March 11, 2016. I had just started a new job, and was at home beginning to cook dinner, feeling really optimistic. Suddenly, my legs started to shake, and I felt as if I was turning to water. My immediate thought was, “I’m having a stroke.” I managed to grab my cellphone from the kitchen table just before I fell helplessly to the floor. Somehow I managed to call 911, and as I lay there paralyzed, with 2 cats nudging me (probably thinking “does this mean we won’t get fed tonight?”), I was hoping I had left the front door unlocked, so the first responders wouldn’t have to bust it in.
My entire left side was paralyzed, and I was barely conscious for the first couple of days. After a night in the emergency room I was transferred to an intensive care unit. Unfortunately, this unit was anything but. The staff kept closing my door, and I had no call button, and I couldn’t move or even throw anything at the door to get someone’s attention, so I lay there for what seemed like hours, yelling help when I was in pain.
In my fear and helplessness I regressed to 4th grade, when I got so much comfort from my teacher reading the 23rd Psalm. “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, He leads me beside still waters, He restores my soul…..” When first I heard those words I didn’t even know what they meant. I was a Jewish kid whose parents never mentioned the Bible. This was in a public elementary school in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I didn’t even know I was supposed to be offended by the words of the Bible. I only knew I was comforted. Those same words comforted me in my fear and helplessness more than 60 years later.