Friday, February 15, 2008

Head in a cage. Flaming redhead. Baby spew.

Yes, this is another migraine-related post...

On Wednesday, I had a doctor's appointment at Malcha Mall in Jerusalem. My parents graciously offered to take me to the mall and wait with Kinneret.

The neurologist said that my EEG looks normal and that it basically rules out an electrical problem in my brain. She didn't have much else to say about that. So, with my appointment scheduled for 10:30, after a 20-minute wait, I was back at the shopping level of the mall before 11am. My parents treated me to a cup of coffee (vanilla) at Cafe Hillel, and then we began to explore the mall.

First, we checked out the special "nursing room" in the food court restroom area. Turns out that they have a really good changing table there, which Kinneret and I tested out. Then my mom decided to have a medallion made with Kinneret's face on it. It didn't come out great. Oh well.

Then we went on a search for booties for Kinneret. Let me tell you folks, it is hard to find decent booties at a decent price. After searching pretty much every single store in the mall, we finally found two cute pairs of booties, which I bought for Miss Kinneret. It turned out that one was too small, so we're sending that pair to her newest cousin in Toronto, Caylie. They're very nice and very warm, so I hope Caylie (and her parents) will like them.

After an exhausting search for booties (not booty), we decided to take a look at Toys R Us to see if they had anything cool. I ended up buying a very cute red wig, which I love! Everyone else thinks it's silly.

Thursday was the day of my MRI. I didn't sleep well Wednesday night, because I was nervous about it. I've seen MRI on tv, and it looks a bit unpleasant - your whole body is put into a tunnel and all. My parents couldn't take me because it's a total disaster to park at Hadassah Ein Kerem, and besides, what would they do with Kinneret while I was being tortured tested. So I took a bus and then a taxi to get there.

So I arrived at the hospital, and immediately went to the MRI area to get all the paperwork taken care of. Then I decided to look around. I went down some hallways that smelled pretty weird, and finally discovered a staff cafeteria. Since the smell was nauseating, I decided to forgo lunch there. Then I went down another hallway and found myself surrounded by medical students. I felt distinctly wrong there, so I went back to the MRI clinic area, and waited, looking at magazines and regretting my choice of book. I had brought A Beautiful Mind with me, but as I started to read it, it looked kinda boring.

Finally, it was my turn. They told me to put my stuff in what looked like a changing room, and double checked to make sure that I didn't have a hair band with metal on it or any jewelry. I changed from a jeans skirt into pajama pants, and wore a loose snood on my head. Then they told me to wait for the doctor.

Then the doctor, kinda out of nowhere, told me that I needed an IV line. So I sat there and let him put one in. I have a pretty serious fear of needles, but I can manage when I need to.

Then another doctor took me to the MRI room. He told me to lie on the table, with my head on the headrest. All good so far. Then he gave me headphones. I asked "Are these for music?" and he said "yes." Then he closed a cage around my head, put what felt like the bulb of a sphygmomanometer in my right hand, and told me that if I panicked, I could press down on that. That's it - no explanation of anything, and then he turned on the machine, which raised me and stuffed me into the tunnel. So there I am, with a cage over my head, in a tunnel, and guess what? It's not music. It's noise. I mean noise like sirens and buzzing and tapping. All kinds of noises which are supposed to stimulate my brain in a variety of ways.

As if this wasn't bad enough, I have a cold, and (roll over this text if you're not easily grossed out) -- fluid from my nose started dripping to the back of my throat -and I felt like I was suffocating.

So imagine, if you will, lying in a tunnel, with your head in a cage, listening to sounds of increasing loudness, and suffocating because you can't really clear your throat while lying on your back. I closed my eyes so I wouldn't see the cage. I tried to imagine that I was in my bed.

Then the technician/doctor/whoever came in and injected something into the IV. Of course, I couldn't SEE anything, and I couldn't hear him walk in either because of the headset, so all of a sudden, I feel something being injected. I asked him how much longer, and he said ten minutes.

Ten minutes. I couldn't imagine spending another ten minutes like that, but I didn't want to hit the panic button either. So I started counting to sixty slowly in my head. The noises got louder again, until I couldn't hear myself thinking each number out loud. I tried over and over to clear my throat. I tried to relax my body. I felt my arms shaking during some of the sounds. They shook of their own accord, and I couldn't stop the shaking. I counted slowly to sixty again. I thought of stray songs that I used to like. I coughed a few times. I counted again to sixty, slowly.

I lost my place around thirty, when a random song snuck into my head. I forced myself to continue counting, going on from thirty. I felt like all the air was gone from my lungs. The sounds got louder, shriller. The table shook violently as if it were having a seizure. I tried desperately to clear my lungs in the fourth slow, steady count. I listened to the sounds, trying to understand what they were doing to my brain. I counted another sixty, trying desperately to hold on to the numbers, keep them going, one number after the other. I opened my eyes, saw the cage again, thought about pressing the button, and forced myself to keep counting. I closed my eyes again.

Three minutes to go. Just three minutes. I couldn't count them anymore. I couldn't think of anything anymore. I opened my eyes. I closed my eyes. I cleared my throat, I took deep breaths, feeling my chest and abdomen fill with air. I started to count again. I couldn't focus. I got as far as three before my mind wandered. I thought that I had to count. I had to know. And while I was thinking this, everything stopped. The noises stopped. The shaking stopped, everything. And then I was pulled out of the tunnel. The cage was removed from my face, and I was told to stand. I couldn't.

I couldn't stand up at all at first. The doctor or technician or whatever he was had to help me up. He had to steady me. He had to help me get out of this room. I followed him back to the room where they'd put in the IV, and he gently, slowly, ripped the tape off of the IV. It was so painful. My whole body was shaking, and I was thirsty, so thirsty I thought I'd die. Finally, it was done. I held the cotton ball on the injection site, got my purse, went outside to wait for them to give me a cd with the images of my brain.

I'm afraid I'll have to stop now to get ready for Shabbat, so you'll hear about baby spew some other time.

Shabbat Shalom, all.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Hold the Hijab, Please

I noticed myself ranting and raving over in Mother In Israel's blog comments. Over the course of several posts, she translates (and comments on) the Maariv article, Neshot HaRealah (women of the veil). The article discusses a disturbing new cult in which a "rebbetzin" (I put it in quotes because I've heard no evidence that her husband is a rabbi) wears ten layers and covers her face with a veil for the purpose of modesty.

People all over the Jewish blogging world (Mother In Israel has a list here) are taking a stand on the subject. Instead of leaving my comments on every single blog out there, here are my feelings...

The "rebbetzin" has said that women should cover their whole body, including the face, and she (for 'religious' reasons) does not speak except for four hours a week. She rarely goes out, and encourages her followers not to speak to men, get into a taxi driven by a man, or even go into a shop when there is a man inside.

Here's my main argument:

Judaism is about living in harmony with the world, not about living outside it.

Throughout the Torah, we are told how to experience but harness our animalistic side. We are supposed to taste the food, but make a bracha (blessing) to remember where it came from. We are supposed to enjoy making love, but only with our spouse. Even if we fall in love with a captive of war, we may marry her, but only when we are convinced that it is true love and not the heat of the moment.

We're supposed to search for the balance and the way to make even the most mundane things spiritually holy.

Putting my baby to bed at night is made holy by saying shema for her. Waking my husband in the morning is made holy by washing hands and helping him get organized to put on tfillin. My husband's work in a mundane job is made holy by the tzedaka he gives from his salary, and the home that he supports. Even my husband's hobby of juggling is made holy by the fact that he uses it to entertain sick children, to bring joy to Purim at our shul, and for sukkot to remind people of the simchat beit hashoeva.

Even grocery shopping is holy when you think about your Shabbat table, the guests you want to please, and the joy you bring to your spouse by preparing something they like.

Heck, even going to the bathroom is part of a holy ritual in which we give thanks to G-d for making our bodies function as they should!

So please, "rebbetzin" stop hiding from the world, and learn to live in it.