Antidote for Everything
by Martin, Kimmery







PART ONE
1 There's Nothing Wrong with Manscaping
3(11)
2 The Tell of a Lie
14(11)
3 The Precipice Dividing the Living from the Dead
25(13)
4 Felix Culpa
38(7)
5 The Scientific and Mathematical Emblem of Change
45(13)
6 The Psychology of Attraction
58(16)
7 The Seven Stages of Grief
74(12)
8 Badass Gangsta Amnesiac
86(11)
9 The Munitions of the Gay Army
97(16)
PART TWO
10 Apocalyptic Scorn
113(10)
11 A Dangerous Point of Combustion
123(11)
12 The United States of Georgia
134(8)
13 The Delectable Onion
142(12)
14 Falsus in Uno, Falsus in Omnibus
154(15)
15 A Deal with the Devil
169(10)
16 Melatonin Is Okay but Bourbon Works Better
179(18)
PART THREE
17 Plausible Deniability
197(10)
18 Illiterate, Belligerent Sociopaths
207(8)
19 A New and Trippier Realm
215(11)
20 Hysterical, Self-Righteous Hyperbole
226(10)
21 A Steel Hummingbird in Flight
236(10)
22 Her Particular Doom
246(8)
23 Vindication
254(9)
24 The Celestial Discharge
263(7)
25 A Downward Spiral
270(10)
26 I Don't Wave
280(9)
27 An Infinite Fractal of Smaller Droplets
289(11)
28 Cavalier About Ethics
300(8)
29 False in One Thing, False in Everything
308(10)
30 A Victimless Plan
318(7)
31 Waste
325(8)
32 Status Dramaticus
333(11)
33 The Coup de Grace
344(7)
34 A Full-On Heaving Monsoon
351(14)
Author's Note365(4)
Acknowledgments369


When her romantic prospects are hampered by perceptions about her work as a urologist, a doctor in a Charleston hospital faces a career-impacting choice when her employers direct staff to stop providing care to transgender patients.





Kimmery Martin is an emergency medicine doctor, born and raised in the mountains of eastern Kentucky. A lifelong literary nerd, she reviews books, interviews authors, and works extensively with the library foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she resides with her husband and three young children.





Martin's second novel, following The Queen of Hearts (2018), combines strong storytelling with interesting characters and compelling themes and offers a discussion-worthy, layered read. The author uses her own medical background to good effect in capturing the life of urologist Georgia Brown and the challenges of working in a church-funded hospital near Charleston, South Carolina. How medical ethics, social stigma regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual harassment, and religious beliefs intersect with medical choices are some of the big questions Martin addresses, while at the center of the story is the beautiful friendship between Georgia and family doctor Jonah Tsukada, who is gay. Martin's trademark witty repartee makes her characters fun to be with, and she both entertains and tackles thought-provoking questions of honor and integrity in a world where facts matter little, and where the besieged are tempted to adopt the sneaky strategies of opponents to beat them at their own game. Georgia's and Jonah's choices resonate beyond the world of medicine as the question of a fair fight provides a much wider social and political context. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.





Martin's second novel, following The Queen of Hearts (2018), combines strong storytelling with interesting characters and compelling themes and offers a discussion-worthy, layered read. The author uses her own medical background to good effect in capturing the life of urologist Georgia Brown and the challenges of working in a church-funded hospital near Charleston, South Carolina. How medical ethics, social stigma regarding sexual orientation and gender identity, sexual harassment, and religious beliefs intersect with medical choices are some of the big questions Martin addresses, while at the center of the story is the beautiful friendship between Georgia and family doctor Jonah Tsukada, who is gay. Martin's trademark witty repartee makes her characters fun to be with, and she both entertains and tackles thought-provoking questions of honor and integrity in a world where facts matter little, and where the besieged are tempted to adopt the sneaky strategies of opponents to beat them at their own game. Georgia's and Jonah's choices resonate beyond the world of medicine as the question of a fair fight provides a much wider social and political context. Copyright 2020 Booklist Reviews.





1

There's Nothing Wrong with Manscaping

 

Most women did not begin their days by stabbing a man in the scrotum, but Georgia Brown was not most women. She'd risen as she always did at five o'clock, prepared her usual concoction of coffee and medium-chain triglyceride oil, and gone for a run. She loved the predawn streets of Charleston: absent the cacophony of tourists and the nuclear blanket of the sun, the air was usually quiet and cool, laced through with the tang of the sea. Afterward, a quick shower, a moment of meditation to try to tamp down the endorphins, a grooming blitz-hair in a twist, a smear of bright red lipstick-and she was ready to work.

 

Stab was the wrong verb, of course, but you didn't become a female urologist without a strong sense of humor. In any case, there was little humor in the scenario currently confronting Georgia in the OR, but at least she felt good about her role in it. Well-she felt good about saving a guy's life, not the unfortunate surgical procedure she'd been drafted to perform.

 

At first glance, the man splayed on the table in front of her appeared to be the kind of diabetic who, in another era, would have perished from a gruesome case of groin sepsis before reaching the age of forty. But now, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, this man would live to fight another day. Granted, he might be fighting with only one ball-assuming at least one of his balls survived the infection currently encompassing his manhood-but surely losing a testicle or two was a small price to pay for regaining a life.

 

"Suction," Georgia said, as a geyser bubbled up from the incision she'd just made. "Thanks. Okay. Hand me the Bovie."

 

Though only his eyes were visible above his mask, the scrub tech-a dour, bearded guy in his twenties-communicated unmistakable, if silent, alarm. A floater, he usually staffed orthopedic procedures, but this patient had come in through the ER and wasn't on the schedule, necessitating a rearrangement of the ORs.

 

"I cannot believe I'm assisting in this mauling," he said finally, rolling his eyes as he placed a cautery wand in Georgia's outstretched hand. "Even on a fool like this guy."

 

"What?" She pointed the cautery in Evan's direction. "Why would you call him a fool?"

 

"C'mon, Dr. Brown. I guarantee he smokes, ignores his insulin regimen, doesn't fill his prescriptions, and probably doesn't even check his sugars. What did he think was going to happen?"

 

"Well, it's a safe bet he didn't think he'd lose his scrotum to necrotizing fasciitis," she remarked mildly. "That probably didn't even crack the top one hundred on his list of fears."

 

"Reap what you sow, though, Doc."

 

"I talked to him before the case," she said. "He's a night-shift manager at a convenience store, and he can't afford insulin, let alone glucometer sticks, which are about fifty dollars a box. So, you're right: he hasn't been checking his sugars in a while."

 

An uncomfortable silence ensued, broken only by the sizzle of the cautery and the fwoompy sound of the ventilators.

 

Evan retreated to familiar ground. "I can't believe I'm assisting in this case."

 

"Evan, if you drip sweat in my surgical field, I'm going to remove your balls too," Georgia replied, as cheerfully as possible. "Forceps."

 

"Omigod-are you actually going to remove-"

 

"No, just the skin and tissue around them. But a few of these guys do wind up with later removal of the testicles too. And he's going to need skin grafting for sure."

 

"Omigod. I can't believe I'm-"

 

"Suction," she interrupted. Best to nip this in the bud. Men could be so touchy about things like excision of the scrotum.

 

The room in which they stood was a nice one, as far as ORs went. Square and spacious, it boasted state-of-the-art equipment, everything gleaming like a TV hospital. Georgia had operated in some exceptionally dumpy ORs during her time, so she appreciated the clinic's facilities; everything was new, from the gargantuan office complex to the operating suites. The clinic, part of a large hospital complex founded by a church, combined doctors from more than twenty different specialties. It had been challenged in its initial days to attract patients to this budding suburb so far outside the city. But they'd offered good salaries, pulling physicians away from long-established practices in Charleston, and eventually the patients had followed. Now it had more business than it could handle.

 

"Dr. Brown," said the circulating nurse, a reedy, nondescript woman whose name always slipped Georgia's mind. "Your phone is blowing up. Do you want me to look at any of these texts?"

 

"Please do," she said, forcing her voice into false calmness. She'd left the security code off her phone for the explicit purpose of having the circulator answer texts and calls since Dobby, her rescue mutt, was at this moment at the animal hospital recovering from surgery. The irony of his particular ailment-a kidney tumor resulting in a nephrectomy-was lost on no one, save Dobby himself, of course. Waggy and loyal to a fault, he greeted each day with an exuberance bordering on mania. He wasn't perfect: at age three, he still occasionally gave in to the longing to chew on furniture legs, and he shed so much hair on the floor of Georgia's nine-hundred-square-foot house, it looked like an unswept beauty salon. Worst of all, he fetishized the smell of feet to the point where he couldn't sleep without cuddling one of her shoes, usually an expensive one, as nice shoes were one of the few things she was willing to buy brand-new. But, like every good dog, he loved unconditionally and enthusiastically. Georgia needed him in her life.

 

The circulator frowned, clicking through the messages. Georgia waited for at least five seconds before giving in. "How is he?"

 

The nurse didn't answer, so Georgia risked a look at her. Her expression had changed: it was, without doubt, the face of a person who did not want to answer the question she'd just been asked.

 

A ball of grief thudded into her stomach. "Just read it," Georgia whispered.

 

"Dr. Brown," said the woman, "I really think you should wait until later."

 

"Knowing is better than dreading," Georgia said stoically. "I'm done here anyway. It's fine."

 

"I don't-"

 

"It's fine! It's fine. Tell me."

 

The circulator cleared her throat. "Dear Georgia," she read. "Don't take this the wrong way, but it's over."

 

Everyone stopped moving. Across from her, Evan stared at the wall with the suction tube held aloft as if he were a flash-frozen orchestra conductor in a blue gown; even the anesthesia people had gone still behind their curtain.

 

Now that she'd started, the circulator had evidently determined she'd see the mission through to completion. Before Georgia could stop her, she continued: "I'm guessing you don't want to see me, so I'll stop by for my board if you leave it on the porch."

 

"Hey," Georgia said weakly. "That wasn't what I-"

 

"If you want my advice, in the future-"

 

"I don't!" she yelled. She lowered her voice. "I don't want his advice."

 

"--you might try to pretend you don't know more than everybody else."

 

Dead silence. Even the patient, unconscious and ventilated, appeared to be holding his breath.

 

The circulator cleared her throat. "One more thing," she read. "You might also want to consider waxing. Or at least trimming."

 

"Ouch," someone said finally: Debra, the nurse anesthetist, popping her head above the curtain. "That last part was . . ." She trailed off, defeated by the search for an appropriate adjective.

 

"It doesn't mean what you think it means," Georgia tried. It did mean what they thought it meant, actually, but she couldn't care less. Who had the time for extensive crotch maintenance? Or for pretending to be unintelligent? "Is there any way y'all could just unhear this?"

 

A chorus of assent filled the OR: Absolutely! Already forgotten it! Unhear what? She looked from face to face-terrible liars, all of them. Evan in particular wore the contorted expression you might see on someone trying to suppress a sneeze. Georgia waved a hand at him. "Go on, then," she said. "Let it out."

 

With a braying honk, Evan sucked in air and bent double. After a beat, Debra and the circulator started laughing too, followed by Georgia. She hadn't been all that into Ryan, to be honest.

 

"That's what I get," Georgia wheezed, "for dating a manscaped surfer."

 

"There's nothing wrong with manscaping," said Evan.

 

"Oh, here we go," said the circulator brightly, once she'd recovered. "This one is from your vet. Your dog is doing well."

 

Before Georgia could respond, the woman continued.

 

"And-let's see-an auto-reminder. It says don't forget your passport."

 

"Okay, yes," Georgia said, wondering if it would be possible to record a shrieking voice reminder set to play at a specific time, like a Howler from the Harry Potter books.

 

"Two more of those: Don't forget your passport. And this one: Really, don't forget your passport."

 

"Passport, got it."

 

"And another one: you have a message from Dr. Jonah Tsukada. He wants to see you after you finish your cases."

 

"For what?"

 

"I don't know. All he said was, 'Karaoke. It's on, baby.'"

 

"Oh dear," Georgia said. Jonah, her closest friend, was currently irritated with her. Declining to sing with him tonight wouldn't help matters. Despite being unencumbered by the demands of a husband or family-or possibly precisely because she was unencumbered by the demands of a husband or family-Georgia seemed to take the least vacation time of anyone in the clinic. It had been over a year since she'd had more than a long weekend away from work. So when the clinic offered a stipend to attend a conference in the Netherlands-a multi-speciality program on physician efficiency-she and Jonah had decided to attend together, making plans to visit the Van Gogh and Anne Frank museums and also, at Jonah's insistence, the tulip fields, even though the season was completely wrong.

 

But the registration deadline had come and gone without Jonah signing up. There had been an issue with his stipend, apparently; the clinic wouldn't pay it. By that point, Georgia had purchased plane tickets and made a hotel reservation; she couldn't very well cancel the trip out of solidarity, even for Jonah.

 

"Okay, thanks," she said. "I'll call him when I'm done for the day."

 

"Wait," said the circulator. "He's typing something else."

 

Georgia broke scrub, nodding to Evan to finish packing the patient's wound. The circulator had drifted over to a counter along the edge of the room, where she was entering data into a wall-mounted computer. Georgia shed her mask, gown, and gloves, leaving her tangled red hair caught up in the OR cap, and retrieved her phone. Three blinking dots, indicative of an incoming message, filled the text bar; she set up at another computer to jot a quick note about the case. By the time she glanced at the phone again, the dots had vanished, replaced by a sterile message field. It wasn't until she'd left the OR that the dots returned, followed in short order by a single terse sentence:

 

I think I am going to be fired.

 

 

She called Jonah, let the phone ring through to voicemail, hung up, and called again. No answer. She tried texting: What do you mean? Are you ok? She was halfway to the offices of his family medicine practice when he texted back. False alarm. I'm ok. But something weird is going on with my patients. Will fill you in tonight.

 

Tell me now, she wrote.

 

No answer.

 

This was, of course, worrying, but at the same time, Jonah had a propensity toward exaggeration. Also: talk about burying the lede. How concerned could you be about losing your job if the first thing you mention in a text is karaoke night?

 

Georgia and Jonah had been friends for seven years. He'd been a patient, one of her first, and after she'd resolved his urologic issue, he had invited her for drinks. Ordinarily, this would not have been advisable: fraternizing with one of the penises. You needed a clear line of demarcation there. But Jonah was a dear: the bro genre of millennial, he offered everyone fist bumps and held an incomprehensible fascination with video games and had a thing for craft beer. He wore skinny pants and bow ties and styled his black hair like a Euro soccer star and occasionally descended into jealous fits brought on by having to compete with women for hot guys. They loved each other so much heÕd joined a practice here at the clinic, enduring an hour-long commute and an office full of older partners who still seemed perplexed by him. Resolving to put her concerns aside until she could find out more, Georgia exited the double doors from the OR suite to head for her office.

 

Massive and institutional in appearance, the clinic held an OR suite, a pharmacy, a rehab facility, and offices for more than twenty kinds of specialists, but if a patient needed to spend the night after surgery, they got shuttled to the attached community hospital, where Georgia now headed to check on her last few inpatients. Late-morning sunshine streamed through the glass walls of the arched pedway to the hospital, refracting against the white ceiling. Half-blinded by the bright light, she could just make out a swaying row of palm trees outside. From her house near the historic section of Charleston, it took a good forty-five minutes to reach this utterly tasteful, utterly boring community a few miles outside the Charleston County line.






Terms of Use   ©Copyright 2020 Follett School Solutions