Tuesday, April 30, 2013


After my week of utter frustration with no replies from my doctor, and getting absolutely nowhere with the disability website, or my supervisor, I woke up Thursday morning and decided to take the bull by the horns, (one horn anyway).
I called an advice nurse (30 min. wait) and told her that my doctor had not replied to my e-mails and that I wanted  to see an orthopedist. She promised to get my not unreasonable request through to my doctor, as my e-mails hadn't worked. I then called the medical secretaries' office - I had left three days of voice messages asking her to call me about the disability forms. This time I spoke to a receptionist. She was actually nice and helpful. She said it would be best  to come into Kaiser office, explain that I cannot get on online and request a packet.
My neighbour drove me to Kaiser - a route she now knows well. I picked up the packet. On the way home I requested that she stop outside one of my newest and youngest patient's apartment, I wanted to check on the little girl.
I had only just begun to see the six-month old girl whose mother had had gestational diabetes. The little girl had a seizure at birth and had been without oxygen. She seems to have some neurological damage, as her tone is uneven and her left hand is tightly fisted with an indwelling thumb. She is young enough that she can benefit, in fact probably recover completely, from intervention. I had only seen her twice and even in that time frame she had improved, (with grandmother's help of course.)
I walked up the wooden stairs and her abuela came to the door. She let me in and I spoke to her and held the 6-month old girl's tightly fisted hand. Of course no arrangements had been made for her to be seen in my absence. I told her abuela to put her on her stomach (about 24" of floor space) so she can roll and bear weight on her hands. I showed her how to massage her hand and I left, furious. This little baby needs to be seen!
I came downstairs to find my neighbour with tears in her eyes. She was born and raised in Richmond and can't believe I work in these areas. She asked how many people live with the child in the rickety one bedroom apartment. I told her five that I know of.
She filled in my disability forms and while she was doing this my doctor called. She wanted to know why I had not seen an orthopedist!!!! That afternoon I took BART and a shuttle to Kaiser in Oakland. My cast was removed, my wrist and hand x-rayed. A delightful young hand specialist had my hand reset - in a purple cast this time, to match my purple thumb, and told me I cannot work for another five weeks.
So I am relieved that things have more or less been taken care of - I have also let my supervisor know I will be out for a longer time and my wee ones must be seen!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013


I broke my hand on April 16th. On April 17th a cast was put on and I received a letter from the doctor with dates of my time off work.
A receptionist at the office of the Medical Secretary at Kaiser. informed me that I must submit my claim online. He gave me a form with the websites numbers.
OK, that was one week ago - since then I have been online. The first time I tried there was a message to say the site is down until April 21st, which was Sunday. I tried anyway on that date - site still down. I tried Monday 22nd, filled in the claim form online, clicked submit and received an error notice. I had, to the best of my knowledge,  filled in all the fields correctly, but I tried again, and again, and again - same notice. The notice also proved an 800  number to call - I called, and pressed 1 for English, then pressed every number I was supposed to, all the while receiving a message to go online for faster service. Eventually I pressed the number to speak to someone only to get a message that they have a high volume of callers on Mondays and Tuesdays, and Wednesdays to Fridays specifically between 10 and 2. If I can't call outside of these times there is a 10 minute wait. I have time, of course, so I waited, only to get a message stating that the maximum number of callers has been reached.
I have tried the entire procedure every day since. I have also left messages for the person in the office at Kaiser. I have also called my work supervisor - nothing. I am met with a stunning response of silence.
Grrrrrrrrrrrrrr and grrrrrrrrrr and grrrrrrrrrr again!

Sunday, April 21, 2013


First and foremost, I sadly have to tell you all that I fell (a simple trip on a simple hike) and fractured my right arm - near the hand. Distal end of radius which is the long bone in the forearm on the thumb side. (That is a very quick lesson in anatomy.) Thing is, I broke the very same bone in the very same place about 28 years ago and it did not turn out well. Damn, is all I can say.
On the bright side, this unfortunate break gave me the time to get in an independent consultant on the difficulties people have with posting comments.
It turns out that it is really easy - at the bottom of each blog is a little word, 'comments', and next to it an envelope looking thing. Click on the 'comments' word and NOT the whatever that thing is, and up will come a box to leave a comment. If you click on the other thing it causes problems, misunderstandings, etc. and seems to send any remarks into cyberspace where they are forever lost, irretrievable, whirling around without any purpose in the atmosphere.
So dear ones, please leave a comment now to see if it works for you - it did for us.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Yom Hazikaron

This evening is the evening of Memorial Day - Day of Remembrance, in Israel.
Erev Yom Hazikaron and I sit in The Pub on Solano Avenue in Albany, thousands of miles away from Israel. Once again, I am struck by the insignificance, or non-meaning, of time and space.
The Yom Kipur War is "our" war. Tragically in Israel each generation has their own particular war, or uprising, or terrorist attack. "Our" war, the Yom Kipur War was fought 40 years ago. Forty years, four decades, and yet it is as if it is happening now.  It is, and will be, forever imprinted in my cellular memory, dormant and ready to erupt at any moment.
This was the war that forever changed our lives, it shattered our youthful illusions of immortally, and Israel's illusion of invincibility.
Forty years and everything has changed, Israel, the kibbutz, the Middle East, us. We have matured, in fact, we have aged. My friends are now grandparents, some have become ill, or have died. Only the constant cycle of life and death continues.
In my heart Ray (Rafi) my husband, will remain forever young. I am sure he would not even imagine my life now. At the time of the war, I could not have imagined it.
Memories of sudden awful endings to life; war, accidents, shootings, certainly bring to my mind the entire meaning of life. I find I am confronted by thoughts of what have I done with my life. I am reminded that I do not have children, and so I have not secured my place in the future. Have I frittered my life away? Am I frittering my life away?
So Memorial Days are to remember those who sacrificed their lives, and I remember all of them, Arabs as well as Jews. Has anything been gained? Has anything been learned? or are we doomed to repeat these endless, tragic cycles in a ghastly repetition of wars and violence.

When I began writing this blog I did not think it would turn out like it has. What I wanted to say was that it was lovely coming home this afternoon and to hear the voice of a very dear friend on my answering machine. He called from London to say he had just returned from a memorial service, and he thought of me. We experienced the war together, and now it is so good to return home and be reminded that we are still connected. I know I am on the minds of my friends in Israel. I was, in fact, supposed to be there, but changed my plans to go later this year.
In America there is a strange phenomenon. No sooner than a tragedy has occurred, for example, like  the December 2012 shooting of the children in Sandy Hook, than the media states that the parents should move on with their lives. Witless reporters say idiotic things like "it is four months since this father lost his son, and he still cries like it had just happened." How absolutely inane, and how in denial of the impact of tragedies, deaths, and wars on our lives. No one ever forgets, and what is more, no one should forget.

And I did not mean for the blog to end like this, either ....

A small addendum, I hardly every get comments on my entries. The statistics show that people are reading my blogs, but there is so little response that I question myself (and we all know that statistics lie!) and think that perhaps I should stop blogging. I probably will continue, but I would sometimes like to know if there is anyone out there ....

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Shooting

It was with a feeling of cold sick horror that I read a name in this morning's paper - Demaria, a 19 year old boy was gunned down in Richmond yesterday morning. He was on a run with 22 others, residents of housing projects, young people trying to change their lives around. They were on a training run in midmorning,  training for vocations. Amongst the people running were his father and brother. Their trainer and those running heard and saw a white SUV come screeching toward the runners. Everyone saw them gun down Demaria, even continuing to shoot as he lay, dead, on the pavement.
Over my morning coffee I read the article, and honed in on the name. Could it be the Demario I know? But he is Demario, not Demaria, maybe it is a typo; please no, don't let it be. A quick calculation, Demario was back in Richmond for spring break, that means he must now be gone, back in college, away from the killing streets.
I felt clammy, my heart beat faster and a wave of nausea overcame me as I flashed onto the image of three young men lying dead on Cutting Boulevard. A tarp was being placed over one of the bodies. The other two were lying nearby, still uncovered - I saw jeans and sneakers as I drove past, feeling faint and very ill. How long ago had I seen them? Four, maybe five years ago, also gunned down in midmorning.
No, this could not be the Demario I know, but he is someone's Demario, and he lay on the streets, uncovered for a long while, as police took in all the details, the tireprints, the runner's footsteps, they questioned traumatized witnesses ...
and the horror goes on.

Saturday, April 6, 2013


During the seder, one of the songs we sing is Dayenu. It reminds us to be grateful for what we have now,  in this moment. instead of  wanting more, something better, something else..
Because of the work I do, I am always reminded of the need to be thankful and to count my blessings. I am grateful: for my health, for the fact that I have work, for my home, for my friends, for my family.
It is during this time of Passover that my different lives come together, melding, unifying, ehn continuing on their separate paths. I spent the first night of the holiday with people I know very well from the kibbutz I lived on. A couple of them I have not seen for at least 25 years, and here they are, in Albany, and we celebrated the seder together.
Another seder was spent with the south african part of my life. And in this part there is a melding, for many of the south africans also lived in Israel.
 Then, on the very last day of Passover, I was on skype with a cousin in South Africa when my phone went. A good friend from the kibbutz called to tell me of the very sad passing of the daughter of  friends of ours, as well as a friend who lives on the kibbutz.
It is these events that again remind me to be grateful. To be thankful for our lives, and our health.
In the midst of all of this came a really gratifying day at work on Friday. A day in which, once again, I was reminded of the benefits of early intervention.
I have been seeing a girl for about two years. She was referred because of premature birth and a severe cerebral hemorrhage. She has a shunt in her brain, and, until Friday, she could not walk. She has been seen by myself and a physical therapist for almost two years. For the first year she did nothing but scream with both of us. When I came to the home she would smile until I sat down to work with her. She then began to scream and cry (although there were no tears) until her caregiver, in this case, her grandmother, came back to sit with us and protect her from me. Her mother takes her to physical therapy, and there she did the same thing, screaming every time the physical therapist tried to touch her. This hysterical scenario continued for almost a year, until one Friday, when I got there, she smiled and no longer cried. This too, was a mystery, but a pleasant one.
She has never ever tried to walk, although we both have tried to get her to crawl and to get up by herself from lying down to sitting without help. She did get orthotics and always indicated to me to put them on when I came, but she remained sitting in them.
This Friday I came in. She had just woken up and did not have her orthotics on. She turned to smile at me when I came in. I sat next to her and she pointed to my bag because she wanted to see the toys I would produce from my large black bag.
She scribbled on an etch-a-sketch, then put simple puzzle pieces together, then suddenly, to my amazement, I saw her pulling to stand  at the sofa. She turned around and walked, without orthotics or shoes, on the wooden floor, all the way to her room!
 That is it, she is walking, she is also using her left arm and hand.
All of this is because of persistent work on the part of her therapists and her mother. Without this intervention, she probably would never have walked.
It is so gratifying and exciting to see these changes which will just get better and better, towards a fully functioning independent being!