Thursday, September 6, 2012

A brief journey

Tomorrow evening I fly down to Nashville to visit my brother. Right now, he is in a nursing care facility, having been moved there from a hospital rehab unit a month or so ago. The neurological damage he suffered as a result of his last brain tumor surgery earlier this summer is, apparently, irreversible. Months of intensive physical therapy have produced no improvements. He is in many ways now incapacitated.

Soon, he will have to be moved back home, as his insurance will no longer pay for this kind of care.

The day after I returned home from California, my sister called. The girls were already in bed and I was chatting with David when the phone rang. She was calling to tell me that she and my sister-in-law had taken Jon to the oncologist that day, and during the meeting it was decided that they would discontinue the treatment for Jon's cancer. The damage that would likely result from further chemo and/or radiation would almost certainly incapacitate him further, and thus would not improve his quality of life, but most likely erode it more. So they all made the very difficult decision to let the disease take its course.

I knew this was coming. I had some warning in conversations with my sister a couple months ago, and I thought I was steeling myself for the final decision. But you can't steel yourself for something like that. You just can't.

The thing about this cancer is it moves fast. Insidiously, viciously fast. I know my brother is strong, and I know he's already made it far, far longer than most people with this disease do. But I can't continue to count on that. And, oh God the weight of that is almost more than I can take.

I wish so many things. I wish I lived closer so I could do something, anything, so I could be of some use. I wish health insurance wasn't such a fucked up mess. I wish my brother could walk and get on a motorcycle and take his boys to sports practice. I wish that someone I love with all my heart wasn't being ripped from me, from us, because its wrong. It's taking the wrong person. I want to beat my fists against something and have it give way but there's nothing.

There's not a single bloody thing I can do but fly to Tennessee and kiss my brother's sweet face and tell him again what I know he already knows: that I love him, that I will always, always love him. And then I'll fly back home and try to hold my shattered pieces together as best I can.


I keep saying this a lot, but I do want to thank you all again. So many of you have sent emails or Facebook messages, letting me know you have been thinking of me and my family as we go through this. I will never have the eloquence to express what your kindness and support has meant to me over the last couple of years.

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