Showing posts from December, 2008

The dog that bites

I wrote last week that sometimes the dog needs to bite in order to keep your house secure.  This weekend, the Israeli Air Force took a big bite out of HAMAS.  As of day 5 of the way, the Air Force is running out of high profile targets.   Israel has lowered the frequency of attacks and has let at least one hundred trucks carrying supplies into Gaza.  HAMAS has responded by firing at least 35 long range rockets into Israel this morning.
My conclusion is that HAMAS wants Israel to begin a land war (in Asia).  Having shown that they cannot do anything against the Israeli Air Force, they are desperate to prove their legitimacy as a military power.  Firing rockets into Israel accomplishes nothing except to piss people off (and to cause damage and death, but HAMAS does not care about that).   HAMAS would have all the supplies it wanted (non-military) if they had stopped lobbing rockets at Israel.
HAMAS therefore wants Israel to start a land attack.  They believe that they can reproduce the su…

Making Sense of current events

I try to be a rationalist.  I believe that most people (particularly politicians), make rational decisions based on their best understanding of the current situation and the implications of their proposed actions.  In world politics, the biggest problem for the common observer (myself included) is that we lack pertinent information.  It seems obvious to me that the IDF has significant knowledge concerning the assets and liabilities in Gaza.  Hamas on the other side, believes that it too has knowledge of the Israeli's options and capabilities.
The Israeli position seems simple and obvious to me:  Stop trying to destroy our country through military efforts and we will let you live in peace.
The corollaries are:  a) Stop firing rockets and we will allow food and supplies through our borders. b) Stop attempting to plant explosives, dig cross border tunnels, or otherwise prepare to attack us and we will not fire back.
These are rational positions.  They make no claims about right or wrong. …

Kidney Diagnosis

As you may recall, last week, I have a laparoscopic biopsy.    The doctors made three small cuts in my side and inserted a camera and some remote instruments.  The goal was to dig through my abdomen towards my kidney near the bottom of my right side rib cage.  Once they got to the kidney, the doctors patiently cut a small slice off of it and extracted it for the pathologists to play with.
Actually, I was asleep the whole time, so I'm only guessing that this is what happened.  I do know that the pathologists practically drooled over the wonderful sample of my kidney.  They froze it, preserved and cooked it.  Today, I got the results.
Basically, my Nephrologist told me that my kidney is failing because its on a downward spiral.  Healthy kidneys filter out urea and other poisons in the blood.  These items are put in the urine.  Proteins in the blood, make this process a bit harder and should normally be left alone.  In my case, I have only one kidney from birth.  The other kidney has n…

On the Sixth Night of Chanuka..

Chanukah is a time of family and gifts.  Our week has been busy with medical tests, a wedding, sheva brachot, and a short trip up north for some fun and relaxation.
Here is a tip for families with lots of boys.  Wednesday was stormy.  We needed to leave the house.  Our solution was to go to the beach.  Have you ever been on a beach when there are 20 foot waves and 40 mph (60kpm) winds.  The sound is impressive and so are the sights.  We spent an hour on the beach, watching the massive waves and enjoying the power of nature.  Then we had lunch!
This weekend, we will be hosting two young ladies.  No idea from where, but they called on Wednesday looking for a place to stay.   I'm sure they will be wonderful guests.
Tonight, we have our second annual yishuv family dinner.  My cousins and my family got together last year at this time for a pot-luck dinner.  Tonight, we'll do it again.  30+ people, all related somehow.
Tomorrow, we have invited a local family.  Together, lunch will be 2…

Back to "real" life

Each person has their own ways of dealing with their problems.  When I get sick, I want to be in a quiet, warm place until I feel better.   When I start to feel better, I want company.  Like our forefather Avraham, having company makes me feel whole.  (this assumes that I am healthy enough for company.  I may be righteous, but I'm not stupid ;-).
My wife is wonderful.  She knew what would make me feel better, and she accepted requests from five guests to stay over for Shabbat.  She also invited a local family for lunch!  I was a little overwhelmed, but there really is no difference between 1 guest and 5.
Today (Friday) is the first day that I'm feeling almost normal.   I still have a little tightness from the surgery and I'm definitely favoring my side.  But, I was able to cook up a storm.  As I looked on my handiwork this afternoon, I felt very good.  We start with raw materials and make something appetizing and healthy!  What could be a better parable for recovering from a…

Laparoscopic Kidney Biopsy

Well, that was interesting.  As you are probably aware by now, kidney disease runs in my immediate family.  I have only one kidney, and its not doing all that well (Stage 3 Kidney Disease).  The real problem is that the doctors don't know why my kidney is failing to do its job.  After years of tests, we finally arrived the "last" option.   The gold test for kidney disease is a biopsy.  Since I only have one kidney, and I don't want to risk damaging it any further, we decided on a laparoscopic biopsy.  Now that's real surgery.  In fact, its scary how similar it is to a nephrectomy, where the doctors remove a kidney.  (mine is still there!)
So I went in on Sunday night, and of course, there were no beds.   They performed the basic admission tests and sent me home to sleep in my own bed. Monday morning, bright an early we arrived that the hospital and the biopsy began.  Actually, its was not SO bad.   It under full anesthetic, so I didn't feel a thing before or d…

Overwhelmed and Stressed

Its been a hectic week and I don't see the end in sight until next Tuesday.  Between medical issues and my Phd research and teaching, I'm so buried that I need to work on Friday!  I have tried very hard to keep Friday's for cooking.  Its therapeutic to be able to focus on making Shabbat meals.  Instead, I have to write a paper that is due to the workshop committee on Monday!  ARghhh...
In any case, we have a pretty quiet weekend.  Two guests from a seminary in Jerusalem and no other guests for meals.  Counts are simple at 10 people.  That's very small compared to our usual meals.
This shabbat is one of my favorites in terms of discussion topics.  In this weeks parsha, we have two major events.  
Dena is raped by Shchem and the brothers (Shimon and Levi) use a ruse to disable the residents.  They then destroy the city and its inhabitant in revenge.  Yaacov just shrugs.  So many questions: Was Dena to blame for the rape?  Were the inhabitants of Shchem honest in their conve…

Organ Donors in Israel

A few months ago, we invited Robbie Berman of the Halachic Organ Donor Society (HODS) to give a talk in our community.  His focus was on explaining why it is allowable for a jewish person to donate organs after brain stem death.   The talk was exciting and interesting and generated a lot of positive discussion.  During our Thanksgiving Anniversary dinner, we signed up 40 people for organ donor cards!
Unfortunately, there is another side to this story.  Everyone who showed up to the talk had an anglo-saxon (english speaking) background.  Everyone who signed the card has the same background.  We made no inroads what-so-ever in the Israeli born population of our community.
One of my neighbors decided to try and make a difference.  She talked to Robbie and to me about doing a signup drive for the whole community.  After discussion, we agreed that the first place to go was to get the agreement of our community Rabbi.  We respect his positions and see his involvement as critical to breaking i…

Another unusual shabbat

What a week.  Politics, Health and death.  One of our close friends lost his brother on Wednesday evening.  The funeral was just before Shabbat in Bet Shemesh.  Nice way to begin Shabbat.  The only silver lining is that my oldest son came to the funeral and will be staying with us for Shabbat.
Adding to the excitement, my wife is running a Bar Mitzva this weekend for a friend.  She has been busy all day and will be serving at the Bar Mitzva dinner tonight.  So, no sleepover guests for us this weekend, and a very small dinner (6 people).
We invited a local family with young children over for lunch, but one of their brood was sick yesterday.  The jury is still out on whether they will eat with us for Shabbat lunch.  An added complication is that one of their family has Celiacs and so all the food that I made is gluten free.
Shabbat Parshat VaYeitzei Dinner - 6 Chicken Soup with Vegetables (Onions and Carrots) Meat Loaf (slightly burnt because I left for the funeral while it was still in the o…

Kidney Update #3

My son is still in the process of finding a kidney donor.  The current wait is for the donor to meet with an outside psychiatrist to determine if there are any external pressures or other causes for the altruistic donation.
While that is happening, we sent my son's rest results to a friend in the US.   He is a very well respected nephrologist and we are grateful for his time and interest.  He raised a concern that without knowing the cause of Asaf's kidney failure, a transplant might suffer the same fate.  He contacted a friend of his at Shaarei Tzekek hospital for a consultation.  Within 24 hours, we had an appointment to see their child nephrology department.
Yesterday was our appointment.  The doctor that we saw was very nice and helpful.  She took our history, looked at our existing test results and scheduled a number of tests on the spot.  Asaf spent the rest of the day taking tests, all of which were fast and painless.
So far, no results other than that his Creatinine level…

Hebron Musings

Yesterday was interesting on a political level.  The Israeli government responding to it's Supreme Court cleared out a number of residents of a house in Hebron.  The ownership of the building is contested and the courts have not yet reached a decision.
Ehud Barak played a trick on the settler movement by agreeing to work out a compromise. This effort led the residents to lower their guard, allowing the Israeli Border Police to storm in uncontested and take over the building without casualties.  Angry residents of near-by (on foot) Kiryat Arba confronted joyous Palestinians.  The jews broke into occupied residences and there are reports of two people being shot by a jew (either by rubber bullets, or by live fire.)
Implications: The Israeli Supreme Court once again got caught playing politics.  They should have made a legal decision on the ownership and then asks the executive branch to enforce it.  (Bad)
Ehud Barak has lost whatever credibility he had with the settlers. (Bad) The Border…