Sunday, January 26, 2014

My Big Brother Had a Stroke

I hadn't had a phone call in almost a week.  In fact I didn't know if my phone was working anymore.  Then today, about noon, I get a call, from my younger brother.

He joked around about something being dumped in front of his business, a toilet.  Then he tells me my older brother, just a year and a half older, had a stroke last night.

My older brother has suffered from atrial fib for as long as I can remember.  He's had I think two heart event close calls, that wound him up in the hospital as a result, but never a stroke before.

But last night he had a stroke.  He's still alive, but I don't know much else.

His wife found him when she went to get into their bed and he was on her side and she couldn't get him to move to his side.  Then she saw his contorted face.  And called 911.  So it was fairly fast between the time he had the stroke and medical aid, it is believed.

That's always a good thing.

I am very heartsick for him and for his wife over this.

I have a terrible agony in my stomach and heart over the news.

He lost his job not quite a year ago.  The stress of that and the workload just before it all ended were unbearable for me to see, from afar.   He'd go days unable to sleep over the stress and extreme workload.  I thought he was going to die.

But after it was over, although I knew it was hard on him, not having a job, I breathed easier, thinking the stress at least would be lower.

My brother really only had two regular jobs his entire life.  The first one he got right out of college, down in Ashland.  Not that long after he took his first job, he was offered an entry level position with a Portland business and he and his wife moved up to Portland.  He was with that Portland company his entire life, working his way up to corporate, until the part of the company he worked for was sold, a couple years ago, at which time he knew his days there were numbered.  And they were.

My older brother and his wife eat very healthy and take care of themselves.  He doesn't exercise much because he was born with a malformed foot that pains him constantly.  Atrial fib puts a person at much greater risk for heart attacks and stroke.  He takes his prescribed meds and does all he can to stay healthy.

I love my older brother. I don't have any family of my own.  Not often, not enough, do I get to see one or other of my two brothers.  I love them both. They are not close and different as night and day.

 I want him to be ok.   I want him to live out the rest of his life.

All these memories of my brother come flooding back.  For some reason, I remember when he'd be driving, young, barely with a license, long mustache and sideburns, very handsome.  He'd honk as he drove, even at cows, give the horn a tap, and yell "Hi Cow" from the wide open car window.  Funny the things we remember.

My older brother has always loved music, all kinds, from rock to jazz to, well, almost every kind.  Except country.    We were not allowed to listen to music growing up, outside of some really weird bands, like Baja Marimba band and Claudine Longet, a French singer who may have killed her husband.  My father had a crush on her, for some really whacked out reasons.  But that was about it, as for music we were allowed, besides religious music.

So my brother would sneak records home to play when my folks were not home.  He'd come get me, all excited, to listen.   Way later in life, he took me to a couple Jimmy Buffet concerts.   My brother long ago produced concerts for smaller artists, like Buffet and the Beach Boys (when they were small time I think).  He took me out off a psyche ward once in Portland to take me to a Jimmy Buffet concert, which was beyond wonderful.  Oregon state run psyche wards are like the worst places in the world, scary terrible, no kidding, screaming houses of horror.  To be sprung by my brother to go to a Buffet concert, well, guess you might understand how much that has meant to me.

He and his wife invited me along to a concert last summer in Eugene in an outdoor park.  I LOVED it and danced the night away.  It was so fun, to be invited, to be at a concert again, with my beloved brother and his wife.  My brother is rock and roll all the way.

I hope to hear more news soon.

What if he lives but is terribly disabled?

I don't want to survive a crippling disabling stroke and end up in a care home.  I'd rather be euthanized.  Or shot.  But immediate post stroke care in some places is very incredible and people have strokes and are soon back to very normal life.

I think of the Discovery show Deadliest Catch and how Captain Phil had the stroke.  He seemed ok afterwards in the hospital, then died of another stroke.  Will that happen to my brother?  My brother never smoked, never drank excessively, ate terribly, or abused his body in so many ways, like the crabbers do on that show.   But at my age, after seeing many healthy people die young and many people who abuse every substance out there and live angry inflamed lives to boot, live into their 90's, I've come to the conclusion longevity is mostly genetics and luck.

It's very dark tonight and very cold, here in Oregon.

But the stars are shining bright.

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