the chart of his next patient.
Ms. X had presented
with intermittent pain in her right side and digestive problems.
Her blood panel suggested hepatitis and her doctor had scheduled
a liver biopsy to confirm.
Ms. X,” he said as the patient was wheeled into the room. “My
name’s Derek and I’ll be the radiologist conducting your
“Why don’t you
just call it what it is?” the woman demanded. Spittle flew
from her lips and landed on her blue gown, the droplets soaking
in and coloring the fabric a dull gray. “You’re going to
probe me. Just like the aliens.”
Derek barked a
laugh, then tried to cover it with a cough. “Actually, I’m
going to use a needle. We’ll have you out in no time. And
“It’s a little
late for that,” she muttered, tugging on a lock of frizzy
Derek shot a questioning
look at the nurse steering the wheelchair. She responded
by flipping open the chart and pointing out the admitting
doctor’s signature. Dr. Clark was in Mental Health. Then
he read the last line, which he’d missed the first time through. Patient
symptoms consistent with diagnosis of schizophrenia.
Ah. Derek snapped
the chart shut and exchanged a sad smile with the nurse.
He’d have to tread carefully with this one. Biopsies weren’t
a pleasant experience under normal circumstances. He had
no idea how someone suffering from severe psychosis would
perceive the procedure.
“We’re just about
ready. I’ll have Nan help you up onto the table here, and
then I’ll explain what we’re going to do.”
He waited until
she was settled before he began to clean the area around
her breastbone. “This is an antiseptic. After that, I’ll
numb the skin with a local anesthetic. That way, you won’t
feel anything when I make the incision.”
“I feel everything,
pretty boy,” she said, squirming on the table.
Derek tried not
to preen. She might be crazy, but there was nothing wrong
with her eyesight.
“This is the needle
we’re going to use,” he told her, holding it up. “We’ll make
the incision here,” he touched the spot, “but you probably
won’t feel anything until we get to the peritoneum. That’s
where you might experience some discomfort.”
snorted. “You don’t know discomfort until you’ve had a rectal
probe by a disgruntled extra-terrestrial.”
He wasn’t sure
how to respond to that, so he didn’t try. “I’m going to need
you to hold still,” he said as he guided the needle through
her abdominal cavity.
“It’s in there,” she
muttered, gripping the metal table. “I can feel it, moving
around. Making itself to home.”
“Relax,” the nurse
murmured. “That’s just the needle. It’s an odd sensation,
but perfectly normal.”
“It’s not normal.
It’s an alien life form using my body as a host.”
“I’m not sure…” Derek
trailed off and motioned for Nan to stop the ultrasound over
the liver. “We need to get this to oncology.”
She squinted at
the black spot on the monitor. “That’s not a tumor.”
He realized Nan
was right. It looked more like an egg sac. And it was hatching.