Some Reflections From The Procedure

So I had a little procedure this week. 


I hate going to the hospital–who doesn’t?


But I figured better to take care of something before it gets worse. 


I think of it like taking the car into the mechanic for a tuneup every once in a while. 


This analogy stuck with me years ago, when the orthopedist told me I needed to get a hip replacement and started to describe it as having a flat tire that needed to be repaired. 


Leading up the the procedure, someone sent me this funny cartoon:

This really hit a nerve too because even the best medicine these days reminds me of the truly horrible medicine not so long ago.  


Ah, have some liquor, bite on this piece of wood, and now we’ll saw your leg off!


I remember my father never even liked to go to the doctor, and he had total faith that G-d was his doctor–I think he actually managed to avoid the doctor for literally something like 30-years.


He also used to joke that many doctors were butchers, and he didn’t want to get caught under their knife. 


So that’s certainly some apprehension going in to this. 


The other thing that was interesting-sad that I saw this week when I went for an MRI was someone taking a homeless person into the radiology center for a scan. 


But when the lady asked for insurance the person didn’t have any, so the lady asks for “proof of homelessness.”


I was flabbergasted at this as the guy was obviously homeless and literally was wearing tattered clothes.


They wouldn’t do the scan until the person escorting him would come back with this proof.  


I felt so bad for him and thought to myself is this what the healthcare system and care for the poverty-striken in this country has come to? 


While I am so truly grateful for the miraculous care that I received this week, I am equally saddened at the care that others don’t get that need it, and pray that we as a “caring society” will do better. 


Anyway, I want to express my gratitude to the doctor, the hospital, my wonderful family who stood by me, and most of all to G-d for seeing me through the procedure this week and for watching over me always. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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The Heart of The Matter

Please see my new article in The Times of Israel called, “Heartfelt Challenges.”  


It’s about some of my reflection on having a heart condition. 

Over time, what I’ve learned is that what is really important in life is not money, honor, power, or pleasure, but the simple things of family, community, faith, caring, giving, and generally trying your best in all circumstances. Every day is a chance to keep learning. 


Praying and hoping that please G-d everything goes well with the upcoming procedure. 

(Source Photo: Andy  Blumenthal)

Just One Mistake

So all it takes is one mistake. 


And your whole life can be completely altered. 


The consequences for a slip up in a split second in time. 


I’m talking to someone today and he tells me his story and it goes like this:


He came here from overseas in early 2000 after winning the lottery for a green card.  


split second and his life is changed miraculously for the better. 


He moves here and finds work as an electrician. 


He saves money, gets married, and is living a decent life. 


All is well and then…


One day, another split second and he is on the scaffolding doing his work as an electrician and suddenly it collapses, and he falls severely breaking his leg and knee.  


He is taken to the hospital where the doctor tells him his injuries are too severe and he is transported to another major metropolitan hospital. 


After three surgeries, his leg is put back together with metal plates, rods, and bolts. 


He is unable to work, loses his job, and eats through his savings living off it while his leg slowly heals. 


Next, the hospital comes after him for $60,000 in medical bills. 


He says he has no choice but to leave the country to escape the debt, which he cannot pay. 


After 7 years and with the debt forgotten, he is able to return to this country.


His wife who he married here claims he abandoned her and divorces him.


He has lost everything he had in this country.


He shows me that his leg has huge scars up and down the sides and he bangs on his leg multiple times to show me the metal plates holding it together. 


He also demonstrates to me also that even after all these years, he still can’t run and as he tries in slow motion, his knee collapses and he visibly starts to lose his balance. 


I asked if he still has pain these 10 years later, and he says, “Yes!” 


Then he comes closer, turns to me, and with a very serious look, he shakes his head.


He says, “It only takes one mistake…just one mistake.”  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Two Beautiful Hearts

So a very nice elderly lady we know from synagogue took a bad fall and broke her leg really badly…like in half.


She put up on Facebook that she had undergone surgery, had a metal rod and plate inserted in her leg, and was recovering in the hospital–and she wanted visitors. 


My wife saw the message on Facebook, and we ran over to the hospital to see how she was and spend some time with her to try and cheer her up. 


Considering how badly she had been hurt, she was actually in amazingly good spirits. 


A couple of her neighbors were there in the hospital visiting her as well. 


One of them had actually heard her screams from the backyard where she had fallen by her pond and had helped keep her from going into shock, cradled her head in her lap, and called for rescue services.


When I commented how amazing she was and that she was a real hero pointing to the heart–she said it was really nothing, and went on to say”

I have two hearts!


And she pointed to one on the left and one on the right. 


I thought to myself that really we should all have two hearts like that to care and to give to others. 


One heart is us alone. 


Two hearts are when we join with others. 


“Two hearts that beat as one”–one for caring and one for giving. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

It’s Like Saving The Whole World

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I saw this sign hanging prominently in a large local Baltimore hospital here (and it comes from the Talmud): 

“He who saves one life…It is as if he saves a whole world.”


For doctors, nurses, and other medical practitioners, what greater purpose or joy in life than to save other human lives!


Each person is truly a whole world unto themselves…their thoughts, feelings, and their contributions!


Who knows what one single act of kindness or generosity from someone can have–what impacts down the line to one or even billions of others. 


Today, I have a friend that is undergoing a major operation in this hospital. 


My thoughts and prayers are with him. 


This is his third hospitalization in the last few weeks and it’s time for the doctors–with G-d’s help–to save his life.


I actually had something similar to this friend many years ago, but the technology wasn’t there yet to diagnose it, and I had to have emergency surgery where they went in “exploratory” to find out what the heck was going on.


And thank G-d that they did–they literally saved my life at the time or I wouldn’t be writing to you all today. 


I feel so grateful to G-d for his mercy to us and for giving us modern medicine and technology and all the wonderful people who work tirelessly to help all the sick people and to help save their very lives.


I am wishing the best of luck to my friend to come through this with a full and merciful healing.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Rhymes With Venus

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So these were some funny stories recently…


First, I came across an information system with a comical name. 


Let just say that it rhymes with venus and starts with the letter P. 


Well not exactly that word, but it very, very close. 


When I heard it, I could not help but say, “That’s an unfortunate [system] name.”


That’s the thing about names and acronyms…you really have to think about what they stand for and what they sound like or you can get yourself into some pretty ridiculous situations and problems. 


Second story is when I was talking to this lady and I asked how she was feeling after going through some surgery and then having various complications from it. 


She told me the pain and problems she was having, and the tests and doctors she is continuing to have to see ,and that physical therapy didn’t help much. 


I’m nodding and empathizing and then after this went on for a while, all I could say in dismay for all what she had been through was “Ay, yai, yai.” 


Then she asked me about how I was doing after my hip surgeries and I told her how grateful I was for the modern medical procedures and G-d’s blessing that enabled me to walk again. 


But what was really funny is that she then starts going, “Ay, yai, yai.”


And as the conversation wore down, we were both looking at each other and practically saying in harmony, “Ay, yai, yai.”


Anyway…sometimes there’s nothing left to say but just that. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Thank You Chaplain Berning

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I read about this amazing “Spiritual Communications Board” that Chaplain Joel Nightingale Berning invented for New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center. 


The board allows hospital patients who are intubated or otherwise can’t talk to communicate their spiritual health and needs. 


The top part allows the person to say what religion they are. 


The bottom left, are choices for how they feel from afraid and lonely, to nervous, helpless, and hopeless, and even to identify on a scale of 0 to 10, the level of their spiritual pain. 


And on the bottom right, they can point to ask for spiritual help… from a prayer, song, or blessing to talk with me, sit with me, get my family or hold my hand. 


While hospitals have traditionally been focused on getting a person, with G-d’s help, physically healthy again, it is wonderful to see people, like Chaplain Berning looking after the spiritual side of patients wellness and health as well. 


To heal, people don’t just need surgeries and medicines, but they need to deal with all the emotions and pain surrounding their condition and their challenging life situations, and this is something that spiritual caregivers can make a huge difference with. 


The health of the soul and the body are linked in more ways than one. 😉


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Chaplain Berning)