August 30, 2008: Harry Potter and the Deathly Toilet

Accio toilet paper!

Although I don’t think I can write anything fun or amusing about the charming illness of dysentery, enough people have challenged me to see if I can turn my personal misery into something funny, so here goes.

Of course, there are much worse things in life than to suffer a really bad stomach ache. Especially in Israel, we have more than our share of tragedies to truly weep over. So take this as it is. At the end of the day, all I have now is a case of “ain baya, ain baya.”

Now, I have noticed that Israel is an intense country. Everything is intense here. We argue politics intensely. (O.K., where I live the arguments are between those on the right and those on the far right, but we still argue.) Friendships tend to be more intense. Guys who have served under fire in the same combat unit have a bond that few can comprehend.

Want intense food? Try Yeminite schug. Get a shwarma with extra pill-pull. (And you just may need to pull a pill.) And don’t forget the intensity of mongol-mania on Yom Hatzmaut. Yes, we are a nation of intensity.

And alas, that seems to apply to getting sick. The first time I realized that I was not well was on a Monday morning when I woke up shivering with cold. Now anyone who lives in Neve Daniel knows what it is like to be cold. I remember walking to shul on a Friday night through buckets of hail and gale force winds. Compared to my shakes on Monday, that was a light summer’s breeze.

Yet just when I piled the blankets on top of myself, I felt hotter than I did on Tisha B’Av at the Kotel. (If you have every been to the Kotel on Tisha B’Av afternoon, you will know what I am talking about. If you haven’t, there is always next year!)

While I was wondering why the temperature inside my body was fluctuating so strangely, I felt a compelling need to rush to the bathroom. It was a nice bathroom, which was good because I ended up living there for the next few days. (I would write more graphically here but it wouldn’t get past the IDF censor. I think you get the picture.) All I can say is that my son left the latest Harry Potter book lying around. I have now read it nine times.

Four in the morning, I decided that I would make a break for the nearest “all-night” medical center and ask them politely to remove my intestines. Since my family was away in the States, I grabbed the keys and attempted to drive. This was a mistake. Luckily, there just ain’t that much traffic at that hour.

Of course, no one had told me that the “all-night” medical clinic now closes at “midnight.” So I now had to drive back to where I was sleeping, along with my intestines. It was not an easy ride. If the shepherd missing the sheep is reading this, I am truly sorry, but shouldn’t you lock your flock up at four in the morning?

For the next week and a half, I became even better acquainted with my friend’s bathroom and continued reading about Mr. Potter’s exploits. When I finally decided I needed a new book, I saw a copy of “The South Beach Diet.” Did you know the author made tens of millions of dollars from that book? I wonder if I could make money writing “The Dysentery Diet.” Just go a few weeks living in a bathroom and eating no more than one plain pita a day. Guaranteed to take off all those unwanted (as well as several wanted) kilos.

I thankfully live in a wonderful place where there is no shortage of people wanting to help a friend in distress. Although I couldn’t eat them most of the time, I was given so many bowls of chicken soup I could have taken a bath in them. And after the first morning, I had many volunteer drivers to take me to the medical center to get inspected, injected, and selected for more tests.

Well, just two short weeks later I am looking thin and trim and have begun eating real food again. The only lasting effect seems to be a strong aversion to toast and Harry Potter books. And hopefully one day soon, I can once again find some “intense food.”

Ain baya, ain baya.

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