Tzippy thinks about what is behind Sruli’s current crisis. She is surprised at how much his problems mean to her.
* * *
Later on that evening, after receiving an exhaustingly detailed report from Yochi on her activities that day, Hindy was just about to tend to some long-neglected paperwork when two things happened simultaneously. The first was the realization hitting her with full force that she was not going to manage if she could not take her pills on Shabbos. She knew she could ask a she’eilah, explaining that she was still in pain, and would probably get a heter, but it wouldn’t be true. The pain had subsided; her desire for the calm feeling the codeine offered had not. Asher was the one who usually asked the she’eilos to the Rav, but for some reason she felt very uncomfortable asking him to present it. The pills had become an unspoken point of contention between them and she was hesitant to upset the delicate balance she was trying so hard to establish. On the other hand, she could not imagine going 25 hours on her own steam, especially with so many guests. She wondered how she’d ever managed without the detached, mellow feeling she was becoming accustomed to.
She wasn’t doing anything illegal or dangerous, and yet Asher was questioning it. When bubbles of resentment would start to form she’d suppress them, but she didn’t know how long she would be able to do that without snapping at him. She wanted, needed, craved, relief, and the little bottle had become her safe haven, her refuge. When she tried to reason with herself, she could find nothing wrong with her life, and yet there was nothing right either, until now, and she wasn’t going to give it up without a fight. There were plenty of Rabbanim around, and she was perfectly capable of asking the she’eilah herself. She prayed she’d get the heter, because if she didn’t, she wasn’t sure what she would do once Shabbos arrived.
The second thing that happened was that the phone rang. She checked the Caller ID and was surprised to see that the number was blocked. She made it a practice not to answer blocked numbers, but something urged her to pick up the phone.
“Hello, this is Dr. Newman’s office.”
Hindy was surprised, and mentioned it to the voice at the other end of the line. “We block our calls so that we don’t sacrifice anyone’s privacy when we call. No one else needs to know if someone else is being called by a doctor.”
That was classic Dr. Newman. “Why are you calling?” she asked.
“Please hold for Dr. Newman.”
She waited on hold just long enough that she almost forgot who she was waiting for. Suddenly the doctor’s voice came on the phone, and she almost asked, “Who am I speaking to?”
“Mrs. Fishman. Dr. Newman speaking.”
“Yes, Doctor. What can I do for you?” She was called occasionally by professionals to organize dinners and fundraisers and other gatherings, but Dr. Newman had never requested her services. She’d put her visit to him earlier in the day completely out of her mind.
“I’d like to speak with you about your blood work,” he said. “Can you come in this evening?”
“Tonight? What’s the rush?”
“Well,” he said carefully. “There were a few results I’m very concerned about, and I’d like to discuss them in person.”
Hindy knew she’d never last until she got to his office. “Please tell me now,” she requested.
Her voice grew insistent. “Tell me now.”
Dr. Newman cleared his throat, stalling for time so he could decide what to do. “You must come in tomorrow, but what I can tell you now is that you seem to be suffering from liver damage. Your liver looks like it belongs to a mid-stage alcoholic.”
Hindy burst out laughing. “You’re kidding, right? You’ve obviously mixed up my results with some hard-drinking patient of yours.”
Dr. Newman held his ground. “I don’t think I have, but just in case, I want to repeat the tests as well as do an ultrasound on your liver.”
Hindy refused to give in. “Even if those are my results, there still must be a mistake. The only time I drink is Shabbos and Yom Tov, just a little Kiddush wine.”
Dr. Newman wasn’t Jewish but he treated so many frum patients that he’d become familiar with some of the lingo.
“Like I told you, let’s go step by step. The first thing we’ll do is repeat the tests and do the ultrasound. Baby steps. Please, work with me on this. This is not the time to be stubborn.”
“Maybe not, but it is the time to be skeptical.”
“I’ll transfer you back to the receptionist. She’ll set an appointment for tomorrow.”
“Thank you, Doctor.” The hold music came back on, dulling her senses, and then, before the secretary got back on the line and, before Hindy could think about what she was doing, she hung up the phone.
To be continued . . .