January 8, 2012: Stellush

Well, it only took a week (and half the time she was asleep) but Stella seems to have charmed all the staff of the eighth floor. No, she has not been able to make chesed meals for the other patients, but her friendly demeanor and attitude reverberates well with nurses who are used to being yelled at by people in pain. I mean think about it, could you smile and say “when you get a chance” if you were requesting morphine?

One nurse even gave her the nickname “Stellush Chamuda.” Loosely translated, it means “Dear Stelly.”

Shabbat was an experience, although I much prefer to be home in Neve Daniel. BUT…. if you must spend Shabbat in a hospital….then Shaari Zedek isn’t bad. I don’t think they allow patients to light candles in hospitals in America. Or let the patients’ husbands sleep on the floor. Or enjoy home cooked meals while sitting on the patient’s’ bed.

By the way, thank you for the food. Although Shaari Zedek provides shabbat food in the dining room, that was not good enough for one of the readers of this blog who lives near the hospital. Right before Shabbat, she sent over so much food that not only was I well fed for both Shabbat meals, but I had enough to share with the two Rachels.

Two Rachels? Yes, these two girls who share a room and first name at a seminary hung out with us. One was a patient and the other kept her company. They were actually on their way to spend Shabbat at Neve Daniel when they had to detour to the emergency room. Since they were missing visiting our wonderful Yishuv, we tried to bring a bit of the Neve Daniel warmth to them. Yes, even in a hospital bed my wife seems to attract guests to our Shabbat “table.”

Stella, unfortunately, did not have the best Shabbat. She is so determined to get better, but recovery from such extreme surgery is not easy. As the surgeon told us originally, recovery is not a simple progression. It is always a few steps forward and a few back. But at this point, she can read and may even be ready to go on her laptop and respond to the e-mails herself.

My parents had come to help out with the kids and my Dad lamented that he wasn’t in good enough shape to really help Stella. But I pointed out, even I cannot really help her. I can sit by her side, but the strength to get better is something only she can summon.

With a small number of friends, we have made sure she is never alone in the hospital. She does not like the fact that she is inconveniencing people by pulling them away from their work and their families. But what my dear, sweet wife will never get is that we are doing this not just for her, but for ourselves. I can think of no better way that I could spend an evening than on the floor by her bed, able to run and get the nurse so that she doesn’t have to wait if she needs something.

The few people who have stayed with her through the night will never forget the experience, long after specific memories of grand hotel vacations have faded. One friend — who has six kids at home — remarked that it was actually the best sleep she has had in years. When asked to do a shift, another friend said “anytime of the day or night for as long as you need.” We actually have no problem finding volunteers, there is a waiting list to stay with her that is longer than one to get reservations at a fancy restaurant.

The surgeon is pleased with the way her recovery is going, and now we must wait for more tests to determine the next step. Please don’t ask, I will let you know when I have information I wish to share.

A final word to all my running family who are preparing to run the Tiveria Marathon this week.

Enjoy every second, every step. It may seem hard to enjoy what becomes a painful ordeal at one point, but think how great it really is to have a body that can travel so far, so fast.

Stella and I did about 200 meters at a 15 minutes/kilometer pace yesterday. And that was as rewarding as any long runs I have done.

A few people have weighed in this season on why they run. Let me add one more.

Run to be strong. Run to build yourself up physically and mentally.

I believe that being a runner has helped me greatly as I try and navigate this very difficult time in my life.

I hope that the hardest thing you ever have to do is run a marathon. But if life throws you a somewhat harder challenge, you can use the same skills you develop in running to get to the finish line. If you can mentally get yourself through a 42 kilometer race, you can get yourself through almost anything.

Good luck. Stella and I will be thinking of you

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