Live always at the edge of poetic possibilty, even in the face of severe prose. - Walter Bruggemann


Wednesday, May 28, 2008

A Border Crossing to Remember (wasn't there a movie by a similar title???)

Angels come in all sorts of shapes and sizes. I know because I have encountered some here in Israel. I’m not crazy and I don’t have Jerusalem syndrome but I do know when there has been some divine intervention in my life.

I went to the Sinai and the unexpected happened. I woke up on the day that my friends Donna and Dale and I were to leave for Jerusalem… and wouldn’t you know it, I went into Atrial Fibrillation….again. I blogged about my hospital experience with the first episode of A Fib a while back. This one is even more dramatic (and humorous) because we were scheduled to get a cab to the Taba border and cross back from Egypt into Israel.

I woke up early to get my suitcase packed, should’ve done it the night before but we were living it up at the resort watching a superb belly dance performance from which we just couldn’t tear ourselves away. I felt the telltale sign of my heart beginning to fast forward into A Fib. I couldn’t stand up without feeling faint and I had only one hour to pack my bags and meet my friends for breakfast. Yikes!

I called my friend’s room but they had left for breakfast. So I figured they would know that something was up when I was a no-show for the fabulous, all inclusive breakfast buffet. I lay on the floor and packed my bags, had I been watching myself on closed circuit television I would have laughed my rear off. Quite funny really, a grown woman scooting from the bathroom to the bed; by this time everything was on the floor so that I could pack my bags laying down and, get myself dressed.

Sure enough, Donna called and I told her I needed assistance. She came right to my room on the third floor to which there was no elevator. The stairs were on the outside of the building in the sweltering heat of the Sinai. Of course, nothing is ever easy is it? My bags were packed and we began the descent to the ground level.

Finally after about ten minutes and stopping so that I wouldn’t pass out we get to the bottom, Donna calls Dale. I decided to lay down right there on the concrete path in the shade. They asked two grounds people to help us and grab a wheelchair. I’m sitting on the concrete half dazed but awake enough to know that the guy goes to get a wheelchair from the maintenance room but he didn’t have the key. We wait. Finally he gets the key and then……………….I don’t remember because I fainted.

Now I’ve never fainted before in my life. And, I supposed the Sinai is quite a glamorous place to pass out if you’re going to pass out. Better than in your basement doing laundry or some such mundane and stupid activity. I hear that I was not out for long but when I woke up four faces were in my face. Two I recognized slightly and the other two faces, Egyptian faces, I didn’t. They kept asking if I needed a doctor. I heard them but I couldn’t figure out what they were actually saying to me. Then I came to. They helped me into the very sandy wheelchair and we were off to the reception area. The ride was rather bumpy over the stone pathways and I had to tell the ‘driver’ to pull me backwards rather than to push me at times, sure made my ride and his work easier all the way around.

Now I’m feeling quite awful and my heart was really going fast. The man at the reception desk calls the hotel doctor. OH, was that doctor HANDSOME. Tall and dark, anyway. He took my pulse and listened to my heart. Really, I’m surprised it didn’t go off of the charts when he held my wrist. He wanted to see me in his clinic – too bad I was ill. But the clinic was in Sharm El Sheikh the opposite direction from where we were headed.

I declined thinking I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO AN EGYPTIAN HOSPITAL, I DO NOT WANT TO GO TO AN EGYPTIAN HOSPITAL. I knew that’s where I would wind up eventually had I gone to Sharm El Sheikh. Practically inaudible I said “No I’ll be fine” denial works wonders sometimes. “Just let me get to into Israel again and then I’ll go if I need to” I said. “OK, but drink some water and be sure to take your pills” he said and then called a cab for us. We knew at this point that we were going to miss the first bus back to Jerusalem.

I laid in the backseat of the Range Rover cab and let the hot, sandy wind blow over my body. I dozed until we got to Taba, the border crossing between Egypt and Israel. Donna asked for a wheelchair and when it arrived she helped me into it. I slumped down to rest my head on the back of the chair. I felt really bad because they had to carry my luggage all the way to the crossing and no one bothered to help until Dale asked for assistance. Sheesh. An Egyptian crossing guard began to push me to the customs office all the while the border police, dressed in black, looked at me suspiciously, a weird sight I’m sure.

We went through customs pretty quickly, I don’t think they knew what to do; they just wanted me out of Egypt so that I could be some other country’s problem. After getting through customs we were off to the border. Me, in the wheelchair and Donna and Dale behind with the luggage.
As I’m being rolled the crossing guard began to ask me for a tip! Hey, here I am parched and dry into about three hours of an A Fib attack and he keeps bugging me for a tip. I muster up the strength to say, quite loudly, “You’ll get your damn tip, just keep wheeling me.”

We come to the border and he stops abruptly. Rules are rules ya know? Especially here in the Middle East. After Donna gives him a tip he practically DUMPS me out of the Egyptian wheelchair into Israel. Donna yelled, ‘wait, she needs another wheelchair’, which I did, I still couldn’t stand without feeling faint. After a few minutes an Israeli crossing guard comes with a wheelchair and hands it over. I was transferred from one chair to the other without incident. But, the Israeli guards wouldn’t lift a finger to help us. Perhaps they thought I had explosives hidden on me, I don’t know, I guess I looked pretty suspect on one hand…but this sweet and sun tanned face??? Come on, really!

We go through the security line and Donna wheeled me to the customs booth. Donna explains to them that I needed a three month visa – the visa issue is another story. I was granted the visa and we were off once again in a cab to the bus station in Eilat. I had decided that I really wanted to get back to Jerusalem to deal with all of this. But this is not the end of the story.

We get to the bus station and I had to try and walk into the terminal. We had a wait before the next bus arrived. I only made it about 15 feet when I decided that I had to lay down right there on the pavement. No matter that people were passing by and some men were at a table drinking coffee. When you gotta lay down, well, you gotta lay down. I laid down right next to them and curled up. Every now and then I’d try to sit up but not for long. That’s when Ilana appeared.

I have no dignity left at this point. In a very gentle voice, Ilana says to me, “Lay on your back” and then she took my legs and rested them on her shoulders. Could it get any worse? Here I am in the glamorous, bikini clad women, resort town of Eilat, at the bus station, in full view of every passerby, with my legs on some woman’s shoulders. You know what? I didn’t care.
She began to rub my ankles and it felt good, I began to relax. Her face was gentle as she closed her eyes a slight smile on her face appeared. Donna, very discretely said to Ilana, “Are you a doctor?” Ilana smiles a little more and still with her eyes closed shakes her head no. Tears began to come to my eyes; I couldn’t hold it in any longer. Then, Ilana releases one of my ankles and snaps three times above her head as if she was snapping away the A Fib demon. She told me that it was ok to cry to let out the toxins in my body. Then, I remember she told me as a woman that I should clean. Clean the floors if I remember correctly so that I could release the bad body energy. I thanked her and promised to get busy cleaning when I got home, if I ever did get home.

She gently puts my legs down. She was a healer and, at this point, I was up for anything. Then just like that, she vanished. I did feel better and after a while sat up. But the A Fib had not subsided. I finally gave in and asked Donna to take me to the hospital for an EKG and heart monitor. Dale was taking care of the transportation arrangements and watching our bags.
The hospital emergency room was hopping. Donna was able to convince the receptionist that I needed an EKG, that it was my heart! But first, insurance, cash or credit? Credit since my insurance won’t cover this pre existing condition. I had been down this road before with the money situation and the treatment.

At this point I just wanted to be home. The Doctor gave me the choice, and 18 hour drip or a cardio conversion and within ten minutes I’d be fine. Is there a choice really? I opted for the conversion. He knocked me out, took the paddles, and shocked my heart into sinus rhythm and within 20 minutes I was off to get the bus back to Jerusalem. My conversion story complete.
I’ve learned that when you need help God always provides. It may not be in the way that you want it but I guess God does the best with what’s available at the time. In my case, God’s work was extraordinary, angels come in all shapes and sizes and my ticker is back to normal. Amen

3 comments:

Nan said...

Wow. What a story! Glad you are okay. and thank God for angels!

Dina said...

Good Lord! And you went right down to another desert right after all this?? Baruch rofeh cholim.

Suzanne said...

Dina and Nan,
Thanks for your prayers and good wishes. Never a dull moment, eh?