It's early April and Matt Slingerland, MD, posing now Matt Slingerland, Medical Detective, has been recruited by some of his colleagues at WHO to be UMC's SARS Control Manager (Matt, in my fanfiction world, worked with a WHO vaccination program in Kenya; see: Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained).
To pre-empt any SARS cases at the hospital and to keep Federal Health Officials better informed about patient movement in the event of SARS breakout, UMC has decided to voluntarily restrict patient visiting hours in an effort to contain any possible cases.
The visiting restrictions hit hardest in the Maternity and in the Labor and Delivery departments where patients and their families expect and are used to family members wandering in and out of the labor rooms. Up in the Newborn Unit, patients and their familes are no longer allowed extended visiting hours to 'bond' with the newborn.
Matt is quite strained by his added responsibilities--it's not the extra workload, for Matt is quite capable of handing additional duties. It's the reaction of some of the patients and their families which strains Matt's emotional resources.
While Matt is dealing with the patients' famlies, Rae is dealing with a young patient of her own.
Today, Rae is going to receive the shock of her life & at some point in the future, she will have to make a life changing decision--alone. She is, however, oblivious to the fact her life is about to change as she goes about her daily business of fighting the biggest war she knows how: cancer.
There's been some news lately about new treatments for certain types of cancer. One treatment is highly controversial, but Rae has been leaning towards enrolling her pediatric patient in the study.
Problem is, the patient is opposed to the drug used in the study. She is also in the state's care as a foster child. All the members of her family were killed in a road accident when she was six years old. She's brash like Jules--a fact that has not gone unnoticed at Presidio.
This patient--a mature 12 going on 30 by the name of Tangie Grayson Miller (TG for short)--is quite the the young lady and has been giving Nicholas a run for his money as the two have been playing poker during odd moments....Nick and TG have just finished up a game of poker in TG's hospital room.
Rae, in lab whites, is standing just outside the doorway looking in at the end of the game. She is silent.
TG: "That's two vanilla cokes you owe me!"
TG wiggles the pencil on the paper pad she holds in her lap. "And that makes it an even six pack."
Nicholas smiles at her
TG: "I expect payment promptly, young man!"
Nicholas laughs. "All right, I'll pay by the end of this week. On payday."
TG: "No. Now!"
Rae chooses this moment to cough lightly. Nick and TG look over at the doorway. Rae looks uncomfortable being in the room with Nicholas but he merely smiles at her.
N: "I'll drop by later, Tangie. I see Doctor Brennan has some business with you."
TG: "Don't try to fob off that other soft drink on me!"
N: (laughing) "Not a chance!"
R: "Other soft drink?"
TG: "Yeah. You know, that other soft drink."
Nicholas stands up, and smiles at Rae. "She means Pepsi. I'll leave her in your capable hands."
Rae says nothing but manages to look uncomfortable. TG is studying Rae's face.
TG: "You two have something naughty going on, don't you?"
Both Nick and Rae glance at TG.
TG: "It's okay if you do. I don't mind."
R: "I'm speechless."
Nick's pager goes off, rescuing him. "Off to the races. Later, TG."
TG: "Vanilla coke and don't you forget it!" she calls as Nick exits the room, leaving TG and Rae alone. Nick holds up his hand in response as TG looks at Rae.
TG: "Well? Good news or bad?"
TG: "Depends? If it was really bad news, you'd have my social worker here. Speaking of her, where is she?"
R: "On other cases."
TG: "Figures. She says her workload is really high and that's why I don't see her as often."
R: "She does know what I'm about to tell you."
R: "Yeah. You being a state child complicated matters but Dr Keating helped pull your case through the red tape."
TG: "You talking about that trial study?"
R: "A trial study. You don't qualify for the study I previously told you about."
TG: (narrowing her eyes) "What new trial?"
R: "It's rather controversial."
TG: "How so?"
R: (sitting down on the edge of TG's bed) "The study uses a type of drug that was outlawed in the Sixties because of the high possibility of birth defects."
TG: "I'm 12. I just got my period, I just got my breasts and I just finished reading Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret. I'm not going to get pregnant if that's what they're worried about."
R: "It's not that simple. See, this banned medicine caused thousands of babies worldwide to be born without arms or legs. Sometimes the babies were born with hands growing out of their shoulders."
TG: (narrowing her eyes) "And a cancer drug did this?"
R: "It wasn't called a cancer drug then. The medicine was prescribed for morning sickness during pregnancy. That's how the babies were born with birth defects. Their mothers took this medicine to control morning sickness during the first three months gestation. But the first three months gestation of a fetus is when the limbs are developing."
TG: "You're talking about thalidomide."
R: "Yes. Only it's known as thalomid nowadays."
TG: (her face falling) "I thought you were talking about a cancer drug. I know about thalidomide babies. One of my foster parents's brothers was a thalidomide baby. His arms were affected."
R: "Tangie, the study I want to enroll you in uses thalomid."
TG: "I don't know. Roy is very vocal about the use of thalidomide...I mean, thalomid."
R: "There's a good chance that thalomid could help put your MM into remission."
TG: "It's multiple myleoma and I want the cancer to go away."
R: "Thalomid could do that."
R: "Then you'll enroll in the study?"
TG: "I didn't say that. I said I want the cancer to go away. I spent a year with Roy's family and he was the second best uncle I ever had in my life...the best uncle being my departed uncle Barry. Roy showed me how to rollerblade, took me on my first sail and he was the first person to ever beat me at doing the New York Times crossword!"
R: "Tangie. You've got a better chance of survival if you try the thalomid therapy."
TG: (angrily) "It's not up to me anyways and you know that just as well as I do. You're only asking me because Clara feels she needs to give me the feeling of being in control of my life as I'm being booted from one home to another. Her words exactly.
R: "When you put it that way, yes, the decision has been made for you. But not by Clara."
TG: "By whom, then?"
R: "By Judge Wilkins."
TG: "That crusty man decided I'd go into this study?"
TG: "When did he decide this?"
R: "Courier just sent the letter today." (Rae reaches in to her lab pocket and pulls out a folded letter. She hands the letter to TG who unfolds the letter and reads it, scowling.
TG: "He does understand that I am opposed to thalidomide."
R: "He probably didn't know that, Tangie."
TG: "Yes he did so know that I am opposed to thalidomide."
R: "How did he know?"
TG: "Once in a while, Judge Wilkins gets it into his head to put a face to the name and he asks the kids to come into his courtroom so he can see them in person. My turn came when I was living with Roy's family."
R: "And Judge Wilkins asked you what kind of family you were living with?"
TG: "Yep. Do they treat me right, do they have me doing so many chores that my schoolwork suffers, do I get locked in my room, do I get my allowance. He actually reads from a list of questions on his bench. I told him they were treating me fine and that I had developed an opinion about things."
R: "What did he say to that?"
TG: "He asked me what my opinion was and I told him how about Roy and thalidomide."
R: "How long ago did you live with Roy?"
TG: "The Schumakers. When I was eight."
R: "Judge Wilkins probably forgot about you. Have you seen him since?"
TG: "Just one other time when I was ten. But he has notes on everyone. Clara told me that. Everyone who comes through his courtroom and asks those questions to, he has the answers typed out and he reviews the answers before he meets you again."
R: "He sounds like he wants you to live."
TG: "I wish there was another way. When does this study start?"
R: (looking down at the bedsheet, Rae plays with the edge of the linen) "There's a catch. See, the state is your parent and with the red tape and snafus, I couldn't get you enrolled for the current study until the state gave their permission."
TG: "So, I'm not actually in the study?"
R: "Not in this round. There is another round that you will now be elibigle for and that's the study Judge Wilkins agreed to let you into."
TG: "How long until the study starts?"
R: "Six months."
TG: "That's an awful long time, Doctor Brennan."
R: "I know."
TG: "Anything can happen in the meantime."
R: "There's six months of additional treatments I can try. Think you can hold out?"
R: "Okay. Now, I've got to leave."
TG: "Yeah, yeah. Busy schedule with you being an oncologist. Why don't you try something easier, like surgery?"
R: (laughing) "I prefer a nine to five job."
TG: "Doctor Kokoris likes his schedule. Says it keeps him on his toes never knowing what to expect or when."
R: (drily) "Sounds like fun."
Rae gets up off the bed. "Now into bed for you."
TG: "Doctor Brennan, I turned 12 two weeks ago. I am not a baby."
R: "Then watch tv. I'll see you before my shift ends."
TG: "All right. I ain't mad at you."
Rae turns and leaves Tangie's room before TG can say anything else. Once outside the room, she sways a bit, and rests her hand against the wall for support. Standing still, she sees the world tip to the side then back up again.
R: "Whoo. Need to grab a bite."
Getting her balance back, Rae continues down the hall and into the cafeteria. She is sitting at one of the tables eating an egg salad sandwich when Jules walks up.
Rae looks up.
R: "Hey yourself." She takes a bite of her egg salad sandwich.
J: "Did you hear back from Judge Wilkins?"
R: (swallowing) "Yeah."
R: "He gave the green light."
J: "That's great!"
R: "Not from Tangie's point of view."
J: "Huh? Why wouldn't she be happy? She wants to get better."
R: "She's opposed to thalomid."
J: (clearly confused) "How? Why? When?"
R: "Roy Schumaker. He's a thalidomide baby."
J: "Those two know each other? Roy gave a lecture on thalidomide about two years ago here at UMC. Don't you remember?"
R: (sharply) "Must have slipped past me."
J: "You been feeling all right lately?"
R: "Yes. Why do you ask?"
J: "Seems like you've been short tempered lately."
R: "I've left my husband. That's all."
J: "Mmm, hmmm." Jules' pager goes off. "Ack!"
R: "Bad case?"
J: "Usual rounds of coughs and colds."
R: "Any of them SARS cases?"
J: "Not yet and hopefully never. We've been taking extra precautions. Wiping down computer keyboards, water fountain knobs, doorknobs, even disinfecting the latches on the bathroom stall doors."
R: "War against germs?"
J: "Yep. And Matt's leading the brigade."
R: (chuckling) "Organized Matt, SARS Control Manager."
J: "It's his new hobby. Actually, since he got on my back, I started a germ-reduction program in the NICU and the newborn unit."
R: "Find anything?" (she takes another bite of her sandwich--a large bite--and her cheeks bulge).
J: "Quite a bit. I didn't realize that germs lived on the keypads of the monitoring equipment. Nor did I realize that the bedrails need to be wiped down. Course the parents aren't very happy about the restricted visiting hours. At least at first."
R: "Matt's been busy answering a lot of complaints about the visiting hours?" (she finishes her sandwich with a large last bite.)
J: "Yep. Angry relatives of newborns seem to materialize out of nowhere demanding they be allowed to see the newborn. Hey, you must be hungry. You wolfed that sandwich."
R: "It's strange--I've been starving for the last two months and eating everything in sight."
J: "Stress will do that to you."
R: "You can say that again."
Jules stands up, and picks up her tray.
J: "See ya later."
R: "See ya."
As Jules leaves, Rae brushes off the sandwich crumbs from her hands, Rae stands up and picks up her own tray, depositing her tray on top of Jules' tray. Rae decides to go outside for a short walk in the early spring sunshine.
Exiting the building, Rae is strolling past the grassy area that the Canada Geese have called home. She smiles at the sign the "geese" have posted in their quest to return north of the border. She knows that Canada geese are considered a nuisance by farmers, particularly those farmers growing soybeans, for the Canada geese love to eat the crops.
Several people standing around the grassy area are commenting that California should follow North Dakota's lead, is trying to reduce the Canada Geese population by non-lethal means and is paying farmers to plant food plots for the Canada Geese and use sound cannons to drive the geese away. Rae hears snatches of these conversations as she passes by:
Bystander 1: "Paying farmers to plant food plots only encourages the geese to breed!"
Bystander 2: "Not really. The nests are raided every spring. It's a way of controlling the population."
Rae smiles, then frowns as her world goes gray, then tips sideways. Vaguely she hears a thump and dimly realizes that her head has thumped on the ground. She tries to say OW! but words fail her and she only grunts before everything goes black.
Two hours later, a worried Nicholas is pacing outside the hospital room. He is still in surgical scrubs that are, though rumpled, clean. The door to the hospital room opens and Doctor Terry Howland steps out.
N: "Finally. How is she?"
T: "Depends on what answer you're looking for."
N: "Tell me all of them."
T: "She won't die. There's no brain tumor, or heart problems but Letty will give a better picture on that angle. You can relax."
N: "You're not telling me everything."
T: "That's for her to tell you."
N: "Then can I see her?"
T: "Don't see why not. Oh yes, what were you doing about two months ago?"
N: "Two months ago? Why do you ask?"
T: (off-handedly)"Oh, nothing. You can stay. Briefly. She needs her rest."
Terry Howland looks at Nicholas sharply as he pushes past her into the hospital room. Rae is lying on a bed and is scowling. Seeing Nick inside the room, Terry starts to close the door, then says cheerily:
T: "Be sure to tell him."
Rae looks at Doctor Howland. Nick ignores her and goes to Rae's bedisde. Terry finishes closing the door to Rae's hospital room.
N: "How are you feeling?"
R: "Like crap."
N: "Thumped your head pretty good on that sidewalk. There's a good sized egg on the side of your head."
R: "I can feel it. Feels like a truck hit me."
N: "You had us all worried."
R: "So Terry told me."
N: "What else does Terry want you to tell me?"
R: "It's not important." She holds her hand to her bandaged temple and squirms uncomfortably. "She used too much down there."
N: "Too much what?"
N: "Ah. Exam and all is standard. You know that."
R: "I know. And one of the reasons why I chose oncology so I wouldn't have to give those things."
Terry pops her head back inside the room.
T: "Time's up. She needs her beauty rest. Doctor Slingerland's new hours."
N: "You rest and I'll be back as soon as I can."
R: "All right."
T: "Pip, pip now Doctor Kokoris. Mustn't let her get excited."
Nick doesn't answer Terry; he bends down, merely kisses Rae's forehead, squeezes her hand a moment longer, then whispers:
N: "See you later."
R: "Mmm hmmm."
Nick goes toward the door and stops near Terry. Looking over his shoulder at Rae, who is now dozing, he looks back at Terry. Terry says nothing. Nick goes out the door and Terry pulls it shut behind him.
The two docs start walking down the hall.
T: "You excited?"
Nick looks at Terry. "Excited?"
T: "About being a father."
Terry's statement stops Nick in his tracks.
T: (innocently) "Rae didn't tell you she's pregnant?"
N: "No." He resumes walking.
T: (shrugging her shoulders) "She's two months along."
N: "Two months?"
T: "Yep. You don't seem happy. Everyone knows about you and Rae. It's not exactly a secret."
N: "Yeah, well, I've never been given this kind of news before."
T: "Now you have. Visiting hours are from 6-7 pm. They've been shortened you know."
T: "Restricting the patient's visitor flow helps in controlling germs. It's an excellent idea. My ward has reduced hospital acquired infections by 25% simply by restricting visitor flow and doing a wipe-down three times a day."
The two docs pause at the elevator banks.
N: "Without knowing the transmission mode of SARS, we have to be careful."
T: "Especially with pregnant women and newborns."
N: "Mmm hmmm. Thanks for your help."
An elevator opens and Terry watches as Nick gets onto the elevator. He turns and looks at Terry with a tight expression on his face. Terry smiles at him. Nick doesn't return her smile. The elevator doors close.
Nicholas decides to get some coffee at the outdoor coffee stand. He needs some time to think about what he's been told. Getting his coffee--just plain coffee this time around for the barista is out of hazelnut--Nick takes his coffee over to a table where Matt is already sitting.
M: "You look like someone hit you with some bad news."
M: "Someone's been violating the new patient privacy rules."
Nick raises his eyebrows.
N: "I made patient privacy a matter of choice long before the new rules."
M: "Now we aren't allowed to give out any information about a patient's condition to enquiring minds. Especially the media."
N: "I'm sure there are exceptions."
M: "When it would be in the patient's best interest."
N: "It's always something."
M: "It wasn't Terry who told me. One of the chatty ER nurses."
M: "Story's gone around by now."
N: "I see. It's his, not mine."
Now it's Matt's turn to raise his eyebrows.
N: "Ouch is right. Heard anything more about the men's health clinic?"
M: "Ah, yes. Regents have scheduled a round table discussion for Friday at 9 am."
N: "Good. I'm not scheduled for that day."
Matt's pager goes off. He takes the pager out of his pocket looks at it, then grimaces.
N: "Bad news?"
M: "Another newborn's family wants full access."
N: "Not with SARS going around."
M: "I keep trying to tell the families that. Know what they tell me?"
M: "The baby is going to come home anyways so why can't they see the baby in the hospital?"
N: "Because the hospital has a duty to try and prevent infections. Which is what we're doing--trying to prevent the highly transmissible SARS by restricting visitor flow."
M: (smiling) "Want to be my deputy? I could use the help with diplomacy."
N: "Sure. Let's go."
Nick and Matt take their coffee cups and throw them away in the recycle bin. They bypass the most accessible route and enter Presidio's offices through a side door. Going down the hallway towards Matt's office, they each stop to wash their hands at a newly installed foot operated sink in full view of the a small crowd of milling people. The milling people are scowling.
N: "This happen a lot?"
M: "It's worse with women in labor who want their friends and family there. But they usually come around after they hold their kid."
N: (using the foot operated dryer to dry his hands; Matt follows suit) "You did need back up."
M: "At times I feel like I'm heading towards a verbal guillotine."
The two docs approach the small crowd. One, a tall blonde in her 60's comes up to the docs. She is angry. She coughs into her hand before addressing Matt and Nick.
Woman: "What's the meaning of this SARS restriction, telling me I can't see my new grandson!"
Woman: "Winters. Gloria Winters. These are my sons, Harry and David. Their wives Sally and Susan and my grandchildren Mark, David Junior, Joshua, Andrew and Natalie."
M: (nodding to everyone) "Nice to meet all of you. I'm Doctor Slingerland. This is Doctor Kokoris. Now, Mrs Winters, UMC is trying to prevent a SARS infection from developing here in the City."
Gloria: "That shouldn't prevent me from visiting with my new grandson."
M: "Actually, yes it can. SARS is highly transmissible. We don't know how SARS is transmitted but if a baby develops SARS, it's most likely that baby would die."
G: "I've heard the news reports."
M: "Then you've heard about the Canadian family who travelled to Melbourne and their three kids are in isolation with SARS. They travelled via LA."
G: (coldly) "I've heard that."
N: "Hospital administration has put the entire hospital has been under restricted visiting hours."
G: "Have any cases been reported here in San Francisco?"
M: "Not at present."
G: "Then allow me to see my grandson."
M: "We can arrange a closed circut tv visit."
G: "TV? I want to hold my grandson right now!"
Harry: "Mom, you must try to understand..."
Gloria holds up her hand and Harry shuts up immediately then retreats beside his wife.
M: "I'm afraid that's out of the question."
G: (interrupting Harry) "Why? This is a hospital, not a prison."
N: (repeating his earlier words to Matt) "This hospital has a duty to try and prevent infections. Which is what we're doing--trying to prevent the highly transmissible SARS by restricting visitor flow. Hours are posted in the wards."
M: "I understand your concerns, Mrs Winters, but UMC decided to place restrictions on patient visitors as a result of SARS. There have been just over 2600 cases worldwide with 100 deaths as of April 7th."
G: "I know that. And I know I am perfectly healthy and there is no reason why I can't see my new grandson!" (she coughs)
M: "Really? Have you had that cough checked out?"
G: "It's just a dry cough."
N: "Mrs Winters, I know you're quite anxious to see your new grandson. But remember, he's a newborn and doesn't have an immune system yet."
David: "The hospital is just trying to protect Nathan."
Gloria turns slowly towards David, who stands up straight. He's taken the hospital's side and his mother obviously does not like her offspring to side with the opposition but David's squares his shoulders--he's going to stand her down.
G: (stiffly) "When I want your opinion, I'll ask for it."
David: "I think what Doctor Slingerland has done is good. Newborns are vulnerable. We can see Nathan later on when he comes home.."
G: "I told you I'll ask for your opinion when I want it."
M: "Mrs Winters. By restricting the visitors to the hospital, we can more easily track the flow of visitors. If a SARS case does crop up in the City, we can more easily quarantine those who came into contact with the infection."
G: "I don't care. I am taking my complaint to the administration of this hospital. I'll be filing a complaint with the regents."
Gloria coughs again.
M: "Do what you will. The university hospital will stand beside me. The office is down the hall, past the elevators and take the first left. Third door on the right."
N: "You sure you don't want to check out that cough?"
G: (coldly) "No. Thank you."
She turns on her heel and walks down the hallway, most of her family trailing behind her. David holds back a moment.
David: "She's used to getting her own way."
M: "I see that."
David: "Guess the hospital's decision is not real popular in the maternity ward."
M: "That's correct."
N: "It's for the best. At least until the SARS crisis has abated."
David: "I hope it abates soon. Doctor Keating told us Nathan has to be in the NICU unit for another two weeks at the minimum. Debbie's happy about the reduced maternity visiting hours but mom sure isn't."
M: "So neither Doctor Lanning nor I have heard the last of your mom."
David: "With all due respect, I'm afraid my mother is going to be a thorn in your backs for some time. Thanks for trying to talk to her though."
M: "You're welcome."
Matt frowns. David leaves without another word, leaving Nick and Matt standing in the hallway.
M: "That went well."
M: "Usually there's shouting involved. And not only with maternity patient's families. At least things are improving. She only threatened to report me to hospital administration."
N: "You're not worried?"
M: "Nope. I used to get threatened with lawsuits. But most people are swinging around after they've had a chance to read the WHO report on SARS. That's our second line of defense."
N: "You've layered your defense strategy?"
M: "Yes. First up is me: formerly working with WHO, I am your trusted SARS Control Manager. Should I fail in my mission to convince families that restricting visitor flow is helpful during this SARS crisis, I then send them to hospital administration."
N: "And admin does what?"
M: "Shows them the data on the deaths, the transmission modes and a global map of outbreaks. The recent Hong Kong stats are frightening."
N: "Possible vertical transmission. Most of that apartment building residents have been quarantined in special camps."
M: "Yeah. That's when we went into full prevention mode. Hey, thanks for helping out."
N: "Not a problem. Thanks for alerting me to that other problem."
M: "Thought you'd like to know."
N: "It helps."
Nick's pager goes off. He looks at it.
N: "Again I sally forth...."
M: "To mend the wounded. I hear you. Drinks down at the Wharf this evening?"
N: "Why not?" Six thirty okay for you?"
M: "See you there."
Matt and Nick go their separate ways.
Back in Rae's hospital room, Letty is on a consult with Rae. Letty is sitting on the room's only chair, looking at a clipboard.
L: "Howland certainly ordered enough cardiac tests. She's turning into Matt."
R: "He grows on you after a while."
L: "Yeah, well let's see. Your cholesterol is up slighly--no more fast food breakfasts for you, young lady."
R: "Hear, hear."
L: "No arrythmias, no sign of heart attack, no high blood pressure but your pressure is slightly elevated. Now that is what concerns me. You've always had this really low pressure, very good for a woman your age."
Letty leans forward on the chair. "You have some stress?"
R: "Just the usual."
L: "Plus you breaking up with Sean."
R: "Plus a pregnancy. Two months."
R: "Would that account for the rise in blood pressure?"
L: "Very possible. Gestational high blood pressure is Harriet's department."
R: "Don't want Harriet as my OB."
Letty raises her eyebrows. "Oh? Why not?"
R: "It's nothing personal, but I just don't know if I'm going to continue the pregnancy. I think I would be more comfortable with someone else, just in case I decide to abort. I don't want to come in to work every day and...well, you understand."
L: "Yeah, I understand. You talked to Nick about it?"
R: "Nick? What does he have to do with this?"
L: "He's the baby's daddy! He has every right to be in on the decision."
Rae looks away from Letty and looks out the window instead. Letty raises her eyebrows.
L: "This is Nick's baby isn't it?"
L: "It's Sean's?"
R: "It's not Sean's baby either."
L: "Do you even know who the father is?"
L: "Was it a drunken fling?"
R: (sighs heavily) "After we had our girl's night a few months back and all of you left, well, he stopped by, he was upset so we had a drink, and..." (she pauses)
L: (finishing Rae's statement) "You did the horizontal on the couch."
R: "Kitchen table."
R: "Yes. But I woke up on the couch."
L: "Well, well, well. Does Nick know the pregnancy?"
R: "Yeah. Terry told him."
L: (grunts) "Should have known she'd be sticking a thorn in his back."
R: "It's called Getting Even with Nick for That Emergency Appendectomy He Performed on Her. First letter caps, please."
L: "That's Terry Howland for you."
R: "Does her telling Nick about my condition violate the new privacy rules?"
L: "We could bring her up on it, but since he's a fellow doc and a surgeon, Terry might have a good argument in saying that she was concerned about emergency neurosurgery for that nasty thump on the head you took. General surgeons can perform neurosurgery, you know."
R: "I know. But I thought presumptions were no longer allowed."
L: "I'll check into it for you."
Letty stands up.
L: "I'll stop by later this evening after my shift ends."
R: "Can't, unless you're on consult."
Letty looks hurt.
L: "Why not?"
R: "New visiting hours are from 6-7 pm in this ward."
L: (snaps her fingers) "SARS and our gallant Matt Slingerland is on the case."
L: "He's doing a superb job dealing with everyone regarding the visiting hours, even when he thinks he's fighting a losing battle. He even convinced the university to post a message on UMC's website regarding the reduced hours and why. Lots of good responses on the message board."
R: "I heard some people are fighting him back."
L: "Their loved one is ill in the hospital and they want to see their loved one. Especially if the patient is near the end."
R: "Howland says that in those cases, Matt lets the patient's family in."
L: "He knows when to bend but he makes sure they're in masks and gowns."
R: "That's our Matt!" Rae yawns.
L: "You get some sleep. I'll try to sneak in on a consult."
R: "Howland's on duty until 11 pm."
L: "Well, in that case, I'll stop by tomorrow morning before you're released."
R: "All right. Good night."
L: "Good night."
Letty leaves Rae's hospital room.
A few hours later, Harriet is talking with Matt and Jules outside the NICU. A sign indicating that the hospital is obseving restricted visiting hours as a result of the worldwide SARS infection is prominently displayed.
H: "I heard a few families have been giving you a spot of trouble."
M: "It's a bit upsetting for them to have restricted access to their loved one, especially a newborn."
J: "Makes them feel like this is a jail instead of a hospital.'
H: "I can understand how the families feel as well. Nine months of waiting then to be restricted."
J: "Don't want to give the newborns an infection straight off. And speaking of infections, Harriet, do you know was found inside the lotion containers and the ice dispenser?"
Harriet and Matt shake their heads.
J: "Pseudomonas aeruginosa.Caused those six newborn infections we had a few months back."
M: (indicating the ice dispenser; someone is getting ice from the dispenser then going to the water cooler and filling their water bottle) "The ice dispenser is still there."
J: "It's been deep cleaned."
A couple hover in the background out of earshot but within Jules' sight.
J: "Gotta give the updates! Later."
She breezily walks towards the couple, speaks a bit, and the couple--both women--smile hugely.
Jules leads them to a closed circut tv and shows them how to operate the tv. A few moments later a picture of the newborn pops up on the screen. Harriet watches the scene a moment.
H: "Don't get discouraged, Matt. You're doing your job."
M: "It's getting to be a grind."
H: "Diplomacy skills are invaluable in dealing with patients."
M: "Wish they'd come pre-installed."
H: "The patients?"
M: "Diplomacy skills."
H: "It's a learned skill."
M: "I don't want any more practice."
Harriet's pager bleeps...she looks at the pager then looks at Matt.
H: "David's called me down to admin to help with Mrs Winters."
Matt groans loudly.
H: (chuckling) "I see she's stuck her talons in you."
M: "A control freak if I've ever met one."
H: "Know what she did while her daughter was delivering?"
M: "Don't think I want to know."
H: "Mrs Winters called in instructions to Debbie and to the maternity staff." Harriet does her impersonation of Mrs Winters. "Don't forget Debbie has GDI and she needs plenty of fluids in the IV...now, Debbie, PUSH, Debbie PUSH."
M: "That must have been sheer hell."
H: "It was. I finally had one of the nurses wrap the cell phone in sheets. I think the phone was laundered."
M: "Did Mrs Winters get mad when she discovered that?"
H: "Don't think she noticed. I merely told her Debbie was too busy to pay much attention to anything else except the child."
Harriet's pager bleeps again...she looks at it. She grimaces.
M: "Doomsday calling?"
H: "Mrs Winters...again."
M: "Same thing."
Harriet laughs. "Thanks for the help with Debbie's GDI."
M: "Not a problem. My first rare disease diagnosis in med school." Matt glances at his watch. "Ooops. Gotta run. Meeting Nick at 6:30."
The two docs head towards the elevator.
H: "Have a good time!"
M: "I will."
Matt takes his leave of Harriet at the elevators. He continues on down the hallway as Harriet stands waiting for the elevator to go down...so she can meet with Mrs Gloria Winters.
Meanwhile, Nick has made good on his promise to TG regarding the six pack of vanilla coke, but when he stops by her room, she is sound asleep. He decides to leave two cans of soda on ice so they will be cold when she wakes up. Chemo is not very pleasant for her and she's always sucking on ice.
Nick leaves TG's hospital room in search of ice. He locates an ice dispenser, and a plastic grocery bag. Filling the plastic bag with ice, he puts the two cans of soda in the bag. Returning to TG's room, Nick passes a room that has get well cards propped up on the ledge.
Remembering how Grace had written good bye cards and left them for various staffers at Presidio, Nick pauses, then returns back the way he comes. Sitting down at a desk, he takes a piece of paper and writes something on it. Folding the paper, and smiling to himself, he again picks up the grocery bag with the sodas cooling and returns to TG's room.
He places both the card and the sodas on the bedside table next to the sleeping TG. He knows she will find them upon awakening.
Pursing his lips, then sighing, Nick looks at the clock: it's going on six. He told Rae he would see her as soon as he could. Making his decision, he heads towards the elevators.
A few minutes later, outside Rae's room, he looks both ways. Seeing that the coast is clear of Doctor Howland, Nick hesitates before going in. He sighs, then opens the door. Rae turns her head from the tv show she is watching--CNN.
R: "Nick!" She turns down the volume of the tv.
N: "Hello." Nick comes into the room and closes the door.
R: "I, uh, suppose you heard from Terry."
R: "Are you mad?"
N: "At the moment, I don't know what I feel."
R: "I didn't intend to have sex with him."
N: "I see."
R: "He's really nice, if that matters."
N: (sarcastically) "Nice?"
N: "What am I then?"
R: "Nick, you know I love you, but I am not in love with you."
N: "Small consolation. Do you love him? The baby's father?"
N: "So you'll carry his baby but you won't marry me?"
R: "I might not carry this baby at all."
R: "Thinking about it."
N: "Since it's not mine, I'm not part of the decision."
R: "That's about it."
N: "Well, I just stopped by at the end of my shift to see how you were doing."
N: "Is that all? Just thanks Nick?"
R: "This is really hard for me."
N: "For me as well."
R: "It was a drunken fling, okay? Nothing serious. It just happened at my house after a girls night out."
R: "He stopped by. He was upset so we had a drink. One thing led to another."
N: "Must have been some strong drinks if you were so willing."
R: "They were funny colored drinks."
N: "Funny colored?"
R: "The drinks. Robert called them Electric Blue Starlights."
Nick narrows his eyes, then raises his eyebrows. Nick is suspicious about something but he can't quite put his finger on his suspicions--things are not always as they seem.
N: (slowly) "Electric. Blue. Starlights. Never heard of them."
R: "Rob said they were all the rage down at the Wharf."
N: "Matt and I are going down to the Wharf for drinks in a few. I'll ask one of the bartenders about them."
R: "There's no need to ask around."
N: (not knowing why, Nick smiles) "If you say so. You get some sleep. The Barracuda should be here to see you shortly."
N: "My new surgical nurse Arleatha refers to Doctor Howland as the Barracuda."
R: "Oh. Suits her."
Nick turns towards the door.
Nick turns back towards Rae with an expectant look on his face.
R: "Thanks for not being angry."
Nick merely nods then turns and exits the door, bumping into Doctor Howland just outside the door.
Terry: "I see she's told you."
Terry: "Not a very happy daddy tonight, are you? You'll get used to it. Now step aside, Rae is my patient."
Nick dutifully steps aside, then a small smile crosses his face. He allows Doctor Howland to enter the room. He watches her take a few steps.
N: "Doctor Howland?"
She turns around.
N: "The baby's not mine, nor is it Sean's."
N: "You told me yourself, Rae. The baby is not mine, nor is it Sean's. I intend to squash rumors from the start--at the source. No better time than the present."
T: "Well, well, well. This is interesting."
Terry looks from Rae to Nick and back to Rae again.
N: "Quite. Good night, Doctor Howland, Rae."
Without waiting for their replies, Nick leaves.
T: "Having another fling?"
R: (sighs) "It was a one time thing. Didn't mean to do it at all. I was drunk."
T: "Drunken? That's not like you, Rae."
R: "It was a new drink. Really strong."
Terry walks over to Rae's bedside.
T: "Really? What was in the drink?"
R: "Um, vodka, I think. And something to turn them blue."
R: "Robert called them Electric Blue Starlights."
T: "I see. Well, having any headaches?"
T: "Ear ringing?"
R: "No. I just feel tired."
T: "That's expected with a thump on the head and a pregnancy."
R: "I never expected to get pregnant."
T: "Quite the surprise for you. And a shock as well. I know you work with Harriet. Shall I phone her for an OB consult?"
R: "No. Don't want her as my OB."
T: "Who do you want?"
R: "I am considering abortion."
R: "Yeah. Abortion. You do know what an abortion is don't you?"
T: "I know that. Now what happened?"
R: "Must I?"
T: "I'm your doctor."
R: "He came over to my house late one night. He was upset, so I invited him in. We drank, one thing led to another. I don't want his baby." (she sighs) " Do I have to explain all this again? I think this is the third time I've explained this. I hurt, you used too much jelly and I am tired."
T: "I see. I won't ask any more questions."
R: "Thanks." (she yawns)
T: "You get some rest."
Rae nods and closes her
eyes. Terry leaves the room.
Meanwhile, Matt is sitting at a small table near the back of the bar, close to the stage, waiting for Nick. His drink, a Jack & Diet Coke, is in front of him. He is watching the female singer on the stage. She's not very good at singing.
Nick walks in. Matt spies him and waves. Nick wends his way through the tables and milling people. Several are scowling at the bad singer.
He reaches the small table and sits down.
M: "Sorry about the singer."
N: "Not your fauilt."
M: "She's the owner's daughter."
N: "Let's hope she chooses another profession."
The song ends and the singer walks offstage without addressing the audience. She doesn't look happy to be there. Canned music begins to play. A barmaid approaches the tw men.
N: (to the barmaid) "I'll have an electric blue starlight."
N: "Electric blue starlight. It's a new drink, supposed to be popular around here."
Barmaid: "Never heard of it. Check with one of the dance clubs."
N: "Then I'll take what he's having."
Barmaid: "Jack and diet."
N: "Sounds good. Oh, and nachos."
Barmaid: "Got it." She saunters off and goes to the bar.
M: "Electric blue starlight?"
N: "Supposed to be a new drink."
M: "What's in it?"
N: "Forgot to ask."
M: "Just Jack & Diet for me."
N: "Did you drive?"
M: "Not today. Don't like to mix drinking and driving. I was planning on drinks and dinner anyways."
N: "Neither do I. Did you get that lease on the Lamborghini yet?"
M: "Picking her up this weekend."
N: "Why not now?"
M: "I want to drive her all day and I'm not on shift this weekend."
N: "Sounds reasonable."
The barmaid comes round with Nick's drink. She sets it down on the table.
N: "Thanks." He picks up the drink.
Barmaid: "I asked about electric blue starlights for ya. Barman says he hasn't heard of anything like that."
N: "Thanks anyways. I'll check at the dance clubs."
He smiles at the barmaid. She nods then walks off.
A new singer comes onstage.
N: "Hope this singer's better than the last."
M: "So do I."
The two men fall quiet as the singer announces himself then jumps right into a song--a toe thumping hand clappin bluesy song.
This time around, the
singer has some chops and the bar's audience is quite appreciative. The
barmaid comes round to place the large platter of nachos on Nick and Matt's
Later on in the evening, at home, Matt is humming to himself as he steps out of his hot tub. He is feeling pretty good after having had a seafood dinner. He wraps the towel around himself. His pager bleeps. He goes over and looks at the pager.
A surprised look crosses his face.
M: "Doctor Howland? What's she phoning me for?"
He goes towards the bed and picks up his landline phone--an antique crystal affair, set on a high-rising small phone table. Despite its antiquity, the phone is compatible with a speaker machine and Matt turns on the speaker machine to return Doc Howland's call. The phone is ringing.
M: "Mr Bell made these old phones well."
He stands at his dressing table, combing his hair as the phone rings.
Someone answers the phone. Terry's voice comes over the speaker phone:
T: "Doctor Howland."
M: "Matt Slingerland. You phoned?"
T: "Yes. I wanted to ask something of you.."
M: "Go right ahead."
T: "Do you know anything about electric blue starlights?"
M: "I heard about those earlier this evening. Some sort of drink."
T: "With vodka."
M: "Vodka's clear."
T: "Apparently something is added to make the drink blue."
Matt's hand begins to shake.
Something clicks in his mind and he knows what it is and why Nick was asking around about electric blue starlights. He stops combing his hair and looks at the phone.
M: "Something is added to the drinks?"
T: "That's right."
M: "Do you know what it is?"
T: "No. That's why I'm calling you. I thought you'd know."
M: "I do know and you're not going to like it."
T: "The date rape drug?"
M: "Yes. The manufacturer added a colorant to make rohpynol turn blue when added to a clear drink, beer turns green & dark drinks go murky."
T: Terry sucks in her breath. "Oh, gosh. I didn't realize that."
M: "Oh gosh is right. You need to phone the police. I already know who it is you're talking about."
T: "Nick told?"
M: "One of your ER nurses is a bit too chatty."
T: "Which one?"
T: "I'll look into having her removed."
M: "That would be a good idea, yes."
T: "Thanks, Matt."
M: "No problem. I'll send along all the updates on rohypnol. Hey, you told Rae?"
T: "Not yet."
M: "Good luck in telling her."
T: "This is going to compound her problem."
M: "I would say so."
Terry clicks off the phone and Matt goes back over to the phone stand and clicks off his speaker phone. He looks at the phone a moment, then picks up the handset. He dials a number.
M: "Nick? Matt here. Are you sitting down?...I don't quite now how to tell you this...uhm, does the term rohpynol mean anything to you?...I know, I'm shocked as well...Terry just phoned...Yeah, I told her that rohpynol now turns blue when added to clear drinks...no, it was a vodka based drink...That's up to you. Do you want to be there? She might not want that but you can try....Yeah. All right...See you in the morning."
Matt hangs up the phone then sits down on the bed. He looks shaken.
Meanwhile at Nick's apartment, Nick is sitting in a leather chair, a book open on his lap and the phone in his hand. He is staring off in space, a look of disbelief on his face. He clicks his cell phone on and dials a number.
N: "Doctor Howland...yeah, he just phoned me. Have you told her yet?...Oh...I know it's past visiting hours and all but do you think I could?...Ah! Yes, she does have that bump on her head...Thanks...I'll be there shortly."
Nick clicks off his cell phone then stands up, goes towads the front door and grabs his car keys.
Meanwhile, back in Rae's hospital room, Terry Howland has just told Rae what happened. Rae looks stunned. Terry is quite sympathetic.
R: "Date rape?"
T: "Yes. The new colorant in rohpynol turns clear drinks blue. It was supposed to make it easier for women to know if something has been added to their drinks in the bar."
R: "Certainly didn't make it easier for me."
T: "The police will want to talk to you."
R: "And Robert Winningham."
T: (shocked) "That Robert?"
Rae nods. "Yes. That Robert."
T: "But he is married to Dean Whittier of the Business School."
R: "Not for long."
T: "He'll deny everything and say the sex was consensual."
R: "I know. It wasn't like he pushed his way in my home. Fact is, I did invite him in."
T: "He can be charged with adulterating a drink."
R: "Is that even a charge?"
T: "There must be something in the books. Maybe possession of an illegal substance. The police will know."
R: "Well, I do have the evidence." She indicates her abdomen.
T: "True. We can do a fetal DNA test if necessary."
R: "Will that cause an miscarriage?"
Rae's face falls.
T: "But if you do have an abortion, you need to make arrangements to have the fetal tissue kept as evidence."
T: "Is there anything I can do?"
R:"Not at the moment."
T: "I'll be around if you need me."
Rae nods, then looks away out the window at the view--a rather spectacular view considering she was in a hospital. At least the hospital overlooked the Golden Gate Bridge.
Terry looks at Rae for a moment, then guesses that Rae doesn't want to talk anymore. Terry leaves, knowing Rae will have to talk to the police as soon as they arrive.
A half hour later, Nick, dressed in surgical greens and face mask, walks up to Doctor Howland just outside the ward. A ward nurse looks sharply at Nick but Nick ignores her and speaks to Doctor Howland.
N: "How did she take the news?"
Terry turns around.
T: "Considering the circumstances, fairly well."
N: "The police arrive yet?"
T: "No. Too many other pressing matters like gang warfare. They'll be here in the morning or so they claim."
N: "Can I see her?"
T: "Yes. I have been concerned about that bump on her head. You're down on her chart as a surgical consult."
N: "Thanks. I owe you one."
T: "Not a problem."
Nick goes towards Rae's room and as he approaches the nurses' desk, the ward nurse stops him. Her name badge proclaims her name to be Nurse Angela Matheson.
A: "Where do you think you're going?"
N: "Surgical consult."
A: "Really. And who are we consulting with?"
N: "Rae Brennan."
A: (Flipping through the medical charts.) "Says here she's already been cleared."
N: "She took a nasty bump on the head. I'm listed as the consulting surgeon."
Nick starts to go past the nurses' desk but Angela stops him. Nick looks around for Doctor Howland but she's nowhere to be seen.
A: "I need to clear this with Doctor Howland."
N: "It's already been cleared. Look at the last entry for Brennan's chart."
Angela does as Nick requested.
A: "Hmmm. Does indicate Rae needs to be checked again for head bleeding."
N: "Bumps on the head are quite serious. That's why she was admitted."
A: "You Doctor Kokoris under that mask?"
He indicates his ID card.
A: "All right. Go on." (She indicates he can proceed).
Nick goes to Rae's room. He knocks softly on the door, pulling down his mask as he knocks. Opening it, he walks in and calls softly:
R: (sleepily) "Yes? Oh! Nick! Damn Terry Howland. Seems like everyone's violating the new privacy rules. Who else knows?"
N: "Matt. He was the one who figured it out. Terry called him for advice."
R: "Letty knows too. At least about the pregnancy. Not the rape. And now you."
N: "I am the surgical consult, you know."
R: "Well, consult with me then."
Nick smiles at the unintended double meaning; Rae doesn't pick it up. Taking out his penlight, Nick goes over and checks Rae's eyes and ears."
N: "Any headaches?"
R: "No. And no ringing in my ears and no flashing lights in front of my eyes. Terry forgot to ask about that.
Nick puts away his penlight in his pocket.
N: "All right. And otherwise?"
R: "Not good."
N: "I, for one, would like to apologize."
N: (looking at Rae gently) "I thought you did this to spite me."
R: "Yeah, well. I thought it was a drunken fling. Turns out it's date rape."
N: "Things aren't always as they seem."
R: "It's more like something wicked this way comes but I like your version as well."
N: "You going to have an abortion?"
R: "Most likely. Or give it up for adoption. I don't want it."
N: "Since you know him, he might fight you for custody."
R: "Robert Winningham?"
N: "That's who did this to you?"
R: "Yep. His wife ain't gonna be happy."
N: "His wife is having an affair."
Rae raises her eyebrows as best she can under the bandages.
R: "Really? Aren't you the fountain of gossip these days."
N: "She's not exactly making her affair a secret."
R: "An open secret?"
N: "Yep. Even her husband knows."
R: "Well, I didn't know."
N: "You do now...Are you angry with me?"
R: "Why would I be angry?"
N: (he glances down then says softly) "For thinking you did this to spite me."
Rae reaches out and touches Nick's arm.
R: "No. I'm angry at me. Angry at Robert. I should have known better." (Her voice grows anguished) "I keep up with the changes prescription drugs. For cripes's sake, I'm an oncologist and I didn't think about the new colorant to rohypnol and I remember receiving the manufacturer's update because I thought that making beer turn green was a good idea."
Rae starts to cry. Nick brushes away the tears on her cheeks, then hands Rae a Kleenex from the small rolling table next to Rae's bed.
N: "Need some water?"
Rae nods. Nick takes the glass and goes to the sink and fills it. Bringing it back to Rae, he hands the glass to her. She drains the glass.
N: "More water?"
R: "No. But I'd like some help getting to the bathroom. Terry's got me full of IV fluids."
Nick nods and helps her out of the bed. Her hospital gown falls forward and Rae reaches behind her to tie it.
R: "Someone should re-design these things."
N: "They're convenient."
R: "For you, yes, for me, no."
Nick smiles. Rae backs towards the bathroom.
R: "I can do this by myself."
N: "I know."
A bit later, Rae comes out of the bathroom, Nick is still waiting for her.
N: "Would you like me to stay?"
R: "That's not necessary."
N: "You sure?"
R: "Yeah." Rae goes to her bed and sits down. "I just need some time alone, if you don't mind."
N: "Not at all." He stands up. "I'll stop by and see you in the morning."
R: "All right."
N: "Get some sleep."
R: "Everyone keeps telling me that."
N: "You need some sleep."
R: "Aye, aye."
Nick smiles then goes to hug Rae but she pulls back. He doesn't take offense but smiles at her then leaves the room. Rae looks after him, then turns up the volume on the tv and sits listening to the news as she looks out the window.
He passes Angela at the ward desk and nods at her. The elevator door is just shutting and Nick rushes to catch the elevator. It's empty. He presses the button for the Garage then looks at his selection. He presses another button: 3 for Pediatrics.
A few seconds later, the elevator dings for 3 then opens to reveal a wheelchair race in progess.
TG: "Doctor Kokoris! Your're just in time! I won the first three heats!"
N: "Really? Well now it's time for bed!"
Nick tries to catch TG in the wheelchair. Giggling, she eludes him.
N: "And who's your partner?"
TG: "Michael Dunlop. And that's Sandy Dennis, Mark Cashman and Jenny Bollea." TG indicates Sandy, Mark and Jenny who are watching through their open doorways. The three kids are in bed, but smiling at TG and Michael's wheelchair race.
N: "Shouldn't you all be in bed asleep?"
All the kids: "Maybe."
N: "Maybe? It's past 10 pm."
Sandy calls out from her room: "It's 6 am in London."
Nick is trying to catch either TG or Michael in the wheelchairs.
N: "Funny. Where are the nurses?"
TG spins around, causing Nick to almost lose his balance.
Mark: "They went off for a snack."
Nick: "Well, it's time for bed, London time or not, it's past 10 pm here."
TG: "We'll go to bed if you give us another six pack of vanilla coke."
Nick: "Is that a bribe, young lady?"
Nick laughs. "Deal. But the soda comes tomorrow. Not tonight."
M: "I want mine cold. I don't like warm soda."
N: "I'll pack it in ice. Now, out of the wheelchair and into bed. Which room is yours, Michael?"
Michael: "Here." Michael gets out of the wheelchair, goes into his room and gets into bed. TG is following suit in her room. Nick goes into Michael's room, sees Michael into bed, turns out the light. The other kids turn out their lights without being told.
Going into TG's room, he sees her into bed.
TG: "Thanks for the soda."
Nick: "You won the bet."
TG: "I'm a hardened gambler."
Nick: "Who taught you to play poker?"
TG: "My social worker. She got bored one day while we were waiting to see the judge."
Nick: "Not very productive."
TG: "Yes it was. I won a six pack of vanilla coke."
Nick: (smiles) "To sleep, young lady."
TG: All right.
Nick turns out the light and leaves TG's room. The nurses have just returned. Nick goes to them.
N: "There was a wheelchair race just now."
Nurse 1: "TG and Michael?"
Nurse 2: (quietly) "We pretend to 'leave' so they think we don't know what they're doing. We really just go into the consult room but don't tell them that."
N: "Ahh. Secrets and all."
Nurse 1: "Just a bit of fun. These SARS rules are a bit strict. I understand the rules but chemo patients are immune system compromised, and it's hard on the kids. We let them have some fun before bedtime."
N: "Smart thinking."
Nurse 2: "Make sure to leave us some vanilla coke next time around."
N: "It's good, eh?"
The nurses nod. Nick takes his leave of them.
The next day...in another part of the hospital, Matt, this time as a masked Matt Slingerland, MD, is standing in the hallway outside a hospital room: Room 305. He is reading the patient's chart.
He looks up a moment, then looks down at the chart. Furrowing his brow, he pulls down his mask and adjusts his stethoscope, then opens the door to the hospital room and walks in.
M: "Good morning, Mrs Winters."
G: (puts down her magazine on her lap.) "Are you my doctor?"
M: "Yes. How are you feeling today?"
G: "Same as last night. Just achy and coughing. Don't just stand there. Tell me, when do I leave the hospital? That incompetent nurse kept telling me to wait for you to come by."
Matt sits down on the chair.
M: "Yes. Well, I've some good news for you...it isn't SARS."
G: (sharply) "I already figured that out. If you haven't noticed, you're not wearing your mask."
Matt looks uncomfortable.
M: "The cardiology tests that ER did last night came up normal but I think your blood pressure meds need to be adjusted. I'll have Doctor Jordan stop by later on to check on that pacemaker."
G: "Do you have anything else to tell me? It's grandparents visiting hour for the newborns in two hours and I want to go see Nathan today."
Matt looks at Mrs Winters closely, wondering how she knew he has something else to tell her.
M: "You do have a serious illness."
G: "Really? Other than feeling tired with a few nosebleeds this month, I've been fine. And this dry cough, but I get that every year."
M: "Mrs Winters."
G: "Well, out with it!"
M: (glances away, then back) "It's Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. Stage 2."
Gloria nods her head.
M: "I'll arrange for a consult with our oncologist, Doctor Brennan. She'll be able to answer your questions better than I will."
G: "I know who she is and I don't need questions answered. My father died of the same cancer. I know what to expect."
M: "Ah. There have been some new developments in the treatment of this type of cancer."
G: "I know that. My father died two years ago. He was treated by Doctor Brennan. Are you going to send her to see me today?"
Matt looks surprised.
M: "Doctor Brennan if off today, but she should be back on shift tomorrow. Shall I make an appointment for you?"
G: "You might as well since the insurance is paying for the visit. You can go now. I'd like to be alone."
Matt stands up to leave.
G: "Will I be able to see my grandson today?"
M: "Yes. Just adding the precaution of gowns, gloves and masks. That's standard for everyone until the SARS cases clear up."
Matt starts to leave the room.
G: "Doctor Slingerland?"
Matt turns around.
G: "I've known about the lymphoma for some time now."
Surprise shows on Matt's face.
M: "You have? Why did you make me tell you?"
G: "Guess I wanted to see how thorough this hospital is. Maybe stubbornness. I don't know."
M: "I tend to run a lot of tests."
G: "So it seems. I developed NHL a year ago. I went to a different oncologist. I didn't want anyone to worry."
M: "May I ask why you're not treating it?"
G: "Seems pointless to treat it since I have this pacemaker."
M: "That's not a reason."
G: "For me, it is."
M: "You don't seem like the type who would not treat this cancer. NHL is curable."
G: "My father treated the cancer for several years before he died. If you have my chart, you'll also note that I have had several bypass operations, along with assorted medications."
M: "We can still treat non-hodgkins despite the bypasses and pacemaker."
G: (sharply) "I said that treatment is pointless. I'm tired of being treated for this and treated for that."
M: "So you're going to just give in?"
G: "There's nothing else to do. Now get out of my hospital room, if you're done with the lecture!"
Gloria throws her magazine at Matt. He looks at her sharply, then nods and turns on his heel briskly. Exiting the room, he goes down the hallway to the deserted nurses station. Nurses are in the background wiping down handrails along the hallway.
Placing Mrs Winter's clipboard on the desk's ledge, he picks up the phone, dials a number and waits while the phone rings.
M: "Doctor Levinthal, please....yes, yes. I'll hold...(Matt drums his fingers on the ledge)..."Matt Slingerland...yes. Room 305. Patient in her late 60's, she lost her father in the last few years, she herself has end of life issues...yes she is.very combatative, argumentative...yes, I can be there at 2pm...I warn you, she's very hostile to treatment options. Knew about her cancer some years ago, refuses to treat it....Thank you Doctor Levinthal."
Matt puts the phone down and calls down the hallway to one of the nurses:
M: "Be sure to wipe down this ledge!"
One the nurses nods and calls back:
Nurse: "No SARS?"
M: "No SARS germ would dare raise its head while I"m on duty!"
The nurses laugh and Matt places the chart in a file holder.
M: "And make sure you wipe down each of the clipboards with those Lysol wipes!"
Nurse: "Not a bad idea!"
Matt walks off towards the elevators.
Meanwhile, up in Rae's room, the police have just left after questioning her for two hours. Like it or not, Rae is going to have to undergo another test and she's not happy.
She's talking with Doctor Howland.
R: "So I have to have a fetal DNA test if I want to press rape charges."
Terry: "Looks like it. Do you want it scheduled for today?"
R: "Might as well get it over with. But I don't want Harriet to perform the test."
T: "Very well. I'll go schedule the test."
R: "I won't thank you."
T: "I don't want thanks."
Terry leaves the room. A few moments later, Nick slips in.
N: "Good morning."
N: "Long interrogation."
R: "Lots of questions. Especially the 'why am I claiming he raped me when I invited him inside my home' question."
N: "That's a question they're going to use on the stand."
R: "I know. And look at me: newly divorced middle aged childless woman. I'll look like I was desperate to get pregnant by someone, anyone just to get someone in my life again. So when the first opportunity came along for sex, I took it."
N: "Don't speak like that, Rae. There is some good news."
R: (looks at Nick dubiously) "How could any good news come out of this?"
N: "One of the detectives had a similar case a few weeks about."
R: "Robert did this again?"
N: "Apparently so. It was the phrase 'electric blue starlight' that the detective remembered."
R: "Rob's been charged in that case?"
N: "Not yet. You holding up okay?"
R: "Yeah. Barracuda's scheduling a fetal dna test. I hope I miscarry."
N: "Don't say that."
R: "I certainly don't want this baby!"
N: "There's adoption."
R: "I'm aware of that. But then I think about how one day that kid might get a hold of the adoption papers and see that his mother was a successful physician in her mid-40s who gave him up for adoption."
N: "It's a boy?"
R: "I don't know. I don't want to know. I guess I always thought if I got pregnant, I'd have a girl."
N: "Babies come in both genders."
R: (smiles wanly) "I know. One for each parent."
N: "You have a few more weeks to decide."
R: "Yep. A few more weeks to decide whether to abort or carry this rape pregnancy to term."
N: "Not an easy choice."
R: "As much as I hate to ask this, but...would you come with me for the dna test?"
N: (hesitantly) "Sure you want me there?"
N: "Is Harriet going to perform the test?
R: "No. I don't know who Barracuda is going to get, but I don't want Harriet."
N: "And why not?"
R: "I don't know. I think it's because we work too closely together and if I abort, I don't want to see Harriet every day and think: she aborted this pregnancy."
N: "It is a rape pregnancy."
R: "I still don't like it."
N: "But you're considering the abortion."
R: "Of course."
N: "Well..." (he looks down, then up, making his decision) "What time is test?"
R: "As soon as it can be scheduled for today. I'll let you know."
N: "Call me, okay?"
Nick starts to leave.
R: "Hey, Nick? Did you parents have fun on that Alaska cruise?"
N: "Yes. They did. Another passenger couldn't go on a freighter cruise and gave the tickets to my parents. They are now floating somewhere in the Pacific on a freighter carrying blue jeans and t shirts. I got a postcard from Tahiti."
N: "I think they're going to return to Greece by freighter cruises. Their last stop is in Perth."
R: "I've never been on a freighter cruise."
N: "It's really just a room on the freighter. You get meals, and some recreation like swimming and an exercise room. No cabaret shows or cocktail hours with the Captain. I went on a freighter cruise one time. Really relaxing. I just sat on the deck, reading and listening to short-wave radio."
R: "Were you in the Med?"
N: "No. I crossed the Atlantic from New York to Portugal."
R: "Sounds interesting and fun."
N: "It is...well, duty calls. I've another appendectomy this morning."
R: :"Those seem to be popular lately. Like they're a fad."
N: "Doctor Howland's emergency op sure was a surprise."
R: "No one was as surprised as she was to see you as her surgeon."
Nick laughs and makes to leave the room.
N: "Yeah, well I was surprised to see her as my patient. She certainly was the last one I expected."
R: "Will you hug me? I could use a hug."
In response, Nick leans down and hugs Rae for several moments. When he pulls back, Rae is crying. He tries to wipe her tears away, but she shakes her head and reaches for a Kleenex.
Nick pulls back and looks at a snuffling Rae.
N: "Sure you'll be all right?"
R: "Yes. Yes. Hormones and all."
N: "It's more than hormones and you know it. Do you want to talk to someone?"
N: "I think you should. Doctor Levinthal, perhaps?"
N: "Yes. Rae, you've had a shock to your system. Even if you want to abort, you need to come to terms with the date rape."
R: "Perhaps if the anxiety keeps up, I'll miscarry."
N: "Rae. It's not healthy and you know it. Tell you what, I'll make an appointment with Doctor Levinthal and after talking with her, you might decide to talk with rape trauma."
N: "Rae, the attorney's office is going to send you a letter telling you about counseling options. I strongly urge you to seek counseling now. You're already upset enough. Will you at least consider my request and tell me later today?"
R: "I'll consider it."
N: "All right. Now I've got to fly...that appendectomy won't wait."
R: "See you later."
N: "Get some rest."
R: "I will."
Nick goes to the hospital door, and looks at Rae. Her eyes are red and her nose is becoming swollen. He smiles at her, then leaves.
Rae turns her head and looks out the window. Sunlight is winking on the cars crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, and a few boats are already out on the Bay. Rae might be wishing she were out on one of those boats, sailing away from her problems.