It was right before lunch: my last patient before I had to go to a meeting.
“Oh, you are gonna love this one! She is crazy!” my MA said, rolling her eyes as she slammed the patient’s chart onto my desk.
She was a 22-year-old girl who had come to see me for her first prenatal care visit. I had previewed her chart and had seen her prior history of six abortions. I sighed, thinking “This should be interesting …” and opened the door.
There she was, appearing much older than her stated age, hunched over on the exam table, looking at me over the edge of her crooked glasses. Her clothes were baggy and smelled stale; her hair was chin length and greasy and scraggly, sticking out into every direction. I introduced myself and asked her how she was feeling.
She answered, “Fine.” One word. Every question I asked subsequently, was answered with one word, without any eye contact, while she was fidgeting with her clothes.
Odd. I left the computer, sat down on my chair, and rolled up alongside of her.
I put my hand on her shoulder to get her to look at me and said: “How are you feeling about this pregnancy?”
She looked up at me, like a deer caught in the headlights and said, “I don’t know whose it is!”
So I calmly said to her, “Well, let’s see if we can figure it out together! Tell me what happened.”
Her eyes welled up with tears. She started to rock back and forth on the exam table and finally whispered in a low voice that had hardly any resonance to it, “I was raped, but it was my fault.”
A horrific story unfolded in front of me, which she had not shared with anyone but her boyfriend. She was sobbing uncontrollably, at times unable to finish a sentence or even breathe.
She stayed with me for one and a half hours.
I forgot it was lunch time.
I forgot I had a meeting.