By: Carol Cassella
Release Date: March 4, 2014
A captivating medical mystery wrapped in a contemporary love story—from a practicing MD whose novels are “just what the doctor ordered” (People).
Across the Puget Sound in a rural hospital on the Olympic Peninsula an unidentified patient lies unconscious, the victim of a hit and run. In Seattle, ICU doctor Charlotte Reese receives a call: Jane Doe will be transferred to her care. But when the patient arrives—with only tubes keeping her alive—Charlotte has to dig through x-rays and MRIs to determine what went wrong on the operating table. Jane Doe’s condition is getting worse each day, and Charlotte finds herself becoming increasingly consumed by her patient’s plight—both medical and personal.
Who is this woman? Why will no one claim her? Who should decide her fate if she never regains consciousness? As a doctor and a woman, Charlotte is forced to confront these issues head on—especially when her boyfriend Eric, a science journalist, becomes involved in the case. But the closer Charlotte and Eric get to the truth, the more their relationship is put to the test. The key to unlocking Jane Doe’s secret is opening their hearts to their own feelings about life and death, love and marriage…and each other.
Filled with intricate medical detail and set in the breathtaking Pacific Northwest, Gemini is a vivid novel of moral complexity and emotional depth from the bestselling author of Oxygen and Healer.
It is natural law that all complex systems move from a state of order to disorder. Stars decay, mountains erode, ice melts. People get off no easier. We get old or injured and inevitably slide right back into the elements we were ﬁrst made from. The organized masterpiece of conception, birth, and maturation is really only two steps forward before three steps back, at least in the physical world. Sometimes when Charlotte lost a patient she thought about that and found it comforting—a reminder that she hadn’t failed in what was ultimately an unwinnable game. But if she thought about it too long, she had to wonder if her entire medical career was an interminable battle against the will of the universe.
She resisted sinking into such rhetoric the night Jane Doe was whisked across Puget Sound in a medevac helicopter to Beacon Hospital’s intensive care unit, to Charlotte. It seemed they always came in the middle of the night, the ones from the more remote hospitals on the Olympic Peninsula—West Harbor and Forks and Port Townsend. Charlotte could picture some overwhelmed doctor reaching his breaking point too many hours before the next sunrise, dreading a night of slumping blood pressure and low oxygen levels and erratic heart rhythms, ﬁnally picking up the phone to plead the case for a ﬂight to Seattle. Not that anyone had to plead; they were never turned down.
Charlotte had her own survival plan for these long nights on call: get the critical facts over the phone, tend to the crises of her eleven current patients before the new one arrived, grab a Diet Coke and some Oreos from the vending machines, a blanket out of the warmer at the nursing station, then tuck into a ball on the love seat in the ICU’s waiting room and listen. Listen for the chop of the helicopter blades, the rising pitch of the engine as it settled onto the roof with its cargo of impending death. Listen for the buzz of an elevator being held open, the swish of the automatic doors into the ICU wing. Sometimes the next sound was a “code four” alarm—someone who’d clung to breath all the way over the peninsula, the islands, the bay, giving up just when the medical mecca was reached, as if a glimpse of heaven in ﬂight had convinced them to move on. Most often the next sound was her pager, conﬁrming the patient had arrived. And then Charlotte was up, the blanket dumped in the hamper and her white coat buttoned.
She made her ﬁrst assessment before she was even through the patient’s doorway: weight, age, the color of the skin, the shade of the bruises, the number of tubes snaking from the body, sucking ﬂuid away, pumping ﬂuid in. By the time she was at the bedside she was ticking off which invasive lines would have to be removed, replaced, inserted.
Jane arrived just after 3:00 a.m. with no fewer than ﬁve tubes: one down her throat, another in her neck, two in her left arm, and one looping from her bladder. Jane’s arrival was heralded by pages and alarms and a scrambling of personnel that stopped just shy of a code four. She came with a four-inch stack of medical records, a splint on her right arm, a scaffold of hardware stabilizing her right lower leg, and so much edema that her skin was pocked with the medic’s handprints. But she did not come with a name. Not her own name, at least.
The medics rolled the orange transport gurney next to the bed and, smooth as a dance, coiled up all the lines and logrolled Jane onto her side to slip a plastic board underneath her. Charlotte stood at Jane’s head and Anne, the nurse, held Jane’s feet. On the count of three all the lines and tubes and wires and the sodden, bruised ﬂesh of Jane Doe slid onto the clean white sheets of the bed that would become her next home. The medics talked while they moved, dis-connecting the portable monitors, locking down the empty gurney. “Pressure dipped to seventy after takeoff so we upped the dopamine. Had her on a hundred percent O2 halfway across to keep her saturation above ninety.” The taller of the two handed Charlotte a clipboard to sign, looking more relaxed now that Jane Doe was hooked up to the hospital’s equipment and off his hands. They had met before, on some other transfer, though his name tag was half-covered by the bell of his stethoscope and Charlotte couldn’t recall it. He tapped the stack of chart notes he’d brought. “I wasn’t sure she was even going to make it across.”
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About the Author:
Carol Cassella, MD, is a practicing anesthesiologist, novelist, and speaker. She majored in English Literature at Duke University and attended Baylor College of Medicine. She is the bestselling author of the novels Oxygen and Healer, both published by Simon & Schuster. Carol lives on Bainbridge Island, Washington, with her husband and two sets of twins. Visit the author at CarolCassella.com. - See more at: http://authors.simonandschuster.com/Carol-Cassella/45058993#become-a-fan-modal
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