“Are you sure you can do that?” asked my sister.
“Why not??” I responded, irritated that she was even asking.
We were discussing the possibility of diving with the dolphins in Eilat, something I have been dreaming of doing for years!
When she mentioned that she always wanted to go water skiing, she added, “You should ask your doctor about that, too.”
Later on, she said the same thing about rollercoasters, and Wall Climbing, in Teddy Stadium.
The questions annoyed me.
I wrote all her questions down in my yoman (diary), so I would not forget to ask my oncologist during my appointment on Tuesday morning. I would show her!
Tuesday morning, I strode into my doctor’s office and stopped. Two young adults, in white coats, were just hanging out in the room.
I paused, then queried the smiling young couple “Are you students?”
They smiled at me. “We are studying medicine at Soroka Hospital, in Be’er Sheva. Would you mind if we stick around during your appointment?”
Well, it is not as if my medical information is not out there for the entire world to read!
“Are you planning to stay in Israel?” I asked (unable to curb my Zionism, even in the oncolgy ward).
They looked at each other, and smiled again. They came to Israel as part of a Columbia University program, studying third world medicine. About 80% of the students are not even Jewish.
As it happens, the young man is Jew from Maryland; the young woman is a non-Jew from Denver. Cool.
My doc came in, turned to the students, and said, “Fasten your seat belts.” Then he introduced my case…
I tried hard not to interupt, as he gave a 2 minute overview of my medical history. I did interject when he described minimal pain; but I could not argue when he pointed out that I was managing my pain with minor league pain killers (Optalgin and Algolysin).
We then discussed some general questions, like the sensitivity in my jaw (“Why are we talking about her teeth?” My doctor quizzes the students*) and my upcoming second opinion (What I should bring with me; how I should present my situation, so as not to bias the doctor; etc)
The meeting was more or less "normal," until I turned to my list, and started asking my “real” questions.
“Can I SCUBA dive,” I asked.
“WHAT???” Moshe turns to me, in surprise (read: shock!).
“I want to go diving with the dolphins,” I calmly explain to the doctor… and my husband.
“I don’t know,” says my doctor, not the least bit perturbed.
“What could be wrong with SCUBA diving?” I challenged.
“I don’t know,” repeated my doctor.
“One of my teachers, who is in Israel right now” inserted one of the young students, “is a pulmonologist who has done research about SCUBA diving.”
“It’s a different field,” my doctor noted.
I wave my hands to indicate a magical aura, and chant “lifelong dream… diving with dolphins….”
I can see that my doctor is not moved by my creativity, and youthful eagerness.
“You only go down about 10 meters,” I add, not quite managing to keep my voice from pleading.
But my doctor is concerned that the pressure might damage my bones.
“You can try asking this fellow’s friend,” he says, nodding towards the student.
I take a deep breath.
“What about water skiing?” I ask.
“WHAT???” Moshe says, shocked yet again.
“No,” says my doctor, this time with no hesitation, “impact.”
“What about wall climbing?” I ask.
“WHAT???” Moshe says, nearly jumping out of his seat. “Where are you getting all these ideas?” he asks, looking at me like I just landed from Mars.
“My sister,” I reply, as if stating the obvious.
“No,” says my doctor, he does not hesitate this time, either.
“But you can’t fall,” I argue, “They use a belay” (to secure a climber at the end of a rope).
“If you lose your grip, the rope will catch you, stopping your fall, and causing impact,” my doctor explains, kindly.
He is patient, acknowledging my disappointment, as he turns to his students to explain the crazy lady sitting opposite him “She is a 42 year old, mother of three….”
I am resigned as I ask my final question, “I suppose I can’t go on a rollercoaster either.”
I barely hear his answer.
“You are raining on my parade,” I say quietly, trying to laugh it off, but pouting nonetheless.
My doctor turns to the students, “I told you, this one would be interesting.”
Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.
With love and optimism,
* If the bone drug is Zomera, it is a biophosphonate, which can cause osteonecrosis in the jawbone.