By halacha – Jewish law – Jews are required to rest on Shabbat. Strictly speaking, this means ceasing from all creative work. The hardest thing for many Americans to understand is that halachic “rest” is quite different from how Americans define “rest.” But I’m not going to go into a long treatise about the differences.
Instead, I’m just wondering whether “being unconscious” can be defined, halachically, as “rest.”
You see, I sort of missed most of Shabbat this week.
Yesterday was a big day for my body. It was my first real physical therapy workout to stretch and strengthen my neck after my auto accident. At that appointment, I found out the doctor wants me to have an MRI scan of my shoulder because she suspects I have a torn rotator cuff muscle. An attempt to pull just ten pounds on an upper back strengthening machine confirmed a problem. She’s now the third doctor to think that.
I later saw a massage therapist to whom I’d been referred, who specializes in myofascial release. She noticed the swelling in my shoulder and touched it lightly, causing me to gasp in pain. (She decided to leave it alone.) Then I saw my chiropractor, who observed that my back and neck are indeed improving (albeit slowly), but my shoulder remains problematic – inflamed, sore, and with a significantly reduced range of motion.
At 3:30pm, I took an short nap before we welcomed Shabbat. Lighting the Shabbat candles caused searing pain in my shoulder. All I wanted to do was lie down, but parental obligations and the pain in my shoulder kept me awake.
Finally, I couldn’t take it anymore and took a Percocet for the pain. The next thing I knew, Shabbat was nearly over. I woke, bleary and confused, at approximately 3pm today. Completely missed shul. It’s now 9:30pm, Shabbat has been over for about four hours, and I’m finally “waking up,” though I feel like I could sleep another twelve hours.
I suppose I could say it was a restful Shabbat. Other than whatever healing my body did while I slept, I certainly didn’t engage in any creative work. I’m sorry that I missed shul, but I’m not too worried about the halachic standing of my activities – or lack thereof. At this point, I’m just trying to get better.
It’s a little frustrating that my entire life now revolves around my neck/back/shoulder and healing from an accident in which there was nothing I could do but brace myself and deal with the aftermath. Okay, it’s a lot frustrating. One person’s stupid decision – to blithely speed along an unplowed residential street after receiving several inches of wet, heavy snow – has resulted in thousands of dollars of damage and months of recouperation. And now a second MRI, with talk of possible shoulder surgery.
I am not happy. I do not want surgery. I also do not want to spend my days feeling “out of it” because of pain meds.
I have a book to finish, and typing does, to some extent, involve my shoulder, though I’ve been able to adapt for short periods of time.
Thank G-d, there were no further injuries. Thank G-d we all lived through the accident. Thank G-d it wasn’t worse than it is.
And I’m still frustrated. And in pain. And all I want to do right now is lie down and rest.
May this next week be better for us all.