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Tiffany* walked into the clinic. Her tie-dyed skinny jeans and neon yellow manicure were no stranger to this office, nor to me.

She had come into the clinic one week prior, for what she called a “girl problem.”  While in the exam room, waiting for me, her mouth filled to the brim with all the words she was waiting to express. Once I walked in, it barely took a second for that volcano of emotion and words to overflow and bubble. I remember her ebullience, how eager she was, how much she needed to just talk to someone.

With a stern look on her face and anger in her voice, she told me about the woes of love. How the man she loved had another woman, how he gave Tiffany a parting gift that she never wanted – chlamydia. Distraught, and upset, her voice shook while her eyes remained dry – she was insistent that she would “never cry over a trifling man.

Tiffany couldn’t shake how much she loved this man. For the fifteen short minutes that I was with her, we formed our own feminist coalition in that small examination room. Amidst our suffragette diatribe, we both agreed that no woman in her early 20s should be relegated to being someone’s side piece, regardless of whether she was an inner city patient in Baltimore, or a physician in training.

Tiffany proclaimed, with some amount of pride, that she was traumatized, and that her legs were to remain closed until a diamond ring shone on her manicured ring finger. I veiled my skepticism and commended this young woman on her resolve, even if it was just temporary. Her strength and immediate resolve was inspiring, in the least. Our visit ended that day with Tiffany getting herself tested for every STD under the sun, and sighing with relief when each result came back as negative. After receiving her treatment injection without reaction or pain, she walked out of the room, a new woman, with new determination and strength.

Today, I saw Tiffany again in the urgent care clinic.

“You’re back!”

She looked at me, with those steely eyes that she had left with one week ago, and said, “He trifled more than I ever knew.”

I ushered her into the examination room, and probed her with the usual questions that we are told to ask to gather a patient’s history. It seemed to be another case of the Feminine Mystique gone wrong – I felt like it was time to channel the ghost of Betty Friedan. This time, the causative agent was syphilis, which had been stealthily multiplying and hiding in her body.

As I broke the news to Tiffany, I looked at her eyes; she looked like she had gotten sucker punched, by love and lust at the same time. Her hands cupped around her cheeks, a waterfall of tears poured down her face and through the crevices of her fingers.

I sat with Tiffany, as she cried and wallowed, for her plight. I sat with Tiffany as she became extremely religious and proclaimed that if she had gone to church more, this wouldn’t have happened to her. She called out to God to help her, and to show her a sign. She cried as she told me how lost she felt in her life. I held her hand and listened to her berate the man who took her heart, her virginity, and in return gave her two demons that could have flown out of Pandora’s Box themselves.

In a few minutes, Tiffany dried her tears, and her bright smile came back to her face. The woman of steel returned, and I smiled at her. She simply took a deep breath and proclaimed, in all her 21 year old wisdom, “Men are just dogs,” as she walked out the door to get yet another treatment injection.  Our visit for the day was over, but our own personal Yaya Sisterhood was formed for life.

*Name changed for privacy

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