Monday, July 18, 2011

Things Could Be Worse

Several people have been wondering why I haven't been blogging lately.  The answer is pretty simple, but otherwise not so pretty at all.

I have been taking care of my brother Mike.  He got out of Rehab on January 28th.  On February 3rd, he was served papers for divorce from his estranged wife of 5 years.  I lived with him for about 6 weeks while he slowly got better, and thereafter went over there just about every day to see that he got fed and to clean up any messes he couldn't handle.

He made sloooow progress through the end of May.  Not great, but okay.  The divorce didn't go anywhere.  The wife was in and out of hospitals herself, and Mike didn't have the stamina to struggle with lawyers.  Then he got the idea he wanted to move into an apartment, clearing out of the house while it was being sold.  I tried to talk him out of it, as that would mean rent on top of a mortgage.  And who knew for how long?

We moved him in on June 4th, 2011.  And all during the week thereafter.  If he listened to me, he wouldn't be my brother.

About a week later, he started having a relapse - unable to sleep, dragging his foot, weak and tired all the time, all symptoms he had largely gotten over months before.  On the evening of Sunday, June 24th, I couldn't get hold of him by phone.  When I went over there I found him lying on the floor of the bathroom, too weak to get up.  In two weeks he had gone from walking normally to this.  I got him into bed and called the doctor.  He had a CT scan in the Emergency Room.  They found 4 large tumors pressing on the right side of his brain.  Which explained the sinister weakness.

We were both stunned.  We thought everything was due to the accident.  Just a minor switchback on the road to his eventual recovery.

He was transported to Scott and White in Temple.  There they did further scans and found a large tumor in the high right lobe of his lung.  It was stage 4 lung cancer, metastatic to the brain.  There is no cure.  All treatment is merely palliative.

We went for it anyway.  He responded well to whole brain radiation.  Without it they told us he might have died that weekend - because of Cushing's Reflex, where the pressure of the tumors on vessels in the brain would slow the heart until it stopped.  Instead, the tumors shrank enough to allow him to start walking with a walker again.  After a week in the hospital he went to a local nursing home, so as to be close to his regimen.

The radiation is over now.  Tomorrow he begins chemotherapy, and Wednesday I am bringing him back to Georgetown so he can be close to friends, and I can be handy for emergencies.  Like bringing him his usual menudo fix on Sundays.

His son and grandchildren came down from Pennsylvania all last week, staying at his apartment.  They had a pretty good visit.

So this, my friends, is the secret of why I have not been blogging.  It would have been entirely too depressing, and a violation of his privacy.  Blogging is supposed to be fun, and when the fun dries up it is only natural the blogging should too.

I may get back into it later.  Say in the Spring.

They say Mike has anywhere from 2 months to a year, depending on how he reacts to chemo.  He may even go home for a while. But not for long.  The damn thing is almost certain to come roaring back.

There is no cure.  Any radiation or chemical treatment strong enough to kill the cancer will kill him first.  So eventually they will call a stop, and Mike will go into Hospice, and pass away.  He wants to be cremated, and scattered like a condiment on the Rocky Mountains, near Engineer Pass.  I suppose I can do that for him.

He may get a sort of Indian Summer first, though.  What the heck.  We'll take it.

Bob G.

I'm the cute one.  Mike is the other one.