Reality and Reflection in Day by Day

  • April 5, 2017, 8:01 p.m.
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  • Public

Thanks to all who’ve asked about my younger brother. I hadn’t called in a few days because I know they’re swamped with calls from well-wishers and you can’t get mad because they’re showing love and concern but my brother and his wife need some quiet. I finally called this afternoon and talked first to my SIL about my concerns:

  1. The doctors have had 9 months and still no diagnosis. They didn’t even pick up on the Graves Disease until three weeks ago and that’s detectable through blood tests and they seem to take blood on an hourly basis. I’m also bothered by the fact that they turn to my very organized and intelligent SIL for answers on his tests (she keeps a color-coded 3 ring binder on all his procedures and outcomes). While SIL is very good and has the details, SHE is NOT the medical staff. They never seem to check his chart. Also, I’m not convinced they’re treating him as a team. SIL promised to ask the pulmonary specialist on Friday (their appointment) if they are conference calling.

  2. I’d like a second opinion at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville. SIL wants Rochester because she has family there. Doctor doesn’t want my brother traveling because his st-risk auto-immune system might be compromised. Step-Mom has offered to transport my brother by ambulance to JAX. I reminded my SIL of that and said we could mask him, too. SIL says because of his blood thinners, nobody can do anything anyway, so all they could do is look at his charts. Oookay. Then let’s send his charts up for review. She wants to stick with the plan: 3 weeks of blood thinners (more clots are his greatest danger right now), take him off and do a thyroid biopsy, and put him back on blood thinners again.

  3. He isn’t gaining ground. My brother is convinced he got worse because of the hospital. SIL thinks there’s small improvement (he uses the walker only when he feels unstable), he’s a bit more active but he’s not walking enough. He doesn’t want to walk because he’s in pain, then he takes a pain pill but doesn’t want to walk because he’s afraid the pain will return. My brother told me he has made no progress.

I’d just feel better with a second opinion, but I am not the one in charge. Don’t get me wrong: SIL is taking WONDERFUL care of him, but they have this odd disconnect about going for a second opinion. They are locked into the belief that their doctors are doing all they can. Maybe they are, maybe they’re not. Would a second opinion hurt? I also think the insurance company may be insisting on a string of “least invasive” procedures first, but as far as I’m concerned, we’ve had 9 months of “least invasive”.

My Dad died in 1976, my youngest brother died in 1998, my mother died in 2010, my older brother died a few weeks ago. If my younger brother dies, it is just me out of the original family. And, of course, the two year anniversary of Nick’s death is in 3 days. My girlfriend network has fizzled up for various reasons. My husband and the boys are still here, of course, but they don’t really understand what I’m experiencing on an emotional level…or they do, but being macho guys, they don’t know what to do with it.

My younger brother and I have always been extremely close. We’ve weathered our parents alcoholism and the 60s together. Our friends were always mutual, it seemed, even when we were little. We share memories that we share with no one else.

Everyone tells me I’m the strongest woman they know and I want to scream at them, “HELL NO, I’m not strong. I’ve been shoved into the crappiest situations possible, suffered the loss of more family members than anyone else, it seems, and I worry inside that I’ll be the old lady who dies alone in her house and nobody knows.” They tell me I handle it all with grace, but have no idea how I ask God why so many curveballs. Have I done something displeasing?

But, of course, my faith and my common sense (and yes, I believe if you have any kind of common sense, you HAVE to acknowledge a Creator) win out and this I know: crappy things happen to people who don’t deserve it and the people who DO deserve it come out smelling like a rose. Most times. It’s not a punishment, it’s just life. And in the life after this one, I’ll see them again, and hey, who knows? My older brother may even have turned nice!

I just never imagined I’d be the last one standing, at least at such a relatively young age. If I were 80, I could see it, but 64? Seems early. I’m not ready.

Listen to me, whining when my younger brother’s battle is so much bigger. Oh well, my diary, my rants.

The birthday dinner went well and we are all stuffed to the gills. I sent all the eclairs home with our family and the sauce is in the freezer for the next Family Supper Night. Next big bash is Easter dinner.

Work continues to boom in our area and we’re focusing on socking as much away as we can, especially into our profit-sharing plan since we’ll have to start drawing on it when my husband turns 70 1/2. I have 6 years before I must draw, so we sort of balance each other out for a while. It’s all such a game. We should do a straight 10% tax on everyone and that’s it. No tiers, no caps, no deductions, no loopholes. And that’s 10% on pay AND other profit. Some don’t think it’s fair to tax interest on savings (and like profit-producing assets) and in a way, they’re right. It IS dual taxation. But if you don’t tax it all, the ones that try to get around the law will work it. For instance, a self-employed person could take dividends rather than paychecks, thus creating a tax-free life when others have to pay taxes on their earnings. So you have to, because of human nature. Elect me president. Please.

Hmmm…must be a stream of consciousness kind of night. Guess I’ll do a little paperwork and turn in for the night.

Shattered April 05, 2017

Jeez Connie. Hope you get a minute to breathe soon!

ConnieK Shattered ⋅ April 06, 2017

Me, too!

GypsyWynd April 06, 2017

Sometimes, the sh*t comes in torrents.
Rant away, whine's what diaries are for (and SO much cheaper than a therapist).
Anytime you want some "girlfriend" talk, you have my number!

ConnieK GypsyWynd ⋅ April 06, 2017

I don't have time to talk until 11 at night, unfortunately! I'm okay, just tired.

QueenSuzu April 06, 2017

I understand the wanting to snap at people remarking on how strong you are. I faced a similar situation and wanted to bite that person's head off. It was when my ex left me and the kids--no I wasn't strong, I was dying in the inside even if you couldn't see it on the outside cuz I had to keep on going for my kids, who else was going to take care of them, but I just held it inside. We keep on going because what else can you do, lay down, I don't think so. Many ((hugs)) and prayers for you my dear friend.

ConnieK QueenSuzu ⋅ April 06, 2017

You said it perfectly. You do what you have to do, willingly or not. A "strong" person would be the one who waded in when she had the chance to avoid it. You and I were forced into it without choice.

Ferret Mom April 07, 2017

I think second opinions are always for the best. And how frustrating that this has been going on for 9 months.

I get it about people assuming you're strong. When people see someone dealing with so much stuff they tend to assume they must be strong. But when you are in the middle of these situations you don't have a choice about dealing with it. It's not like you can wave a magic wand and cure your brother, so people just assume you're being strong because.... well, you're still here.

If that makes sense.

ConnieK Ferret Mom ⋅ April 07, 2017

Yep. It makes sense to me.

Oswego April 08, 2017

In so sorry you've had to go through so much including the uncertainties about your younger brother. Sounds like you are very close. You've been through so much together. I feel similarly about my younger sister. I depend on her a lot.

I can relate to what you say about people thinking you're stronger then you yourself think you are. I hear that a lot, too, and as I'm in my 7th year caring for my mother at home, I realize people who haven't done it just can't comprehend.

I don't know from on day to day how much of this life I can endure, but I pray and meditate and strength comes from deep within.

Take care,

ConnieK Oswego ⋅ April 08, 2017

I only cared for mom for 4 years before she passed, so I understand some of what you go through, but your mom has deteriorated far more than I experienced. You're doing better than you think, but it does wear you down. After she passes, you will find yourself pacing a lot, so start thinking now about what you can replace care-giving with. Prayer and meditation are key to coping, I think.

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