Life is starting to get even more complicated for Karen......
‘Hello, Karen,’ Sheila called from the bathroom.
‘I didn’t know you were working today.’ Karen was leading Millie and Florrie towards the row of toilet cubicles.
‘Just catching up with the baths. I missed the hand-over.’ She wiped the hair from her eyes. ‘It’s been crazy here today.’
‘Are you here all day?’ Karen wondered.
‘Doing some overtime. Only I wouldn’t have bothered if I’d known what was going to happen this morning.’
‘You mean those two new patients from Spencer Ward? Two cutters, aren’t they?’ Karen steered Millie towards the first cubicle. ‘I haven’t met either of them yet.’
‘They’ve been sedated. All safely locked up and sleeping it off,’ said Sheila. ‘You should have been here when they arrived. All over the place, they were. It took five of us to escort one of them over. Her name’s Brenda. She cut herself right down to the bone on both arms. Blood gushing all over the place.’ She grimaced. ‘The doctor had only just finished stitching her up, when we got the call to collect the other one. She’s called Mary. Apparently Brenda kicking off upset her, and she ran out of the ward across the cricket pitch. When they caught up with her, she’d cut her wrists. Luckily not quite as bad as Brenda, but still needed stitching up. The doctor’s only just gone.’
‘Quite a morning,’ Karen said.
‘We still need to finish the baths and then the beds need making.’
‘I can make a start on them after I’ve finished toileting these two.‘ Karen turned. ‘Come on Millie, get your knickers down and sit on the toilet.’
Florrie appeared at the door of the next cubicle, pulling her voluminous knickers up over her waist.
‘Flush the toilet, Florrie. Then come and wash your hands.’ She stood and watched as the two women washed their hands in turn. ‘Now you can have a fag.’ She ushered them back down the corridor towards the office where the staff nurse waited with the cigarettes and lighter.
Sheila was busy drying another patient with a worn, grey towel.
‘You alright, Karen?’ Sheila asked over the patient’s shoulder.
‘I don’t know what’s the matter with me today,’ she replied. ‘I just got up feeling sick this morning and I’ve thrown up a couple of times.’
‘Maybe you’ve eaten something bad.’
‘I don’t think so,’ Karen said. ‘I just keep feeling sick. It’s strong smells that seem to make it worse and I couldn’t even face my coffee first thing.’
Sheila gave her a look. ‘You’re pregnant,’ she said.
Karen was shocked. ‘I can’t be pregnant!’ she blurted.
‘Are you on the pill then?’
‘Yes.’ Karen blushed. ‘I haven’t been doing anything lately, either.’ She paused, trying to remember. ‘Mind you, I can’t remember my last period.’ With a sinking feeling she recalled missing the pill a few times some weeks before.
‘I need to look in my diary.’ She left the bathroom and made her way to the office. She always wrote her periods in her diary, but lately she’d got out of the habit. Working shifts was playing havoc with her old routines. She flicked through the pages. It was with a feeling of foreboding that she realised that she was at least three weeks late, and she hadn’t even noticed.
She checked the packet of pills in her bag. They were completely in a muddle. It looked as though she’d missed more than a couple of days. The bile was rising again.
‘I’ve gotta go to the toilet.’ She rushed from the room and down the gallery.
Karen stood in the small cloakroom, wondering what to do next.
‘I can’t be pregnant,’ she told herself. ‘It’s the last thing I need. It’s not possible, Peter and I haven’t made love for ages.’ She worked it out. A chill went through her as she realised the implications of her thinking. Suddenly it was all too much. She burst into tears.
‘What on earth’s the matter?’ Linda had opened the door with her key and popped her head around the door. She entered the room and closed the door quickly behind her.
‘I might be pregnant. I don’t know what to do. I think it may be John’s.’
‘You bloody idiot!’ Linda was less than sympathetic. ‘Why do you think that it’s John’s?’ she added.
‘I missed a couple of pills, and I haven’t been with Peter for ages,’ Karen said. ‘I’ve just worked it out.’
‘Have you done a pregnancy test?’
‘No. I’ve just been feeling sick this morning.’ Karen pushed a stray hair from her face. ‘I’ve just worked out that I’m three weeks overdue.’
‘Three weeks!’ Linda was aghast. ‘And you’ve only just realised?’
‘I’ve had a lot on my mind,’ said Karen feebly.
‘Well the first thing to do is make an appointment for a pregnancy test. Then you’ll have to decide what you’re going to do. I guess that you haven’t told Peter or John about this?’
‘No. Of course not.’ Karen was shaking inside. ‘I can’t tell anyone, not until I’m sure.’
‘Then you’d better get to see your doctor as soon as possible.’
Karen swallowed. ‘I have to see my GP?’
‘Well there’s no other way you’re going to find out,’ Linda snorted. ‘Unless you want to wait until you start to show.’
‘I suppose,’ Karen sighed.