I’ve been thinking about medication and clean water and the war.

Yuval Idan
5 min readMar 25, 2024

I’ve been thinking about medication. I’ve been thinking about medication and food and water and the sun and the war.

A few weeks ago when two Israeli hostages (60 year old Fernando Marman and 70 year old Louis Har) were rescued from Gaza, it was briefly mentioned in the news that they never got the medications that were transferred to the Red Cross for them as a part of a Qatar-brokered agreement. It was a tiny footnote in this story and in this war but it stuck with me.

I think about it every morning. I’ve taken my medication 171 times since the war started. I wake up and take it while still in my warm bed, with a sip of clean water. The water straight out of my tap is perfectly safe and clean, but I still use a Brita filter, just because. I took my pill 171 times, got it renewed 6 times since the war started. I got my dosage adjusted after a quick Telehealth appointment with my doctor, 2 months into the war. I go to the pharmacy across the street to get it filled, or they can deliver it to my door.

I wonder how quickly the people in Gaza ran out of their medications. The hostages had none, Gazans maybe had a bit left. No one has more than 30 days worth of their prescription medication on hand, do they? 30 days in the best case scenario. It has been 171 days. I wonder how fast they ran out of clear water. What ran out first, the pills, or the water to take them with? Did they try rationing what they had, splitting pills in halves or quarters, or did they think it will be okay, this couldn’t possibly go on for longer than 30 days? It will be okay, I’ll get some more in a couple of week?

I’ve gotten my period 6 times since the war started. The pharmacy across the street has pads and tampons and anything you could want, all brands and types. I get annoyed that tampons are so expensive. I think about clean water again. Clean water that I can run for hours if I feel like it, hot or cold or perfectly lukewarm. When cramps are bad I take a hot shower, water almost boiling, to calm the sore muscles. If that’s not enough I take a Tylenol or two. I try to limit how much of it I take, I think it can damage your liver or something like that. But I still take it sometimes, like if I don’t sleep well and get a headache. Do they ever sleep well?

Do the women and girls in Gaza, the hostages and the Gazans, do they still even get their periods? Some of them probably don’t anymore. That can happen when you’re starving. How do they manage if they do still get it? How do they manage without clean water? Do they cut scraps of fabric to use instead of pads? Do they rub each other’s back and shoulders when they’re hurting? Is cleaning yourself with contaminated water better than just not cleaning at all? Does it hurt less when you’ve been experiencing so much worse suffering and pain for months? Can you ever get used to any of it?

Do they still even get their periods? I try to push this question out of my mind. Do they still get it when they’ve been starving and dehydrated for months. What if they’re pregnant? What if they’re pregnant. What if they’re 5 months pregnant.

I’ve had a checkup and bloodwork since the war started. Everything was normal. I got an xray on a sore shoulder, and since I started writing this I even got an MRI. It was pleasant, I think I fell asleep a little. When the war started it was fall, I got my flu shot. It’s spring now, I just started taking my allergy medication again. Pollen is brutal this time around, I take two different types of allergy medicine.

I got my teeth cleaned since the war started. They even gave me laughing gas because I get so nervous about the dentist. If you had to choose, would you brush your teeth with contaminated water, or without water at all? If you ran out of toothpaste, would you try brushing just with a dry toothbrush? If your teeth started to weaken and break from malnutrition, would it still be worth it to brush them? Do their teeth hurt? If the war ended this very moment, would their teeth and bones forever carry the proof of the hunger, the fear, the darkness?

So I’ve taken my pills 171 times since the war started. I’ve brushed my teeth, with clean water, 342 times, maybe a little more. I’ve gone to the grocery store dozens of times, and was upset when they were out of shelled edamame. I’ve talked to at least 4 different doctors about not urgent things, bought Tylenol and tampons and bandaids and alcohol wipes and hand soap that’s “rainwater” scented. I got a calming spray for my cats and at least 200 cans of cat food. I started using my humidifier for winter and just this past week put it away again. I’ve had hundreds of work meetings, asked people how their weekend was and how their day is going a few hundred more. I’ve washed my hands and my face and my dishes and my floor with clean, fresh water. I’ve had maybe 200 cups of coffee.

Soon it will be 6 months. I’ll continue taking my little pills and refilling my water bottle and buying my groceries and going to my appointments. And every time I’ll think what it must be like over there, even though I can’t really comprehend it. I’ll think what if it was my dad, my brother, my sister. I’ll try to push that out of my mind. I’ll think how could this even be real. How did we let it get this far. How much further are we going to let it get.



Yuval Idan

Software Engineer. I often can’t help myself from bringing things up.