Friday, May 31, 2013

Ready Steady Go

it is 630 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  candle lighting is around 7:15 p.m.  the house is freshly mopped, and the food is on the electric hotplate.  i spent the day making shabbat meals for the kids.  they both went to a neighbor's wedding last night and had to go to work today.  i sent the daughter-in-law's sister to the supermarket for me.  it is super hot outside and i couldn't go out for fear of another gastritis attack.

i only bought fish and potatoes today.  i used the rest of the chicken schnitzels and chicken parts from the kids' fridge.  i didn't buy drinks or beer.  they will have to manage with water and fruity syrup.  it's amazing that i was able to function at all.  i even washed down the floors.

i spent the morning on wednesday chasing after referrals and forms at the clinic.  they automatically, send all of my paperwork to hospitals in haifa and nahariya, even though i've been doing all my treatments and tests in tel aviv.  what a pain!!!  i was practically doubled up with stomach pain, too.  they told me to come back in the afternoon.  they said that they check all faxes after noon.  i wanted to walk around town and perhaps shop a little.  i couldn't go anywhere.  i went to the bank to get money for travelling and i came right back to the clinic to wait.

fortunately, the referral had already arrived.  i caught a cab and went right home to relax.  i had a long day ahead of me.  my MRI was scheduled in tel aviv at 2:00 a.m.  i took a pain pill and tried to lie down.  it took a long time for it to kick in.  at 5:00 p.m. i was suffering from the pain.  i wanted to wait a little longer to try the opiate that the doctor had given me for heart spasms and penile erection dysfunction.  yes that's right.  i had eaten a turkey sandwich and i needed to take the opiate with milk, so i waited.

i finally took the pill and it never kicked in.  it made me feel really sick.  i was nauseous.  i called a taxi at around 8:45 p.m. to get to the bus stop near my sister's apartment complex.  the 9:30 p.m. bnei brak bus was scheduled to arrive in tel aviv at about 1:00 p.m.  there was another bus from rosh pina at !0:00 p.m but it was closer to go to my sister's apartment.  by the time i got there, i was feeling miserable.  i had waited outside for over 20 minutes.  the cab driver was waiting on the wrong street.

my sister told me that i looked really sick.  i was pale as a ghost.  she had organized an inexpensive car service to take us to the hospital and back.  i was relieved not to have had to ride the bus for 3 1/2 hours one way.  my son had offered to take me, but i didn't like the idea of his driving me home in the middle of the night.  i felt more comfortable with a 'professional cabbie'  i was fortunate to have slept all the way to tel aviv.  i was feeling awful.  i took another pain pill just before i left.

i had a mild sedative along with me just in case i needed one.  i was so tired from the pain and the pain pills that i was pretty wiped out.  i was afraid of taking the sedative.  i was afraid  that i might get dizzy.  we arrived at the hospital at 1:00 a.m.  there were a bunch of people already there.  i was told that i might get taken after 3:00 a.m.   the cabbie agreed to wait for three hours.  i was taken at 2:30 a.m.  i was given some meds intravenously.  i didn't look into the Mri machine.  i closed my eyes as soon as i laid down.  i was in the machine for about 25 minutes.  the noise was unbearable.  my back was killing me.  i wanted out so badly.

they gave me ear plugs which really didn't block out the noise.  it felt like they were doing some sort of construction work around my head.  at one point my head and the table started jerking.  they kept on asking me if i was okay.  each time i said i was okay.  they give you a buzzer and place your finger right next to it in case you need to exit for some reason.  it was comforting .

as soon as i got out of the chamber i wanted to go home.  i'm so glad that we decided to cab it.  i was home and in bed by 6:00 a.m.  i have an appointment to see the neurosurgeon on tuesday.  i hope it will be good news.  shabbat shalom!!!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

First You Cry

it is 11:20 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.  i am very tired today.  i am not speaking to anyone.  i am laying low. i am trying to be calm.  i spent a good deal of time yesterday raging and screaming on the phone with my sister.  i went to the doctor at 9:00 a.m.  i called a cab.  i didn't bother to try to catch a ride with the kids.  there was plenty of screaming and tension, downstairs.

i sat for about 1 1/2 hours hunched over with pain.  there were just a few people waiting to see the doctor, but every once in a while, someone showed up with an urgent request, and got in to see the doctor.  there were a couple of very obnoxious people who were absolutely, against anyone getting in to see the doctor without an appointment.  they were very adamant and vocal about the subject.  i tried to get a message to them that there were, indeed, times when one must see the doctor without an appointment.  i finally just shut up.  i thought that there was going to be a riot, at one point.

i finally got in to see the doctor.  i haven't seen him since i went away to treatment.  i blurted out to him that i didn't have cancer anymore, but they had discovered a tumor in my skull.  i handed him all of the paper work.  i did need the referral forms taken care of.  i started crying.  he told me that he had a cousin at hadassah hospital who did radio waves to break up tumors.  he didn't know if my tumor was too large to do that process, in stead of the surgery.

i tried to tell him through my tears, that i was having terrible stomach pain.  i told him that i thought i had pylori.  he didn't examine me at all or ask me any questions.  he gave me a prescription for a vascular opiate that helps erectile dysfunction and spasms of the heart.  the druggist told me to take the medication after food.  no one bothered to tell me how often or how many pills to take.

i came home and read the instructions.  i went insane.  i started raging.  my sister had left me a 'half assed' message about doing the MRI.  the hospital had called her while i was away.  they had an appointment for me on wednesday between 2-3 a.m.  apparently, one has to wait a heck of a long time to receive a normal appointment to do an mri.  i called up my sister and totally lost it on her.  as usual, she was remiss in giving over information to me.  i started crying, raging, and screaming all at the same time.  i wasn't ready to travel back to tel aviv this week.  i needed more time to digest the news.

she decided, as well as the radiologist, to do the mri, as soon as possible.  i went on line to look up the mri.  i started crying, raging, and screaming all over again.  it is truly, one mother, of a slim tunnel.  i wonder if they will let me wear an eye mask.  i can't afford to open my eyes for a second.  my sister and the radiologist think i should be sedated.  i don't see how taking a valium will stop me from being claustrophobic.

for someone, who has never done a ct, pet scan, or mri, my sister, sures knows a  lo about it.  i am taking the day off.  my brain has shut down.  i am concentrating on eating.  it helps the gut.  i've already put back 2 kilos.  i finally took the opiate last night.  i was scared to death about the side effects.  it took forever to kick in.  it didn't completely do the trick.  a few hours later, i took a regular, over the counter pain pill.  it helped.  i also started moving the old bowels.

before going home, i shlepped around town a bit , to pay off some bills.  i then  stopped off at a small market on my way home.  i was hungry and wanted to buy a few things to eat.  i decided to buy food to make a thanks giving meal at my son's torah class tonight.  after all, i am cancer free.  i bought several salads, some deli meats, cookies, square pitas, drinks and nash.  i may have overdone it.  i don't know.  i'll ask my daughter-in-law to set it all up for my son.

i got home to a strange sight.  there were two enormous crows sitting on the lamp post in front of my house.  they were squawking up a ton of noise.  i quickly, entered my courtyard with my groceries.  i went to lie down.  there was a tremendous amount of noise by the crows for a really long time.  i finally went outside to see what all the rukus was about.  my neighbors were all peering out their windows.  they called to me to go back into my house.  apparently, a toddler crow was in front of my house.  he couldn't fly.  he was walking about and calling out to his parents.  my pincher was trying to get to the toddler.  one crow was perched on top of my front gate and trying to scare off my dog.  the other parent was perched on the lamp post also making a lot of noise.

it was a scene, straight out of alfred hitchkock's 'the birds'.  i was trying to get my dog away from the crows. i was afraid of being attacked.  my neighbors were screaming for me to get away.  i finally ran and got the dog, while the crow temporarily, perched in my tree.  with the dog inside, the noise subsided a bit.  but the toddler crow came back and stood in front of my gate.  it's parents were perched on my roof.

my grandkids were suppossed to be coming home and i wanted to get them out of the car without any problems.  my neighbors all said that there had been crow attacks on children.  i waited outside for nearly 2 hours.  the dog was barking to get out the entire time.  it was too weird!  the neighbor called the town's veternarian to come and pick up the baby crow.  i heard squawking noises until late at night.  today it is quiet.  maybe the vet came. who knows?  i am layling low.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Good News

it is almost 8:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  i was already awakened this morning by my grandson.  he asked for chocolate milk, right off the bat.  i had gotten up at about 5:00 a.m with stomach pains. i took a pill. i travelled to tel aviv yesterday by myself.  that little inner voice let me know that i was in for some not great news.  i didn't want to break down in front of my sister.

i don't know how i always hear these things before they occur, but i do.  i have always been a bit psychic.  i was asked once, by a 'healy feely' healer if i was a medium.  i answered that i was a size large.  but truthfully, i have always been sensitive to suggestions and other peoples' feelings.  i have always had very strong intuition and hunches.

anyway, the doctor gave me a cancer free diagnosis.  praise the Lord!!!  i had heard the words, "sorry to have to tell you this" before i entered his office.  he shared the diagrams of the pet scan with me and everything seemed to be going my way.  suddenly as he read the written report,  i heard those same words. he was sorry to have to tell me that they had found a benign tumor on my skull.  it seems to be pre- existing the cancer treatment.  the first hospital completely missed it in december.  the next thing i was being told, was to schedule an MRI and appointment with a neurosurgeon.  i cracked up.   i couldn't stop crying.

the doctor did an internal exam with another female gyn.  she couldn't understand why i was sad.  i had just been given such great news.  my cancer was gone.  why was i crying.  all i could imagine was my head being sawed open.  i imagined the very claustrophobic chamber of the MRI and i already couldn't breathe.  i imagined my head covered in sterile bandages.  i already was imagining the worst scenario.  would i be left a vegetable?  who would take care of me if i was a drooling old lady in a wheelchair.

i don't have enough strength to rejoice in my good news.  i am overwhelmed by the thought of going back to tel aviv to do, yet, another invasive test.  the thought of surgery sends me to the moon.  i am a coward.  i can't cope anymore.  i still have not recovered form the radiation.  i still cannot enjoy a nice stroll down the lane.  i am housebound.  i have stomach pain and i am seriously, constipated for the first time in my life.  i don't have a life.  i am a walking list of complaints.

i told my grandson that the doctor told me that i wasn't sick anymore.  i mentioned that i had a 'boo-boo''in my head.  he whispered in my ear that i should have a full recovery, in hebrew.  i can imagine coming home after surgery fully bandaged.  i can imagine having pretty strong headaches, too.  i am now anxiously waiting to have a seizure or something.  i am scared out of mind. more scared than i was, even when i had cancer.  i don't know why i am taking this so hard.  i am just exhausted.

i still have to get dressed and get downtown to see my doctor.  i don't have an appointment.  i don't care.  i haven't seen him since i went away to do the radiation.  the last thing he said to me was that bad things do happen at good hospitals.  he told me that i was searching for angel, when i told him that i was going to do all my treatment at tel hashomer in tel aviv.  he told me that angels didn't exist. i definitely, found a couple of angels there.  i'm hoping that the neurosurgeon will be another angel for me, too.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Some Things Stay The Same

it is 1:30 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  i thought that i would have a quiet shabbat by myself.  a friend wanted to join me but i told her that i was still suffering with stomach pain and wasn't planning on cooking.  i actually, bought some mini whole wheat pitas, canned tuna and a package of cured turkey to feast on for shabbat.  i also shopped for fish and chicken earlier in the week. just in case, the kids were planning on being home.

last night, my son asked if i could bake a cheesecake for shabbat.  the kids were definitely, planning on being home for shabbat.  the daughter-in-law is cooking.  i gave over the fish and chicken and even some lamb rib lets for her to throw into the cholent.  i gave her some money to buy the sour cream, white cheese and whipped cream for the cheesecake.  i went downstairs to 'borrow' some vanilla pudding.  i didn't feel like fussing to make a caramelized cookie crust.  this recipe is crust less.  it's topped with a lot of whipped cream.

the actual recipe calls for strawberries on top, but that season has passed us by.  i decided to make a second cake to bring to my neighbors, who have been sitting shiva all week.  i was too ill to visit them.  we are having a heat wave.  it's blazing hot outside.  the inside isn't so comfortable, either.  usually, it's freezing up here.  not today.  i still need to do my floors, but i don't have the strength.  the stomach pain is easing up.  i've been living on a homeopathic remedy.

i had a morning visit frorm a good gal pal.  she had dropped her dog off at the vets up here to be neutered and have a little bit of dental work, to boot.  poor thing, she was so nervous.  according to the jewish code of law, castrating an animal is forbidden.  i don't have a male dog.  i had my two females 'fixed' because they were full of tumors from receiving anti pregnancy shots.  i had a heter (rabbinical permission) to do the procedures.

my friend went to pick up her dog and no one gave her post op instructions.  i encouraged her to call the vet on his cell phone.  thank goodness she did.  she thought she had to give the dog antibiotics five times a day.  that did seem excessive to me, but nonetheless, i explained to her that it meant that she had to administer the drug every five hours.  it turned out that she needed to give the dog the meds twice a day for 5 days.  are we having fun yet?

the other night at around 1:00 a.m. the phone rang.  i couldn't imagine anyone calling me at that unholy hour.  it was my son.  appparently,  there was another rat downstairs in the kitchen.  he wanted me to bring the pincher down to help trap the rat.  my stomach was killing me.  the dog wasn't really interested.  my son managed to catch the rat under a broom handle but the dog didn't come to his aid.  the rat escaped.  my son was livid.  he wanted to kill the dog.  i had a moment to think about trying to kill the rat by stomping on its head with my shoe.  i decided not to do it.

my son lamented that if he lived in a normal place he wouldn't be having rat problems.  here we go again.  some things never change.  i told him to try and find a normal place.  a normal place where you can live rent free and have on call babysitting services.  i was too much in pain to get angry.  i told him to clean up the place and  get rid of the garbage bags on the floor.  i also told him to keep his closet doors closed and not leave food stuffs on the floor.

you can't really get an exterminator to do a normal job.  they can leave tons of poisoned pellets around easily enough.  the problem is when the rats retreat to hidden places to die.  you are left with dead, decomposing rats in places you can't reach.  the stench is unbearable.  you also do not want to leave poisoned pellets around a househould with small children and dogs, running around and getting into trouble all the time. i  don't know who's more problematic, the toddler or the pincher.

i went to the doctor yesterday evening.  i didn't dare venture out in the noon day heat. i called a taxi.  however,  he wasn't there.  apparently, the office was also locked up so i couldn't get the referral forms off the machine.  i went to the post office first.  i had gotten a registered letter.  i always get nervous when i have a letter to pick up.  it was from the national insurance bureau.  they were letting me know that they wouldn't be providing me with any help in my house.  i guess the social worker deemed me way too healthy to require someone to come to my house.

the fact that i could shower and go to the toilet on my own was the deciding factor.  someone to help me with my errands, food shopping, laundry, dishes and general cleaning was out of the question.  when i first came home, i couldn' t even make myself a cup of tea.  it's like most things in the country, it's who you know in 'high' places.  my friend, who works for a company that provides home care, is often sent to a person's home that is immaculate.  she is always called upon to clean the home even though you can eat off the floors in these places.  i desperately, needed some help at the beginning.  i wasn't pretending to be helpless.  but americans are often passed over for these governmental services because we don't know the right people.

i was afraid to read the letter by myself.  i saved it for my kids to translate.  i decided to try the medical clinic in town.  i still had 45 minutes left, before they closed.  i grabbed a taxi.  i got there in time to get the forms.  it took a while for the clerk to process them.  i ran into a dear old lady friend of mine.  i hadn't seen her in months.  she gets out more than i do, even with the use of a cane.  she's a dynamo.  i'm a slouch.  a true couch potato.

i felt very disorientated in town.  i also felt dizzy.  i waited for the bus for a long time.  i didn't want to spring for another taxi.  i stopped off at my friend on the next street to chat.  i felt awful the entire time.  i was nauseous and had stomach burning.  i made it home after about 8:00 p.m.  my son caught me as i was entering the house.  he wanted to make a shiva call and needed me to watch the sleeping kids.  he also had a neighborhood barbecue to attend.

my grandson woke up at 11:00 p.m.  he was soaking wet.  i changed him and he wanted some sugary cereal.  he then wanted some sugary drink with red dye.  any wonder he couldn't make it back to sleep?  i called my son at 11:30 p.m. to return home.  he had enjoyed a few shots of jack daniel's.  i was in agony.  i needed my homeopathic pellets.  i got out of there a bit shy of midnight.  the grandkid was stuck to my legs.  i finally got free.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hard Times

it is 10:30 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.  we have had bad news lately.  on friday, i received an email about the funeral of a young man, the son-in-law of long time acquaintances.  the 26 year old died in a car crash.  he had just travelled home from his best friend's wedding out of town.  his young widow's life was spared, as she wasn't feeling up to going to the simcha.  she is pregnant with their second child.

i also received an email from my gentleman 'suitor', letting me know that his sister had just passed away.  although, she had suffered from a long list of ailments for a long time, the doctors had called her a medical miracle.  she seemed invincible.  i guess, so did this young man.  is there any wonder that i stare out of my kitchen window all the time, to see if the kids' car is in front of the house?

on sunday morning, my neighbors came to inform me that our neighbor, israel, had passed away at home.  he had been undergoing extensive chemotherapy for his cancer, for months.  he was skeletal. he was 65.  he had been a real macho guy.   i had prayed my heart out for a miracle for him.  i was overwhelmed by grief and fear.  i ran to the end of the street to visit his kids and wife.  my neighbors took me to the funeral.  i couldn't stand for its entirety.  i had to sit on a bench.  there was no way, that i could escort the body to the grave.  it was way uphill.  it was way too hot, too.

i stayed in bed again, yesterday.  i've been having stomach aches lately.  at first, i thought it was from overeating dairy on shavuot.  then, i thought it was due to the antibiotics that i took against the dysentery.  now, i'm concerned that it is something more problematic.  i see the radiologist on sunday.  i will get the results of the pet scan.  i am scared to death.  with each day closer to the appointment, i am getting more nervous.

this morning i went to the doctor to get the proper referrals and paperwork for the hospital visits, next week. i scheduled a visit to the gyn-oncologist.  i'm hoping the radiologist will tell me that i don't need to see the gynecologist right now.  if i do need to see him, i will have to stay over at a friend's place in kfar chabad, near tel aviv for a couple of days.  i think that i want to go to the doctor alone.  if G-d forbid, it isn't good news, i don't think that i can be around my family.  if it is good news, i will call everyone immediately with the good news.

i stopped off at the supermarket on my way home.  i had a check returned from them back in december.  i was already at the hospital for treatment.  sometime in january, my friend, who was watching the dogs for me, let me know that the supermarket had called.  they left no message.  i questioned my friend about the possibility of a bounced check.  i didn't have any way to call the super market from tel aviv.  i frankly, didn't care about it.  i just assumed that they would call back and leave a message.  when i returned to zefat at the beginning of march, i sent my daughter-in-law to the small supermarket down below.  she called to let me know that they refused my check because i had a bounced check at the affiliated larger supermarket.

i sent her with my credit card to pay the debt at once. the debt was for 160 shekels. ( a mere 45 dollars.) the check had already been sent to a collection agency in tel aviv.  i called the agency and asked if i could pay the debt over the phone with a credit card.  they refused.  they said i should pay 191 shekels at the supermarket.  like a fool, i took a taxi to the large supermarket.  i ran into someone in the office there.  they tried to call the office in tel aviv but no one answered. they took down my banking details and promised to call me back.

i explained that i had been in the hospital for a few months out of zefat, and had no idea that there was a returned check until recently.  it turned out that the check was from november.  the clerk had no way of processing the information without the code from the tel aviv office. i  actually, went back to the super another three times without any luck.  i spoke with the office another couple of times, too.  they told me that i could pay the amount at the post office.  guess what?  they didn't send me a bill to pay it at the post office. like a fool, i tried once again, to pay it at the supermarket.  in the meanwhile, i received a lawyer's letter threatening a lawsuit if i didn't pay 309 shekels at the post office.

i ran back to the supermarket and finally someone form the tel aviv office agreed that i could pay the 191 shekels by credit card.  they gave me a receipt and i figured the story was finished.  when i shopped last week for shavuot, i tried to pay with my checks.  guess what?  it was on the computer that i had an outstanding  debt with the company.  i had to use my sister's credit card to pay for all the groceries.  i brought my receipt today and patiently waited for over an hour to straighten this debt out.  finally, it was taken care of.  turns out that the tel aviv office, never got the fax with all the details from last month. i quickly did some shopping and headed home in a cab.

i'm exhausted and my stomach is aching.  i need to watch the grand kids for a few hours later.  i don't know why my stomach is aching so much.  i am not feeling a bit joyous today.  maybe tomorrow.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hard To Be Me

it is 7:00 a.m. in the holy city of zefat.   just got up and let the dogs out.  they could sure use a long walk.  had my morning hot chocolate.  it looks like rain.  i am supposed to make shabbat meals for the kids.  i still feel tired from the chag.  every time they decide to stay in for shabbat, it seems to fall on me to provide the food.  i am trying to rev myself up to get started.

once again, i need to shop for food.  i do have chicken and potatoes, but i need grape juice, fish,  cake, chumus, and lettuce.  i probably need to get some treats, too.  i am beat.  i still haven't managed to take the antibiotics for the dysentery bug that i have.  i don't know what my problem is.  i put the medicine on my shelf  and totally ignored it.  i don't want to think about swallowing any pills.  i don't want to struggle or gag or suffer the moment.  i am still traumatized from undergoing treatment.  i don't know when i'll feel easy in my skin again.

yesterday, i ate an entire cheesecake log by myself.  the day before, i finished off two pints of ice cream.  i don't know what to do with myself.  this is no time to get fat.  my siblings are coming from the states soon.  i have so much to do before they get here.  i am not exactly, a lot of fun to be around.  i am tired of discussing my bowel movements with people.  i am tired of being tired all the time.  i am tired of not be able to take long walks.  i am depressed.

i had a message from the new cook at the yeshiva, yesterday.  she wanted me to let her know what the guys like to eat.  i started to call her.  then i stopped.  i wanted to cry.  i still had the fantasy that  i would be returning to my job.  i still had the fantasy that i would start over as good as new.  i can't work right now.  making one holiday meal puts me in bed for a week.  i got the job originally, by knowing how to cook and prepare vegetarian meals from scratch.  i became the in house mom for the students.  i was the wise old lady who dispensed garlic when we all got sick.

i haven't had the strength to even visit the guys, yet.  i feel like an invalid.  i know that i am less than thankful for what i have.  my situation could be a lot worse.  but i feel like a loser.  i spent hours searching the net to come up with recipes for the yeshiva, before i started the job.  i laid out tons of money at the spice shop.  i made lists of what we needed to run the kitchen.  i used to schlep flats of eggs and bread in the morning.  i know it would be wrong, if the yeshiva couldn't function without me.  but still, i'm not ready to give up my precious energy to someone who is taking my livelihood.  that is a selfish and jealous thought.  i am ashamed of  myself.

i have to pick up my grandson from gan at 1:00 p.m.  i used to run down to the gan in 10 minutes.  i will have to order a cab. just one more thing that is hard for me to do.  yesterday, i was just finishing up the blog, when my grandson hit the off button.  i was beside myself.  i thought that i had lost the blog.  i thought that i had lost my day's work.  i was livid.  i wanted him vanished from my home.  i have become mean spirited.  i am so frustrated.  the blog means a lot to me.  i should have been more understanding.  all i could think of was how to kick the brat out of my house.

i decided to make broiled barbecue wings and potatoes for dinner and  a chicken cholent for lunch.  i need fish.  maybe i'll ask the daughter-in-law to get some fish.  after all, she does work in a supermarket.  i just want to go back to bed.  i'm tired.  i need to shower.  why does that seem to be a herculean feat???  i am not feeling it.  i am not looking forward to having shabbat with the kids.  i was thinking about being alone this weekend with a good book.  i am not up for doing the floors again.  am i wrong?

Back In Bed

it is 5:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  i hosted 4 guests for a festival lunch yesterday.  i went over to friends for the holiday dinner.  i had sampled my lasagna and cheesecake at around 4:00 p.m., so eating a large meal was out of the question.

i got up at around 7:00 a.m. on  tuesday morning.  my grandson came upstairs and entered my bed at around that time.  he didn't stay long so i got up and started my food preparations.  in the old days, i would have made a white cake in the shape of the ten commandments.  i would have made a cheesecake,  an eggplant quiche and or eggplant parmesan, blueberry cheese blintzes, and a lasagna.  i would have made a beef roulade in wine, meatballs in tomato sauce and some turkey meat for the evening meal , plus several kinds of kugels.  that is when i had a crowd.

all i could muster up was a cheese lasagna and a cheesecake, this year.  i bought some low fat creamy goat cheese, goat butter and lox.  instead of a fruit platter, i served grapes and cherries.  i also made a tossed lettuce salad with garlic and dill mayonnaise dressing, and served black olives.  it seemed more than adequate. i served two types of icecream with the cake.

i found a recipe on the internet for n.y deli style cheesecake.  it called for cream cheese and sour cream and a cookie crumb crust..  i usually make one that uses soft cheese, pudding, sour cream and whipped cream and no crust.  this was a new day. a new era. a new me.  a new recipe was called for.  i got out of bed and entered the kitchen.  i put my caramelized biscuits into the the mini food processor. in the past,  i would have used a hammer and gotten out all of my aggression.  this is a new zelda.   i then melted my butter.  the recipe called for a spring form pan.  i don't own one.  i used a large round aluminum pan.  so from the start, it wasn't going to be as high as an authentic n.y. deli cheesecake.  shame on me!

i reclaimed my electric hand mixer from my daughter-in-law, who was keeping it safe in her closet for me.  i used the mixer to beat up the cream cheese, sugar, and eggs.  i told you this is a new zelda.  i then baked the crust for 10 minutes and let it cool off.  i was following the recipe, religiously, something new for me.  i even added the eggs, one at a time.  i finally folded the cheese mixture into the pie crust and it was time to mix up the sour cream and lemon juice.

usually, the sour cream is incorporated into the cake.  and then a lot of times, it is used as a topping for the cake and added at the end of baking time.  this recipe called for the sour cream to be added from the beginning and baked for the entire time.  the temperature on the recipe seemed too low and the amount of  baking time also, seemed inaccurate.  i tried to readjust the two.  i let it sit in the toaster oven for two hours, with the oven door ajar, as the recipe stated.

in the meantime, my son took me to the supermarket below.  i needed fruit, challah, drinks, coffee and milk.  i  got back and refrigerated the cake.  it didn't sink very much.  i started to grate my cheese.  i couldn't find mozzarella with the appropriate kashrut, so i used the regular israeli 'yellow' cheese.  we have precooked lasagna noodles here.  they are rectangle blocks.  you fit 3 across the pan.  i started to make the sauce.  i simply, used tomato paste.  i added some olive oil, oregano and garlic powder.  i have always used fresh garlic, but i couldn't be bothered.  it also doesn't agree with me anymore.  i quickly, assembled the lasagna and put it in the oven.

i had a long phone conversation with a good friend and then washed the floor.  i tossed around tons of soapy water.  at 4:00 pm, my son came home from work demanding cheesecake and lasagna.  i was flustered.  i took out the cheesecake and started to slice it , when all the cream came running out.  i was flabbergasted.  the cheesecake was a disaster.  i panicked.  i cut up some lasagna for my son and wife.  i wondered where could i possibly buy more cheese to make a new cake at that late hour.

i asked my girlfriend the baking maven, if i should re bake it.  i gave it another 20 minutes and it seemed congealed.  the only problem, was that it had cracked in a million places.  it looked awful.  if only, i had some whipped cream or jam to cover the top.  i found about 3 tablespoons of sour cream and i smeared it all over the top of the cake.  i  baked it for about 10 minutes and voila!  it looked okay.  thank goodness, my son was such a nudnik.  i would have served raw and runny cheesecake to my friends.

when the time came to go to my friends for dinner,  i was utterly exhausted.  it was freezing outside, too.  i wore my woolen cape and i was cold.  i  wasn't very hungry, having sampled a good amount of runny cheesecake in a cup.  i passed on the chicken soup and other dishes and only ate some chicken.  i didn't have room for dessert, either.  as soon as i got home, i changed into my robe and literally, passed out.  i woke up at 3:00 a.m.  i couldn't remember falling asleep.

i woke up at 7:00 a.m. and drank some tea.  it wasn't very cold outside so i sat on the porch.  i had some cheesecake.  it was marvelous.  suddenly it started to thunder really loudly and a torrential rain erupted.  i couldn't believe it.  it never pours on shavuot.  i sat and watched for a while until it thundered so loud, that i jumped up and ran back into the house.  the dogs were beside themselves.

i washed the lettuce and fruit, cut up the cheese and lox and set the table. i opened the dry red wine.  i  made it look very festive.  i used my mother's fancy dairy dishes and champagne glasses.  i had picked roses and greens the day before.  i bought pretty napkins, too.

if poured for a few hours.  finally, at around 11:00 a.m it slowed down a bit.  i made my move and hurried to shul.  i met my friends there.  we arrived  home at around 1:00 p.m.  the sun finally came out around 12:00 p.m.  you didn't smell any barbecues going this year.


Monday, May 13, 2013

Staying Alive

it is 1:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  tomorrow night starts the holiday of shavuot.  i was supposed to have made a chesecake and a lasagna today.  i cannot move.  i travelled to tel aviv yesterday to do a ct and pet scan.  i thought it would be a 'piece of a cake'.  the actual bus ride wasn't  so bad.  it was freezing because the airconditioner was on way too high.  i shivered all the way there.  it only took 3 hours.  my daughter-in-law drove me to the bus in rosh pina.

i was suppossed to be on a 3 hour fast.  except for the 4 glasses of barium i was forced to drink, i didn't consume another thing until the rest stop at 7:00.  i bought some milk chocolates which made me more sick.  i already had the runs from the barium.  i tried to get out of drinking the artificially sweetened barium but it was a no go.  i sipped the awful stuff through my clenched teeth.  it took about 15 minutes to finish each cup of drink.

i arrived at the hospital at about 12:15 p.m.  i was told as soon as i presented the referral forms that they were made out to rambam.  unfortunately, i was at sheba.  that was an improvement from the last time when i showed up for a petscan and was told that i had come in a day early.  i quickly ran the equivalent of a city block, to the office of my medical carrier at sheba.  thankfully, they corrected the forms.  i then waited for about two hours to receive the barium.  i was already in panic mode as i watched several other people being served the dreaded concoction.  i tried to convince myself that they were undergoing a different procedure from me.  when the man gave me the barium i started to cry.  just the smell of the artificial sweetener, put me in trauma mode.

when i was in radiation treatment i had to redo the simulation process.  they come up with a new position to lie in while being nuked.  some lady handed me a glass of over sweetened glucose and told me to chug a lug.  like a fool, i drank the potion in one gulp.  that began a long journey into the world of nausea and infusion for me.  i was so sick that i couldn't lie down for my treatment that day.  i ended up in the emergency section of the radiation unit.  needless to say, i didn't make it to the simulation process either.  i drank the stuff the next morning very slowly.  i first took an anti-nausea pill.  i then took one sip of glucose with half a glass of water until i got it all down.

while i was hospitalized in internal medicine, i was deplete of potassium.  i had no veins left for infusion and the doctors were trying to force me to drink a very sweetened solution.  i tried to explain that i simply could not drink the stuff but they told me that i was being stupid and threatened me with a feeding tube.  just then, my angel, the head of radiology, entered and managed to get a line in, so once again, i received my potassium in a bag.  yesterday was a major break through.  i felt awful after drinking that stuff, but i never got violently nauseous.

i finally finished the pet scan at 5:00 p.m.  i was in that mri machine for about a half an hour.  the iodine that they inserted was burning hot through my body.  i felt suffocated by it. i felt like i was going to choke.  i opened my eyes once, which was a huge mistake.  i was inside the tube and i quickly closed my eyes and prayed that i wouldn't have a total panic attack.  i prayed as hard as i could that i should get a clean bill of health.  i couldn't wait to get the heck out of that place.

there weren't any taxis in front of the hospital.  i knew that i had a 6:00 p.m. bnei bus back to zefat and assumed that i had enough time to get there.  i finally saw a cab and  flagged it down.  the driver was bitching about the traffic for awhile.  he made me nervous so i told him to take me to the bus stop in tel aviv.  i just missed the zefat bus by 5 minutes.  i wasn't worried.  i was weak and starving.  there was no place around to buy a snack.  the next bus to rosh pina was in 15 minutes.  at 7:00 p.m. i got my blessed rest stop.  i still had the runs from the barium but i was strarving.  it was cold outside and even colder in the bus.  i didn't have the stamina to look around the store.  i grabbed some chocolates.  my stomach ached  the rest of the way home.          i got back to rosh pina in 21/2  hours.  i caught a sheruit, a shared taxi, and was left at the top of my street.

it was freezing.  i started to run home.  i soiled myself.  thank goodness, it didn't happen on the bus.  i came home and felt wrecked.  i lay in bed and couldn't get up to make some food.  i eventually, got up and made a sandwhich.  what an ordeal!

i ended up making shabbat meals for the kids.  i was supposed to just make the cholent for lunch.  they were sharing the night meal with another young couple.  i went to the supermarket on thursday afternoon to buy everything i needed for shavuot.  i was gone for a few hours.  i just got home when my son called to tell me that my daughter-in-law was dehydraded downstairs, and needed help.  when i came downstairs, she looked awful.  i felt strongly that she needed medical attention.  my son was at work and reluctant to leave.  i had to persuade him to come home and take her to the emergency room.  i got left with the kids.  luckily, they fell asleep early.

in that very short amount of time, i was overwhelmed.  my grandson was super hyper.  he was jumping off furniture and throwing objects into the air.  he wouldn't eat his dinner and was making a giant mess with the food.  i lost my patience and yelled at him.  he ran away from me to hide.  i couldn't find him.  i searched all three floors for over 1/2 an hour.  i was calling out his name the entire time.  i was panicked.  i was convinced that he had left the neighborhood.  his parents were at the hospital.  i didn't know what to do.  i put the baby in her crib to search the third floor.  she was screaming her head off.  i kept on looking outside for the boy.  i unlocked the door to the third floor even though logically, i knew that he couldn't be inside.  the door to the side of the roof was opened and there were pigeons everywhere.  before i knew it, cloey the pincher,  was inside the area catching and killing pigeons.  i couldn't get her out and i needed to get downstairs.  the baby was still howling and i still didn't know where the boy was.

suddenly a pigeon flew past me.  i finally caught it and had to dispose of it.  the door to the porch was locked, so i took it all the way downstairs and let it fly away.  i managed to grab my dog, and get a dead pigeon out of her mouth.  i took her back down to my floor.  she was incredibly agitated.  she wanted more game .  she was in a total blood lust.   i went to get the baby out of the crib and took another look in the laundry room for my grandson.  low and behold,  i found him.  he was sitting behind a huge box.  he thought the whole thing was one huge game.  it took all my strength not to clobber him.  i got the baby a bottle and she fell asleep.  i tried to shower the boy.  he made that a game too.  he tried aiming the shower hose at me.

when the two kids were finally asleep i collapsed.  the kids came home at about 12:30 a.m.  i was relieved to see them.  i made a cup of tea for the patient and went upstairs and passed out for a short time.  i was asked on friday to cook for them.  they cancelled the other couple.  i reluctantly agreed.  i made broiled chicken, roasted potatoes, cholent with beef and chicken, corn on the cob, and an israeli salad with tahina.  i had bought a cake and i made frozen pudding icecream.  my grandson had joined me in bed at 2:00 a.m. on thursday night.  he played on the floor til around 4:00 a.m. and went back to sleep until 7:30 a.m.  i didn't let him sleep with me on saturday.  i needed a nap.  i needed some time to myself.  he screamed his head off.

i didn't get much sleep on  saturday night.  my son asked me to come downstairs to sit the boy so he could take a walk with his wife.  i declined.  i felt shaky. i couldn't move a muscle.  on sunday, i got up at 7:00 a.m. to shower and get dressed.  i ate some yogurt and fruit.  i made sure to wear zipperless clothes.  i still had to take off my bra for the petscan, which was no easy feat with a tube in my arm.and got ready to travel.  i was a nervous wreck.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Things To Do

it is 1:00 p.m. in the city of zefat.  the list of things to do is getting longer and most overwhelming.  right now,  i'm supposed to be going food shopping at the big supermarket for shabbat and shavuot..  i'm also supposed to be going to the clinic to pick up my blood test results.  this requires a 5 minute walk to the bus stop and a five minute ride to the area.  a simple 20 minute walk, has turned into climbing mount everest.

it is very gray outside, and quite muggy.  definitely, looks like rain.  as much as i don't want to be out in this weather, necessity warrants it.  if it does rain,  it will take one more item off of my list of things to do.   like watering the lawn.  up until now, we have received tons of rain and the garden never looked so flush, except for the lawn.  it definitely, needs watering.  that means using water, which means, paying a wad of money for the use. and of course, we still have the gardener to pay.

i managed to shower and get dressed yesterday evening.  i actually,  made it out to the small super below.  i had planned to make a shiva call at 8:00 p.m. in the artist colony.  i couldn't buy much because it was too heavy to carry back home.  i did buy cream cheese and sour cream to make a new york deli style cheesecake this year.  i couldn't find the right cheese for the lasagna, so i need to try the larger shop.    the kids asked me to make a cholent for shabbat lunch this week.  that means i need to buy chicken and possibly, some meat.  they are having another young couple join us for shabbat.  i would rather not have to participate but they might get offended if i don't come downstairs.

i didn't make it to the shiva call.  at around 7:00 p.m., shortly after i returned home from the super, my son came home with the kids.  the two of them were waiting for me on the steps outside.  my son asked me to watch them for a bit.  that is always risky.  first of all, it's hard for me to be with them at this point of my recovery.  i simply, do not have the stamina to run after them.  my grandson is also, very hyper and always manages to injure me with flying objects and sometimes, by just jumping on me.  the little one is also a head banger.  and then, i am always in danger of catching the wrath of my daughter-in-law for taking over for my son.

i finally made an appointment to do the pet scan on sunday.  i also made a doctor's appointment for  the end of may.  i feel like my life is hanging in the balance.  i know that sounds a bit dramatic but i am waiting anxiously, to know my immediate fate.  it was very hard for me to make the phone call to the doctors.  i was going to call my sister and ask her to deal with it.  since i've been home, i've kind of been on my own.  in all fairness, she did escort me to the doctors a few weeks ago.  i am planning on travelling alone on sunday.  i don't know about the follow up visit yet.  even though i've been ill for weeks, i still have been on my own.  i get the feeling that my immediate family is bored with all my ailments.  after all, a virus is not as exciting as cancer.  lets face it, cancer is a free pass.  and i use it wherever i go.

so i finally did my dishes.  the ants are back.  the rats are back.  and the extremely, annoying,  pigeons have come home ot roost on my bedroom porch and on the third floor apartment..  pigeon poo is not good for me right now.   with a compromised immune system, it is asking for trouble.  i sprinkled cinnamon on the sinks against the ants. they love clean surfaces.  the cinnamon  looks awful but it does hold them back somewhat.  my son and i plus cloey the pincher,  have bonded lately on many occasions in catching and killing a number of rats.  talk about your quality time together !!!

i have a ton of laundry to do and i need to clean the house.  i invited a few friends for lunch on shavuot day.  that's next wednesday.  i'm hoping i'll be able to rise to the occasion and manage  to bake both a cheesecake and a lasagna.  i was watching martha stewart today, and i saw some young cook make one.  it was too gross to think about.  i make a veggie lasagna using cottage cheese and grated cheese and tomato sauce.  i don't go for the bechamel sauce trip. it's hard to get mozzarella here in larger quantities and ricotta is very overpriced.  so i simply resort to lowfat cottage and any kind of pre-grated cheese.  i've never had any problems to date.

my biggest hurdle is my health right now and financial crisis.  i will survive!   i just have to take it easy for a little while longer. to be continued.........

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Getting Back On Track

it is 5:00 p.m. in the holy city of zefat.  every time that i feel like i'm getting right back on track, i have a setback.  since i've been home, i've been sick constantly.  after i got the house ready for a simcha, i collapsed into bed for a couple of weeks.  i then rallied all possible strength to clean the house for pesach.  after doing minimum amount of work, i collapsed into bed for the rest of pesach.  it felt like the flu.  i finally got back on my feet and celebrated independence day with a barbecue with the family.  i ate like a truck driver and enjoyed everything.  i had kebabs, franks, lamb chops, steak,  chicken wings, liver and marshmallows.  i also had fresh salads for the first time in months.

while i was in treatment, i avoided eating anything raw except bananas and green apples. the apples were a  a life safer.  sometimes when i couldn't eat or drink fluids, i would suck the juice from the apples. shortly after independence day, i experienced stomach flu like symptoms.  and once again, i had diarrhea.  at first, i thought that it was due to eating raw food.  however, when it lasted for over two weeks, i was concerned.  i brought in a stool sample just to check.  i was told that there was an outbreak of dysentery in the country.

the diarrhea finally subsided and i felt well again.  i managed to make it over to the clinic on my own.  i took the local bus all by myself.  it is a 20 minute walk.  i used to run over to that area all the time by foot.  i haven't done any extensive walking in months.  i took a blood test for which i had to fast 12 hours, and brought in the stool sample.  i even got to chat with the social worker.  i used the wrong vial for the stool sample so i had to go back to the clinic the following morning.

i have been trying to get some money from the social services... i  was promised all kinds of renumeration from the hospital social worker.  i've had three social workers come to the house and pretty much, each one has proven to be ineffective.  i've been kind of screwed by every law in the book.  i was promised money to get in some household help but that never happened.  each time i had a home visit, i would break down and cry.  i felt so useless.  not being able to do my floors, or laundry, or dishes, made me crazy and quite depressed.

while we had a cold spell and unseasonable torrential rain, i stayed indoors.  the house was freezing.  i had the chills.  i didn't dare venture outside.  i stayed in bed under a goose down comforter.  we then went straight into a heat wave, and i stayed in once again.  i can't seem to deal with extremes in weather.  my immune system is shot.  when i first got sick during pesach, i was actually delighted to have the common virus that everyone had.  it made me feel normal.  cancer makes you feel anything but normal.  when i got over the virus, i felt very hopeful.  cancer makes you feel less than hopeful

i did get a good report last month from both the radiologist and gyn-oncologist.  they both concluded that the tumor was no longer visible.  it was apparently, successfully, nuked away. Praise the Lord!!  i do my pet ct mri in another couple of weeks, and i will find out hopefully, that the cancer is no longer in the lymph notes.  it is very scary.  i am afraid to think about the outcome.  i still have loads of people worldwide, praying for my recovery.  i can't wait to be completely cancer free and get back on track..

right now, i am suffering with an upper respiratory virus.  i convulse when i cough.i spit up wads of phlegm.  i was feeling well enough last week to venture out.  i went to bring in my specimen and met a potential suitor for brunch.  we met last summer at the yeshiva where i was working.  we started 'dating' aright after sukkot.  then i got ill.  i tried to break it off when i found out that i had the tumor.  he decided to hang in there and wait until i finished treatment.  we corresponded by email for months.  we have only met two times since i've been home.  i haven't been strong enough to socialize.

i haven't really seen many people since i returned to zefat.  it is still hard for me to be around people.  i still feel traumatized.  i know that i look well, in spite of the setbacks.  i've put on weight and have some color.  i did meet someone in town who was instrumental in getting me a bit more public assistance.  she said that i didn't look as though i had been ill with cancer.  that was a relief.  i feel like i look like an invalid.  that's my head trip, i guess.  i'm afraid to face the world.  i have lost about three friends since i've returned home.  two to cancer, and another one this week, of lou gehrig's.  i should be so grateful to have survived my ordeal, but  i  tend to be easily depressed.

my son moved back home with his family, about two weeks before i returned.  they were in financial straights and begged to come back, rent free.  i was too sick and weak to refuse them.  it has been an adjustment, to say the least.  my grandson sneaks up here at all hours of the day.  i hear the creaking of the door and then he appears. 3:00 a.m., 5:00 a.m., 7:00 a.m., 5:00 p.m., 7:00 p.m., 9:00 p.m.  even the toddler crawls up the stairs to visit.  when i first got back i was totally helpless.  my daughter-in-law did my floors and prepared food for me.  i tried desperately to stay out of her way.  i  was too weak to lift my grandson in my arms.  climbing up the stairs was very hard.  going food shopping was out of the question.  i felt like a 90 year old lady.

since i've been recently sick, i haven't had the energy to go to the supermarket.  i have been preparing meals from whatever i have left in the freezer. i go on occasional trips downstairs, to snag some food when the kids are out of the house.  there's always tons of junk downstairs.  i try to pilfer only fruit, milk, and corn flakes.  i'm trying to watch the weight.  after all i've been through, it's a shame to get pudgy again.