Hello, my loyal readers-enjoying the lovely weather? I just got off a phone call with a friend Rachel who described the day as lovely. Are women halachically required to describe everything as “lovely” once they hit their upper 20s? I recently noticed a few of my lady friends using this word every time we speak. There’s a word I don’t think I’ve ever heard my guy friends say (along with “handsome” and I don’t know what else.) How lovely.

Here’s something that’s not lovely: spending 48 hours in Ichilov Hospital in Tel Aviv which I had the fun of doing recently. Wikipedia describes Ichilov as the main hospital serving greater Tel Aviv and where Prime Minister Yitzchak Rabin died on the operating table. I hope they don’t advertise that on their website. Ok, I’m on their English site now and what do I see at the bottom? 

Sponsored by Coca Cola??? What the hell??? When a hospital needs product placement to raise funds, I get a little nervous about letting them cut my insides open.

Anyway, if you haven’t heard from me or been reading, let’s just say my new job has been keeping me busy. My first birthright group was to arrive on May 20th with a 5 day work seminar to begin the following day. So when I had to put a sweatshirt on the evening of the 19th because my body was shivering, I’ll let you guess which of the following thoughts crossed my mind:

1) I’m going to take a long walk through Gaza City tonight.
3) I’m going to name my first-born Rifka Shnitzelface, but only if it’s a boy.
4) I can’t believe I’m getting sick NOW.

When I woke up throughout the night unable to swallow, I got nervous. Although I’ve never been the type to go to the doctor when sick, I’ve gotten the feeling when living here that I’m the exception and that most people go often. Is it because many companies require a doctor’s note to be excused from work? (Or is it because all the doctors are Jewish doctors?) Whatever-I knew that I could NOT get sick with so much going on. After an hour, I decided to go to Ichilov, a five minute drive from my house, figuring they’d give me some medicine and let me go in a couple of hours.

It’s a good thing I’m not a doctor. Try a couple of days.

With no pen, much less change of clothes, I didn’t get to jot much down for the first day or so. I had to commit the ridiculousness to memory. So here’s some of what I remember.

  • There was no wait time at all which was great. After being sent to the ENT doctor (in Hebrew, af ozen garon, or nose ear throat….not sure why this is important), I was told that I had a throat infection and that I’d have steroids put into my system for a few hours until they reassessed me. If I look huge next time you see me, you’ll know why. (Then again, if I look huge to you, I’d question what was put into your system.)By the way, because I have a horrible gag reflex and hate those mammoth popsicle sticks (ech omrim “mammoth popsicle sticks?”), the guy gave me some anesthetic and then proceeded to feed a wire camera thingy up my nose and who knows how far down my throat. I don’t know what an epidural is but I almost asked for one. This will all be relevant later. Not because I’m pregnant.
  • While waiting for my reassessing, I lied in a bed next to an African-American guy a few feet away. (See, this is how ridiculous American labels are. I have been conditioned to call this guy African-American even though he probably couldn’t name three U.S. state capitals. Who am I kidding, most Americans probably can’t name 3 state capitals.) The dude was black. At some point, he shoots some kind of non-verbal communication my way indicating that he wants something, like the bad food the hospital’s decided to give me for breakfast. When I ask him something and he doesn’t respond, I ask him:

“Ata m’daber Ivrit?” (Do you speak Hebrew?)
“Ata m’daber Anglit?” (Do you speak English?) Silly me…if he didn’t answer or understand the first one, is there any chance he’d get the second? I blame the steroids.
“Do you speak English”? Nothing.

Ok, my best guess is that this guy is a refugee from the Sudan. I offer him my yogurt which I decide not to eat. A couple of minutes later, I hear a noise and turn my head. It’s my yogurt which the dude has decided to throw, either at me or near me. Aren’t these people in need of food? You don’t see arsim throwing hair gel at each other, do you?

  • Did I mention that it’s a small Jewish world? A week after I run into a co-worker from my last job walking home from my chumus club, I see her keeping her brother company on the other side of the emergency room. That is ridiculous.
  • At 10 AM, I go back to one of the ENT doctors to see what the change is. When I tell him about my popsicle stick issue, he says “well, let’s use the camera then”. I respond, “oh no, not again” to which he responds “oh we DID that already? Let me look at your file….so we did.”WHAAAT!?!?! Hey, thanks for the attention to detail, Doc. How many double-amputees are walking around Tel Aviv because Dr. Frankenstein forgot to look at the patient records? And this is the hospital that Coca Cola decided to sponsor?
The price of cheap health care.
  • Because my infection is strong, they need to give me antibiotics via IV which means I’m getting admitted. By the grace of G-d, they give me a single room. I didn’t even have to cash in any frequent flyer miles. What time is housekeeping? This begins my 2 days of sitting around, getting my IV refilled, and not a whole lot of anything. At some point, a Russian nurse enters my room and speaks to me in both Hebrew and broken English: “Gargle liquid in dees cup, splitting it into three times, morning, noon, evening. 50/50…50.” So much for that myth that everyone who came over in the early 90s was an engineer.
  • “BOKER TOV.” It’s 6 AM. Jesus Christ, is this the kibbutz hospital? There’s no way I’m picking tomatoes today…at least not in this hospital gown. Apparently the staff has a lot to do so they decided to wake us up early. That sounds about right. When my kids get to be teenagers, I’m going to wake them up at 6 AM on a Saturday so I can feed them breakfast. Of course, they’ll probably be armed by that age. If I’m living in America.
  • After breakfast, one of the nurses comes in and tells me it’s time to go to the cheder tipulim (patients room) to get checked by the doctor. GO GO GO! No time to waste; no way I’m dealing with line-cutters in this place. If anyone cuts in line, they’re getting an elbow in the solarplexus. Wait, this is the ENT wing. Fine, in the cochlea.Crud-there are already 15 or so people ahead of me. This is great, standing here with everybody’s diseases. Where’s the kissing booth?
  • Lunch looks strangely exactly like breakfast. WHERE’S MY ROOM SERVICE, DAMMIT???
  • Do Israeli doctors and nurses get kickbacks from Crocs? Just wondering…
  • Thanks to friends Jodie and Meir who came by to say hello, and also Daniel and Amalia, the pitango eaters and members of the aforementioned chumus club (along with Ziv). I can’t believe I haven’t written about that yet. Anyway, Daniel was nice enough to bring me a deck of cards from Vegas with a picture of scantily-clad showgirls on the back. Later on, when I return to my room, my newspaper covering the cards has been moved, revealing the deck. That’s great-I can forget any of the female staff coming to assist me when I ring the bell.
Ahhh…the bell.
Does this look like someone who’s suffering?
  • Fortunately, they did decide to come. One of the nurses asks me where I’m from and I tell her I made aliyah from the States. She laughs and (here it comes…) says, “YOU CRAZY! Heh heh…” That is always funny. It’s also funny when Israelis don’t use linking verbs. By the way, every time an Israeli tells an oleh “YOU CRAZY!”, Nefesh B’Nefesh puts a fatwa on him. Little known fact.
  • Did you know Ichilov has a mall downstairs? I got so bored that I walked downstairs to look around and buy a paper. At some point I realized…uhhh, should hospitalized patients in gowns be walking around a mall? At this point, I should mention to anyone worried that after the first several hours, I felt pretty darn good. No fever, no headache, just a very minor feeling in my throat. I was dying to get out of there immediately. I considered taking a taxi home, getting a few things, checking email, and coming back, but something didn’t seem right about it. What if I got hit by a car? Can you get admitted to a hospital twice? Is that like trying to have a baby when you’re already pregnant?
Did my life just flash before my eyes?
Nope, just horrible TV that I spent 35 shekels to watch.

Fortunately, they let me go two days after admitting me. Usually I’m joking when I talk about the 60 year-old grandmother cutting me off in line but picking up my pills at SuperPharm, it really happened. And she even had the classic Israeli old lady RED hair. (Boy, if that isn’t a future post…) She said “Hayiti acharav, b’seder?” (I was after him, ok?) I was so in shock and tired that I couldn’t even muster up the energy to respond, instead just nodding my head. 

That’s what a couple of days in Ichilov will do to you, I guess. Now that I’m 100%, I realize that only when you’re sick do you truly appreciate the good things in life. Time to start taking advantage.

Anybody want to go to the beach this weekend? I hear it’s supposed to be lovely.

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