Here we are in July, and I am enjoying beautiful sunshine in the most beautiful country in the world. Having celebrated our two-year “aliyahversary” in May, I know that I have no regrets about our decision, finally, to turn our dreams of aliyah into a reality. One huge element of this comes down to the outstanding treatment I have been receiving at Hadassah Hospital.
So, after having spent so much time with “Big Brother,” just a few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to meet “Little Brother”. No, I don't mean the reality TV show, nor the once-future, now-ancient book, 1984 that so many of us studied in literature classes in the 80s. I mean the two sites of Hadassah Hospital. By definition, every big brother or little brother needs a sibling. Of course, you can always add to the complication with a middle child, as I am (with his or her very own syndrome), but that's another story for another day!
As in so many families, including my own, with two beautiful daughters, the two sites of Hadassah magnificently complement one another, sharing a mutually positive relationship. And, yet, each also has its own unique characteristics and specialisms.
Big Brother, the campus at Ein Kerem, sits overlooking Jerusalem in a position of protectiveness and safety. I have no idea of the size of the site, or the number of departments situated in the buildings, but for those who haven’t visited before, it is truly overwhelming! Surrounded by beautiful grounds and reached by the winding roads typical of the region, I am sure that its sheer size means that many of the staff would be unable to direct you to some of the departments. Even when lost, however, I have learned that most of the corridors eventually lead to the central rotunda, housing the breath-taking Chagall Windows. The rotunda also houses a piano and, on many visits, you will hear volunteers-- from 12 year olds to octogenarians--playing their own personal favorites across all ranges of musical style, helping to soothe some of the stresses of some of the thousands passing through daily. On many occasions I have sat with a coffee and maybe a pastry being soothed by the music and just “people watching” between appointments.
Little Brother, the campus at Har haTsofim (Mount Scopus) houses a number of departments, some of which duplicate those found at Big Brother (such as Maternity and Emergency), but is also the location of Hadassah’s state of the art Rehabilitation Department. In a series of rooms, many interconnecting, the Rehab Department is breath-taking in its range of equipment, all designed to support patients, to maximize their recovery, and teach them to manage with any difficulties. Many of the patients have extremely limited mobility, but all are supported by a wonderful team, who via a customised program for each individual patient, provide the care and treatment that the patient needs.
This morning’s visit for me to Rehab started with an hour of physical therapy. My particular program is focused on rebuilding strength in my back and arms and legs and improving my balance as well as controlling the shaking, which has set into some of my joints.
All of this rehab is under the care of my fabulous physiotherapist, Dana, who is the first of my unsung heroes of this update. “Physios” like Dana give their all, both emotionally and physically, to identify what may be achievable and to encourage the patient to reach that goal. I shared my gym space this morning with a number of other patients who have their own physios, each working on an individual program. One of the most moving sights I witnessed was a couple of weeks ago, where a patient was helped to stand up with the support of four physios, having been confined to a wheelchair until that time. With a large piece of equipment comparable to the size of a small ballroom, quadriplegics are supported to stand upright whilst their legs are exercised, helping to build muscles which may not have been used for a long, long time.
After a brief rest, my morning continued with 45 minutes of occupational therapy, under the direction of the second of my unsung heroes, Malka. During my visits with her, we have covered practical ways to assist me in everything from reaching food on the bottom shelves of the refrigerator to improving my memory, via putting on socks and shoes without assistance, remembering how to follow sets of instructions. With humor and grace, she sets me tasks which help me to feel that I can do all that I wish to, without using unnecessary energy and wearing myself out for the rest of the day.
I also attended hydrotherapy for 30 minutes (phew, each exercise is repeated up to 30 times). This is NOT a gentle dip in the pool! And all of this therapy is supplemented by fortnightly sessions with a psychotherapist and meetings with the gentle Senior Doctor to discuss progress.
Whilst on both sites, the support of generous donors is recognized with plaques, on Little Brother’s Rehab unit, these are interspersed with drawings completed as part of some patients’ therapy. Of course, all departments on both compuses also proudly display thank-you notes, cards, and letters from grateful patients and their families.
Hadassah has one of its missions proudly stated on the wall of the rotunda: “Learning from the past, Living the present, Dreaming of the future.” May the family of Hadassah continue in strength, both “siblings” supporting one another and offering a truly holistic environment to treat all of its patients.