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Mar 6 2014

Man Plans, God Gives You Shingles

By at 11:44 am

sick-woman

After all the late-night/early-morning work I did covering the Winter Olympics (in addition to my standing freelance assignments and that whole parenting three kids thing), I promised my husband that I would take some time off afterwards and not do any work at all. (Well, except for my standing freelance assignments and that whole parenting three kids thing).

My husband didn’t believe me. God, apparently, didn’t believe me, either, because, literally less than 24 hours after the Ladies’ Long Program ended in Sochi, God decided to make certain I kept my promise to take it easy by striking me down with a case of shingles.

For those unfamiliar with shingles, it’s caused by the chicken pox virus that has been lying dormant inside you probably since elementary school flaring up and making one half of your body feel like it’s on fire. There are also some blood-red blisters (in my case along the back and above the rib-cage; but that can vary from patient to patient) that eventually erupt and scab over for visual effect. Read the rest of this entry →

Oct 22 2013

Gaucher’s Disease Awareness Month: Q&A with a Mother Living with Gaucher’s

By at 2:35 pm
Chris-Kara-Erik Lang

From left to right: Chris, her daughter Kara, and son Erik.

 

October is the official Gaucher’s disease Awareness Month. Gaucher’s disease is the most common genetic disease among Ashkenazi Jews.

Gaucher’s disease is a rare, inherited disorder caused by a deficiency in a particular enzyme. Gaucher’s (pronounced go-SHAYZ) disease occurs when certain harmful fatty substances accumulate to excessive levels in your liver, spleen, lungs, bone marrow, and brain. The accumulation of fatty material in tissues interferes with how your body works and may cause organ enlargement and bone pain.

Besides wearing green shoelaces to show your support, you could also learn much more about this disease by reading the following Q&A with Chris Lang, mother of two, who was diagnosed with Gaucher’s at 31 years old.

How/when did you first find out you had Gaucher’s? What type are you? Read the rest of this entry →

May 8 2013

When Mom Loses Her Voice

By at 11:53 am

mouth taped shutI admire those who can evolve on their own, shedding old bad habits through sheer mindfulness and mental discipline. For me, it takes acute laryngitis.

“You’ll become a good listener real fast,” a friend joked. So true! Here’s what else happened when I lost my voice:  Read the rest of this entry →

Jan 14 2013

Our Flu Stories

By at 9:47 am

With a major flu epidemic going around the country, two Kveller contributors, Carla Naumburg and Avital Norman Nathman, talk about how they’ve dealt with it in the past.

The flu has hit the Boston area in a major way. Last Wednesday, the mayor declared a public health emergency. In fact, the entire nation is seeing the worst flu epidemic in the past 10 years.

We’re Jewish mothers, which means that we’re all about obsessing over who’s sick, who isn’t, and how we can keep our kids healthy (and not just because we really need them to go to school tomorrow). We love the sordid details, and we know you do, too, so here you go–our flu stories. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 12 2012

News Roundup: Pregnancy Sick Leave, Elmo Allegations

By at 4:05 pm

All the parenting news you probably didn’t have time to read this week.

kevin clash elmo

- Pregnant women should get two months of sick leave–that is, before they have their baby–says a new Norwegian study. This is awesome, but unless you live in Norway, you probably can’t expect two months of sick leave :( (Science Blog)

- Want to read some of the best parenting tweets about the election? We like the one about mommy stealing daddy’s margarita. (Huffington Post)

- Kaytlynn Welsch, 12, and her younger sister, Heather Welsch, 10, regularly run–and win–13 mile trail races. Are their parents pushing them too hard? (New York Times)

- A study showed that kids only act generously when they think people can see. I guess kids are pretty savvy operators. (Washington Post)

- And in horribly sad news that we hope turns out not to be true: Kevin Clash, who voices Elmo on Sesame Street, is on leave from his job after allegations (which he claims are false) that he had an inappropriate relationship with an underage boy. (CNN)

Apr 5 2012

Bringing the Seder to the Hospital

By at 3:03 pm
grandpa with baby girl

My dad with one of my daughters, Maya.

One year ago, I blogged in this space about how I’d be skipping the seders. I was pregnant with twins, and my scheduled c-section fell on the morning of the second seder. My husband and I were sure that God (and our parents) would forgive us if we sat the seders out, just that once. So instead of a Hillel sandwich and my mom’s farfel-apple-kugel, we had veggie burgers (no buns) and went to sleep early.

Fast-forward eleven months. It’s Passover again, and preparations for a seder at my parents’ house have been underway for weeks. My dad bought the new Safran Foer/Englander haggadah and he has the plastic frogs ready to keep the kids occupied. My mom’s placed her gigantic order of meat at the neighborhood kosher butcher and she’s already changed over all the dishes in her kitchen. I’ve bought all the ingredients for my kosher-for-Passover mandel bread, just about the only thing I know how to bake and my (sorta pathetic) contribution to the meal.  Jon isn’t on call this weekend, and the family—ours, my two sisters with their husbands and children, my aunt and uncle, great aunt and cousins—will all be together for the seders once again.

Except we won’t, because we just found out there won’t be a seder, after all.

On Tuesday, my dad was admitted into the hospital and today we were informed that he won’t be discharged until Sunday. So he’ll miss the seders. And we’ll miss the seders. And Passover will pass us by, again. Read the rest of this entry →

Mar 7 2012

Let’s Not Be Hamans

By at 4:31 pm

unorthodox deborah feldmanOn Monday, I taught my weekly Jewish Thought and Culture class to adults at the 92nd Street Y. My subject was, predictably, Purim. We explored the historical context, the story, the celebration. But mostly, I used the Purim story as an example of Jewish oppression over the ages. How a personal antipathy (in this case, Haman’s towards Mordechai) can generalize to become public policy towards an entire group (the massacre of the  Jewish population of the Persian Empire.)

We have many examples of how antipathy towards one or a small group of Jews takes on a life of its own resulting in prejudice, intolerance, and violence. Mordechai and Dreyfus, Jewish radicals and Communists, and the “Jewish liberal media,” all had profound effects on the entire Jewish population. We were lucky if we just got bad PR and didn’t get killed.

I was thinking about this a lot when one of my students asked me about the recent memoir by Deborah Feldman, Unorthodox. Read the rest of this entry →

Dec 12 2011

How I Almost (Sorta, Kinda) Lost My Eyes and Peeked into the Future

By at 4:06 pm

“People often get scared when they hear the word ‘glaucoma,’” the woman on the video at the doctor’s office said knowingly.

Um, yeah. That’s because it’s REALLY FREAKING SCARY, I thought, trying my best not to throw up in the examination chair out of panic and fear.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

Let it be known that as a general rule, I’m not afraid of pulling the “doctor” trigger when it comes to the kids. I generally err on the side of caution. Baby G’s bellybutton looks a little weird in a way I can’t possibly describe? Off we go to the pediatrician (bellybutton diagnosis negative).  R’s balance looks a little off? Let’s go to the ENT and the orthopedist and check it out (and find out he needs to get ear tubes, yet the fact that he doesn’t listen has no medical explanation).

But when it comes to my own health, I’m not so quick to make myself a doctor’s appointment. It’s possible that that is rooted in some weirdly wrong idea that the parent is supposed to be the healthy one and have no problems. And ideally, that would be the case. Read the rest of this entry →

Nov 28 2011

Post-Thanksgiving Gratitude

By at 3:27 pm

"Are you Irish?"

I’ve been spending a lot of time feeling grateful lately, and not just because I’m still enjoying the leftovers from Thanksgiving. My baby girl got croupy (again) on Thursday night, and we ended up back in the emergency room. Sure, I was thankful for the excellent medical care we got, but one interaction I had in the hospital reminded me of just how lucky my family and I are in other ways as well.

The respiratory therapist who came to give my daughter a nebulizer treatment saw her name (Rose) and asked if we were Irish. In a rare moment of self-restraint, I didn’t point out that our last name is Naumburg (not O’Naumburg or McNaumburg), but I did mention that we’re Jewish.

“Ohhh! That’s so cool! I totally have a Jewish friend!” And with that announcement, that nice young respiratory therapist proceeded to goo and gaa at Rosie, all the while talking to her about Hannukah and latkes and apple sauce. I managed to ignore the Jewish friend comment until she finished my daughter’s treatment and wished us “Salaam Aleikum”—a traditional Muslim greeting meaning “peace be with you”.

She was serious. She didn’t know the difference.

All of a sudden I flashed back to my childhood in New Mexico, when I was given ashes on my forehead for Ash Wednesday by my public school teacher. (The possibility that we weren’t Christian was never considered; neither was the separation of church and state, apparently.) I was reminded of the time in college when our dining hall was decorated for Passover with glorious pyramids of freshly baked challah. And I remembered a conversation just last week with a new babysitter. Although we had specifically looked for one who wasn’t Jewish (our previous babysitter was a Rabbi’s daughter, and thus unavailable for Kol Nidrei or Erev Shabbat services), I wasn’t prepared for her complete lack of knowledge of anything Jewish. (Although she was quite eager to learn about “our Sabbath”, as she was interested in some nice young Jewish boy.)

As I sat in that hospital bed, holding my daughter, I couldn’t help but think that I am actually part of the 1%; Jews make up approximately 1.7% of the population of the United States, and just 0.2% of the population of the world. I have lived in a suburb of Boston for over a decade, and as such, I’ve been sheltered, and incredibly lucky. We live within a 30-minute drive of several synagogues, Jewish day schools and preschools, and Judaica shops. The public schools in our town are closed on Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. We can buy Shabbat candles at our local grocery store, and which bakery makes the best challah is a matter of hot debate in our community. I write for an amazing online magazine where I can make reference to Yom Kippur, and none of my readers accuse me of making up a holiday just to get out of an exam (and yes, that’s a true story).

I live in a happy little Jewish bubble, and when it gets burst, I notice it, and it reminds me of just how fortunate my family and I are to have such an amazing Jewish community—both in real life, and online.

Nov 18 2011

When Mom Is Too Sick To Be Mom

By at 11:33 am
inhaler

My daughter makes fun of my inhaler!

For the past few weeks, I have been battling bronchitis. If the incessant coughing weren’t enough, I have developed tendinitis of the ribs because of it. The first wave of medicine abated but didn’t cure it. Now I am on two inhalers and a codeine pill to sleep at night. But my daughter doesn’t care about any of that.

Case in point: Ellie wanted me to carry her for 90 minutes straight at the zoo today. Somehow, my explanation didn’t fly. I can’t imagine what she didn’t get about, “Mommy has an ouch that makes it feel like 10 zillion knives are stabbing me in the chest and back every time I breathe, so it would be really great if you could walk just a little bit.” To add insult to injury, she thinks it’s hilarious when I take puffs off the inhalers.

My editors and my managers at the gyms where I teach group cycling classes understand that I’ve been under the weather. But my toughest boss, Ellie, is having none of it.

So how do you mother when it feels like 10 zillion knives are stabbing you in the chest and back every time you breathe? How do you get it across to an almost-2-year-old that Mommy needs a time out?

The answers I have come up with are two-fold. One the American Academy of Pediatrics wouldn’t like, but the other balances it out. First, I let Ellie watch TV. No, not “Law & Order” or “Sex & the City” reruns. She loves “Yo Gabba Gabba” and “Sesame Street” so instead of watching just some clips, I confess to letting her watch a full episode or two, as prescribed by my pain level. I sit and watch with her and we interact about what’s going on, but I don’t have to chase her around or carry her anywhere, and the less physical I have to be, the less I cough. Read the rest of this entry →

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