Man plans while Heaven chuckles

Bed rest is antithetical to my innate puritanical work ethic and single-mother wage earner status.

Because I had been the sort of little girl who feigned illness when unprepared for an arithmetic exam or hadn't completed a report about Helen Keller, to this day I feel guilty when I actually am ill. As a child, I often lied about being sick because I was blessed (tfu, tfu) with infuriatingly good health. That, in turn, meant I would never have a plaster cast signed or hop around on crutches to merit expressions of sympathy or the envy of my classmates. Trapped by the memories of youth, I still feel like a liar and employ the art of "overkill" when explaining why I can't be in the office or keep a playdate with my grandson. Bed rest is antithetical to my innate puritanical work ethic and single-mother wage earner status, and I have the nasty habit of falling face down on a living room carpet before admitting that I might be, uh, sick. Which brings us to a recent chilly, cloudy Thursday afternoon that found me nestled beneath two quilts and watching television through red-rimmed, burning eyes while holding a mug filled with hot apple cider. I was trying to inhale the steam through cracked and irritated nostrils. The stunning outfit of choice? Sweatpants circa 1984 and a gently torn Jerusalem Post sweatshirt. My socks didn't match and I hadn't washed my hair in days, so clearly I wasn't planning on leaving the house without some serious hygienic intervention. Even if I had been better dressed, the call from an emergency medical technician would have been unwelcome. Introducing himself in broken English, he explained that although my daughter was "all right," they were taking her to the hospital of my choice, since that is the typical protocol after being mowed down by a taxicab. Rising from my sickbed (I did not drop the cider, thank you), I heard my daughter's shaky voice calling out, "I'm all right, Mommy. Please don't worry." I worried. It seems that the crosswalk was blocked at the corner of Agrippas near the Clal Building, and Talia was wending her way between the bumper-to-bumper traffic when a taxicab swung around the stalled cars and onto the sidewalk in an attempt to "make up some time." While she never lost consciousness, she cannot say how long she was lying on the street or, in fact, even remember getting hit. Living quite close to Shaare Zedek Hospital, my son and I arrived at the same time as the ambulance. (I would have said that I live a "stone's throw" from the hospital but that would have been in bad taste, since the trauma center gurneys were occupied by the Hebron protesters - both sides - many of them sporting bloody bandages over gaping injuries incurred by hurled rocks.) Reporters and cameramen blocked the entrance to the emergency room and lined the hallways outside the trauma center. My son and I were able to give Talia a hug and see for ourselves that all of her parts were intact before she was whisked away for what seemed like a year. Left to our own devices, Ariel and I did what seemed to be the most reasonable thing to do at the time: We sat on blue plastic chairs and waited. The thing about hospitals is that there is a lot of waiting, and there doesn't seem to be much point in projecting about what an injury may or may not be because those X-ray and MRI machines have a real knack for telling you what you may never have imagined. Through double-strength glass of the X-ray unit, I watched the technician study the images of my daughter's hips with great concentration. I thought to myself, "How thorough of them! She was injured in the foot, but they are making certain that all of her alignment is in order!" I waited for several minutes to see when they would work their way down to her shins and injured foot, but she was whisked out of the X-ray unit to make room for the next patient. In an attempt to correct the obvious fashla, I leap-frogged my way back to the Suture & Plaster wing to point out the mistake and request (read "demand") a correction. After only a few tight-jawed back-and-forths, the error was righted and Talia was wheeled in for another dose of targeted radiation. Even though I'd been the recipient of a very bad phone call, our story was enviable when compared to what many others are left to endure after experiencing something traumatic. At the end of a very long day, nothing was broken and my daughter was miraculously alive. Oh, she's on crutches because of swelling and feels achy all over; but having just returned from visiting an orthopedic specialist who assured us that the pain will subside over the next month, we were again reminded that we are not in charge of any life outcomes. Plan as big as you want, ladies and gentlemen, but Heaven has the final vote. Witnesses to the accident have called to inquire about her health, and Facebook ensures that all of her 500+ friends receive blow-by-blow updates regarding swelling, discoloration and how awful it is to be cooped up with her mother for days on end. Even the boss at the new job she was scheduled to begin this week called to say that he was keeping her place and wanted her to begin only when she was "rested and whole." Of course, my flu kicked in big time a few hours after we returned from Yad Sarah with the spanking new crutches, and I've again climbed under the quilts in a last-ditch attempt to beat this bug. Now that I'm back in full Camille mode, I can finally remember the punch line of a long-forgotten joke and ask, "Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you like the play?"