“I have to wait and see what happens next, Raquel. I won’t pressure Corey into leaving Sheila when she has breast cancer. There’s no moral ground for me to stand on. She’s his wife, after all.”
“It’s funny that fact only became important to Corey just now. That’s all I’m saying, Niki.”
“Jeez, Raquel, it’s cancer. What’s he supposed to do, abandon his wife, and kids? ‘Daddy’s sorry honey, he doesn’t love your Mommy anymore, but he’ll see you on the weekends!’ His girls are too young to understand. They’ll think he left because she got sick, and lost her hair. They’ll hate both of us.”
I’m sitting in my kitchen talking on the phone to Raquel, who like me, is sipping a glass of wine, our tradition of wine by phone.
“His girls are going to hate you for a while anyway Niki. You’re the woman he left their mother for.”
“If he leaves Sheila, Raquel.”
“All I’m saying Sweetie, is look out for yourself. You nurses take care of everyone but yourselves. It’s your greatest gift, and your fatal flaw.”
“Let’s change the subject, okay?”
“Sure. Hey, I almost forgot: Grant wants me to ask if you’re interested in being a nurse expert on a case. He’s representing a pediatrician whose patient died. The family is suing, but the hospital maintains it’s the doctor’s fault, not their nurses. The pediatrician says otherwise. Anyway, Grant wants to know if you’ll review the medical record, and give your opinion. His office will reimburse your time and travel expenses. You can stay with us and make a weekend of it if you want.”
“Yeah sure. Tell Grant I’ll take a look. I have a four-day stretch off next week. It’ll take my mind off of Corey.”
“Thanks Niki. He’s hoping to keep his client out of court. You never want medical injury cases to go in front of a jury. It’s almost impossible for them not to side with the family. I don’t blame them. I’m mean really, a patient should be safe in a hospital, especially a defenseless child.”
“I know, right? It will be interesting to read the medical record.”
The next week I drive to La Jolla. Because it’s the middle of the school week, Maddie stayed with Simon, Amber, and Wade, which is her preference lately. I don’t blame her; of course she prefers their family household to my single mother lifestyle. What kid wouldn’t?
I take the elevator to Grant’s office, and check in with the receptionist. She makes a phone call, and in a few minutes Grant strides out of his office, giving me a big hug.
“How was the drive down?”
“Traffic wasn’t too bad.”
“Thank you so much for agreeing to do this Niki. It’s so helpful to have a pediatric intensive care nurse in the family, in more ways than one! I’ve had a table set up for your use in our conference room, with hard copies of the medical record. I can get you any other information you need. Just let me know. Have you had lunch?”
“You know, I’m not hungry yet. I saw a few restaurants in the neighborhood on my way in. If I get hungry, maybe I’ll take a break later and pick up something to eat. Is that okay?”
“Oh, sure, sure. Bring back the receipts. Your food and travel is on the firm. We really appreciate you using your time off for this case. Can I get you some coffee or a soft drink in the meantime?”
“Um, yeah, do you have something cold and diet?”
“Sure do.” Looking at the receptionist, Grant says, “Claudine, will you bring a cold drink to my sister-in-law in the conference room, please?”