As part of my continual effort to rid my life of clutter, I decided it was high time to get rid of any vestigial organs I might have lying around. At least that’s how I would like to think of it!
Last Saturday I had surgery to remove my appendix. I found myself on the other end of congregational Mi Sheberachs, as I let someone else take my place on the bima at the Bar Mitzvah of a student when no pleading with the surgeon allowed me to be there.
The pain started on Wednesday, and when it had not improved by Friday, my father urged me to see my doctor. The doctor didn’t like what he saw and he sent me to get a CAT scan. Barium. Yuck. The CAT scan technician didn’t like what he saw and he sent me to the emergency room for a surgical consult. By now, it definitely looked like I would not make it to services on Friday night. My symptoms were somewhat atypical, but the CAT scan did show some swelling in my appendix. The surgeon decided that he wanted to observe me overnight.
Surgeons have a reputation for being uncaring and cold. Some say they have to be that way, they cut people up for a living. This reputation is unfair however, at least based on my experience with my surgeon, Dr. Gordon at White Plains Hospital. He was kind and gentle. He held my hand when he saw I was upset. And… weirdest of all, he made a deal with me. Unheard of! He knew that I wanted to be at the Bar Mitzvah in the morning. He said that he would order my labs for 5am, and would be in to see me by 7, so that if there was any chance of avoiding or postponing surgery, allowing me to attend the Bar Mitzvah, he would make it happen.
True to his word, he did all of those things, but unfortunately, there was no improvement by morning. He felt that it was in my best interest to get the appendix out, because there was always the possibility of it rupturing, the consequences of which would be dire. The surgery was scheduled for that day, and the Rabbi’s wife, Naomi Adler, stepped in for the Bar Mitzvah, filling in for me, beautifully.
I’ve never been under the knife before and I was terrified. But, with a caring surgeon, a wonderful husband, and my amazing parents at my bedside I had to believe that I would be okay. I have been home and recovering since Monday afternoon. I still have some pain and am overwhelmingly tired all the time, but it is amazing how much better I am each day than the one before. The body is a miracle in its ability to heal.
I want to express my deepest gratitude to Dr. Gordon for his incredible kindness and skill, my husband for his never ending patience and support, my parents for their love, advice, and all of the driving to and from the hospital, my community for their patience and their continual Mi Sheberachs and, last but certainly not least:
בָּרוּךְ אַתָּה ה’ רופֵא כָל בָּשר וּמַפְלִיא לַעֲשות
In the “old days,” patients would follow doctors’ orders without a question. It’s a positive step to be your own advocate. You’ll find that, please God, when you are pregnant and then, in labor. But look at what trust in your doctor can bring – a wonderful outcome. I love your story, because it has just the right balance! I wish you Refuah Shleimah.
Well, since my symptoms were atypical, he was willing to give me some choices and wiggle room. He wasn’t presenting things as orders, but as options.
Sent via mobile phone
Wishing you a refuah sh’leimah. I, too, am recovering from surgery and, like you, am grateful for caring, competent doctors, amazed by the healing powers of the human body, and overwhelmed by the love, affection and support provided by an incredibly wide circle of family and friends.
This is where Debbie Friedman’s composition for Mi-sheberach is so powerful. Somehow it opens the well of our deepest hopes for redemption and our deepest gratitude for being redeemed. Because that is really what recovery from illness is: redemption.
Congratulations on recovery! By now you are probably back at work. Medicine as we know it today is an amazing, incredible thing.