodied shirt, Michael would never hear the end of it.
It couldn't be that bad, after all, if they still kept him waiting alone in this room not caring if maybe he bled to death by now. Right in that moment the door finally opened and a petite doctor rushed in. Well, it's about time, he thought. At least the doctor was not hard on the eyes. She was tall and slender, reddish hair hanging losely around her face. She came closer and he could distinguish her big hazel eyes and light pink perfectly shaped lips. Wait, did his vision just blur a little? He caught himself staring at her and realized she had asked him a question he didn't really hear. Embarrassing. He was here to get himself checked, not to stare at the beautiful doctor. He wasn't the kind of man to stare at women unabashedly even if they were that good-looking.
- What was it? – he asked.
- I have asked you, how long have you been having these nosebleeds, Mr. Scofield? - she repeated, frowning a little, concerned about his stunned expression.
- My name is Michael, - he said instead of answering her question. He had no idea why he said that.
- I know. I read you file, - she nodded and looked at him expectantly.
Right, she still wanted the answer to her medical question.
– This definitely wasn't the first time your nose bled like that, is that right?
Michael tried to concentrate. Suddenly he felt tired and a little dizzy.
- It wasn't. I had it.. last week. And the week before that. And a couple more times. It had never been so excessive, though.
She was measuring his blood pressure at this point. Good, he could close his eyes for a bit.
- I'm afraid we will have to keep you here overnight, Mr. Scofield.
- Don't tell my brother, - came a weak reply and he blacked out.
When he opened his eyes the next time, he found himself in a different room. Still at the hospital, but the room was a little bigger. He looked around, noticing how bright the light coming from the window was. Must be morning. He looked down at himself noticing an IV transporting clear liquid into his vein and a hospital gown he was dressed in. Great. At least there were no blood stains on it. He hoped it wasn't the beautiful doctor, who changed him into it.
- It's not a doctor's job to do that, you moron, - he whispered to himself sleepily.
- What? – came a deep raspy voice somewhere from the right.
He turned and saw his brother sitting in a flimsy hospital chair near the bed.
- Oh. So they did call you, - he casted his eyes down avoiding his brother's gaze.
- Yeah, they did. The fuck are you doing to yourself, Michael? – Lincoln didn't sound angry (yet), but Michael knew it was only the start and kept looking straight ahead, not meeting his eyes. – How long were you going to ignore this shit? What, until you bled to death alone in your apartment in the middle of the night?
- Remind me to cut Julie's salary.
- Julie didn't call me. The hospital did. This is not a joke, Michael. They're going to do a ton of tests because they think it must be something serious, and guess what, when half a gallon of blood streams out of your nose, like water through fire-hydrant it is damn serious, and only a selfless workaholic idiot like you would suggest it's not.
Lincoln stood up angrily and headed for the door: - I'm going to get the doctor.
The door slammed behind him and Michael couldn't help adding "End of rant". His brother was right of course. He was neglecting himself. He was selfless and he was a workaholic. And it was much easier to ignore the problem than to actually act upon it. Because now that it was out in the open, they will probably diagnose him with something serious and dangerous, and he will be obliged to spend a lot of time in the hospital, running tests, undergoing treatments.. His brother would hover over him, neglecting his own life and job, constantly worrying … Michael hated causing so much trouble to his only family – his older brother and his nephew. He'd probably prefer bleeding to death quietly alone in his apartment.. He mentally ordered himself to calm down, he wasn't dying. Maybe it's not that bad. He is getting help. And he didn't choose to get sick.
Lincoln came back in a couple of minutes with the beautiful doctor from last night. Seeing her has lifted Michael's spirits a tiny bit.
- How are you feeling today, Mr. Scofield? – she asked looking at him attentively. She had a bunch of papers in her elegant hands.
Michael looked closely at her in return. She seemed tired. Grey circles under her eyes. Her lovely face looked paler than yesterday.
- I'm doing better, Doctor.. Better, than yesterday. How are you doing?
(He heard Lincoln click his tongue beside the woman, but he ignored it and continued: ) – You look tired. Long overnight shift?
He could practically hear Lincoln rolling his eyes. Michael Scofield, ever the gentleman. He could be lying in a hospital bed sick but wouldn't ignore another person's struggle.
The doctor looked at him curiously and shifted her gaze to her papers.
- I'm doing fine, you shouldn't be worrying about me, Michael. Let's concentrate on your well-being, alright? We're going to run some tests to find what's causing your symptoms. I'm afraid you will have to stay here for now.
He sighed. He had already figured it. At least the cute doctor called him by his first name. It made her sound less official and helped wear some of his uneasiness away. And also reminded him of something.
- I'm sorry, Doctor, I wasn't in my best shape yesterday, which must be the reason I didn't memorize your name. Since you're going to treat me, I am gonna need to know it, right?
She smiled a little.
- My name is Sara Tancredi. I will probably be your doctor only until we diagnose you, and then, depending on the diagnosis I will pass you to an according specialist.
- He might need a narrow specialist? How sick is he, doc? What do you assume the diagnosis could be? – Lincoln chimed in voicing his concerns in numerous questions at once.
Michael has tuned them off as soon as he heard the word "tumor". Turned out he wasn't quite ready to fathom this possibility just yet. Even though tumors could be benign. He concentrated on the doctor's face instead, watching her lips moving, spilling out scary and threatening words. She had swept her hand over her forehead twice within the last 2 minutes. He looked into her hazel eyes and they seemed a little too watery, glistening not in a healthy way. He hoped his doctor wasn't sick herself. Despite her obvious fatigue, she still looked pretty to him. And she had a nice name. Simple yet elegant, it suited her well. Her last name seemed vaguely familiar to him but he couldn't place it in his frail state. He closed his eyes, ignoring his brother's worried look and doctor's endless tirade replete with medical terms.
Two days later they had finally let him out of their whitewashed institution with strict orders to stay away from work and any physical activity until he gets the call with test results and hopefully, his diagnosis, as well as further instructions. Lincoln had immediately sent his son over with stern instructions to watch Michael follow the doctors' orders and not let him hang too long on the phone with his office.
After 2 phone calls to his assistant within 1 hour, Michael sneaked into the bathroom to talk to his work partner. He didn't know how many minutes have passed, but probably quite a few, because he heard a knock on the bathroom door and fell silent.
- Uncle Mike, is everything okay? – came his nephew's slightly concerned voice.
- Yeah, don't worry, LJ, I just uh needed to use the bathroom.
- Okay. But dad is on the phone.. He says if you will keep sneaking to the bathroom to be on the phone with your office, he's gonna move in with you and you will only be allowed to visit bathroom under his supervision.
Nearly dropping the phone on the tiled floor, Michael jumped out of the bathroom.
This was exactly what he had been trying to avoid by purposefully ignoring his health problem. He sighed and settled on the couch with a stack of science magazines. David had it under control at work and he might as well have some rest for real, in order not to escalate things with his overprotective brother. And for his own good. LJ nodded approvingly and engaged himself with texting whichever girl he had a crush on these days, occupying the nearby armchair
The next two days had been slow and boring for Michael, his nephew babysitting him by day and his brother coming over at the evenings. He had no bleedings and overall felt pretty good. Maybe it was a small unimportant thing after all? Everyone has nosebleeds from time to time.. He was gradually becoming impatient and unbearably bored. He wasn't used to sit at home and do nothing. Finally, when he was about to riot, his phone rang and upon answering he heard his doctor's voice asking him to come over to the hospital to hear the test results and his diagnosis.
- How bad is it, Doctor Tancredi? If you can't tell it over the phone, I assume it's pretty bad, isn't it?
She had dodged his question professionally and here he was, driving through occupied roads and mentally preparing himself for the worst, his nephew sulking on the passenger's seat.