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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Doctor/Nurse (11/02/06)

TITLE: Who's On Your Calling Plan?
By Birdie Courtright
11/09/06


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The pain was excruciating. It was just small and dull at first, and I thought it would subside after a moment or two—but it didn’t. By the time I decided to tell someone, I could barely breathe and the thought passed through my mind that I might quit breathing altogether.

“Uh…I’m having really bad chest pains…”

There was a momentary debate on whether or not to call an ambulance, but I was in denial. “Just take me to the clinic, I’ll be ok.” I wasn’t sure that was the truth, but I didn’t want anyone to panic, and I surely didn’t want to create a scene.

I remembered my Doctors words several years ago after telling him of a similar incident: “If that ever happens again, get to a hospital immediately”

He didn’t say ‘call an ambulance’ so I rationalized the car trip to the clinic fifteen minutes away. Surely I would breathe for another half hour—fifteen minutes to the clinic, and another fifteen minutes to the examining room.

I didn’t want to call my husband after all, this might be nothing. On the other hand, if it was something…better to wait…why worry him, right? As we inched our way toward the clinic in the heavy afternoon traffic, I thought about life and death. As the pain in my chest continued to intensify I realized that I might be closer to death than I planned on being that day. My thoughts turned from the pain in my chest to my Maker.

“Is this it? Am I coming home today?” I found it hard to beg for life, in fact, impossible. “Ok, this is your call” I reminded God. I ran a quick check list through my head of unfinished business and traumatized loved ones.

“You know the plans you have for me, and you know what I’ll leave behind that you have to take care of. It’s up to you.” The pain tightened to an unbearable level. I closed my eyes, certain when I opened them again I would see heavenly beings and streets of gold. As we slid into the parking space, it disappeared entirely.

I felt a little silly when the Doctor said that an ambulance would be arriving shortly. “We cannot conclusively rule out that you have not had a cardiac event.”
The nurse continued to read the monitor, take a fifth vial of blood, and pat my hand. By that time, I was only a little weak and light headed. I knew that God had made His decision—I was staying on the planet for yet another day.


The doctor was briefing the paramedics when my cell phone rang. It was my husband, and he was clinging tightly to the edge of hysteria.

“I called Dr. Thomas about 15 minutes ago, and he prayed for you…”

Sliding into the parking space, no pain…
The time line instantly became clear to me. My office had called my husband. My husband had called my Pastor, Dr. Thomas, and somehow a conference call directly to God had changed the course of my life; and quite possibly, my death.

The rest of his words were lost as I passed the phone off to one of the paramedics, quietly asking him to brief my husband on what lay in store for me next.

A lot goes on the back of an ambulance, life and death decisions are made very quickly and I’m not sure those guys ever get much of a chance to hear that the decisions they have to make are not really theirs. While they hooked me up, made their notes, and advised me of my condition, I took the opportunity to tell them about a conference call that took place just as I was pulling into the parking space at the clinic.

“So, I’m fine” I concluded. I was feeling considerably better, though still a little weak.

“Well, ma’am, we still have to have you checked out.” The glances that danced between them quickly told me they were not quite listening. “You need medical treatment, and this little episode is going to bring some changes to your life.”

“It already has” I laughed, “and what I’ve said will change yours, if you’ll let it.”

Leaving the ER six hours later, pink and healthy, I knew without a doubt that one conference call from the right Doctor makes all the difference and having the right health insurance has nothing at all to do with doctors.


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Member Comments
Member Date
Jan Ackerson 11/12/06
Good job! Readble, authentic voice, and a great story to tell. A few tweaks for punctuation and captitalization is all this needs--a really interesting narrative.
Joanne Sher 11/13/06
I LOVE your last paragraph especially. This felt so real to me - thank you for sharing your story in such an engaging, meaningful way!