Nahariya Hospital June 17 - June 21, 2015
Her feet were chapped and dry; the deep cuts looked dirty and painful. The Muslim woman in the bed next to mine was sweating. Her swollen body heaved as she tried to turn on her side to find comfort and to sleep. I opened the window; a heat wave assaulted the room. My eyes were drawn to her feet. Unable to avert them, I stared.
Unsuccessfully, as I fought my staring, I also fought the thoughts in my head. "He washed feet…of the disciples not strangers; but, He washed dirty, dusty feet…yes, but He knew them; He washed feet…they were Jews, she is a Muslim; He washed feet and He healed…but she might have infectious disease; the servant is no greater than his Master ". I yielded.
"How are you feeling?" I asked her.
"Hot", came the answer.
"Are you in pain?" "Yes, all the time"
"Your feet?" "Oh, that's years like that. I saw dermatologist, had many ointments, it is still chap and dry". Seeing tears in her eyes, compassion seized me.
Later Willie brought with him my mint salve. After washing her feet with the hospital's alcohol, she massaged the mint ointment in. Within the hour, her feet were soft and the pain subsided. Her family took pictures of the jar, promised to buy it for her in Acco, and if they cannot find it there, they will try in Hebron; into the night we talked about God. She left in the morning, smiling.
My room was quiet. The medical staff surrounded me with loving peacefulness, smoothly moving about in their white gowns, like angels. I heard Hebrew, Arabic, Russian, and English. I slept most of the day. My arms, blue from probing needles, and my aching bones were at rest in the comfortable bed near the window. Blue sky, sunny wind, peaceful sounds in the middle of a shouting city. At midnight they wheeled in another woman.
As the medical staff continued to probe our bodies, to take our vital signs and to wheel in great tasting food, three generations of family surrounded my neighbour's bed. I thought of my boys and grandkids in Canada, of my father in law coming 93rd birthday, and I was thankful for my faithful, attentive husband. Friends visited; Willie walked 5 miles a day between home and hospital. During the quiet times between visits, the two of us ladies talked of God.
The choppers sounded in the evening. Emergency Flying Vehicles screeched in the darkened sky. Another woman was wheeled in. We were three. Nurses hurried, Physicians wiped sweat off their brows, and we were three Jewish women in our quiet room surrounded with activities full of shouting in Arabic via the corridors of the Neurology department. We ate our supper quietly, and then began to talk.
An island of Hebrew - we talked of God, we told jokes, we laughed and we exchanged cellular numbers.
The Ramadan fast started the night before. The corridors were crowded with black cladding men and women, wearing white-cloth hats and white scarfs; family members. The three of us were in room 8; in the 20 other rooms laid Druze. "When you are in hospital, you eat!" demanded the nurse from the patient, "your family fasts the Ramadan, but you eat".
Medical helicopters were coming in more often, louder, throwing fear and hope simultaneously. Shouts in Arabic were outside the hospital gates, demonstrating. Emergency and hospital beds were filling up with Druze and / or Syrians of all ages. Border and civilian police walked about armed, guarding. I stayed in my room; the full corridors made me feel as an intruder.
Nurses, Physicians and medical aides on the Neurology Ward were about 70% Israeli Arabs and 30% Jews; the cleaning staff - 99% Russian Jews. All of them continued to move among the patient population efficiently and peacefully; by Friday night the beds were full of Arab speakers, all but for our room. The department specialists were called off for consultations to the emergency rooms and ran around the clock between our Third Floor and the basement, all weekend long. The choppers kept coming.
On the news an IDF high up official announced that Israel will not allow genocide of any people around its borders. The Medical Helicopters continued to fly into the hospital in Nahariya all week. It is 3am of Tuesday, they are still flying in. Against the demonstrations of both political sides, against a world full of discussions and snobbish talks and shows of hate, against all odds - IDF medical choppers are filling our hospital with Druze from the Syrian border side of the Golan.
I took a private taxi to the Emergency Ward last week; they are flown in free. I pay deer for the medical help while 67% of our old age pension goes to medications each month; they get it free. We are thankful for the knowledge and the care; they demonstrate against it. It is my country, they are the enemy. Yet, they receive loving and humane care.
On Sunday afternoon I was released. Monday, when the specialist saw me again, he advised me that two of the procedures that he requested were not done. "Too expensive, you will have to do it on your own". Monday evening I was in hospital again, being probed and given a radio-active something or other for the test. Dizzy and feeling faint I was laid down in a side room. Neither doctor nor nurse had time to look in on me. Willie filled me with water, orange juice and chocolate. After a long wait, I was able to get off the bed and leave the hospital, second time this week. We walked home through streets loaded with bumper to bumper vehicles. By this afternoon I will see the GP, and by tomorrow afternoon we will ride the bus for two hours one way to have the second procedure done - the one that is too expensive to be given to Israelis in our own hospital that is full of Syrian Druze.
The three of us women in that room were all released the same afternoon. The choppers continue, even now, to fly overhead bringing with them Syrians of all ages from the border for medical help.
The next time someone tells you that Israel is where Arabs are second class citizens, or that it should be eliminated since its people are enemies of the world, sent them for a week to Nahariya hospital.