For months, I have been eager to read ICD Connection: Living with an Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator: A Collection of Patient & Family Stories. I’ve heard so much about this book through working at the UM Medical School, and it’s been exciting to watch UM transform these works into a published creation that gives ICD patients a voice.
ICD stands for Implantable Cardioverter Defibrillator. “It is a device smaller than a deck of cards that is implanted under the skin to treat life-threatening heart rhythms that can lead to sudden cardiac arrest” (McFarland: Pelosi i). While the ICD certainly saves lives, policing the heart’s every heartbeat, it brings with challenges of its own. This is what the patients and families featured in the ICD Connection book aim to illuminate.
The idea behind this book came from the Young ICD Connection event, which brings together people from around the country who are living life with an ICD. This event inspired Helen McFarland, a nurse who has worked with ICD patients for years, to create this compilation of stories. She was eager to explore the psychological and social side effects of the ICD, to enable patients and families to tell their stories to have their voice be heard.
I must say, this collection has been one of my favorite set of illness narratives. The honesty and authenticity of these stories and the genuine intentions behind writing them shine through, empowering this collection to have resounding effects on any reader. Each short story was unique and moving, and the writers brought incredible insight about their own lives and the ways that the ICD had affected them from within. These stories reflected the perspectives of boys and girls, men and women, dads, husbands, and daughters. I loved the eclectic selection of experiences that all seemed to supplement each other but also stand apart. For example, the pairing of Erika’s perspective of having an ICD with Bryan, her husband’s perspective of her ICD, was interesting to explore.
Amongst many powerful ideas, I found one statement that seemed to reflect the foundation behind this book. “Emotional roller coasters are a very normal part of any health challenge, and every patient has a right to feel however he or she feels and work through those emotions in whatever way he or she needs to. No one is the same, and no one deals with anything exactly the same” (McFarland: Lisa 85-86).