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)

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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

Save A Life.jpeg

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

Beer.jpeg

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

Spiritual Communication Board.jpg

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)

Taking Back Control

Superman

Ok, I’ve had mobility issues for over 2 years now that started with a broken foot and ended in 3 surgeries and 2 hip replacements.


Over this time, I have had enormous pain walking and doing other activities. 


And unfortunately, I have put on some extra weight, which I am unhappy about. 


Today though this changes, please G-d.  


I am taking back my life!


I want to lose the weight and be what I know I can be. 


Time to stop the excuses.


It’s Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) next week, and this is a good time to reflect, be introspective, self-critical, and aim high. 


G-d, please help me to be strong, to resist temptation, and shut my mouth from eating the wrong foods. 


I am determined, but G-d I need your help to be successful. 


We’ve accomplished so much together–let’s do this! 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

L@@king The Other Way

Metro Crowds

So recovering from surgery and with my cane in hand the last number of weeks, I’ve had a chance to see the worst and best of people. 


Especially on the Metro, I’ve had people who quite simply refused to let me sit down–can you say look the other way or ignorance is bliss?


One guy the other day saw me holding on to the overhead rail with one hand and the cane in the other, he looked me in the eye, and then looked back down again to work on whatever notes he was writing…certainly more important. 


And even early on a couple of times (this was when it was still hard to really stand up for long) when I asked for one of the special access seats from completely healthy people sitting there, I usually got the stone cold kvetchy faces like “You talking to me?”


At other times, waiting to get on the Metro, I’ve had people rush in front of me, try to push me aside, or even nearly trample me when they felt I just wasn’t moving my limp leg fast enough. 


I think this has been particularly disheartening especially when I see this behavior coming from people of different faiths who were clearly observant at least in other ways…uh, don’t we answer to an even higher authority?


When some empathic folks at work recently asked me, how people were treating me on the Metro (yes, they know how it is!), I said feeling frustrated one day that the only difference between DC and NY is that in NY there was probably a greater chance of someone trying to actually push me (G-d forbid) in front of an oncoming train–yeah, at times it seriously felt that way. 


I will say that thank G-d not everyone is such a you know what!


Although truly it’s been the exception and not the rule, there have been some very nice people that did offer me a seat, let me go first, or didn’t rush me on/off the moving escalator. 


One lady in particular was extraordinarily wonderful, and when I was crossing a very wide two-way street with lots of cars and the light was getting ready to change, she walked by my side–literally shielding me from the oncoming traffic, and she said “Don’t worry, they won’t hit both of us!”


I remember learning in yeshiva some very basics of human decency…get up before the aged, remove an obstacle from before a blind person, and to take off a heavy burden from even your enemy’s stumbling animal.


I think these and other lessons in school and at home sensitized me to people’s pain and suffering and where possible to try and help–not that I am a saint, I’m not, but at least I feel my conscience talks to me.  😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)