Saturday, July 20, 2013

Death Got Impatient and Left

Death camped out on my brother's bedside for eight days, inching the chair closer and closer to his bed.  Then Death got tired of waiting for him and left, sure to return, but perhaps not anytime soon.

My brother was so sick it is a miracle he is today still alive and now out of ICU. To recap: he is a type 1 diabetic, does not have a spleen, a double amputee and a frigging stubborn pain in the ass, whom I happen to love. He is forty-two. He needed to be on a ventilator, feeding tube, internal aortic heart lead, dozens of meds for an infection in his stump that went septic throughout his body. It required an additional amputation of two inches above the stump and he was kept medically unconscious for the eight days.

For eight days we prayed and hoped and as things got worse we planned his wake, including a scavenger hunt to find his ashes for the teen nieces and nephews. (No, I am not joking).

On the 8th day he got a little better. Today, the 12th day, he is out of ICU. I am sure he will be stepping back and forth some more in these next weeks of his Dancing with the Stars -Death edition series but for today there is improvement.

Enough about him, now about me.

My food has not been steady for a while now. This changed for the better when I first got the news that he was in critical condition. Instead of reaching for the food, I reached for the support of family and friends. Instead of drowning my pain in milkshakes, I resolved to stand my ground and feel the life or death moments - good or bad. Mostly it felt bad until I recognized I happier thoughts in other things still taking place around me: my dog's silly antics, a conversation with a friend about her vacation, planning a trip with my family for the fall . . . . I could experience the sad feelings and worry without it taking over my life every freaking waking moment.

The squirrels in my brain that lead me to crave ridiculous foods or quantities have taken a holiday this week. I feel lucky to be feeling sanity return and hopefully the squirrels will find someplace else to hang out and not visit me again anytime soon.

Ten years ago I thought that if I could just loose weight and keep it off for five years I would be 'cured.' There is no cure. Keeping the pounds off requires constant care. Maintaining is not a passive action. There is work involved. The alternative is not an option today.

I have not kept up with reading your posts in the past two weeks. I hope you are hopeful and sane, too.



Karen said...

Glad you found your way to your feelings, Jane.

Huge amount of work. The more you can feel your feelings and steer clear of the eating, the easier (not easy, just easier) it is to find those moments that get us through the grim reaper moments.

I had a similar experience when my dad passed last month. I found the botanic gardens, the beauty, and the memories instead of frosting and candy bars.

Here's to feeling and doing the work we need to do in maintenance.

Hope your brother can ditch the grim reaper for a while. Getting prepped for the end is a tough task but does help with the grief.


Losing Shorty said...

I am so very sorry to hear about your brother. My heart goes out to you and your family. I won't go into too much detail but my late husband passed away at 36 from diabetes complications and was stubborn like your brother. I pray that your brother will have a more positive outcome and I pray for you too as I know the stress and so much more that words cannot describe.

I am so proud of you for getting it about the food. It is not easy during times where we are challenged like that. I had to learn the hard way too.

You, your brother and your family will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers.

Caron said...

It's good to hear that your brother got a reprieve and is doing better. You are so right that maintenance is not passive and requires much work on our part.

Hang in there. You are doing very well in a bad situation.

Vickie said...

So very glad for you and your family.

I know from experience that the complications of diabetes can make the importance of healthy food choices crystal clear.

Laura said...

I'm so so sorry about the last week (((Hugs)))

Life doesn't slow down when we would like it to.

Bargaining doesn't help. Begging doesn't help. It just keeps coming at you.

Thankful for you all that God wasn't ready for him yet. I bet your mom had a say in that.

Peace, Jane.

Jane Cartelli said...

Karen - I am very sorry about your Dad. I know what you are going through. It is never easy. Much Love.

Linda H. - wow - 36. I have no words for that. Hugs to you for coming through to the other side.

Caron - Thank you for reading and sharing your strength so often. I hope your vision is on the mend.

Vickie - isn't is sad that crystal clear does not also provide absolute focus. Knowing does not guarantee doing. If it did, I would have had this down years ago.

Laura - I once heard a funny line that I think applies to my brother. "God isn't ready for him and the Devil is afraid he'll take over hell!"

Vickie said...

Does your brother have a wife and children?

This latest "medical go around" for your brother reminded me of 2008.

That year my mother's husband had a "medical go around" every month but two of the whole year.

If he has a wife and children, and for the extended family too, have to figure out boundaries in order that their lives are not swallowed up in the repercussions of his life style choices.

I have a friend who went thru this with her husband and her children and grandchildren sat her down and said - dad is still living, but we have lost any chance to have a quality life with him, we refuse to lose you in this process too. She ended up putting him in a nursing home.

My mother waited until 2010 to move her husband in a nursing home and that was really 3 years too long.

Jane Cartelli said...

My brother is 42 and has a girlfriend. They own their home together and have raised her sons together. She is a wonderful woman and has his medical proxy when he is unable to make a decision on his own. When conscious (like now) he makes his own decisions - good or bad. That is the law and I do not choose to become enmeshed in that area of his life today.

I have had the experience you are talking about within my husband's family. I know grandma made the right decision when they placed grandpa in a nursing home. Keeping him at home was killing her.

Anonymous said...

Happy to hear your brother is still fighting. Poor guy has to be so tired. My dad finally died of Parkinson's this year. I thought I had mourned losing him years ago when he ceased being my father, but that just does not happen. I did fine for the first week and then had random outbursts of bad behavior followed by eating angrily. THANK GOD it passed. I was not strong enough to turn my back from comfort food.
Maintaining IS the hardest. Much more than losing IMO.