Wading Through Widowhood: Here’s to health

The room was not particularly romantic. Situated on the fourth floor of the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, it was ward No. 5 in the Neurology Department.

An MRI machine being assembled (photo credit: REUTERS)
An MRI machine being assembled
(photo credit: REUTERS)
There are three kinds of conditionals in the English language. The first is the possible and probable type: “If you study, you will pass the test.” Fulfill the condition, and the result will surely follow. The second is impossible, or improbable: “If I were you, I would go.”
I can never be you. “If I win the lottery, I will buy you a farm on Main Street,” as my late mom used to like to say. It’s not going to happen.
Then there’s the third sort – the unfulfilled conditional.
“If anyone had told me I would be sleeping next to a handsome young Ethiopian man for a week, sharing a sink with him (and his mother) and watching the opening minutes of the World Cup at his side, together with other newfound friends, I would not have believed you.”
No one told me; the conditional part of the sentence was not met. But, believe it or not, that’s exactly what happened.
The room was not particularly romantic. Situated on the fourth floor of the Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, it was ward No. 5 in the Neurology Department. The lovely young man (we never even found out his name) was looking after his mom, and I was sleeping next to my youngest daughter, who had been having blinding headaches for some time and was suddenly hospitalized with a thankfully treatable bleed.
There is much that I can say to link the week of CTs and MRIs and hospitals and more with a column on widowhood. I could easily fill the whole newspaper with old memories and new aches. But Joanna, praise be, is feeling better, and I am determined to focus on the good.
And good there certainly was, as angel after angel came to our aid.
A headache doesn’t usually call for CTs, but our brilliant family doctor insisted on one, and then phoned each day for updates and support. My brother who lives abroad (possibly one of the world’s greatest doctors), gave medical advice over the phone; our kids and family and friends here kicked in yet again with food and help and love.
“I know!!” I kept wanting to scream, to whatever powers- that-be listen to mortals below – “I know that family and support is crucial, I know that life is sweet and short. I know not to sweat the small stuff and to stop and savor the coffee. I don’t need to learn the lesson all over again.”
But there you go, no one consulted us. So again my family proved how they shine in a crisis, and my sister-in- law once more schlepped chickens and soups from her kitchen to ours, and we got to see some of Israel’s finest up close and personal.
The busy specialists at Meir could not have been kinder; one lovely young Russian doctor paid Joey and me a midnight visit in our little “tzimmer” by the window.
For almost an hour we chatted about Moscow and St. Petersburg, and the long hours in hospitals, and how that impacts on little kids back home. We discussed teaching children a second language from birth, and the neurological impact that it has – did you know that language acquisition at a young age actually “stretches” the brain? In our situation, any talk of brains led thoughts back to my baby’s beautiful head, which had been imaged on Thursday evening at 5. We were just contemplating how we could get to sleep that night, with no results for a while, when the wonderful-beyond- words Dr. Colin Klein appeared in the doorway at 11 o’ clock at night to check the MRI. Eleven at night! After a long, long day. This busy head of department patiently taught us how to identify stuff on a screen that I would rather not know, but after his reassuring words, my baby and I slept soundly for the first time in days. To my mind, nocturnal visits from an off-duty doctor qualify for the Guinness Book of Records in the category of “menschkeit.”
And then, back to Tel Hashomer and its neurosurgery department, where we saw one of the country’s top interventionalist radiologists (who knew such a thing existed?) and Sagi Har Nof, a neurosurgeon, who treated both Joey and me as if we were family. These doctors are among the world’s best, and hugely approachable (not to mention drop-dead gorgeous.) How safe we felt to be their patients; how lucky to live in a country where medicine is so advanced and so user-friendly.
It was not easy for us to be back in Tel Hashomer, the hospital where Martin was treated only a year and a half ago. Again we were consulting my outstanding cousin, the exceptional head of the Radiology Department, who has helped us all too many times in the past. Again we were timing our coffee breaks to coincide with the beigele ham (hot rolls) that appear with a salesman at indeterminate hours. At this point, I don’t want to articulate those feelings of déjà vu, or even mull them over in my mind. My baby is well, and that’s all that counts. All I can say as we spend this Shabbat at home, instead of in the (surprisingly comfortable) hospital beds, is: Enough! I fervently hope that we never have to go to any hospital ever again, except, of course, to their maternity wards.
Here’s to health for everyone – babies and big children and adults and all – and may our boys be brought safely home sooner than soon.
Shabbat shalom followed by a shavua tov – may it all be good for us all.
The writer lectures at Beit Berl and the IDC Herzliya.