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Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 – Advanced)
Topic: Spring (the season) (07/23/09)

TITLE: A Birthday to Remember
By Margaret Gass


The sudden ring of the telephone pierced the abnormal silence in the OR of the day surgery facility where Jennifer lay strapped to a table, arms uncomfortably outstretched given her fall from a horse just three days earlier. Nurses and technicians had been scurrying around her for the last thirty minutes, and they had just finished placing a tent across her chest meant to keep the area sterile…and prevent Jennifer from seeing the incisions that were to take place in just a few minutes, when that ring caused all of them to jump. The nurse who had answered the phone had tried to speak in hushed tones so that Jennifer would not hear, but her frustration with the speaker on the other end could be observed by all in the room.

“What do you mean, you are still at home? The patient is lying on the table! How long will you be? Incredible! Get here sooner than that! What am I supposed to tell her? Very well. Okay.” She had then come to Jennifer’s side. “The doctor has been delayed with another patient, but he will be here soon. Try to relax.”

Jennifer felt for the nurse, who had clearly been put in an awkward position, but it was her position that concerned her more…she was in pain, and so she gave voice to her thoughts. “Ma’am,” she said, “since the doctor’s still at home, would it be okay to un-strap me for a bit? It hurts to be in this position, and I know I’ll have no choice during the procedure, but--” The nurse interrupted to tell her that the doctor wasn’t at home, that he was just down the hall. The boldfaced lie shocked Jennifer: “You do realize that I heard everything you said to the doctor, right? I realize that you have a job to do, and I do not mind waiting. But why should I have to be in pain as I wait? This is difficult enough as it is.” The nurse at her side began removing the draping, and gave the first nurse a look that stopped any attempt at arguing, She gently positioned Jennifer on her side, and said she would have to put the drape back in fifteen minutes.

Grateful, Jenny smiled, and then reflected on the whirlwind that had been her life for the last seventeen days. Today was Monday, March 31, and she had turned twenty-one just ten days earlier. She had spent her birthday with her parents and boyfriend before traveling east to spend spring vacation at his house, where she was to meet his family for the first time. It was supposed to have been a joyful trip--full of firsts: her first boyfriend, her first time to his family’s ranch, their first trip together--neither she nor Daniel could have guessed that it would also be their first crisis as a couple.

Jenny’s mind was a rush of tangled thoughts. What if? What if I can’t finish school? What if my first trip to the ranch is my last? What if Daniel no longer wants me? What if I can’t handle this? She had found the lump in her right breast on Friday, March 14th and gone immediately to Health Services on campus. No appointments were available, and she had come back the next day. Dr. Johnson had been so concerned that he called a specialist at home, on a Saturday! She had received an appointment for Monday the 17th at 2:00, and had to miss her American Lit class in order to keep it. Dr. Stephenson was not as genteel as Dr. Johnson--he did a needle biopsy and asked his nurse to schedule surgery for Friday the 21st before he even spoke to her! Jennifer asked if the surgery could possibly be put off for an extra week so that she could have time with family and digest the news. His reply was less than encouraging, but his nurse had spoken to him on her behalf. He agreed to wait just two weeks, and so here she was.

Jenny was still praying when Dr. Stephenson’s nurse once again began repositioning her on the table. "The doctor is here, Jennifer. And don’t worry, you’ll celebrate many more birthdays with that young man in the waiting room. I met your mom, too. They seem to get along well.” That made Jenny smile…at least until the procedure began. She asked to see what they took from her…and began to look to Him.

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Member Comments
Member Date
Connie Dixon08/01/09
Too bad the birthday couldn't have continued on the way it happened. Talk about bumps in the road!

I got a little lost toward the biginning because of your long sentences. Maybe you could shorten them and leave out a few of the less important details that don't really add to the story.

Also, this seems a little off-topic to me other than it happened in the springtime.

Hope Jenny has a very long life ahead of her!