During a shift at Northwestern in May of 2005, Gail fell and tore her rotator cuff, and had surgery to repair it. In August, Deb had a hysterectomy due to polycystic ovarian syndrome that resulted in severe complications. Deb went for a checkup with the doctor after her surgery, and her entire midsection was eggplant purple. The doctor didn’t want the procedure to be on his records, so he called Gail at work and asked her to come immediately.
“[The doctor] took a scalpel while she was laying there in the office and just opened her right back up,” Gail recalls. After Gail arrived, she found one of the doctor’s nurses passed out in the hallway from all the blood and the other vomiting in the bathroom. In one of the patient rooms, the doctor was reaching into Deb’s incision and pulling out clumps of viscera. Gail immediately rushed to her wife’s side and did what she could to help the doctor. While he was going about his grim business he remarked to Deb, “Man, you leather dyke’s sure can take it.”
The doctor turned the responsibility for Deb’s recovery over to Gail. Fearing what might happen to her wife if she brought her into another doctor, Gail agreed. “At first I was reaching in all the way to her fashia, packing in with wet gauze. I packed her daily, twice a day”
“God, that first night was so surreal,” Deb comments.
As a nurse, Gail had performed extreme wound care on patients regularly, but having to do so for the woman she married was an entirely different experience. “That’s why doctors and nurses aren’t supposed to practice on their own
people, you know?” Deb says. Deb’s life was in Gail’s hands, and they both knew it. No more being read to sleep, no more long drives together, no more ideas to explore with one another in hours of conversation, no more mate. “It was
so past intimate. But you just do things, you know? You just do things, because you love each other. You take care of your own.”
They both pressed on, and the care continued for months. During all of this Mollie continued to grow as well. The stress of dealing with two medical crises in the midst of raising a small child would be difficult for any couple, but the connection they shared only grew stronger. Even Mollie pitched in to help in the recovery process. Having developed a voracious curiosity and fearlessness that rivals adoptive parents, she could not be denied while Gail performed her wound care. Eventually she gave Mollie the vital task of guarding the waste basket as the bandages were being changed. Deb made a full recovery, and life for their family returned to normalcy.