Sunday, November 12, 2006

My cute girls

A fun snap of Rivki and Tsipi taken on a cheap webcam. This is a typical shot of both girls in pyjamas at a time well after "going to bed time."

Yes, we have an expensive digital camera now, but it's too difficult for me to use! Hopefully I will be able to snap the other 2 cuties soon - Chavi and Malki

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Walking on my own

A new milestone for me. I have walked around the house a few times with my walker and leg supports, and no one following behind me! Scary at first, but the worst case I fall. As my physio advised me I can remain in a glass box all my life, or try and go for it and make progress.

Well, it has given me a great feeling of freedom. I am still very cautious and mainly walk to the bathroom and back, but I guess this is just the beginning...

On the negative side; constant pain, infections and tummy problems are bothering me. Am waiting to start new painkillers which I hope will help.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

A change of face

Actually this is how I really look: smiling, nice hair, no glasses.

Most old friends will now recognise me from this new photo!

It is impossible for me to put my Sheitl on alone, and I haven't been able to teach my careworker how to do it well. I now look forward to teaching my occupational therapist how to do it easily and then she can teach me ...

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Pumping Iron

I used to enjoy exercise. In the last 10 years or so I had little chance to exercise much. I always used to bemoan this fact and look forward to devoting more time to it.

Well now the time has come. 3 times a day (for at least 20 minutes) I have to lift weights and strengthen my muscles. On top of this I have to find time to walk outside twice a day. This takes about 30 minutes per session. To find time for all of this I have to take time out from working, being with my kids, davvening, and speaking to friends.

It is hard to understand why this should be my "tafkid" (role) right now. It doesn't feel right. I know this must be my main focus for the coming year if I want to recover a little.

My father gave me some sage advice before Rosh Hashana. I have to hope that my children, husband and friends will learn from this. When life throws you obstacles you don't give up, you put your maximum effort in and trust in Hashem to get over the hurdles. I have a few good role models to follow, but I am looking for more...

Monday, September 25, 2006

A different Rosh Hashana

This year I thought I might get to make an appearance in Shul and pray a little bit. Well, it didn't go as planned. My booked help didn't show up, and I was forced to stay at home. So I got to be a regular Mum again and play with my kids. Very different from last year!

Yet again, a few wonderful friends came to the rescue and lifted my spirits. A dear friend made me walk there and back down the street on the first day. Then on the second day, I got to whizz down my ramp and visit another friend 'round the corner. I haven't been to that street or her house in over a year!

So, all in all, it wasn't a very spiritual Rosh Hashana. But minor health ailments over the 2 days made my personal prayers intense. And now my spirits are raised for the coming year as I can get out of the house and visit people.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Reflections before Rosh Hashana

Last Rosh Hashana I spent a lot of the time in Shul. More than I have in the last 12 years. But this wasn't a regular shul. It was the hospital Synagogue of Hadassah Har HaSofim. To get there was no easy walk. My parents came to the rescue. We had to navigate the long corridors and troublesome shabbos elevators. Up and down, stuck on the 6th floor, almost getting caught in the closing doors. Quite an ordeal....

What an interesting mix of people in shul. All types of kippot, hats, women in trousers, doctors, nurses and of course people in wheelchairs. I felt "Am Yisrael" very powerfully there and was happy to be in Israel. But concentrating on the davening was hard - especially when the Minyan split up into Sephardi and Ashkenazi. Sitting outside I had a stereo version of the prayers.

As to my state of health. Well, it was rather feeble then. After a few hours in the wheelchair I would feel dizzy and sweaty. I could hardly feed myself and I couldn't stand up at all. But overall my mood was positive, I davened hard, and I was sure that quite soon I would be back to normal.

Well, here I am a year later and I am still in a wheelchair. My mood is not so positive now even though I have come a long way. I have to think about the coming year, and worry how I will be judged. I was given a test, but maybe I failed it. I haven't had any amazing insights or revelations yet on the purpose of my test. Did I miss opportunities for changing for the positive?

Yes, I am still the same person that I was last Rosh Hashana. Just maybe a little bit more grateful for what I have (bli ein hora). 5 beautiful children, a comitted husband, living in this holy city, a little work and my mental facilities. As my physiotherapist said "You need to see the glass half full, not half empty."

To a Shana Tova!

Thursday, September 14, 2006

New hairstyle and walking clothes

Does 3 needles stuck in your head count as a new hairstyle? Another form of accupuncture I underwent today.

Yes, I think I am experiencing all types of pain in my current experiences. The pain is what bothers me most right now - forget the walking! But the doctors say the pain may be good ie. a sign the nerves are repairing. As the saying goes "no pain, no gain". Let them suffer it...

One "benefit" of my walking/wheelchair situation is that I get to wear all trendy clothes now. Bright colored tracksuits, expensive trainers and the new Israel fashion - a one-piece skirt and trousers. Problem is this style doesn't go down too well in our frum neighborhood. But I have no choice, I need to be comfortable and I have to see my legs to be able to walk. Anyway as I am always looking down when I walk I don't see peoples' surprised faces.

I walked the street again today (plus a little more). Just waiting for our ramp to be finished and I will be out and about again.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

A marathon walk

Up until now I have only walked indoors, which is quite limiting. Two or three circuits of the house and I am bored and ready to give up immediately.

So on Shabbat, egged on by a good friend I got to walk outside. With her help and distraction I walked the lenth of my street. It felt like running the marathon! But it is only 100 metres or so. It also took around 20 minutes, and I had to perform it in front of an audience of friends and staring Israeli children.

Not to be outdone, I did the marathon walk again today. With my physiotherapist I had to walk properly, and that was hard. I also walked up our half-finished ramp.

So how do I feel now? Not really elated like after a real marathon. It's just that I have a new goal now - to walk to the end of the street and back!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Even robots can make a cup of tea

Yesterday I finally collected my legcasts. I had been eagerly waiting them for the last 2 months in the hope they will change my life. They will make me walk like a robot, but in the words of a good friend "Even robots can make a cup of tea". If I could just make a cup of tea on my own, life would be wonderful!

So today, I couldn't stand the suspense, I just had to try them out. First of all they don't fit in my shoes, so now I have an excuse to buy another expensive pair of sports shoes. Well, without a physiotherapist training me they are very hard to walk even a few steps. Right now I prefer my own legs.

Well this is the next day. Today the physiotherapist came, and showed me how to walk. It was still hard, but I was walking more like a normal person and much more steady. There is hope! So later on I decided to make a cup of tea. I did it - with the help of my careworker and not on my own - and it tasted good!

This is just the beginning and there is a long way to go towards walking on my own. But as my physiotherapist said, just set you yourself small goals. A lesson for everyone.....

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Be Be'Simcha

I try everyday to keep a positive outlook. I try everyday to keep a sense of humour. I try to smile to people everyday. I try to write only funny or interesting stories in my blog.

I like it when friends come to my house and sing for me. I like it when friends invite me to their Simchas. I like going shopping and treating myself to fun things. I like listening to all kinds of music on my MP3 player.

All these things I believe have a positive impact on my physical health.

Yesterday, someone said to me (via my husband), be be'Simcha about my health problems. I was quite cross at the time when I was told this. The advice-giver does not exactly go about with a happy face and he doesn't have apparent health problems. He doesn't have to endure the constant pain that I have all the time. This is an insensitive comment to say to an "ill" person!

Afterwards, my husband reminded me of what the Baal Shem Tov says. If anything bad happens to you or people say bad things to you, then this is a message from HaShem. We have to look for the meaning from it. I am trying to do this, but haven't had the revelation yet. I hope it comes in this lifetime...

Meanwhile trying to be be'simcha, but just don't say it to me.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A strange measurement session

Today was my day for going to Tel Aviv to be measured for plastic leg casts. I have been waiting for this for 2 months now while all the bureaucratic paperwork was being sorted out. The secretary told me to come wearing shorts to make it easier for measurement. The whole thing was supposed to take half an hour. Not much to worry about I thought - apart from finding the place. Well I was in for a shock ...

After a long wait, Ronnie asks me to go in a room that looked a bit like a morgue. Then I was asked to take lay on a bed and take my sweatpants off. Then 2 men proceeded to cover my entire legs in bandages and plaster - right up to my knickers! After a few minutes the plaster hardened and then I was immobile. No, problem. Along comes Ronnie's sidekick with a hand-drill and cuts the plaster casts in half and just manages to miss sawing through to my knee. Then comes the fun bit, trying to shower off all the plaster which had stuck to every part of my leg. Not to forget my knickers which were as hard as concrete!

And I just thought the man was going to get a tape measure out to measure me up.

On a sadder note, it pained Moshe and me to see how many children were at this place being sorted out for leg casts. Some of them had never walked properly in their whole life. At least I got in over 40 years of walking normally. We just take these things for granted.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Counting steps

I try and only write about positive things, so I can look back on my progress.

Progress is very slow and I am still at the level of counting steps. Today I managed to go up and down 9 steps twice. The down is the important part - very hard. Today I also learned how to get up from a chair, and how to sit back down again. These are all things everyone takes for granted, but I have to learn how to do it from scratch. Apparently so do geriatrics!

On a side note, I spent 10 days as a resident of an old people's home so I know what it feels like to be old. Not nice.... These places are terribly understaffed, and people were just left to fall asleep in their breakfasts and ignored most of the time. Something to look forward to ...

The more walking I do the better it gets. In the morning I tried to do without the wheelchair, and sit on a regular chair and use the walker. Tomorrow I get to try out a new wheelchair, so I hope it becomes a "museum piece" in our house!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

The demise of Supermum

I used to be Supermum .... that's what I thought of myself.

Five children (the oldest 10 ) - having a career - running a frum home - being a "perfect wife etc.

I'm not Supermum anymore. I don't bathe my kids, cook their food, change nappies, clear the table, get them dressed, take them to school, put them in bed and the list goes on. I don't even do much for myself anymore like taking a shower, going to the bathroom, putting on a sheitl, going to a shiur etc etc. I have a live-in careworker who does everything now.

Sounds great doesn't it. I always complained before of how busy I was and that I had no time for myself. I used to dream of having a life of leisure. But now I've got it I don't like it.

Yes, I am still "Mum" and will always be that even if I sit in a wheelchair and do nothing all day.

Yes, I still work and have a sort of career.

It's just the loss of the word "Super" that is upsetting for me. I am just "Mrs Average" now.

I think the lesson here for me (and everyone else) is "Ezer who ashir hasameach be'helko".

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Is acupuncture painful?

I was quite anxious before today's treatment. I have had a lot of painful treatments in the last 10 months - EMG (severe electric shocks), Plasmaferrosis (removing all your blood and cleaning it) and an MRI (having your head and body blasted by a noise level of a million decibels). So I tried not to panic too much about a mild session of accupuncture. Anyway I can hardly feel my legs and arms so it shouldn't hurt too much?

I lay on the bed and the doctor started with the needles. No sensation first, then a little ouch. So I reckon he put in about 20 needles. "Fine", he said, "we are finished now". Great, I raised my head to start getting up. Then I noticed my arm/body was covered in needles! "Oh", he said, "I should have told you the needles have to stay in 20 minutes".

Wow, then I panicked! But with a background of relaxing music and a lot of praying I managed to stay calm until the end. Did it help? Too early to say yet, I still have to pay out for a lot more treatments ....

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

I walked in the garden

This is just for me to track my progress and for everyone who is interested in what I can manage.

Today for the first time I walked outside! Not unaided though. I walked into the garden on my walker and out the gate. Then I walked up and down 9 steps once. I did all this with some help from my physiotherapist though. Going down the steps was not great - not as good as I did in December when I left the hospital. But progress nevertheless ....

Tomorrow I am starting treatments with a doctor practising chinese medicine - homeopathy and accupunture. I hope it doesn't hurt too much. But it sure is hurting my pocket.

Monday, July 24, 2006

A state of war

With no TV and living in Jerusalem, we are quite out of touch with what is going on here. But everyone living in Eretz Yisroel feels the state of war right now, and the tremendous "Nissim" being experienced. So many hundreds of rockets and so few casualties. I saw an amazing video clip showing a man playing his piano in the middle of a house just destroyed by a rocket.

On the work front, all the charities I work with are flooded out by calls for help. Even Jerusalem is affected. I heard that more than 3000 people have moved here temporarily from up North. One of our neighbours is putting up 30 of his family members in his small apartment! Right now I am waiting up for a phone call from a charity that is sending out food to over 1000 people a day. I have to help them advertise to get donations for these meals.

Let's pray that the war ends soon ....

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Looking inwards?

This "blog thing" has really been fun for me. I keep thinking of subjects to write about and had in mind something to write about today. But today is not the same as yesterday.

This "illness" of mine has forced me to look inwards and think about middos and teshuva. But I just couldn't focus on me again today. There is too much going on in Israel right now to be self-centered. Jerusalem is not exactly close to the border, but the whole country feels the threat of war.

I think today's entry is aimed at all my complacent friends and family in England. No, I am not suggesting that everyone should make Aliyah. But just think about Israel ... A few things to do:
pray, give charity, fight anti-semitism, come on vacation here!

I was just taken out of this serious mood by a 3 year-old running everywhere with no knickers on and boundless energy. Life is still fun when you are surrounded by little kids.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Facts about Nepal

I think this is of interest to everyone in the Western world. These are "true" facts about life in Nepal as told to me by my Nepali careworker.

1. Men wear their watches with the face upwards, women wear them with the face palm side.
2. Babies only make (gedolim) in their nappies once a day
3. After the age of 50 husband and wife have to sleep in separate beds
4. A wife has to kiss the feet of her mother in-law every time she sees her
5. All women have small breasts
6. People throw away any food they don't like
7. Spitting in public is acceptable
8. Women don't smoke
9. There is noone in a wheelchair
10. Women don't work after the age of 50
11. After giving birth, a mother rests for 6 months

This list is to be continued at a later date ....

The beginning of the 3 weeks -17 Tammuz

It's strange not to be fasting today, but I still feel sad! I don't normally follow Israeli news, but for the last 2 days I have been glued to the updates on what looks like War. I have been forced to follow events in order to work on a Google campaign for Ynet. It is quite gruesome to profit from bad news, but a lot of people do including some of my charity customers. For me, it is amazing to see the upturn in searches for any Israel search terms hour by hour. Very addictive work.

Now I have to change my focus as this evening is Moshe's birthday - no songs and dancing - but I guess I have to be cheerful.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

A picture taken on my webcam!

Sunday, July 02, 2006

An Introduction

This is an introduction to a collection of my thoughts, feelings, days happenings and an insight into life.

No, it won't be that profound. Just updates on daily events for friends and family.

A quick summary of where I am up to now:
age - 40+
married - yes, up to 11 years
children - 5 bli ein hora
location - Jerusalem, Israel
work - snr account exec for JMG
hobbies - exercise, exercise, exercise and net surfing
religiouous observance - very "Ortho", but not fanatical
likes - kids
dislikes - kids & careworkers

Now a little about our family. We have 1 boy and 4 girls. The oldest is Yehuda (11 in August), next Rivka (age 9), Chavi (age 7), Tsipora (age 3) and Malki (age 20 months). With 4 girls, lots of money on jewellry, shabbos dresses, new shoes..... and I don't have any teenagers yet...All my children are tri-lingual - English, Hebrew and Yiddish. But when they speak English they have a very "strange" accent.

We are so fortunate - baruch hashem, bli ein hora - to be blessed with these children. Right now, even though it is very hard for me to do anything for them, they are a big source of nachas and joy for me !

I have been working for the last 4-5 years, and still am now. I work in Internet marketing for a small company and spent 2 years at the Jerusalem Post. I am very fortunate to still be able to work, I just need the computer and phone.

This is a brief summary of my recent predicament, the "true version".

It just happened very suddenly in September, although I had felt very weak since the birth of our last child, Malki. Within a few days I could no longer walk, and my arms and legs became numb. It was very scary ...Well, I had to spend 2 weeks in hospital being tested and prodded before anyone could find a reason why. Then a visiting professor from America saw me and he came up with a reason - an overdose of vitamin B6, causing nerve damage. Most bizarre.... I had been given this huge dose of B6 since July by a neurologist for carpal tunnel syndrome.

After this diagnosis the doctors sent me to Hadassah Mount Scopus hospital to the rehabilitation department for 3 months. I have been home since January with a careworker to look after the kids. After coming home I had a relapse and am now on a slow path of gradual improvement. Lots of physiotherapy and tons of patience.

I am still in a wheelchair, but can walk a little on a walker with help. The prognosis? Well, the doctors don't know as I am the only case in Israel. Some are pessimistic, others are more hopeful...But as you know, doctors don't know everything.

I try to be positive, and I always see people in the hospital much worse off than me. Hopefully this blog will give me a bit of fun!