A New Day
Posted on January 4th, 2012
Last night I came home from the hospital and tried to write an update. But I was exhausted and depressed and had nothing really significant to say. Since the surgery, Stella has been in a great deal of pain, both physical and (as I could tell from her usually smiling face) — mental. She was utterly despondent and nothing I could say or do would cheer her up. The nurses made her go from the bed to a chair which she hated because of the pain of sitting up. As soon as she could, she got back into the bed and closed her eyes in a morphine induced sleep.
I felt completely helpless and so I tried a few times to find some optimistic things to tell you, her Army, and I just couldn’t. I fell asleep with my laptop open on my pillow filled with sad words.
BUT — around 4:00 AM I woke up and checked my e-mail and saw a message from a friend who had spent the night with Stella at the hospital. And that message instantly lifted my mood. I want to share a portion with you:
My hours with Stella today were better than I expected. She seemed to improve over the course or the evening, sat in the chair twice for about 20 minutes each time, used her spirometer fairly regularly and was happy to receive frequent leg and foot massages. We had numerous short, verbal exchanges and she smiled quite a number of times.
She was in and out of the bed for prolonged periods of time and with little help, shifting positions, and trying to sleep- all with no extra pain coverage. She told me a few times that she’s not in that much discomfort, and while yes, she is still getting a baseline drip and has the epidural, I firmly believe she is being STOIC STELLA. Just the NG tube alone is pretty horrible and did not hear her utter one word of complaint the entire time I was there. Hmph.
As expected, Stella is very determined to get through this and is taking like a warrior. I think Stella will be feeling much better once the tubes start coming out and her body starts to recover from the shock of surgery.
I am back with her this morning and the change since yesterday is dramatic. She has her “game face” on and fully accepts that she has to do some things that are not so comfortable to get better. We just took a walk in the hallway together, with the nurses all giving us big smiles as we walked by. If we could bottle her determination, we could all be Olympic Champions.
She is not yet up to e-mailing, but after this post I am going to read her some of the e-mails and Facebook Posts, so don’t hesitate to write. She is also not up to visitors. Sorry but she would rather see you all when she can have normal conversations and not have tubes sticking out of her. She did not want me to take a regular picture so you will have to make do with the stunning portrait on the right until she feels more herself.
Now, I want to explain something that is very important to me.
As many of you are aware, I have decided not to request Chesed meals from the Yishuv at this time. This is not, G-d forbid, that I don’t appreciate everyone’s strong desire to help us. Knowing that so many people care and want to help has played a major role in getting us this far. So don’t think that we take for granted all the offers.
BUT — I do not want my children to think of themselves as helpless victims. I want them all to know that they have the ability to step up and help the family. My kids can make a pot of pasta as well as anyone. But doing so is very empowering. I would rather eat something that one of my kids made for me that may be a tad overcooked or bland than the best gourmet meals on the planet. Sure, we do have days when we can’t manage it. But isn’t that what pizza and burgers are for?
I do not want to dismiss all of your offers out of hand because there IS something you can do to help (and it may even include chesed meals.)
I need to embarrass our closest friends to tell you this, but I see no other way to go about it. So here goes.
Stella and I have known Josh and Romi Sussman for years. We lived across the street from each other in Potomac, have had similar spiritual journeys, raised kids together, and talked about, planned, and eventualy made Aliya to the same place. We have spent countless Shabbat meals together, just joking around.
But while friendships during good times are fun, it’s during not so good times when you really need them.
From the day that Stella first went to the emergency room, they have been supporting our every need. They have sat with us in the Doctor’s office when we were told that Stella had almost no chance, and they were there when we were told that she did indeed have a chance. I encourage you to read Romi’s account of those days.
Why am I telling you this? Because unlike us, the Sussmans do have little kids at home, lots of them (dozens I think.) They work, take care of their kids, and have somehow found a way to be here for us physically, emotionally and any other sort of way you can think of.
So if I do have a request for you it is this. If they need it, help the Sussmans out. They may need someone to pick a kid up or watch kids at night. They may come back from shlepping me around exhausted and emotionally drained and don’t want to cook. Instead of filling our freezer with meals that we may never get around to eating, call them and ask if you can make them a meal.
I know it may feel better to cook a meal for a family going through a crisis, but we need the Sussmans to be taken care of so that they can take care of us. (Just make sure to e-mail them so that their actual needs can be met.) Stella and I would feel especially grateful if you did so.
As always, thank you for your time, your prayers, and your love.
Since everyone is asking, let me just conclude by telling you that the surgery was the most “radical” option. They removed Stella’s stomach, spleen, gall bladder, and a bunch of other stuff. They also took out a few pints of melted Ben and Jerry’s ice cream.
Yarden Frankl, Sha’ari Zedek, Jerusalem
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