Dear Rachel,

I am a woman in my 60s. Thank G‑d, my health has been good, and except for being in the hospital to have myI’m feeling very vulnerable children and when my kids fractured something, I’ve managed to stay pretty clear of the place. I’m scheduled to have a minor procedure that has to be performed in the hospital, and suddenly, I’m panicky. There are so many things that can happen, and I’m feeling very vulnerable. I have to have the procedure, but I am approaching it with more than an exaggerated amount of fear. Please help!

Shaking in My Hospital Gown

Dear Robust,

It is a real blessing (and I mean, real) that you have avoided the need for major health care up to now. So, thank G‑d for that! In the Amidah prayer, we list the attributes of G‑d: “He sustains the living with kindness, supports the fallen, heals the sick, releases the confined and maintains His faith to those asleep in the dust.” We say this three times a day, four times on Shabbat and five times on Yom Kippur. You say so many things can happen, and you’re feeling vulnerable. But that’s true 24/7. We’re just so busy running around that we don’t pay heed to the miracles of the bus that just missed us or the food we almost choked on or the shoe we almost fell over. And that’s besides all the rampant crime and terrorism we are lucky to avoid every day!

I’mI’m not trying to paint a grisly picture not trying to paint a grisly picture. But life by definition is dangerous—full of risks and hazards—and G‑d is constantly sustaining, supporting, healing and releasing us. We’re just so inured to the fact that we often don’t appreciate it.

One of the main reasons you are so afraid is because you’re not used to being in the hospital. The more unknown something is, the more frightening it can become. You say yourself that it is a minor procedure; G‑d willing, everything will be fine, and you and the hospital staff can continue your relationship of estrangement.

I’d like to give you some tips that might be beneficial.

● Bring items with you to the hospital that will make you feel secure and at home. It can be your favorite mug or a robe (to wear over the hospital gown). Bring a magazine to linger over while you are recovering.

● Ask one of your children, another family member or a good friend to be with you or to visit while you are in the hospital.

● Talk to your doctor, and make sure that he or she explains everything about the procedure so you know what to expect beforehand and how to heal afterwards.

Bear in mind also that guarding your health is a mitzvah! “Beware for yourself and greatly beware for your soul.” (Devarim 4:9) The entire time you’ll be in the hospital—from the minute you check in toLife and health are always in G‑d’s hands the minute you check out—you will be immersed in that mitzvah; a mitzvah you haven’t had a lot of opportunity to practice in this particular way. If you think of it like that, you will feel particularly blessed.

Make sure also to thank the doctors and nurses who you don’t have the opportunity to be in contact with on a regular basis. They work every day to save so many lives.

Most important, remember that life and health is always, always in G‑d's hands. Doctors are His messengers and although we have to be grateful to them, it's important to remember in Whom to put our trust.

Instead of imagining the worst case scenarios visualize yourself healing. Imagine all the prayers people are praying for you enveloping your body in loving, healing energy. Think good thoughts, positive thoughts and it will be good, G‑d Willing.

Best wishes for a speedy recovery, and may you continue with your streak of good health!