By Ilene Bloch-Levy
I used to view my life as a daily task in which I smoothly navigate between two vying planes. Then my father’s life intersected mine and I was so focused on giving that my life gelled into one.
On one plane, I have my ‘ill life’ which constitutes my ongoing battle with cancer. Replete with challenges it runs the gamut from medical to administrative. There are protocols that need to be continuously re-evaluated, weekly treatments, frequent blood tests, recurrent trips to the emergency room, and hospitalizations. There is endless paperwork, staying abreast of new medications, discussions with the hematologist, informational conferences.
On another, I have the life I love to live. This revolves around satisfyingly creative work, family, children, many grandchildren, and until recently, caring for my father.
Sometimes the planes are seamlessly balanced, other times, I am so out of balance, I feel I am falling off the precipice.
Last March my husband and I flew back to the States to help my 90-year old father pack and make aliyah.
For months my sister and I had been discussing the possibility of bringing my father to Israel. Until he was 90 years old, he worked full-time. But once the daily routine vanished, my father became restless. We felt that a change would be good, and since most of the grandchildren and all of the great-grandchildren were living in Israel, Israel seemed to offer an outstanding solution.
My father agreed. And, life began anew for him as he settled into an assisted living residence equidistant to the extended family. He took advantage of the diverse activities, discovered new interests and enjoyed frequent visits from family members.
I would visit twice-weekly on my way home from work, and on Fridays to wish him Shabbat Shalom.
I was amazed at how wonderfully he was adapting to being a new oleh, in a new city, in a new residence. I was equally amazed at how smoothly I was able to maintain the balance I had so carefully crafted since becoming ill four years ago. The situation seemed idyllic.
That is, until my father became ill and one hospitalization led to another. Now, instead of thrice-weekly visits to my father the visits were daily.
As my father’s health deteriorated, so did mine. And, as his life was thrown off balance, so was mine. So that by the time my father passed away in his hospital bed, I was in a hospital bed some 20 kilometers away.
We never fully realize how delicate that balance in life can be. As much as we would like to manage it, I learned that we cannot, nor should we want to. But, perhaps there is comfort in knowing that when one injects life with unbounded love and caring, one’s ‘ill life’ and the life one loves to live can seamlessly blend into one. As it should be.
Ilene Bloch-Levy was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in March 2012. She grew up in New York and made aliyah in 1986. She has 6 married children, and her husband has 3 married children. They both enormously enjoy a gaggle of grandchildren. A freelance copywriter, Ilene lives in the Shomron. According to her, “One of the joys of working in Israel is that Israelis get the important things in life; during my treatments and hospitalization, all of my clients patiently waited for me to return to work.”
[Editor’s note: We are grateful to Ilene for sharing some of her personal experiences with the SPP community, and are confident that her thoughts will help strengthen and enlighten the readers. Her views are her own and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Shira Pransky Project. If you would like to contribute to our blog with your own thoughts or experiences related to the Israeli healthcare system, let us know: firstname.lastname@example.org.]