Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Sick Bay

I've learned so much over the past year but in particular I've learned my way around the local hospitals. Most recently, Jess spent 2 1/2 weeks at 'Hotel Hadassah,' a lovely environment, replete with bad lighting, mediocre food (but a decent selection of food in the, yes, mall near the parking lot), and even worse accomodations (try 5 in a room, with the 5th kind of parked by the window). The care was good, actually decent nursing care and reasonably pleasant floor doctors, except for a few that were brusque and lacked bedside manner.

But by comparison, where Sarah had her heart surgery was downright luxurious - little vases with flowers on your breakfast tray, 2 in a room with pleasant looking sheets although no designer hospital gowns. Sarah went the 'private route' for her surgery, an increasingly popular method for people with good agreements with her 'kupat holim'/medical plan. She had to cover various aspects of the surgery, like the cost of the valve but not the surgical fee (go figure) and decided that she wanted a quieter environment and what was ultimately, excellent care post-surgically. Jess, already a patient of this well-regarded fertility specialist at Hadassah Ein Karem, a leader in such care, ended up there because she was having an unexpected complication and it wasn't an 'elective' situation like Sarah. Not that Sarah wanted to have a valve replacement and double bypass but she had a minute to decide on where and when - within a range of a few days.

Hadassah did have a less, 'fah'kneytched'/very religious feeling then Sha'arei Tzedek, where I've also spend lots of time this year with my Father (from his hospitalization to his chemo Sundays). Demographic at both hospitals is everyone - religious, secular, Arab, Jew but Sha'arei Tzedek has a decidedly 'haredi/ultra relig' feel because it's more centrally located to downtown. Both hospitals (HadassahEK and ST) have shuls with minyanim at all hours of the day, kosher food, Jews walking around giving out sandwiches to family members spending hours at the hospital or offering meals on Shabbat to all who need - separate seating only or course - and the requisite rabbinical types appearing with a few words to the ailing person and his/her family.

I decided though, that the hospital took on a particular air over Shabbat. For those who have read Harry Potter, I was reminded of St. Mungo's Hospital for Magical Maladies and Injuries. Friday night, while Jessica was being tortured by a variety of well-meaning doctors, I noted the presence of full families - all haredi - for Shabbat at the hospital. As this was a women's floor, there were many women on bedrest due to pregnancy complications. In Jessica's room, earlier in the week, there were the 2 haredi women who yelled across the room to each other in Yiddush much of the day and didn't deign to speak to anyone else. One of those women had an older daughter with her on a different day, with baby in tow, stroller, stuff - this in the 5'er room - for the whole day! Hospitals are not places for babies but it's just the way it's done here. There was the guy in his full Shabbat regalia - long coat, fancy hat, and such, singing down the hallway, as well as the young, not more than 10, year old girl, clearly left in the hospital overnight to keep her mother company and assist in whatever way she could. She mostly walked around goggle eyed, especially near Jess's room as she was the hot ticket with the most action on Fri night that week. She also always caught me on the telephone, as I was most of the weekend with nervous family members checking in, as if to make sure that I knew that she had seen me speaking on the telephone on Shabbat. There was the guy who showed up to make kiddush on Fri night, and havdalah on Saturday night - albeit it a bit late for the rest of us who had already decided that Shabbat (probably the longest one in my life) was over. It was truly a bizarre place.

Today we walked out of there - Jess, a newly freed woman - and it was a good feeling and I'd like to hope that this is a pause, a breather, from the hospital gigs of late. My Dad is holding his own for the moment - back on chemo but looks alright despite being easily fatigued - so, we attempt to go back to normal over here.

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