She’d originally gone in for a check up, a routine annual sort of thing. Blood count, pap, breast exam, the usual. Certainly nothing exciting aside from the one mole she wanted to have checked. Even that didn’t cause a change in heart rate. Speaking of which, her blood pressure was excellent at 120/80. So she was surprised when a few days later her doctors office wanted her to come back in to re-do the blood test.
Still, she wasn’t concerned, her blood pressure still measuring perfect. “What happened to the last sample?” she asked the nurse as a new sample was being taken. “Did the last one get lost?”
With the nurses mask in place there was no way of knowing if she smiled or not, you’d think you could tell by wrinkles around the eyes, but there were none, “I don’t know, I was just told to do a blood draw.” The nurse took the needle out, placed a cotton ball over the drop of blood on her arm, and put a bandage over it. “Doctor should be in soon,” she said as she collected the blood vials, two this time, and the trash, dropping the needles in the big red container, the trash in the trash, and walking out the door. All actions complete in a couple of seconds, all actions completed on auto-pilot.
The key thing, she told herself, sitting on the cold hard exam table, is that I feel fine. No, I actually feel great. Whatever is going on is about misplacement or a quick double check. she had just begun her perusal of the posters lining the walls, “MAKE SURE YOUR DOCTOR SEES YOUR FEET. DIABETES DETECTION…” when her doctor walked in followed by another doctor.
She tilted her head slightly to the left, a thing she didn’t even realize she did when she was surprised or confused. Her doctor was smiling behind his mask, she was sure of it, but the smile didn’t seem like the usual one and as he began to speak she could detect a slight modulation in his voice that wasn’t usually there, stressing some words over others as though they were in a classroom, as though she were a child.
“Good to see you, yes, thank you for coming back in, I know this is highly unusual as we’ve never had an issue with your tests in the past,” he cleared his throat. “This is my colleague Dr. Thinsate and he has been working closely with a new screening test for,” here he spread his hands before her, a universal expression of loss, “I don’t really know what we’re calling it yet, but he can tell you more. Doctor?“
Dr. Thinsate was not smiling. Even with a mask on she could tell there was no smile. He was not interested in putting her at ease, and his stiff back and hands held firmly in front of him showed he did not feel he should be in here explaining anything to her. “Yes, well, it’s a bit of a groundbreaking test you see, and we believe your blood could be a key to our understanding of the results. So, thank you for coming back in, and we’d like you to come back again in two weeks and let us do another.”
She was grateful for her own mask as it hid the pursing of her lips, unfortunately it couldn’t cover her entire face and she was sure her incredulity over that little speech was showing in her eyes and forehead. She purposely looked directly at Dr. Thinsate once more before turning back to her doctor, a very pointed I’m ignoring you action, and asked her doctor, “why do you want me to come back?”
Her doctor cleared his throat again, looked to Dr. Thinsate for help, turned back to her and said, “well, it seems you have something in your blood that helps Dr. Thinsate find a bridge between one type of blood and another.” He looked back at Dr. Thinsate pointedly and when he refused to speak up, her doctor sighed and said, “look, I will tell you I don’t know a lot about this. It’s new and not my field, I am a GP. But it seems there is more than a simple difference in personality between empathic people and those without. Some people think it is a biological difference and your blood,” again he looked at Thinsate who looked only at his hands, “your blood is the first they’ve found that isn’t one or the other.”
“I don’t understand,” she said, “none of this makes sense. You’re saying people are biologically wired for empathy?”
“It’s…it’s possibly more than that. It may be that empathetic people are a different sore of being entirely. I mean we’re all still human, right?” he chuckled, but it was pleading, “it’s just that some of us may be…different.”
She looked from her doctor to Dr. Thinsate and could only agree wholeheartedly.