Hospital bed 521.
(photo credit: Illustrative photo)
At JPost we asked readers to share their experiences from the past year that have inspired them to make a change. June Glazer shares her story:
year, four days before Rosh Hashana, I underwent open heart surgery at
Hadassah Hospital Ein Kerem. Mitral valve prolapse—I became aware I had
the condition about 30 years ago when I was in my mid twenties. It had
never bothered me before, and other than going for a yearly cardiac
checkup, it had little impact on my life.
The situation started
to change a few years ago, about the time my husband and I made aliya. I
began to notice subtle indications that things may be deviating from
the status quo—more acute shortness of breath, unexplained pain, a
“rusty” feeling when I breathed deeply, a malaise that sometimes lasted
for days. At first I chalked it up to the stress of leaving family and
friends behind—to adjusting to a new country, a new culture, a new phase
in life. But that small voice that lives within each of us kept
whispering in my ear: it’s your heart. Listen to your heart.
So, I listened, and made a mental note to discuss my concerns with our family physician the next time I saw him.
that time, my father became critically ill and I returned to New York
to be at his bedside. Six days a week for six long weeks I drove 30
miles each way, sitting vigil at the hospital with my mother and sisters
while he fought the valiant fight. During those weeks, I gave little
thought to what might be ailing my heart, only knowing that it was
aching and, after he died, that it was broken.
After I returned
to Israel, my symptoms became more pronounced and I could no longer
ignore them. I made an appointment with our doctor and we finally had
“the talk.” Yes, he agreed, I needed to see a cardiologist. He
recommended a few names but he also suggested that I ask around. A wise
idea, but when I went home I hadn’t a clue where to turn.
Now comes the part of the story when our protagonist fills with
foreboding because she knows something is terribly wrong. And when, deep
in the night, she bargains with God and surrenders up all control.
The next morning, I remembered that a young couple lived a few floors
above us and that he was a cardiologist at Hadassah Ein Kerem. It
occurred to me that, even though my problem was outside Josh’s area of
specialty, he must know the appropriate people who can help me. But, I
hesitated—procrastinated. It was frightening to take that first
step—committing to a course that might end with me having to go under
the knife. It took a couple of days before I worked up the courage to
speak with him.
Josh was gracious and concerned. He took it upon himself to make an
appointment for me with the head of echocardiography at Hadassah—the
director, and within a few weeks I was sitting in the office of my new
cardiologist. He explained to me the arc of this disease—most sufferers
live their entire lives unaffected by it or even unaware they have it,
he told me. It’s only an unlucky few who progress to the point where
surgery is indicated.
Tests soon confirmed that I was among them, and that I needed it sooner
rather than later. I was actually relieved—at least I had a problem that
was fixable. Of course, I wanted the best surgeon, but who? How to find
him/her? Again, Josh came to the rescue and made an appointment for me
with the head of cardiothoracic surgery—the chairman.
Over the summer, my husband and I returned to the States to visit family
and to consult with my former cardiologist. While we were away, my
symptoms worsened and by the time we returned to Israel and met with the
surgeon, I was feeling sick and weak. I wanted that surgery as soon as
possible. But with the High Holidays looming, the question became:
Should we wait and do it afterward? While the surgeon assured me I was
in no immediate danger, he felt it was best not to delay. And so, we set
the date for a month hence—four days before Rosh Hashana. I would be
spending the New Year, 5771, in the hospital.
As we mark the onset of 5772, it’s been a year since the surgery. All
went well, thank God, and I’ve spent the past 12 months recuperating and
regaining my strength. I’ve also had plenty of time to think about
things and to count my blessings. In fact, I’ve come to regard the
surgery as a rebirth of sorts—the proverbial first day of the rest of my
life. A second chance, if you will, with which I want to live my life
to the fullest.
In truth, I don’t know, and I’m open to suggestions. But here’s my New
Year’s resolution: I plan to spend 5772 figuring it out.
Even if it takes ‘til I’m 120.