At lunchtime, Jesse looked like a different person. Her mom, Julie and sister, Terry were there, and they obviously enjoyed each others company. She was also enjoying a delicious lunch of green jello, apple juice, and vegetable broth. Her eyes seemed to light up when I entered the room, and again, I melted. Well, you look so much better than when I saw you this morning, I told her. I really am, she agreed. After your visit, I went to sleep and slept soundly until I realized Mom and Terry were here. Yeah, and we'd been here for quite awhile listening to her snore, said Terry, like any sassy little sister might add. Jesse responded with a slight roll of the eyes, and a very big grin. So, would you like to go home with your family then? I had already taken a look at her record for the morning before I went to her room. Her vitals were good, and she had been out of bed to the bathroom with help. She was hungry and anxious to have something to eat, but because of all of the manipulating in her abdomen, she would have to take it slow to get back to her regular diet. But Terry assured us all, that Jesse would be putting away a large Domino's pizza by herself by the weekend. Again there was the eye roll and grin from Jesse. Ummm, sounds good to me, I added. Well then, I will start your release papers and let your nurse know. She will be in to remove your IV too. Then I'll be back to talk to you before you leave, okay? Okay, they all agreed. They were a very happy family. And I was a very happy doc.
By 1:00 p.m. I was back in my office reading a chart for an afternoon appointment, a 72 year old woman who had developed a uterine polyp. I felt sure that we could remove it in the office, but she had some more questions and wanted to bring her daughter with her. I didn't have too many other things on my schedule, so I began to do more research on endometriosis, looking specifically for new papers that had been published more recently. Before I even realized it, the registration office buzzed me to let me know Mrs. Clarke had arrived for her appointment. It was now 2:30.
I spent about 35 to 40 minutes with Mrs. Clarke and her daughter, Beth. They both seemed more relaxed and confident that the procedure was quite safe to do in the office, taking only about an hour and allowing her to go home right afterward with a minimum of discomfort. They left and went to the scheduling office to make the appointment. I went back to my office to continue my reading and the front desk verified that I did not have any other appointments scheduled for the rest of the afternoon. But almost right away they buzzed me again to say I had a call from Jesse. My heart jumped at the thought that she might be having a post surgery complication. Hello, Jesse? Yes, she said. What is it? Are you alright? I was truly anxious and concerned. Yes, yes, I'm okay, she said. I'm so sorry to bother you. I just intended to leave a message for you. I really didn't think you would be available. My heart was still pounding in my ears but I tried to sound calmer than I felt. Oh, I just had one appointment this afternoon, so I'm just working in my office. Gosh, this is going to sound really dumb then, she said, but if I didn't call you Terry said she would. Oh, oh. I could only guess what that might mean. I have my follow-up with you on Friday and we figured I could be eating more of a regular diet by then, so we wanted to know if you could join us for pizza that evening. Mom and Terry really want to thank you for all you've done for me. I laughed a little as I said, I see. Oh man, now that I've said it out loud, I really do feel dumb. No, don't. I'd love to. Pizza is my all time favorite food, I told her. Mine too. Well, when I see you on Friday, we can discuss the details, okay? Great. And thanks again for everything, Dr. J., Jesse added. I think it might be time we dropped the Dr. part, I said. Call me Jen.
Wednesday and Thursday were very busy. I had two more young women experiencing difficult periods and abdominal pain. I had talked to some other associates who were also working with patients suffering from endometriosis. The challenge for most of us was trying to prescribe treatments following invasive procedures like surgery that will keep the patient from developing further endometrial tissue. I became particularly interested in studies conducted by the Endometrial Association of Ireland who is working in conjunction with specialists in the UK. And in many US studies involving natural treatments including diet and lifestyle. New medications specifically for endometriosis pain and for prohibiting the growth of endometrial tissue were also of interest to me. And for those young patients who still hope to have children, all of these issues were particularly urgent to me.
But when Friday came, I felt a wonderful excitement and anticipation. For pizza!! And for the ladies I would be spending the evening with. I was finishing my notes on a patient I had just seen for her yearly check-up, when my nurse advised me Jesse is all checked in in Exam Room 3. Her sister is with her. Oh thanks, Emily, I said. It was 1:20 and I was glad they were early so I might spend a few more minutes with them. As I knocked on the door, I heard an uncustomary and very enthusiastic, COME IN! I was laughing as I entered and saw Terry sitting on my exam table. Jesse, in a chair by the desk, was shaking her head and just said, hi. Well, hello girls, I said. Jesse was obviously slightly embarassed by her little sister, but also very amused, and the affection she has for Terry was also there on her face. I felt that new feeling that was now becoming rather commonplace for me; heart melt. Hi, doc. Can I have a pelvic exam? I looked at Terry and then Jesse and laughed right out loud. TERRY!! We all three laughed together for several minutes. Well, I've never had anyone in here who was so enthusiastic, I answered. But sure. If you need we'll get you set up with an appointment. Great, she said, as she stepped down from the table. Sit down over here, Jesse told her, and Terry obliged. I was still chuckling to myself as I sat on my stool and then looked at Jesse. Wow, you look wonderful. How are you feeling, I asked her. Really good. I've had the best week, she said smiling. I'm so glad. Yeah, but Mom and I spoiled her rotten all week, little sister added. You're still coming for pizza tonight, aren't you? Yes I am, I told her. I can hardly wait! But, I really want to check your sister out here first. I stood and put my hand out to Jesse. Can you get up on the table for me? Oh, sure, she said, glancing back at her sister, as long as Terry isn't on there. I hung onto her hand as she stepped up, turned towards me and sat back. I put my stethoscope in my ears and listened to her heart. As usual, it was strong and steady. Little did I know, that strong, steady beat after moments of intimacy would become one of my greatest joys. I now moved to her back and listened to equally strong, clear lungs. Well, that's excellent, I said. I pulled the leg support out from the end of the table and helped her lay back. I lifted her shirt to see the four incisions on her abdomen. Each was healing nicely and showed no signs of swelling or infection. Anything out of the ordinary for pain, I asked her. A grin crossed her face as she answered, no, nothing. Relieved, thankful silence filled the room. Then, I guess we should decide what kind of pizza we want! And I helped her back to a sitting position and as she stepped down. Yea!, from corner of the room. What kind do you like, Jesse asked me. Oh, anything, I said. Seriously, I'm not just saying that. And, I will bring whatever people want to drink I said. We already have soft drinks and iced tea, and . . . Mom has made one of her famous brownie puddings, Terry added! It was obvious to all of us that it was going to be a very special evening.
Friday evenings from then on were special. After several pizza nights in a row, we decided to try new menus, even cooking together, which isn't always successful for four women. But it was always easy and enjoyable to be with them, especially Jesse. After our third pizza party, I was preparing to leave and Jesse was insistent on walking outside with me. She was all healed now and in excellent health. I turned to wave goodnight to Julie and Terry and saw Julie's hand take ahold of Terry and pull her back inside off of the lighted porch. I love your family, I told Jesse. Yeah, I do too. Usually. We reached my car, and without hesitation, our arms wrapped around each other and . . . there it was. Our first real, passionate kiss. Something I had been dreaming of since the first day I stepped into my exam room. We both had been waiting for that moment, obviously, as we didn't speak for several minutes, but rather held and kissed each other as if the other was our first. I couldn't get enough of her mouth and face as I held it between my hands. Struggling to get my breath I said, I have wanted to do that for so long. Me too, she answered as we stood there our foreheads together. I feel dizzy, I added. And, me too. We looked deeply into each other's eyes. Boy, I never guessed this would happen when I first came to see you. Well, it never happened to me either, I confessed. I leaned into her and put my head on her shoulder as she wrapped her arms around me. This is really amazing, she said. It is, I agreed. It's okay isn't it? Well, now that you're well . . . yes, I think so. But you can still be my doctor, can't you? Yes, I think that will be okay too. Would you go out to dinner with me sometime this week, she asked. Oh, my gosh, on a date? Yes, and not pizza. I would love to, I said. I'll call you Sunday, and we can decide more about it. I smiled and nodded but I was still focused on her mouth again. As I drove home, her kisses were all I could think about, all I could feel and taste. Pizza night was never so incredible!