“It’s silly I’m here at all. I passed out in the kitchen at Dewey’s, my coworkers panicked and offered me the choice of the emergency room or you, so here I am.”
“Mmm-hmm.” The doctor didn’t look up. “Your medical history seems to have quite a few gaps.”
“I’m not sure about some of it.”
“I was orphaned at age eleven and they didn’t have my full medical history. Then my medical records were lost in the immigration paperwork.”
“Mmm-hmm. Understandable.” Doctor Monroe shut the folder. “But complete and total b.s. So why don’t you tell me the truth if you expect me to help you?”
Startled, Domini stared at her.
“First thing, strictly off the record, I assure you I’ve never had designs on Cam McKay, which you might’ve mistakenly believed. Cam is a patient. I don’t date my patients. Period.
“Secondly, I take my patient’s confidentiality very seriously. No one works for me I don’t trust. Access to medical records is strictly monitored. No one on my staff will blab any part of your medical history to anyone. I guarantee it. So whatever you tell me, will be held in the utmost confidence.”
“You won’t tell my husband?”
“Not without your consent.” Doctor Monroe stood and pulled out the table extension. “Lie back. Let’s see if we can’t figure out what’s going on with you.”
Good thing she already had her blood pressure taken, because right now it was through the roof. Domini closed her eyes and flinched when the doc’s cold hands started poking her abdomen. She knew the exact moment the doctor figured it out.
“Do you have a uterus?” She poked the area above Domini’s hipbones.
“You still have ovaries.” She traced the scar above her pubic bone. “Surgical rather than vaginal removal?”
“Please sit up.”
Domini gathered the edges of her gown together. She heard the doctor return to her chair. Heard the squeak as the chair rolled toward the desk. Heard her flipping through the scant paperwork looking for answers.
Doctor Monroe’s pale red eyebrows were drawn together. Her teeth were digging into her lower lip. She seemed…agitated. “I don’t have to ask if you’re having problems with your menstrual cycle.” She looked up. Her eyes were compassionate, yet held resolve. “Will you please explain to me why a perfectly healthy thirty-year-old woman has had a hysterectomy?”
“It wasn’t by choice.”
She might as well tell the whole sordid story. “I’m not sure about all the technical medical terms, but I started having issues with my menstrual cycle when I was fifteen. I had no one to talk to. My caregivers at the orphanage didn’t care, so I suffered through it. Halfway through my sixteenth year, I could feel these…lumps in my abdomen. The pain was excruciating. Whenever I brought it up, I was told it was part of being a woman. Until one day I passed out from the pain. Someone called an ambulance and I ended up in the hospital. I was in and out of a drug-induced haze when the doctors did tests. I remembered thinking maybe my appendix had burst.”
“What did they find?”
“Uterine fibroids. The orphanage director was called in.” Domini fought back the anger. “I was a minor. When the doctors told him the best option was removal of my uterus, he didn’t question it. He just signed the paperwork. I didn’t know any of this until after it happened when I woke up two days later.”
“There are so many other options besides the most extreme one! Especially at your age! Why didn’t they—”
“What could I do? The orphanage made the choice for me.”
“And you had something taken from you without your consent. My older patients who’ve gone through a hysterectomy have emotional issues with the physical loss of part of their womanhood. But to deal with that loss at age sixteen when you were just a girl? Just becoming a woman—” Her voice broke, and she looked away.
Domini watched in shocked silence as Doctor Monroe’s tears dripped on her white slacks. Not the reaction she’d expected.
What did you expect? She’d call Cam and tell him she could give him the babies you can’t?
Finally Doctor Monroe composed herself. “I’m sorry. It makes me so angry that there are monsters in the medical field all over the world who can just play God and take away choices…” She inhaled. Exhaled. “I get a little worked up sometimes.”
“Did they have any idea what might’ve caused the fibroids? It’s fairly uncommon at that age.”
“There were a lot of medical abnormalities after Chernobyl. Some immediate, some issues that didn’t show up until years later. Of course, no one will admit that disaster had long term affects on any of the Ukraine people.”
“Of course not. Who monitors you?”
“A gynecological specialist in Denver. I see her once a year.”
“Good. But now that I’m aware of your condition, if you have any issues you’re not sure of, I’d be happy to treat you. I’m not a specialist, but I am determined to make rural healthcare top notch.”
“Thank you.” Domini fidgeted with the folds of the gown. “Cam doesn’t know.”
Doctor Monroe frowned. “Why not?”
“Because when we’d just started dating my friend Nadia died and left her son Anton an orphan and I couldn’t let him go into foster care. I’d have a hard time getting custody of Anton as a single woman so Cam suggested I marry him.”
“It was spur of the moment. As a cop Cam has had foster care training. His logic was if I married him, I wouldn’t be a flight risk and Anton wouldn’t have to go into foster care. So I said yes. I’m so selfish.” Domini started crying. “Cam is the best man in the world and he deserves so much better than me, especially with his brothers and cousins all having kids. If he stays married to me that’ll never happen, he’ll never have kids of his own and I don’t know how to tell him.”
“Ssh. Hey. Here.” The doctor handed her a tissue. “Take a deep breath. I can’t tell you what to do, because you already know what you should do. I don’t believe the only reason Cam McKay married you is so you could get custody of Anton. No one is that selfless.”
“You’d be surprised.”
“There’s no other reason?”
Domini blew her nose. “Well, the sex between us is pretty spectacular.”
“I don’t doubt that. Look, obviously you’ve dealt with the issues concerning Cam’s handicap. I can’t imagine he wouldn’t be as understanding when you tell him about yours.”
“Do you think any less of him because his leg is gone?”
Two raps sounded on the door and the nurse poked her head in. “Umm. There’s a very agitated, very large, uniformed man out here demanding to see his wife. He’s armed and he’s scaring me.”
Domini’s gaze zipped to the doctor’s. “How did Cam find out I was here?”
“Don’t look at me. I didn’t call him. Send him back.” Doctor Monroe patted Domini’s knee. “For now, let’s concentrate on—”
The door opened and Cam barreled in. “Domini, are you all right?”
“I’m fine, Cam.”
“You scared me half to death.” He cupped her face in his hands. His eyes searched hers frantically. “Why didn’t you call me?”
“You’re busy and—”
“I’m never too busy for you. Never ever ever too busy for my wife.” Cam glanced at the doctor. “What’s wrong with her? Is it serious? Is she gonna be okay?”
“She’s anemic for one thing. Which explains the lightheadedness and fainting spells.”
“You fainted?” Cam said incredulously.
“How many times do you have to faint before you see it as a problem?” Cam turned to the doctor. “What else?”
“Nausea. It sounds like she hasn’t been eating right or sleeping much.”
“Hypertension. Stress can create all sorts of different reactions in the body.”
“So what do I do to make her better? I’ll do whatever it takes.”
Her tears pooled again. She didn’t deserve this man.
“For the anemia I’ll prescribe iron tablets. For the hypertension, bed rest for a couple of days.” The doctor clasped the chart to her chest.
“Thank you, Doctor Monroe.”
“Yeah, thanks, doc, for seeing her right away. I owe you one.”
She smiled. “Remember that when you see the bill. Take care. Both of you.”
When the door clicked shut, Cam’s mouth was on hers, bestowing the sweetest, gentlest kiss that brought tears to the surface again. “Thank God you’re okay. I don’t know what I’d do if something happened to you, princess. I’d absolutely lose my fucking mind.”
“No, you listen. I’m taking you home and you will not do a single goddamned thing but lay in bed for at least two days.”
“I ain’t kiddin’. When Dave called me—”
Domini placed her hand on his chest. “Wait. Dave called you?”
“How do you think I found out?”
So Keely hadn’t tattled. “It doesn’t matter.”
“Oh, but it does matter. I should’ve found out from you.”
“Sorry. I just…wasn’t thinking straight.”
“Lucky thing you won’t have to think for the next two days, because, princess, I’m gonna be stuck to your side like a burr. So get dressed so I can take you home.”