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A Health Information Management professional, I survived a life-threatening emergency with information that only a person of my professional experience would know. And I’m sharing it!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Need to Cheer up from whatever Ails You? Listen in on the How-to-Do-This Kit!


10 Kislev, 5775

Several people have asked me to excerpt comments from my public appearances at this blog. They mentioned that most of us don't know how to beat the odds, how to persevere past  adversity, let alone how to be happy when life seems so saddening.

I agree. Most people feel miserable too often and for too preventably long.

Need a How-to-Do-This Kit? 

Read on for the words I've said 
in front of live audiences.

Remember when I fainted upon realizing that I had a benign but deadly brain tumor? I eventually rose from the floor, with assistance. The MRI-giver explained to me that he was launching a world-wide search for the brain surgeon able to remove the large tumor without killing me in the process. 

But until that surgeon would be found, I would have to return home. I could not stay in the hospital though all my nerves were being increasingly crushed by the benign-but-deadly brain tumor. 

I asked if I would awaken after I fell asleep for a nap or for the night, and he responded “I don’t know.”

I learned that my optic nerves had been crushed, causing the blindness. But whenever the tumor moved in a particular and uncontrollable way, I was able to see a bit. With good luck, my sight would be restored after tumor removal.

I realized that I’d survived this long and needed miracles to survive until, and past, life-saving surgery. I had one chance to stay alive and I chose to take it: I needed to become a powerfully positive person in nanoseconds. I needed to make it to surgery day, whenever it would be.

Once home, neighbors helped me to contact friends nearby and abroad.

US friends contacted me within days. They would pay my airfare and hospital bill in order to have surgery from a highly regarded surgeon in America. But I had just learned of a brain surgeon in the same Israeli hospital where I’d had MRIs. He was willing and available to make the effort to save my life. “I’ll remain in the Holy Land,” I announced. “My life is here. GOD is a local call.”

Stunned and dismayed by my reaction, my phone-callers begged me to reconsider. “No, I have it figured out. International travel now is not going to help me to be better; I’ll be exhausted, in flux, and dependent on others. I need to have surgery at home where I can more easily recover. GOD gave me a chance to prove that I believe what I’ve practiced and studied lifelong: He’s in charge. He wants to bless us with life and other goodness. I need to let Him, not to interfere with the process. I’m going to be fine. Think of all the miracles, not the shock to our system: I’m alive despite BIG odds. There’s a reason for that. I’m going to work with GOD, not against Him!”

I apologize for using masculine terms when I refer to GOD. In Hebrew, GOD is referred to in the feminine gender also. A Hebrew speaker switches those genders to indicate which aspect of GODliness we’re referencing (All-knowing, Compassionate, Judgmental, Slow to Anger, Sovereign, Wise, etc).

OK, back to the survival plan I explained to my US friends holding the phone and wondering what I’d say next: It was a four-step plan of action designed to convince my mind and every cell in my body that I would heal from the forthcoming, dangerous surgery. The neurosurgeon in charge had already told me that I’d be left with double vision, in need of intensive physical and occupational therapy for two months following the harrowing surgery. He was confident that I would recover my strength and learn how to move about despite all the problems that the tumor and life-saving would cause: Industrial-strength vertigo, difficulty seeing let alone reading, unemployment until I could master some necessary tasks, and a lifelong tendency to tire quickly, unexpectedly and rather inconveniently.

I do not recall hearing him say that I’d also need speech therapy and to learn how to live with facial droop, a form of Bell’s Palsy. It turns out that my jaw had to be broken in order for the neurosurgeon to reach and to remove the brain tumor in the back of my head. He’d planned the procedure with medically savvy me, an experienced medical coder who understands anatomy and surgical procedures plus medical processes. We chose the best of two possible surgical routes, the one that would take less time and minimize the danger of killing me on the operating table: Accessing the tumor from a different direction via the hollow sinuses in my brain rather than opening my skull in back (during face-down surgery) and struggling to disentangle the nerves embedded and crushed within the tumor.

My appearance was so altered by the surgery that I shuddered to see my mirrored reflection. Once I began to see again (a BIG surprise to the entire medical team), I covered my mirrors at home to prevent a sense of discouragement. What I would learn by surprise is that my four-step plan would repair the problem:

Step 1 – Refuse to speak, think or listen to negativity. The trauma of the tumor, medical professionals betraying me and brain surgery were traumas on their own. I needed to prevent new and to possibly reverse old psychological damage that could prevent my physiological recovery.

Step 2 – Decide once and forever that failure to improve my character and my health hour by hour, day by tiring, painful, frightening day, was not an option. I needed to become an extraordinary optimist despite knees and a heart that felt like jello.

Step 3 – Focus on the future with forced positivity. I had to fake it to make it to the finish line alive. I needed to praise people helping me with laundry, cooking, around-the-clock companionship (it was dangerous to leave newly blinded and very weak me alone at home), and transporting me to various medical or therapy appointments.

A former instructor of Dr Miriam Adahan’s EMETT system (, I knew that repeated efforts at being grateful, happy, and open to positive developments would inscribe them on my psyche until I actually became that positive person. And I knew that I’d fail sometimes, and be able to renew my efforts.

Step 4 – Engage the world, the universe and GOD to bless me with healing however possible while finding out what those possibilities could be, then USE them!

That’s it, the whole survival kit. Repeat your efforts until it works for you. Modify your efforts to suit your needs but NEVER abandon your goal to see, think and behave positively. Keep that door to miracles open so GOD has something to work with. If you slam it shut in anger, bitterness, self-pity or something else negative, you’ve ended the communication and any chance for improvement.

But hang on – Judaism teaches that GOD is slow to anger. You just might merit a miracle or more based on past behavior or someone’s prayers. Try and try again to be in the best possible frame of mind and physical condition. 

Promote and protect yourself. Let miracles into your life.

Want to learn more ways to be upbeat despite your fear, pain and anger?

Buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge.  

Face Your Medical Problems with Dignity. Face Your Future with Optimism. 

Fill your life with pleasant possibilities.



Rebecca Portner said...

beautiful thank you! I relate in some ways!

Yocheved Golani said...

Thank you for letting me know, Rebecca. Let me know what else I can share to be helpful.

I shrug off pain and fear by seeking the funny angle of the adventure as I heal, and by being relieved that I made it past some obstacle. Some of my therapists laugh so much with me that it's a joy to interact with them on a regular basis. It was a hard lesson to learn to do that, but the rewards are wonderful.

Rebecca Portner said...

Glad you found good therapists. Have only had a few good ones in my life and I am one! Miriam Adahahan sent me the link to your blog...I was born with a disability. Nice to hear others reality of coping through pain yet not denying it!

Rebecca Portner,MSW,ASW

Yocheved Golani said...

Feel free to contact me directly, Rebecca. Perhaps we can brainstorm about how to help the wider world. Mim knows how to reach me. She'll clue you in.