By Chanita Teitz
Last week’s column was highly abridged due to the fact that I had just returned from Israel. Along with bringing presents for everyone, I came home with something else—a broken leg. I broke it in Israel after putting some things I bought into my suitcase. Then I tripped. I’ve fallen before, so I figured this was just another bad sprained ankle. I hobbled around but I decided to get a wheelchair for the airport because I didn’t think I could walk all the way to the plane.
What VIP treatment I got! There were special lines everywhere for people who need assistance. I was whisked through security, passport control, etc. And the personnel who pushed the wheelchair really know how to navigate well. It was almost as fun as a ride at Disney World!
The flight itself was fairly comfortable and I slept most of the time. When I arrived on Monday, though, my husband and kids insisted that I get an X‑ray just to put my mind at ease about my ankle.
We went to the emergency room at North Shore and even they didn’t think it was broken. But X‑rays don’t lie. I broke my fibula. The good news—I didn’t need surgery. But I did need a cast, and I can’t walk on the foot for six weeks.
I can’t stand the crutches, so I’m using a walker and hopping around. I’m also using a wheelchair to go out. But first I have to get out of the house and down the stairs. Akiva has been taking me down the stairs in the wheelchair with me screaming that I feel like I’m going to fall and Akiva assuring me that he has everything under control. We’re like a comedy act!
Even funnier is going back into the house. I’m too afraid for him to go up the stairs carrying the wheelchair with me in it so I’ve been crawling on my knees into the house. We’re getting a ramp for the steps, so until then I’m working from home.
As of February 17, we now have two ramps! Thank you to my machatanim, Mark and Linda Horowitz, and to Rabbi Hayim Schwartz.
Last night I demonstrated to my grandson Moishie how I’ve been hopping on one foot. He wanted to know why he was able to have just a soft cast on his arm when he broke it and I have to have a hard cast. My other grandchildren have all been calling and visiting me and the girls have all offered to take days off from school to help me in the house. Aren’t they considerate! (I wonder if their teachers would agree.)
Everyone has been very sympathetic and helpful. My daughter-in-law’s aunt told my son about a knee-scooter which my son-in-law and grandson went to pick up for me. It is smaller and less cumbersome than the wheelchair and I can navigate myself around the house without having to hop around with the walker.
This past Sunday, we went to the Weinstein wedding and everyone there was so attentive and concerned. I wasn’t lacking for anything—food, attention, good wishes, and great company. Thank you all! (The wedding was lovely, leibedig and lots of fun. Mazal tov to Aderet and Moshe and families!)
I prepared supper myself tonight for the first time in a week, scooting around my kitchen, little by little, taking baby steps to learn to navigate myself and be self-sufficient. I hope Akiva likes the cinnamon chicken!
Until we lose the ability to do certain things ourselves, we take so much for granted. Simple things that we do without thinking, like the automatic responses of getting up to open a door, answering the phone, picking something up, or going to the refrigerator, suddenly become planned events.
As the weeks go by, I think that I will become more agile in figuring out how to do things myself and in getting around. And with all the hopping and pushing, I’ll become more athletic. Using the walker should give my arms a good workout!
All in all, we have to say “Gam zu l’tova.” Only Hashem knows why these things happen, but as my son’s rebbi, Rabbi Belsky, says, nisyonos are a wake-up call. In my case, maybe it’s a wake-up call to take better care of myself, maybe to give everyone around me an opportunity to do more mitzvos by helping me, maybe for me to appreciate all that I have, and all the love and attention of my devoted family and friends.
I always stress so much about Pesach. Since this year I won’t be able to do it myself, I just won’t be able to stress about it as much. We will do what we can, concentrating on the kitchen and not the “spring cleaning.” And six weeks in the cast will get me just about to Pesach, so the meaning of freedom from the bondage of immobility will be my personal message of “k’ilu yatzasi miMitzrayim.”