A New Hip Way to Count the Omer… When Recovering from Surgery

The Jewish Journal—Boston—April 29, 2010

The week prior to Sefirat Ha’Omer (Counting of the Omer), I had a total hip replacement. It is customary to begin counting the Omer from the second seder for 49 days until the holiday of Shavuot. On the 33rd day, we celebrate Lag B’Omer. Bonfires, picnics, festivities, weddings, and shaving of beards and haircuts prevail on this special day.

For me, Lag B’omer will signify my own Sefirat Ha’Omer: the culmination of six weeks of rehabilitation and recovery. These past few weeks have illuminated many things for me. Traditionally, the counting of the Omer signifies the transition from slavery in Egypt to true liberation. It provides a time for reflection and growth. I would like to weave these distinctive concepts into my personal interpretation.

For those of you who have experienced chronic pain and then had surgery to ameliorate the problem, you truly are going from a state of being a slave to your pain to freedom from the aches and torment. The slow, idyllic daily jaunts with my cane around the neighborhood each day truly has provided ample opportunities for reflection and growth.

My surgery came on the heels of shiva week in memory of my wonderful brother-in-law Justin and a few days before Pesach. When I returned home from Hospital for Special Surgery in New York, we had a delicious home cooked Shabbat dinner delivered to us from a wonderful friend, including flowers and challah.

After one week of home physical therapy, I started my second week with outpatient physical therapy. I went from strength to strength. Movements, which seemed unattainable the week before, were slowly coming to fruition. I started to walk with a cane outside, and each day I made great strides.

On Lag B’Omer, I will be in New York for my appointment the next day with my surgeon. For me, there will be no haircuts or bonfires. There will, however, be a celebration of sorts. I will hopefully be able to drive again and no longer need a cane. I will keep on counting the days during my rehabilitation until I can bike and hike (Mt. Sinai?) again soon.

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