Choices

Bleeding so heavily that the nurses exclaimed over it from between my spread and raised knees, I didn’t feel lucky. My calm in that moment was a pacified fatalism. Everything that could be done was being done. If later there emerged ideas of could-have-done-more, they would have their day, their time. That moment of dissociation and concomitant relaxation had grown from the tip of a sterile needle taken from a syringe. They’d searched both arms in vain, but with impressive teamwork. The ladies chattering in Malayalam fretted that there were no veins to be found, because they’d been sternly ordered to get me on fluids. They worked me over like dough – pressing, squeezing, rolling – and finally spied a possibility. With my left wrist cocked sideways, thumb pulled in line with my forearm, they moved quickly to get the IV tube into the hint of rubbery, rolling duct running under the pale skin that should have revealed every vein like an anatomy model, were those veins not collapsed upon their scant, sluggish load. I averted my eyes, as though too modest to watch the penetration I was allowing, though I looked back as soon as the insertion was complete. I watched a long, thick needle come out of the IV feed and be replaced by the blunt end of a bag of fluids. That’s all I know – fluids. Ones I needed, ones I lacked, presumably because I misplaced them along with the fetus I was miscarrying. A nurse, roughly my age, tore open a syringe package and I couldn’t figure out how they’d get another needle in another vein when the first had been so hard to find. She drew something from a tiny bottle in the way that was familiar to me from movies, familiarly pushed the[…]

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