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Blood Rush

Blood Rush

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For those with low blood counts, there is an alternative. Blood transfusion. And, folks, it comes with some extra added benefits. Blood rush!

It takes about a day to hit, but when it does: whoooey!!!

I awoke with energy that I had not felt in weeks, maybe months. I prepared my oatmeal with new vigor. I had to eat up quickly because I was about to start my two hour pre-CT scan fast. Yup, I was going to use the new current running through my veins and drive to Tel Aviv for what was sure to be a day long CT scan adventure.

When I walked to the car with a new bounce in my step, I couldn't help but notice what a beautiful, beautiful day it was. Blue skies, cool breeze, sun filtering through the trees. Absolutely gorgeous.

The car felt unusually smooth and sturdy in my hands, and the ride into Tel Aviv, even with its occasional traffic jams, was delightful. I loved the feel of wind coming through my car door window as it ruffled my hair and beard.

I stopped for gas and the attendant greeted me with a smile and courtesy rare to Israel. And I, of course, responded with an equal friendliness which I genuinely felt. Was there some bond here that I was missing? Perhaps we knew each other in a previous life?

Again, at the parking lot, I was met by an attendant who immediately asked how I was feeling, remarked about what a lovely day we were having, and finished with a Baruch HaShem! We joked a bit and I didn't mind in the slightest the outrageous price he was charging me. Such a nice man, I thought.

The Russian receptionist at the CT scan center was equally friendly, though by now I realized that it was I who had the smile on my face and lilt in my voice when I said hello. Had it been there all the time, I wondered? Was this how I had greeted the gas station and parking lot attendant, as well? Perhaps the glow was coming from me?

I poured myself a glass of the special liquid I needed to drink before my CT, the first of eight I would consume in the next two hours before the scan would take place. As I gulped, I was surprised at how easily it went down, certainly easier and less bitter than the previous times I'd been here.

I brought a book, but each time I started to read I was distracted by some new object of interest in the room. There was this wonderful pool of light coming through the window, glittering and sparkling and lighting up the whole area. I was fascinated by it and its beauty.

There was a parade of people coming through the room, folks of every variety of ethnicity and dress, age and temperament. I felt an affinity for each of them, and found them so fascinating that I wished I had brought my camera.

Having to drink a glass of gloop every fifteen minutes, I took my second glass to the window of the waiting room and stood in the sunlight as I sipped. The warmth of the sun on my face was intoxicating, and as I gazed out over the Tel Aviv skyscape, I was enthralled with its beauty.

I was in such a good mood that I even began to crack some jokes in the crowded waiting room, something that is very unlike my normal behavior.

I hadn't realized what was happening until I found myself fascinated by the helter-skelter arrangement of hundreds of CT scan envelopes filed on the wall opposite me. I began to see a certain beauty or order in the chaos of white, plastic envelopes awaiting pickup by hundreds of people, just like me, who had come to see what was taking place in their innards.

Suddenly I snapped to and said to myself, Hey, what's going on here? Are you on some kind of drug or something? It was then that I realized that I was having a "blood rush."

Wait, I thought to myself, this can't be. After all, even with the two units of blood I took over the past two days my counts are still well below normal. Can just this little blood make such a difference in my energy and perception, my mood and alertness?

But there was no doubt about it. My experience was proof enough. Just this little bit extra was causing life to take on an entirely new facet. Everything clearer, brighter, friendlier. My own inner self happy and light.

Then I began to look around me expecting everyone else in the room, all those who had better blood than mine, to be having the same crystal clear experience, expecting to see them with smiles on their faces and eyes lit with wonder.

But no, most looked either depressed or distracted, the workers consumed in their routine tasks with glum or blank faces. Others in the waiting room sitting looking depressed or at least like they wished they were somewhere else, doing something else.

Hey, you guys, can't you see that light coming through window? Can't you feel the warmth of the sun as it hits your face? And look how interesting we all are to look at and study? Aren't we a funny, quirky lot, we Jews working and waiting in this CT waiting room?

Then I realized what the problem was. Their blood was good. And it probably had been good for their entire lives. I was sitting in a room with people with chronically healthy blood. Poor them.

They'd gotten so used to having good blood, that they didn't know how special it was. How lovely it was. What a miracle was occurring inside of them, keeping them at full throttle all the time.

Perhaps to them the sun always had the same brilliance, and so it had become dull. Symmetry no longer appeared from chaos. The feel of current in their bodies was no longer something they noticed, let alone delighted in.

For me the slightest stimulus — a few new red blood cells — caused the greatest joy. They needed television or romance, some major event or success, perhaps a martini or a sumptuous meal, acceptance of their child in the best university or a promotion and raise at work.

I finished my eight glasses of gloop and was called for the scan. With glee, I bounded down the steps, savoring, even amused at the bounce in my step, feeling just great. I joked with the nurse as she inserted the needle in my arm that was to inject something they call "contrast material" into my blood while the scan was taken. She remembered me from the times before and said, Well, you've been here so often you're like a friend. Then she said, No, not like a friend, like family.

Feeling loved by the world I thought: If this is blood rush, I'm all for it. And, like a junkie, I began to look forward to my next fix, which, if all went as they said it would, would come next month.

But suddenly I became worried. Oh dear, I thought, if this blood transfusion lasts for an entire month, it would not be too long before I would be like the other chronically healthy people in the world. Soon I would be taking all this for granted. Soon the sun would just be the sun and the gas station attendant would be just another surly Israeli worker and the car would be the same old junker and the traffic jams would be irritating and test my patience beyond its limit.

I now knew that my days of weakness and fatigue accounted for my new heightened appreciation of life as much as my new blood. Together they caused my discovery of beauty in the mundane, of order out of chaos, my outpouring affection for the stranger in the gas station and parking lot.

Clearly, I now knew, one was dependent on the other. While I still envied the chronically healthy, I was also happy to belong to those who knew the meaning of a really good day.

Jay Litvin was born in Chicago in 1944. He moved to Israel in 1993 to serve as medical liaison for Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl program, and took a leading role in airlifting children from the areas contaminated by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster; he also founded and directed Chabad’s Terror Victims program in Israel. Jay passed away in April of 2004 after a valiant four-year battle with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and is survived by his wife, Sharon, and their seven children. He was a frequent contributor to the Jewish website Chabad.org.
Artwork by Sarah Kranz.
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Ron Frost New Zealand April 23, 2016

I've just loved Jay's testimony, it has really lifted my day. Please can you pass along my appreciation to his family. I would like to remember them in my prayers. Shalom Reply

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