Something for the Anger

Posted on January 5th, 2012

Another beautiful portrait

I may have made a mistake.

In my euphoria over the news that Stella could have the operation, I made the assumption that the hard part was over, that cancer had been defeated and now we could just celebrate the victory.

But real miracles take a bit longer than a Hollywood version. The Doctor assured me that reaching this stage was indeed amazing, but it was not by any means a guarantee. So perhaps I put on my party hat a little early.

On the other hand, the weeks before the operation were incredibly special as we celebrated every day with family, friends, and great food. O.K., the battle will go on.

Just after I sent yesterday’s post about how amazing Stella was doing, we had a setback. I won’t go into details but it was a very difficult afternoon. Then, a few hours later things got better.

I am sure that it was the extra tefillah that people said after my Facebook Post.

The big bucket of morphine didn’t hurt either.

Now let’s have some fun.

We need the smiles as much as the medicine.


The night before the operation, I suggested we watch a television show on the laptop that someone had lent us. Stella agreed, and we settled down to watch and try and keep our minds off the surgery.

It was night and we were in the hospital room with two other patients and their families. There is not much privacy in Israeli hospitals, but we thought the volume was low enough that we wouldn’t disturb anyone.

Suddenly, the main character in the TV show gets bitten by a dog in a very sensitive place. He screams “The dog just bit my f—ing p—s!” Stella was mortified, and we both tried to shut it off as quickly as possible. But it was dark and we couldn’t quickly find the right button.  We realized that everyone else in the room had stopped talking. We started pushing every button on the laptop like crazy to stop everyone from hearing more about the dog and the man’s body part.


The day after surgery, Stella was all juiced up on very heavy pain killers. I pulled a chair next to her bed and leaned in and told her how much I loved her. I explained how we would get through this together and that I would be right beside her. I told her how many people were davening for her and how wonderful it will be when she can come home. She turned to me, opened her mouth, and finally spoke. She said:

“Your breath really stinks.”

Then she closed her eyes and went back to sleep.


Once another patient scolded me for using the “patients” bathroom and suggested that I use the public facilities. Since Sha’ri Zedek deals with lots of people speaking lots of languages, easily understood symbols are frequently used. I found both the mens room and the womens room. But I have no idea what goes on in the room behind the door on the right.

Anyone care to guess?


Yesterday, the pain was really bad at one point, and I ran to get the nurse. My Hebrew is not great to begin with, and sleep deprivation and worry did not help. I made the simple mistake of confusing the word for pain “Ko-Ev” with anger “Ko-Es.” Here is the translated conversation I had with the nurse.

Me: Excuse me, my wife has lots of anger

Nurse: Why?

Me: Because. Please give her something for the anger

Nurse: I can’t give her anything. Why should she be angry?


Nurse (voice rising to match mine): TELL HER NOT TO BE ANGRY. WE ARE DOING EVERYTHING…..” (then a bunch of stuff that I couldn’t understand.)


Nurse: (Turning away) I cannot help you.

Suddenly I realized I may have made a mistake.

Me (lowering my voice): Wait a sec, do you speak English?

Nurse: A little

Me: Does “Ko-Es” mean pain?

Nurse: No.

Me: Oops. Sorry.

Me (very low voice): Can you please give her something for the pain?

Nurse: Of course!


Hopefully I made you smile at something above.

As long as we can find the humor in life, we are o.k.

Yarden Frankl, Sha’ari Zedek Hospital, Jerusalem


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  1. rutimizrachi says:

    Smile? Not merely smile, my friend. LOL!!! Thank you for the dose of medicine for my ko-ev. Now I don’t have so much ko-es to lay on G-d. May we share many years of hearty laughter.

  2. Harvey says:

    It’s more than just a bit difficult for us ordinary humans to begin to imagine what Stella and you are going through. You have been eminently eloquent in describing the more-than-human aspects of the ongoing situation. Thank you for also sharing the merely human parts. (And do something about your breath!)

  3. B’H for your sense of humor. Plan for Purim together. Put together some smiles to share alone and with others. I’m in awe of both of you.

  4. Pesach R says:

    Yarden, we know each other only via email, but in spirit I am right there with you and Stella and Romi, full of admiration for all of you. Please be aware that prayers for Stella are going up from the holy city of Tsfat. By the way, the diagonal red slash means that men are not allowed to know what goes on behind that particular door. Romi could probably find out, but she wouldn’t be allowed to tell you.

  5. Melody Hartuv says:

    I know this says that I’m in America but I’m really just down the road from you in Kiryat Arba. I wanted to tell you both how much I admire you for your strength and courage. Hashem has given you a second chance; how amazing the miracles of today are. Sure, we aren’t parting water for thousands to walk through but we are able to battle horrible diseases. No battle is without pain. And that’s where you are today. Tomorrow will be better. My advice is to plan on planting trees on Tu B’Svat, in honor of Hashem giving life into this world; Stella, take the good drugs (la-la land is sometimes a nice place to visit), and Yarden, practice your Hebrew and do something about the breath thing. When everyone is recuperated, my husband and I are looking forward to meeting you. How about a Spring picnic in Kiryat Arba? Refuah Shelayma.

  6. Nava Feldman says:

    The room opposite the bathroom might be a bathroom for the staff. Happy exploring (inner and outer space)!

  7. Gary Swickley says:


  8. Mush says:

    Yarden the laughs admidst the pain and tears will see you through. The bast thing I learnt at Sharei Tezdek is find out which doctors, nurses, sherut leumi girls, cleaners etc speak English – it makes a world of difference. Thinking of you all, Mush PS: If your already walking through the wrong doors I heard the staff cafeteria is yummy especially on Shabbat! Also visit the Yael shop on floor minus two they have plenty of English reading material and snacks at the right price.

  9. Goel Jasper says:

    Yarden – We’ve never met, but I have been following your (Stella’s) story, and she is in my tefillot. Thanks for the fantastic stories. Hilarious.


  10. Happy says:

    I’m thinking that the bathroom is perhaps for that dog bite victim… LOL
    stay strong.

    you, stella and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. always

  11. Steven says:

    Once we took a flight together over Kfar Saba / Kalkilya.
    Yes, laughter is strong medicine, probably the best. Possibly even better than the mighty ‘chicken soup’, and music can soothe and heal in ways that even heavy narcotics can’t. Sing together! Laugh together! This brings strength to the soul and vitality to the essence of our being.
    Keep in mind that while not everything in this world is a laughing matter, most people in it, are! We who are able to laugh at ourselves are better able to provide this succor to those around us and perhaps bring the ‘light’ of G-dliness and humanity to the olam, both in time and space, physically and metaphysically.
    As seen on McDonald’s menus for decades, SMILES ARE FREE!
    Refua Shleima Stella ~ צוריה כוכבת בת שרה

  12. Susan says:

    Yarden – it was nice to be able to laugh with you at this time – love your bi-lingual skills 🙂 please keep finding the strength to laugh and give stella all our hugs and love and hugs and give her a high five for her honesty!!!! prayers being said in Australia for you both

  13. Emma Sass says:

    The best part was what Stella said. Thank you.

  14. Donna says:

    I hope the worst is over, but even if there are some more hurdles to jump over, with your outlook, attitude, sense of humor, you and stella with you will be able to conquer anything. We are all constantly thinking of you. We love you!

  15. happiness says:

    i’m thinking that perhaps that the room behind the door in your pic is for the dog-bite victim from story no 1….

    thanks for the laugh

    you, stella and your family are in our thoughts and prayers. always.

  16. Michelle Swartz says:

    Yarden, You already know that my heart, my love and my tefillos are with you guys. Thank you for sharing both the pain and the smiles with us. I’ll hold on to the small pieces of pain that you are able to unburden onto me, but the smiles? Right back attcha, buddy!

    Just addressing recovery from surgery for a moment: it s-cks! B”H I have been zoche to experience several successful recoveries, and let me tell ya, it ain’t easy. I am sure that Stella will do her part as soon as she is able. And I have full bitachon that Hashem is (clearly) doing his. You (and yes I know you have support, but nonetheless) You are wonderful. In so many ways.

    Ah, lets count some: You are there. You have been there from the very beginning and will see it through to it’s successful end. Not only as a personal driver, companion and cheerleader for Stella, but oh so much more!

    You are constantly teaching your children through words and action, how a Jew copes in times of crisis. What a gift to give them. Truly a gift that they will recognize in time and , hopefully, pass on to generations to come. What an incredible Mesorah. My husband, Martin, always says, “Our Yichus starts here.”

    Also, by sharing your experiences (medical, and in a way more more importantly, personal) you have brought all of us along on the journey with you. Win-win situation! You get to dump, we get to share. You need support, we get to help. Physical, spiritual, whatever each of us can do, we do. And care deeply.

    Recovery is physically and mentally tough. Unfortunately, they don’t give anything for the “Ke-aiv” or the “Ka-as” to the caregiver!

    Thank you. May all this achdus and kiddush hashem stuff you guys are generating be louder and more noticeable in shomayim than all the narishkeit (nonsense) that is taking place anywhere else.

    Keep communicating, keep believing. I do. And, hey, if the ’69 Mets could do it…

    Looking forward to hearing any news you choose to share.

    Michelle Swartz, Silver Spring

  17. Carla Friedman says:

    I had just heard bad news about a friend and another friend and I were laughing over something that happened with him and saying laughter really helps. THen I sat down and read your post this am. First I was very sad about Stella’s pain and then I laughed at your stories. How true laughter is…a healing, a sharing, a caring. Praying that each day Stella feels less pain and gets stronger and that your “funny” moments increase.

    Love, Carla

  18. Gila says:

    It is amazing that you can make people laugh in spite of everything you are currently dealing with!!! May hshem bless Stella with a complete refuah and you with patience and strength.

  19. Iris says:

    Thank you.

  20. Rev. Rocky says:

    Your post touched our hearts first in sadness and then in laughter. Your love for Stella is the best medicine she will ever receive, when the morphine wears off your love for her will still be there and that is what will sustain her in the weeks and months to come. Prayers continue from Drumright, U.S.A. Rev. Rock…..

  21. Tova says:

    Wishing you a Shabbat Shlom, full of peace, hope and lots of stuff for Ke-ev- starting with the knowledge that you guys have the love and support of so many friends around the world.

    I want to thank you once again for the incredible lesson in “emunah B’Hashem” which you are provide for us. You are an inspiration to us, our children ands the whole community.

    May you always recognise and enjoy the funny moments
    Stay strong

    Tova & Yitzchak

  22. Adam says:

    You have me laughing and crying at the same time! Prayers for Stella and everyone–this year I resolve to be a kinder person, and never complain.

  23. Shira says:

    Finding the strength to laugh at this time is indeed a strength. Praying that Stella will be fine and your family will return to more mundane worries. Thinking and admiring both you and Romi for everything. Shavua tov, Shira

  24. Ali says:

    That made me laugh so hard. Oh, my G-d. So often, I would love something for the anger AND the pain. But they only give you something for the pain. Well, American doctors do push stuff for the pain here, too, but I won’t get into the world of pain that those drugs for anger did to my pain.

    Thinking of you and Stella and praying hard that this will be a memory that both of you share a long time from now when you are little old people holding hands and playing with your great-grandchildren.