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Wave To The Traffic

by Lina Rehal


The doors closed in a clatter of metal hitting metal. I could see out of the two small windows. I didn’t suppose it would do any good to tell them I don’t like to ride backwards in a vehicle.

“You’re not going to use flashing lights or anything, are you?” I asked, thinking it would be ridiculous. After all, it wasn’t like it was an emergency. They were only “transporting” me to a hospital emergency room from an urgent care facility in an ambulance. 

The EMT who rode in the back with me was a nice young man. He humored me. “It’s just that we have protocol and with your history.”

History? I don’t have a history. I’ve never done this before.

The building faded out of sight, as we pulled onto the main road into the oncoming traffic. I heard the sound of a siren coming from somewhere. Colored lights flashed past the doors.

“Is that us?”

Again, I got the protocol answer. I hope Medicare pays for all these bells and whistles.

The EMT stood at the back end of the truck holding something in his hand. I heard the driver behind me.

“I’m transporting a seventy-year old female to your emergency room.”

Who’s he talking about, I wondered. What did he say?

Oh my God, he means me! I’m a 70-year old female! Did he have to remind me? Did he want to give me a heart attack? Oh, wait. He thinks I’m already having a heart attack.

I watched the cars pulling back into the stream of traffic, as the EMT sat down beside me. I wondered if the drivers could see who was inside. Should I wave to the traffic?

The headlights got smaller and further away. We were flying by now. I didn’t dare ask how fast we were going. I rarely drive over forty miles an hour. I was fairly certain they were out of my comfort zone, as I noticed an overpass whiz by. The truck rattled and shook as it hit every bump in the road from Danvers to Salem. I guess it was a good thing that I couldn’t see the traffic ahead of us. I worried about potholes.

I thought of the two other times in my life I had ridden inside of an ambulance. Once was seven or eight years ago in Florida when my husband got hurt in Disneyworld and had to go to Celebration Hospital. They let me ride up front. The other time was with my mother. I thought about all the times she went to the ER in an ambulance. How many times did I tell her, “Ma, you’re better off going in the ambulance. You get moved to the front of the line when you get there. Otherwise they leave you sitting in the waiting room for hours.”

“I’ve only been in an ambulance two other times,” I said. “Both times it was with other people. Never like this.”

“Never been the star of the show before,” he joked.

“No,” I said. “I’ve never seen traffic from this angle before either. It seems so strange.”

I don’t know how long it took to get there, but we made it. They hurried me right in. No stop at Registration. No sitting in the waiting room. It was just like I told my mother. I was right. No lines. No waiting.

They whisked me past all the patients on makeshift beds in the corridor and into a curtained room by myself. I was more afraid of catching the flu or some other awful thing than I was about what was wrong with me.

After multiple EKGs, blood tests, a chest x-ray, an ultrasound and six hours in the ER, they decided to keep me overnight. Once they ruled out a cardiac event, they sent me on my way with instructions to follow-up with my doctor.

The next time you have to pull aside for an ambulance, keep in mind someone might be waving to you from inside. I’m grateful I’m still here to write this story.

Lina Rehal:Author of Loving Daniel and October In New York
The Fuzzy Pink Muse website

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