Thursday, July 24, 2014

Stairway to the Animal Kingdom and a Letter from Israel

I've often fessed up I hate exercising. But I do take advantage of natural exercise moments, such as taking the stairs rather than the elevator. After leaving the car on the fifth floor of Gilda's self park regular garage at Mount Sinai hospital Wednesday afternoon before a doctor’s appointment, I chose to walk down the stairs. Halfway down I saw an animal curled up on the landing. Furry. Grey with a black streak down its back. Pointed snout. And a black Zorro mask across its eyes. He, or she, took one look at me and went back to sleep.

I quickly retreated away from this slumbering raccoon and jumped on the elevator. I advised the garage attendant to call the police or animal control squad. It took him a while to understand me. He said he’d call housekeeping. A few blocks later I stopped in the hospital’s garage security office and told them about the raccoon. They, too, promised to call the proper authorities. When I returned to the garage 90 minutes later the attendant said no one had shown up. I did not go looking to see if the raccoon was still napping.

At what age do we transfer authority? Here’s the thing. When visiting with the sleep apnea specialist Wednesday I couldn’t stop thinking how young he was. Probably no older than our son Dan, who is 35. I’m used to conferring medical authority on doctors older than me, or my age, or at least in their fifties. But as I age—and I expect to continue to do so for decades—doctors I see will be getting progressively younger. I’ll have to train myself to trust them.

I have the same questions concerning education experience and gravitas when I see young, talking heads dissecting world events on television. Or when their cohorts talk business, except when it comes to technology. When I watch a baseball game the players don’t seem as young as they really are. Again most of them are younger than Dan, but they look older. Or am I merely transferring my age bias to my brain and making them appear older?

By the way, I’ve decided to do an in-hospital, overnight sleep apnea test rather than an in-home test. My young doctor convinced me the results would be more useful.

Letter from Israel: Gilda's cousin lives in Kvuzat Yavne, a kibbutz about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Gaza Strip. Her kibbutz is among the most successful, with a varied economy including the canning of pickles and olives that she helps manage. Here's an excerpt from an email we received Wednesday:

“So much has happened and is happening. We average 2-3 missile attacks a day. Our homes have no secure rooms but the rest of the kibbutz is covered. Some of the missiles have hit pretty close. The Iron Dome is a miracle and has been shooting most rockets out of the sky. The fallout from this is very dangerous in itself but less than direct hits.

“Two new ways to get around: 1) always plan where to run for cover if you’re caught outside when an air raid siren goes off; 2) when driving, always have the radio on loud so you can hear when they break in with an announcement of an attack. If it’s by you, stop the car, get out and take cover.

“Our son Eldad was called up during the first few days and is now on the border with Gaza keeping watch to prevent infiltrations . Much as it is worrying, those that have family members fighting  inside Gaza have even greater fear.

“To those who attended Eldad and Tehila’s wedding on Kibbutz Saad (which Gilda and I did, along with her brother, sister and her husband), the kibbutz (on the border with the Gaza Strip) today is an armed camp. Heavily shelled. There were two direct hits in front of the dining room right where the chuppa was. The elderly, children, and most of the residents have moved to safer surroundings. 

“We have 60 seconds to make it to shelter; they have basically zero. Funny how there were once emergency plans to evacuate Saad to us…

“All the kibbutzim around the Gaza Strip are empty of almost all their civilian residents. It’s impossible to live with constant shelling and bombardments. The fear of tunnels has turned the whole area into a nightmare. Shelling is something you learn to live with, no matter how nerve racking, if you have a safe room to take cover in. Infiltrating terrorists through a tunnel under your home is a whole new ball game. Every evening now we hear the numbers of the soldiers killed over the last 24 hours.”