Getting the Wind Knocked Out of Me

When I was 13, I was kicked in the solar plexus. It was during a karate class in 7th grade and the girl I was sparring with delivered the roundhouse kick a bit stronger and faster than we were supposed to. It knocked me down and I gasped for breath, feeling like I had been shot. The sensei came over to me and reprimanded my partner while explaining to me that I had “gotten the wind knocked out of me.”

And he was right. Quite literally, in fact. I couldn’t breathe.

But he also told me just to breathe, lift up my hands and take huge gulps of air, even though it was difficult. I did what he said and soon enough, the pain went away, I was breathing normally, and could continue with the class. No bruise. No residual effects. No broken ribs. I stepped back in the ring and continued to spar.

I just had a similar experience.

Hearing that your son has a brain tumor knocks the wind out of you in a completely different way. I didn’t fall to the floor and clutch at my chest. I wasn’t gasping for air. But I felt that sharp stab of pain, that helpless “I think I might die” feeling as real as if I had been punched in the chest. Suddenly I was reeling, and the more they repeated the findings, the further away from reality I felt myself.

It could not be true. There’s no way. Not now. Not him. I just spent a whole year telling my son that there was no way he could catch cancer. That what happened to me would never happen to him. And there I was, in the ER on a Friday, getting called out as a liar. Because the boy who should never have gotten a tumor, suddenly had one.

I was hit again and again that evening. Watching him in an MRI machine, watching him get a CAT scan, getting an EEG, getting gifts from well-intentioned nurses and friends. Each blow knocked me down, knocked me to the floor like that roundhouse kick in 7th grade, knocked me into a reality I was not prepared to face.

My sensei was right, though. I had to breathe. So I concentrated on that. Just inhaling deeply, lifting my arms up over my head, and breathing through everything that happened that weekend. Breathing through the blows as they came again and again. It was like childbirth. All I had to do was get over that jolt. Get my wind back. Breathe deeply and fully so I could stand.

We were guided by top neurologists and neurosurgeons. We surrounded ourselves with professionals. I read medical journals written in a language that was clearly english but with vocabulary so over my head that, like a child, I just looked at the pictures. I compared them to my son’s MRI images, trying to get some idea of what we were in for. We were enveloped by friends and family and told over and over again to just breathe. Just take steps. Stop thinking about worst case scenarios. Trust the doctors. Trust the surgeons. Trust in God.

And while we were getting the wind knocked out of us, we discovered we weren’t alone. Thousands of people joined us to pray for our son. To do good deeds. To respond to this terrible blow by creating more light in the world. While we sat in that Pediatric Surgical Waiting Room we read post after post from strangers and friends alike. Posts that reminded us to breathe and take big gulps of air. Posts that told us that as worried as we were, as terrifying as the situation was, we would be okay. My son would be okay.

Every step was difficult. Every “what-if” debilitating. But he made it through. He opened his eyes after that grueling 8 hour surgery and asked for a cup of water. He even cracked a joke that night in the ICU. As we crossed each hurdle we shared it with the people who carried us through. “He woke up!” “He spoke!” “He ate food!” Each tiny step was another deep breath that lessened the pain and the worry. It allowed us to stand up again. Get our wind back.

I was asked how I could deal with this so soon after my own health issues last year. I guess I learned how back in 7th grade. When you get kicked in the chest, when the wind gets knocked out of you, you just breathe.

And then you step back into the ring.

Photo on 12-2-14 at 8.42 PM #2





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44 replies

  1. You ROCK Adina! And how you find the strength to put this all into words while this is going on amazes me.

  2. Adina, you were always the one in our class with the best sense of humor. I admired you then, and even more so now. I love how you can take this breathtakingly horrific moment of your life, and manage to put “pen” to words, expressing your thoughts,feelings, your pain, for all to read. I hate that you and your family have to suffer in such a manner, but I appreciate greatly your sharing it with us so that we can try to help, if only by prayer and words of support.
    To echo Yitz, Adina, you definitely ROCK!
    May your family only know from smachot and brachot from now on.

  3. this made me cry
    love you

  4. Unbelievably candid, honest, and heart wrenching.
    Wishing you all the best!

  5. You always have been and always will be one of my heroes.
    Your strength is an inspiration!
    Love you!

    • Totally not a hero. I’m a huge loser. And besides, you were the one who taught me how to face these challenges. If anything, I’m just a hack. 🙂
      Love you too, Deena.

  6. All I can say Adina – is I love you and pray that all the crap you and your family has gone through in the last 2 years is over. From now on, you should only experience the wonderful things in life you deserve.

  7. Once again you leave me speechless.
    You are such a powerful force of positive energy. I checked out your other posts as well. Your writing is amazing, poignant coupled with a beautiful and perfectly toned sense of sarcasm. I have witnessed your chessed first hand and can attest to the altruism of your deeds. A true eishes chayil and amazing mother. An inspiration to all of us- the legion of well-wishers praying on behalf of Binny.

  8. Wow, Adina, so poignantly said. Could really feel every step of the way with you! Thanks for sharing. Looking forward to more good news for Binny. Love you!!

  9. Adina, you are one of the rare people who can inspire others while dealing with tremendous adversity. Thank you for your words and although I may not have the words to comfort you, know your family are in our thoughts and our prayers.

  10. You are an inspiration in every way! Praying for your son & keeping you all in my thoughts & prayers. Keep breathing!!

  11. Adina- Thank you for sharing. Your extended WYHS family loves you and is inspired by your strength.

  12. Beautiful. Davening for binny’s refuah shleimah. May Hashem hear our prayers. Your strength is an inspiration.

  13. im Noah Ohayon, Julian Ohayon brother, as I read this sad article I was saying to my self ” this can’t happen, my brother always told me mrs. Ciment is a great person and for something so sad like this to happen is not deserved.” I am so sorry to hear this and I am glad you are one strong lady. May Hashem continue to give you all the strength you need and every thing ב״ה will be fine. I will always pray for your son that this incident will never happen again.

  14. You are one strong mama! Your family will be in my thoughts.

  15. Hi Ciment family,
    We were all praying for that blessed boy of yours for the best possible outcome & that is precisely what was delivered.
    A new bright door has opened & renewed prayers-this time in fervent & joyous thanks to God for delivering this outcome.

    With love & thanks,

    Arnie & Arlene

  16. Is there anything that you guys need now?

  17. Beautifully written, you are a true inspiration! May you only have beautiful, happy things to write about in the future!


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