Surgery: My Two Cents


When I learnt, more than a year ago, that I needed to have surgery I wasn’t too pleased. Well, to be honest, I was dead scared. All the more so as my specialist did not deal with this type of surgery, which meant I had to go and see somebody else.

Looking back on it, almost three weeks after the actual operation, I thought I would try and offer some advice on the subject. I must add however that, although the operation was necessary, it was by no means urgent, which gave me time to organize things a bit better.

– Ask your regular doctor or specialist for the name(s) of people they trust and would refer their relatives to. I was lucky in that my own specialist had cancer a couple of years ago and therefore she gave me the names of surgeons who were “competent and humane”.

– Ask people who have gone through the same experience how things went for them. One colleague told me that she was simply exhausted for several weeks afterwards. I discussed this with my physician who then prescribed multivitamins for a month prior to the operation. I think it helped.

– If you can, choose a big hospital where your case will not be an exception but something they are used to dealing with. It also means that if things go wrong you won’t need to be transferred to a bigger unit.

– A week or two before you are due to go hospital, contact them to stipulate whether you prefer an individual or a shared room. There is nothing worse than being with a chatty person or a tv watcher when all you feel like doing is sleeping. Conversely, if being on your own makes you feel depressed, you’ll wish you had somebody to talk to.

– If you eat kosher or are a vegetarian, don’t forget to tell people and then make sure the message gets across. It made me feel awful when the nurse brought mashed potatoes and a slice of ham when I was eager to eat my first solid food in three days. I was lucky that they had warmed a vegetarian meal and that I didn’t have too wait too long before I could actually eat something.

– Be humble. After anesthesia you will most likely feel extremely drowsy and you may not be able to move much. Therefore you will probably need to ask for help. Your visitors or the nursing staff understand this. So if you need your cell phone to be retrieved from your bag or someone to pour you a drink, just ask. Getting what you need when you need it during the first 24 hours will help you feel better more quickly.

– I don’t believe in redemption through suffering so if you are in pain, tell the medical staff about it. There are effective means to alleviate pain; don’t reject them if they are necessary. You won’t become an addict just because you have received strong pain killers for a few days.

– Remain courteous even when you’re feeling poorly or in pain. Nurses and their auxiliaries are human beings with lots of patients to care for. Like everybody else they like their work and competence to be acknowledged.

If you feel I have forgotten useful advice, don’t hesitate to add your own input.

The Coffee Dilemmas


I love coffee and usually drink four to five cups a day. I use a traditional drip coffeemaker with a programmable digital clock which I set in the evening. My favorite blends include one from Kenya and another one which combines Kenyan and Indian beans. I buy them at the local stores.

My routine only differs on Fridays when I make a big pot and pour it into a vaccuum flask which enables me to drink hot coffee on Shabbat mornings.

As I have mentioned elsewhere I am spending a couple of weeks in a friends’ flat and the problem is that they do not have a regular coffemaker. Only the husband drinks coffee and he uses one of these new coffee brewing systems., the Senseo coffee machine.

To the non-coffee drinker this might look like a detail but it isn’t so simple.

– First I had to learn to use the machine properly so as to make a big bowl in the morning – as opposed to an espresso kind of cup, the type which is made after lunch.

– I also needed to identify which pods to use for morning coffees and which ones to use for the post-lunch beverage since the sizes are different.

– Then there is the flavor issue. Most of these pods are manufactured by Douwe Egberts®, by no means my favorite brand. Alternative pods exist but apparently the blends are not necessarily the same as for the drip coffeemakers.

– Lastly, there is the Shabbat issue; one which I need to have solved by tomorrow. I have the feeling that this espresso type of coffee isn’t meant to sit in a vaccuum flask for hours before it is drunk.