Saturday, October 4, 2014

Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur 5775

Three of my six Rosh Hashana challot (before baking)
With the new Jewish year always comes introspection and thoughts of how to do things differently in the coming year. We just passed Rosh Hashana, so the new year has officially begun!

About doing things different in the year to come, I have some big, important, life-changing decisions underway. I have built the foundation for basically two decisions, and I pray that I will be able to follow through with them both. 

Doing so, however, will truly limit my blogging. It has been limited, already, and I haven't even put these life changes into place, or even gotten the ball rolling. Until now, my blogging has been limited since I returned from the states because of jet lag, then Rosh Hashana & Shabbat, and generally catching up with the lives of my kids and the rhythms of our life here. Tonight marks two weeks to the day since I returned from my trip! When I was there it seemed like I was there for so long, like months, and now that I have returned, I have the same feeling, like I've been home for much longer than two weeks. It's just enough time to shake off the jet lag. Coming from the states always takes me about two full weeks before jet lag is over. Going there, however, I am usually straightened out in two or three days. Coming back is when you lose time, and it makes things harder.

The two things I set forth to accomplish in this year of 5774. I almost don't want to commit to them through writing, but it is important that I do. Some big, big changes are going to be made, and they will turn my life around.

One is that I plan to wean off of the narcotic pain meds: Fentanyl (morphine-like patches I wear, and have worn for five years). Each time I put a new set of patches on my body, I have many, many thoughts and emotions come up. My soul is not OK with this. I know I take it for chronic pain. That is why I haven't yet weaned; the fear of the pain. There is also fear of withdrawal- the symptoms- as well. It is awful, not unlike any other narcotic withdrawal. I have done it in small doses a few times, and I hallucinate, I have awful, awful, dark dreams, I shake uncontrollably, and vomit.

This medicine, however, is poison. The two biggest life-hindering side effects I deal with from it are being sleepy all the time, and digestive problems. I can no longer drive distances anymore because I am too tired, and it is dangerous for me at the wheel. I have come very close, many times, to falling asleep at the wheel. It never happened, thank Gd, but I know how to take a hint. I also suffer from brain power outages; that is when I forget words and even say words sometimes that have no connection whatsoever to what I meant, but it comes out of my mouth. I am extremely forgetful in an unnatural way. This narcotic, it effects every facet of my life. I need 12 hours of sleep at night as a rule. If I don't get it, I will most often wind up with a migraine. Coming off the meds has the hope of gaining some more normal waking hours.

I want my life back. The Fentanyl rules everything. It insidiously meddles it's way into every corner of my life and subtly undermines any efforts I make to forward my life or succeed.

The question remains, how much pain do I have? I know how much I have now, even being on the Fentanyl. How much would I have without it? An unknown. I'd need to play that by ear, so to speak. There is a possibility of going on something more natural instead of the Fentanyl, if the pain gets too bad. We all know that there is no way my life will improve if I am just exchanging drug dependence for extraordinary pain. I am in the early stages of getting in touch with some key people who research specific natural genre of pain medicines, and plan on consulting with them before I make my decision. That decision, to start consulting and researching, is made. Now it is just planning how, when, and where. I made an appointment with my pain management doctor (Dr. Z), to consult with him. I have a lot of questions. That is the first step. Next step is setting up an appointment with this person who is at the head of her field here in the above-mentioned natural form of pain control. A cousin is putting me in touch with her. It will go as it will go.

Over the Rosh Hashana holiday our guests were Robert's cousin from Beria, and his friend from Tzfat. In one our many talks together, his friend, Chaya, offered her place in Tzfat as a place to land for the detox period. It would be way too hard for me to be at home and going through that. I've done that before-- you can journey with me through that again in this post. I will plan this medicine withdrawal together with this special friend, in her lovely house (where she lives alone), so she can hold my hands and catch me when I am falling into the pit of withdrawal. It is *scary*. The hallucinations are awful. The vomiting is awful. With her offer, I see this goal as attainable.

I also have ordered a "power drink", but it hasn't been delivered. I ordered it after I saw it recommended on a blog I read; the one written by the woman who was in a plane crash, and suffered burns over 80% of her body. This is her blog entry about her experience weaning off narcotic pain meds. She recommended this stuff, and we researched it a bit, and it seems really good. I ordered it. Drinking it is supposed to help the chemical brain changes that occur with withdrawal, and give more energy when the "brain zaps" knock it all out of you. Unfortunately, it didn't arrive before I left the states, so I wasn't able to bring it here with me. I hope that someone coming here on a trip soon, will be able to bring it for me. I feel it would be a helpful aid with the withdrawal.

The other change, which I already have implemented, is setting my bedtime bottom line at 9:30pm. What has been happening for many years is that since I need to sleep at least 12 hours a night, and usually go to sleep at 12 or 1, in effect I lose my mornings. Every day. I wake up, and the morning is gone. This is the MAIN reason I have not been able to write my book.

Since September's writer's conference in the states, I committed to myself that I will do three days a week of three hours a day, in the morning. I usually have to get kids at either 1:30 or 3:15, depending on the day, so there should be no problem getting in three solid hours of writing. All I have to do is be able to get up. The way to do this is go to sleep at 9:30. It is not going to be an easy decree to keep, but I know that the decision has been made, and no part of me feels unclear on this necessary change. I have done it for three nights already, and the kids are getting used to it. I simply tell them that if they want me to sit with them on their beds to say the night time "sh'ma", it must be by 9:15. Showers at 8:30 and 8:45 (remember I only have the two younger kids home with me during the school week- Dov & Ya'akov are in high schools out of the city, and sleep there during the week, coming home for Shabbats). If they are not ready (usually it is Shifra who is puttering around and not paying attention to time, going to bed at 10 or 10:30 quite often) by 9:30, they will not have me to tuck them in. I will go upstairs, and put myself to sleep. I can do it, and have done it.

My goal for the book is that the first draft manuscript will be complete by the writer's conference in Baltimore next year. I plan for it to be done before Rosh Hashana next year. I know that is a totally doable goal, if I am organized enough to eek out the time to write. Three mornings a week of three hours a morning. Bedtime 9:30. It's good for the kids also, not just me, of course. We'll all benefit, and all our lives will feel more fulfilling because of being able to get up in the morning, not dragging one's self out of bed, like the kids do almost every morning. And me, I will hopefully avoid the not-enough-sleep terrible migraines with this plan. It is RIGHT, and I feel it in my whole being.

These two decisions are so strong in me, I know it with all my being. The narcotic pain medicine withdrawal will have it's own planned structure, made clear to me in time. The early bed time resonates with every cell of my being, this is the exact right time to implement it. I know I will be happier having my mornings to write, and the kids will be happier for two reasons- one because they will not be so tired during the day, and be able to get out of bed easier, and two- they will see that *I* am happy, and writing my book, and excited about life. It will make our whole little cosmic corner of the planet happier, and healthier.

I am taking control of the things that have given me such sadness. Well, I am making decisions, the control part is up to The Big Guy. I ask for Him to bless these important decisions. Only time will tell. But, I think that at this point, I am pretty sensitive when it comes to figuring out if Hashem has blessed a decision or not.

Starting tomorrow evening, Yom Kippur, we basically have 15 hours of praying to Hashem for our lives. 15 hours is not that long when you consider what it is you are actually praying for! But it is very long when you take into account that we are fasting 25 hours while doing it.

It's currently slightly past my 9:30 bed time, and I am closing the computer. This is the third time I have stopped working on it before it was finished, because of my new bed time. If I weren't being strict with this timing, I'd now proof read, edit, and find a picture or two to add in. Then I'd publish it, as well as publishing the new blog post on Facebook (my two pages on facebook... if you haven't seen the new one for the book, go here and give it a "like"!) as well as posting it to the Yahoo list with our Anglo group in Be'er Sheva (where I live), to reach a larger audience by inviting people to read my new post. So, there is at least another half hour work here, or more, even though the content is written at this point. That is often what kept me up late if I was writing- the inability to cut-off and not finish until the next day. I have been given the gift of removing the urgency. My priorities are set, and I feel such strength from that.

On that note, good night! I'll post this tomorrow before Yom Kippur. :)

Didn't get to it before Yom Kippur. We are on Saturday night here, after surviving the 25 hour fast. It's *hard*. I am spent. but I did it. I think that probably the Rabbis would be lenient with my situation, because I am on heavy medicines, that I wouldn't have to totally fast. But I don't ask. I don't ask for a leniency. I can't imagine not fasting on Yom Kippur. If I was told that I didn't have to, I'd be at odds with myself as to whether or not to follow the leniency, or listen to my soul, which wants, and needs, to fast on Yom Kippur. So, I don't ask. Yes, it is hard. It takes everything out of me. But I made it to and from shul (walking, of course) three times in the 25 hours, prayed my heart out, and joined the Jewish people in communal prayer. I'll rest tomorrow.

OK, ending here. This blog spans over about 9 days. I don't know when I'll write again- things are crazy busy, and with an early bedtime, things are getting whittled down to the essence. And we have another holiday in four days!!

May this Jewish new year really be a time of renewal of spirit and peace!
It's going to be a good one. I can feel it in my bones. Thanks, bones. :)


  1. I send you my encouragement and support - a wonderful plan!

  2. It was great to see you in the synagogue. Now stick to this wonderful New Year's resolution.

  3. May your goals to into reality. There are lots of people around to help all you have to do is ask to. Doors you think are closed will be open. Sonya Davidson

  4. Hi Sarah,
    Do you have any idea as to how fantastic you sound in this last blog? So totally in control (even if things are still up and down sometimes, still the overall feeling is overwhelming) and taking charge. Wow. It's like you're now ready mentally and your body's ready physically to do this next gigantic step to recovery. And looking back it seems like all the previous struggles were just small steps - sometimes very slippery ones that you needed to get through to get to this place. fabulous and best of luck with all of it.

    Hadassa Mantinband

  5. We're with you in any way we can to help you realize your two major goals.It's going to be, G-d willing, an amazing year!

  6. You have two major goals for this year, and the clear intention to accomplish both of them. You can do it.

  7. Sounds like a clear decision that 9:30 bed time.
    Dutch logic :-) - I run my practice on early bed times - for me AND my patients! It makes me happy to hear you clear about that!!!

  8. Two great goals. And, B"H, friends and support and HaKBH to help accomplish them. Wishing you and the mishpacha a healthy, happy, year with simcha, bracha, shalom, a refuah shelaima bnefesh vbguf, and everything good and sweet!
    xxxooo Dev from NJ

    1. My dear guttena neshuma Devorah, amen to all that. Back at you 100 fold. Naches and health and strength for all of us!
      lots of love....