Two months later, Joy Wheeler’s voice still nagged at his thoughts while Lyle read the latest developments on her daughter’s chart. Mrs. Wheeler was not going to take this news well. Not well at all.
“You’re sure about this, Maggie?”
“I was sure about it last month, now it’s a fact,” the nurse stated. “I don’t envy you, Doctor. I wouldn’t want to be the one to tell The Dragon Lady.”
Lyle sighed and gazed down at his silent patient. The worst of her lacerations and bruises had faded leaving lifeless blue-gray eyes imprisoned in a parchment shell of a face. Lyle had cared for many such cases while covering his graveyard shift at the trauma center. This particular little girl seemed to touch his heart. He didn’t feel sad for her . . .
“Okay, Maggie, start Wendy on prenatal supplements intravenously. Has The Dra . . . er Mrs. Wheeler been around to visit lately?”
“Funny you should ask, Doctor. We were just commenting, at the nurse’s station, that Mrs. Wheeler’s visits have become extremely irregular. Why back at the beginning, she was here every day; that voice just about drove us all crazy. Lately, she stops by about every other week . . .” Maggie frowned down at Wendy’s still figure. “Can I talk to you out in the hall, Doctor?”
“I didn’t want to say so in front of the patient,” Maggie began, closing the heavy oak door behind her. “But that woman never talks to the poor little thing when she visits. Just sits and stares. I’ve never seen anything like it. Seems she can’t say enough to us nurses—‘this sheet’s too tight—it’s cold in here’ wouldn’t you think she’d talk to the girl? Maybe I’m out of line but I’ll bet you dollars to donuts, once she finds out about the pregnancy, we’ll never see her again.”
“Maggie, your concern is admirable,” Lyle began, his mind a million miles away.
“This may be one of the reasons why the patient is not responding to treatment. Put a note on her chart for staff to begin talking to the girl. Maybe one of us will reach her.”
Ultimately, Maggie was right about Joy Wheeler. When Lyle caught up with Mrs. Wheeler a few days later with the disturbing news of Wendy’s ill-gotten pregnancy, she turned her small bird-like eyes to his face. Her sharp mouth mutely opened and closed a few times.
“Get rid of it!” she finally hissed
“Mrs. Wheeler, Wendy simply isn’t strong enough to withstand surgery,” Lyle said, struggling to keep his anger under control.
Lyle was used to dealing with people of all kinds. He failed to understand why this woman was able to push his buttons so easily.
“Just cut that monster out of her, Doctor. She can’t think for herself, right now. This is what she’d want. It’s for her own good”
She looked down at her motionless daughter, gently stroked a pale cheek, and then quickly bustled from the room nearly colliding with a drug cart on her way out.
Lyle wiped a single fat tear from one of Wendy’s stark blue-gray eyes.
“Don’t you worry about a thing, Sweetheart,” he whispered to the fragile invalid. “There isn’t any reason in the world for you not to have a fine healthy baby. No reason at all.”
Discouraged, Lyle picked up the girl’s chart to make a note on the impending abortion. Instead, with steady hands, he merely ordered an increase in vitamin dosage before striding from the room.