Daily Archives: September 27, 2011

My Rosh Hashanah Message

My Surgical Experience – Part Three

As soon as I got up to my room, the nurse came to help me freshen up a little. She was wearing a tichel – headscarf – and was just a doll. Of course we played Jewish Geography, as one does, and it turns out she went to a summer camp with my half-brother many moons ago. She was so sweet and gentle. She also showed me how to work my pain pump. It felt good to be in charge of my own pain relief. It was about the only thing I had control over for a while.

I had a room-mate who was an older lady who had had back surgery up in Albany – and it had not gone well at all, so she came to Columbia to get it fixed. Poor soul – she was in so much pain.

About the time I was getting settled KoD was eating his dinner that had been delivered by Sir Chants-a-lot. At this point in time they were not allowing me to eat anything, but within two hours two kosher meals had been sent up, at different times, from the cafeteria. I could hardly swallow at this point – they had to move my esophagus out of the way to get to my spine during the surgery, so it was very sore and tender – so I just took the applesauce and the juice.

Within an hour my room was filled with friends who came to see me, one of whom I had actually NEVER met in person before! I was drugged up to the max and I hope I wasn’t too loopy. It was just so great to hang out with some of my favourite people. I didn’t want the boys coming to the hospital and had farmed them all out to friends.

By 10 pm everyone had gone home and it was time to turn in for the night. Except I got no sleep. I was in pain, the pain pump was only working so much, the nurses kept coming in to check up on me and my room-mate. I get that. I know it was necessary to check on us, but I so needed to sleep. I had special cuffs on my legs that inflated and deflated noisily every 15 or so minutes, to prevent blood clots or something. So I would fall asleep and jerk awake every time they inflated. Around 4 am I begged the nurse to take them off. Then there was the antibiotics that they needed to give me at 12 am and at 4 am plus the steroids that I had to take at regular intervals too.

At one point I was seriously considering calling the KoD and begging him to come back to the hospital…I was in tears. I just needed to sleep. I needed the KoD too. It was a long night.

At 6 am the student doctors (I call them baby doctors because they are so young!!) came in all bright eyed and bushy tailed. One of them leaned over, I thought, to examine the dressing. He ripped it off!! Without telling me he was going to do it!! Holy heckers it hurt!! My incision was now only covered with heavy duty steri strips. And lots of gunk from the bigger dressing.

A little while later Dr McC came in, we had a long talk about my recovery and what to expect. A little while after that nurse practitioner Mary came in to make sure I had the right instructions, and knew how to reach her if I needed to.

The KoD arrived around 10 am and was told that I would be discharged soon after. At this point they had unplugged and unstuck me – bye bye pain pump, hello Percocet! I honestly couldn’t wait to get home, but was worried they were getting rid of me too quickly. A Physical Therapist came to see me, to get me up and walking and to make sure I didn’t do any BLT – bending, lifting or twisting – during the recovery period.

I got dressed with help, and the porter came to wheel me down to the car. The valet brought the car around and helped me in. KoD drove us home, and by 1 pm I was tucked into bed.


The community has been fabulous. My awesome friend / neighbor has arranged meals for us from the local ladies – a hot meal delivered to the door every night, Shabbat food, and this week, they have all taken care of feeding us for Rosh Hashanah. Their generosity and kindness has been so touching. I am so new to this community yet I feel so enveloped in their warmth and love.

My Surgical Experience – Part Two

So where was I? Oh yes, sleeping the day away….

The KoD went to the waiting area to daven and to wait until surgery was finished. We had been told that once I had been moved to recovery the Doctor would go talk to him and he would be brought back to see me.

My lovely friend G6, who lives not too far from the hospital, recounts that morning for us – better she tell it, as she was there! I knew she was going to stop by before work to bring coffee to the KoD and make sure he was ok – none of us realized how long she would end up staying.

More or less in her words:

Ok, let’s see…..

I came around 8:30, thinking that I’d be there about half an hour.HSM: and you wore pink, right, in my honour? Just like so many of my tweeps and FB peeps.

I figured the 90 minute surgery started at 7:30, right? So I’d be there till 9 or so and get into work just a tad behind schedule. (There are some advantages to being the boss, right 😉 ? )

The KoD and I shmoozed a bit and then another friend of ours, Sir Chants-a-lot, showed up toting breakfast for KoD. I think that was going to be the pattern for the day… Sir Chants-a-lot making sure the KoD got fed. (He brought dinner later, I think)HSM: Yes m’dear. He brought Shwarma. Which smelled heavenly but being as I was nil by mouth I didn’t get to taste it but the KoD totally enjoyed it.

I made sure to tweet updates, but there wasn’t much happening and by 10:45, we were all trying to pretend we weren’t nervous for the other guy’s benefit 😉 – but we all WERE. HSM: I cannot believe you guys stayed around…. Such good friends.

Sir Chants-a-lot took the KoD to get coffee and I stayed put ready to ambush the first doctor I saw.

When they returned, I told Sir Chants-a-lot to go find a pretty girl and shmooze her up and see if he could find out what was up ;). HSM says: the not knowing had to be driving you guys crazy.

I found none other than Darren – patient advocate – fresh off the farm from Kansas.  He talked “real slow like” but put our minds at ease when he was able to call into the operating suite and informed us that the surgery started late (HSM: and they couldn’t have told you that earlier?) and they were only putting the implants (you had implants??? And you’re masquerading it as spinal surgery…. tsk tsk…..) in then and that the surgery would last another hour. HSM Note: BONE and titanium implants. But haha!

We all breathed a silent sigh of relief, still trying not to show the other how nervous we were. It WAS 11 am by then, you know……

At 12 pm Darren decided to take lunch, which was just peachy because it was right around the time that we’d be starting to get antsy again. The nerve….

There we were, fighting our demons silently, with Sir Chants-a-lot trying to lighten the moments with (dumb but much needed) penguin jokes.HSM: remember any?

Nearly ANOTHER hour passed.

At this point, none of us was doing that great a job of hiding our anxiety. Sir Chants-a-lot accosted a sour looking “little old lady” patient advocate who after some investigation finally informed us that you were out of surgery. We all smiled and virtually patted each other on the back. It was kind of a “hugs” moment, but yeah…. no….. not happening……

We stayed until the doctor emerged to talk to KoD (one last photo op for the Twitter updates) and then figured he was in good hands and would see his Queen of Hearts shortly.HSM: he saw me alright, but I remember nothing. Sigh.

Exit – stage left……….

Thanks G6 for that recap. Thanks also for leaving out the fact that when you visited me later that evening I must have repeated everything a million times. KoD doesn’t remind me of this either. You guys must love me or something.

The KoD came to sit with me in recovery until I was ready to go up to a room. I remember nothing of the afternoon. Apparently I was very sensitive to the anesthetic so it took me a loooooong time to wake up and stay woken up afterwards. As soon as I was sufficiently awake they took me to my room.

To be continued…..

Health & Safety Warning for Yom-Tov

From my InBox:

The upcoming Jewish holiday season, which includes three 3-day periods in which stoves cannot be turned off, presents risks of deadly carbon monoxide poisoning  in homes in which the holidays are observed according to halacha, Jewish law. The holidays occur Thursday and Friday, followed by Shabbat.

The holidays are Rosh Hashanah/Shabbat, September 29-October 1; Sukkot/Shabbat, October 13-15; and Shemini Atzeret/Simchat Torah/ Shabbat , October 20-22.  In each case, stoves cannot be turned off from the beginning of the holiday, on Wednesday evening, to the end of Shabbat.

The Orthodox Union’s Safe Homes, Safe Shuls, Safe Schools initiative issues warnings before holidays, such as Passover and Chanukah, when use of fire is part of the tradition.  With the three-day observances, the risks of CO poisoning are now the area of concern. As part of the initiative, the OU urges families to replace their smoke/carbon dioxide alarm batteries prior to the holidays.

Examples of these risks occurred in the heavily Orthodox community of Teaneck, NJ during the two-day holiday (Wednesday-Thursday) of Shavuot in June in which 13 people were taken to hospitals Thursday morning with symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning from stoves that had been on since Tuesday evening.  Fortunately, the injuries were not serious and most of the victims were quickly treated and released.

The Teaneck fire department noted that the risk is intensified because modern houses are better insulated with fewer air leaks than in the past, and that with the air conditioning on, windows are kept closed.

The department has noted “a spike in carbon monoxide calls in the Orthodox community,” according to a reporter for the local newspaper, the Bergen Record.

Carbon monoxide is an odorless, colorless and potentially deadly gas.  Because of the dangers, authorities in Teaneck met and came up with the following guidelines for carbon monoxide safety:

·All homes must have working CO detectors. We recommend the electric plug in models with a display and battery backup. A basic unit is adequate however. We recommend at least one on each level.

·NEVER HESITATE TO CALL THE FIRE DEPARTMENT IF YOUR ALARM GOES OFF! The fire department will respond quickly to check homes with multi-gas meters and remove the CO.

Your house should have the hood above your stove vented to the outside. A hood that vents back into the kitchen will not help reduce CO.

·An alternate to the stove is an electric hot plate, UL listed, which has no flame, so does not produce CO.

·An electric crock pot, UL listed, is another alternative, which is insulated and reduces the chance of someone burning themselves.

·You should have a one foot non-combustible area around the stove and crock pot.

·NEVER use an extension cord with these devices! They require too many amps and could cause a fire. The above devices should be plugged directly into an outlet.

·If you must operate a stove, leave a window open near the stove at least one fist (approximately 4 inches), with a second window open at the opposite side of the house. This will allow some cross ventilation and a supply of fresh air.

·An electric stove with a warming drawer is another solution. This would keep food warm without generating CO.

·A future solution would be an electric stove that would turn on and off during the Sabbath and holidays as needed. The community is always looking for manufacturers who are willing to work with us.

·This is not a complete list, only recommendations.

The OU recommends that for specific questions, contact a local Orthodox rabbi.