Something Cold & Diet (Niki turns nurse expert in a medical lawsuit)

Chapter 36

“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?”

“Of course.”

For Whom the Phone Rings (Niki does ‘wine by phone’)

Chapter 10

After working a night shift, my soundest sleep occurs between 10 am and noon.

At 11 am the ringing of our landline phone wakes me. Drowsily, I pick up thinking it could be the school calling about Maddie. What if she’s sick, or hurt? But I forgot, the school only has Simon’s and my cell phone and work numbers. The landline is for Maddie.

It’s my sister, Raquel.

“Hullo?” I slur.

“Dammit, I woke you up, didn’t I? I’m sorry. I never know when you’re working.”

“It’s okay. I forgot to turn down the ringer.”

“Niki, why don’t you get rid of your landline and just use cell phones like normal people?”

“Because Simon and I think Maddie is too young for a cell phone. The landline is for Maddie.”

“You’re gonna have to let her grow up one of these days, Nik.”

“And this is why you woke me up?”

“No, I’m just checking in. Are you off tonight? Wanna do wine by phone?”

“Yeah, I am. Wine by phone is perfect. After dinner?’

“Yep. We’ll talk then. Goodnight, or whatever.”

“Goodnight.”

***

Raquel and her family live south of us, in La Jolla. It takes two hours to get there, depending on traffic, and the day of the week. It’s too far for us to get together regularly, so Raquel and I started wine by phone. Once a week or so, we each open a bottle of wine, and talk by phone for an hour or more. We sit in our kitchens drinking wine while catching up one each other’s lives. Our husbands and children are forbidden to interrupt wine by phone unless they are bleeding severely about the face or neck.

Besides being my sister, Raquel is my best friend.

“So Doll, things must be a lot better now that Simon’s working again, right?”

“Yeah, I think so. He’s happier for sure. He’s cut down on watching sports now that he has lesson plans and paperwork to do in the evenings. He helps Maddie with her homework more too. He’s preparing her for classes at Woodman next year. She loves the attention.

“What about you, Nik? Are things heating up a bit for the two of you?”

“I guess. I mean there’s more to talk about now that Simon’s working and has stories about his day. He’s spending time on his appearance again, and getting more exercise since he’s coaching too. If this lasts, maybe we’ll try to have another baby, although there’d be a big age gap between Maddie and a new brother or sister. Then again, we really should put money away for a down payment on a house. But there’s saving for Maddie’s college education too. I don’t know. I can’t seem to make up my mind. I think the weekend trip in Coronado will help. Thanks for taking Maddie for us”

“Niki, why don’t you stop worrying about the future so much and just make love to the man?

Silence.

“Right. Okay, so, how’s work? Are you still having breakfast with that ER nurse, what’s his name again?”

“Corey. Yeah, we go for breakfast once a week or so. Sometimes another nurse or two come along.

“Is Corey cute? Have you hooked up with him yet?”

“What? No! I mean, yeah he’s cute. No, we’re not hooking up. He has kids. He’s married.”

“So are you Niki.”

“What are you saying Raquel? What are you getting at?”

“Nothing Niki. Nothing at all. Don’t get all defensive.

We’re happy to have Maddie for the weekend when you and Simon go to Coronado. So when are you going to get her a cell phone?”