Save your sanity, time & money!

The Global Resources section of the EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge book clues readers in to solutions they could not have imagined.

Learn how to cut your medical costs,
ORGANIZE appointments & paperwork,
keep track of your medications, pack for hospital stays,
join clinical trials, manage rude relatives, doctors &

Need lo-cost or free care, medication, air travel, or other necessities for patients of any age? EMPOWER Yourself is PACKED with information that patients plus loved ones need to know!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Shmita is Good for Spiritual Health!


28 Heshvan, 5775

My mind and heart are weary from recent events. So, I spent time nurturing my soul by reading a fascinating book. It abundantly reminds us mortals that GOD is in control. It's a terrific boost to spiritual health. 

Israel's Jews are commanded to let the land lie fallow every seventh year (based on the Jewish calendar). This is how we obey GOD's commandment about the Sabbatical year. It is a time when land rests for a yearlong Sabbath to GOD (Exodus 23:10-11). The commandment makes a significant impact on us while we honor it.

An adventure in securing sufficient groceries while observing associated halakhot/Jewish laws, Shmitta (variant spellings exist among English-speakers) year is the result. It makes for an interesting, exciting time of life for farmers, home gardeners, anybody who wants to eat, plus sellers of flowers, produce and trees - even house plants!

The Sabbatical year is very good for inner, outer, plus spiritual health. Fallow land is able to rebuild its strength. That translates into more nutritious foods later on, instead of depleted soil unable to sustain more than weeds. Human minds adjust to the fact that GOD makes the rules, not us. You can learn more about that and some spiritual matters at Aytzim.  

You can click here to learn about some of the miracles that have resulted due to Shmitta observance.

Confusion about relevant laws for observing shmitta abounds, however, and different books address those topics. I have a favorite among them.

Here's an excerpt from the publisher's page:


From the Sources to Practical Halakha

By Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon
Shemita examines the underlying principles and practical observance of the Jewish agricultural sabbatical year, leading readers from the sources in the Torah, Mishna and Gemara to the rulings of leading halakhic authorities, including Rav Kook and the Chazon Ish. The most comprehensive and systematic guidebook on the subject, Shemita considers the laws' numerous challenges and solutions pertaining to topics from tree pruning to fruit buying and soup making. Includes diagrams, illustrations and photographs.

Here's my review of the English-language version of this ground-breaking book, which is updated every seven years, to reflect recent agricultural realities:

Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Rimon's masterful Shemita, From the Sources to Practical Halakha provides readers with a comprehensive background into the minutiae of relevant laws, the solutions to relevant controversies and a can-do guide to practical behavior. Readers come away educated, confident that they appreciate, and comply with, the scope of religiously legal issues.

The book's awe-inspiring photography is as beautiful as it is educational. Readers are also treated to an array of rabbinic opinions based on various Biblical passages that address Shmitta observance. 

There is no need to worry about Rabbi Rimon's copious coverage of relevant Jewish laws about Shemita. His colorful charts simplify otherwise confusing details. The at-a-glance information empowers the reader, aka consumer, to dine in completely shmitta-compliant comfort. 

There are other riches in this 558-page hardcover. Each chapter addresses specific concerns such as the laws, and their practical applications, in the garden, kitchen market, and wider society. How-to instructions for planting, pruning, weeding, grafting, fumigating, fertilizing and nurturing all kinds of plants during the Sabbatical year are accompanied by easily understood photographs. Page 188 for example, holds a how-to-do-this-correctly pictorial lesson for, among other plant-growing activities, removing stones from a field (considered to be a form of plowing, a somewhat forbidden activity that must be adapted to Shemita time).

The array of halakhically compliant though diverse methods in which a person may or may not acquire, use and dispose of shmitta-compliant produce (fruits, vegetables, flowers and saplings) can lend itself to fierce debates. Rabbi Rimon deftly handles the controversial topics with class and simplicity. Without a judgmental word, he explains the methods and rationales for the applications of different, yet halakhically valid, points of view. 

Information is underscored with chapter summaries, and with appendices for specific chapters. A chapter entitled The Various Solutions begins on page 386. It ties up many loose ends by posing questions, then providing answers (e.g., Is there a way to permit harvesting an entire crop of Shemita produce?) and expounds of specific solutions to multiple Shmitta issues. One example is that pages 359-369 address hothouses and soil beds detached from the ground as alternatives to the prohibition of eating and/or selling foods grown in the ground. Other alternatives are given equal time, too.

You'll unknot your brow as the author resolves the tension-filled question of Does the Yerushalmi (Talmud) contradict the Mishna (writings from a different historical period)? by citing distinctions in specific passages of text that neatly resolve the controversy. Readers who are very familiar with Jewish law or beginners wending their way through details upon details for the first time will enjoy the sensibly sorted out thoughts in this section.

While reading Shemita, From the Sources to Practical Halakha, I noticed a profound comparison of the Shmitta year and Shabbat, the Sabbath, on pages 29-31. The sentence that made magic for me is on page 31; "Resting from work during the shemita year connects us to the world of the Garden of Eden... the world of God. The people of Israel who reach their unique sanctity in the land of Israel elevate themselves to an even higher world - a world in which there is no competition or jealousy, a world of mutual assistance and fraternity, a world in which Torah study and connecting with God are natural and expected... Come let us go out to agree that Shabbat queen!"

So much for lofty aspirations and complicated agricultural tasks ruled by Jewish law. Trying to memorize many practical matters and finessing Shmitta-related controversies can tax the highest IQs.  And, it is difficult to maintain an ever-serious demeanor even when we should. 

The necessity for Jews to render their cared-for farmland ownerless during Shmitta year is a hot topic whenever it is addressed. Maggid Books (a division of Koren Publishers) and Rabbi Rimon, though, break up the monotonous legalese and somber tone of the surrender with visual humor on pages 416-420. Faux parchment missives appear in antique colors, holding the opinions of historical rabbinic figures who permitted the Heter Mechira mechanism of coping with Shmitta. A means of transferring ownership of farmland to non-Jews, so that the foods grown upon it will be completely edible and income-producing during the Sabbath year, it has been a hotly debated topic throughout the ages, what I'd call "The rule of the way out," pun fully intended.

By the time you reach page 436's Practical Guide to Purchasing Fruits and Vegetables in 5775 and 5776 (yes, Shemitta compliance will matter then, too) chart, you might exhale a breath of relief. Further guidance about this matter is followed by calming, cogent commentary until page 448. 

More marvelous information for minds that must take complicated subjects one at a time appears on page 263. It begins the chapter of The Laws of Produce with Shemita Sanctity: Navigating the Opportunity. The author focuses on upbeat messages such as "opportunity" rather than disheartening vocabulary such as "myriad of details" or some other stultifying word/phrase. There's a heartwarming treat that will bring tears to many eyes at the last page of this section. It's about a naive little boy who ran to the author with a concern about a rainstorm disrupting the land's rest during the previous Shemita season. The purity of that child's devotion to the mitzva of Shemita is too good to summarize here. Read it first-hand, and come away with warmer love for GOD, little ones, and Torah life. 

An education about The Release of Debts in terms of Jewish law and Shemitta commences on page 450. More faux parchment missives break down complicated legal matters about Pruzbol documents - legally binding debt release documents in Jewish law - into simple presentations that can be readily understood by the average reader. It clues readers in to the compassionate Torah point of view, as do divergent Shmitta produce-permitting laws.

There are more treasures in this masterfully prepared book. It is a solid investment for years to come, as readers study up on relevant Jewish laws that they can fulfill in future Shmitta years.

Buy your copy from the publisher here.

And if you want a bit more to smile about, read about the 'Shmittah Project' to Help Poor Families.

Want to nourish your mind and body's ability to cope with the stresses of illness, as well as your soul? 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 mind with healthy thoughts.


Thursday, November 20, 2014

Reality Check: Terrorism


27 Heshvan, 5775

I have not updated the blog lately, as Israelis, including me, are simply on coping mode. 

We are reeling from the inhumanity of the barbarians who chopped and shot worshippers to death, and of the reporters distorting reality so that Jews will be despised by conned consumers of false news reports.

This example of journalism as propaganda is chilling. 

So is this.

I happened to have been at an Israeli hospital to speak with a medical coding staff member when some of the survivors of the terrorist butchery arrived for life-saving treatment.

Almost everyone on staff was struggling to hold back their sobs as they tended to the injured people.

I spent part of today offering time and compassion to one of the mourners. Her cousin was murdered with a meat cleaver.

A world-famous educator shared her thoughts on the massacre, at A Personal Report on the Terror Attack in Har Nof (it's in WEST Jerusalem by the way, not East as CNN and other media have mis-reported. The attack happened in a synagogue, not a mosque, on land where Jewish ownership is not being disputed by anyone other than biased journalists).


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 mind with facts that can protect your physical and mental/emotional health.


Monday, November 17, 2014

How to Feel Safe When you Need a Second Medical Opinon


24 Heshvan, 5775

There's a substantial amount of idea-sharing in the

book about how to handle rude medical personnel, and how to convince them to respond with respect or to leave the area. 

Stress damages health. 
Calmness promotes it.

One of the ideas behind those paragraphs is that you, the patient, are the consumer, the boss, of your health care staff. A doctor is a hired hand, so to speak. You are free to fire clinicians you dislike and to hire the ones you prefer. 

Recent changes in health care law make that concept seem kind of fuzzy.

As I read an oncologist's recent essay to medical colleagues, I was struck by his compassionate insight into those realities.

You'll figure out how to feel safe when you need a second medical opinion, by reading and re-reading

When patients seek a second opinion:

 It’s not about you

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. 

Feel comfortable with your medical team.


Friday, November 14, 2014

Adjuvant Therapy: Tailored-to-YOU Medical Treatment!


21 Cheshvan, 5775

Sorry for my silence this week - I've spent lots of time connecting with interesting people and medical resources, plus traveling by train about the country. I've also invested time in learning some hi-tech techniques that I hope to use in the near future.

But let's focus on you, again.

One of the maddening, and terrifying, realities of medical treatment is that you, the patient, are left wondering why this doctor-recommended treatment or that would work, as if a One-Size-Fits-All solution is reliable.

The truth is, life does not have 
medical solutions.

Humanity comes with different genetic backgrounds and related medical realities. Some treatments will work, others not, with given populations.

We're also different from each other because of what we do or do not eat, breathe and drink. Medical treatment is affected by that, too.

There's more to the story, but I have a soothing resource to share with you. It was created by a man I know well and once worked with. And it solves the One-Size-Fits-All non-reality.

It's called Adjuvant Medical Solutions. Doctors are awed by its effectiveness in fostering tailor-made medical treatments to people with cancer and other chronic diseases. 

Explore the site. Consider if it can help you, too.

And yes, it's featured in 
the Global Resources section 

Explore the healing possibilities.

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. 

Find the resources you or someone you love needs.


Wednesday, November 5, 2014

How to Find the Motivational Answers YOU Need


12 Heshvan, 5775

Several people have confided to me that they're feeling down. Scarily "down."

Normal stuff for most people, but it never seems that way when we experience the sensation. 

Listen to the user-friendly point that author Elizabeth Gilbert makes about how to reset your focus and restore your inner happiness.


Now listen to Curly make the same point, his way.

Need more inspiration to face your issues? You're gonna LUV the Refining Silver story in

Buy the E-book or print edition of EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical (and Mental health) Challenge

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

Find out the answers you need by focusing on what your heart says to you.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

Powerful Perspective from the Other Side of the Bedrail:


9 Cheshvan, 5775

Medical drama is a reality. The emotions that rock you and your loved ones affect everyone around you, whether or not they show the reality. 

I found something at the site worth sharing with you.

A powerful message.
I just saw the doctor walk out of the room…the room of your husband on a ventilator, who after 12 days of no improvements, has had set back after set back.

That emotional barrier is a protective mechanism. 

It lets medical professionals focus on their skills so that they can tend to the patient in optimal fashion. 

But when that barrier turns to indifference, it endangers lives. 

book shares information about 
your safety-enhancing options 
in such situations.

Please share your thoughts about that, and the essay above, with me.

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. 


Friday, October 24, 2014


29/30 Tishrei, 5775

My schedule's been a bit unpredictable this week, and full of interesting happenings. Last night I was part of the security detail at a city-wide event. While patrolling the perimeter, a participant called out to me (in Hebrew) "We need an ambulance!"

Someone in the crowd had passed out while standing up and chatting with her friends. 

The pre-arranged and on-site ambulance crew took care of her, and I'm pleased to have been part of the effort. Part of the patient's problem seems to have been dehydration despite our cool weather. Be sure to sip water throughout your day, no matter the temperature. The human body needs fluids 365 days of the year!

 I'm ending the work-week with the 5th and final part of the "Talk About Your Medicines" month blogpost.

You're invited to comment about any of the blogposts. I tend to respond quickly and I look forward to interacting with you.

Here's an FYI about the sponsor of this week's blogpost series:

The American Recall Center, which promotes the Talk About Your Medicines month blogging effort, is concerned about the drug Xarelto. Click the link to learn about that medication.

OK, here's the wrap-up for this week (the highlighted text focuses on medication specifically), another excerpt from the EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge book:


Doctors appointments, insurance papers, calls to make, child care issues, nosy neighbors, relatives who just don’t "Get it," have you seen the baby, meals to prepare, pills and potions to swallow or shots to inject, omigawd we need a really BIG bank account, where are my keys, did anyone see the remote and why is the dog making noise like that?

Ever feel as if your inner PC and its memory banks just went and shut down on you? Read on and find some solutions to the problem.

Many people facing medical crises have so much to remember that their inner filing cabinets overflow. They reach a point where they wonder if they’re losing their minds! Know the feeling? You forget almost everything? Even how old you are?

As you read earlier, I experienced no less than five benign brain tumors and their surgical removal. A human head does not have much space for tolerating all that intrusion and banging around upon soft brains. People who’ve experienced brain injury often suffer memory problems. So can anyone facing any type medical crisis. Stress hurts. And medical intervention messes up the insides of your body even more! I lost some memorization ability after my treatments. I benefited from a rehabilitation program for the brain injured. Students of every age in my program learned many tips for vastly improving our memory power. Here are a few tips I'll share with you:

Keep a reasonably sized notebook or day-planner with you all the time. Record upcoming: appointments, social events, PTA meetings and other important scheduled stuff as soon as you commit to it or even hear of it.

Keep repeating a person's name in the conversation as normally as possible when you first meet.

Collect business cards when offered to you. On the back, make notes of where you met and what they look like, your 1st impressions of the person, anything remarkable they said, e.g., Redhead, skinny, laughs a lot. Met at Joe's celebration dinner

Put your stuff away in the same place all the time. NO LAZY SHORTCUTS! Shoes and clothes go in closets, not in chairs, the wrong room or atop doors.

Kitchenware gets washed, dried and immediately put away. When you're cooking, ALWAYS use a timer to alert you to shut off the heat.

Me, I keep my keys in the front door once I lock it from inside. I wear them on a cloth strap, a key strip around my neck, when I leave home. I never lose keys anymore.

Ever seen the funky new chains for holding your glasses around your neck? Use the one of your affordable choice. No need to feel like a moth-eaten relic. The new styles are super-trendy. And you won't lose your glasses.

Using the above techniques jogs the memory cells. Watch. You'll end up teaching folks who never had tumors, brain injuries or any sort of medical stress how improve THEIR memories!

The human body is full of quirky surprises. Some of them are quite interesting and not life-threatening. Follow the suggestions above and good advice from your therapists and medical team. Not every forgotten thought is a danger sign. Now, on to some techniques for straightening out that mother lode of medical and insurance paperwork…

As you make your way through your medical crisis or that of your loved one, the pile of papers with important phone numbers, addresses and other information will grow. If you fail to organize it, the mess can make a wreck of your get-well efforts.

If you're the sort of person who hasn't yet succeeded at organizing your life, I offer sweet solace with simple advice:

“Habit is habit, and not to be flung out the window but coaxed downstairs one step at a time.” – Mark Twain

Here's my Five-Step Plan to Organization: Some simple suggestions for keeping your papers and yourself organized:

STEP ONE: First: Sort out the papers that you have. Place test results in one pile, with newer results on top and older results at the bottom.

Do this for every health care provider organization and insurance company, prescription, referral, medical payment approval etc. with newer paper work on top and older results at the bottom (I highly recommend photocopying each medical payment, insurance or medical approval and prescription. Do this before a medical or insurance person takes it from you when you receive the relevant medical service or buy your medication).

Second: Separate anything written by your Primary Care Physician from the pile of health care provider organization stuff.

Set aside all papers from the hospital.

Keep all discs of MRIs, CT scans and other tests in a pile of their own.

Third: If you do not own a day-planner, buy one with ample space for recording upcoming appointments, tasks to be accomplished, questions for your doctors, and a contact information area (names, addresses, phone and Fax numbers, E-mail addresses, medical specialty). I recommend filling in each day's updates in pencil rather than in pen. Appointments change and scratch-outs make the pages harder to read. Cleanly erased obsolete notes are a big improvement over jagged lines crossing out stuff you no longer need to remember.

IMPORTANT: Select a blank page in your day planner on which you can record all the medicines you take, how often you take them and WHY. Many people forget (especially when they feel stressed) why they take some pills or potions. De-stress your life with good record keeping. And do take time to list all the questions that you want your doctors to answer. I like to note those questions in the blank space under noted appointments or on a page designated for that purpose.

Decide where it will be smartest for you to record new symptoms that you want to discuss with medical professionals. That way, you won't slap your head and ask out loud to nobody in particular "Oh #@@!, why didn't I bring that up during my appointment with Dr. So and So?"

Your preparations can improve the chances that you will select the right doctor to treat you. You will be prepared to ask relevant questions. Focused discussions will reveal if a particular medical professional A) treats your concerns seriously and 2) has the expertise to deal with your medical situation.

Have you enjoyed this series of informative blogposts?

Imagine what the rest of the book is like, as it addresses moods, self-esteem, packing for hospital stays, how to deal with rude medical professionals, in-laws and outlaws.

Click the title in this sentence, or the book cover above, to 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. 

Feel better again, even if you have an on-going medical or mental health issue.