Dr. Rock by Vanessa James
Chapter 1: Dr. Rock
"Damn it!” I said as I felt the familiar throbbing in my head as I drove to work.
“What a great way tostart the day” I muttered as I frowned. I had just realized that I had forgotten to take my painkillers that morning. It seems strange but those were the only things that could help me to focus after my recurrent nightmares. At this, my mind flashed back to my dreams; they always contained gruesome details of my horrific experiences during my time as a military doctor in Afghanistan. I had tried to drive the nightmares away with several measures. However, they had all failed, but those little pills helped a bit and I had forgotten to take them. As I turned the last bend leading to the hospital, another image of one of my horrific experiences flashed in my head and I hit the brakes. Shit! I muttered under my breath as I shivered.
“Alan, you’ve got to focus!”I told myself as I continued driving towards the hospital. Soon I was within the hospital complex as I maneuvered my car to park in the garage reserved for members of staff at Claywell hospital. Finally, I was in my office. I grabbed the files of my patients and prepared to go for my rounds.
“Good morning,Anderson, how're you this morning?" I said as I entered the room of my first patient during my rounds at Claywell Hospital where I worked. I had gotten to the hospital thirty minutes earlier, which was the exact time I needed to prepare for my rounds.
"Good morning Dr. Rock," Anderson said, full of smiles. Eleven-year-old Anderson had been admitted weeks ago after tests had revealed that he was suffering from heart disease. "I feel good," Anderson added bravely.
Such a fearless young boy. Despite the pain I'm sure he is currently feeling, he is still trying to act strong. Why would a young boy full of life be going through this? I know there is only a small chance of him surviving this. First, there is the consideration of a heart donor, and then we have to determine whether the heart will be suitable for his body, amongst other things. Life can be unfair. I thought to myself as I stared down at him and the machines connected to his body.
"Okay, I’m going to carry out some tests on you now, just like the ones we've been doing for the past few days. It’s nothing serious, it's just to monitor your progress," I said reassuringly before Anderson nodded slightly.
"Good," I said before starting to carry out my tests on him and writing down my observations. This is getting worse … what his parents must be going through. Parents… I thought to myself as the memory of how I had tried to be one flooded my mind. No, Alan, you can’t dwell in the past anymore, I thought.
"I'll be back this afternoon," I said after I was done.
"Okay," Anderson said with a little smile.
"He is due for a new drip; you should stay back and change that for him," I said as I turned to face Nurse Crystal, one of the nurses who had been assigned to assist me during my rounds. There were five of them with me: two intern doctors, a male, and a female, and three nurses, two females, and a male.
"Okay, sir," Nurse Crystal said as she stepped closer to Anderson.
"Good. Anderson, you take care of yourself, okay?" I said.
"Yes doctor," Anderson said with a little smile before I stepped out of his room and headed down the corridor towards my next patient, the remaining four following closely behind.
We headed for Mrs. Oliver's room. She was also battling with a heart-related disease, although her case was different to Anderson’s. This was my daily routine; arrive at the hospital and get as much work done as possible to take my mind off the problems of my life.
"Thank you, that would be all for today," I said as we ended the rounds over an hour later.
"Okay, sir," They all chorused before we split up.
Unlike every other doctor who does shifts, I don't leave when mine finishes, and I only go home late at night.
Gone are the days when I had everything, when I thought everything was going to be blissful. My dream job, a wife, and the child I had hoped for.I shouldn't go down this road again. Focus on work; remember that's the only thing that can get you through hard times, I thought.
"Good morning Dr. Rock," I heard someone call out when I was a few meters from my office.
"Good morning," I said as I turned and realized that it was Dr. George, one of the new doctors who had been employed a few months back.
I walked on before he could say anything else, not that I expected him to. I had made an effort not to form any sort of connection with anyone at the hospital, including my colleagues. Of course, I hadn’t always been like this. Gone are the days I felt love all around and the need to bond with the people around me. The times when everything made perfect sense. The time I had Stella, I thought as I walked into my office.
"Stella," I muttered as I took my seat. This isn't something I should be thinking about this early in the day, or even anytime. But my mind drifted back to three years back, when I thought I had my life in order. The two people I had formed a strong bond with, besides my parents, had been the ones to hurt me the most. I thought back to how it had all started. Marcus had been my childhood friend. I had trusted him with everything, and we had been almost inseparable. We had gone to the same college, and we had planned to come back to Claywell to work and start our own families. However, working at the military hospital had intrigued me. This was what caused my change of plans. At least that had been my dream. Marcus hadn't been concerned about that, he had been more concerned about getting rich no matter what it took, even if it meant getting married to an heiress. I had called him and told him about my problems. He had advised that I leave the military hospital and we should fall back to our initial plans of working at Claywell. We had decided to celebrate it by going to Drey, a reputable restaurant here in Claywell. We had finished our dinner and had been about to go back to our newly rented apartment.
"Excuse me, sir, you dropped your keys," I had heard as Marcus and I reached my car. I had been searching for my car keys and had been about to go back in to check for them at our table.
"Oh, thank you," I had stammered as she had passed the keys to me, struck by how beautiful she was.
"You're welcome," She had said as I took the keys from her. "I'm Stella Armstrong," Her smile captivated me almost instantly.
"I'm Alan," I had said as I stared awestruck at her beautiful face. "Oh, and this is Marcus," I had said as I had pointed at Marcus.
"Nice meeting you both," She had said with another smile, sending my heart into overdrive. That had been the beginning of our love story, and we dated for two years before I popped the question. My joy had known no bounds when we had gotten married; I loved her and had thought she loved me back. Everything had gone smoothly for the first three years of our marriage until we discovered that I had a slim chance of fathering my own child. At first, when we had tried to conceive and didn’t know the cause of our childlessness, Stella had been a good wife. However, everything had changed just when I had needed her the most. It had started with her staying out late and acting suspiciously. I had tried to be strong on my own, but it was hard with her change of attitude. Marcus had been the closest comfort I had then, if only I had known that he was anything but a comfort to me.
"Can you tell me what the hell is going on?" I had screamed frustratedly at her when she had returned home late once again.
"What do you mean by that?" She had asked without a care. I had known that I was gradually losing her, but I had had no idea I had already lost her before that night.
"This, you suddenly staying out late every night! Is this because of the results of the test? You know there are other options for us. We could adopt," I said desperately, as tears threatened to fall from my eyes. I had been ready to do whatever it would take to make our marriage work, despite the slight chance of having our own children.
"That's the point right there, Alan. I can't bear the brunt of your wild ways. I can't erase the dream of having my own child because you were careless with yourself when you were younger," Stella had fired at me.
"What?" I had whispered with a puzzled expression, not quite grasping what she was talking about.
"You heard me," Stella had said, as she had flopped onto one of the sofas in our living room.
"Yes, I did. But I don’t understand the part about me living a wild life or how that is related to our childlessness. The tests revealed that the problem was with the viability of my sperm," I had said, my heart hurting at the disdainful look on her face.
"The story you cooked up with your colleagues? I know everything, Alan, and there is no point pretending at this point," Stella had snapped while I had stared at her in shock.
"Can you please tell me what you are talking about? I still don’t understand what you’re talking about," I had said while I had tried to understand her.
"How could you, Alan? How could you be so cruel to keep something like that from me? To even think that you tried to play smart about it disgusts me," She had stared at me angrily.
"Can you stop talking in riddles for a moment and tell me what on earth you are talking about?" I had screamed at her. She stared at me, breathing heavily before she lowered her head.
"Listen, Alan, I don't blame you for the things you did in the past. However, I can't pay for them when I had nothing to do with it," she had said quietly, while I had become even more confused.
"Please, let me understand you. I'm lost," I had said as I took a seat across from her.
"I know everything, Alan. Marcus told me everything," She had said as she had stared straight at me with a blank expression.
"Marcus told you what?" I had asked, still not understanding.
"He told me about your wild ways, that you took dangerous substances and that’s the reason for your inability to have a child," She had said.
"What, that can't be true. Why would Marcus tell those lies against me?" I had asked incredulously.
"Stop pretending for once, will you? I know everything, including how you made up your results. Anyways, I've thought long and hard about it, and I've been waiting for the best time to tell you this." I had watched her facial expression harden and become more determined. I had shaken my head slowly while I dreaded what she would say next.
"I can't continue like this anymore,"
"What?" I had only been able to whisper.
"I want a divorce," Stella had stated clearly. I had tried to fix the situation, but I had failed. I had spent the rest of the evening trying to make Stella see reason, to persuade her we could still work things out, but I had realized it was a lost battle. Everything had come to light one fateful day when I tried to meet Stella at the law firm she worked at. We had already started proceedings with our divorce, but I had thought we could meet one last time to take her down memory lane and remember how our love had started, but I had been met with the shock of my life. She was making out with none other than Marcus. Never in my life had I imagined that I would witness something like that.
"Why?" I had whispered as a tear had fallen from my eye. I had burst into her office, though the secretary had tried to stop me. What I would never forget was how neither of them looked remorseful that I had seen them in such a position. Then it dawned on me; all the stories Marcus had made up about me had been because he was after Stella, possibly because she was an heiress of the wine-making Armstrong family.
"What are you doing here?" Stella had casually asked while she sat on the lap of the person I had once called my best friend.
"How could you do this to me? I trusted both of you," I whispered as more tears rolled down my face.
"I thought you loved me, Stella? You promised to be with me through thick and thin," I whispered, still in shock. Then, she had dropped another bomb on me right there.
"I told you, Alan, there is a limit to what I can sacrifice for you. Besides, do you want me to leave my unborn child without a father just because of you?"
I felt the world crashing around me.
"Child?" I shouted.
"Yes, Marcus has given me what you couldn't ever dream of having," Stella said as she had rubbed her stomach.
"I … Stella … " I stuttered. Words weren’t enough to describe the disappointment and betrayal I felt at that moment. Disappointment that Stella had been right about me not having the ability to father my own child, the betrayal that she knew how badly I wanted a child of my own and how it hurt me anytime I thought of the fact that I couldn’t have one of my own, but had used it against me. Her pregnancy felt like further proof of my failure. I couldn't say anything, so I simply left. The rest of the divorce had been a new chapter of my life, but it had taught me one thing; that there is no one worth giving your complete trust to. I decided it was better to be alone and trust only yourself. I had picked up the pieces of my life afterward and buried the idea of ever having my own child. Then, I had buried myself into something else, work.
"Knock, knock," I snapped out of my thoughts as a knock sounded on my door and Nurse Diana walked in. She was one of the nurses at the reception, and it was unusual for her to pop into my office unless there was an emergency or she had a message to deliver. From her composure, this wasn't an emergency.
"Good morning, doctor," She said.
"Good morning," I responded with a small smile. The memory lane I had gone down had turned my mood sour, which was one of the reasons I tried to keep my mind off the past.
"Dr. Edward asked me to give this to you," she said. Dr. Edward was one of our senior specialists at the hospital, and any message he had asked her to deliver must be important.
"I see, thank you," I said as I stretched my hand out to take the note from her.
She came forward and gently placed the letter in my palm.
"Thank you," I said. "Is there anything else?"
"No sir," She said before she turned and left the office. I opened the envelope and sighed when I saw that it was an invite to the annual dinner party, which was organized by the hospital for its doctors. The aim of the dinner, according to the hospital board, was to help us unwind a bit and get to know each other better. I hadn’t attended any of these dinners; Dr. Edward had taken note of that the previous year and extracted a promise from me that I would attend the one this year. Must be the reason he sent me a personal invitation, I thought as I shook my head in amusement and dropped the letter on my desk.
"Guess I have a dinner to prepare for," I muttered but frowned when I realized that we would be spending two days at the hotel where it was held, two days and a night. I don't get why the hospital needs to organize this. Fine, it has always been held at F&W Hotel because of its close proximity to the hospital in case there is an emergency. I had always been the one who was at the hospital in case there was an emergency. However, this year, Doctor Edward had made sure I wasn’t the one, but I still struggled to find meaning or reason in the event, just like everything else in my life after Stella and the constant reminder of my time in Afghanistan.
I sighed as I rubbed my temple.
My ringtone rang out into my silent office while I tried to think of ways I could escape going to the dreaded dinner.
I smiled as I looked at the screen and saw it was my mom.
"Hello, mom," I said as I picked up the call.
"Hello darling, how are you?" she said.
"I'm a fine mom, and you?" I asked and relaxed more into my chair.
"I'm good," she said.
"Is everything okay?" I asked with a frown; it was unusual for my mom to call during work hours.
"Yes, everything is absolutely fine, dear. I was just wondering if you could make it to dinner tonight. I have something important to discuss with you," My mom said and I became even more curious at these words.
"Something important, you say?" I asked to be sure I had heard correctly.
"Exactly, I'll be expecting you by 7 pm."
"Are you sure everything is OK, Mom? What about Dad?" I asked.
"Everything is fine; I just want to discuss something I think is long overdue, " She said.
"Okay, mom, I'll be there. Anything else?"
"No, that's all, dear. We will see you at 7."
"Goodbye, dear," My mom said happily.
"Bye, mom," I said as I dropped the call. What could be this be about? I guess I'll find out when I get to their place this evening, I thought with a frown.
"Woah, how time flies," I muttered as I checked the time and realize I was supposed to be with Mr. Tyrell, one of my patients, in the next five minutes. I stood up and grabbed my stethoscope before leaving my office to meet him.