Karen’s Killer Book Bench #Christian #Historical #Fiction: TESTING TESSA, Healing the Wounded Heart Book 1 by Donna Schlachter

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Healing the Wounded Heart Book 1


In 1868, Tessa, a Mennonite nurse graduates from nursing school and is assigned to the Amana Colonies in Iowa because of her expertise in treating asthma and other breathing problems. As a former student at a women’s medical school, she knows more than most about respiratory diseases. She’s also had her fair share of heartbreak when, upon her mentor’s death, she was forced to abandon her dream of becoming a doctor. Will she be able to use her skills? Or will her gender keep her from helping those who truly need her?

Seth, a widower in Amana, is still nursing a broken heart from his sweetheart’s passing two years before. Now raising their invalid son Seth on his own, he wonders why God didn’t listen to his prayers for healing for his family. Caleb has been afflicted with the same form of asthma that killed Anna, and Seth stands by helplessly as his son fades away. Can he trust God and trust medicine, or is faith in one mutually exclusive of faith in the other?

Healing the Wounded Heart Book 1

Nursing in the 1860’s

Often, when we think back to medicine in history, leeches and bleeding comes to mind. And while those techniques were used for centuries, we do see great strides made and progress in surgeries and the understanding of how the human body works.

One of the major reasons for advancements in medicine in general, and nursing in particular, was the American Civil War. Hundreds of thousands of men died in combat, but more died on the operating tables and in the field hospitals that popped up near every battle, major and minor.

Often, the only answer to the catastrophic injuries sustained on the battlefield was amputation. Nurses were often soldiers pressed into service to hold the patient down, or to administer chloroform directly from a bloodied rag that had been used for a dozen patients or more prior. Camp followers, accustomed to cooking meals and doing laundry, were often asked to carry damaged and diseased appendages outside the camp and burn them.

Florence Nightingale and Clara Barton, highly trained nurses themselves, were appalled with this situation, and resolved to make changes. After the war ended and the country entered into an uneasy truce with itself, they petitioned government to set up training schools for young women to learn anatomy, biology, physiology, and pharmacology.

However, in the uneasy years immediately after the war, when nurses were still needed to care for those recovering from their wounds, as well as to offer assistance in hospitals and medical practices, others set up shorter-term training schools which trained nurses in the rudiments of medicine, encouraging them to spend extra-curricular hours of learning and apprenticeship under trained doctors, to graduate and send them out into the cities and towns where they were sorely needed.

Many industrious young women, or older spinsters and widows, undertook this rigorous training. These informal schools filled the gap until the longer, more formalized schools admitted students in the late 1860’s and early 1870’s.

By this time, the Lister method of sanitary surgery, which included sterilizing instruments and sanitizing the patient, the doctor and attending staff, and the operating theatre, were much in discussion. While American doctors initially decried the extra work, it soon became apparent that their mortality rate was much higher, and the time spent fighting infection soon convinced them to adopt the method.

Research into breathing issues such as asthma was also generating alternatives. While initially the cause of asthma was thought to be excess exercise or cold air, studies soon proved there were other causes, including allergies. Several new treatment options were adopted, including the guarded use of belladonna, and strong coffee, both of which proved successful in many cases.

Nurses were often employed in small communities that did not require the services or could not support a full-time doctor. They carried basic instruments, common medicines, and could as easily deliver a child as remove tonsils or pull a tooth.

While the role of nurses has changed a great deal since then, no doubt there are many who would never have survived without the basic medical skills taught these brave women in our history.

About Author Donna Schlachter…

Donna writes historical suspense under her own name, and contemporary suspense under her alter ego of Leeann Betts, and has been published more than 30 times in novellas, full-length novels, and non-fiction books. She is a member of ACFW, Writers on the Rock, SinC, Pikes Peak Writers, and CAN; facilitates a critique group; teaches writing classes; ghostwrites; edits; and judges in writing contests. www.HiStoryThruTheAges.com


Links to Donna’s website, blog, books, #ad etc.:



Special Giveaway: Donna is giving away an ebook or print (U.S ONLY) copy of TESTING TESS to one lucky reader who comments on her Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog.

Thanks, Donna, for sharing your story with us!

Don’t miss the chance to read this book!

10 thoughts on “Karen’s Killer Book Bench #Christian #Historical #Fiction: TESTING TESSA, Healing the Wounded Heart Book 1 by Donna Schlachter”

  1. Hi Donna! TESTING TESSA sounds interesting. I was raised Mennonite, and there are very few Mennonites in fiction. I know my father and step mother would love reading this as well. Your post on nursing and medicine in general in the past makes me extra grateful to live in mondern times!

  2. Thank you for sharing about your book and your research behind it. I found it fascinating and intriguing.

  3. Astounding the knowledge gained as a result of the Civil War….as well as all the great plagues…
    Thanks, Karen and Donna.

  4. Good morning, Donna, and welcome back to Karen’s Killer Book Bench. I’m always fascinated when I see female nurses and doctors in historical movies because there were so few of them. I also loved learning about what prompted medical discoveries. Your book sounds fascinating. Thanks for sharing it with us today!

  5. Good morning Donna, your book sounds like a very good read, thank you so much for sharing about it. My daughter is an RN, she was a floor nurse for over 10 yrs here in our hospital and now she is the RN in our hospital pharmacy, she has been an RN for 18 yrs, I am so very Proud of her. Our son in law (our daughters husband) was the RN in the ER in our local hospital also, he is now retired, but he does go and help a Dr. here in town when he is asked to go help, or he’ll go help out at the hospital when they need someone. We are very Blessed to have 2 RN’s in our family. Thank you for the chance. Have a Great week and stay safe.

  6. Sounds interesting, I like reading about how methods were done in the earlier years. This would be a new author for me, I enjoy discovering them. Would love to get a print copy!

  7. This sounds like a fascinating story, one I want to read! Thank you for sharing!

    Thank you Karen!

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