Monday, May 30, 2011

Easing into Toilet Training

Potty? Check!
Toilet seat adaptor? Check!
The famous Israeli potty book by Alona Frankel, the girl's anatomy edition? Check!
Non wobbly step-stool? Not yet, d'oh!

Raphaela seems very receptive to the idea, she has made the association between what sits in her diaper and what should be in the potty or the toilet.  She has tried sitting on the potty, clothed, to see how it feels.  We have read the Alona Frankel book at least ten times in the last 24 hours.  I have also pointed out to Raphaela that in the Maisy book, "Maisy's Bedtime," Maisy the Mouse sits on the toilet, and her stuffed animal/best friend Panda sits on the potty.

Her nursery teacher suggested that since Raphaela is the youngest child in the Gan, she does not need to rush into toilet training, because the stress of the expectations of performance could turn this seminal transition into a negative experience.  I have introduced the concepts, and will let it ride according to Raphaela's motivation, though the heat of the Summer here creates an excellent excuse to go naked.  (And it would be wonderful to stop buying diapers on a regular basis!)

Sunday, May 29, 2011

An Israeli Experience

I do not often write specifically about the Jewish Israeli experience, but perhaps this small anecdote from the weekend can illustrate how my quality of life as a Jew, regardless of my level of religious observance, feels more natural here in Israel.  A feeling with which I was less comfortable, growing up on the East Coast.

This past Shabbat, Raphaela and I stayed in Efrat at our cousins house;  we are talking House here, seven bedrooms, four floors, much more like Boston or Teaneck or Westchester than Jerusalem, and we are talking bedlam, with a total of nine children under the age of eight under the same roof for the weekend.  In order to get some fresh air and some quiet, I decided to take Raphaela for a walk, despite the heat of the afternoon.

I hadn't realized how hot it was outside, nor had I counted on Raphaela being quite so thirsty: we hadn't progressed too far up the killer hills when she presented me with her empty cup and asked for more water.  I knew that first of all, there would be a place of worship on each block, and I also knew that on Shabbat the doors would be open, even if no one was there to pray at that time.

Sure enough I found one small but inviting building, no worries.  I basked in the air conditioning and refilled Raphaela's water, and we continued on our way to visit one of my oldest friends from college.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Little Black Cat

Ever since Raphaela was born, we have regularly read the book "Maisy's Bedtime" before sleep, and as she has gotten older, we have both become addicted to the series of Maisy books by Lucy Cousins.  In the past week, Raphaela has become amazed that these books seem to have come to life, in our little neighborhood.

For the past few days, we have fed a family of  a mother cat and her kittens, born in our neighboring building's front yard.  One of the kittens is Little Black Cat, the character who stars in the book, "Maisy's Fire Engine," among others.  This kitten jumps around and plays hide-and-seek in the bushes, and Raphaela watches and laughs, entranced by the performance.

When we go to the supermarket, Raphaela understands the concept much clearer thanks to  "Maisy Goes Shopping."  She delights in hearing the siren of a the fire truck, and I can't wait to take her to the beach, a place she recognizes from the Maisy collection.

As a parent, I recommend the series, though some are more compelling than others in terms of story telling.  Maisy can be used as a fantastic motivator as well, since Raphaela believes that the mouse character is one of her best friends.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Early Potty Training?

Yesterday, when I picked Raphaela up from Gan, several parents were discussing potty training with their own children, several months older than Raphaela.When we got home, Raphaela insisted on stripping down to nothing, literally, and played and ate dinner and watched our Prime Minister's speech in the nude.  Puddles of pee were everywhere, but she was certainly enjoying herself.

Is it possible that she will toilet train herself before she officially walks?!

Monday, May 23, 2011

Career Consternations

My emergency appendectomy made me rethink every aspect of my life.
I realized that the most important priority in my life will always be my daughter but also my extended family.

I also acknowledged that lately I have not been enjoying my work as a Chiropractor, and that this experience gives me the opportunity to switch things up and create a new path.  If I do not take advantage of this unique moment in time, I have not learned the lesson of this surgery.

I am considering two possible directions: the first must certainly involve the creative side of me, which has laid dormant for too long now.  Photography, getting my book published, expressing myself fully and joyously.  I guess I have to find myself an agent as a first step.

The second route involves becoming an official advocate for SMBC and their concerns here in Israel.  The Universe keep reminding me that I can make a difference;  for example, today at Gymboree I started a conversation with another mother, and Israeli woman with an adorable four month old boy.  As the encounter progressed, she revealed to me that she is a JSMBC living with her mother and reaching out to find a community that is supportive of her choices.  She told me that several other women at her workplace (the supermarket) inspired her to become a mother, and that she is at least grateful that her son will not be the only child in his class who started from an unorthodox conception.

I gave her my card and told her that she should feel free to call me if she ever feels frustrated, and she gave me some pointers as well regarding the rights of single parents in Israel.  A random meeting yes, but one that happens to me often enough that it has become a pattern in my life.  We women who have made the brave (or stupid?) choice should have a clear and obvious resource, and I would like to make that happen.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Let the Paperwork Begin

I spent all morning resolving that I would accept the decision of the ENT that Raphaela needs surgery to remove her adenoids, the apparent cause of her snoring and her perpetually runny nose, among other symptoms.  Because the office has slowed down since my surgery, I had all morning to make calls to the HMO, our supplementary insurance, and to use my friends as a sounding board for my frustration and fears.

It's funny, ever since Raphaela was a baby, she has made a lot of noise while eating or sleeping, and I always thought that was normal, for her.

This afternoon the ENT looked at her xrays and examined her E, N and T, and came to the conclusion that at the very least, Raphaela must have her adenoids removed, if not also her tonsils.  Because of the typical HMO beurocracy, he can only do one of the two procedures as a surgeon;  as a result, the doctor ordered a pajama party at a sleep clinic, to determine if the tonsils stay in or out, and to decide whether he or another surgeon gets the job.

Of course once I called the two sleep clinics in Jerusalem, the first appointment they had available was in September, which is unacceptable.  I will not have my daughter suffer from sleep apnea and the other progressive side effects for the next four months, and now I have my work cut out for me, using Israeli protecsia and any other method that works to resolve this whole medical scenario sooner rather than later.

The general anesthesia terrifies me the most, the ENT told me that no matter what direction they take the surgery, Raphaela will be under for almost an hour.

Quite a turn-around for a Chiropractor who philosophically does not believe in immediately jumping to the surgery option.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Delayed PTSD Reaction

Two days ago, Raphaela had a fever at Gan, which magically disappeared ten minutes after I took her home.  Yesterday, she stayed home from Gan as per standard protocol, but was clearly not a sick child, only a little girl having a delayed physical and emotional reaction to the events of my surgery two weeks ago.

Sure, you can speculate that her sudden fever was brought on by being overheated and overdressed (my fault), or you could say that there are always viruses floating around the Gan.  But I believe, as does our family doctor, that Raphaela waited two weeks, she waited until after my mother returned to Boston, to express her anger and fear.  On the surface, she seemed to deal well with the unusual situation of sleeping over at the nursery teacher's house, or having my mother do all the services for Raphaela that Mommy usualy does;  who could blame her for wondering why Mommy was in the hospital for three days, or why the house became very different afterwards?

Harry does not like change, and neither do children.  So Raphaela stayed home with Mommy for a few days, asked to sleep with me at night, and this morning she still resisted going back to Gan, her "no" has become quite forceful.  But I strapped her in the stroller and we walked to nursery together, and when I left her there she seemed settled.  All quiet on the Western front for now, Thank G-d.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Horoscope Was Right

The horoscope in the weekend paper said that I would have a screw up (:-() ) that would allow me to make my life more efficient and find better solutions (:-) ).  That was the last thing I wanted to hear, given that I knew that my mother would have returned to Boston and I was going to try to return to work.  I do, after all, have to make money, having just had a two week 'vacation.'

This morning, when I took Raphaela to Gan, she was very sleepy, but when I dropped her off I told her teachers that a nap should take care of the problem.  Two hours later they called me, saying that Raphaela had a fever and needed to go home.

In between all this, the Arab workmen from downstairs who damaged my porch came to do the repairs, and I had to leave them in the house while I brought Raphaela back to the apartment.

I canceled any plans for working or taking care of myself for the afternoon and picked her up, and once we got home she seemed to recover fairly quickly.  Still, having registered a fever today, they may not want her back tomorrow, and so I am scurrying around to find a sitter for tomorrow, as I have a full patient load scheduled.

Luckily my body feels a bit stronger today, though after the chaos, I anticipate that I will collapse as the evening nears.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Surgical Post Script: In Defense of Single Motherhood

My mother left to return to Boston last night, and admittedly, we have a volatile if not dysfunctional relationship, but I think that this past week allowed us both to see aspects of each other that had been previously unrevealed.

When I made aliyah 14 years ago, I did so in order to fulfill my potential away from the pressure and expectations of my family, and certainly out of a strong feeling of Zionism and commitment to Israel.  I know Jews living in Israel who preach that all Jews from all over the world belong in our Homeland; I disagree, the life of an Israeli is not easy and is not for everyone, just as the choice to become a single parent does not suit every woman, no matter how much she wants to be a mother.

When I chose to become a JSMBC, I spent over two years considering the possible complications on multiple levels.  I interviewed couples with children to find out how much, practically speaking, a child costs at each stage of development.  I spoke to the single mothers by choice who lived in my area, and observed their day-to-day routines.  I spent over a year with a Life Coach to work through some of the more major issues I had with my upbringing, so I wouldn't bring that psychological baggage into my relationship with my future child.  I did not choose this status lightly, and was fully aware that there would be challenges above and beyond that of a traditional married couple.

When I collapsed on the floor of my apartment and needed to be rushed to the Shaarei Zedek emergency room, every thought (other than, "OMG, this hurts!) revolved around Raphaela.  Who would take care of her?  How would she react to her mother being "less than" herself for the period after the surgery?  What if I die and never see her again?

Even living 6,000 miles away from my blood relatives, know that I never once feared that I or my daughter would be abandoned.  I am grateful for my mother, and I am grateful for the social network of friends and neighbors and clients here who helped me in some way in the last two weeks, and continue to offer assistance.  As I have said before, but it bears repeating, I do not regret living in Israel nor do I feel guilty about being far away from the majority of my family.

If I didn't live in Israel, I couldn't have afforded the fertility treatments to have Raphaela, and I wouldn't receive the ongoing support for the choice of my 'alternative family.'  For those of you considering the transition into SMBC, think hard and think long , as you must; but don't be afraid or ashamed of the choice.

When I was post-op and still in the hospital, the nurses and the doctors kept asking me, "Are you in pain?  What can we offer you?"  And I always answered, "I want to see my daughter. I want to bask in her smile.  I want to hug her and read her a book and sit back and watch her play.  That is all the medicine I need."

This surgery clarified my priorities.  If I do nothing else with my life than be the best Mommy for Raphaela, and give her what she needs to fulfill her potential, I have done more than I ever imagined.

Technical Difficulties

Just wanted to let my blog readers know that this site crashed for several days, and when I was able to get back on line, I was quite sure that certain postings of mine and many comments of yours "disappeared."
They still seem to be experiencing technical difficulties on blogger, so if I have not responded in some way to your helpful (or more critical) comments, it is because I was not able to read them.

On My Own, Again

Mom leaves tonight, after ten days or so of invaluable help with Raphaela.  Despite our multiple arguments, we managed to leave on very good (and very emotional) terms, before she left for the airport after Shabbat.

I am on my own again with Raphaela, tentatively returning to work as well next week, and quite frankly, I am worried that my body will not be able to physically keep up with the demands of my life.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I am Not Ungrateful

I feel the need to clarify this point:  I am most grateful that my mother dropped everything to help me, there was no way I could have lifted Raphaela or gone grocery shopping alone.  I have, throughout this week, told my mother how much I appreciate her coming, and the obvious sacrifice (emotional, physical and financial) she has made for me.

I also feel the need to clarify this point:  I do not feel guilty in any way that I chose to move to Israel 14 years ago, or that I continue to choose to raise my daughter here.

There is a reason I moved 6,000 miles away from my family, and idealistic Zionism doesn't cover the explanation.

Without going into unnecessary and painful details, for every moment that my mother has been here for me and helping, it has been an endless barrage of criticism, from my posture to the way I dress, to my attitude toward men, to the way I am raising Raphaela and the manner in which I relate to my work as a Chiropractor. My computer is too slow, the water in my apartment is not hot enough, my phone charger isn't doing a good job, and I should have moved out of my apartment before I ever moved in.  The newspaper I read is "too left wing."  Even when the doctor gave us her expert opinion on Raphaela's walking, my mother continues to go around the house muttering, "Why don't you take her to a physical therapist?" Once she feels she has had her say on one issue, she moves onto the next one, and then observes that I seem to suffer from low self-esteem.  Go figure.

My mother's tantrum on Yom HaAtzmaut morning showed me that after experiencing a taste of my life, in which I alone manage myself and Raphaela, she has no deeper understanding or appreciation for its difficulty, and its rewards. 

And so I address my faithful blog readers who have implied either directly or indirectly that I am being bitchy, petty and ungrateful:  in this circumstance of being incapable of taking care of myself, I am doing the best I can, while trying to respect my mother according to the halacha even when she cuts me down and disrespects me as a person and as a mother.  Isn't that the essence of that famous/infamous phrase, "good enough parenting"?

Out Out Damn Staples

It has taken me three days and countless phone calls, but I have finally managed to schedule the removal of the horrendous and painful stomach staples for tomorrow.

After observing my behaviour on the phone with the HMO and with the surgeons at Shaarei Zedek Hospital, my mother said that I was very hard to refuse once I put my mind to something.  I am not quite sure if she meant it 100% as a compliment, but I take it as such.

Yom HaAtzmaut 2011

On Yom HaAtzmaut morning, my mother decided that she was too old or too tired or in too much pain to perform the job of helping me with Raphaela.  She slept in late, watched TV and complained about back pains.  She bitched about jet lag, getting too little sleep and not understanding how she was supposed to function and take care of Raphaela. She napped while I walked to the supermarket with my broken body to get some groceries.

When I said to her, "Welcome to my life," she said the Lethal Weapon equivalent of "I'm too old for this shit."

By the time the afternoon arrived, my mother was in better spirits as we drove to my friend in Hashmonaim for the traditional Israeli engorgement of all things BBQ.  It was an anniversary celebration of sorts with my friend, whom I had met last year at almost the exact Hebrew date, when we both got stranded in Boston because of the volcanic ash travel incident. 

We had the Yom HaAtzmaut feast at her parents' house, with her whole family.  Her husband, who has been in and out of the hospital in the last year with a severe degenerative neurological disorder, he was healthy enough to attend, and when my back started hurting he offered me a Morphine (Lovely Morphine) lollipop.

Raphaela enjoyed the day most of all, playing and flirting with the older boys and racing on mini-bikes, and eating from the huge selection of meats, vegetables and of course, desserts.  These people, with their staggering generosity and warmth, live on a quiet street with a house and a yard, a rarity for those of us who live in the city of Jerusalem.  She crawled on the grass and went up and down stairs, and we both enjoyed the clean air and fresh breezes.

Yom HaAtzmaut reminds me of family gatherings in the States on Thanksgiving, or even during Christmas break.   On this day, the greater family of Israel remembers that despite our differences, we are one people and we must join together to protect our interests.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Yom HaZikaron 2011

I don't know how those with piercings in sensitive body parts function normally, these staples are distracting at the least and painful at the most.  Worse, Shaarei Zedek has yet to give me a definitive time and date for their removal, and that keeps me awake at night.

The day started out nicely, Raphaela and her Gan friends dressed in blue and white to celebrate Israel's 63rd birthday one day early, as they are closed for the holiday tomorrow.  After dropping her off, my mother and I attended the brit milah of my neighbor, their first grandchild.  How affirming to spend a day which commemorates sacrifice and death by welcoming into the world and the Jewish people a new life!

At this point in the morning my belly and pelvic area were still doing well, and so my mother and I went to the mall. (I apologize to all Israelis on the road, my mother is indeed a Boston driving hazzard, but I have no choice...) I needed to exchange some of Raphaela's clothing for a larger size, and reward myself for the end of nursing by buying some new bras.  My bra size, along with my overall weight, has reduced so dramatically since Raphaela's birth and the last year and a half of breast feeding, and so it was actually a pleasure to get fitted/groped by the Ex-KGB Female Bra saleswomen.

My mother and I have been bickering on and off since she arrived.  I keep apologizing and saying thank you, even when I want to shout at her, because I need her to look after Raphaela when I am not allowed to hold her, or even change her diaper.  For example, when I was selecting bras, my mother said to the saleswoman (as if I were 12), "Give her an under wire model, she needs it."  I think at the age of 42, I am perfectly capable of making my clothing choices clear, and letting a sales person know which style I prefer, especially when I am paying for it out of my own pocket.

We stood in silence for the two minute siren along with the other shoppers, the life fantastic put on hold to remember those who died protecting us and the dream of a State of Israel.  

The excursion was the last straw for my body.  How terrifying to me that something like one store, or a few small errands have enough impact to shut me down for the rest of the day.

As well, now that we have an assesment from the doctor vis a vis Raphaela's walking and breathing, my mother has found other medical issues upon which to harp, and I keep reminding her that if she trusts me as a parent, and trusts our family doctor, she needs to stop pushing my buttons.  Then comes the speech of "I raised five children, don't tell me you think you know more than I do..."

I believe the problem lies in the patterns that get frozen in our consciousness and experience.  My mother said something to me last night, her observation that I was "always so clinical," that made me realize that she has not fully understood that I am not the dutiful, quiet and quite frankly, miserable teenager I was when I lived in their house.  I have gone out into the world, received an education and traveled, and expanded my acceptance and interactions with others.  Yes, I will make mistakes with myself and my daughter because I am human, but a far different human than the picture of a girl in my mother's head.

For the moment, I try to disengage the tension when we fight, I say, "You know how hard it is for me to feel so unconnected from my body and so dependent on others."  That's my story and I am sticking with it.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Surgery, It's All in the Family

Tonight both Raphaela and I consulted with our family doctor;  I showed her my staples and had her examine me, to make sure there were no resultant infections.  Raphaela had her "make-up" consultation, the original appointment had been canceled as I was in the hospital at the time.

Good news, I suppose:  our GP said that my surgeon "did a great job," that I will have no scarring and that my body is reacting in a normal post-surgical path.
Bad news:  Raphaela will most probably need adenoid surgery.  I don't begrudge my daughter the gift of mucous-free breathing, but when our doctor explained that the procedure requires general anesthesia, I freaked. 

Used to be that the word "lice" set me off, it has now been deposed by the concept of general anesthesia.  Yes, many children have this surgery and go to Gan the next day, and have a higher quality of life.  But since my own recent surgery, rationalizations and intellectual validations only make me feel more angy and more frightened.

This appendectomy affected me, deep into my core, and I need the time to process the frustration, the anger and the fear on an emotional level.  Telling me that "it could have been worse" and pointing out the statistics of the success of various surgeries does not help me at the moment.

Wouldn't You Know...

I now have a combination of the side effects of the surgery, and my period.
At least it didn't happen in Shaarei Zedek.

Emergency Surgery: The Journey Home

My mother and I arrived at the house a few hours before Shabbat, while the nursery teacher brought Raphaela back home to me.  That's all I need, no food, no drinking and no medications, just to see my beautiful daughter's face, see her smile and know that she is sleeping in the next room.

Many people have come out of the wood work to cook meals and to help, at least I know that we will eat this Shabbat.  It is wonderful to know that my mother can help me, though it becomes tedious at times when I wish that I could get up and do it myself, rather than explain or point or watch in frustration, feeling damaged and bloated and looking like I am in my second trimester of pregnancy.  If there were a baby growing inside there I would feel less ugly, and every time Raphaela touches the staples by accident, it hurts like hell.

Shabbat was OK, if I ignored the well-meaning questions from my mother about my level of religious observance, her frustrations with my state of being single, my mother's distrust of my family doctor, and her misconception that I have no friends.  My mother and Raphaela have bonded, Raphaela looks for "Bubby", and that is most important.  And after a rocky start, my mother and Harry have come to terms for now, at least they have stopped hissing at each other.  I explained to my mother that if you pretend Harry is a human being, his behaviour has mirrored Raphaela;  they are both reacting to the fact that their Mommy suddenly disappeared for three days, and now that she is home, she doesn't move the same way.

This morning, getting Raphaela to Gan was more difficult than I anticipated.   My mother for all her intentions doesn't have the strength or stamina she once did when raising her own kids, and everything felt slow; she couldn't believe that Israeli parents are actually out of the house and ready to go by 7:30 am.

Then she ran a red light, and now I have an expensive ticket and points on my driver's license.  (She does feel badly about that one.)  I tried to do one or two essential errands this morning, with my mother's help of course, and realized that I had pushed my body too far.

At least I have enough sense to have canceled any Chiropractic related activity for this week, the workaholic is dead, and more interesting, there is a part of me that could easily accept never going back to work.   I am barely obsessing about the lost income this event represents.  Almost dying changed my priorities, I want to give to myself and to Raphaela, and not necessarily to my patients.  Change must take place, once I can funtion again as a single mom.

Emergency Surgery II

I was wheeled out of surgery approximately one hour later, woozy from the general anesthesia and with three large metal staples in my stomach from the laproscopic proceedure.  Because of lack of bed space in the surgical ward, I was sent to Urology, where my room mates were an Arab woman who had just had a birth followed by a hysterectomy;  and an Israel woman, a spokes person for the JNF, in hospital for the last week because of a kidney stone that would not pass.  The Arab woman snored like a saw, and it gave me so much comfort because Raphaela makes all sorts of noises at night, and I missed her terribly.

I had no appetite, though the next day I was given persmission to eat and drink, and damnit, they wouldn't give me any more Morphine (Lovely Morphine) for the pain. Every time a new group of nurses or students would arrive for rounds, they would introduce me as, "This is Ms. Leeder, she is a Chiropractor and has undergone an emergency appendectomy."  IE She has a medical background so if there is something you don't want her to know about her condition, don't presume that medical-ese will do the trick.

The constant anti-biotics make me feel nauseaus, and the anti-nausea medication does not alleviate it.  I cannot even turn in bed without ringing for the nurse or one of the National Volunteer girls to help me.  This recovery is already ten times worse than my natural birth with Raphaela.

Rachael continues to perform miracles, getting my mother (who is not all that spontaneous a person to begin with) to grab a last minute flight so she can help me with my life and with Raphaela, whom I am not allowed to lift for the next week.  The Nursery School couple continue to perform miracles, telling me that Raphaela is happy and healthy and has barely noticed that I did not pick her up from school yesterday.  They bring her to the hospital to visit me and it plays out like a soap opera:  Happy Reunion, Tearful Separation.  They must drag Raphaela away crying, while I sit in a wheel chair bawling myself, and while everyone watching the scene cannot stop their own tears.

Damn these robes are awful, I trade them in for trendy pink Shaarei Zedek patient pajamas.  I attempt a shower but still have no appetite.  I also realize that de facto, I am no longer breast feeding.  Almost three days away from Raphaela and milk has dried up;  even if I could, the doctors tell me I am not allowed, because my daughter must not be exposed to all the medications and inflammation running through my body.

The surgeon says that I can be release in the afternoon on Friday, assuming there are no complications.  They had feared internal bleeding the first night I spent after the surgery, and that Thank G-d has passed.

After being re-routed through Cyprus because of a gasoline problem, my mother arrived from Boston at my house in Jerusalem very late Thursday night, but will be able to help me get home on Friday.

I am not 85 years old, I am 42 years old and I cannot go to the bathroom without help.

Emergency Surgery

Tuesday 3/5/11:  In the middle of Raphaela's swim lesson, I feel an odd gurguling in my stomach and figure it's something I ate.
Wednesday morning 4/5/11, 3 am:  Wake up with severe cramping and nausea, it reminds me of my usual PMS only a little bit worse, so I sit on the toilet for about an hour and then go back to bed, figuring it will go away by the time Raphaela wakes up.
Wednesday morning 4/5/11, 6 am:  Raphaela wakes up, and in between waves of sharp stomach pains and vomitting bile, I somehow manage to get my daughter dressed (including cute little pig tails), feed her breakfast and driver her to Gan.  I drive myself home from Gan, park badly and collapse.
After trying several people who just happened to be in my speed dial, I reach my friend Rachael and beg her to either kill me or get me to the emergency room.  This pain is worse than any labour complications I can remember.
Wednesday morning 4/5/11, 10 am:  We arrive at Shaarei Zedek hospital where they want me to walk myself into the emergency room while Rachael parks her car. I collapse on the spot because I can no longer feel my legs and arms, they call a gurney to get me inside.  The attending asks why I am here, and I tell them that I have diagnosed myself with acute appendicitis, and that it is best we remove it before it ruptures.  They all look at me with skepticism and say, "What, are you a doctor or something?"  It is only on the second ultra sound that they find that I am correct, and they schedule me for immediate surgery.
Wednesday night 4/5/11, 7 pm:  After a back up in the surgical unit, and after I finally get Morphine (Lovely Morphine) to control the pain, I am wheeled in for surgery. Rachael has been with me the entire day, getting me through the hospital system and becoming my secretary;  canceling patients and making arrangements for Raphaela.

In a state of extreme grace, the Head Nursery teacher and her husband assure me that they will adopt Raphaela - take her home at night, feed her, bathe her and love her - for as long as I am incapacitated.

I spend the whole day crying, thinking that the last time I will ever see my daughter was this morning.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Yom HaShoah 2011

As I type this, my little girl sits on my lap eating cheerios and trying to play with my Palm Pilot.  Harry wants attention as well, now that the working day has started.    My daily worries center around moving to a new apartment, making enough money to support us, and hoping that Raphaela's allergies pass soon, so she can start breathing fully again.

Here in Israel, we are surrounded by Arab countries, enemies who want to wipe us and our people off the planet.  At least they are upfront about their intentions.

Here in Israel.  There is an Israel, controlled by Jews and sworn to protect Jews and Israelis around the world.  Despite all the beaurocracy and the internal conflict, we Israelis know how to pull ourselves together when threatened from the outside.

Watching the ceremony for Yom HaShoah, I can't help but be affected by the stories of the survivors, those who made it out of Europe and re-built their families.  I can't help but play the scenario in my head, how I would go to any lengths to protect my daughter, and how agonizing (if there are even words) it must have been for mothers and fathers to take their children onto the trains and into the camps, knowing what awaited them.

Thank G-d there is an Israel, and I thank the Universe every day for my daughter and our life.  Strip away all the toys cluttering the living room and the sleepless nights, and I have a beautiful healthy girl. We are all of us, all Jews living today, lucky beyond measure.