Hadassah is a little like the old fashioned telephone boxes, with the biggest challenge being to see how many people you could fit in! Hadassah–both staff and buildings–will fit you in, no matter what!

It was Purim and I awoke early–in my own bed, in my own apartment in Modiin. I began to ponder the past year–how exactly one year ago today, Purim 5776, I underwent a biopsy of my brain tumor at Hadassah.

That was my first stay in any hospital since our daughters were born (in the United Kingdom, 22 and 19 years ago). Over that initial stay, I began to understand the culture of Hadassah, where the patient-centered approach includes permitting one person (e.g. husband/wife) to stay overnight on a sofa bed beside the patient’s bed; having thorough explanations by the nurses as to what procedure they were carrying out and why; doctors taking the time on their daily rounds to not simply nod and move on to the next bed, but tell you of their observations and the next stage to expect; and individuals delivering your meals and collecting your trays afterward showing real concern if they found you hadn’t eaten, and advising the nursing staff so that it could be monitored. The wards that I’ve stayed on are all in great condition and cleaning/ maintenance staff are constantly on hand to be sure they stay that way.

Now a year on, we joke that it seems I will visit every department, as my medical conditions have led to further visits with specialists –some in specialties that I didn’t even know existed!

Many of our friends have been on two, three, and four “once-in-a-lifetime” holidays. An internet search offers breaks with perhaps a week in a city followed by a week in a coastal resort–or a safari, followed by time at the beach, followed by a city experience. They may be all in one country or spread across a continent. Well, over late December 2016 into January 2017, I spent nine days at Hadassah on my very own “four-venue break”!

I spent two nights each in: Emergency, Oncology, Neurology, and Orthopedics, as the doctors all worked together to identify the latest medical problem that I was suffering from. In fact, it was a severe spinal infection, which ironically was not connected to either my multiple sclerosis (MS) or my brain tumor.

While in the hospital I had a series of blood tests, x-rays, ECGs, MRI’s, and more. It was good to see that refurbishment of the MRI department is well under way and that there is a beautiful new Pediatric Eye Clinic, which I have watched progress over the past few months.

There are some departments, though, which are housed in what I feel are not ideal locations. The MS consulting rooms, for example, are at the end of a narrow corridor that is incredibly difficult to access in a wheelchair–as many MS patients are. But I am sure that those controlling the rebuilding /refurbishing projects have the best overview of Hadassah’s facilities and will allocate funding and time where it is needed the most.

And so, on to my “unsung hero” for this blog. You may recall that I choose one to feature in every blog. This person represents all of the “admin staff,” who are central at the Hospital. Patients and their family and friends arrive in a bubble of fear and the administrative staff, as first port of call, need that balance of empathy and efficiency, combined with the computer and smart phone skills of Bill Gates.

Anat, working closely alongside the Director of the Neuro-Oncology Unit, Prof. Alexander Lossos, is always available to help solve booking and appointment delays, and to allay any fears you may have about new stages of treatment. She is one of a small army of support staff working at Hadassah–from those who deliver printer paper around the hospital, to those like Anat who work exclusively for one professor/consultant, helping to manage both their diaries and the anxiety of their patients.

Now, with Chanukah and my hospitalization a distant memory, I will be visiting the second Hadassah Hospital site–Hadassah Mount Scopus–to discuss intensive physiotherapy that I will need to rebuild my mobility and all the muscles which were affected by the spinal infection.

With the Pesach holiday approaching, I am hopeful that I will be able to celebrate my freedom at home for the whole of the festival and that treatment can take place before and/or after. (Although I definitely won’t be able to do any cleaning this year–much to the joy of my daughter!) Am I nervous? Of course I am! But, as always, I know that whatever treatment I need, it will be recommended and accommodated.

Hadassah is a little like the old fashioned United Kingdom telephone boxes from when I was younger, with the biggest challenge being to see how many people you could fit in! No matter what medical issue may be the problem, Hadassah–both staff and buildings–will fit you in (more comfortably than the old phone boxes!) and, no matter how many patients there are awaiting treatment, the appropriate amount of time and care will be on tap without question.

I wish you all a happy and healthy Pesach, surrounded by loved ones and in celebration of our freedom.