The Hardest Week of My Life

On February 22, 2014 by Oren and Cassie

After a 15-hour flight from Abu Dhabi which included an unexpected diversion to DC and a 5-hour delay, we’ve landed once again on American soil. It may be 7 months ahead of schedule, but, without a doubt, this is where we need to be. For now. A few thoughts on the last week or so…

I’ve spent the last 8 years working in tv news, most of which was dedicated to covering crime. I definitely became desensitized to the violence that I saw around me. I also became too skeptical and cynical – too negative about what I saw.

In one week, the outpouring of support from around the world has reminded me of how good at heart people really are. I didn’t have wifi at the first hospital in Pokhara, so every morning Cassie would bring me the latest round of messages, emails, and notes that I had gotten. Family, friends, and total strangers offered their love, prayers, and help. I cannot describe how powerful this was for me, and how much easier it made my time in the hospital.


Staying positive in the first hospital in Pokhara.

Nearly 2 years ago, I watched as a friend of mine got very similar messages during his time in the hospital (although for a very different reason). I saw him tear up as he looked through them, but I didn’t get it then. I do now. At the time, I probably told him to man up. This is still good advice, and I’m sticking with it. But at least now I understand why those messages can be hard to read.

I owe the Big Guy upstairs more than a few Saturdays at synagogue. There are certain coincidences that happened over the past week that, at least to me, cannot be fully explained without a helping hand from above. This could be a grand conspiracy from God to make me more kosher. If so, the point is made. Next time, please try something a little more subtle. I would’ve gotten the message.

The medical team in Kathmandu that got me home safely.

The medical team in Kathmandu that got me home safely.

What will my life be like from here? It will be just as fun and ridiculous as it always is. To me, there is no old life and new life. There is life. There is no before and after. There is now. There is no “new normal.” Life wasn’t ever really normal before so why should I expect it to become normal?

Let’s review: A suburban Jewish kid from New Jersey falls into a career in television news while simultaneously learning to fly the plane his father built in the basement before quitting his job to travel the world with his interfaith wife. Does that storyline change all that dramatically if we add the modifier “diabetic” into there? Didn’t think so.

Finally reunited with family at JFK!

Finally reunited with family at JFK!

I won’t ask the question, “Why did this happen to me?” Very simply, it happened.

More importantly, it’s not fair to others to ask that question. Why did one of my best friends have a stroke at the same age at which I developed diabetes? Why did an acquaintance of mine die in a car crash our 4th year of college? Why did a friend develop a malignant tumor in her early 20’s? These people and their families may ask “Why did this happen to us?” I have no such right. Not with something as simple and treatable as diabetes.

To the first doctor in Pokhara who, first, misdiagnosed my diabetes and, second, misdiagnosed the severity of my condition: You may want to review some of your notes from med school. Especially since you’re a diabetic and probably should’ve picked up on the signs IMMEDIATELY. Jerk.

(For those who are counting, that’s now two straight misdiagnoses from medical types. After I blew out my knew last June, a resident at UPENN hospital said I probably just strained something. It took my insurance 2 weeks to approve an MRI because she didn’t do it at the hospital that night. And now Dr. Diabetes can’t figure out that I have the same disease he does. Seriously?! You guys spend 87 years in med school. Let’s make sure your diagnostic accuracy rate is a bit higher than the MLB batting average. Derek Jeter is allowed to bat .312. You are not.)

To the medical staff at CIWEC in Kathmandu: Thank you for getting me home so quickly once my care was in your hands. I think my parents appreciate this even more than I do.

To my pancreas: I’ll see you in hell. Quitter.

To Nesquik chocolate milk: I will do everything in my power to work you back into my life in a way that’s good for both of us. Right now, we need some time apart. It’s not you. It’s me. You haven’t changed. I have. Our relationship lasted 31 amazing years. You’ll always be in my heart until you’re again in my stomach.

To the FAA: I have every intention of flying again (and some big plans here too). If you don’t give me my medical certificate back after I’ve filled out all the necessary paperwork, I will go all Bear Jew on your ass.

To everyone who has followed our updates these past few days: Thank you so much. Thank you a thousand times. And then a thousand more times. And then… you get the idea.

Stay with us! The adventure isn’t even close to over.

And finally, to everyone at home in the States: I’ll be recovering and rebuilding some strength in NJ. So let’s hang out!


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20 Responses to “The Hardest Week of My Life”

  • So glad to see you are safely home, although I am sorry it is so soon, and for this reason. Please know that you have both been in my thoughts and prayers since I first saw your post, although I’ve not written until now. (My 83 year old mom with memory issues broke her femur last week, too!) Enjoy the love of family and friends, and may you have the most competent doctors available (or they’ll invoke The Wrath of the Moms !!)

  • This was the funniest post of all of ’em. You must have some Irish coursing through your veins. Here’s hoping you don’t have to go Bear Jew, but if you do, we’ll all go with you. Ben tornati, voi due. And intercourse your pancreas

  • Been following/enjoying your travels all along, but missed the last few weeks! Well, a lot happened but love your grace and humor in dealing with your new medical situation, as well as your ability to put this in perspective:
    annoying, yes.
    brief derailment, yes.
    life-changing, yes.
    life-ending, no.
    surmountable, absolutely!
    Take care and conquer – I have no doubt you’ll find creative ways to continue your travels – in comfort and safety!

  • I’ve taken to heart everything you’ve written and hopefully I’ll get to tell you in person how wonderful it’s been knowing you and may we continue to know each other and have arguments over the really important things in life like movies…

  • If anyone can rock diabetes, you can! Spoken from one lifelong disease person to another. I was dx’d with MS on October 1, 2009, and despite some emotional patches, I refuse to let my disease define me, just like you. Welcome home, fellow life-liver!

  • Beautifully written Oren. Welcome home, and keep on living!

  • Let’s get you under a bar while you’re back in NJ. I’ll help train you. We’ll make you right as rain. (no ACL required!)

  • Funny as heck. Great post. And I 100% agree…you are not normal.

  • Feel better Oren! I also love chocolate milk. You’ve been to more countries in the last six months than most people visit in a lifetime. Id be lucky if I make it to many of the places you’ve already been. I know your trip was cut short but thanks for keeping us informed throughout your amazing journey and I hope it isn’t too long before you and Cassie are back in the air.

  • Sorry that your trip had to end so soon. (Partly for you and partly for me. Reading your posts were my escape from the cube farm after I got off air.) I’m glad that you’re okay and that you have such a positive outlook. Welcome back to the states fav.

  • They better give you your damn certificate! We want to see you again guys!
    And I’m sure Nesquik will wait for you! I’m sure!

    Take care guys!

  • Glad you are ok Oren.Nothing scarier than having medical stuff in the third world (she said from China) it really does make you realize where you grew up and what you take for granted. Tihiye bari Gever!

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