Never discount the power of the human spirit. Through strife, setbacks or challenges it is always there, present, ready to rise to the challenge. You need only invoke the power through faith and fortitude.
We all possess this strength, but sometimes in the midst of struggle we forget, and it lies dormant, waiting to rise and conquer. What human beings can accomplish and withstand sometimes defies explanation.
Yet in our darkest hour there is always light. The journey into that light creates an amazing story.
Everyone has a story.
I am Mark Brodinsky and this is The Sunday Series.
The Sunday Series (151): Hope From Henita
“If I can give one piece of information to help you help yourself, then I’ve done my job. I’m paying it forward.” – Henita R. Schiff
Forward is the only direction Henita Schiff knows how to go, after all she’s suffered enough setbacks to last a lifetime for any one person, maybe enough for many.
But life for Henita was much more than the issues which tried to keep her down. It was also about wonder and earthly magic.
“When I was 12-years-old my parents took us on a trip to see the world,” says Henita. “The biggest thing was to teach us to be accepting of other people. We visited England, France, Italy and then ended up in Israel. I can just tell you when I opened the window in the hotel and I saw Jerusalem, I said to my mom, ‘I’m going to live here.’ I didn’t know what it meant at the time, but I had to come back. I knew I had to go back.”
Eventually upon graduating high school Henita made good on her promise to go back and live in what is known as the land of milk and honey. Israel called, Henita listened and a love affair with the land of her heritage began.
But even taking up residence in the land she loved couldn’t keep her health issues at bay, problems which had dogged her since childhood.
Henita says it all began with some of her earliest memories as a child. “I remember being 4-or-5 years old at the time and being in the hospital, not really understanding what was going on with me. I remember getting lots of shots in my legs to the point I could barely walk. Though I was well taken care of by my nurses, I was scared.”
The problem was with Henita’s kidneys. From the time she was a young child she had issues and not long after she got to Israel, the health problem which had plagued her most of her life, reared its ugly head. After multitudes of testing and biopsies the doctors diagnosed the issue as glomerulonephritis, a group of diseases that injure the part of the kidney that filters blood. If the illness continues, the kidneys may stop working completely, resulting in kidney failure.
The doctors in Israel gave Henita her diagnosis and a warning – don’t have children, don’t get pregnant. The doctors didn’t feel her body could handle the stress. Warning understood, then ignored.
Not long after her latest health scare, Hentia got married in Israel. Three years later she and her husband learned she was pregnant. The doctors who advised against it, were none too happy, letting her know that if her kidneys shut down they would have to make a decision – her life or the baby’s – and they had decided they would save Henita.
Halfway through the pregnancy what the doctors feared came to fruition. One of Henita’s kidneys shut down and she had to have infusions every few days and go on bedrest. By the 9th month she was rushed to the hospital. With both kidneys failing, the doctors induced labor. Fortunately for Henita, her son was born healthy, and she was going to live, but the struggle was far from over.
They say health is wealth. Refusing to allow her health issues be her downfall, or rob her of the riches of life, Henita pressed on. She remained in Israel for four more years, raising her son while her husband served in the Israeli army.
But by the time she was in her mid-twenties the doctors told Henita she could no longer wait, she needed to go home to the U.S. and get on dialysis.
Her health failing, her marriage on the rocks, it was Henita’s mom who eventually came to her rescue. Her mother had gone through testing and it turned out she was a match for her daughter for a kidney transplant. The surgery was a huge success, but the years of health problems had taken their toll on Henita’s marriage. By 1996 Henita and her husband called it quits.
They say God never gives you more than you can handle, yet he can sometimes be prolific at testing your mettle. A few years after her first marriage ended, Henita wed again and it wouldn’t be long before her body decided to collapse once more. First her kidney transplant suddenly failed and then in 2005, a series of strokes, four small ones and one big one, left Henita with blurred vision, and the challenge of learning to read and write again. Life had Henita in a tailspin.
Back on dialysis and with a mind fighting to grasp the most basic concepts of life – Henita fought back once again. Transported by her mother and her mother-in-law to sessions where she would learn to read and write again – Henita, still a few years shy of her 50th birthday – found the inner strength to persevere. She not only learned the basic skills again, but she battled all the way back to gain her independence – in the form of her driver’s license – and the ability to take control of her life. Though the health issues played a part in her second marriage ending in divorce in 2006, Henita had done what she could, proving to herself and everyone else she could come all the way back…again.
By 2007 Henita was back to work in the financial services industry, but wanted to give back in a different manner and so decided to start her own business as a benefits advisor for Medicare. It’s a niche and a way to give back that Henita says speaks to her soul.
“I love what I do,” says Henita. “I love to teach and people appreciate the knowledge. I have realized how much I love empowering people. I believe people should never stop learning, nor should I. Empowering yourself with knowledge is the best thing anyone can do for themselves.”
“I was never angry about my health issues, just decided to fix it and do what I needed to do. My biggest thing was to always protect my son who unfortunately grew up with a not-so-well mommy. But it worked out, because he’s an awesome guy and my daughter in law and grandchildren are equally as awesome.”
Henita says her challenges in life have taught her so much. “I think the lesson I’ve learned is never give up,” she says. “Always challenge what is being told, or said to you. After my big stroke they said I would never be able to work again, or drive. I just said NO, this is not going to be my life.”
Henita’s message for others is simple: “We need to cherish the moments. Learn from the mistakes, don’t waste the energy on trying to change things you cannot change. Surround yourself with positive people and know that life is your personal journey and you’re the one in control of what you do, what you say and how you let everything that comes into your life affect you. I also think it’s about no judgement in life. You have no idea what someone is going through. But when it comes to our happiness, we are in charge of so much of it. How we feel, how we take things in, how we decide, react, every little thing is up to us. Believe in the power of prayer. I pray someone will read this and be given a little light, a little encouragement, a little hope.”
Until next time thanks for taking the time,
(If you want to contact Henita you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org)
Author: The Sunday Series. Real Stories of Courage, Hope & Inspiration, Volume I (https://www.amazon.com/Sunday-Mark-Brodinsky-Stories-Inspiration-ebook/dp/B0722MJL55/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1494160949&sr=8-2&keywords=the+sunday+series)
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