Love and other catastrophes
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Two: Falling down

Pacey crashed through the doors of the emergency room clutching Joey to him, yelling for help. He didn’t even register the familiar faces of the men and women he had previously worked with in the ER, all he cared about was getting her onto a gurney and attracting the attention of the Attending physician.

"Pacey?" Jack Miller said, taking in the stricken face of the young intern. "What have we got?"

"My girlfriend… Joey… I came home and…" Pacey was flustered, obviously shaken.

"Okay, just calm down and tell me what happened." The nurses wheeled Joey into an examination room, and Dr. Miller began assessing her condition. Pacey ran a nervous hand through his hair and explained what he knew.

"She complained of menstrual cramps this morning and when I came home I found her unconscious. I think she tried to phone for help a few hours ago but I can’t be sure. The phone was off the hook."

"Any history of abdominal trauma?" Miller asked as he expertly prodded her abdomen while he examined her. One of the nurses was taking her blood pressure and checking responses.

"None, only normal cramps." Pacey answered, his eyes not leaving Joey.


"Still got it."

"BP’s 90/60," the nurse reported. "And her temp’s normal."

"Any meds?" Miller continued questioning Pacey.

"Just Naprogesic this morning, I’m not sure if she took it."

"How old is Joey?"


"Okay, we’re going to run some tests," Miller said calmly, catching the attention of the nurse across the bed who had just placed an oxygen mask over Joey’s nose and mouth. "Give me a CBC and blood differential, Chem-7, ‘lytes, tox-screen and a Beta-HCG. Do a type and cross-match and we’ll do an abdominal x-ray now."

"Yes, doctor."

Dr. Miller turned his attention to Pacey, leaving the nurses to carry out his instructions. "Pacey, I want you to wait outside."

"No, I want to stay with her, in case she wakes up," Pacey said, his voice devoid of strength.

Miller led the younger man from the exam room, a firm hand on his shoulder. "Let us do our job, Pacey, and we’ll find out what’s wrong with Joey. In the meantime her blood pressure is okay and her pulse is strong, so try not to worry. There’s some adnexal tenderness so we’re gonna check for appendicitis and hemorrhaging and rule out an ectopic… Don’t worry, she’ll be fine. I’ll find you as soon as we know something."

Miller had effectively maneuvered Pacey out to the reception area of the emergency room during his speech and he now motioned to one of the desk staff to look after him. Clapping his hand on Pacey’s shoulder, Miller returned quickly to the exam room.

"Pacey, are you all right?" Cate Jefferson asked worriedly. She knew him well from his days on an ER rotation but now he was so distant. He didn’t even seem to hear her question. Gently she nudged him with a clipboard. "Pacey? Can you fill out some forms? We need to know Joey’s details."

Pacey looked at her, then stared dumbly at the clipboard. Cate offered it to him once more, her concern growing for the nice young doctor. Finally he took the papers from her and walked mechanically over the waiting room chairs. It was a full ten minutes before he was able to focus his attention on the paperwork.

* * *

The waiting room was full of people waiting to be seen and others waiting to hear news of their loved ones. Pacey was just another face in the crowd. The reception staff and other ER workers glanced in his direction repeatedly throughout his wait, not sure if they should try and comfort him or just leave him be. His face was contorted with worry for his girlfriend who had been brought in unconscious, but no one had had any word yet on her condition. After twenty minutes Cate was about to offer him some coffee at least, but she was relieved to see Dr. Miller coming down the corridor towards the waiting room. Pacey saw him too and immediately jumped to his feet.

"Dr. Miller, how is she? Is it a ruptured appendix? Is she all right?" Pacey couldn’t get the questions out fast enough.

Miller led him to a quiet corner of the room so he could talk to him with some degree of privacy. "Joey’s going to be fine, Pacey. We’re prepping her for surgery now but everything should be straight forward."


"It’s a ruptured ectopic pregnancy, Pacey. Luckily we seem to have caught it in time before it does any permanent damage."

"Pregnancy?" Pacey echoed, bewildered. Miller took in his shock and let him digest the news for a moment.

"Not very far along. I’d say Joey didn’t even know she was pregnant and the symptoms of the ectopic were just like menstrual cramps. It’s a good thing this happened sooner rather than later." Dr. Miller was aware that Pacey knew all of this anyway, but right now he was thinking as a concerned partner rather than a doctor. "This won’t take long, you can go upstairs with her and wait there. Surgical staff will let you know when you can see her."

He waited to make sure Pacey had registered what he was saying before moving off.


Miller turned around and looked at him. Pacey was still staring off into space, but he finally brought his eyes up to meet those of the Attending.

"Did she wake up? Does she know about the baby?" he asked, almost choking on the last word.

"No. Looks like you’ll be the one to tell her when she wakes up from the anesthetic. Unless you’d like me or the surgeon to do it?"

"No," Pacey said quickly. "I’ll tell her."

Miller nodded slightly in approval, then went back into the ER.

Love and other catastrophes
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