Standard Disclaimer: As always, the characters of Xena and her buddies don't belong to me, I'm just borrowing them. Ren Pics has all the rights, and the bucks.
Violence Disclaimer: None, zip, nada. Sex; on the other hand...see the following disclaimer.
Sexual Situations: Let's see...um...oh yeah. The following pages, will from time to time, contain images (your own, you naughty things) or references to sex of a lesbian nature. There might, God forbid, be references to heterosexual situations. All of this activity will be consensual in nature, between adult personages. If this bothers you, please don't read any further. Incidentally, this leads me to the next disclaimer. If you are not 21 years of age, please do not read my stories. If you are 21, don't read them at work.
Hurt/Comfort: None of that stuff either. I have enough trouble in real life.
Okay, some of you have spoken. Enough anyway that I am encouraged to continue with the new series. "Retirement" was the first of my new series, "Lost and Found: Generation Next". You should probably read that so this story would make some sense. Now that I think about it, you should probably read the original series "Lost and Found" to figure out who all the characters are and how they fit together. If you have any questions or comments, you may reach me here at the ranch, email@example.com My url, (my partner tells me I should include as well) is http://www.jcis.net/~tkgalar/ Enjoy!
A Changing of the Guard
November 7, 2002
Chapter 1: Ya See, It's Like This...
The longer I'm alive on this earth, the more I firmly believe I haven't a clue how to deal with people. I mean picture this...you think you really know someone...I mean someone you've been friends with, and worked with for 20 years or better, and bang... suddenly you find you don't know them at all. All I tried to do was explain to Rachel and Irish I wanted to retire and...
"Are you out of your fucking Scottish mind?" Irish boomed. "Retire! You? I have never heard of anything so ridiculous in my life. Sweet Jesus above, I have to sit down."
The OR Trauma Nursing Director, she herself retired, was about to have a hemorrhage.
Dr. Rachel Donovon-Evans, Assistant Director,
"Irish, calm down before you give yourself a heart attack. If Mac is really gonna retire, that means I'd be the one to have to give medical assistance, and I don't like you that much." Rachel admonished. "Give Mac a chance...wait a damn minute...did you say retire? Are you out of your flippin' mind?"
When my words finally penetrated Rachel's subconscious mind, Irish was nearly hysterical.
"Oh yeah, that's giving Mac a chance, all right." Irish laughed. "Just imagine all that temper comin' from such a wee lass, tis true." Irish cajoled in a thick Irish brogue. "Tis very diplomatic ya are, doctor, indeed ya are now."
Rachel whirled on the former OR nurse.
"Oh, shut the hell up, Irish. You're a great one to talk!" Rachel fumed. "Just a minute ago, you were ready to have Mac drawn and quartered for even thinking about retiring!"
I sat in my nice cushy Chief of Staff doctor's chair, with my back to the combatants, and gazed out the window. As usual, LA was socked in with smog and various other forms of pollution. God, how long have I lived in this mess? Bannock, CA was never like this. Fresh air, a view of the Sierras, no traffic, and no overcrowded shopping malls. Once the din diminished, I turned around to face my colleagues and best friends.
"Are you two finished?" I asked firmly.
Rachel and Irish stopped in mid-sentence and looked plaintively at me.
"I guess," Rachel replied.
"For now," Irish intoned.
"Okay, let me see if I can begin again..."
I waited patiently for any sign of compliance from my very unhappy friends. Irish opened her mouth to speak, but no sound came out. She reminded me of a fish. The mouth opening and closing to allow water to flow through its gills.
"...without interruption. "Look, Becca, the kids, Margie, and I have talked this all out. Guys, I'm tired. Of what I'm not sure ...but I know I want something more in my life right now. I don't know...peace maybe, extended peace, not just snippets of peace between broken, battered little bodies. Do you understand?" I asked hopefully.
I waited for some kind of response, positive or negative, from Irish and Rachel. They both, in unison, plopped down on the sofa positioned opposite my desk. Irish was the first to speak.
"I really don't know what to say; you're right of course. When I retired, I felt the same way you're feeling now. No matter how many abuse cases we fix, there always seem to be two or more waiting. It's just...well...you..."
Rachel touched Irish's hand gently, reassuringly.
"What my tough, no nonsense, Irish friend is trying to say is we understand how you feel, but I, no we, never thought you'd quit...no not quit, I didn't mean that. I mean...oh God, what do I mean?"
Irish tried again.
"Look Mac, we are just shocked, that's all. You're only fifty-one, nowhere near retirement age. I always figured the powers that be would have to pull you, kicking and screaming out of this place. So what happened? Why?"
That's a good question, smartass, one you've never answered, to anyone, even yourself.
"Irish, Rachel, I'm just bone tired. I get up in the morning and I hurt all over..."
"Have you seen a doctor? Maybe you've got something seriously wrong with you."
"Now you're sounding like Becca. Yes, I have seen a doctor. Dr. Edith Anderson gave me a complete physical just a week ago. She says I'm in excellent health, for a woman my age."
Therein lies the rub...
Shut the hell up!!!
"I have the beginnings of arthritis settling into my joints. She says it's from the rough and tumble lifestyle I've led over the years. Blood pressure, cholesterol, etc. is very good."
Yeah all that preservative you been drinking over the years...
Preservative hell!! That's good scotch you're talking about.
"You know, the colts I broke as a kid..."
Who broke whom?
If you haven't figured it out by now, I'm ignoring you.
Irish nearly lost it.
"You, sun and surf, beach volleyball? You broke horses? I don't believe it!!!"
Rachel looked pretty dumbfounded too.
"Mac, we've known you for years. I had no idea!"
I thought I'd told them about my childhood. Hmm, must have left that part out.
Another "senior moment", no doubt.
Yeah, scary, huh?
"Well, of course? What else are you gonna do in Bannock,
Irish and Rachel just shook their heads.
"Well, I'll be damned," Irish commented, "just when you think you know someone..."
"So, you really are going to retire." Rachel said softy, quietly.
"Yeah guys, I am. I owe it to my family. Hell, I owe it to myself. I don't want to be sixty-five or seventy and have nothing to show for myself but work." I said.
"But work!!" Irish bellowed. "Plumbers work! Mechanics work! What you do isn't just work! You're an artist. You repair human beings; you fix broken lives. That isn't just work!!!"
Better tread softly here smartass...
What? You think I don't know how to be tactful? Hide and watch!
"Irish, calm yourself. I know what you're saying, maybe work wasn't the right word, but lately that's how I feel. I have to go to work. If your career becomes work, then it's time to leave. My old man never said much to me that I ever wanted to remember, but one thing he did say...
'You're gonna have to work for a lotta years. You might as well find somethin' you're good at and stick with.' ...and he was right."
Oh my God, I have to sit down. I think I'm gonna be sick. Now I know you've lost it, when you start agreeing with the old man!
This is me, ignoring you!
"All I know is that if I'm miserable coming to work everyday, then everyone around me is going to be miserable too...."
"Ya gotta point there." Rachel chuckled.
"Oh sure, now you're agreeing with her?" Irish commented.
"...and, the point I was trying to make is that, my patients will ultimately suffer, and that I will not have. The patient always has and always will come first."
Can't ague with that, can ya girls?
"Oh I suppose you're right," Rachel said, resigned to the finality of my decision. "It's just we'll miss you around here. Um, maybe this isn't the time to ask, but who will you find to replace you?" At this point, Irish came unglued.
"What's the matter, girl? You worried about job security, are you?"
"Wait just a damned minute, you old rip! Do you think I care one damn second about whether or not I have a job? Who the hell do you think you are questioning my motives? I otta slap you silly." Rachel retorted.
"Give it your best shot little girl." Irish bellowed. "I'll chew you up and spit you out!"
Are you gonna do anything about this or just let them mess up your office?
Yeah, you're right. I should stop this. At least until I can sell tickets. People would pay good money to see these two go at it.
Always the juvenile.
Oh, all right.
"Would you two stop!! There is no need for you two to lose your cookies. I have no intentions of bringing in anyone else to run this joint. Rachel, you're a damn good doctor. This incident, notwithstanding, you are very professional. You will, of course take over as chief of staff, and I thought Lilli Faraday would make a very able assistant."
Irish raised an eyebrow.
"Dr. Jefferson might have a few things to say about that? And while I might tend to agree, she is awfully young."
"Much as I hate to agree with Irish on any subject, I have to here. Lilli is very young to take on that kind of responsibility."
Why do people always argue with me? It would save so much time and effort, if they'd just cave in, in the beginning.
"I, the excellent administrator and ultimate boss, that I am, have already taken into consideration your opposition for this very reason. I know Lilli is very young; however, she is a damned excellent doctor, and she has good instincts. Besides, she reminds me of me when I was her age. But the most important thing about Lilli is 'she's been there, done that'.She knows what it's like to be abused. Remember whom this trauma center is named for? To Lilli, the patient always comes first; everything else is secondary. Not only that, she doesn't like administrators. That alone, in my book, ought to make her the best one for the job."
I should have known the 'suits' would come into this at some point.
Yeah, can't you just see their faces when Lilly comes into the boardroom for those monthly meetings?
Every time I remember her last set-to with that bunch, I have to smile...
"Dr. Faraday, while we no doubt understand and commend you for your care and concern for the patients here, we must nevertheless remind you, we are, after all, here to earn a profit. I mean really, doctor, if the patient can't..."
"Profits, my ass. Are you telling me that if someone comes to me for help and he or she doesn't have the money to pay for care, I'm supposed to turn them away? If that's the case, then gentleman, all the time I spent going to medical school was wasted. I should have earned an MBA like all of you! If the bottom line becomes more important than the patient, it's time we all take a good look at ourselves and be ashamed of what we see."
I sat there enjoying the moment. Rachel jabbed me in the ribs.
"Aren't you going to do something? Aren't you going to help here?"
"Hell no, it isn't time, yet," I whispered, "she's doing really well on her own."
"Really, Dr. Faraday, there is no point in becoming emotional. We are simply saying that if a patient is here longer than one week the center begins to lose money. The patient then becomes..."
"Becomes what? A liability? What? Excess baggage and should be tossed out the door? What if the patient isn't well yet? Or does that part of the equation even matter to your little money making formula?"
Lilli was fuming. The accounting department, who wanted to discharge one of Lilli's patients because the family had run out of insurance, prompted all of this "discussion".
"Listen, doctor, we understand how you feel, but if we don't draw the line somewhere, we will not be able to provide care for anyone. This center will be broke and out of business in short order. As much as you dislike us "bottom line" accountants, we serve a necessary function. We keep this center in business."
At this point, Rachel jabbed me again, this time a little harder.
"Well?" she whispered.
"Just hang on," I growled.
Lilli was just getting started and I hated to stop her now.
"Mr. O'Rielly, if you are so concerned about the bottom line, why don't you give up some of that administrative salary you're getting? You've become very, shall we say, 'comfortable' as the Director of the Board of this institution. Why not put your money where your mouth is, hmm?"
If Lilli hadn't struck a nerve up to this point, she certainly had now.
"Dr. Faraday, my salary is not the issue here." O'Rielly stammered. "As a matter of fact, I haven't heard you mention giving up your salary. What say you now, doctor?"
Lilli just smirked.
"I already have, Mr. O'Rielly, two months worth." Lilli proclaimed proudly.
Oh this girl is good.
Can I pick them or what?
I must admit smartass, you can indeed, but I think you better step in now before O'Rielly soils himself.
Aw shucks, do I have to?
"This discussion has gone on long enough," I said quietly, yet firmly. "As far as whether or not we will stay in business? It seems to me that point becomes mute, if we have no patients. Dr. Faraday, what is your prognosis for the patient?" I asked, ignoring O'Rielly.
"Dr. McGregor, Shannon Hampton, my patient, has had severe trauma to her lower abdomen causing severe internal bleeding. We had to remove her spleen. In addition to abdominal injuries, Ms. Shannon suffered severe contusions to the base of her skull, causing a slight skull fracture. The real concern here is the subsequent swelling of the brain. Until the swelling is reduced, we can't tell the extent of the damage to the brain. At this point she is still comatose. All of the tests we have run so far, indicate the brain is functioning normally. She reacts to light and pinpricks. I would say, she has a really good chance, but she needs constant monitoring in a facility used to dealing with trauma patients."
She is good.
Remind you of anyone we know?
Don't get too cocky.
"Dr. Faraday, how long will monitoring be necessary?" I asked, although I already knew the answer. I just wanted to irritate O'Rielly and his bunch.
"Mac, you know as well as I do, a patient who is comatose could remain so indefinitely. There is no way of knowing." Lilli replied.
"That is very true. Lilli, tell me, how did
"Her father had been sexually abusing
Somehow the bottom line didn't seem so important any longer.
"Gentlemen, ladies. I'd say this meeting is adjourned. Dr. Faraday, Ms. Hampton will remain where she is indefinitely. Deidre, see to it all her medical bills are sent to me; I will handle them personally." I said, brushing O'Rielly's attempted complaint aside.
...yes sir, I thought O'Reilly was going to swallow his tongue.
Speaking of tongue swallowing, you'd better see to your buddies there.
"So Rachel, do you have any problem working with Lilli?" I asked pointedly.
"Oh Mac, of course not. As a matter of fact, her lack of tact with the board, is probably one of her best attributes. Heck, with Lilli working with me, they'll think you never left." Rachel paused for a moment. "Of course, you had that in mind all along didn't you?" Rachel smiled.
Busted, big time.
"Ya know, I can't believe you all would think I'd be that devious. After all, my one concern is to find someone who is not only competent, but also has the trauma center's best interests at heart." I tried to sound really offended, but it didn't work.
"My God Mac!" Irish laughed. "Don't try to out blarney the blarney."
"What??!!" Rachel and I said in unison.
"Oh, you know what I mean. Don't try to shit the shiter." Irish continued. "I mean, we all see right through you. Not only did you find someone who reminds you of you, professionally speaking, you also found someone who dislikes administrators even more than you! You love this, and you know it."
"Okay, you have me figured out," I admitted, "but there still is one vacancy left to fill." Rachel and I both looked at Irish.
"Ooohhh nooo, no way!" Irish waved her hands in front of her. "There is no way on God's green earth that I would come out of retirement. No way!"
I think she misunderstood you, smartass. Damage control.
"Irish, cool down! I have no intention of asking you to come out of retirement. What I do want is your opinion as to whom you think would make a good nursing director. I have a couple of people in mind." I opened a personnel folder and began reading.
"First, I was thinking of Jennifer Hansen. She's worked for us for five years. Came from UCLA Med. Centr. Top notch OR tech. Overall good credentials. The only problem is she just got married, and wants to have a family. Next, there is Claudia Wilden. She's worked for us exclusively, ten years, first in Peds, then ICU. Currently, she's been working with me in on the trauma team. Single, hates administrators. Never wants to be one. In my book, she's okay, top notch even."
Both of my colleagues just looked at me, smiling.
"Well guys, what do you think, huh?" I smiled.
Rachel and Irish just shook their heads.
"I think," Irish began, "you already made up your mind before we came in here."
"That's for sure," Rachel agreed.
"Hey, what can I say? I just needed to bounce my voice off the two of you." I grinned. "I mean after all, why else would I keep you two around?"
"Because you love us," they both said at once.
"Hello! That goes without saying." I replied. "Well, now that that has been settled, what say we go get a beer?"
"Wait a damn minute," Irish said, "who's buying? I'm on a fixed income."
"Hey, don't look at me," I said defensively, "I'm outta work, too."
Irish and I both looked at Rachel.
"Why do I always get stuck paying?" Rachel whined.
"Oh stop whining," Irish said. She grabbed Rachel by the shoulders and headed toward the door. "Think of this way. You're the new Chief of Staff; a big raise comes with that title, right Mac?"
"Absolutely! Jeez Rachel, you now command a 6 figure salary!" I laughed. "Of course, you'll have to deal with O'Rielly and his buddies on the board to get it, but you're worth it." Rachel glared at me. "But don't worry, I'll put in a good word for you, honest."
Irish could hardly contain herself.
"Oh yeah, Rachel," Irish howled. "Can't you just picture it? The one person, in the entire world, who has been a bigger thorn in O'Rielly's side you couldn't imagine. And, this same person is going to vouch for you for a 6 figure salary? Oh this is just too good."
"Oh ha ha," Rachel replied. "It just so happens, that I wouldn't want anyone else vouching for me other than Mac. So there!" With that Rachel stuck her tongue out at her tormentor and invited me for a drink. "C'mon Mac. Let's go have a beer." Rachel glanced back at the now much deflated former nursing director. "You can come along too, if you promise to be nice."
Irish hesitated for a moment.
"Ahh don't be like that, Irish." I said, "we're just having a little fun with you. You know we love you. Incidentally, what do you think of Claudia Wilden as nursing director?"
Irish thought for a minute.
"I think she'll do fine. The only thing is she's got her own way of doing things. Some of the OR techs might not like it. But then, they didn't like me very much all the time either. She'll keep them on their toes all right."
Irish was right. She aggravated the hell out of the nurses, but because of her, we always had a top notch trauma unit. One of the reasons I chose Claudia was her no nonsense attitude, not to mention, her impeccable nursing skills. Yeah, all in all I felt I left the trauma center in very good hands indeed. Well, now that the trauma center was in good hands, look out retirement, 'cause here I come!
There, that's the end of "A Changing of the Guard". Let me know what you think.
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