| Moonwalk |

Moonwalk: Chapter 9

My poor arm. I want to cry when the nurse appears to do more bloodwork

As told to Rochel Samet


Sunday dawns clear and crisp.

“Oh, what a beautiful moooorning...” Henny sings, passing my door. She’s going wedding shopping.

I want to look for a gown too. I want to call Shana; I got a dozen missed calls last night. I want to catch up on my homework and help Ma and play games with Sara.

I flop back down. My head spins.

I may as well dream of flying to Israel for the day.

I sleep. I wake up. My eyes burn, my head aches. I sleep. My throat is sandpaper. I wake up. I need a drink. I crave food so badly, normal food, bread and cake and pasta with cheese. Then I feel nauseous and lose my appetite completely.

I wish Ma would come. I need a drink of water. My limbs are weighed down, a ton of bricks. I can’t get out of bed.

There’s a tap on my door. Finally.

“Yeah,” I say, too quietly. “Hi,” I call, a little louder. It takes effort.

It’s Ta.

“Libby, how are you?” He looks rushed. “Listen, I just got off the phone with Reuven Hartstein, you know, my friend who’s a doctor... I asked him about your symptoms, because the tests keep coming back negative. Anyway, he recommended a doctor who specializes in infectious diseases. He’s going to pull some strings, get you an appointment this week. Okay?”

I nod, trying to process. Infectious diseases. Doctor. Appointment. My heart lifts a little. Maybe he’ll know what’s wrong. Then it plunges. Maybe not. I can’t handle another disappointment.

Ta is still standing there, one foot out the door.

“Thanks for calling,” I manage. I should be grateful that he’s trying to help, not dismissing it and telling me to do homework. But I don’t feel grateful, I just feel terribly, achingly alone.





The hospital is surprisingly calm. I’m not sure what I expected, maybe ambulances and crying patients and beds with IVs being wheeled through the lobby. Instead, the ground floor is large and airy, a small line of people waiting for the receptionist, colorful modern art on the walls.

We check in, receive visitor tags. There are so many floors, I wonder how Ma knows where to go.

“Dr. Lewis. We have an appointment at 12:45,” she tells the preppy-looking receptionist.

“Take a seat.”

The waiting room is designed to be uncomfortable. Red plastic chairs, a fan blowing frigid air, and whitewashed walls displaying health warnings and symptoms of terrifying diseases. Just when I think I’m going to pass out from boredom, a nurse gives us a questionnaire to fill out: symptoms, medical history, personal details. By the time we’re done, I have a smashing headache.

“Leeba Jacobs? The doctor will see you now.”

Dr. Lewis is pleasant enough, but older than I expected. He asks a few questions, peers at the questionnaire, rubs his temples.

“Have your grades been affected at all?”

I shrug. “I mean, I’ve missed a lot of school, and it hurts to write…”

The doctor pushes his chair back. “I’m asking because we’d like to rule out Lyme disease. Many of your symptoms point to it, but Lyme disease would probably affect you cognitively, too.”

I have an urge to rub my head also. “I don’t think so…”

“Her grades are fine, it’s just the absences,” Ma says firmly.

“I’ll test for it in any case, but what it looks like is rheumatoid arthritis. However, I’ll run a series of tests for other infections as well. I also want you to get a brain MRI.” He scribbles something down and gives my mother instructions. I’m too exhausted to ask questions.

My poor arm. I want to cry when the nurse appears to do more bloodwork.

When the tests are over and my headache has morphed into a thousand cannons thundering in my brain, Ma says, “Libby, please don’t worry about the MRI tomorrow… Just… the doctor wants to rule out, chas v’shalom, the possibility of a brain tumor.”

*Names and details changed to protect privacy

(Originally featured in Mishpacha Jr., Issue 808)

Oops! We could not locate your form.