For Katherine Standefer, there are two lives. The one she lived before being diagnosed with congenital Long QT syndrome (LQT), and the one she lives after suffering her first cardiac episode. This condition occurs when the electrically driven palpitations of the heart misfire, causing cardiac episodes that can lead to death.
Up until her first episode, Katherine was living the outdoor adventurer/writer dream in the American west; her movements dictated by the seasons and the opportunities for employment and respite they offered. Winters and summers were spent instructing skiers and leading hiking groups, while the ‘mud seasons’ in between were dedicated to writing and recovery. This all changes upon the realization that she might have to have surgery to implant a permanent defibrillator in her chest.
Lightning Flowers is both a meticulously researched medical tale of survival and a personal odyssey. As Standefer describes her diagnosis and her thoughts surrounding her condition and the inherent quandaries of the western medical complex, her honesty and willfulness are luminous, Standefer is not one to shy away from the harder questions: What is the right choice for her to make? What are the repercussions? What is the cost of her life?
With this insightful debut, Katherine is right at home among the talented ranks of literati who call New Mexico home.
Review by Joel
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