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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Ow! (01/07/10)

TITLE: Securing Her Heart
By Karen Petty


Karen had just pulled out from the parking lot of her favorite Mexican eatery. She pondered the engaging lunch with her good friend, as she drove. Then she felt it. An abrupt pain pressed in her chest, and she soon began to feel weak. As the strength began to leave her arms, her body felt heavy. She reached for her cell phone and dialed her husband’s number. A tingling sensation invaded her neck and she wondered if she might pass out. Her breath was short as she pulled into the turn lane. That’s where it began.

The news had been a lot to take in. Having a defibrillator implanted into her chest at age 39 was not what Karen had prepared herself for. She had known that she had a heart condition for some years, just like her father had. He was gone now. Karen wished he was still around to talk to about her life, kids and now this.

A small pill each morning used to control her very active heart. In the brief months since lunching with her friend, Karen began to feel weak at all the wrong times, passing out at work and a few times feeling it come on while driving. After a change of meds, it became clear that further options needed to be considered. The device seemed like a sound solution to a very scary problem. Still, “how does someone get ready for something like this?” she thought to herself. Having an ICD meant future surgeries, logging lots of doctor’s office time, making the metal detector go off at airports, and some general adjustments in the day to day. She could do this.

Slipping behind the wheel for her daily drive to work, Karen found tears many mornings. It was the right thing to do…the surgery. But, her fears about the procedure itself and what might lie ahead, weighed heavily on her mind. She cried in her husband’s arms in the evenings. Normally she thought herself to be a strong person. But lately, just knowing all that she was facing, she felt like she might blow away.

Her mind raced, as they drove to the hospital the morning of the procedure. She took something that the doctor had prescribed to calm her nerves. It didn’t work. It was like her mind held onto each anxiety. She whispered prayers under her breath over and over. She was not alone or unprovided for.

The print on her hospital gown was very busy. A pleasant nurse took quite a bit of information before departing the room. Before she stepped out she added her reassurance that Karen’s doctor was very good. Once alone, her husband leaned in pressing his cheek against hers. The warmth of his skin relaxed her already tense limbs. She knew he would do anything for her including trade places if he could. He loved her a great deal and she him. This was the scariest thing she had ever done (even after delivering four children).

Movement passed before her eyes before she realized that she was back in her room on the cardiac floor. Her brain failed to distinguish who crossed her view, except for her treasured spouse. His presence soothed her. The following hours brought more pain than Karen had expected.

Some hours passed and she roused. Even as she opened her eyes she could feel the weight of the device. Karen looked down and saw the bandage covering the lump that was now a part of her.

Despite the soreness, the morning brought with it a comforting feel. The surgery was over. Karen was now onto the adjustment of her new accessory. Hopefully, it would afford her more years with her husband, kids and others. For now, she needed help just getting to the sink to brush her teeth. But that would change soon enough.

Karen walked a bit more slowly the week following the operation. There were restrictions for her to follow, which gave her family a chance to tend to her as she began to heal. Much of it felt like a blur, as she slept often.

The bathwater filled the tub and Karen carefully pulled her sleeve away. The reflection in the mirror was unfamiliar. Her closest ally knocked on the door. Recognizing an uneasy look on her face, he secured his arms around her telling her that she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Through teary eyes, they both knew things would be ok.

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This article has been read 348 times
Member Comments
Member Date
Uzoamaka Eneli01/14/10
a very touching story. thanks for sharing
Angela Linton01/14/10
A touching story indeed.
D.A. Urnosky01/15/10
Nicely written. Emotional without going to the extreme.
Very nice. Your adjectives were well placed and brought life to the story.
Mona Purvis01/15/10
Good writing. You used the subject to educate about pacemakers (hubby has one), show love and tenderness in a marriage, give insight to the characters, display faith and its rewards.
Very well done.
Mildred Sheldon01/16/10
A very tender story. Thank you for sharing.
Jan Ackerson 01/18/10
Great title!

I got a little bit lost at the beginning, between what was "now" and what was flashback. Other than that--well written!

I've started a class in the FaithWriters forums for Beginner and Intermediate writers. I'd love to see you there--look for "Jan's Writing Basics".

I loved these characters.