Last weekend I wrote about having hurt my back, during the week I visited my doctors and got a chiropractic adjustment, and was scheduled to get an Epidural injection and that was today. When I get an epidural the rest of the day is just relaxing in bed and icing my back and normally I am still loopy from the anesthesia that I get, because these shots are no joke pain wise. Well today was different in a sort of long way, the nurse who put my IV in didn’t really know what she was doing, I have very good veins and anyone can get a IV started quickly, not her. It’s normally an hour procedure from triage to recovery, not today. I normally am really loopy and tired and worn out afterwards, not today. I waited an hour from triage to procedure, the IV had to be re done while I was laying on the table, but in like 3 seconds flat the new nurse had it in, flushed, and anesthesia halfway in, no bruise, no pain, no fuss. The injection in my lower back was painful and normally when I say it hurts they pump more drugs in my IV, not today. I had a 30 second “good” feeling which only covered getting the numbing agent in, it didn’t even help with the steroid that’s injected and that always the part that hurts the most. This was also the first time that as an almost convert, I had the chance to pray the Shm’a before a procedure. Since one never knows what can happen and I was getting general anesthesia, and I was nervous I did what any Jew should/would do. Pray to Hashem. The Shm’a, is known as the calling card of the Jewish faith, Why? Because it declares and affirms our faith in One God. As I was saying it I could instantly feel Hashem calm me down, and I felt re-assured that everything would be ok. I still had to wait a bit longer before the procedure after I prayed the first time, so I as I was entering the procedure room I prayed it again, and I again felt peaceful. I’ve only felt this way when I was at the Kotel; peaceful, at ease, reassured. Everything ended up going fine, I got home was a little bit in pain but I’ve been resting and taking my prescriptions, hopefully I won’t have another shabbat spent laying in bed. I actually miss going to the synagogue on Friday night.
Every shabbat is usually the same, I try to clean the house and get ready for a Saturday of resting, well I had plans this weekend to go away for the long holiday weekend, so I didn’t prepare anything for shabbat. When those plans changed I was planning on just going to service and then coming home and relaxing for the weekend with out a single thing planned. Well that all went down the “crapper” when I hurt my back. I couldn’t sit, so going to shul was out of the question, I couldn’t stand, so all I was left to do was lay down. Well things got worse Saturday morning when I couldn’t do anything, literally NOTHING. I couldn’t even get out of bed, I tried and fell right to my knees, in tears. I have had a back injury for the past year and I have dealt with pain for that long but this was different pain. Like my body just locked up. I finally made it back into bed and fell back to sleep for a few hours, when I woke up again and could barely crawl I knew something was really wrong so I had to call 911. My bedroom is upstairs so I had to figure out how I could get down without being in excruciating pain and not have to have the EMT’s or Firemen have to carry me down. Granted some of them were cute and they were really friendly but I had already made it down halfway when they got there and the stairway isn’t big enough for 2 let alone 3 or 4. As I crawled down my two cats were at the top looking down and one of the firemen said “your cats look like they’re judging you”. I said yeah they’re judging but they’re judging you guys. My cats were distraught because I was crying and screaming out in pain. Now all they do is lay next to me and try to comfort me.
I was taken to the ER and given some (actually a lot of) pain killers and muscle relaxers. I was there for about 7 hours and not even an X-Ray was taken, the Dr. just forgot about me. My friends have been so great this weekend with picking me up from the hospital to getting my prescriptions filled, especially, Kourtney, the girl in my conversion class, we’ve only known each other for 5 months and she came to the hospital and drove me home, we have become close during our time in class and outside of class. And Sandra, a woman I work with. They both drove from the other side of town to help me. I am forever grateful to them.
Since I’ve been bed ridden for 3 days now I’ve had time to read my siddur and pray, a lot. Now before anyone gets uptight about not having a minyan, or not facing, Jerusalem, I know that Hashem won’t mind, and exceptions are made for hose that aren’t physically able to. I’m finding that some of the prayers resonate with my inner being, my “neshama.” I am so glad that Hashem has put me on this path.
I am now half way into the class for converting, our last class for the semester was yesterday and because some of the people in my class are at the end of their year we talked about where we were in our journey’s and it got me thinking. I have been doing “Jewish” since November of 2013, I like to think I started out little by little but as I look back I just dove in head first. I started off by not eating pork and shellfish and doing shabbat, going to synagogue every week, not eating meat and dairy together, praying before I eat and saying the Shm’a only before going to bed, I also make challah for the most part each week and light the candles.
Now I say the bedtime Shm’a from the ArtScroll orthodox Siddur, I try to say the Modeh Ani when I wake up and the other morning prayers, I wear a kippah on most days and some days I don’t even remember I have it on. I still don’t keep kosher and I have not laid T’fillin although I have been looking at buying them, I have also tried the ritual hand washing in the morning, I do feel a connection there and I may start doing it more.
This time of reflection has given me an opportunity to really think about everything. It’s also forced me to think about how I will continue to do “Jewish” in my daily life once the class is over. I’m still glad I started this journey, I am ecstatic about being and becoming Jewish and cannot wait for the day that my conversion is complete and I dunk in the mikvah. I can’t picture myself being anything other than Jewish.
******* Consult with your Rabbi, I have and this is what works for me****************
This week started off good, I shared that in my last post, but it quickly went bad. One of my nearest and dearest and oldest (figuratively and literally) friends’ mother lost her valiant battle with cancer on sunday. Then on Wednesday afternoon lost her battle with liver failure. To say that I am a wreck is an understatement, to top it all off I was on a trip. Even if i was home I would still be a mess but when you don’t have familiar surroundings and friends around you its even harder. I was actually out, with the woman I was flying with, in downtown Indianapolis, which is surprisingly really cool. How can you be nice and smiling and the face of a world renowned airline when your mourning the loss of the person that was the first person you came out of the closet to, knew your secrets, loved (in a friend way), grew up around and was even in her divorce agreement. I’m still dealing with it, it’s been less than a week. I spoke with my rabbi on how I can mourn my loss, not because I don’t know how to mourn, but I know how to in a christian way not a jewish way, and they are actually different. He gave me several ideas of how I could do this, lighting a yizkor candle, saying the mourner’s Kaddish and led me to a book that had more ways. I chose to say the mourners Kaddish daily, which for the past few days has helped me build my Jewish-ness. Then last night I was on Facebook and a post popped up on her page, about her brothers and funeral arrangements for my friend. Her family wasn’t the closest to say the least and if you pissed my friend off and she got mad enough you were basically written off, I was luckily never one of those people but many others were. I don’t know what happened in the last few months but maybe her brothers in their own mourning for their mother and now for their sister decided that they were going to have a family only service and that didn’t include even some of her nieces, nor did it include me. I know one of her brothers, I know her ex husband and her step children, I know her nieces, and mother and was even around for several holiday’s. I was hurt to find this out and not even from one of her brothers or family members, some other friend of theirs posted it. Since I will not be able to say good bye at a funeral for her, I am going to now begin lighting a yizkor candle for her. Candles are an integral part of Judaism, they’re lit on friday night, they’re lit for mourning of a loved one and they’re lit at the end of the year mourning period for a parent. They carry our prayers up on shabbat night, and they help us remember those who have left this earth. As with everything on this journey to becoming a Jew, as I’ve said before, I do things my own way, and since I travel every week and most of the time I’m at an airport hotel that isn’t near a synagogue and I certainly don’t have a minyan that can travel with me, I say the Kaddish solo, unless I’m at shul or torah study, or near a shul. Last night saying the Kaddish for the first time with a minyan in shul, was what I needed. Now I understand why in Judaism everything is said and done in a group, just another reason why I am continually falling in love with this culture, people, religion. Although I am still mourning “alone” I know that if I need a Jewish perspective, or “back up” I know its not far away. And I also know that my own family isn’t far away either.
(Ronald the Turkey)
So this past Shabbat I spent it in a way that I wouldn’t normally spend Shabbat, a friend who is also a Flight Attendant, owns a farm in Alabama. It’s not just a regular farm, its a pig farm. Yeah she has egg laying chickens and roosters, donkey’s, a mule, a dog, cats, ducks, goats, and turkey’s but she has a lot of pigs, like 20. She called my roommate saying she needed help with moving a mother pig who killed 7 of her week old babies. This pig she explained was a beast it would take probably all of us (4 people) just to get her in a trailer to move. She was right, this pig was a beast, she didn’t care that we were taking her away from her babies, or her separated yard just for nursing, she wanted to be near all the other pigs, she didn’t want to be a mommy any more. I know my mom as well as all mom’s have this feeling maybe once or twice in their lives raising their children, but pigs are different, they raise their young for a short time and then the babies are weened. It doesn’t happen very often but like this time its devastating to a small, local upstart farm. My time at the farm wasn’t all work, I got to have some fun too, I got to collect my first eggs, they were freshly laid, literally still warm. Unfortunately some bad ones got mixed in and my dozen to take home went to the pigs. I also got to shoot my first
gun gun’s, three to be exact. I shot a shotgun, an automatic handgun, and a revolver. Now I support gun control, and I don’t think that assault military style automatic guns like ak-47 or similar guns should not be sold to the public but guns and responsible ownership as well as training are good. My favorite gun to shoot was the revolver, it was comfortable, and I felt like I was in control of it not the other way around. We did other work too, like moving the donkey’s in with the goats so they’re both socialized, I made the challah in between doing other work as well, we also opened the back yard up for LuLu, the pot belly pig, and also made a small pen on the back porch for the babies that were still alive but needed to be separated and fed with a bottle. We also picked fresh spinach for dinner, which was beef steak, not pork. After dark we got to light a bonfire, like a huge bonfire. All in all this city guy could live on a farm but, I would need a heavy daily dose of pain pills and muscle relaxers, along with a big HUGE bottle of wine. Farming is tough work and I give a big hand to those can do it full time. I am glad to know where my food comes from but I’d only like to visit a farm once in a while.
(this is one of the pigs, not the one that we had to move)