Beyond Belief

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I sat alone in the family clinic waiting room, thumbing through a gardening magazine, even though I don't like gardening. I just stared at the pages, without reading a word, pretending I was interested. My nervous thoughts clouded around me, like a thick fog. My was mind wandering, aimlessly, through space. My hands were shaking and my feet seemed to dance, without my legs. My entire body was chilled and clammy to the touch. I felt like my heart was prepared to leap out of my chest. A tall, elderly nurse came into the waiting area, carrying a clipboard. Without looking up, she called out my name. Hearing the nurse say, "Jenna Murphy," startled me and sent electrifying chills down my spine.  

This is it. I quickly stood up, fumbling my purse and spilling the contents on the floor, dropping the magazine I was holding. My face instantly turned a bright crimson as I watched a tube of my lipstick shoot across the floor and settle beside the fake, plastic plant. I nervously scurried to collect my effects, leaving the lipstick behind. Carrying that same gardening magazine, I followed the nurse down the hallway. After being weighed, I followed her into room number three. I sat on the exam table, still clutching my purse. I glanced up and saw only the nurse's name tag. Wanda. I looked back down and pulled my sweater tighter around my shoulders in an attempt to warm my cold, corpse-like body. There was a huge lump in my throat. And somehow, I knew what Nurse Wanda was about to ask. Here it comes. 

"So, Miss Murphy, what brings you in here today?" 

I let out an odd, anxious sigh. Not knowing exactly what to say, I stumbled over my words. "Well...I, uh...I...I just think something is wrong. I haven't been sleeping lately. I just can't fall asleep. I've been cranky, and extremely nervous. The smallest things make me snap in anger or even in tears. I've had a few headaches too. I can't pinpoint a problem. It's a little bit of everything." 

Nurse Wanda never looked up, but continued writing on her clipboard. She didn't seem concerned at all with the fact my life is ending here! I felt tears welling up in my eyes. Ok, stop it! Why are you being so emotional?  

"Any nausea or vomiting?" Nurse Wanda asked as she stood to check my blood pressure. 

"I've had a nervous stomach. That's it." 

"Have you been running fever?" 

"No," I said simply. 

As if she didn't believe me, Nurse Wanda, stuck a thermometer in my mouth to check my temperature. "Ah...normal." 

Still facing her precious clipboard, she asked, "How old are you, Miss Murphy?" 

"I'm twenty." 

"Hmm. Well, the doctor will be in shortly." And with that, she was gone. 

Once again, I sat alone, waiting. My anxiety was building. My mind was racing with what seemed like thousands of questions. Why is this happening? What is the doctor going to do? Are my symptoms related? Am I just depressed? Or do I have a brain tumor? Oh, jeez! I have cancer! 

I really needed to calm myself down. I wanted to believe that everything would be fine. I closed my eyes and took in a deep breath, trying to relax my whirlwind of a mind. I looked around the room, inspecting the canisters of cotton balls and tongue depressors. I absently read the cold and flu symptoms chart and the privacy act posters.  

I was desperate for a distraction, anything to ease my mind. With my eyes closed and my face tilted upward, I strained to hear the elevator music drifting in from the hallway . 

Dr. Charles Kipson walked into the room, startling me. My heart sped up again, even faster than before. So much for my calming techniques. I looked at my hands and noticed that I was compulsively twisting my purse straps to the point I knew I'd have to replace my bag with a newer, less-strained model. 

He sat down on the rolling stool, looking down at that same horrid clipboard, just as Nurse Wanda had. They acted as the same person, both unaffected by the urgency of my visit. I let out an almost automatic sigh of relief just then, when Dr. Kipson looked up at me. He must have noticed my expression of shock. I noticed his lips curve upward. I tried to hide my surprise that he was a real, human doctor. He cared; that much I could see. 

He asked me the typical questions, I had expected. "How would you describe your stress level?" 

"My stress level is ludicrous," I whispered with a half-smile. "The past few months -- extreme stress. But only because I think I'm crazy." 

"How about on a normal day? On days when you don't think of yourself as 'crazy?" 

I looked up at him with furrowed brows, thinking he was the one who was insane. Surely, he could see that every day is like this! "I lost my boyfriend in a car accident two years ago. Since then, I have had some anxiety. Nothing this bad, however. It has taken quite a while to accept that Owen is gone. Maybe I haven't fully accepted it yet. I'm not sure. But things did get better, up until about 3 or 4 months ago. I started feeling different. I've had a sense of dread. My anxiety has increased. My mood has changed. I have a lot of anger and fear. After Owen died, I moved here, away from Miami. I have yet to make any friends here. Valdosta is a friendly enough town, but I am so closed off. So, I haven't spoken to anyone about my feelings." I suddenly stopped my explanation, embarrassed at how much I said. I looked back down to the floor, almost ashamed. I volunteered too much information to Dr. Kipson. He didn't need so many details, just my symptoms. 

"Well, what you are experiencing is depression stemming from the loss of your boyfriend. Your feelings of sadness and nervousness are perfectly normal after such a traumatic event. Death is always traumatic. We will do a few blood tests and get you started on a low dose of anti-anxiety medication. I'll recommend a good therapist. You should be feeling better in no time. I'll send the nurse in and I will be back in a few minutes to answer any questions. And you are not crazy." He smiled again and walked out the door. 

A wave of easement crashed over me. Just depressed and sad. Fine. I can handle that. Medication should help. 

I had never in my life been more willing to allow a nurse to draw blood from my arms. The thought of needles or blood...ugh. That may have been the first time I wasn't bothered by it. After having the vials of my blood taken from me, I waited for the doctor to return with my scripts.  

I waited, waited, and waited more. Waited longer. I began wondering if they forgot about me. Just be patient. I felt fairly calm since Dr. Kipson declared my sanity. I smiled to myself, happy to be okay. He said this is normal. 

Dr. Kipson slowly entered the exam room. This time, a frown polluting his chiseled face. My heart raced with another sense of dread. He was looking down at that same clipboard again. Once again, he sat down and looked up at me. With a sigh, he said, "Your depression and anxiety are not only caused by the death of your boyfriend." He pursed his lips and crossed his arms, looking at me--trying to read me. 

"Oh?" I forced out, confused. 

"Yeah. You're pregnant."  

I started to laugh. Tears were streaming down my face, in humor, not sadness. "Dr. Kipson, just minutes ago, I told you that my boyfriend was killed in a car accident. Two years ago! I haven't been with anyone since him. I haven't so much as kissed any person since he died. Please, just give me my prescriptions so I can go home." 

"Miss Murphy, we ran the test twice. This is not a mistake. You are expecting a child. I know this must be a shock. Is there anyone who could possibly be the father? I understand you don't recall being with anyone, but could there be anyone you've forgotten? A one-night fling perhaps?" 

Silence.

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