Stories from the vault

In 2005, I decided it was either time to write . . . or time to quit saying “one day I’ll write.”

My son had graduated high school the year before, and as I’d been saying during his high high-school years, once he graduated, I planned to sit on the couch for a year and do nothing. Nothing but go to work, of course. Bills still had to be paid. But I was TIRED. Tired from 14 years of sporting events, 12 years of school events, and tired from simply ALL THE THINGS that came from being a single mom. And no, I wasn’t single for that entire eighteen years (not when my son was super young nor from the age of 14 on—when I married The Mister). But trust me when I tell you that I was essentially a single mom. 😊 It was just who we were. Kim and Josh. Josh and Kim. Josh’s mom.  (<– that one was really it, lol)

Anyway, I’d had Josh at the age of sixteen (that’s a story for another time), and we were attached at the hip for the next eighteen years. Therefore . . . the year after he graduated high school? I took a much-needed break!

HOWEVER, during that year, I also knew that it was time to look forward. Time to FINALLY become the writer I’d always dreamed of becoming. And in preparation for my first attempt at writing a romance novel, I took a creative writing class at a local community college (the class was held during my lunch hour, so I still succeeded in going home after work and DOING NOTHING!). I had a real fear that I might not actually be any good at my dream (writing for a living!), so I wanted to test the waters to hopefully calm my worries. Plus, it was simply fun to do something all for me for once (instead of doing only mom things).

Below is one of my assignments for that class. I haven’t updated it at all, so there are some out-of-place or missing commas, and a few places where I’d probably tweak some of the wording if I were writing it today. But all-in-all, I’m still proud of it. The assignment was to write a short story about a personal experience. I hope you enjoy it.

(And for the record—which you’ll understand after you finish the story—I was thirty-four when I wrote this piece.)




As I lay stretched out on my stomach, the uncomfortable gurney beneath me, I had no fear.  No fear for what I was about to go through but I was upset and wondered why they insisted on giving me a shot in my butt.  I always hated getting shots and not being able to see when they stuck the needle in me.  Shots didn’t bother me, not being able to watch bothered me.  But this was a different kind of shot.  One I knew nothing about so I didn’t suggest they give it to me in my arm as I would normally do.  Instead, I lay there wondering if it would really knock me out in less time than I could count backwards from ten.  My dad had said it would.  He had told me about his appendicitis surgery and how he had only gotten to the count of six before he couldn’t remember anything else.  I was certain I could last longer then that.  I just couldn’t figure out how anything could make you go to sleep so fast. 

They finally came to give me the shot.  I lay there, arms folded under my chin with my head turned toward the nurse.  If I couldn’t see the needle entering my skin then I could at least look toward the nurse inserting the needle.  It only took a couple seconds to give me the injection.  Ten, nine, eight… seven……


As I slowly woke up, the first thing I noticed was that my panties were missing.  I had specifically left them on with my hospital gown when I went into surgery.  I hated not having my panties on, someone might see me.  I certainly couldn’t understand why they had removed them.  The next thing I noticed was that my hospital gown was also missing.  Oh my goodness!  I was lying there under a sheet with absolutely no clothes on.  When I finally calmed down, I realized I had a tube going up my nose and other assorted tubes in my arms.  This was really strange but strangely not frightening for me.  I was only seven, had just had major surgery on my heart and I can’t recall having any fear.  At that point in my life, I knew my parents wouldn’t let anything happen to me so having no fear is understandable to me.

I mostly slept as I lay there naked and with tubes stuffed seemingly everywhere.  Occasionally a nurse would be fidgeting around me.  I saw her mostly on the right side of me where the fluids hung and the machines beeped.  One time I opened my eyes to see my parents standing on my left side looking down at me, caressing my arm, with lots of concern showing in their eyes.  I asked them later why they only came in to see me once.  They laughed.  Of course, they had been in far more than one time but in the nearly 24 hours that I lay in intensive care, I only remember seeing my parents visit one time.  Eventually I found out that the first time my parents came in to see me, my mom had fainted.  I found this humorous up until the time I became a parent myself.  Then I could begin to understand my mother fainting at this sight.  But when I was seven, I thought her fainting was the funniest thing.

They told me later that I did very well in the ICU; coughed when they told me to, sat up, turned over, whatever they asked.  I sort of remembered coughing for them one time but other than that I didn’t remember doing any of the things I supposedly did so well.  But, because of how helpful I was, I got moved out of the ICU in barely 24 hours when they had originally told my parents it would be at least three days.  My parents were overjoyed to have me in a room so they could be with me all the time. 

When it was time for me to go back to my room, Rick came to wheel me back.  Rick was a member of the hospital personnel but I never did figure out what his position was.  He brought me m&m’s, played Blip with me, signed my Snoopy dog like all of my friends did and rolled me back to my room from the ICU.  I didn’t like Rick.  To this day, I don’t know why I didn’t like him but every time he came around, he had to work hard to get me to smile and let him play with me.   Also, he’s the only employee from the hospital that I remember. 

I was so embarrassed when he came to take me back to my room because although I now had on a hospital gown, I still did not have my panties.  I was absolutely positive that he saw my butt as they helped me into the wheelchair.  And no, this wasn’t why I didn’t like him.  I had already developed that feeling before the surgery.


As the days passed in the hospital, I had so many good experiences.  Most were really simple things, but I cherish them to this day.  I remember when the nurse came in as usual one morning well before daylight, my mom was right there by my side as the nurse attempted to get me out of my bed for my daily weight check.  When the nurse placed her hand flat on my back, pressing into the 29 stitch, two day old scar, I thought my mother was going to knock this woman to the floor to keep her from hurting me.  This behavior was a little uncharacteristic for my mother but she did what she had to do to keep this careless nurse from hurting her baby again.

I remember my dad taking me for rides around the hospital in the wheelchair and up and down the elevator.  I was enamored with the elevator.  I also loved being pushed around in the small red wheelchair.  Anytime I could convince my dad or some other relative to take me for a spin, I insisted they go find the little red wheelchair.

I played Blip continuously.  This was a two person electronic game given to me by one of my aunts the day I entered the hospital.  It had a little red dot on the screen that blipped back and forth from player to player.  I dropped it in the restroom one day and it quit working.  I was so upset that they went and bought me a new one.  I felt like I couldn’t be in the hospital without that game.  I don’t recall playing it outside of the hospital either.  It was strangely a part of the hospital experience.

I remember getting to place my food orders every night.  That was the neatest.  I had never been able to choose what I would eat.  Of course, the first night I arrived too late to place an order and asked for anything but green beans.  You guessed it, I got green beans.  But that was the only time in my eleven day experience that I didn’t get what I wanted to eat. Mostly I had hamburgers and french fries and enjoyed the fact that if I was at home, there was no way my mother would let me eat hamburgers and french fries every day.

I remember the little dark skinned girl with the pig-tails across the hall that poked her head out often and looked so sad.  My mother said she rarely had parents over there and that she was really sick.  This broke my heart.  I looked around and saw my parents, aunts and uncles, siblings, cards from all my classmates, flowers, gifts and all the cards and money sent wishing me well and I just couldn’t understand how this little girl could always look so sad.  I couldn’t understand her not having all I had.  This surgery was like a vacation for me.  I got over one hundred dollars and after I went home I purchased a red white and blue ten speed bicycle with the money.  I was out of school for at least two months.  Of course, my teacher came over and brought me my homework.  I had to keep up with my lessons but I didn’t have to go to school.   Aunts and uncles took me to favorite places and everyone treated me so special.  It was just the best time.

The day finally came when it was time to go home.  As the doctor removed the stitches, he explained to my parents that I couldn’t be too rambunctious and couldn’t run for at least two months.  When I asked my parents why I couldn’t run, they explained that if I did too much too soon then my scar could possibly come open.  Now I had fear.  In all that had gone on, I had experienced no fear but now I was terrified.  Our house was a couple hours from the hospital.  What would happen to me if the scar came open after we left?  Needless to say, I was a docile child for quite a while.  I remember vividly being stretched out on the backseat of the car on the trip home.  I lay on my stomach with my arms at my sides and was terrified to move.  I just knew that the scar was going to come open and I’d die before they could get me back to the hospital.

Naturally, I made it home ok.  The scar remained intact and I eventually got to run again.  It was quite an experience and it all began from a physical in the first grade that I didn’t want to be a part of.  As a class, we were sent over to the health department for this physical.  We had to remove our clothes and wrap ourselves in a sheet.  I certainly didn’t want to do this.  I wanted to keep my clothes on.  I couldn’t figure out why I had to do this.  I had a doctor and visited there regularly.  I could see no reason why I had to be a part of this.  So there I stood, with the other members of my first grade classed, wrapped in a sheet and trying to hide behind doors or whatever was nearby so no one could see me undressed.

Today I’m very grateful for that miserable first grade trip.  The doctor performing the physical detected a heart murmur that my family doctor had never noticed.  I had often visited the doctor in my first seven years of life yet he had never detected this irregularity in my heart.  After being sent to specialists, I learned that if I didn’t have the surgery I could expect to become quite ill by the age of eighteen and shouldn’t expect to live past the age of forty.  The murmur caused my heart to beat twice as fast as it should and along with just wearing out, it would cause lots of other problems to make me sick.  I certainly didn’t want to die by the age of 40.  I didn’t fully understand how young that was but I was certain that I wanted to live longer than that. 

Today I wonder if this surgery really saved my life.  I know that physically the surgery was a success and I’m healed.  I went for checkups for multiple years until finally I was told there was no need to come back.  I am totally healthy in that respect.  It’s not this that I fear.  No, what I worry about is fate.  I’ve debated fate multiple times in the past and what I eventually settled on was that everyone has the chance to make their own decisions and mess up or succeed just as much as they want.  But in the end, they will end up exactly where they were fated to be. 

So I wonder, is my fate to die by the age of forty or did I attend my first grade physical because my fate is not to die by the age of forty? 


(Kim, here, in present day again . . . if you’re not aware, in 2018 I discovered that both my lungs were filled with blood clots. I’d had a DVT without realizing it, and it had broken off. I could have easily died! Do you think that my fear stated above didn’t immediately come flying back to me? Answer: it did. Additionally, since 2018, I’ve had the craziest assortment of medical issues, multiple ones requiring surgeries. Oh, and I also had an elective surgery back in 2010—the year I turned 40! Anyone want to guess whether this fear and worry has entered my mind before each and every one of those surgeries? I always wonder . . . is this the one I won’t wake up from?

Let me know if you’d like to read more of my assignments from that long-ago class. I have a poem I wrote about being a single mother, a piece of short fiction that was selected to be published in the school’s yearly omnibus, and several other random files saved on my hard drive that I haven’t looked at in years! If y’all want to see more, I’ll be glad to share them. Just let me know!)