When Jennifer had calmed herself somewhat, Bethany Marx, PhD, said in an airy, angelic voice, "Jennifer, I'm sorry. The pregnancy test came back negative, which means we don't know what is wrong with you. We'll have to do some more tests. You should rest here, and a nurse will be with you in a few minutes to take some of your blood. Please, try to stay calm." *bzzz, bzzz* Dr. Marx got a page, and Jennifer could see her precious doctor's shoulders tense with stress. "I have to run, but I'll be back in to check with you shortly, and a nurse will be with you soon. Don't worry just yet. This could be something as simple and harmless as PMS." Bethany sped out of the room.
Left alone again, Jennifer's mind raced with worry for herself, for her small child, who she left with her brother for the afternoon, without giving him an honest reason for her need of an emergency baby-sitter. She didn't want him to worry, after all. Her anxiety built up and built up, as sand pouring through an hourglass making a small mountain of nervous helplessness within her petite, fragile frame. Time passed, although she had no idea how much, and a cold-looking, hefty nurse walked in, with a domineering, no-nonsense air about her. Jennifer's shoulders tensed with stress, adding to her physical symptoms.
In the West wing of the hospital, Dr. Bethany Marx stopped short in front of the small catastrophy that was unfolding before her. She watched as stretchers came pouring into the ER, carrying a man after man, all about her age. They were friends, coming from a private dinner, giving these stay-at-home dads a break for the evening, where their food had been poisoned, and they lay writhing in pain and discomfort. Dr. Marx moved from father to father, lifting his head, as she had done with Jennifers, only this time, to administer a serum which would induce vomiting. The poison had to be removed from their systems or they would die.
When all the poisoned men had expelled the fatal substances from their bodies, Bethany sighed, releasing the tension in her shoulders, relieved that she would be able to go home knowing that she had saved the lives of 12 fathers whose families needed them. Sitting down with a glass of water for a few minutes, Dr. Marx dialed the telephone number for the other side of the hospital, where Jennifer sat, once again alone and scared, awaiting the results of the latest test that had been done. The hefty nurse had taken a liter of her blood by then, and was moving through a series of tests which had all returned a negative result. "Dr. Marx here. Has testing been completed on patient Jennifer Howard in room 6661? Status report, please." Dr. Marx demanded from the nurse on duty at the desk on the East side of the sixth floor of the hospital. After hearing what she needed to know, Dr. Marx sighed again, and began walking the distance of the space between herself and Jennifer.
When Bethany entered 6661, Jennifer was sitting straight up, staring at the wall in front of her, looking terrible. She hadn't slept in 32 hours, but then again, neither had Bethany. Her frightened, on edge face, impulsively flicked towards Bethany when the door opened, expecting to see the hefty nurse again with another inconclusive test result. She was relieved to see Dr. Marx standing in the doorway. Her shoulders relaxed slightly. This was someone she could trust and who cared about her. "Dr. Marx! Thank goodness! What's wrong with me? Do you have any ideas yet?" She pleaded with Dr. Marx.
"I'm sorry, Jennifer. We don't know yet. We'd like for you to stay overnight for observation, while we run some more tests. We will keep working on this until we find out what's wrong. If you'd like to call a family member or a friend to have them bring some personal items for you, there is a pay phone down the hall, or you can use your cell phone in the designated areas."
Jennifer's heart sunk with this news. She would have to explain to her brother what had happened, and ask him to take care of Ethan for the night. The phone rang. It rang again. "Hello?" her brother said, questioning. He did not recognize the hospital's number on the caller ID.
"Tony? It's Jen. Don't freak out, ok? I'm in the hospital. I didn't want you to worry, so I wasn't honest with you earlier when I asked you to take care of Ethan for the day... I'm ok, Tony. But, they're doing some tests, and they want me to stay overnight...No, Tony. Please, don't tell Dad. I don't want him to worry unless there is something to worry about. Would you mind stopping by my place and picking up a change of clothes and a toothbrush for me, and bringing them down here? I'm in room 6661... Thanks, Tony...I love you, too. Goodbye."
She hung up the phone, and thought of Ethan. A boy of 4 years would not understand this. He would be more upset than anyone. She could not avoid it, though. She needed Tony to take care of him, and to bring her things for the night.