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Surprise, surprise. Here I am, pretending to do work when I have to hand in a paper tomorrow, and instead of working, I just spent 2 hours on the phone with my mom, and now, I’m blogging about Ben. I can’t help it. This weekend was transformational in our friendship.

I can honestly say now that (for the foreseeable future at least) I will never, ever, question my friendship with Ben, ever ever again. He is a true friend. One I treasure and would be a lesser person without. Here’s what happened:

I haven’t been feeling well. Stomach/abdomen issues mostly. But, like you do, I was quietly handling it; seeing a doctor, taking meds, eating right, etc. On Thursday at work, it all came to a head when I got this tremendous pain in the right side of my stomach shooting directly through me straight to my back. It hurt to move. It hurt to breathe. It hurt to lie down. I needed a doctor. Stat.

I walked from work to what I thought was a doctor’s office. Turns out it’s administrative offices, no doctors on premises. They directed me to an office about a 10 minute walk away. So, in agony, in the heat, I walked. I was miserable. The pain was getting worse and worse. I was trying not to panic.

Finally, I arrived. They were closed. The one girl who was closing up reluctantly gave me the number of two other offices. I left to make my calls, the numbers were wrong. So, I decided to go home and try to relax and let the pain subside.

When I got home, I couldn’t get comfortable. I was exhausted from the pain and the walking and all I wanted to do was rest. Rest was not in the cards. I called the insurance company who gave me the number of a doctor in Bnei Brak. Far. I called and the receptionist said “come right now and you will see the doctor.” So I got in a cab. 42NIS later, I arrived at the doctor’s office.

Standing in line, I was so uncomfortable. Old religious people were trying to strong arm their way to the head of the line and I had no energy to fight. All I could do was stand there, shake, and try not to cry from the pain. Finally, an old woman saw me and yelled at an old man who was trying to cut in front of me: [in Hebrew]”She doesn’t feel well! Let her go first!” The doctor saw me immediately and thankfully spoke perfect English. Then, my fear was confirmed: “I’m sending you to the hospital for tests. Go straight to the ER.”

Another cab ride. Another 52NIS. More pain. I get to the hospital. “I can do this. Everything will be ok. I can handle this,” I am trying to psyche myself up for whatever is about to happen in this building. And it works…for about 20 minutes. After checking in and being pushed around and ignored, I could feel my deathgrip on rationalism slowly slip away. Panic was starting to seep into my brain. What if I’m really sick? What if I need to stay overnight? What if they need to operate? I couldn’t handle it. I broke down and sent Ben an SMS:

me: Ben? I need you. It’s important.

2 minutes with no reply

me: I’m in the emergency room and I’m really scared.

2 minutes with no reply

I think to myself, “he’s at work. it’s possible he hasn’t seen the messages. It’s also possible he saw them and can’t/won’t help me. I just need to know…” So, I pick up the phone and call him. I figured that if he saw the messages and chose to ignore me, he wouldn’t answer. He almost always answers when I call. And I NEVER bother him at work.

Thankfully, he answers. He’s quiet, he’s in a meeting.

“Are you ok?”
me: “did you get my texts?”
“no not yet. i’m leaving this meeting in 5 minutes can I call you back? what’s going on?”
me: “I texted you. Call me as soon as you can. It’s really important.”
“ok. 5 minutes.”

Less than a minute later, my phone was ringing.

ben: “What happened???? Are you ok????”

I told him the whole story. It ended with something like “now, I’m here and I don’t know what’s going on and no one’s talking to me and I’m just scared. I didn’t know who else to call…”

ben: “I’m on my way. I’m leaving now and I’ll be there in 30 minutes at most.”

Sure enough, 25 minutes later, there he was at my side. Hugging me, holding me, talking to the nurses, reading my chart, carrying my bag, translating for me… he was amazing. He didn’t have to jump to my rescue. I didn’t know what to expect when I called him. I never expected the level of superhero he rose to. Demanding that I be seen, reminding them that I was waiting, asking informed questions about medicine and the diagnostic process. Shielding me from the scary information but not lying to me.

I found out he had a birthday party he was supposed to go to that night. After I was seen, given an IV of medicine, and an injection of a pain killer, I tried to insist that he go to the party. “I’m not leaving you until I get you home tonight. I’m not leaving you here.” My hero.

We were in the ER until almost 11pm. I got there at 4:30. Ben was with me every moment until we were at my door. I was so grateful and apologetic and appreciative. He kept telling me that it was nothing. He marveled at how “together” I was; in his eyes, I wasn’t panicked, I wasn’t crying, I wasn’t whinny, I wasn’t needy, I wasn’t out of control. From my perspective I was all of those things and much much worse. I apologized and said “I just couldn’t handle it alone anymore..” Ben said, “you never have to handle this kind of stuff by yourself. You shouldn’t handle this alone.”

But it doesn’t stop there. After he brought me home, I insisted that he go to his party and have fun. I just wanted to shower and go to bed. He kissed me and left. In the middle of the night, he send me a text: “hope you are feeling much better. do not hesitate to wake me up if you are in pain again when the medicine wears off.”

I didn’t have to wake him, I was feeling so much better.

He called Friday afternoon around 1:30 to check in, to see how I was doing physically and emotionally. “Everyone at the party last night was so worried about you! People you don’t even know.” We made plans for that night (last night).

When I arrived last night, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Had his opinion of me changed from the night before? Was I now this weak little girl he needed to take care of? So, I asked him: “Ben, have I lost my edge since last night?”

ben: “really?? no, joan. not at all. you were sick. you needed help. it happens.”
me: “so, you still think I’m sexy?”
ben: “you are just as beautiful and sexy as ever. don’t even think that way. everyone gets sick.”
he always knows exactly what I need to hear.

Last night, we talked, we laughed, we watched a movie, he made us pancakes (flipping them in the air and everything!), and then he said “come on. let’s go to bed.” I certainly, was not expecting to sleep over, especially after our recent decision that the line has to be somewhere and it should be at slumber parties. I was happy to not being going home, though so I graciously accepted his invitation.

We woke up early today, then he let me go back to sleep. I woke up an hour later and we drank tea and watched some television. We talked, we played on facebook, we watched some youtube videos. Then we parted around 2pm, when we finally got dressed.

I am so lucky to have Ben. He is such a wonderful friend. I have always been the person people call when they need help; I have never been able to call someone for help like I called Ben and have them follow through to the bitter end without so much as a complaint, a hint of guilt, or a bribe. I can’t believe back in July I almost gave him an ultimatum that would have forced a subject and pushed him out of my life. That would have been so bad. So so so bad.

My friendship with him is perfect and I wouldn’t change ANYTHING for the world.

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