I wanted to explain my absence from social media these last few weeks and I can't think of any better way than to start with the ending. This picture depicts our happy ending, a picture of my two younger brothers (Mike the youngest standing and Chris my middle brother awake and laughing in the hospital bed) taken less than 24 hours after a 7 day nightmare. We spent this day in deep gratitude, laughing with my mom and lightly rehashing the last few days.
My brother, had a brain tumor removed, a procedure we thought would be "the beginning of the end" of a hard journey for him. Instead, it became the first chapter in a 7 day nightmare. After a 13 hour surgery my brother "woke-up" thrashing so hard his electric bed alarmed saying "please apply the brakes". He was ripping out ivs, his head dressing, anything he could get his hands on. My younger brother, Mike, pictured here standing above my brother, literally had to sit on him to keep him still for over an hour before receiving help to get him restrained (If you're wondering where his nurse was during all this, don't worry, she will no longer be on the floor. Apparently ICU is too much for her and I am very glad she came to this conclusion on her own). We tried so hard to get him to listen to our voices, softly asking him to relax, but rest did not come for him.
Finally after 2 days he did come around and his dad was able to bring him some food and he seemed on the way to recovery. He had one good restful night followed by a wonderful visit from an Uncle the next day. We were even told he was ready to be moved off the ICU floor, however this blissful ending was short lived. The next day his sodium levels sky rocketed and his body started dumping fluids and he went into what is called diabetics insepidis (a syndrome that can cause brain damage). This threw him into a tailspin of more thrashing, turning, and light consciousness. He began to forget who we were and what was going on. It was heart breaking to watch, to say the least. The doctors came and went, checking vitals, sending labs, and administering meds, but all we could do was wait. They were perplexed with his symptoms as they did not follow the normal path of disease and could only treat them as they came. The future was now up to God, good medicine, and Chris's will to fight.
My mom and I both had our breaking points at different moments. She would come home to rest only to head back to the ICU when she awoke in the middle of the night saying, "better to be with him than lying there worrying about him". One of those mornings the labs came back with worse news rather than better. Doctors and nurses around her went from their normal since of urgency to full on "fight for life" mode. Chris's sodium had dropped so low he at any moment could fade into a comma. A central line was put in and meds were administered. By the time I had reached the hospital all I could see left from the frenzy was the sterile gown remnants in the trash and my mom emotionally exhausted sitting next to my brother waiting, yet again. He had made it without going into a comma but was now no longer responding to neuro tests at all. Just fluttering eyes when you asked him if he was okay occasionally opening one eye to look around at nothing. We sent my mom home to rest and we waited some more.
My breakdown came the next day when the nurses said his levels had returned to normal yet my brother had not returned to normal with them. I let doubt and fear consume my thoughts and cried on and off all day. I tried to hide it from our young boys but even they could tell I was overwhelmed. I even let a few tears slide down my face in the car ride home despite my best efforts and my 11 year old step son reached out a hand to say "it's okay". I was breaking. I am so thankful my mom was there and she reminded me to seek God for comfort. Ever since I can remember, I have been able to picture my hand, a child like hand, reaching into my Father's hand. The image comes to me often when I need Him and is always followed by a rush of emotion. That night it was the the feeling of being overwhelmed and helpless. I cried tears on my bathroom floor, twice, a place I retreat to when I want to keep the kids away from adult problems. I prayed for healing from one of the most humble and broken down places I have been in a long time. I prayed for healing most of all but also for peace for our family and strength to carry on no matter what happened. I left it all there on that bathroom rug. I returned to my mom and the kids knowing I handed it all to God. God is so good and in our darkest moments he was answering our prayers.
We called the ICU about an hour later to check on him (as we did nightly when a family member was not there with Chris) and the nurse explained to us that my brother was waking up, very loopy, surprised he had been asleep for 6 days, and answering questions about 30% correct over the last hour. The relief was immediate. Thank you, Jesus, thank you. The emotion, even two days later when I started writing this, brought tears to my eyes. Our Lord is faithful. I know not everyone experiences healing and we don't make light of that. I just know my brother's time on earth is not done for a reason and for that we are thankful and will keep praying for Chris to know that reason.
The next morning my dad texts and said "Chris called me". I looked over at my mom and pure joy came over our faces. He had remembered it was his dad's birthday the day before and called. Even in his healing he thought of someone else, that is my brother's heart. My mom called Chris and he answered the phone, his voice melting away tears and days of pain. My mom asked him what he wanted. He responded slowly I want food. We laughed, he is back! ️️
We are so so very thankful that it looks as though he has no long term effects. He is having trouble with some words- coke is "choke" and he sometimes can't think of the right words. The neurosurgeon said those things will most likely clear up with a little bit of therapy. But those are small peanuts compared to the young man I saw lying on the bed, desperate to form words from a mouth that would not agree and eyes that would not open. So we count our blessings one by one, rejoice in our mighty victory, and pass out words of thanksgiving at every possible moment.
Chris is going home today after spending some down time in our mountain home and at our grandparent's house over Thanksgiving. We had much to be thankful for this year, to say the least.