Stress relief

Of course, it happened on a Friday. And not just any Friday, an unusually busy Friday. We were just hours away from a three-day Jewish marathon- Shabbos leading straight into two days of the festival of Shavuot. We needed Shaina to see her doctor before we’d be offline for three days over the weekend. One week’s worth of antibiotics hadn’t made a dent in her double ear infection (possibly because she spat out most of it). The doctor had been away and was backlogged, so she advised us to arrive, and she’d squeeze us in between patients. We knew that meant we could expect to sit for at least an hour before our “quick” check-up.

I still had a fortune to do before the looming festival weekend. I needed to coordinate logistics for our communal dinner and all-night study session and finish preparing the speeches I would give over Yom Tov. Naomi was also under pressure. She needed to produce three days’ worth of festive meals.

I was a bundle of nerves when we arrived in the waiting room. I recognised two of the patients ahead of us- that’s to be expected when you are a chronic patient at a specialist doctor. We caught up on our children’s medical journeys since we had last crossed paths at the doctor. The mom of two who had lit up when Shaina waltzed in wished us good luck and that we “shouldn’t have to be admitted.” Had we been there with breathing challenges, I’d have been afraid for a three-day Yom Tov in hospital scenario. Seeing as it was “only” Shaina’s ears, my concern was how soon I could get back to my Shul prep.

As soon as Shaina arrives at her doctor’s rooms, the receptionist kits her out with crayons and colouring-in pages. Shaina uses them as colouring “out” pages, but it keeps her entertained. I had naively hoped to use the respite to jot notes on my phone for my half dozen upcoming talks.

Ha! What was I thinking? Shaina insisted I sit on one of those flimsy kiddie chairs to draw alongside her. When she had enough of that, she switched to watching videos on my phone. I thought I’d outsmart her by writing bullet points for speeches on a mini notepad I still had in my jacket pocket from the Dark Ages. She waited until I was halfway done before grabbing the pad and shredding the papers I’d worked on.

I watched the minute hand zip through another hour. During that time, I alternated between the wonky plastic chair and watching Shaina swipe through the first ten seconds of several hundred videos. If I had hoped to at least think of ideas for the holiday talks, Shaina was unusually clingy, which wasn’t surprising considering her double ear infection.

Tick tock… The tightness in my chest increased as the prospects of getting through my to-do list dissolved.

Just then, as she does, Shaina flipped the mood. She signalled me to sit on a swivel chair that had mysteriously found its way into the waiting room. Once securely seated, Shaina started spinning me around. I don’t know if she wanted me to share the dizzy disorientation her infected ears had caused or if she was just being mischievous. Either way, I ignored the responsible, sedate parents staring into their iPads and got into amusement park mode. Shaina squealed with joy. I laughed out loud and captured the ridiculous spinning scene for Instagram.

Just like that, it was our turn to see the doctor- Shaina all smiles and me stumbling into plastic chairs on the way.

Shaina’s medical condition is my single greatest stressor. Shaina is my single greatest stress relief.

Waiting for the doctor

Published by rabbiarishishler

Husband, father and rabbi of Chabad of Strathavon in Johannesburg, South Africa.

2 thoughts on “Stress relief

  1. Wishing you and your family an amazing Shabbos

    I enjoy learning about Shaina and since I am no longer on Twitter and enjoying the freedom, I love hearing that you are all good




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