A belated Happy Chanukah and Season’s Greetings to all. As I sat watching the light of the first candle reflect the wonderful miracle of Chanukah, I also reflected on the miracles being performed daily at Hadassah Hospital.
Some of the fantastic pictures on the hospital website bear testament to those miracles, still more you hear from friends, neighbors, and other patients at the hospital. Waiting at the airport a few weeks ago to meet my elder daughter (who lives in the United Kingdom), I sat beside an American couple waiting for the rest of their delegation to arrive. I noticed that their suitcases had a Hadassah mission label and began to chat with them. They told me about their very positive personal experience with the hospital and the reasons they joined the mission and make significant donations to Hadassah each year.
I have spent more time at Hadassah these past few weeks than I'd hoped to, mainly in the neurology department. From my last blog, you may remember that I was waiting to find out if my course of chemotherapy could restart following some setbacks I experienced just before Rosh HaShana. Well, the good news is that I have restarted, but the less good news is that it has resulted in some additional stress-related symptoms. One phone call to the oncology department and I was invited in the very next day for a series of tests to be sure that these symptoms were not caused by changes in either the brain tumor or my multiple sclerosis. Fortunately, they weren't, but it was hugely comforting not to have to wait for days for an appointment and to be assessed so thoroughly by a team that really does care about me, the patient. I have, however, had to wait up to five hours in the department's waiting room after my allocated appointment time. Being a Brit, I am, of course, used to queues, but I do wonder if there may be more efficient ways to manage appointment bookings. Along with the medical team, the departmental reception staff all work incredibly hard to keep the wait times to a minimum, but of course each visitor to a hospital brings his or her own story, and some will simply take longer than others.
Miri, Unsung Hero of Hadassah
Being back in the neurology department so much these couple of weeks has given me the opportunity to see even more of one of the greatest unsung heroes at Hadassah. Miri is an ageless lady with a wonderful smile and empathy for every patient. She is a volunteer who brings a snack trolley around certain wards and departments in the hospital three times a week. The trolley is literally groaning with a selection of sweet and savory snacks and soft drinks and is overflowing with the love and personality of this one special woman. She and her husband personally fund the trolley with only very small donations, and she attributes the birth of her three (now adult) children to the thrice-weekly volunteering she does. She has a kind word for every patient of every religion and nationality she encounters. Cancer and its treatment can play havoc with your taste buds and appetite and Miri ensures that there are always healthy snacks available--as well as sweet, sticky snacks for those who need those! She is such a positive force of nature that even if you can't face eating, you will find yourself nibbling some special cranberries or dates that she keeps aside especially for these moments. She also keeps an eye on the staff at Hadassah and makes sure nobody in the departments she is visiting goes without.
Having just celebrated the miracles of Chanukah which kept the Jewish people alive, the miracle which is Hadassah Hospital takes on even greater meaning. If each department at Hadassah were a branch on a huge menorah, you would see what a solid and firm foundation holds this menorah in place. This hospital would simply be unable to offer the services it does--treatment, support, and so much more--without that foundation. The foundation is each and every person, in Israel and around the world, who has supported Hadassah, either financially or in other ways. As a fortunate recipient, I thank you all and wish you warmth, light, and good health.