By Faith Wylie, Co-publisher
More conflict. More action. More consequences. More tension.
That’s what makes good fiction, according to literary agent Donald Maass.
His writing advice: make it worse. Make it still worse.
But that’s not life, I think as I torture my main character and put her in impossible situations in my novel.
That’s why I hate soap operas. Everything is stirred up all the time in the soaps. Life just isn’t that dramatic.
Wrong! Life once again proves that it can beat fictional drama.
We have survived an epic drama, tension that would rival anything on the big screen.
The drama began April 24 when publisher John Wylie was hospitalized with an infection of his heart two days before his induction into the Oklahoma Journalism Hall of Fame.
For six weeks John sat in the hosptial and watched the IV drip.
Drip by drip, armies of antibiotics raced to stop the Enterococci bacteria chewing on his heart.
As John watched the deadly boring battle, we attended his Journalism Hall of Fame ceremonies and celebrated birthdays and Mother’s Day.
The Leader published our big Graduation section. Our church celebrated a transition. Spring became summer as John sat in the hospital room.
June began with our Kids Fishing Derby, the newspaper’s biggest project of the year. Coordinator Carolyn Estes suffered epic tension in the final hours before the derby as details fell apart. The kids enjoyed epic fun, which resulted in an epic triumph for the volunteers and organizers.
Once the monthly billing was out the door, the Leader gang attacked our mass mailing, the biggest newspaper issue of the month. With a new printer. And deadlines six hours earlier. And the publisher in the hospital prepping for open heart surgery.
John mailed his absentee ballot so his vote would count even if he didn’t survive the surgery.
Son James flew in from Washington, D.C. to help his dad Tuesday night while I rushed to meet our new production deadline.
Before the papers were back from the printer on Wednesday morning, James and I were off to the hospital to see John before he went under the knife.
The Leader gang coped with a couple of production snafus, finished the mailing reports, and got the papers out the door.
The surgeon considered it a high-risk surgery. He loaded John full of platelets and other blood goodies and got to work replacing John’s damaged aortal valve.
My sister Dawn and our pastor Melinda Foster kept us calm and fed in the waiting room.
The surgery went without a hitch. In the ICU John raised his head an inch and squeezed my hand, an epic victory.
We kept tripping over a plastic cooler sitting beside John’s bed. We learned it held extra blood “just in case.” After six hours, the nurse sent it back to the vampire room.
The next morning, John sat up and talked—amazing for someone who couldn’t breathe on his own nine hours before.
The day degenerated from epic victory to the challenges of the mundane. Conversion to new computer software had the nurses in a tizzy. Chaos reigned at John’s spot right next to the nurses’ station.
The computer would not cough up John’s list of medications. The scanner code on his ID bracelet didn’t work. Medical records had not transferred from the Continuous Care Center to St. John.
I provided (yet another) copy of the meds from home before April 24 and walked to the Continuous Care floor to get his current meds.
The doctors cleared John to move to a room. No rooms available. The ICU nurse had to enter John’s meds in the computer by hand while he hung around. She was not happy.
Finally, a room opened up on the cardiac floor just before bedtime and we escaped from the angry nurse.
Friday, I abandoned my son and the patient. Carolyn, Chris and I headed to Oklahoma City for a few hours at our annual Press Association convention.
Winning the Sequoyah almost gave us heart failure at the awards banquet on Friday night. The adrenaline boost got us all the way back to Oologah late Friday night and carried us through the busy weekend.
Today, we see normal on the horizon.
We will finish the Oologah Community Guide this week. Carolyn will somehow survive senior citizens lunch on Wednesday and the family reunion she is hosting on Saturday.
John will get the strength to walk the required distance and be released to come home.
The cardiac floor presents its own challenges, but those will go unreported until the prisoner wins his freedom, seven weeks after microscopic bacteria turned our life upside down.
John and I would not have made it without the incredible support of our friends, co-workers and family.
James used up two weeks of precious time off and paid for two flights from DC to be with us.
Several of our friends made multiple visits to the hospital.
Our newspaper staffers—Carolyn, Chris, Vickie and Tim—have done double and triple duty to get us through the crisis.
Our readers and advertisers have been patient and understanding when things fell through the cracks.
Now, I want less conflict. Less action. Fewer consequences. Less tension. Less drama.
I want a mundane summer.