Powered by WebAds

Sunday, November 29, 2009

A Knapsack on My Back

Ricki's mom, over at Beneath the Wings, bewails the Israeli cultural phenomenon of children bringing tons of junk food on school trips.  Her post inspired mine.

Many years ago, I think my eldest was in third grade at the time, I found myself confronted with the social pressures of junk food.

At the time, I never bought junk food.

A few years earlier, when she was in first grade, it became clear that, for school trips, I had to include special treats with her lunch.  I did not mind.  I sent her with a bag of pretzels and some dried fruit (usually dried apricots).

Around third grade, my daughter timidly approached me before her school trip.

"Ima," she asked, hesitantly, "do you think you could give me something more fun for the school trip?  No one wants to trade with me."

That's when I learned that, not only do all the kids bring junk food, but, they all swap/share their junk food.

My sweet kid was the only one bringing "healthy" snacks, which the other kids clearly did not want.

"What would you like?" I asked my little girl, prepared to hear a long list.

"Maybe you could get me a bag of  Bisli (a popular Israeli snack) and a package of  hamtzutzim (sour sticks)?" she asked shyly.

"That's it?" I asked, certain there must be more that she wanted.

That was it.

I, sort of, felt like I did when I finished reading Bontshe, the Silent, by I.L. Peretz.  (If you have not read this short story, you should.  I.L. Peretz also wrote If Not Higher, which is my all-time favorite short story.) 

Such a modest request from my daughter. 

I felt shamed by what I had imagined she would request.

"I would be happy to get those for you," I told her right away, and delighted in her simple joy.

I remember thinking: Wouldn't it be great if it would always be this easy to make her so happy?

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Saturday, November 28, 2009

What Do You Think? (about comments and emails)

************* warning: RANT *************

In case you were wondering, I read all of your comments, even on older posts (unless the system fails and doesn’t notify me, which does happen occasionally).

When I see a new name, I usually follow the link. I am always interested to know who is reading my blog and how they got here.

Every once in a while I receive a comment that turns out to be a “front” for some business. I follow the link and find a business website, rather than a real person.

I always delete those comments. If people want to advertise on my blog, they can contact me and make me an offer. But writing a comment, as if they care, when they are just looking for free advertising… that’s just wrong.

Last week, I received an email, following my post about mobile phones.

The email began friendly enough:
When I visited my childhood best friend Debbie in Tel Aviv about 10 years ago she told me then Israel was the most cell phone connected country. I know from your blog you’re fighting metastatic breast cancer—to the brain. Any chance you’d give up using your cell phone for your health? The frequencies they give off are not good for children’s brains and mostly likely not yours either.
She includes several links and a bit more diatribe, and then she gets to the sales pitch:
I am sensitive to the computers and TV’s. So due to this sensitivity I wear a [commercial product]*, which helps my body deal with background radiation and frequencies that are not in harmony with nature and living things.
*no free advertising here
She then includes a link to the product and indicates which one she uses.

Then she adds, in closing:
Just thought I would bring it up. Our family business here in Washington State has been doing mastectomy fitting for over 30 years and there are just some practices that are too risky for people fighting for their lives.
[Name] (child of two Hungarian Holocaust survivors)

I wrote her the following, brief response:
Please don't send me business promotions.
To which she responded:
You have a lot of nerve to respond in this manner to my email. I never sent you any *business promotions* or made any mention of selling anything to you. I sent you information about protecting yourself from ionizing radiation to your brain since you have cancer there already. After 30 years of helping women who have had metastatic breast cancer and even losing my dear sister-in-law at age 36 [who presented with two different primary breast cancers within a year of each other] to the disease, I believe I know some things about the women who have changed their lives to survive. Sorry you misinterpret things so badly.

Was it my imagination??

I wrote back:
You sent me an advertisement for a product.
That is SPAM.
I am sorry for your loss, but that does not give you the right to be rude to me.
I am bombarded with emails from people who are promoting their product.
I am just not interested in your business.
I thought I was being polite, and to the point.
Guess what, she wrote back again!
So what if I told you about a product. It was to help you—not for me to make any money. I don’t even know if the [product] is sold in Israel. I have given many of them just to help people in front of their computer. You have a problem that you only see the bad in people. I feel really sorry for you.
Do I need this?

I knew I should not respond, but I could not ignore her.  I wrote one more brief note:

please stop insulting me.

you do not know me at all.

if you have nothing nice to say, please do not write me again.
Am I out of my mind or is she a crazy woman?

It sure seemed to me, from what she wrote in her initial emails, that the business was hers. Even if it is not (as she seems to indicate in her final email, though I am still suspicious, due to her aggressive and insulting tone), asking her to refrain from sending business promotions hardly seems offensive to me.

Why do people feel they have a right to be so horribly judgmental and rude?

A friend of mine just closed her blog because of people who sent her mean letters. I did not understand, until now.

How can someone be so nasty?

Most significantly, why is it so hurtful to me, when I don’t even know the person and she means nothing to me??

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Advice from the Rebbetzin

"Avoid arguing, no matter what," responded the Rebbetzin, when I asked for advice, yesterday.

"You can not win an argument with a teenager," she continued.  (My father said the same thing.)

She suggested making a list, together with the teen, of all the tasks that need to be done: chores, homework, clean room, go to bed on time, etc.

Then allow the teenager to choose one task that s/he commits to doing, on her/his own.

Give the teen the control over what s/he chooses.  Then (and this is the hard part) ignore all the other tasks.

Repeat the process once the teen has successfully gotten into the habit of doing the task.

This might sound easy to you, but it feels increadibly difficult to me.

I know it makes sense, but that does not make it easy to "let go."

She said something else, too.

One of my children constantly wants to bring relatively valuable items on tiyulim (hikes).  The likelihood of these items getting lost is high.  I would like this child to wait until s/he is a little more reliable (read: responsible).  The child thinks (mistakenly) that s/he is already responsible (even though s/he still loses things all the time!!!).

The Rebbetzin suggests that these items are not worth fighting about.

"Let them lose these things," she advises, "They will lose things, and they will learn. Kapparah."

"Arguing only makes them dig in their heels, even harder," she says, about all these issues.

I know she is right.

I just do not know if I can do it.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Quest for the Right Mobile Phone Provider

I am telling you, this whole project is giving me a headache!

We have three mobile phones that have been broken for over a month and one that works, but is not reliable.

We have to decide whether to fix or replace our phones and we have to decide whether to stick with our service provider or switch to a new one.

We have been Cellcom customers for years. But recently, I have been very disappointed in their customer service. A few months back, I discovered that they have been charging me more than they promised for YEARS and I just have not noticed, because I did not check the bills thoroughly. Of course, there is no record of the promise, so there is nothing I can do.

Then, a month or two ago, someone from Cellcom called to offer us better rates. They offered us two different plans for two different numbers. I wanted the same plan for both numbers, but they would not give it to me. They insisted that I could only take the plans that were offered for each phone. There was no way to get the cheaper plan for both phones.

Around the same time, we were contacted again, and agreed to have a representative come to our home to show us new phone models and discuss different payment plans. The representative never showed up, never called to cancel, and no one called to apologize.

You might ask: why would I even consider staying with this service provider?

The answer is simple: Their reception is good, all over Israel.

But, is that enough?

I am not sure.

Which is why I spent all afternoon, with a friend (really, an angel), going to all three mobile phone providers (Pelephone, Orange & Cellcom), and trying to figure out which will offer me the best deal for my family.

I have to check out one other provider (Meers/Motorola), consult with two friends who really know mobile phones, and then Moshe and I will review the information and make a decision.

It might be worth our while to order new phones in the States, which only further complicates the situation.

Neither of us has a head for this stuff.

I really wanted to take care of this before we leave for the US, but we might just have to wait.

I came home so completely fried from the effort of garnering information that I just got straight into bed.

Just writing about it, makes my head hurt....

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, November 23, 2009

Lurch, the creepy X-Ray technician

We finally remembered why Moshe needed another IV, after Igor (who was really nice, and not creepy at all) had inserted a Heparin lock so well.  Read on...

There is an X-Ray technician who I will not let X-Ray me, because I will not let him touch me.

For two years, I had to get full body (head to knee) X-Rays, every 25 weeks, as part of the bone-drug study.

Not only did Lurch, this technician, poke and prod me in a painful way, but he also made me uncomfortable. After I realized that not every technician touched me the way he did, I made sure that female technicians took my X-Rays in the future. He creeped me out.

So, when Moshe was in the ER and needed an X-Ray, I was concerned when I saw Lurch on duty. I hoped Moshe's experience would not reflect my own.

It didn't.

It was worse.

In addition to the poking and prodding, Lurch was completely oblivious about Moshe's IV. TWICE, Lurch caught the IV in the X-Ray machine and nearly pulled it out of my husband's arm, causing Moshe even more pain and discomfort.

In the end, Lurch inadvertently succeeded in ruining the IV, and it just fell out of Moshe's arm, spilling blood and saline all over the place. What a nightmare for Moshe (my poor hubby!), who could barely cope with the pain from the kidney stone, even with the pain killers.

 All I could do was to commiserate.  Lurch was the only X-ray technician on duty that night.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, November 22, 2009

It's Nice When It All Works Out -- friends, Xeloda, PET scans, & Disney

I need to do a PET scan, to see how I am doing.

All the imaging techniques (CT, MRI, PET) scan our bodies in different ways and provide different information.

With a PET, you have to be off chemo for at least two weeks before the scan, otherwise the chemo can influence the results, causing inaccuracies.

So, I am going to be off chemo when we go to Disney!!

Not only will that mean that I will have a bit more energy (I hope!), but I will also be able to eat more, at least by the end of our visit!

We will be spending our last Shabbat with very close friends, who also love food and are amazing cooks!  I am so looking forward to fabulous food!! Not to mention, really good company!

We were not planning on seeing anyone during this visit, besides my parents.  Our focus is 100% on spending quality family time together.

But, because we want to get back to Israel as soon as possible, we will be flying out of Orlando on a Friday and spending Shabbat in NJ.  This way, we can take a motza"sh (Saturday night) flight back home, and arrive on Sunday afternoon.  The kids will have plenty of time to sleep, so they can get back to school on Monday.

My friend was going to come visit me in Florida, until we decided against it. We were both disappointed that we would be "so close and, yet, so far away."  Then the flights, not only made a visit possible, but, made it necessary!

Things really seemed to be falling into place!

When I return to Israel, I will do an MRI of my head and a PET CT of my body.  I always get a bit anxious when I do tests.  I have learned, the hard way, that the results can surprise you, not necessarily in a good way.  Our last head MRI certainly surprised us, davka (on the contrary) in a very positive way.  So, you never know.  Still, until we get the "all clear," there is definitely a cloud of tension and anxiety.

But that is not where my head needs to be now.  (I mean, let's be honest.  My head is always in the clouds.... it just does not have to be in those clouds!)

I am going on vacation!!

We are going to have so much fun living in our fantasy world!!

I am so unbelievably psyched that it will be a chemo-free vacation!!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Friday, November 20, 2009

Where the Magic Begins....

I am not a supersticious person, but I did not want to write anything.... until we had our tickets.

Well, now we have them, so I can share our news:

We are going to Orlando!! 

Some very generous people have made it possible for us to go and we are SO EXCITED!!

We have not had a real family vacation for ten years! 

The last time we went to Orlando, we were on the way to my brother's wedding.  We couldn't really afford it then either.  But I had just gotten over a year of post-op infections, following a "simple" hernia repair that turned into a nightmare, including two month long hospitalizations:  the first time for sepsis (by the time my best friend convinced me to go to the ER, I was already going into shock); the second time coincided with Pesach, which I spent in the hospital, away from my kids.  Having such a serious infection (I did not realize I could have died until months later), made me understand that "life is short."  So we went to Disney and Universal and had a magical family experience.

Our kids were really little then.

For years, we have dreamed of taking them to Orlando when they were older.  But we could never justify the expense.

When I mentioned this dream, during one of my visits with our oncologist, he told us "don't wait"  -- not because I have cancer, but because you never know what the future will bring....

Moshe and I LOVE Disney and Universal.  They are our favorite places in the whole world (besides Israel). We went there, for the first time, on our honeymoon.

Moshe's fantasy job is doing programming for Disney (and working in the underground studios).  But you can't work in Orlando and live in Israel.....

I wanted to wait until the Harry Potter park opened, but that will not be until the spring.

The thing is, right now, my chemo is in pills, so traveling is much easier.  We don't need to worry about infusions or how to get them or how to transfer the medication.  But, we don't know for how long this chemo will work.  No one knows what drugs I will be taking this spring....

So, we are not waiting.

If we could, we would go once a year.

There is so much to do in Orlando, and we are such little kids (don't be fooled by these "grown up" bodies), we could play there forever!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, November 16, 2009

Why Do Kids Make It So Hard To Help Them???

For the second time today, I found myself fighting with a kid who I was trying to help!!

Why do they do that???

I drop what I am doing, give them all my attention, and they get mad at me.

I do not get it!

They ask for my advice, then argue with me when I give it.

They ask for my help, then criticize me for not helping the way they wanted.

They whine; they cry; they scream; they yell.

You know what?  In the end, I am whining, crying, screaming and yelling too!

I shout at them: "I am done helping you."

Then I keep helping them anyway . 

(Yeah, yeah, I know that is inconsistent and sends mixed messages.  Tell me something I don't already know!)

I do not want to leave them with their problems.  I want to help them find a solution.

I want to fix everything.

Most of the time, I do a pretty good job.

So, why do they make it so hard???

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Sunday, November 15, 2009

God was Good to us Today

My son is fine.  But for a matter of seconds, our news might not be so good.

Riding home from school, he was hit by a car.

I cannot describe the primal fear I had, driving to the hospital to meet my son who was arriving by ambulance.

Driving, I reminded God of our deal:  I accept that He gave me cancer; in exchange, He has to keep my family, especially my children, safe.

I prayed the whole way:  "God, please let me handle this well and let my son not have any permanent damage."  I kept repeating this prayer over and over.  (OK, there were a few primal screams in there as well, but I really tried to focus on breathing slowly and staying calm)

Moshe was called to the scene of the accident, to talk with the police.  While there, he interviewed several eye-witnesses.  They all said that the driver did not slow down, despite the signs, before entering a blind intersection. (For those who know Katamon: She was driving down Hildesheimer and our son was riding down HaTzfirah)

Moshe had wanted me to go to the scene of the accident, while he met our son at the hospital.  I knew that I could not handle the scene of the accident.

I called my sister, who dropped everything and met me at the hospital.

My heart stopped when I saw my son lying on the bed, on top of a back-board, with a neckbrace.

It was all just a precaution.

The Orthopedist came in and did a thorough exam of my son.  Then he called me in to see my son do a couple of knee-bends.

We walked out of the ER a few minutes later.

God had mercy on us.

I am so grateful.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

ps. For those who are wondering, we have already checked our mezuzot!

pps.  We are extermely grateful to the teacher from his school, who just happened to pass by after the accident, and accompanied our son, in the ambulance, to the hospital. 

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Welcome To My World -- Needles, Veins and Black & Blue Marks

Moshe is home and doing a lot better.  Thanks to all for your concern, support, and help!  I do not know how we would manage without such a loving community to embrace us!

Drawing blood or inserting a Heperin lock is an art.

Some doctors/nurses find a vein, seemingly effortlessly, while others insert the needle under your skin, then start poking around, because they missed the mark and the needle is not correctly inside a vein. 

I cannot stand it when people hurt me with needles. I have a "one-chance" policy. You get one chance to poke around my veins. If you fail, no second chances.

True, everyone can have a bad day. But, I am sorry, get your practice on someone else!

On Friday, when we arrived at the ER, the triage nurse did not insert the needle well.  I could see Moshe grimace in pain, as the nurse poked the needle around, under his skin. The nurse finally removed the needle and began looking for another point of entry.

"Please have someone else insert the needle," I asked softly.

"No problem," responded the nurse, and directed us to the surgical ER. I was so relieved that he was not insulted and so readily forwarded us to someone else.

Igor, the next nurse who tried, got the needle in, relatively painlessly, on the first go. (Thank you, God!) (Am I the only one who meets someone names Igor and immediately thinks of Young Frankenstein??)

We don't remember why that IV was removed, but when Moshe needed another IV, one of the doctors inserted the needle... not well, but it was in.

That was on Shabbat. 

As you will recall, I left Moshe on motzai Shabbat (Saturday night), fully convinced that he was much better and would be released the following morning, (Silly me!) only to receive his call Sunday morning, about how miserable his night was (more details here).  He told me how that same doctor inserted an IV three more times during the night, and none of them were inserted well.  His last IV caused him excruciating pain, and it took the staff around FOUR HOURS to remove it!

"You let her poke you FOUR TIMES????"  I almost jumped out of my skin! 

"I'm coming right away," I almost cried, "I will take care of you!"

RivkA to the Rescue!!

I switched into high gear.

When I got to the hospital, I was not my usual, charming self.  I was all business.

Moshe had an excruciating headache;  he was clearly dehydrated (he was not allowed to eat or drink, because he might need a surgical procedure).

I went out to the desk, and told the doctor on duty that I wanted to get a specific doctor from oncology to insert the IV.  The doctor on duty replied "I am also good at inserting an IV."  I told him, "OK, but you only get one chance."  He laughed.

He thought I was kidding.

The doctor inserted the needle and started poking around, finally removing it in failure.  Then he started looking for another vein.  "Don't poke him again," I commanded.  I smiled as I added "I told you; you only get one chance."

I repeated that I wanted to bring in the doctor from oncology.  "How do you know he will come?" the doctor and nurses asked me.  "I know him," I replied, "He will come, as a favor to me."  I spoke confidently, and they acquiesced. (I hoped I was right)

I left quickly, before they could change their minds or have someone else poke him.  The oncology ward was on the same floor, just across the hall.

I entered the oncology ward and was relieved to see there was no one waiting for blood tests or an IV.  I asked the doctor if he would do me a favor and insert an IV for my husband, who had been tortured during the night, by the doctors in Urology.

"The doctors agreed?" he asked, careful not to step on anybody's toes. 

I assured him that I had cleared it with the Urology staff, and he came right away. 

He took one look at Moshe's bruised arms and said, "There are plenty of good veins here."  Without further ado, he inserted a needle straight into the vein.  After a few seconds of discomfort, Moshe confirmed, "it doesn't hurt."

That IV was good for the remaining 3 days of Moshe's hospital stay.

Mission accomplished.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Friday, November 13, 2009

Mothers with Cancer - Saying Goodbye

To understand, first please read about how I was censored.

Mothers with Cancer finally approved my farewell post, four days after I submitted it.

The post itself is rather benign.  Obviously, if I had written my reasons for leaving, the post would not have been approved.

Meanwhile, the comments are interesting, and not at all benign. 

I wonder if the blog administrators are going to start blocking comments as well.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Let "Mothers with Cancer" Know What You Think

I used to be a proud member of a communal blog for Mothers with Cancer. I was happy to share my experiences with a wider audience and, in that way, to help more young mothers who are coping with chronic cancer.

That was before I was attacked and penalized for writing something politically incorrect. My post was pulled and my status changed (details below). Future posts, by me, would be censored.

Occasionally, there have been political posts on the blog and that bothered me. I felt these posts to be divisive. I was particularly put off when, following a left-wing (pro-Obama) post, I posted a counter opinion, and my post was pulled. After I made an issue about the hypocrisy, the original post was pulled as well.

Recently, members of the blog wanted to discuss the new US health care reforms. I again objected, as I felt the issue could be divisive and alienate mothers. As there are plenty of forums for discussion the politics of cancer, I felt that our communal blog should be a place where we just stick to posting about mothering and cancer.

It was decided that as long as authors identified themselves, and wrote a disclaimer ("this post represents the sole opinion of its author"), then political posts were acceptable.

I disagreed, but I was outvoted (though there was no official vote).

So, recently, I posted according to the rules about the about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Middle East Conference on Breast Cancer, and the compliance of Komen for the Cure in the boycott of Israeli participants.

I received one comment "This is very disturbing news to hear. Thanks for letting us know."

Then my post was pulled.

I received this letter:

It is with deep regret that I must tell you that I have pulled your latest blog post, entitled "Some People Hate Jews More Than They Hate Cancer." The content is inappropriate for our blog, in that it can be viewed as confrontational, divisive, accusatory, not directly on topic of mothering through cancer, and contains statements defaming another cancer support organization that, in fact, have been refuted by the other organization. This post opens us up to being sued for libel, among other things, and that is something that I cannot risk. Since we are not an incorporated nonprofit body, any lawsuit could be brought against all the members of the blog, and I will not allow that to happen to the other 22 mothers with cancer that write for this blog.

As a result, your account status has been temporarily changed to a "contributor," which means that future posts must be approved by an administrator before they are posted.

I am truly sorry to have to take this action, but I must put the welfare of the group above all other considerations.

I was in shock.

First of all, I followed the guidelines: I identified myself and I qualified my post.

I can also verify my claims. I did my homework before writing the post. I have been in touch with the foundation, as well as several other sources. At this time, I have even more information (which I will post soon) confirming these facts.

To claim that I put the group at risk for “being sued for libel” is completely ridiculous. Not only is there no malicious intent (a necessary condition for a libel suit, along with false information), but I can verify my claims, which are all true.

The objection that the post is “not directly on topic of mothering through cancer” would equally apply to the US health care reform plan, but the latter is an acceptable topic for the blog.

Any political post is, by its nature, “divisive.” There are at least two sides to any controversial issue. Any view opposing an injustice, can be termed “confrontational” or “accusatory.”

It is only partially true that the post "contains statements defaming another cancer support organization that, in fact, have been refuted by the other organization." Komen for the Cure denied the statements, but did not refute (i.e. disprove) them. I can verify my claims, they cannot.

Check it out yourself. Several Israelis were initially invited and scheduled to attend. Ask Susan G. Komen for the Cure for the name of ONE participant from Israel. I have asked them for this information several times. They cannot name a single Israeli participant, because there were none.

Not only did Komen for the Cure enable the boycott, but they continue to blatantly deceive the public about this issue, both on their website and in response to email queries.

These issues, both the boycott and the deception, really bother me. They are so important, that I blogged several posts about them and plan to post more.

I thought the issues might interest/concern other moms with cancer. That's why I posted to our communal blog.

Apparently, this is information that the managers of the blog do not want people to know.

Clearly, only one type of political thinking is acceptable on the Mothers with Cancer blog.

Other opinions are a “danger.”

Well, no one need fear my dangerous opinions anymore. I won’t be posting them on that blog anymore. I suspect no one else will either.

After all, that’s what happens when free speech is curtailed. People who want to remain on the inside keep their mouths shut.

I posted a benign farewell post to the group, but the moderators of the group did not even have the courtesy to post it.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Home at Last!

We were in the hospital for FIVE days!

How much do you really want to know?

Friday, we were in the ER, where the surgeons and urologist deliberated over the source of Moshe's pain and which department should be managing his case. This went on for HOURS.

I was relieved that the head surgeon, on duty, insisted we take things slowly and not rush into surgery.

At 1:30 AM, they finally decided to keep Moshe in the ER. At around 2:30 AM, the nurse (an angel!) broke "protocol" and let me sleep on an extra bed. (Thank God!!)

Just a few hours later, EARLY Saturday morning (5:00 AM is an ungodly hour!), Moshe was moved to the surgical ward. Thus ended of my sleep for the night! (if you can call 2-3 hours a "night's sleep"!)

Shabbat morning, Moshe still felt pain, but, by the afternoon, he "only" experienced mild discomfort.

I was convinced, based on his dramatic improvement, that he would be released on Sunday morning.

Saturday night, Moshe's parents came to visit, and I went home to get a good night's sleep.

I actually felt so confident that Moshe would be OK, that, after I took care of our kids, I went out to a special Melaveh Malkah at our shul.

In the morning, I woke up early, at 6:00 AM, (still an ungodly hour, if you ask me) to wake up the kids. Then, still exhausted, I went back to sleep....

Only to be woken by a phone call from Moshe. "I had the most miserable night," shared my husband, the man who never complains.

Oh, the flood of guilt!!! (Never mind that Moshe would not want me to feel guilty! I was out having fun while he was suffering! I should have been there to help and protect him!!)

I jumped out of bed, and started gathering what I needed to take to the hospital. I was really tired, and not moving so fast, when I got another call. "They doctors want to do this procedure...."

I dropped everything I could and did my best to get to Moshe, as soon as possible. It still took me over an hour! By the time I arrived, the doctors had already left the ward.

We learned later, that the doctors interpreted Moshe's questions as objecting to the procedure. In fact, Moshe asked questions simply to try to understand what the doctors wanted to do, and why.

The delay turned out to be a gam zu l'tovah (good thing).

Moshe had had a low fever on Saturday night, indicating an infection and possible danger to his kidney. That was why the doctors wanted to rush him into this procedure. But, having "missed" that first available slot, he had to wait. By the end of the day, there was no time and we were informed that the procedure would be the following morning (unless he had more fever, in which case they would rush him to surgery, even in the middle of the night).

I stayed with Moshe that night. (I was not about to abandon my husband a second night in a row, when he clearly might need an advocate!)

I was prepared to sleep in a chair all night (not so good for my back, but what can you do?). No need; God was really good to me. There was no patient in the bed next to Moshe's, so I put on sheets, and crashed.

We pulled the curtains around us, and I took off my headscarf -- it was so hot in the room, I would sleep better without it. I also knew the nurses would see my bald head and, hopefully, be less quick to evict me.

At one point, a nurse came in and gently explained that it really was not acceptable, as they might need the bed. I assured her that if a new patient needed the space, I would move right away. God bless her (another angel), she let me stay, and I was able to sleep through the night (mostly).

Monday, since Moshe had no further indication of a fever, the pressure was off, and the doctors decided to "wait and see."

Monday afternoon, Moshe's parents came again, and I took a break to teach swimming.

I planned on returning to the hospital right after I finished teaching.

When I actually finished teaching, I dreaded the thought of returning to the hospital. I felt utterly and completely exhausted!

God bless Moshe, he assured me that it was ok for me to stay home.

I took care of the kids, who appreciated a little parental attention by that point, then CRASHED.

This morning, I again woke the kids at 6:00, then went back to sleep. Moshe called when he woke up (as I had asked him too), and assured me that I could return to sleep. I did.

I woke up, at 10:27 AM. I could not believe I slept so long! I rushed to call Moshe, who was cool as a cucumber.

I made my way to the hospital and, within a few hours, Moshe was released. Yay!!

It is so good to be home, together!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, November 9, 2009

Just an Observation -- Humor

My eldest called her Abba (father) today, to find out how he is doing.

Moshe explained to her that he is feeling much better, but the doctors want him to keep him in the hospital "for observation."

Without missing a beat, she responded, "Abba, you should tell those doctors that we want you home for observation!"

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Role Reversal

Last Friday, we had plans.

Moshe finally was going to take down the succah (we were all sick after Succot, so the succah stayed up longer than usual).

I finally was going to clean off the Shabbat table (we were away for several weeks, so things piled up....) and cook for Shabbat (we were having guests, for the first time in ages).

Well, you know what they say, "Man plans, God laughs!"

Friday morning, Moshe woke up feeling severe abdominal pain. All he wanted to do was stay in bed.

Now, let's clarify our traditional roles:

When I am do not feel well, I need serious TLC. Every 10 minutes, or so, I announce that I am in pain or not feeling well. I want sympathy. And compassion.

Not Moshe. He is stoic. He never complains. Really. Sometimes he acts so "normal" that I forget. Then he will gently remind me that "I am not complaining, but I still do not feel well...."

So when I saw Moshe writhing in pain, I insisted we call the doctor, who insisted we come in right away. DUH!!

Of course, the doctor then sent us on to the emergency room. Double DUH!!

(Can I leave out the really embarrassing part, when I just "pop" into the pharmacy for some drugs I need, but the whole thing takes way longer than it should have, and by the time I returned to Moshe his pain was even worse! I felt horrible!!)

It took us less than 10 minutes to get to the ER, but by the time we got there, Moshe was beyond miserable. I did everything in my power to move things along and, thank God, they took us in right away. Still, everything takes time!!

The quick version (I will try to post more details later) is that the doctors first thought the source of the pain was from an umbilical hernia, requiring emergency surgery. The head surgeon ordered a CT, just to make sure there were no other problems. The CT revealed a small kidney stone (3-4 mm), which seemed the more likely source of the pain.

Moshe has been in the hosptial (Sha'are Zedek) since Friday. He is currently "under observation," in the Urology Department.

He is no longer suffering from severe pain, just "mild discomfort."

Since there is a 90% chance that the stone will pass on it's own, the doctors are adopting a "wait and see" approach.

At this time, their only concern is risk of infection, which can cause kidney damage.

If they can eliminate this concern, they will release Moshe.

Meanwhile, I have been with Moshe the whole time, except for Saturday night and now. I am off to teach swimming and then I will return to the hospital.

It has been a trying time for both of us.

And a bit strange.

Our roles have been reversed, "The Caregiver" has become "The Patient" and "The Patient" has become "The Caregiver."

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Friday, November 6, 2009

Girl's Night Out

Two weeks ago, when my girlfriend, RD, asked what would be a good night to get together, I told her Thursday, November 5th (tonight).

It did not occur to me for a second that I might still be so tired.

But all I had to do was get in RD's car, and she would drive. So I did.

We gathered at the home of another girlfriend, LM, and were joined by another four women.

LM is a serious baker, so she had some delicious treats. I was so glad that, earlier this evening, I did not have enough room in my tummy to eat the meat lasagna that our good friend, MH, brought us for dinner!! (I did have a nice bowl of her hearty, parve, tomato soup!)

LM had also made hot apple cider!! There is nothing better than curling up on the couch, under a blanket, with freshly baked cake and hot apple cider, and watching a light, fluffy "chick-flick" that makes us laugh!!

Just what the doctor ordered!!!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Thursday, November 5, 2009

"This mess is so big..."

"This mess is so big, and so deep, and so tall. We can not pick it up. There is no way at all!" (Dr. Seuss, The Cat in the Hat)

This, basically, sums up my life.

Even before cancer, I found it difficult (read: impossible) to maintain order. Apparently, a chaotic environment is typical for someone with ADD. I struggled as a student, then as a single, then as a newly married wife. For a while, I managed to maintain a semblance of order.

Then I had kids.

Then I had illness (a year of post-op infections, following what was supposed to be a "simple" hernia repair, including two month-long hospitalizations).... and three small kids!

Then we moved (always a nightmare, even in the best of circumstances).

Keeping my home in order was a losing battle... and I was losing, big time!

I kept waiting for each "crisis" period to pass, so that I could "catch up."

But there was always some new crisis waiting around the corner.

Having cancer has only exacerbated the situation.

I am even more tired and overwhelmed than before.

I cannot catch up on my own.

But I do not want to live like this.

I feel like a kid who is not cleaning her room, except I am responsible for an entire house!

For years, I was able to "ignore" the mess. But not anymore.

The accumulation of "things to do" and "things to fix" and "things not to waste" is massive.

My husband would just throw everything out. But that is too hard for me.

I need to sort through it all.

But the task is enormous and overwhelming.

I need help.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Boycott supported by Susan G. Komen for the Cure

For those who read Hebrew, read this letter from the IMA (Israel Medical Association), to the Israeli Foreign Minister, protesting the boycott of Israeli physicians who were barred from participating in the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Middle East Breast Cancer Conference.

Here is the into to the letter:

על רקע החרמתם של רופאים ישראלים בכנס המדעי הגדול על סרטן השד, שהתקיים בשבוע שעבר במצרים, שיגר היום יו"ר ההסתדרות הרפואית איגרת לשר החוץ ובה הוא מביע דאגה מהתופעה המתגברת בעולם, וקורא למדינת ישראל לפעול בתקיפות נגד החרמת רופאים ומדענים ישראלים בעולם על רקע פוליטי.

In light of the boycott of Israeli physicians at the important scientific conference on breast cancer, that took place last week in Egypt, the chairman of the Israel Medical Association dispatched a letter to the Foreign Minister in which he expressed concern about the increase of this phenomenon worldwide, and called on the State of Israel to work resolutely against the boycott of Israeli physicians and scientists in the world due to political motivations. (my translation)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

People Hate Jews Even More Than They Hate Cancer

Cancer is an equal opportunity disease. Cancer can attack anyone, at any age, in any place. Cancer attacks us all, every race, religion and ethnicity.

In today’s global community, doctors and researchers are working together, sharing information, to advance treatment and, hopefully, discover a cure.

Or are they?

Apparently, there is something even more important than fighting cancer: fighting Israel.

Israeli doctors and scientists are at the forefront of cancer research and development, particularly in the field of Breast Cancer research.

Doctors and patients, all over the world, benefit from the medical contributions of Israeli physicians and scientists.

Yet, Israeli participants were unceremoniously uninvited to the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Middle East Conference on Breast Cancer, held in Egypt, by order of Egyptian Health Minister Hatem el-Gabali. There were no protests, outside of the Jewish world.

Nancy Brinker, founder and head of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world's largest breast cancer advocacy organization, denied that Israelis were barred from the Cairo conference. This directly contradicts reports from the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Hadassah Women's Zionist Organization that confirm that Israelis were, indeed, barred from the conference. Rather than criticizing the Egyptian boycott, Susan G. Komen for the Cure lied to the public.

In stark contrast, during the same week, after the Turkish government barred Israel from participating, the US cancelled a major NATO joint military exercise with Israel, the US, Turkey and Italy. Though cancelling the exercise cost the US millions of dollars, both the US and NATO refused to hold the exercises without the participation of the Israel contingent.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure chose not to cancel their conference or move it to a location where everyone would be welcome. They also did not remove their sponsorship. In so doing, they actively supported anti-Semitism, as did all the participants.

They condoned a policy in which fighting Israel takes precedence over fighting cancer, or finding a cure.

The symbolism here is too dramatic to ignore.

Anti-Semitism is like cancer. It spreads destruction, under the surface, while the host seems perfectly healthy. When the disease has spread so much that it can no longer be ignored, there is often no longer any way to stop it.

Susan G. Komen for the Cure, by acquiescing to the ban against Israeli participants, has contributed to an attitude that is contrary to its stated goal – finding a cure.

Apparently, fighting Israel is more important than finding a cure to cancer.

It is too bad that the Susan G. Komen for the Cure has chosen to affiliate itself with people who hate Israel more than they hate cancer.

To my utter disappointment, I can no longer support any activities sponsored by Susan G. Komen for the Cure.

For more info:
Jerusalem Post:
Stop boycotts of Israelis at international medical conferences, IMA demands, and Army drill canceled due to US outcry
Israel National News:
US Org. Hosts Cancer Meet, Israelis not Welcome
KUNA (Kuwait News Agency):
Turkey opts out of military maneuvers with Israel
Israel Hits Back at Turkey

(hat tip: Lurker, Carl)

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

I'm Famous (tee hee!)

Ever meet someone who is well known?

Well, years ago I met Barbara Sofer, a Jerusalem Post columnist, whose opinion pieces I actually read.

We met in the locker room at the pool. We talked while we changed, and were quite friendly.

Since she is a more public figure, I occasionally learned about life-events in her family, some happy, some not. But I switched pools years ago and, though I knew she would recognize my face, I did not think she would remember my name, or recognize it in an email. So, though I thought of sending her a "mazal tov" or a condolence email, I did not; I did not think she would know who it was from.

Well I guess I should have sent those emails, because I recently received a "remember me?" email. We met again at The First JBloggers Conference and she did, indeed, remember me from the pool!

She asked if she could quote from my blog and refer readers to it. (Is the sky blue?)

I was so touched that she remembered me and that she knew about my cancer/blog.

She wrote a very nice piece and was very kind and generous in what she writes about me. You can read the full article, The Human Spirit - Embracing Pink.

Towards the end of the article, Barbara Sofer writes "Matitya's blog somehow manages to be unbearably sad and inspiring."

I know my posts have been particularly heavy recently.

Still, I don't want my blog to be "unbearably sad."

Life is good!!

What do you think?
Is my blog sad?
Is a sad blog good or bad or both?
Please be honest!

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,

Monday, November 2, 2009

CT & Ultrasound -- Medical Update

I have been so overwhelmed with the flu, that I realize I forgot to update you about the important stuff. (Actually, I did not realize it, until a million people kept asking me about the results!)

The CT did not reveal any new developments. The radiologist did see a "hint" of something on the liver, so we checked that out.

I did an ultrasound. The radiologist did not see anything worrisome.

So, for now, I seem to be doing well.

Recently, my pain seems to have gone down a bit, so that is also a good sign that the new chemo is working.

The oncologist wants to do a PET scan, eventually, but not now. Apparently, you have to be off chemo for at least 2-3 weeks before doing a PET. The oncologist does not want to stop treatment at this point.

I just started my fifth cycle of treatment with the Xeloda and Tykerb.

Please daven (or send happy, healing thoughts) for RivkA bat Teirtzel.

With love and optimism,