When a watermelon becomes a pillow

Or why I now have a copy of my 'DNR' ('Do Not Resuscitate' order) hanging on my refrigerator

The last thing I remember as I lay in the hallway of my apartment was reaching for the just delivered, (wrong-sized) watermelon to use as a pillow. I felt at peace, and why not? I was about to meet my maker (or not). On August 5th, I had what is blithely referred to as an “Afib” followed by my heart stopping. I have no idea why because I had had a defibrillator installed at Tel HaShomer in 2015 and it still had juice in the battery. Thankfully, I recall nothing except waking up in a hospital bed and wondering who was feeding my two Allenby-Balfour cats.

People are always quick to describe “near death experiences,” but what about death experiences? I saw no bright lights and no images from my life. I didn’t even see my grandparents, father (z”l) or my beloved German shepherd, Mark. Clearly, death is not all it is cracked up to being. As the fog lifted, I learned that my left wrist was broken in the fall. As I am typing this, it is all being done with one hand. And for some bizarre reason, my eyesight improved to the point that I no longer need my glasses to read my laptop, but I still have vision issues.

The hardest part of my recovery has been the realization that I have to rely upon the assistance offered by others. For a single, independent person like me, this is a major embarrassment. The good news is that more than a few home healthcare workers now each have the equivalent of a masters degree in the fine art of changing a cat litter box. (Sorry, ladies).

Also, I find that I now have to make “end-of-life” decisions which, frankly, I put off a long time ago, even with my stepmother’s persistent refrain of “Who is going to take your cats?” ringing in my ear. My brother tacked a copy of my “DNR” or “Do Not Resuscitate” order on my refrigerator. He says this is a common practice and the first place first responders look in emergencies such as mine. He didn’t notice the refrigerator magnets he was using that were a present from one of my two dearest friends, Ofer. The angry chihuahua magnet says it all.

If you are of a certain age, please take the time to think about who you want making decisions about your life, should you have a — God forbid — unforeseen life event or health issue. Who do you trust most? Who will respect your wishes? Who will make life-altering decisions for you should you be unable to express them yourself? Who gets the angry chihuahua refrigerator magnet?

I have many people to thank: Arlington County, Virginia’s Fire and Rescue, the staff at Arlington Hospital Center, kind neighbors, and especially Gabriella, who took care of my cats while I was incapacitated. I probably should also thank the leasing office staff who had to come pick me off the floor after I fell off the edge of my bed a few weeks ago, but I am too embarrassed to do so. And by the way, you truly can’t push yourself up one-handed off the floor. And much thanks to my primary caregiver, “Neju.” Stay healthy. Love and be loved.

About the Author
Rachel Grenadier was an olah from the Commonwealth of Virginia in 2003 who returned to the United States in 2015. She really wanted to stay in Israel, but decided that having family members nearby was better for her health than a bunch of devoted, but crazed, Israeli friends who kept telling her hummous would cure her terminal heart condition. She has her B.A. and M.A. from George Mason University in Virginia and is the author of two books: the autobiographical "Israeli Men and Other Disasters" and "Kishon: The Story of Israel's Naval Commandoes and their Fight for Justice". She is now living in Virginia with her three Israeli psychologically-challenged cats and yet, denies being a "hoarder".
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