#2: +5 = 5K

MedalThe doctor said walk, walk and walk some more. It reduces stress, waistlines, and LDL. So today,  just five months after my recent heart problems, I ran — well, walked — in the Jerusalem Marathon. Well, maybe just 5 km, but with the walk to and from the Knesset, it was almost 13 km (8 mi). And I received a medal, just like the one Diane always asks me about (“So you want a medal?”)

A lot of credit goes to Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who is keeping his promise to bring young people back to the city. Besides the vibrant growing Jerusalem startup scene, including our own Curiyo, there are more and more parks, concerts, the new Cinema City, and great cultural activities.

19 HaRav BerlinThe weather was ideal and the walk back and forth was as refreshing as the official route. It was nostalgic walking through varied Jerusalem neighborhoods. I walked past the apartment that I shared with three other Hebrew University 1-year students at 19 Rav Berlin Street. It was here that we heard the sirens go off on Yom Kippur 1973. Many memories from junior year.

Monastery of the crossThe way there was through the Valley of the Cross, named for the Monastery of the Cross built there in the 11th Century. According to legend, it is the site of the tree used to make Christianity’s most famous cross. Two centuries ago, it was the only building in the area, in the countryside near Jerusalem. In 1948, it was a grass airplane landing strip, the only way in or out of besieged Jewish Jerusalem. Today thousands of cars drive by every day, hardly noticing the amazing monastery standing there. BTW the man walking the dog in the picture is my friend Shmuel Browns. We worked together twenty years ago; in fact, he was the first guy to drag me over to see a new program called Mosaic (the first browser) on a NeXT computer.

Monastery doorI have walked around that entire building on foot, and until today never found a door. Realize that during medieval times, too many doors or windows could be hazardous to your health. Well, today, I found it. It’s about 4 feet tall, hidden on the side. I loved the sign beside it, which says in handwritten letters: “Holy Cross Monastery, Entrance Ticket 15 NIS, Holy Place, Coffee, Soft Drinks”, and diagrams indicating no dogs or short pants.

The starting line of the Marathon was crowded (27,000) and energized. Loud music playing. Tons of young people ready to go and anxious to run.

Jerusalem Marathon 2014 starting lineThese four pictures are: (1) observers cheering the runners on the side — the signs say “We’re proud of you” “You can do it”, (2) my friend Sasson, who came to watch his son Barak, (3) three pretty friends walking together and (4) a Hungarian couple sent from their church in Budapest to support Israel.

Group1

Here is a picture of me crossing the finish line — hmmm… I just realized that some of the digits on my sign show two important numbers: 5 and 60. But the picture on the right is much more important. There was a group of maybe twenty or thirty children in wheelchairs being pushed in the Marathon — just inspirational!

Finish line  Wheelchair

The walk home was just as much fun — lots of people on the side of the Yerushalayim streets cheering Kol HaKavod (“way to go!”) I bumped into my good friend Jon Medved, OurCrowd CEO and Curiyo investor and board member (pictured here with granddaughter Hadas). And here’s Rafi, our green-grocer, who made my day by telling me he hasn’t smoked a cigarette in seven days.

Bob with Jon Medved Rafi and BobOne last word for technology — I walked with RunKeeper on my smartphone, and it was interesting to track the routes, calories, distances, and Jerusalem elevations of the walk there, the 5K, and walk back.

IMG_3241 IMG_3242 IMG_3243

IMG_3244 IMG_3245 IMG_3246

Tired, blistered and sore feet, but exhilirated after 16,900 steps, wishing you shabbat shalom שבת שלום, wherever you are!

 

 

#1: Surviving a heart attack

To all of you who sent get-well wishes, thank you from the bottom of my repaired heart!

Upon turning 60 in June, I remember morbidly if briefly wondering to myself whether I was entering the final ⅓, ¼, ⅕ or maybe tenth of my life. Little did I imagine that October 10, 2013, might be my last day.

Logically, most of us conscientiously avoid the thought of what might really happen tomorrow. Without some healthy denial, we’d never make it through the day — or go crazy first. So I’d like to share with you a very personal view of my recent crisis. It’s neither unique nor sad, but one from which I’ve learned to treasure both breathing and loved ones. I’ll leave out the gore and TMI parts, concentrating on what ran through my head and heart.

The Choice

I had come to NY representing Curiyo for a great 3-day Israel to NYC program. We were a 15-startup delegation, meeting with business partners, marketers, and investors, and an event Wednesday evening at the new WTC. Afterward, by Thursday 7:30AM morning, I checked out and ran off to the first two of six meetings before heading to JFK and home to Israel.

But I started feeling strong pains in the middle of my chest.

Now here was the moment of truth. Should I tough it out, get on the plane and deal with it all upon landing home? Or maybe admit the pain and walk into a NY emergency room.
Choice

What would you do?

In a rare smart moment, I took a cab to Beth Israel Medical Center on First Ave. & 16th. The ER doctor did a simple CPK blood test and EKG and said I had suffered a minor heart attack. A catheterization, however, would determine arterial blockage and treatment options: medication, stent, or surgery.

First, call Diane. Cancel my appointments via smartphone email. Cancel the flight via our great travel agent, Mark Feldman and Esther Salomon at Zion Tours (and extend medical insurance!) Our most amazing friend Martha came over to sit with me before the procedure. I gave her my hotel suitcase receipt and a few key passwords. At a moment like this, you find yourself thinking some pretty morbid thoughts and wondering whom you will ever see again. Will my children know how much I loved them?
Dr-H-R

Thursday evening was the “Cath-Lab”. I was treated by the wonderful Dr. Hugo Rosero. When I was awake enough to understand, he said, “Mr. Rosenschein, you must have done something good in your life, because the Lord has given you a second chance to live! It would have been a big mistake to get on that plane. You have 95% blockage in your main arteries and we need to operate on you tomorrow morning.”

Called Diane again: “The good news is that I’m alive! The bad news is that I need surgery in the morning.”

Birthday

They prepped and wheeled me into the operating room by 8AM. The anesthesiologist introduced himself. That’s all I remember.

But poor Diane, besides her sleepless night and long ride to Ben-Gurion, flew 12 hours with no status report. She’s not usually one of those fliers who turns on her cell phone the second the wheels touch down, but made an exception.

DarrylMHMeanwhile, back on the OR, my lifesaving cardiac surgeon Dr. Darryl Hoffman. “harvested” lengths of artery from both arms, opened up my chest, sawed open my sternum, and grafted arterial material to bypass my blocked arteries. Total time = 7.5 hours.

My new 2nd birthday is October 11, 2013, which is my 60th birthday + exactly 128 (2^7) days.

Diane, Martha, Elan, and Adam saw me asleep at my weakest, respirator down my throat, out of it.

I woke up late Friday night in the cardiac ICU. It was very quiet, and I was pretty sure I was alive. I was in pain and couldn’t breathe well, or even make a squeak. The nurses told me I was ok. Fell back asleep.

ICU

Diane arrived and stayed with Martha for the week. She is my strength, and we didn’t even need to talk much. The looks and hands and love were enough. God knows what I looked like!

The first few days after surgery, you may feel thankful to be alive, but they’re also depressing days. You’re really out of it, tubes, wires, and sensors coming out of you in a half-dozen directions. Swollen feet, hands. Pills, blood pressures, blood tests, stomach shots. Beeping monitors. Hard to fill your lungs. Can’t sit, can’t lie there. Everything hurts, because they just did a “reboot” on your body!

But getting the respirator tube out of my throat was cool, as was the very thought I survived, even if not out of the woods yet.

One morning, I asked the nurses if I could sit in a chair, just to move around, thinking I could move back to the bed when I wanted. Hah, what a mistake! They wouldn’t let me, saying it was good to sit for 30-45 minutes. Clears the lungs of fluids. After 45 minutes, they upped it to 2 hours. By the time the doctor did his rounds and said, sure I could go back to bed, it was 2 hours and 34 minutes…

Of course, they were right, and my care was top-notch, warm and pleasant at Beth Israel. I’m just mentioning how you feel when you’re going through it.

Room 28

BalloonsOn Monday, they released me from ICU to the recuperation ward on the 10th floor, to a single room, perfect #28. A whole new set of great professional care, specialized and working 12-hour shifts.

Hospital privacy BTW is an oxymoron; enough said.

I was hallucinating from the painkiller Percocet. In the middle of one night, on an imaginary screen on the wall, I dreamed a killer product. In the morning, I remember thinking, nah. I also changed painkillers and then weaned myself.

Can’t say I was impressed by the 99 channel-TV. First, the political discourse in America has become so shrill over the last decade. Lots of shouting, minimum compromise. Now, living in Israel, you see much polarization, little empathy. But this is America. The other thing is, at least in the middle of the night, it’s half commercials, with those delightful legalisms, “This medicine may help you, if you do not suffer the following 8 side effects…”

Within a few days, I was tubeless and able to put on my own socks and walk around the ward, assisted. And showered (mulțumesc, Drago from Romania)!

Every day I felt stronger, able to breathe, talk and move around better. And I couldn’t get the realization and smile of being alive off my face!

Dr. Hoffman knew how much better I would be released. Thursday morning, they wanted to give me a flu shot and a pneumonia vaccine. I asked if they could do it right before leaving… I didn’t want anything to prevent my release.

At 11:15, one week to the hour after walking in, I left Beth Israel Hospital, grateful and happy. My cousin Rita and Barry drove Diane and me to Harrisburg. I slept most of the way.

Harrisburg

MomVisiting my dear mother, who is 92, has been a delight. Diane and she are sharing the caretaking burden. We have also been doing a lot of resting, walking around the block (the smell of autumn leaves and rain in Pennsylvania), eating heart-healthy, and just gathering our strength.

We had a pleasant surprise Monday night. Our friend Meir was driving from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia and stopped by for dinner and a visit. What the doctor ordered.
Meir-Bob

I’m told my voice and color have improved. I’m breathing much better. I’ve lost 15 pounds (=6.5kg) and Diane 5 (=2kg). Diane calls this the “high-anxiety diet”.

We’ve had a few visitors and many warm wishes from afar.

Conclusion(s)

That you take it all for granted is obvious, normal, but…
DO take a moment to fill your lungs, relishing each breath.
DO slow down, you move too fast.” (Simon & Garfunkel)
DO NOT think this cannot happen to you, whether now or in 10 years. Our health is a hard-to-fathom complex of genetics and environment. Whether stress, diet, sleep or exercise, improve what you can.
DO grasp that your family and loved ones are not the most important thing, they’re your only thing. Tell them you love them, every day, in word and deed.

Tomorrow

So what’s next? Well, we hope to land in Israel Tuesday afternoon, to start to getting back into our lives at home. I know it will be neither immediate nor 100%, but we are ready.

I’m ready to get back to work at Curiyo, too. First, the team, Akiva, Asher, Daniel, Ruthie, Gil, Jay and Liz, have really risen to the occasion, getting everything that needed to be done done. Second, I’m more excited than ever about the publishing platform we are building. With our first big partnership about to launch, we’re in good shape.

Now you might think that this is not the ideal time to raise money, post heart-attack. But I’m encouraged by what two investors told me recently. One said, “Bob, besides your accomplishments, you were broken and now you’re fixed.” The other said it just wouldn’t be smart-investing to bet against me. Thanks, both, I guess it’s not about falling down, but about how you get up.

In short, I’m excited about tomorrow!

Credits

No matter whom I thank, it won’t be enough, and I’ll miss some, but I need to make a few mentions.

To the team and staff of Beth Israel Medical Center, how do you find the words of gratitude to express keeping you alive?

Thank you to Dov & Julia for your visit, to Meir, Akiva, and Avi & Yedida for your calls. And to Tzvi & Adi for those great get-well-Sabba cards and stickers.

Lee, also Amy, thank you for offering to Diane to drop everything and get on the plane with her!

Pamela & Marshall, thank you for offering to open your home to Diane in NY.

Thank you for the balloons (picture above), Amy & Jonathan. And flowers, Cedar Fund (Curiyo investor) and Answers Corp.

Thank you for the visits, Elan, Adam & Shari, Alan & Steven, Nancy, Shiye, Martin, Dinah, Rita & Barry, Eddie & Sherri, Viv & Haim, Freda, Arthur,  Steve & Enid, Bert & Myrna.

And calls: Mom, Stan, Jeff, Lee, Laurel, Lynn, Michael, Amy & Jonathan, Sasson & Tami, Sigi!, Ari, Sara, Rhea, Koby & Dina, Judi & Shmuel, Tsivie, Volvi & Pesi, Leonard & Deanna, Tsivia, Sam, Steve, Cali, Bruce, Faigie & Norm, Donna & Jacob, Martin & Maris, and Serl. And special encouragement: Motti, Mark, Jon, Michael (your post that week, exaggerated though it be, was a kindness I’ll never forget).

Thank you everyone for your cards, e-mails, Facebook messages, and warm thoughts.

Rita & Barry, thank you for taking the time and care to transport us safely to Pennsylvania and cook us several meals and generally take care of us.

Judy, the baskets were enough, the visit was enough, but driving us back to New York next week is over and above.

Martha, we will never forget your taking care of Diane and me that challenging week, opening your home, your schedule and heart, and being there for us.

Mom, you shouldn’t have to nurse your golden-ager son! But you do it with a unique love that we’ll never forget.

Diane, my brown-eyed girl, there are no words! Let’s grow old together, enjoying our families and friends in nachat and good health. You are simply my life.

Diane-Bobby

 

#0: Hello bobr

 

When Dennis Ritchie invented modern software along with Ken Thompson and wrote the immortal “C Programming Language” book with Brian Kernighan, their first pristine example was a program to display two words: “hello world!”

main() {
    printf(“hello world!”);
}

It struck me as a fun start to my blogging experiment, a 5-year mission to explore new worlds and share insights with you about what should be obvious but isn’t.

A word about the name. I am proud of my last name, Rosenschein, but you must admit that it’s tough to spell, unless you live in Vienna (Austria, not Virginia). In high school, 11 letters didn’t quite fit in the SAT forms. Israelis automatically insert a T after the SH sound, and Americans often leave out the S or C.

So, in a simplify-your-life moment, I bought a great four-letter domain: bobr.com. Now I’m @bobr on Twitter, bobr.tumblr.com, and you might guess my email, too. Call me Bob R. or the Yahoo-esque bobr (rhymes with flickr, tumblr, fluttr). Imagine my surprise when I received this email from one Alexey of Moscow. “You may want to be listed on our research site, the largest in Russia devoted to beavers. As you know, the Russian word for beaver is бобр.” [with the O pronounced like the AW in law, the R trilled as in Spanish – listen here] I declined Alexey’s kind offer, but now there are three ways to pronounce my name, probably more.

So hello to you from bobr and welcome to my blog. By all means please tweet, follow or otherwise share me. I look forward to hearing from you!