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Dr. NEURO (St. Luke’s Docuseries #3)
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Dr. Nick Raines wants nothing more than to keep his head on straight and his daughter in his life.
But does that really have to mean he can’t have love?
It’s a battle: Head vs. Heart.
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“I’m sorry, Nick. I know you’ve grown accustomed to us paying your tuition, but your father is a good man. He doesn’t shirk responsibility, and he wouldn’t want to,” my mom said gently.
The kitchen chair was solid under me, I could feel its legs against my own, but somehow, I still felt like I was falling. My ears whooshed as blood pumped furiously from my heart and out, and I tried to make sense of what this meant for me. But none of it made sense—I couldn’t focus—and the unexpected news stung in a way I knew was probably unreasonable. I couldn’t help it, though.
The bottom would surely come soon, and then I could concentrate on picking myself up again and figuring out how to fix all of my ailments.
I was studying to become a doctor, after all.
“I don’t understand. How is Dad leaving his job a brilliant display of responsibility?” I demanded irately. And why does he have to do it now? I thought but didn’t ask. Some part of me knew my parents didn’t owe me this, but the young, selfish, throbbing pain piercing through my frontal lobe as I imagined what this would mean for my life thought otherwise.
My dad was one of the biggest guys on Wall Street, a brilliant mind, and a talented moneymaker, and he was leaving to take over my grandfather’s hardware store. It was on its last leg, about to go under, and the store itself carried more debt than my parents did. In what world was this responsible?
My mom’s face hardened slightly. My parents were one of those blindingly happy couples, more in love each day, and desperate to have just one more year together every year they had one. They’d be married sixty years one day, and they’d still be wishing for just a little bit longer. Any insult to my father, veiled, vague, or otherwise, was an insult to my mother as well.
“He left his job to finish the one your grandfather left unfinished,” my mom lectured, her smooth, chocolate-brown bob swinging forward to cover her now pinkened cheeks. “He founded that company seventy years ago, and it’s a family legacy. He’s taking care of your grandmother, and he’s still taking care of us. We just won’t have as much freedom as we used to.”
“Freedom?” I questioned as I pictured my life at the hospital now combined with another job on top of it. I didn’t have time to sleep as it was. “I can kiss my life goodbye. I’ve still got three years of my residency left, hundred-hour weeks, and now I need a job.”
Her tone softened, but only slightly. You didn’t talk to your mother like an ungrateful asshole and get a cookie for it. At least, I never did. “You’ll get a loan, Nick.”
My anger, rooted in the life my parents had spoiled me with up until this point, colored my words and set my mind.
“Dad can do what he wants. But after I’m done with school, I’m going to make sure I don’t make the same mistakes,” I spewed, ruthlessly locking in my single-minded goal without scrutiny. I would provide for myself and my future family financially, as was my responsibility, and I would do it at any fucking cost.
Famous last words, huh?
“That job is across the country, Nick. I don’t even know how you can consider it. You’ll never see me or the baby!”
Winnie wrapped her small hands around the ever-rounding surface of her stomach protectively as she argued with me about my future. She’d told me about the baby three months ago, about a week after finding out herself, and in about four more months, I was going to be a father.
I’d panicked at first, frustrated by life’s timing and another hitch in my carefully calculated plans. I’d worked tirelessly, to the point of sleep deprivation, for the last three years to finish my residency, and the door to a life outside of exhaustion finally beckoned. I didn’t ever want to struggle this hard for money again. I wanted to work hard, but I wanted to do it where I was passionate—in neurosurgery. Not as a late-night bartender at an Applebee’s in Staten Island.
And finally, a week ago, the answer had come. A job offer that would set me up for the next five years and put me on the fast track to being a big name, big changemaker, and big moneymaker in modern medicine.
I hadn’t even considered that Winnie would react this negatively.
“It’s at the top hospital in California, Win. People work ten years to get in there. They scheme and fight, and the Neurology Department wants me. How can I not take this job?” I explained, practically keening with the desperation to make her understand.
“Get a job here,” she argued. “New York has great hospitals, and St. Mary’s already offered you a job.”