Wednesday, April 15, 2015
M is for Meshuge
My shy and soft spoken blogging buddy, Stephen T. McCarthy, impressed me by sending a happy Passover greeting in Hebrew. This led to a discussion about Hebrew and Yiddish. Since Yiddish is a fading language that began as a way for Jewish people to communicate throughout Europe, I thought I'd share one word that will not likely be forgotten.
Meshuge means crazy, and every family knows someone who fits this description. My nintey-two-year-old mother-in-law lives in Israel. Though she speaks Russian, Hebrew, and English fluently, she frequently converses with my husband in Yiddish. Every once in a while, the word meshugener will pop up in the conversation, and I'll try to figure out who they're talking about. It's usually a neighbor, a tradesman or a former caregiver. On one of our visits, I came face to face with a meshugener in her apartment.
A psychiatrist made a house call to check her mental status. He came highly recommended, and had met her once on a previous visit. He put her through a series of tests that lasted over two hours. He asked her a multitude of questions, and had her identify several objects. I couldn't believe how long the test lasted, and gave my mother-in-law an exercise ball to help with her leg and back pain.
At the end of the evaluation, the doctor told us that he was concerned. For example, she called her nephew her grandson. I explained that her nephew is a huge help to her, and she thinks of him as a grandson, as her own grandchildren live in another country. The doctor rudely ignored me, and went on to cite his equally inconsequential concerns. At the end of the conversation, my mother-in-law said jokingly, "Did I pass?"
The psychiatrist tried to comfort her by encouraging her to retake the test in six months. Afterward, she said, "So, you think I'm going to be better in six months? I'm ninety."
We couldn't believe what this so-called psychiatrist put her through. Then I said, "If I had to sit in a stiff chair with no back support for over two hours answering questions, and identifying objects, I wouldn't be able to pass either. I don't understand why you thought it was necessary to put an elderly woman through this. The fact that she's joking about it now, means that she's completely aware of what's going on around her."
Needless to say, my husband and cousin were speechless, and I had two strikes against me arguing with a doctor and a religious man. My mother-in-law never saw that meshugener again, and she's even more lucid, and lively at ninety-two.
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Good for you, standing up to him. BTW- I didn't realize that word ended in an "r" either it's silent, or I say it wrong.ReplyDelete
A great read Julie, that's right one has to stand up for themselves once in a while.ReplyDelete
A good "M" word, one I have never heard off but have learned about it through you.
Rhonda - Meshugene is for females, while meshugener is the masculine version. My friend gave me a Yiddish book a few years ago, otherwise I also would've never known the difference. Thanks Rhonda!ReplyDelete
Yvonne - I'm glad you learned a new word. We all have to be advocates for ourselves, and our families. Thanks Yvonne!
That was a set up aimed at failure if you ask me. Good for you standing up to him.ReplyDelete
Sometimes you just have to say "The Emperor has no clothes."ReplyDelete
~Visiting from AtoZ
Thanks for this, Julie. My (new) son in law is Jewish, though definitely not cazy (!) so any inside knowledge is always good to know!ReplyDelete
I think that he came into this meeting with a preconceived diagnosis.ReplyDelete
Your mother-in-law sounds like a real hoot.ReplyDelete
Meshuge...if only I knew how to pronounce that correctly to use it. ;)
Good you argued with the psychiatrist, he deserved it. Putting a 90 year old lady through two hours of questioning is just too much.ReplyDelete
Good for your MiL and for you for speaking up! I've learned a few words from Jewish friends over the years -- my fave is (and I'm spelling this phonetically because I've only ever heard it spoken, not seen it written): "bupkiss"ReplyDelete
Thanks for this!ReplyDelete
You're a real mensch.
I've always loved hearing that word. And that doctor deserved a good shake! Your mother-in-law is priceless.ReplyDelete
That was just nuts. The doctor was the one who was quackers.ReplyDelete
Hi Julie - your family is amazing .. you must hold the mostest, biggest, bestest set of stories ever ...ReplyDelete
My mother when she was being assessed had a test - I was there and was asked various things ... one of which was do you know the name of the Square outside - well she'd been brought over by ambulance after a stroke - so she wouldn't have known much .. and wasn't too lucid after suffering more strokes .. but she said Queen Anne Square ... the New Zealand doc was about to put her right .. when I said - actually she's right that was its name .. it's now called Queen Square ..
If the docs aren't on the ball - what are you meant to do .. if you're not there ... Meshuge is a word I'd never heard of .. fascinating story .. cheers Hilary
Good for her. I can just picture her - totally all oars in the water. And good for you for standing up for her. FunnyReplyDelete
How ridiculous. Some of these people are so full of themselves they don't know what they are doing in fact. To put a 90 yr. old woman through that was just stupid. A definite candidate for meshugener. They tend to assume once you pass a certain age your brain must naturally be compromised. Grrrr. I get so mad about this.ReplyDelete
Feisty! No flies on her!ReplyDelete
Delores - That was my concern from the get- go. Thanks Delores!ReplyDelete
Wendy - You've really hit the nail on the head! Thanks Wendy!
Greenpatches - You'll have to find a way to slip "meshuge" into your next conversation. That will probably catch your son-in-law off guard! Thanks Greenpatches!
Arleen - I think you're onto something!
Chrys - She is an amazing woman. Meshuge is pronounced m'shu-geh.
Rachna - It was like she was on trial for committing a crime. He was relentless.
Debra - You were pretty close. It's bubkes which rhymes with "mop kiss," which means "nonsense" or "baloney." Thanks for teaching me a new word, Debra!
Al - Thanks and a you're a meshugener mensch yourself, Al. Translated for anyone else who's interested, as I know-you know, it means you're a good kind of crazy in my book!
Lee - I've had many bad experiences with doctors, but this one was the phoniest of all. Thanks Lee!
Alex - He really was "quackers!" I should have saved this for "Q!"
Oh I love this word! I may start using it:) You know there is your mom in law who seems sharp as a tac. My mother, who has dementia had a psychiatrist come over (finally), this was after she was on respiradone which is a wonder drug to calm people with dementia down (I could kiss that drug). The psychiatrist was looking at my black lab like it was Cujo. She spent 40 minutes with her and told me she was fine and could go off the medicine. I told her she was nuts and to get out of my house. She had no clue what I and my hubby had been dealing with. When I got the report, there were so many errors in her family history which I told them about that I called and told them to correct it asap. Ughhhh!ReplyDelete
Birgit - Thank goodness you were there to help your mom. That psychiatrist sounds even worse than the doctor who saw my MIL. Taking your mom off that "wonder drug" could have caused all kinds of complications. You're a wonderful daughter, Birgit!Delete
you brought me to tears. I saw her this eve and her emphasema (spelling??) is not good, with the dementia she now needs a wheelchair because she runs out of breath. This is not good.Delete
I'm so sorry, Birgit. Sending lots of good thoughts and prayers to you, and your mom.Delete
Hilary - What a great story! Even after suffering from a stroke, your mum was still sharper than the whole bunch of 'em! Thanks for your kind words, but you've led a much more interesting life than I have.ReplyDelete
Joanne - I like the expression, "all oars in the water!" I'll definitely have to borrow it sometime! Thanks Joanne!
Jo - Fortunately, this story had a happy ending. It is horrible how so many people are either misdiagnosed or prescribed a pill just to keep them happy, and off their backs.
Susan - Nope, "no flies on her!" She still has a lot of living to do! Thanks Susan!
I've heard that term more than a few times. When I lived on the east coast, as a kid, we had several close jewish friends. These friends, like your mother-in-law, spoke several languages but loved to share things in yiddish. My family isn't jewish but it was fun to learn new words and phrases. :-)ReplyDelete
I'd have had some strikes against me too with that doctor! That's way too long a test.
Sia McKye Over Coffee
My mother, who was a dementia patient, was taking one of those evaluation tests and the doctor asked her to draw a clock. She drew a line that was flat then rose into a hump and went flat again. The doctor say she was slipping because she could draw a simple clock face. I pointed out he hadn't asked her to draw the face of a clock, he had asked her to draw a clock, and the shape she had drawn was a very good likeness of the clock on our mantle at home. Perspective is everything.ReplyDelete
Sia - Isn't it amazing how they thought nothing of speaking several different languages? Yiddish was their secret language that helped bond them together, while their kids kept guessing what they were talking about!ReplyDelete
LD - I'm so sorry that your mom suffered from dementia. It's great how you put that doctor in his place. I'd hate to see what my report said if I had to draw anything.
That is a GREAT story!! My grandmother and gr grandmother lived well into their 90s; it's such a blessing.ReplyDelete
Meshuge is one of my favorite words, ha ha.
He sounds like a (excuse the word) schmuck to me. Goes to show you that the evaluators are often more troubled than the ones they insist on diagnosing and treating.ReplyDelete
Your MIL is as feisty as your Mom, Julie. I love it, and Yiddish is the best. Nothing says "oy vey" like "oy vey" - just thought I'd add that.
Cherdo - You have some very impressive genes in your family! I'd like to hear more about your grandma and great grandma. My maternal grandma lived to be 93, and we're so glad that her great grandsons got to know her. Thanks Cherdo!ReplyDelete
Robyn - No need for excuses. You described him perfectly! Darn it, I should've saved this for "S!" I agree that nothing takes the place of a good "oy vey!" Thanks Robyn!
GEM JULIE ~ReplyDelete
Very late getting here because today was 'Battle Of The Bands' and I had lots of extra visiting and commenting to do. Imagine my surprise to find the first sentence of your blog bit was this:
>>... My shy and soft spoken blogging buddy, Stephen T. McCarthy, impressed me by sending a happy Passover greeting in Hebrew.
Ha! Yep, that's me alright: shy and soft-spoken. Getting me to voice an opinion on anything is like pulling teeth, eh?
"So, you think I'm going to be better in six months? I'm ninety." ...That made me GOL (Guffaw-Out-Loud).
"My mother-in-law never saw that meshugener again, and she's even more lucid, and lively at ninety-two." ...Meanwhile, he's probably weaving baskets in some Home For The Meshugener. (Oops! Two strikes against me now, also.)
So, now I know a total of two Yiddish words - both beginning with "M". This one and "Mensch".
Oh, incidentally, GJ, I moved into this place a full month ago. It was just yesterday that I finally found my copy of 'OLD BROADS WAXING POETIC'. Now if I can just find my toothbrush...
'Loyal American Underground'
Stephen - The funny thing is that I wrote this a week ago, and just a few minutes before I hit "publish" last night, I decided to see what you were up to. Well, you can imagine my surprise when I saw my name on your blog! It's true what they say about, "great minds!" I like your idea of where the psychiatrist ended up. I can't believe that you've already been living in Reno for a month. I'm glad you found our book, and after you find your toothbrush, much happiness will follow! Thanks Stevereno! I'm still working on your nickname.ReplyDelete
Ha! Yep, we wuz thinkin' 'bout each other. But, hey, I even posted a picture of you on my blog. Me, I got shortchanged over here.Delete
Kidding, of course. I was really surprised to find I could copy a comment from one of my comment sections, post it in a new blog bit and the avatar/picture of the commenter would go with it. Pretty cool!
See ya in the funny papers!
(I run across that expression so often in old movies. Still don't know what it really means. Maybe it's a Yiddish expression and you can 'splain it to me, Lucy. :-)
This doctor was clearly a total jackass. Glad you stood up to him. I had to laugh at your mother in law saying did he think she'd be better in 6 months when she's 90 LOL.ReplyDelete
I had never heard of this word but now I want to use it. Love it!
A two hour test!--Yikes, I don't think I would have done well on it either. Hurray for you for standing up to him.ReplyDelete
the shrink was trying to justify his existence.....good for you to stick up for your mother-in-law.ReplyDelete