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Chapter 5 - Securing My Mask

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I've spent my day running between it and the ICU to help the nurses monitor patients. Code after code, seizures, open wounds, and chest pains galore. Now, in my first moment of quiet, I realize there's only an hour left in my shift. I've been clinging to every distraction possible, and for good reason.

I can catch the urge to cry sneak up every time I find a moment of silence, so I haven't allowed myself any. I never thought I'd enjoy the chaos of the ER, but I am desperate for something to occupy my mind, anything to keep me distracted from the shitstorm of emotions I'm trying to suppress. 

I walk down the hall to the ER, enjoying the increase of noise with every step I take. Inside, it is calmer than I expected for it being past nine o'clock. A code in the back room making most of the noise. I approach the desk. Gertie hands me a folder before I can even say a word. "There's a pregnant woman in bed five."

Another one? "Got it."

An orderly stands near the patient with a nurse who takes her blood pressure. The woman stares down at her phone with a smile plastered on her lips. She looks happyglowing or whatever. Her abundance of micro braids swirled into a high bun on her head like a crown. Pregnancy hair does not play. "Hi, I'm Dr. Reece," I introduce myself. "What seems to be the problem?"

"Braxton Hicks, I think," the woman says.

"How long has this been going on?"

"A few hours. I called my doctor. He didn't seem concerned, but it really does not feel nice," she says.

"Her blood pressure is high," the nurse, Mariposa, tells me. I only remember her name because she wears butterfly scrubs. "140 over 92," she says in a warning tone.

That's not good. "Mind if I take a quick listen?" I ask the patient.

"Of course." She leans forward.

"Is this your first baby?"

"First and only, most likely. Other than my lack of a relationship, I'm in a good place, my life is great, my job is even better," she rambles to fill the space while I continue my exam. "My best friend is the same. After a life worth of shitty boyfriends, we thought why not have a baby together? That's the best way to make sure our kid has two happy parents."

"Great," I say, wishing she would talk about anything other than half of my triggers.

"You probably think I'm crazy."

"Me? No," I say, draping my stethoscope back around my neck. "I would have killed to have two parents, let alone two who actually liked each other." She smiles, but I change the subject. "Has your OB mentioned you having hypertension?"

"Yes," she says with a huff. "That's probably why I have these sausages for ankles." I glance down to see her swollen ankles and feet squeezed into her flats. Now, I'm more than concerned. "At least our followers think it's cute."

"Followers?"

"We're documenting our journey on social media. My fat feet pic is up to 1,400 likes now," she turns her phone to show me her screen. "Ooh," she groans, clutching at her upper stomach. "There it is again."

That is not where a uterus is located. "I'd like to get a consult before we send you on your way," I tell her. "Sit tight and I'll be right back."

"Sure thing."

I run over to the desk and grab Gertie's attention. "Could you page OB for a consult?"

"I did earlier. One attending is out on leave, the other two are in delivery," she tells me. "It might be a while."

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