Mycobacterium Tuberculosis. Two words comprised an illness that opened doors towards the life that the newly minted Shelagh Turner was free to live. No longer was she Shelagh Mannion or Sister Bernadette and governed by the rules of society or the Order of Saint Raymond Nonnatus, but she still restricted in what she was allowed to do.
Although Shelagh's bout with Tuberculosis freed her to pursue her love for Doctor Patrick Turner, it had left her physical health in a tricky place. She wasn't weak enough that the wind would blow her over, but Patrick wasn't sure that Shelagh would be able to fight off illness should she fall ill that winter.
"Shelagh, I think it would be best if you stayed home while influenza is in season."
"Patrick, I can't sit idle for the next few months while you insist that I stay in this home. I can't, Patrick; I simply can't."
"Shelagh, I know you aren't fond of it, but I don't want you to fall ill again. I don't know that I could live without you if something happened."
"I know," Shelagh whispered before the tears that had gathered in her eyes.
"Shelagh, I know you have your fears that you haven't spoken about yet."
"Oh Patrick, I don't know what I would do if I had to go back to Saint Anne's. It would be so much worse than the first time."
"How about a compromise" Patrick suggested after a few minutes of sitting together in silence. "How about you continue being my receptionist, but take a few days off every week or so?"
"A long weekend now and then?"
"Yes Shelagh, I just want to keep you healthy."
Unfortunately, less than a month after Shelagh and Patrick addressed their fears about Shelagh falling ill, it happened. Neither expected it this early in the winter illness season, but when one shoe falls, another is bound to drop in quick succession.
"Patrick, I wasn't expecting you home this early. What's wrong?"
"Timothy's school called the surgery. Timothy was ill, and they need someone to collect him."
"Oh, dear. Is it anything serious?"
"It seems like a combination of a tummy bug and an early winter cold."
"Are you off to fetch him in the car?"
"Yes, I didn't want you to go after him, the weather outside is rather nasty."
"I was about to pop down to the shops for a few bits and bobs to round dinner off, but I suppose what we have will suffice."
With that, Shelagh and Patrick parted ways. Patrick was off to TImothy's school, and Shelagh was off to make sure that Timothy's room was ready for the amount of traffic it was about to see. It wasn't often that Patrick had to carry Timothy to bed anymore, but the poor boy didn't look like he felt well enough to go anywhere any time soon.
" Shelagh, I'm going to get Timothy settled in bed. Could I trouble you to bring some aspirin up from the medicine cabinet?
"Of course, Patrick, I'll pop up with it and a glass of water in a moment."
True to her word, Shelagh had Timothy an aspirin tablet and a glass of water within a few minutes, after which she and Patrick left him to rest.
"How is he, Patrick? Is it anything serious/"
"He's exhausted and has a fever, but I suspect that he'll be over it and right as rain by the end of the week, Although I doubt he should return to school until next week."
"I suppose you're right, but for now, let's tuck into our dinner."
Dinner that night was a bit was falt, seeing as Shelagh had chosen to avoid the weather by not popping down to the shops to finish off dinner. True to Patrick's prediction Timothy was back in school at the beginning of the following week, and Shelagh thought that this would calm her Patrick down a bit but if anything, it made him worse.
"Shelagh," Patrick called to her the morning Timothy went back to school.
"I just thought that you might want to stay home for a few days, just in case you get sick."
"Patrick, I don't want to sit around, waiting for something that might not happen."
"Shelagh, you're still convalescing from your bout with Tuberculosis. I don't want you to get sick, and I know you don't either."
"I know Patrick; I just don't want to give up what gives me purpose at the moment."
"Shelagh, I'm not suggesting that you give it up forever, but you spent several nights with Timothy, and I don't want you getting sick, Shelagh! I don't think you're body could handle it."
After a few tense moments, Shelagh broke the silent void that had formed between the two of them.
"How about I stay home until Wednesday, and then return for two days before I take a long weekend as usual?"
"Alright Shelagh, I think that is a good idea."
"I promise Patrick; I don't think I'll get sick any easier than I did before Tuberculosis."
Less than a fortnight later, Shelagh found herself proven wrong- mutch to Patrick's horror. Each morning over the near fortnight between Timothy getting well and Shelagh falling ill, Patrick and Shelagh fell into a routine of morning questions that Shelagh detested, but Patrick found comfort in; thus, it continued until that fateful morning.
Patrick had returned late from a call out, and as he settled back into bed, he could hear Shelagh coughing gently every once in a while. As he kissed her forehead, Patrick could tell that Shelagh was abnormally warm, but ultimately dismissed it in his overly tired state.
" Good Morning Shelagh." Patrick began kissing her gently on the lips.
" Good Morning, Patrick dearest." Shelagh returned before initiating a kiss of her own.
Suddenly, several hard, deep coughs rattled Shelagh's body and left her breathless for a few moments.
" Shelagh, are you feeling alright?" Patrick asked as he put his hand to her forehead." Shelagh, you're burning up!"