Saturday, July 23, 2011

Journal from the Surgery II

For he was a Modest Man

I must praise our surgeon, Dr. Jeffery Weinberger.  Every other staff person involved in our case told me how lucky I was that Dr. Weinberger would be performing the procedure, that he is the best in the county.  His care was beyond exemplary, his compassion and post-op supervision beyond any expectation, and yet, when I wanted to thank him, this humble man literally ran away so as to avoid the scene or the attention.

On Friday afternoon, when I began to fear that we would not get home for the weekend, he arranged a last-minute diagnostic test that showed that Raphaela's oxygen saturation was high enough to get us out of the intermediate care unit, into the car and into our own beds for the night.  If he had said that she was not stable enough to get discharged, I would have listened as well, because...he is the best.

It's a Jewish Country

Starting quite early on Friday morning, all sorts of volunteers, religious and secular, started coming around the intermediate care unit with sandwhiches, Shabbat snacks and Shabbat basics (candles, challah etc), to help those families who would be stuck in a hospital over the weekend.  Throughout our stay, the Sherut Leumi volunteers brought around art projects and small gifts to keep Raphaela busy, and to keep her mind off the more uncomfortable aspects of the event.  The man who took Raphaela to the surgical area in the morning, and returned us to the pediatric floor afterwards chatted with my daughter and pointed out pictures on the wall, so she would be less tense.  He told me that he worked with patients because he himself has survived cancer, and he wanted to 'pay it forward.'

With all these wonderful distractions, Raphaela is not nor will she ever be stupid, not my girl.  She realized that the operating room was not a desirable place, and had to be held down.  I have a huge gash across my face where she scratched me, crying and struggling.

Hysterical Mother

I stayed with Raphaela until she was sleeping (from the gas), but before they put in all the tubes.  I thought I could handle it, but as she cried real tears, I fell apart, and one of the nurses had to escort me from the room.  Dr. Weinberger joked with me afterwards, reminding me that I had requested to be in the room during the surgery itself.  "You would have collapsed.  You would have been worse off than Raphaela."

The Royal We

Only once during our three days at Hadassah Hosptial did the JSMBC issue arise.  One of the nurses on staff asked me why my husband wasn't coming to give me some relief from the 24 hour vigil, and I replied that I am a single mother by choice, and have no real family in the country.  The expression on her face looked like pity, that I had to go through this by myself, and she asked me if it was hard on a daily basis, the life I had chosen.  I told her that even sitting here, watching Raphaela recover and feeling it hurt in every part of my body, I did not regret a single moment.

Her questions also made me aware that often, if someone asks me a question about Raphaela, I answer with "Anachnu" ["We" in Hebrew], and allow people to assume that there is a father and a mother making joint decisions for this child.  It is easier that way, but I wonder if I am chickening out of a more meaningful discussion.

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