MY BROTHER, MY HERO

Usually, words come easy, spilling onto the pages I will publish. Originally, my articles were designed to teach individuals how to be better patients and how to care for themselves. I addressed current medical controversies and treatment protocols, as well as the importance of having a functional medical family. Eight years ago, I started on meds for Parkinson’s and everything changed.  My articles became more personal, giving my readers a front row seat from which they could witness the effects of chronic illness on the lives of those dealing with such devastation. While my original articles were meant to help my patients take better care of themselves, my recent articles should help the families of their chronically ill loved one better understand and care for their charge.

I have become more pessimistic and essentially capitulated to Parkinson’s.  In my role as a doc, I found that the patients that give up (such as myself,) don’t do very well.  In my case, every time I allow a smidgeon of optimism to sneak into my life, I find myself facing new source of pain and suffering.   It’s as if I have a roulette wheel with body parts instead of numbers.  Every morning I spin the wheel.  Whatever body part I land on is the one that will bother me today.

I Facetime with my brother every day and every day I see the benefit of hard work and healthy attitude.  I’ve started to write about my brother multiple times and find that doing him justice is beyond my capability.  Nonetheless, I’ll try.  Alan, in many ways, is my opposite.  He worked out in a gym while I worked out in the refrigerator. When he was faced with a debilitating stroke, he refused to capitulate, fighting to get the use of his leg and arm back.  I replayed images of my grandfather and father’s Parkinson’s, buried my head in the sand, and refused to admit that my foe was attacking or that there was something I could do to slow the disease process.  The list goes on.

I’ve always looked up to my older brother, but never really told him how I felt.  There wasn’t anything he couldn’t do.  As a rule, what disability you have at the end of the first post stroke year is what you are left with.  Not my brother! He continues to gain function by battling through physical therapy and refusing to give in to his losses.  He works at lifting my spirits while I write depressing articles and slide further into my disability.  I must embarrass him.

I failed to mention him or Martha, my other sister from another mother, in my last article.  Writing at 3 am is probably not a good idea. They are coming to see me at great personal peril.  Their major risk is that I take the wind out of his sail with my attitude. Traveling by car from Tennessee is not going to be easy. Not having your own chair, bed, and bathroom poses new problems. Our recent trip to Disney reminded me how difficult life can be when away from your usual abode.  Like Renee, Martha has become responsible for everything!  The packing and trip preparations Alan and I used to do have now fallen on our wives. They have become superwomen caregivers.  Frankly, I’m wearing Renee out.

I love my brother and sister.  Unfortunately, we lived our lives miles apart and never traveled together or spent much social time together.  Those who read my blog know I advise against playing the “would’a, could’a, should’a game”; but waiting until you are ill to see each other is insane.

It’s a pity that there are no do overs.  If you could play the “would’a, could’a, should’a game,” I would follow my own advice, spend more time with family, stress less, eat better, and exercise.  Oh, well.

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