Saturday, January 27, 2007

Get Lots of Rest, Drink Lots of Fluids

... and maybe this bug will finally go away.

It’s almost a week and I’m still waiting. (And thinking: Oh, yeah, that’s why I felt so dizzy on Tuesday afternoon all of a sudden. It was my temperature going up.)

OK, let’s see: my sense of smell has returned a tiny bit and I can focus a bit more. But the respiratory stuff is still going on, and judging by the way I’m coughing, I’m probably still a walking germ factory.

This is really starting to get old.

Downtown Tortie

Friday catblogging, a day late. Here’s a lovely tortie I met downtown:

Downtown Tortie

(Check out the 123rd edition of the Friday Ark at The Modulator. The next Carnival of the Cats will be at Mog’s on Sunday.)

Friday, January 26, 2007

Still Flu’d

That is what I’ve got, after all: the flu that is going around Jerusalem. I’ve got it big-time.

High temperature, respiratory trouble (although, thanks to the treatments I’m doing for asthma, I’ve noticed that my airways are much more clear than I might have expected), general weakness and voice almost gone. Not much fun. When I called the doctor who is treating me for asthma this morning and asked him what I should take for the flu, he phoned in a prescription to a local homeopathic pharmacy. I started taking the drops as directed, and they’re helping. I feel a lot better than I did when I got up this morning, even though I’m still nowhere near a hundred percent.

If all goes well, the fog around my head should dissipate over the next day or two. I’m going to take it very easy next week. A relapse doesn’t interest me in the slightest.

Sorry, but no cat pictures today. I just don’t have the head for it right now.

But soon, I hope. After all, what is Elms in the Yard without cat pictures?

Shabbat shalom.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Heavy Fog, with Temperatures in the Triple Digits

I think it’s the flu, or whatever virus is making the rounds these days. My temperature hovered at around 102 throughout the day. Now it’s 100.4.

I can deal with the sore throat and the respiratory stuff. It’s having my brain fogged that I really don’t like.

Thursday, January 18, 2007


Here are two tuxedo cats I photographed in Independence Park recently:

One tuxedo cat in Independence Park

Another tuxedo cat in Independence Park

(Check out the Friday Ark at The Modulator. The next Carnival of the Cats will be up at Enrevanche on Sunday.)

Green Eyes

I knew Sarah Popper when we were teenagers in summer camp, and I’m sorry to say that at the time, we did not get along well at all. But even then, I noticed her eyes—a beautiful shade of green that she accentuated with black eye liner for dramatic effect.

I don’t remember what we quarrelled about back then. It was nothing more than simple teenage foolishness, and I was as much to blame as she was.

But all that was mercifully forgotten more than ten years later, when we met at Ulpan Etzion as new immigrants. We chatted outside the main building as though nothing had happened. Now we were older, more mature, trying to find our places as new immigrants in Israel.

We did not become close, and as time went on our paths diverged even more. I was shocked some years later when I found out whom Sarah had married. But she was an adult, with the right to make her own choices.

We ran into each other several times after that. Once I saw her handing out flyers at an outdoor concert. Another time, about thirteen years ago, I saw her pushing a stroller in the Old City, her striking blond hair covered by a snood. We talked about a book I had passed on to her some years earlier and shared some memories about our summer camp. I think that was the last time I saw her.

Over the past several days, I found myself thinking about Sarah without knowing why. After all, we had not seen each other in such a long time. This evening, as I was passing by a store downtown, I glanced at the newspaper headlines, and a small item at the bottom of the front page of one of the Hebrew dailies jumped out at me: Wife and son of Ami Popper killed in car accident.

And all I could think of were Sarah’s beautiful green eyes.

She was 42. Her son, Shimshon, was six years old.

I’m so sorry, Sarah. Rest in peace.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

On Duty

A Jerusalem tabby guards a door downtown.

Jerusalem watch-cat on duty

Who watches the watch-cat? I do!

(Check out the Friday Ark at The Modulator. This week’s Carnival of the Cats will be up at Pets Garden Blog on Sunday.)

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

This Is What Community Is All About

Helping each other when necessary, as much as we can.

Mog needs help. She has MS, and her latest hospitalization has left her with no more sick leave and a critical shortage of cash.

Mog is a thinker, a Mac-user (wistful sigh) and a pillar of the catblogging community. It was Mog who encouraged Laurence to keep the Carnival of the Cats running in its early days, when it had only a small number of participants. Today the Carnival thrives, giving joy and providing connections to catbloggers all over the world and to their readers. It’s the Internet at its best, and there’s no telling how far such a positive influence can reach.

KT Cat of The Scratching Post has more, beautifully and eloquently expressed.

Via Laurence Simon. (I’m with Laieanna and KT Cat. Yes, he is a nice guy.)

But you can stop reading my blather now, and go help Mog.

The Salt Room

I have had asthma all my life. It’s genetic. My childhood was filled with weekly allergy injections—first three each time, then two, many of them given by an allergist in New York City who must hold the world’s record for speedy shots. (He also pioneered hypnotherapy for breathing problems; I still remember the treatments.) I also have plenty of memories of being rushed to the doctor for adrenalin injections during attacks. After years of relative calm, just a few years ago I had an attack that was so severe that I thought I might not see the other side of it. Fortunately, I made it into work somehow after a sleepless night of struggling for breath—an experience I wouldn’t wish on anybody—and it turned out that my co-worker, who also unfortunately suffers from asthma, had her prescription inhaler with her. Two inhalations later, I was able to breathe normally once more. The only thing that kept me from weeping with sheer relief was my reluctance to embarrass myself any further in front of of my co-workers.

I got a prescription for the inhaler my co-worker uses the very next day.

That particular attack was triggered by overexposure to the feline protein that causes reactions in allergic humans. During one Shabbat in early spring I stayed with a friend who lived outside Jerusalem at the time. She had several cats and took care of many more feral ones. When I explained to her that I needed fresh air constantly in order to avoid an asthmatic attack, she said: No problem. But when I got there, she complained that it was too chilly outside and kept the windows open to an absolute minimum. (Please bear with me here. This isn’t meant to blame my friend; it will be relevant later.)

Several days ago, my friend Dale sent me the following article by e-mail: Asthma Sufferers Saved by Salt Rooms.

With only seven in Israel, rooms built of salt blocks are proving very effective in treating life-threatening asthma conditions.
The Chaviv family of Mevo Choron struggled for years as they searched for a cure for their children's debilitating asthma. The children were hospitalized innumerable times, and were forced to ingest large amounts of potent drugs.
After repeated failed efforts, the Chavivs finally found a breakthrough - in the form of “salt room” treatments. It was so effective that the Chaviv family decided to build a salt room in their home—currently the seventh in Israel.
Salt room therapy originated in Eastern Europe. The patient sits in a room built of salt blocks which were mined 300 meters below the ground in caves in the Ukraine. This treatment originated when miners reported significant relief and even cure of bronchial diseases while in the mines. The air in the salt room is permeated with negative ions, which clear the phlegm and purify the lungs. The salt also facilitates the secretion of sputum.
During the course of treatment, the patient sits in the salt room for an hour, twice a week, for seven weeks. After that, the room is used according to need for preventive treatment.
According to Mrs. Chaviv, the salt room provided an immediate improvement in her children’s condition. “Our third son was rushed to the salt room in the height of a difficult asthma attack,” she said. “Following the first treatment, the need for inhalations stopped.”
The family has since built a salt room in their own home, despite the high cost. Today, eight months later, all the children are significantly healthier, rarely needing inhalators or steroids. Only six other salt rooms can be found in Israel—in Jerusalem, Haifa, Netanya, Kfar Saba, Petach Tikva, and N'vei Mivtach.

That decided me. I made an appointment, and yesterday I tried out the salt room here in Jerusalem for the first time. Of course, I had to take pictures, which I post here with permission from Dr. Ilan Zamir, the director of the clinic.

Salt room with recliners

Although Jerusalem’s salt room is fairly small, it has room for four reclining chairs. As I was going in, a man was leaving. He was carrying his small child in one arm, and in his other hand he held a bunch of children’s books, including one by Shel Silverstein.

The squares of light are salt lamps. Each one weighs about twenty kilograms, and they add to the salt room’s effects.

Before I went inside the salt room, the receptionist gave me special disposable covers to put over my shoes. I suppose that this is in order to protect the shoes as well, since the floor is covered with salt crystals of all sizes. Here is one:

Salt crystal

I noticed a change after only one hour in the salt room. My lungs felt cooler and more open, in contrast to the constant feeling of heat and constriction that I have learned to live with. (I have even learned to control my inhalation before a sneeze.) I decided then that I am going to take Dr. Zamir’s entire course of homeopathic treatment for people with asthma and allergies. Although it is very expensive and not covered by any health fund as yet, I believe it will be worth it. Over the years I have asked myself how much I would pay to be rid of asthma, and the answer is: much more than the treatment at Dr. Zamir’s clinic costs. Much, much more.

But getting back to the salt room itself: if I needed any proof of its potential, I got it a little while later, when I popped in to visit my friend, the one who lives with Her Ladyship and Missy. All her windows were closed in order to keep in the heat. Usually she opens the windows immediately when I sit down, or whenever I ask her to. This time, we both forgot. I was there for an hour before I realized that the windows weren’t open ... and that I was having no allergic reaction or difficulty breathing at all. Not one sneeze, not one wheeze, no itchy eyes or red, inflamed marks on my skin where the cats had licked me. Nothing.

I began to grin like a Cheshire cat at my friend. She thought I had gone out of my mind until I told her why.

When I told Dr. Zamir that I have a weblog and that I would like to write about my experiences at his clinic, he said: Go right ahead. I explained to him that this would not be advertising; I would simply be blogging about the treatments and my response to them. The treatment lasts for three months, and Dr. Zamir says that he has a very high success rate.

Judging from the number of framed letters of thanks on the wall of the waiting room—some of which I read from beginning to end—and from my own experience after just an hour in his salt room yesterday, I am inclined to believe him.

So I’m betting three months of my life and a good deal of money on what happens next. And I’ll be writing about it here.

For more information on salt rooms, see here (in English) and here (in Hebrew and Russian).

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Fluffy Friday

One of the feral cats at my workplace in a particularly fluffy moment:

Fluffy gray and white cat

(Check out the 120th edition of the Friday Ark at The Modulator. The next Carnival of the Cats will be at Leslie’s Omnibus on Sunday.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Like Mushrooms after Rain

Here are some that I found today in Independence Park:

Mushrooms in Independence Park

Until Further Notice ...

Comments will be moderated.

I decided to do that after the second straight day of cleaning out spam comments. Sorry for any inconvenience. Blame the spammers.

Tummy Tuesday

One of the cats at work looks like a black cat, but she’s not.

How do I know? Just look:

Black cat with white patches on tummy

Black cat with white patches on tummy

Black cat with white patches on tummy

(Cheers to Lisaviolet, founder of Tummy Tuesday!)