Saturday, October 24, 2009

One month of being Sick...Israeli Style

The most spoken Hebrew Line for me this past four weeks has been: אני הולה. אני מרגש לא טוב. (I'm Sick, I feel not good.) *I might of spelled the hebrew wrong...

This is quiet the story, I'm going to start at the beginning, for you to experience it from my point of view, please forget everything you know about the end result for a minute...btw, I'm not too sure about the time/dates so it might be fuzzy...

So just before Rosh Hashanan, I started to get a bit sick. A lot of the other people in the ulpan were sick in the few weeks before me, so I was just the next victim. It was a sore throat and running nose. It wasn't very bad and I just had some throat numbing pills. After a few days of not getting better I went to the kibbutz clinic to get it checked, make sure it wasn't some bad. They said it looks like its viral and should be fine in a few days.
Diagnosis: Sore Throat
Treatment: Stronger numbing pills

The next week it was a bit worse and I started to get headaches, not too bad and no fevers. I didn't work and it was the holidays in Israel so there was a bunch of days off anyways. I still went to class and did my homework. GI #2 (Code name for the "house mother" she is number 2 in the Ulpan Staff). She tells me that I need to get my throat tested it I want to miss work. I am not feeling well enough to go work in my shitty job, mostly because of the very loud noise that would not be the best for my headaches. I go to the clinic for a second time.*BTW, the clinic on the kibbutz is very informal but ran by my heath fund. Its free for me to see the doctors and nurses and get simple tests. The good side of universal health care. They swab my throat for a test and tell me it I just have a cold, should be a few more days.
Diagnosis: Sore Throat/ Cold
Treatment: Nothing
Result of test: Nothing

So a few days later I'm not better, I have a cough, very runny/stuffed up nose, and more headaches. I go back to the clinic. I walk in and sit for half an hour and the nurses tell me there is nothing they can do, its just a cold, no tests, no meds...

Diagnosis: Cold
Treatment: Nothing

I go back a few days later, I have a pretty bad cough and head really hurts, this is about the end of the 2nd week of being sick. I go in, they say, you need to see the doctor, and they type me in for that afternoon.

Diagnosis: Severe coughing
Treatment: See the Doctor

That afternoon, I go to my doctor's appt. He is a nice man that speaks english very well. He listens to all my symptoms  and listens to my heart and lungs, takes my blood pressure and temp. He says its just a cold. I should be better in a few days. I get Israel meds this time...very strong...

Diagnosis: Cold
Treatment: Cold Medication (Day and Night)

The next week, I still can't work and the headaches are getting worse and the pain meds and cold meds are not doing anything. So I am dragged to the clinic by GI#2, who has yelled at me almost every morning about going to work and just getting over my cold. I get called into a meeting with the Ulpan Director about being "sick" and not working. I can't keep going on like this...I need to go to work. They don't think I'm really sick and maybe I'm just depressed about my job. This is in the 3rd week.
Well, I get dragged to the clinic, she tells the nurses that I still am not better and that she wants to see me talk to the doctor. I talk to the doctor about my headaches and my cough. He listens to my lungs again, and finds that he kinda hears wheezing in my left lung. Finally they find something wrong, so much for a three week cold...a few more days I should be fine the doctor says and stop taking the cold meds.

Diagnosis: Bronchitis
Treatment: Antibiotics 150mg and cough syrup

The next day, I still don't feel any different. I feel worse, well the headaches are bad...nothing is helping. Friday, I wake up early to to tell GI#2 that I can't go to work, I am feeling really bad today. She doesn't think anything is wrong with me. I tell her my forehead is hot, she takes my temp, no fever. She wants me to go to work. She yells at me for five minutes in front of two ulpan girls about how she can't put up with me and I have to go to work. I get mad and say FINE I will go to work... I go get dressed and go to work, felling like shit. I work for a about two hours, its loud and hot. I take some breaks and can't really handle being at work, so I leave a few hours early for the day. There is no boss really on friday, and I really feel like shit. I hid out in my room for the rest of the day and weekend. Trying to feel better.

Week 4
Sunday I go to class... teacher yells at me for not doing my homework...I tell her i have really bad headaches and I can't focus very well. She also thinks I'm faking, but she is a bit nicer.

Monday same thing, I get yelled at again by GI #2... whatever... I sleep all day.

Tuesday, Class, same thing as sunday.

Wednesday, I decided not even to tell GI #2 I'm not going to work, I'll just avoid her... I go to breakfast late. I decided to go to the clinic to one, avoid GI #2 and two, to get more cough syrup.
Well Well Well, who do I run into on the way...GI #2, riding her golf cart. She stops, and gives me the yelling I have been trying to avoid. I tell her, I'll go to work and do nothing and let me headaches get worse. She tells me, this is not what the program is about. We will talk to the Ulpan Director. I can't be here if this is what I'm going to be doing. I yell, I'm Sick! She drives away, I almost start to cry, but don't , for real. I get my syrup and go back to my room and sleep all day.
Just more Cough syrup....

Thursday, Dooms Day.
I wake up with a killer headache, very congested, and coughing like crazy...I must be faking...  I sit though one and half hours of class feeling very very sick. The teacher calls on me a few times and I say I can't. She tells me I really need to do my work and participate. I say I am not feeling very well. After watching my clock until the break, I go right to the Director's office. I'm thinking I'm about to be kicked out of the ulpan, this might be a good Idea. She right away asks what has been going on with I'm in trouble. I start to cry, for real, tears and everything mostly from the pain of my headache. She says, well I think we should go to the hospital, not very willingly, but I'm crying. She gets an Ulpan car and takes me right away. We arrive about twenty minutes later at the hospital, well the main Clinic for the area, just like a hospital. I get seen pretty quick by a nurse, go over the basics, all fine. She sends me to the doctor's office. We wait a bit and see him, he listens to my lungs and my symptoms. He then orders for me to have X-rays of my nose and lungs. I go to another floor and get my X-rays, and wait for the results. They are in Hebrew, and in Doctor. We can't read what they found, but they found something. We go back to the Doctor, he says, just as I thought. You have a Sinus Infection and Pneumonia in your left lung. Take this two meds, you'll start to feel better in a few days and come back in a month to have X-rays again to make sure your fine.

Diagnosis: Pneumonia and Sinus Infection
Treatment: Antibiotics 650m


On the way back to the kibbutz, I say thank you to the director for taking me. She says, well to tell you the truth, I feel guilty about this. You really are sick. Next time to feel really bad, make sure to cry...

I go back to my room to rest, she has someone bring me lunch. GI #2, come to my room in the mean time. She says, she owes me an apology for yesterday morning and she is sorry, but you have been sick for a month...
Great, thanks...I say, very sleepily.

Well after a few days and no one yelling at me, I feel much better. My headaches have gone away, I only blow my nose a few times a day and my coughs are decreasing...well not after walking. I still have trouble breathing after walking...but its getting much better. I am starting to feel like myself again...lets see how I feel in a few more days.

Oh man, I love Israel! I really am going to like this in a few years...

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

לשכת גיוס (IDF Recruiting Office)

I'm on my way to being a soldier in the Israel Defense Forces, צבא הגנה לישראל, IDF.

My first step in joining the IDF is to:
1. Get a draft letter, a year after my Aliyah
2. Go and sign up before a year.

So I went with Option number 2. לשכת גיוס

I left early in the morning and reported to the office in Haifa, my local branch. I was with another Ulpan member and we went together. We got to the front, a line to get into the building. We gave the guard our Tudet Zahut, ID Card, and they entered it into the computer and gave us a temp army card.

*OK, so I am thinking this is just a trip to talk to a guy in a office for 20min, tell him we want to go sooner than we get our draft papers, he takes our info and we leave.

They told us to go to a room on the 3rd floor. Not too much info... Well we get up there and see about 15 people waiting outside the room with about 20 desks, all already full. We find out that we have to scan our temp card onto the computer just outside the door. I pop as number 18 in line. Great, seems like it should go fast... Well after about of an 1:30min, I get called into the room and sent to one of the 20 desks. I wait about another 20 mins for a soldier to show up. She first speaks to me only in Hebrew and refuses to speak English. I have no clue what is going on now. I could speak enough Hebrew to get through all the personal questions about my ID and general family info. I think this is it, but I wanted to speak english to make sure I said everything right, because she was giving me a funny look. She says she can't speak English to me, but I don't understand. She goes and gets her boss and then the women over comes over and speaks to me in Hebrew, almost quizzing me on my understanding of Hebrew and leaves after a 5min conversation. Then I wait about 20min for my soldier that was interviewing me. She comes back and says we can talk in English now. We go over my family info and I guess she was looking at me funny because I guess I said that my brother was dead. This is a big deal because, if you have a dead sibling and are then the only child, your choices in the Army are greatly reduced, no front line units. Well we finish the info about me and I think I'm done.

My soldier leaves for about 10 mins and then comes back and starts asking me Hebrew questions. I have no clue why at this point, but it turns out that this is now my Hebrew Test to enter the IDF. So much for just a visit to tell a guy that I want to join early... I begin to think that this is going to take a lot longer that I expect. I see a female soldier I know, she is the girlfriend of a guy in my ulpan and her sister lives on my kibbutz. She tells me not to worry, that all of this is standard of English speakers in Ulpan. Good.

Then another soldier comes and asks me more hebrew test stuff. Then the other soldier comes back to finish the test. It went really bad, I hardly understood what I was reading and writing, but I could read well and I could speak very basically. After the test, she asks me if I have ever learned another language. I said I learned German for four years of High School credit and two years worth of college credit. I said that I could read it and know very little of what it was saying and that my speaking was very basic. I hope this will not become a mistake later on in my service....???

We finish everything, as I think, she tells me that I need to go to room downstairs and go my pee test. I walk down the stairs, then she comes running after me and takes me about to her desk. She forgot to have me sign a paper and fill out a psycho questionnaire...This was the weirdest thing I had to do the whole day. Questions like to you feel different that others? Do you ever experience a gay mood, feel Happy for more than a day or two? Not Gay, Happy, very old questionnaire. The thing was that most of the questions seemed negative and you could answer, Never, Rarely, Sometimes, or often. I signed the office draft agreements. I can be called up now anytime, I can't leave Israel for more than 3 months, I will take an IQ test...ect.

Then I leave and go and take my pee test. 5 min quick and I was giving a medical sheet with an OK for the pee test and sent to another room. I go in the room they do blood pressure, height, and weight. They asked about my eyes, I told them I have glasses and contacts... well the eye doctor is not there. I have to come back another time or get an official eye exam at my own expense and fax it to them. Then they send me to the medical doctor. Guess what? A big line, all the same people in front of me in the first line. While waiting I find out that we get a free sandwich. Yay, the first thing I get to eat all day. I wait another hour and get called into the doc's office. They do a quick physical and ask about my past medical history and anything that could limit my service. It took about 20 mins. Now this is where I should have got my profile for duty. *Profile is how the IDF sees what you are fit to do in service. 97 being the highest number and what I hope to get. Well I don't get a profile because I still need to do my eye exam. My eye sight should not hurt my score, but I am disqualified from being a pilot, which I can't go anyways.

Then they send me to another room to have my IQ test. I wait for 45 mins and then get called into to do the test on a computer. They explain it to me. Time limit and shapes... It was really crazy, a bunch of patterns with shapes and I had to pick which shape I thought would be next. It was very hard and I didn't get to the last two questions...yikes... Well they don't tell you how you did, because as they said to my friend they want to be nice and not tell you if your dumb. After this they tell me I'm done with all the processes and that in a few weeks or months I will be contacted by the IDF to get what jobs I'm qualified for and what I would like to do in the IDF. btw, I don't know yet, what I want to do...

*Point of Info: Most soldiers in the IDF are 18-21. Most of the soldiers working at לשכת גיוס are female about about 20.

Well I wait for another hour for the other guys from my Ulpan I'm with. It is now six hours later. I only had a shitty sandwich and nothing to drink and I only slept four hours the night before, because of the Broncos game. I am still sick btw, so this day hasn't been very nice to my body. I have a killer headache and want to get some sleep. Now I'm not the biggest fan of the other guy I'm with and now I have to travel back to the kibbutz with him. Not my idea of fun.

Well it takes about 1:45 mins to get back, bad traffic.

I went to bed at 8pm til midnight, woke up for a few hours, and then slept until I was very ruedly awoken at 7:30am. Oh NO! I and my two roommates totally slept though three alarm clocks and we forgot that we had to be at the dining room at 7am because the whole ulpan was leaving on a bus to Tel Aviv at 7:30 for a tour of a museum.

Well more later, hope you enjoyed my first army experience.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Hag Sukkot

This week has been a great break/holiday. I haven't had to go to class or work from Friday until Wednesday.

I spent the weekend with a friend from Camp, Barak, from 2007. He had a really nice place in Even Yahuda. When I got there I got to help them finish their sukkah and put up the decorations. His family greeted me very nicely and made me feel at home. I arrived just in time to see the video of Gilad Shalit released on national television. I think I will remember this moment for a life time, as it was a real Israeli experience that I was a part of. If you don't know about Gilad, please go to this link and find out more. He has been in Hamas captivity for three years now, lets all pray that he be released soon.

That night we had a great dinner in the sukkah and the food was great. I am really starting to like all these home cooked meals for the holidays. They set me up in the basement, which was like its own apartment. It was very nice. We went out that night and met up with a friend of Barak. We found a chill place near by.

The next day we woke up and went to the beach at Kibbutz Shefayim, where Idan lives, my roommate from this summer. We met Idan, Asaf, and Tal...all camp friends from 2007. It was the most beautiful beach I had been to in Israel, and not a lot of people there. I played Matcot for the first time...its like the most popular sport in Israel, Beach Pingpong, with no table. I sucked. Right after we went to the beach, Barak and I had to go to some family of his for another Holiday meal. It was also a very nice meal, with some of the best wine I have ever had. Very nice and again the food was amazing...I even ate the liver...

The rest of the day we just hung out and watched the office.

On sunday, we had no plans so Barak, a friend and I all went to the Herzlia beach, also empty and nice. That night I went back to the kibbutz and just relaxed and slept. Now I have two more days without work to study and get some sleep. On Tuesday night the whole ulpan is going to Akko for a big festival...I'm not sure what it is for, but it should be fun.