Storms Never Last
Copyright© 2010 by Jake Rivers
After her internship, Annie was offered a position at the UC Davis Hospital. Moving back to Davis worked out well for me. We found a nice three bedroom, two bath house in a good area in Vacaville, just a twenty minute drive from the hospital. The distance for my work wasn't bad; it was maybe a half-hour drive to Napa. When I needed to drive to western or northern Sonoma County, I'd just stay overnight at my folks place. I usually did this every other week or so. I'd generally stay for two nights on those trips.
One thing that caused us a lot of unhappiness and stress was that Annie suffered a miscarriage. We hadn't specifically decided to have children, but if it happened, we agreed that this would be a good time. Initially, of course, her pregnancy was a time of joy and triggered much excited planning. We, and her gynecologist, had no expectations of any problems. Annie was healthy and the baby looked fine. Afterwards we met with her doctor, Ginger Wilson. She had run a wide spectrum of tests to try to isolate the cause.
"There's no easy way to put this. A developing baby is half made up of foreign genetic material from the father. Some women have miscarriages—I should say repeated miscarriages –because their bodies see a baby as an invading organism and attack it with antibodies. Normally, many elements of the immune system work together to ensure that your body does not reject the baby. However, when this coordination fails, a miscarriage virtually always follows."
Annie turned white, and asked, "Is there any treatment?"
The doctor put her hand on Annie's, holding it tight. "No, honey, there isn't. There are some experimental procedures, but I would strongly recommend against them."
Annie was silently crying, and grabbing at straws, I asked, "Is it just my "contribution" that her body rejects?"
"No, Terry, it doesn't really make any difference who is the contributor. Her body just rejects the intrusion."
We were both down for several months, Annie more than me. She didn't want to take any drugs for the depression that came upon her, it being no surprise to either of us. She did meet with a therapist for a while, and that helped. In any event, we were both scarred by our loss.
We had a few desultory talks about adoption—in vitro fertilization was also a no-no. I don't think either of us was ready to consider it seriously. That became even clearer when we moved to Austin. We both wound up so busy that we wouldn't have been able to give a child the time needed.
With the major exception of the miscarriage, life was good for us ... we had been happy for the last year and a half. That changed after Annie was accepted for a two year Ophthalmic Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery fellowship at the MD Anderson Cancer Center. The center was at the University of Texas in Austin—known to every Texan (and to those wannabe Texans living in Oklahoma, who fervently wished they were from Texas) as UT. The cancer center was a huge place with thousands of employees.
Living in Austin changed us—in retrospect, mostly in ways that weren't so good. It seemed that each plus came with several minuses. Boating, and the associated fishing, was great. There was any number of good lakes and rivers to fish. Restaurants and nightlife were also great, as would be expected of any city with a large, world famous university and all the extras that being a state capitol added. The climate was good ... though not like the wine country in Northern California. The weather bureau called it "humid subtropical" with hot summers and mild winters. We found that the evenings cooled off to be quite pleasant most summer nights.
A third real plus was the cost of housing. It was a bonus after living with the cost of houses in California. Annie wanted to get a town house close to her work, but since I worked mostly at home I needed more space. After a lot of arguing—which added even more un-needed stress—we decided on a house in Rollingwood, west of downtown and the University. It was on a heavily wooded, oversize ell shaped lot, a little over an acre. The house wasn't large; two bedrooms with two baths. It worked though, since the kitchen had a fairly large breakfast area, I was able to convert the dining room to an office. It worked well for Annie, also. It was a short three or four miles to the hospital.
Things went well at first. Annie was moody but upbeat about her job. It covered the areas she was interested in, ophthalmic plastic and reconstructive surgery and orbital oncology. The program was essentially a series of surgical rotations, including one of non-ocular plastic surgery. She performed surgery with some of the best cancer surgeons in the nation, sometimes several times a day. She became compulsive about being the best. Over time, I met several of the doctor's she was going through the program with, and in discussions they said they worked about sixty hours a week. Annie was averaging around eighty.
We just weren't seeing each other that much. I was lonely, but I understood what she was going through, and I tried not to bitch too much. Over the first six months we were in Austin, she gradually started becoming nervous and restless and wasn't sleeping well. I finally sat her down to see what was happening.
Her response left me underwhelmed. "I know I'm working too hard, Terry. Damn it, I just want to be the best. I'll try to cut down, okay?"
What was I going to say? "Sure, Annie. I miss you and we hardly ever have a chance to play around in bed anymore."
She responded to that by dragging me into the bedroom and destroying me. From no sex to a surfeit in a couple of hours. I didn't know how to make her understand that I was not complaining about one specific time here or there, but the regular sex that provides the intimacy that makes a marriage something special.