My cheeks flared the moment the baby’s mother saw me. Her husband was at her side, both pale with bags firmly in place under their tired eyes. The dad looked up and did a double take. Jeff Sloane, the assigned nurse for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit transport team, stepped forward with compassion.
“Mr. and Mrs. Perry? I’m Jeff Sloane. I know this is scary but I want you to know this team, all of us, is assigned for the very situation Kayleigh is in. This is our third transport in two weeks with similar symptoms. We’re going to give her the very best care.”
Mrs. Perry pointed a finger towards me. My eyes were firmly fixed on the Thanksgiving banner above their heads. Mrs. Perry spoke.
“Forgive us for being abrupt but Mr. Sloane…”
“Call me Jeff.”
“Jeff, you expect us to be at ease with that young man driving our daughter two hours away in an ambulance? He looks twelve.”
“I know he appears youthful, he gets that a lot. I get questions about being a male nurse. I ask you to trust us. The doctors from the Children’s Hospital are stabilizing her now. This could take anywhere from forty-five minutes to a couple of hours. It means we want to do as much as we can right now at this hospital to provide a safe ride that will give Kayleigh the opportunity to get better. It’s Scott’s job to drive. It’s all he does, and he’s good. He’s so good I ask you not to follow us. He will give you directions. He is allowed by law to run red lights and approach speeds that are hazardous for you. We do it for Kayleigh, and we ask you again, please trust us.”
Kayleigh’s dad squeezed his wife’s hand. Together they nodded, but had trouble looking me in the eye. I was not offended by their concern but I knew my looks worked against me.
My career as an ambulance driver was nearly five years in the making, but my freckles, dimples, and youthful face made me look like the student intern. The medical team loved to pick on me because they knew I got the job done and they absolutely had my back when patients questioned my ability. Yet every time it happened, I couldn’t help but blush. As if I really was twelve years old.
While the team worked on Kayleigh, I went back to the ambulance and tidied up, took inventory of items and like a kid, called my mommy.
“Mom, it’s a baby. The parents are afraid to let me drive.”
I could hear mom praying quietly even as I shared my affection for the Perry family.
“It will be one of your best days Scottie. I’m sure of it.”
I headed inside when I saw the Perrys’. Together the two cried and held each other with so much love and desperation I felt intrusive for just walking by. I was nearly to the lobby when I heard Mrs. Perry speak louder. I realized she was asking for me.
“Mr. Ambulance Driver?”
I turned around and found them walking toward me. She was trying to smile.
“It’s nothing personal. It’s just, she’s our miracle. We don’t believe her time has come, God promised me when I was pregnant after so long…well…she’s an overcomer. She’s going to be okay.”
She held out her hand in what I knew was a truce handshake. I really wish my hands hadn’t been so sweaty. Like a twelve year old.
“Mrs. Perry, I believe that with you. I have to go. I’ll see you up there. And please, don’t follow us.”
Mr. Perry gave me a sheepish look.
“You know I have to try. It’s our baby.”
Although Kayleigh’s mom and dad tried to find us, we were long gone out a different exit. By the time we reached the children’s hospital, Kayleigh had a gleam back in her eye and pink in her cheeks. The doctors were thrilled with her progress and how quickly we made the trip. The Perrys’ arrived forty five minutes later, hearing the news immediately from the transport doctor, now clocking off. Mrs. Perry saw me after I clocked off. She wasn’t happy, she was giddy. I was certainly happy.
“Thanks for keeping your promise. She’s doing great. You’re very good at what you do.”
I blushed again. I couldn’t resist ending the night on a light note.
“I’m not bad, for being twelve.”
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