You ready for this, Tim…I AGREE. Right now, I am watching my Brother die by inches. He is in the end stages of alcoholic cirrhosis. He has not had a drink for 10 yrs., but it was too late when he quit drinking…his liver was gone. They inserted a shunt that bypassed the liver, he not only quit alcohol, he gave up cigarettes & coffee. He sold his car & has walked to work for 9 yrs. The doctors 10 yrs. ago, gave him 5 yrs. & he has lived well past that. He did not give in to self-pity & would not accept pity from anyone. He did not dwell on his past mistakes, but faced them, dealt with them & then looked forward to every day he had. He turned his attention to his family & customers & has served both well. I not only love him, I **respect **him for the way he has handled his illness & what life was left to him.
In the beginning, we went out to eat together once a week & I took him to do his grocery shopping. This past year, we went together to his doctor appointments, his pharmacy, to the library,etc., etc. I miss him already. He’s been in the hospital since March 17.
However, he’s now in the end stages & it is SO hard. I drive 140 mis. 3 times a week to see him. He has had 3 major surgeries within the last 2weeks, one on his heart, another to remove a section of his colon & another to remove part of his pelvic bone. He is being attacked by a Bacteria that the liver would normally filter out. He’s on a dialysis machine, he breathes through a tracheotomy tube attached to another machine, he’s fed intravenously & he suffers from transient cortical blindness, another complication of cirrhosis. He cannot speak because of the Trache tube. He’s only 62 yrs. old. Still it has not affected his brain, YET.
Thank God that he is in a hospital that is attached to a University, K.U. Med center. He’s not only receiving top-notch medical care, he’s receiving ethical medical care. When I asked his surgeons, in tears, how many more surgeries… they told me they had done all they could do surgically, but that they would continue to do every single thing possible to help him both physically & mentally. They told me to remember that they had a moral obligation to save lives. They reminded me that their hypocratic oath begins with “first do no harm”.
I watch his suffering & I pray. I bring him cards from his friends & we joke about him being surrounded by “Jayhawks”. There is a great sports rivalry between Missouri University, which he & I both attended, & Kansas University. So I take M.U. banners to put on the wall of his I.C.U. room & he jokes with the Kansas nurses who care for him. (Those of you who follow Kansas basketball will understand.)
They are letting me stay for about 45 minutes, as I get readly to leave, he mouths the words “Thank you” & I say, “See you in a couple of days”, then I cry all the way home. YES, I feel that he would be better off in heaven…but here’s the thing…GOD must still want him here. He may be working out the salvation of my brother’s soul. That may be the reason that He doesn’t take Frank home. I don’t know, but what I & HIS DOCTORS do know, **is that no one on this earth has the right to make the call as to when he can “go to his heavenly home”. **
He has requested not to be kept alive on machines, & though it seems that he is…he’s not. His brain function is good. He recognizes my voice, he mouths the words, “Tell me about the kids”. He is suffering & I am suffering watching it all, but suffering is a part of life. If we offer it up for my brothers salvation…it is nothing at all.
BTW. I must give a great deal of thanks to my husband & children. My husband let’s me cry & my children do everything they can to help me manage it all. Credit also goes to his ex-wife, who left him because of his drinking, but has been his best friend through these past 10 yrs. She is there for him several times a week, too.