There was no point in arguing. She glanced over at the next gurney, where Gabe and Merry where in deep conversation.
“I don’t see any sign of serious injury,” she heard Merry saying to Gabe. “The paramedics believe she was likely in a proper booster seat in the back on the passenger side, opposite from the point of impact. When they arrived, they found her out of the seat and clinging to her father. Apparently, they had a heck of a time getting her away from him, and they had to give her a mild dose of Versed to get her onto the gurney. She’s probably fine, but we should get a chest and abdominal CT scan, just to be sure there is no internal bleeding from the straps of her car seat.”
Julie waited until Merry finished. “Since they both need CT scans, I should take them down the hall to radiology together. I think Lexi will be calmer if she can be with her father.”
“She can’t go into the scanner with him,” Gabe pointed out with a frown.
“No, but I could sit with her in the viewing room, behind the lead glass,” she argued. “And once Lexi sees her father going through the scanner, maybe she’ll cooperate when it’s her turn.”
Gabe and Merry looked at each other and shrugged. “Fine with me,” Gabe finally agreed.
Satisfied, Julie waited for Gabe to finish his exam of Derek and then entered the necessary radiology orders for both patients into their respective charts.
She made the arrangements and then quietly told Derek the plan. “I’m going to put Lexi in a wheelchair and have her sit with me in the viewing room to watch you go through the scanner first. The machine makes some loud noises, which can be scary. I want to reassure her it doesn’t hurt.”
His expression was guarded. “Are you sure she’s well enough to sit in a wheelchair?”
His protectiveness for his daughter made her smile. “Amazingly, Lexi doesn’t seem to have any injuries at all,” she assured him. “But we’d like to get a body scan just in case there’s some internal bleeding. Kids aren’t always good about being specific with their aches and pains. Or maybe she gets that streak of stubbornness from you.”
For a moment, a flicker of grim amusement flashed in his eyes in response to her gentle teasing, and he subtly relaxed. “All right,” he agreed. “If you think it will help. Can I talk to her while I’m in there?”
“Not while they’re scanning. You’ll need to stay still and hold your breath when they tell you to. You can talk to her before and after, though.”
“Okay.” He lifted his hand and gingerly rubbed the right side of his chest.
“Show me exactly where it hurts,” she said, noticing the gesture.
The stubborn look came back into his eyes, and she feared he was going to deny any pain at all, but he gently fingered the area where his lowest ribs were. “Right here, mostly. You were probably right about the cracked ribs.”
“Maybe. Or you could have some damage to the lower lobe of your lung or damage to your spleen.” She figured blunt honesty was best, so he would understand the seriousness of his situation. “Your breath sounds were a bit diminished on the right side, but the CT scan will tell us everything we need to know.”
He reached out to grasp her wrist again. “If they have to take me to surgery, I need you to promise you’ll look after Lexi.”
Stunned, she gaped at him. Look after Lexi? What on earth did he mean? “Is there someone I can call for you? Her mother? Grandparents? Friends?”
“There’s no one to call,” he said flatly. “Lexi and I are on our own.”
She swallowed hard and nodded, desperate to reassure him. “All right, but try not to worry. I’m sure you’ll be fine.”
He didn’t let it go. “Promise me. If something happens, I want you to look after her. Don’t let strangers take her away. Promise!”
Derek knew he probably sounded like a lunatic, but he didn’t care. The pain along the right side of his chest was bad, far worse than he’d let on, and after what the petite brunette nurse had said about the possible damage to his lung, he was very much afraid that, once they’d completed the scan, they’d whisk him off to surgery.