Meir Panim delivers warmth, special care to families in need.
Levi C. (not his real name) is a 26-year-old chassidic young man. At age 20, he was hit by a car. Now, over five years later, after many hospitalizations and then rehabilitation, he is functioning pretty well physically. But cognitively he has some problems and serious issues with short- term memory.
He lives with a family as a boarder, has a life coach who is with him throughout the day, and a job that recognizes his unique abilities in recalling what he used to know – cold. He is well versed in three languages (Hebrew, Yiddish and English). Levi C. was referred to me about eight months ago to see if I could help develop a rehab schedule to advance him further in his recovery.
It took a while for him to feel comfortable with me, a woman, but a non-chassidish one, as well!
When we would meet he would say that he doesn’t recall anything from the last meeting. I take this at face value and each visit I try to create a “learning” experience as well as an opportunity to discuss issues that bother him.
Over the months he has learned to make note of occurrences in his diary. We also try to hook a memory with an emotion, as emotions are stored in a different place in the brain than verbal memories.
When he went home for a fairly long visit, I called, and he did remember me. I joke with him that his recall of me throws his “no short term memory” diagnosis into the garbage can.
He laughs and requests that I ask him anything else other than who is speaking to him, and he insists he will not remember. He partially grins at that comment himself.
Recently during an appointment, for the first time, he told me a dream he remembered. He said it was a question that bothered him, and he thought maybe he had dreamt it. I waited with bated breath to hear the question.
“You are a psychologist doctor, right? What kind of person would do this? I have my favorite type of cake in front of me – chocolate. I leave it on my plate and go to wash. When I come back, someone has eaten it, and there are barely any crumbs on the plate. Who would do that?” he plaintively asks.
I am ecstatic! This is really a breakthrough! “You know,” I say, “you have just told me a very interesting and special story!”
I recall a book, Who Moved My Cheese? An Amazing Way to Deal with Change in Your Work and in Your Life (ISBN 0-399-14446-3), published in 1998. It is a motivational book by Spencer Johnson that uses parables to describe change in one’s work and life. And then he gives four typical reactions to said change, with two mice, two “little people.”
Who Moved My Cheese? New York Times business bestseller since release remained on the list for almost five years. Also, it has spent over 200 weeks on Publishers Weekly’s hardcover, nonfiction list.
This is a brief (very thin book) tale of two mice and two humans who live in a maze and one day are faced with change: someone moves their cheese. Reactions vary from quick adjustment to waiting for the situation to change by itself to suit their needs.
This story is about adjusting attitudes toward change in life, especially at work. Change occurs whether a person is ready or not, but the author affirms that it can be positive.
His principles are to anticipate change, let go of the old, and act the way you would if you were not afraid. Listeners are still left with questions about making his/her own specific personal changes.
I looked at Levi and said, “Five years ago, you had a wonderful life. You knew you were an iluyi (Talmudically-gifted young man) who knew so much. You got up and went outside, and when you “came back,” there were only crumbs of your former life, your ‘chocolate cake’ on your plate.”
Levi looks at me very pensively. “I see what you are saying.”
“But this isn’t the end,” I continued. ” What is your next favorite cake or cookie?”
Levi thinks a minute and says his usual: “I don’t think I remember.”
“How about chocolate chip cookies?”
“Yes, I do like them.”
We were going to meet in two days. I prepared chocolate chip cookie batter at home in the morning, put it in a very thick plastic bag and put the chocolate chips in another bag.
When Levi came for his appointment I asked him to remind me of the cake story. He repeated the whole story with the same sadness and amazement that “someone” would do such a despicable act.
I showed him the batter and asked him to knead in the chocolate chips. We then placed the batter in little foil cupcake tins, and I put them in the toaster oven we keep in the office.
With the wonderful smell wafting through the hospital corridor, people knocked on my door and asked what was going on.
I used this opportunity to give the nimshal (parable’s meaning). I said that there are other kinds of cookies and cakes waiting for you to make and eat. Many people think that a new “chocolate chip cookie” is wonderful. You have a new and different life now, no question about it. But it looks, smells and tastes pretty good!
I told him what I read in a book, but know from life: “Things change. They always have changed and always will change. And while there’s no single way to deal with change, the consequence of pretending change won’t happen is always the same: The cakes/cookies run out.” (Lou Schuler).
We said the brachah (prayer) on the cookies. Levi had the first one. He smiled and said: “Pretty good.”
I pray we have found the recipe for success.
Judith Guedalia, Ph.D., is director of the Neuropsychology Unit and senior medical psychologist at Shaare Zedek Medical Center. She is also a licensed psychologist, supervisor and specialist in Medical, Rehabilitation and Developmental Psychology and EMDR Level II Co-Chair, Nefesh Israel. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
About the Author:
If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.
Comments are closed.
Until the year I decided to put a stop to all my tremors. I realized that if I wanted my family to experience Pesach and its preparations as uplifting and fulfilling, I’d have to relax and loosen up.
David looked up. “Hatzlacha, Dina,” he smiled. “I hope everything goes well.”
In 1756, when the ominous threat of Islamic terror against Jews reached Tunis as well, Friha became one of its tragic victims.
Are we allowed to lie for shalom bayis? It would seem so, but what might be a healthy guideline for when it’s okay and when it’s not?
The connection between what I experienced as a high school teenager and the adult I am today did not come easy to me.
Isn’t therapy about being yourself; aren’t there different ways for people to communicate with each other?
Jack was awarded a blue and gold first-place trophy, appropriately topped off with a golden bee.
Participating in ManiCures during the school day may feel like a break from learning, but the intended message to the students was loud and clear. Learning and chesed come in all forms, and can be fun.
Building campaign chairman Jack Gluck has led the effort over many years.
When using an extension cord always make sure to use the correct rated extension cord.
There was no question that when Mrs. Cohen entered the room to meet the teacher she was hostile from the outset.
Szold was among the founders and leaders (she served on its executive committee) of Ichud (“Unity”), a political group that campaigned against the creation of an independent, sovereign Jewish state in Eretz Yisrael.
My friend is a strong and capable Jewish woman, but she acted with a passivity that seemed out of character.
Certainly today’s communication via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter and the like, including the ubiquitous Whatsapp, has reduced the need to talk with people and communicate at length.
I sit here mulling over the results of my latest PET Scan (Positron Emission Tomography), a nuclear medicine imaging technique which produces a three-dimensional image or picture (in color) of my innards and of the latest actions of the “bad buggars” that have invaded me (as I live through quite a serious case of cancer).
Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/who-moved-my-chocolate-cake/2007/01/31/
Scan this QR code to visit this page online: