“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—”