May 20, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Elizabeth-Hillside Community Rises To the Aid of Rachel Fleisher and Her Family

The Fleisher family, from left: Ruthie, Rachel, Yosef Chaim and Daniel.

Once in a while we are privileged to experience a miracle that we clearly recognize as a miracle. Rachel Fleisher is someone who appreciates the miracles she experiences every day.

In February 2020, she had a stroke, and initially the medical team was unsure what they were dealing with, and had no projected outcome. Needless to say, it was a scary time for the Fleishers, taking each day, and sometimes each minute, as they came. They heard things like, “This surgery has X% chance of working.”

Fleisher noted, “I was one of the lucky ones in terms of recovery and function, but I still have a long way to go. I exercise daily and work on my other skills, too. Persistence and perseverance for stroke survivors is key. Strokes don’t take a day off, and neither can stroke survivors.

“According to one neurologist who looked at my scans, I shouldn’t be walking, talking or standing. I should be a vegetable. So I’m a miracle. And every waking moment is a miracle.”

Fleisher continued. “The community of Hillside-Elizabeth and my WhatsApp group of 125 people have gone above and beyond to help us in our time of need. My husband Daniel and I couldn’t be more grateful to them for being there with a kind word, a helping hand, and of course, the Jewish love language of food and a shoulder to lean on when we felt like we couldn’t go on.

Rachel Fleisher focuses on muscles of the neck.

“If I was awake in the middle of the night, someone was there. If I needed someone to scream with me because something awful happened, I had my cheering squad. And when I walked a mile at Mayo Clinic in Minnesota; my entire WhatsApp sent individual messages. My Torah mates kept me spiritually invigorated and made sure that I kept Hashem in the picture and that my faith didn’t waiver, even when I wanted to give it up. They were there for me every week, and some weeks, every day.”

Not the experience of a typical 30-something person, but not the typical community either. This high level of chesed is part and parcel of the Elizabeth-Hillside community.

Meanwhile, Fleisher seems to have beaten the odds in terms of recovery and function. Born with hydrocephalus and also suffering from gastroparesis, she said that “the Mayo Clinic taught me how to eat again due to the gastroparesis, dealt with the recurring brain bleeds and with me not walking due to the hydrocephalus. I am still left with huge deficits.”

Fleisher had spent several years as a massage therapist prior to the stroke in 2020. However, during her post-stroke months, wheelchair-bound and in rehabilitation, she decided to use the opportunity to attain additional training and education. She is now licensed as a medical massage practitioner. It means that she can accept a prescription from a physician, treat people with any illness and work collaboratively with a patient’s medical team.

“Collaborating with my patients’ doctors and therapists is important so they can get the best care,” she said.

The main focus of her practice is pain management and trauma. “I treat everything from migraines, sciatica and back pain to hip pain, pelvic-floor issues and more,” Fleisher said. “If you have it, I have treated it. I treat all types of trauma, but I don’t treat it the same way as a psychotherapist. My modalities are different, because people of all ages have pain and trauma.”

Rachel Fleisher

She describes her practice as holistic, as she addresses both medical and mental health conditions. For example, if someone comes in for treatment of back pain, but the culprit might be a foot issue, Fleisher refers them to a specialist, following up a couple of days later to see if they followed through on the referral—and all very much line with the philosophy of chesed and community service that surrounds her and her family in Hillside-Elizabeth.

Rachel Fleisher, BS, LMT, MMP, is a medical massage therapist with a practice in Hillside whose focus is on pain management and trauma. She can be reached at 201-783-3414 or on her website at www.theratouchnj.com


Ellie Wolf is a Jewish Link staff writer who covers a spectrum of community events, business spotlights, and a broad base of health topics. She is also a biofeedback specialist, serving clients in two local psychology practices and specializing in pain management, anxiety, insomnia and a spectrum of health issues. She can be reached at [email protected]

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