Haleh Rabizadeh Resnick
by Lynn Buckstein
She’s a lawyer by profession, the president of PTA, a school board and synagogue committee member, an AIPAC activist, a published author and, drum roll please… a mother of five. While those of you in the orthodox community are thinking “big deal”, some of us mere mortals consider one, two or three children a handful. To those of you who thought “big deal”, know this: one of her children was born with multiple allergies (to just about everything) while another was diagnosed with severe hearing impairment. Last year, her water heater exploded and flooded her basement, her car expired, she broke her nose (twice) and her four-year-old lost his front tooth falling off a “magic flying carpet” (some playdates just turn out better than others). Haleh Resnick is my good friend and role model, because nothing seems to get her down. Whatever the crisis, she just shrugs it off with a laugh. I tell her it’s her own darn fault since everyone knows G-d only gives you what you can handle, and she just keeps on handling.
But Haleh does more than that. Haleh challenged traditional medicine as she sought to understand, control and minimize Ethan’s many allergies. Alternative approaches helped Haleh transform him from a rash covered, itchy, sleepless and irritated kid into a little superhero that believes he can do anything. Haleh decided early on that she wasn’t going to let Ethan’s allergies define or limit him. In fact, she used his allergies as a tool to boost his confidence and create a positive rather than a fearful worldview.
Experts told Haleh that her fifth child Alex needed hearing aides at three months. Even after multiple tests confirmed their diagnosis, Haleh just didn’t buy it. While she knew any mother would wish it all away, deep down, Haleh believed the test results were off. Eventually a friend with hearing aids and yet another “expert” explained that premature hearing aides would do more damage, a lot more damage, than good. While it’s still too early to tell exactly what and how much Alex is hearing, he’s been functioning as a “normal” kid in a busy household for three fun loving years.
Haleh has written Little Patient, Big Doctor
to help improve relations between doctor and patient. Haleh didn’t always receive sufficient information, open mindedness or respect from the medical profession, but she persevered. While she maintains respect for traditional medicine, she has learned a whole lot more along the way that she would like to share with parents in similar situations. In addition to various alternative paths such as Reike and Qigong, Haleh believes that mutually respectful relationships between doctor and patient are an important part of the healing process. Not to mention a little attitude. Who couldn’t use some of that?Questions for Haleh Resnick:MI: Who are your heroes/role models?
HR: My mom and other mothers like her who had lots of kids, and were active both in the community as well as in their kids’ lives. MI: How do you balance home/life?
HR: I put myself last, which means I don’t really balance it. I’m always looking for hints from other mothers on ways to do things faster and better.MI: What do you do to relax?
HR: Who relaxes?MI: What advice would you give women facing similar situations?
HR: You have to be tenacious, ask questions and don’t let anyone intimidate you. Go with your gut. Visualize a positive future for your child –you need a goal to aspire to. MI: What is your motto?
HR: G-d provides, it will all work out.MI: What lesson do you most want to teach your kids?
HR: Make a difference.MI: What role did faith play in your path?
HR: A convert I know once commented on how Jewish it is to always ask questions and challenge the status quo –I hadn’t thought of it like that. Also, the whole “G- d will help me, there must be a reason…” business really helped. “G-d must have cursed me, I must have done something to deserve this…” didn’t.MI: Who/what helped you through it all?
HR: From a very practical level, it was my mom –both her knowledge and her physical presence were key. My questioning and perseverance were also crucial, and it’s so much easier not to do either.MI: Share a proud mom moment:
HR: I had made sock puppets for Ethan to wear on his hands to prevent him from scratching himself at night. A year or so after he stopped wearing them, he found one and asked me to play with it like we used to. I think that was the first time I realized how well I had masked my fear and that he didn’t view his childhood as painful or deprived. MI: What’s one lesson you learned from your experience?
HR: To trust myself and my instincts. I never really believed in a mother’s instinct before, that’s changed. You have to believe in yourself if you’re going to be your kid’s best advocate.
While more and more kids seem to have allergies and other ailments, doctors seem to have less and less time to spare. Go to littlepatientbigdoctor.com to learn how to best maximize your relationship and time with your doctor, in addition to a whole bunch of other useful tips. Look for Little Patient, Big Doctor, it’s a fun and informative read. What can you teach Metroimmas about dealing with doctors and advocating for your kids?
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