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September 1, 2015 / 17 Elul, 5775
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A Lesson In Balancing…

An hour later -- I kid you not, the hospital called. The surgery is in less than 2 week...

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I’ve spent the last few days canceling things that I had carefully arranged – meetings, seminars, events…it’s kind of depressing. At the same time, there is a side of me that stands on the side and watches with interest. This is a new me that I’ve never met before. It’s rarely in my life been about me.

It’s an interesting, almost humbling experience. I almost always over-extend myself, take on more than I can handle…but in the end, I really do manage…usually with help…to accomplish it. I’m more likely to shlep something too heavy than ask for help; more likely to over-commit to something and then feel resentful.

There was a great line in a Harry Chapin song (yes, I’m a forever fan of his). There were so many points to that song, but one of the lines was about some people (in the song, it was boys) who were taught to reach for the stars, while others (in the song, it was girls) were told to reach for the shelves. So, forgetting the boy/girl thing here – I know a lot of people who reach for the shelves and live perfectly happy lives. For some reason, I’m someone who reaches for the stars. At least I think I am…so, the last few days have been humbling because not only are the stars out of reach, so too is the shelf.

I fell something like four months ago on my way home from work. I thought I’d broken something and was happy to find that I hadn’t – what I did do, was rip the heck out of my rotator cuff and it isn’t going to get better without surgery.

I got the name of a top doctor – and was then told he could do the surgery in November. Well, I was really honored to have met him, to have him want to do the surgery…but from June to November is a lifetime when you are in pain, not sleeping, and you know that the surgery is only the first step…which will be followed by months of physical therapy.

November??? How was it possible?  I’m spending my life barely sleeping and controlling how I move. I can’t lift heavy things with my left arm; trying to control a shopping cart has brought me to tears. If it takes two hands to do it, I’m accepted that I’m limited.

I managed to take the garbage out on Friday – I was so proud of myself. I lifted it with my right hand, barely using my left…careful, easy…all’s well – and then as my right hand expertly held the garbage aloft, my left hand reached out to the side to close the front door – OUCH…I can’t move my left hand that way!

I can write; I can type – all that takes place at or below elbow level is fine so long as it doesn’t involve lifting or moving my left arm towards my back (or even the side).

And while I was learning to copy, I was walking around complaining, thinking of trying to find the second or third or fourth best doctor in the country – anything not to have to wait until November, when my daughter called the miracle rabbi back. This is an amazing man who spends his life matching patient to doctor and then, pushes “his” person right at the doctor and says – heal this person now! And, the doctor does.

So this rabbi got us an appointment with the #1 doctor… and then, when we thought the surgery was only going to be in November – we called the rabbi back… disappointed, discouraged…ready to give up – please, we know he’s busy – give us another name. Wait, said the rabbi.

An hour later — I kid you not, the hospital called. The surgery is in less than 2 weeks and so now, I realize that I was reconciled to November… I have plans…I scheduled things…now what?

No, I can’t teach that course.

No, I can’t make that meeting.

No, you can hold that event, but I won’t be there.

Will I make it to the synagogue on Rosh Hashana? Will I be able to get myself dressed? Stand that long? Forget holding a prayer book…turning a page.

Cooking for the holidays? Shopping….I still haven’t gotten the kids their school books…Aliza needs skirts and new shirts…I got most of Davidi’s new clothes, but he still needs more…

Suddenly, my life has been flipped around – so much of what I’d planned in the coming weeks needs to be re-evaluated.

And among other things…I don’t know how much I’ll be able to write in the initial weeks after the operation. Will words flow into my brain or will I be too tired and yeah, in too much pain? Will I find a way to type with one hand and keep posting – I hope I will.

If I’m absent in the coming weeks – please bear with me and keep coming back…it’ll take time, but so long as there are words in my head, I’ll need a place to put them…meanwhile, I guess I’ll enjoy the next two weeks and try to post a bit more…stay tuned…

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6 Responses to “A Lesson In Balancing…”

  1. Batya Spiegelman Medad says:

    this isn't my article.

  2. Batya Spiegelman Medad says:

    the Jewish Press goofed up. They'll fix it soon I hope.

  3. Ouch! Refuah Shlayma Paula!.
    K'tiva v'chatima tova.
    Reva Van Leeuwen

  4. Batya Spiegelman Medad says:

    Refuah shleimah Paula R. Stern. You'll soon be back, better than ever, G-d willing.

  5. Leah Zakh Aharoni says:

    Refua shlema, paula. these enforced breaks are hard!

  6. Leah Zakh Aharoni says:

    Refua shlema, paula. these enforced breaks are hard!

Comments are closed.

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