You immediately wonder what actually happened.
She came in with increasing abdominal pain after falling down the stairs 3 days ago. It’s an isolated splenic injury. The story doesn’t add up. The mechanism of injury doesn’t fit.
Why wait so long? What is she hiding?
Her boyfriend seems off-kilter from the start. Something about his manner – his eyes, his words, his tone – he reminds you of someone you once knew. Someone you thought you’d never have to see again.
She barely opens her mouth to speak.
He answers for her. He controls the conversation. He becomes her voice.
Her ex-husband and son are with her as well. They ask to speak to your team after rounds. They don’t believe her. They’ve seen what she’s become – a shell of herself. His plaything. They know.
He did it. He’s done it before. He’ll do it again if – when – she goes home with him.
The next day, he knows he’s been exposed. He’s far too friendly, too obvious, too familiar with all the women in the room. He gives you an ingratiating smile. It’s a calculated greeting, intended to give him the same power over you.
Your stomach turns, and your jaw sets. You can’t – won’t – refuse to – look him in the eye. He cannot have that.
She finally goes to the OR when the bleeding won’t stop. You want to shake her when she wakes up, to make her see sense, to give her the courage she needs – before he sees her, before he can bewitch her again. Your fists clench, and the flames begin to burn inside you again. Because you know how this story goes.
But in the end, you realize… this is not your battle. And she’s not the one you’re really angry with.