The Lady Doctor

Joe Lanzon

Dr. Wendy Nicholls was a cardiac specialist at Royal Brompton Hospital in London. She was a meticulous doctor and was held in high esteem by the directors of the hospital. She was, in fact, considered as one of the best heart surgeons in the city. She also gave lectures and demonstrations to doctors and nurses at the hospital school on cardiopulmonary resuscitation, whether by the mouth to mouth method on dummies or by the more effective chest compression in order to make the heart beat again. Indeed Dr Nicholls was an expert in her field and was frequently consulted by other hospitals on the subject. 

She was also pregnant. At the age of 35 she was delighted that finally she was to become a mother. Her husband, also a specialist at the same hospital, had told her to slow down in her work schedule. For this reason she had reduced her hours of work at the hospital but, in loyalty to her patients, she felt that she could not stay completely away. The hospital and the patients were grateful to her.

Dr. Nicholls travelled daily to and from the hospital by bus, due to the fact she lived only half an hour away from the hospital. It was more practical and convenient to use the buses than to take out her car from the garage and join the frustrating long line of traffic every day. Pregnancy or no pregnancy, she was a dedicated surgeon. Heart problems were her forte. She had studied and researched extensively on the subject. Her success rate at the hospital was phenomenal. Her name gave an image to Royal Brompton hospital that was the envy of other hospitals. 

One fine day, she was on the bus going to the hospital. The bus was full and she had to stand on her feet and hold on to the overhead strap during the journey. She did not normally mind. Both seats near her were occupied by noisy foul-mouthed youths who, even though noticing her condition, did not offer her their seat. On the contrary, they made nasty references to her condition which she ignored. An elderly couple in front of them was the butt of some of their jokes too. They laughed and joked, were rude and made a nuisance of themselves throughout the journey annoying everybody in the bus. 

The bus moved slowly on. All of a sudden, one of the noisy youths fell off his seat clutching his chest in pain. It was, obviously she thought, a heart attack. One of his friends, realizing that the situation was grave, was shouting – “A doctor, somebody get a doctor urgent. We need a doctor!”

Dr. Wendy Nicholls, still holding on to the overhead strap, looked down unmoved on the scene. When the bus stopped, she ignored the commotion around her, got out and walked calmly the remaining few yards to the hospital. It was, for her,  just another day.