Monday, January 03, 2011

There Will Be Blood

This will be a rather difficult entry, not so much because of the subject matter, but because my left hand is wrapped in bandages, and I'm used to typing with all ten fingers.

We took the taxi to Yoezer Wine Bar last night. Neither dad nor the taxi driver knew the address, so I had him drop us off by the clock tower in Jaffa. The bar is across the street from it.

We were the first to arrive, so we had plenty of time to read the menu and ask questions of the waitress. The lawyer, Yaron, and his wife, Miri, arrived next and we chatted. It wasn't clear how much English they spoke, but mom had told me that she knows she would just smile at whatever anyone said. Finally, Aryeh and his wife Rachel arrived. She's in a wheelchair, so we picked this restaurant because it was easier for her to get in and out of. It became clear that both of them have trouble hearing. I said, in Hebrew, "nice to see you again. Do you remember I came to your house for seder." Aryeh responded "nice to meet you." Later, I said it again slower and louder. "Oh, yes, yes, I see."

Mom and I each ordered the starter of 40 egg yolk noodles (40 yolks per kilo flour), hers with butter and parmesan, mine with truffles. She said it reminder of her of the lokshen noodles her mother made for her when she was sick. I very much enjoyed mine. For the main course, dad and I both got the entrecote steak, while mom got the salad nicoise. The restaurant was so dark that she couldn't really enjoy it since she couldn't see her meal clearly and she's always worried when she can't see what she's eating.

Dad and I both ordered the steak, and I think we were the only ones who did so. The lawyer had recommended this restaurant because he knew my father liked steak. Before the accident (this is called "foreshadowing") I was able to hear various stories from Aryeh about growing up with my father. There was the time they stole the car and were arrested by the Haganah (Aryeh got away, dad was caught -- they released him immediately since they had to go to the front the next day). Aryeh wants to pick us up next week when we're back in Tel Aviv to take us to the place where he and dad served in the haganah.

It turns out that the unit they were in was for the defense of Tel Aviv. When dad tried to enlist with them, they wanted to put him in a different unit, since he was slightly older (he had turned 18 three months before). He said he wouldn't do it if he couldn't be with all his buddies. They agreed. They were stationed in Beit Dej'n (now, Bet Dagan), just outside Tel-Aviv. Here they could intercept messages between Jaffa and Ramallah, and try to take over the British fortified building down the road (that's where dad was shot in the ambush).

In the midst of one of these stories, my knife slipped out of my hand and started to fall to the ground and I instinctively grabbed it. It was an extremely sharp steak knife and I stabbed myself in the middle of my palm. I knew that it was serious and so I immediately put pressure on it and ran to the bar in the front. One guy said "the bathroom is over there," misinterpreting my hurry, but I said "no, I've injured myself." The maitre d' came over, looked at it, and put a napkin containing ice on it. My father came and urged him to go back to the table. Then my mother came and I urged her to go sit down too. The maitre d' asked if I would like some wine while we waited for the bleeding to stop, so I said, "Ok. But I think a red would be appropriate" (we were drinking cava at the table). Eventually, the bleeding slowed down and she put iodine solution on it and then bandaged it up. I asked her if I needed stitches, but she said no, she sees more serious cuts than this in the kitchen all the time.

I went back to the table and had my father cut up the rest of the steak (with another knife) and I proceeded to finish the meal. Yoran asked me how the steak was, if it was too cold, so I said it was "a little bloody." We all laughed. The rest of the meal, I mostly spoke with Miri and my mother, we me translating the conversation so she could participate.Yoran drove us back to the hotel, and my dad and I walked up to the pharmacy to find out if I needed stitches or not. We got there just as they were closing, but the pharmacist looked at it and said I need stitches, and so I need to find a Magen David Adom station. This meant the emergency room at Ichilov Hospital.

We took a taxi and arrived around 10:15. After some confusion of where I needed to check in, they sent me to Orthopedics. There they took my blood pressure, gave me a tetanus shot, announced I needed stitches, and sent me to urgent care with the note that I didn't have an orthopedic problem. There I had a very nice doctor, who spoke both English and Hebrew, and she was training an American medical student from Wisconsin, so we had no communications problems.

One doctor came over to look at the wound to see how deep it was. He stretched it, reopening it, and then put it down. I said to the other doctor that it was now bleeding profusely. Not to worry, they would stop that soon. They cleaned it (not painful), anaesthetized it (rather painful), and then I listened as she explained to the student how to suture a wound. She put in two stitches and then bandaged it up. I have to keep it dry for 24 hours and then wash it with soap and water. I'm not sure if I need to put a new bandage on afterwards (it wasn't in the instructions), so I'm heading back to the pharmacy in a little bit to ask. After 10 days, the stitches should be removed, but I'll be back in the States by then.

After that, they wrote out a report for me in English so I can present it to Kaiser when I return and I went to the front desk to pay: $265. We were in and out in just over an hour. In America, it would take that long just to fill out the forms.

The taxi driver back to the hotel seemed to be on drugs (he couldn't tell where major streets were, or precisely how much the fare was), but somehow thought we should hire him as a guide. I took some tylenol and went to bed (with difficulty).

This morning, I had more mobility in my fingers, but I'm still not able to open things (or close them). That meant I couldn't button my shorts, so I zipped them up as high as I could and then closed the belt over them. That seems to work.

We had breakfast with Rochelle and told her what she had missed last night. Then I walked with her to the minimarket to buy some items and check out a gift shop nearby. Back at the hotel, she waited for her cousins, while mom, dad, and I took the bus to Jaffa.

We walked around the old port, saw Andromeda's Rocks (where she was to be sacrificed to the kraken before Perseus saved her), and then went through the artists' colony. Dad wanted to sit and have water and I finally found a place in the shade. It turned out to be Dr. Shakshuka, a famous restaurant specializing in meat dishes, particularly the "shakshuka," which looks like a meat and tomato stew with two egg yolks floating on top. Dad had water, I had tea, and mom had a lemonade.

We then walked to the Jaffa flea market (shuk hapishpetim) and I found a store with a collection of old junk. Dad loved the old radios, scales, and photos. "Look, here's a picture of the Moughrabi Theater" or "You see this scale? You put the various weights on one side and the thing you were waighing on the other. One time, I hung the tiniest of the weights on one side, so it read slightly lighter than it was. They went crazy trying to figure out why it was off. Once they found it, the knew it was me."

After that we walked back to Yefet St. where there was a big street bakery. I had the big sesame ring, while mom had a pretzel. She thought it was salt, but it was sesame, so she had to scrape off the seeds. We couldn't find the bus stop back so we took a taxi.

Dad and I then went back to the cafe on Ben Yehuda for dessert. He had the dried fruit cake (which he loved), and I had the Gerbeaud cake, and cafe au lait, and both were great. After about half an hour, mom joined us. Then we returned to the hotel so they could nap. I may take a nap too (after I take another tylenol). We're meeting Rochelle later and going to dinner around 6pm. No more steak for me. I can only order food that doesn't need to be cut.

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