The Holidays

Every Fall, the “High Holidays” in Judaism is upon us. Since I practice this religion, it is a time spent in synagogue, eating with family and following the traditions of the holiday. One of the most sacred holidays is Yom Kippur. During this holiday, those who are practicing fast for a twenty-four hour period. The reason you fast is to reflect on the sins you performed over the last year. You are not allowed to participate in work, and most of the day is spent praying in the synagogue. When the sun sets on the next day, you are to “break the fast” with a big meal.

There are a few exceptions to the “rule of fasting”

  1. The first exceptions are if you have a medical condition that requires you to eat.
  2. If you take medication or you are not medically fit to fast for a twenty-four hour period.

I do not fast because of my Crohn’s Disease

I take so much medication (nine oral pills and one injection); most of them requiring food to be taken with them. I try to not make a big deal about it, but I do tell people that not only did I fast for 24 hours in the past, but I also fasted for seven months!

When I first came out of my first surgery, the one to remove my whole large intestine, I had a high output. When I speak of output I am talking about the waste that would come out of my stoma and go into the ostomy bag. The doctors tried everything to slow the output. From narcotics to just liquid supplement’s, nothing worked. The hospital staff decided to suspend my diet completely. They put me on TPN, which is Total Parental Nutrition. I was fed through a PICC line in my arm. It was intravenous food. The seven months flew by but I dreamed about food every single day.

Services this year

I did attend services this year for the first time since I was diagnosed with Crohn’s. With help from my fiancé, I was able to go to synagogue to join our families during this holy holiday. I did not tell people I was not fasting, as that can be deemed as rude. They knew I was not fasting, so why tell them again? Since congregants have assigned seats, I was able to talk to a synagogue official to request an end seat. They were able to make accommodations for me so that I would be able to leave the service when needed without disrupting anybody in prayer.

I did bring my snacks to munch on throughout the day. When that happened I walked outside. The day really worked out. I was very happy that I was able to attend a very sacred service. It is all about accommodations and preplanning. As I look into the new year, I wish good health and health advances in our Crohn’s Disease research. Fasting for seven months was very challenging. I don’t wish that on anybody.

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