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.

22 comments:

hobopals said...

I have waited and watched for what seemed forever, Bob, as many others have, for your return. I'm so sorry about Mike. For sure you have had your hands full, and for sure Mike has been through more than any of us ever want to endure.

The only thing I can think of to say is that I hope Mike finds peace during the time he has, and when the time comes that he goes easy. I'm glad you'll be with him and that he'll be in hospice. I truly believe it's easier on the one who dies than on the people he leaves.

Unfortunately, no words can prepare you for what you face, but in his wisdom, he's given you a reason to travel and ponder, again. You've been, and continue to be, a great brother.

I wish I had your way with words, but I don't so you'll have to settle with knowing that my thoughts are with you. My first impulse, at times like these, is to run away and bury my head. I've had my share of grief, and I don't like to think of anyone else in that frame of mind. Write when you can. We'll wait.

Aeagles said...

I'm so very sorry to read this. It makes me sad even though I've never met you or your brother, I have followed your stories and this is not what I was hoping the next post would be and of course, it's not what anyone thought was part of the plan. It's stunning that beyond the accident this was lurking. My very best to you and your brother as you go through this transition.

Shadowmoss said...

Checked in as I do every few days. So sorry to hear the details. I've assumed, as most have probably, that it was just a matter of waiting till your brother got better and you would be back. I'll be sending prayers, and checking back every few days as I have been.

Anonymous said...

I had almost quit checking to see if you were back. I'm so, so sorry to hear what's been going on and about your brother's prognosis. He is so fortunate to have you in his life. It sounds like both of you are making decisions that will maximize his quality of life for however long he has left. For what it's worth, please know that you and your brother are much in my thoughts at this time. I apoligize in advance if this sounds crass or off-base, but maybe you and your brother want to go somewhere and share another adventure together while he's still able (IF he's still able?) I could see the two of you on a one or two-day bike ride to his favorite destination. Make it count. Is there anything readers can do to help??? Thank you for sharing your story, and the fact it's a sad one doesn't change things -- it's your LIFE, and you have such talent with words -- you inspire others. Thank you for sharing that gift. Cathryn

Anonymous said...

Bob, your brother is so lucky to have you for a brother. Keep your chin up. One of these days we'll do lunch/dinner, maybe on the way back to AK. FMB

Trish said...

There aren't words for a kick in the ass this bad. 'Prayers thoughts' just do not make the cut.

I am so sorry.


Trish

rvsue said...

Dear Bob,

I've missed your comments on my blog. My heart sank reading what you and your brother have been going through. I hate it.

It must not have been easy to write about the events leading up to this day. Your tenderness and love for your brother is heart-wrenching. You choose to be with him, rather than run away as so many do . . . I admire you and am inspired. God give you strength.

Sue

hobopals said...

Still thinking of you and Mike, Bob.

THE BAYFIELD BUNCH said...

Sorry to read this Bob.... Life spins out of control and we just hang on... Kelly

The Good Luck Duck said...

I have nothing useful to add, and you see I am still trying to add it. You and Mike have my best wishes, which won't buy you much. Peace to you both.

Roxanne

Shadowmoss said...

I'm holding on to what you wrote to Jennifer on her 'goodby' post in hopes that you will apply the same to yourself. Sending thoughts and prayers to both you and Mike.

Tammy R said...

I miss your posts. I have been checking back once a month for what seems like forever. I hope your brother is doing much better, and that you are just too busy spending quality time with him that you are not travelling or updating your blog.

Tammy R
tincanramble.com

Bob Giddings said...

Thanks, Tammy, and the rest of you. It's been more than a year now.

Mike is fighting the thing with chemo and radiation, but the most he can hope for is to hold it at bay for a while. Maybe a long while.

I am not blogging because I am exhausted most of the time, and not doing anything I want to blog about. Mike's disease is his business, and not something for me to go on about.

I have sold the motorcycle and its trailer. I bought another travel trailer last week, and the LD is going up for sale as soon as I find time to clean it up a little. Motorhomes are okay, but I find I missed having my truck.

Maybe I'll get to travel next spring. But that's out of my hands. Thanks for the caring comments.

Bob

D0N said...

Damn. Sorry to hear this.

hobopals said...

We'll be here for your return.

I love my little trailer and big diesel truck.

Shadowmoss said...

Thanks for the update. I'm still sending thoughts and prayers.

Anonymous said...

Hate being called Anonymous - but I saw your comments on RVSue's blog and saw that you were still around - I followed your blog up to last December and figured that things had not gone well for your brother. I'm sad for both him and you that he got dealt a bad deal. You've been a great brother for him. My wish is that the past few months have been an Indian Summer for him - and a warm sunny one.

My best wishes to both of you - I'll keep watching the blog more regularly and look forward to your writings - you're a blog poet.

Bill in Ontario

Anonymous said...

Google: Essiacs. It may help.

hobopals said...

Still thinking of you and Mike.

hobopals said...

Bill, have you ever read Bob's Speed Bumps? http://www.arcatapet.net/bobgiddings/

Anonymous said...

Hobopals - yes I did read Bob's Speed Bumps - hence my comment about it being poetry. Thanks for the link - I think I'll read them again.

Bill in Ontario

Happy Trails said...

Found your blog via rvsue. You now have several blog readers! Cancer is bad. I just lost one of my best friends 3 days ago. Went to the hospital with pnuemonia, got ct scan and found his lungs full of cancer! 1 week later Richard was gone! I know it must be hard for you to face life without your brother. I wish you miles of smiles in your future!