- Death & Loss of Life
A Brother's story: Part 3
The return of an old enemy...
A Brother’s Story: Part 3
November 29 2010 found my brother in surgery.
I received a rather frank call from my mother Gwen, telling me that Patrick had been admitted to the Whittier General Hospital emergency room via ambulance. Not to worry! He had fallen in the bathroom at home. That’s all she knew of the incidence. We would stay in touch during the day.
Returning from Atlanta, Pat had confided in me that he hadn’t been feeling well, but this incidence was totally unexpected.
Having no idea as to the cause of the fall, I offered to jump on the next flight to Los Angeles, out of Eugene Oregon.
This was easier said than done. A Last minute flight is rare as well as expensive. The bargain flight to L.A., 780 miles to the south, is scheduled twice a week, and costs $500 or so; and requires a mandatory weekend stay over.
I was told by Mom to hang tight!
According to Mom, and Pat’s middle daughter Vanessa; there was no ergent need to come down at this time. After all, Pat had been admitted for observation...
Over the next year I would make no fewer than five trips to Los Angeles, and would sit next to three men in similar situations; with family members fighting illness.
Later that week, I learned through speaking with Patrick, that the Doctors had no idea as to the cause of his inability to hold down food, or the cause of his passing out in the bathroom.
The blood on the bathroom floor was produced by Pat hitting his rather large head on the side of a floor heater.
Thanks to Pat's son Joseph, the paramedics arrived quickly. Pat was then transported to Whittier General Hospital in fewer than 10 minutes.
A Day of Discovery
Three days later, following a barrage of medical testing, the image produced through C.T. scan, showed a clouded mass in the lining of his stomach.
Pat underwent exploratory surgery. After 6 long hours he was returned to the I.C.U.
What was spoken between the patient and his surgeon Doctor Shum, was confidential.
Opting not to share the immediate diagnoses with the family, we would later discover through disclosure of hospital records, photos etc. that during the procedure, it had been discovered that Patrick’s Stomach, as well as pancreas, was cancerous.
The Doc's had opted to close the surgery without removing any of the invading tumors. The cancer was too involved for surgery to be a viable ‘cure.’
The prognosis was grim. Stage 4 Stomach Cancer, with attachment to the pancreas, as well as liver.
Survival rate? 0
But, that was not going to deter Patrick…
According to Patrick? He had absolutely no reservations as to beating the cancer that had invaded his body. He would be the first documented survivor of stage 4 stomach cancer.
Twenty years earlier, Pat had fought and won his battle against a form of brain Cancer that was generally found in juvenile or teen-aged boys. Debilitated but not done; Pat would fight this thing up to the last week of his life.
This is where the time-line becomes a bit fuzzy for me.
As an Irish twin (13 months Pat’s senior,) and although I underplayed the event in true male fashion; was absolutely devastated by the news.
As a psychic intuitive I knew that my brother was already dead. As the Patriarch of a large family, I could say nothing negative about it. I would stand next to my brother until the end. It was my duty, and I would do it out of love for my family.
It is here that I take a moment to thank my loving wife Nancy. She unselfishly stood by me in my time of grief, as well as service to a brother and a family that had not always been kind to her. Thank you my love.
A week out of the hospital, and prior to the start of months of Chemo therapy that would inevitably fail, but at the same time, by providing a hope and chance for recovery; buy Pat nearly a year of precious life. I would spend a week with my brother in his small bungalow in Whittier California.
Dark, dusty, and full of computer electronics, I spent a couple of days cleaning the place before Pat’s return from the hospital. In doing so, I gained an understanding of who this person, my brother; truly was.
A complicated personality composed of the twists and turns of an unfinished story. A brother, a father, a son. He was a compilation of accomplishments, as well as unfulfilled dreams.
This was my brother. I would learn more about the man in a week, then I had truly known of him in decades.
A burning star, flickering as its internal fire began to die.
The Power of hope…
As adults... we hadn't spent much time together.
It’s a funny thing, the dynamic of adult brotherhood. It seems like many of us set our brotherhood aside for children, families, wives.
The minutia that clutters the day to day events that make up what life is; often gets in the way of the important things. And this is how it was with my brother. We would often get along better over the phone than we did in person.
This terrible debilitating disease would bring us closer together; than we had been in decades.
As I sat in Patrick’s modest bungalow, while he slept near by on the sofa, I took a slow, close look at my brother’s life.
Not so neatly contained within the walls of this 800 square foot home, was the remnants of a man’s life, intermixed with the fleeting childhood of young Joseph.
Books, music, wonderful hand sketched, photographed and sculpted art. His computerized window to the world, as well as drafting, wood working and mechanical tools; cluttered the small cabin of a home that had been his residence for a year or two.
The tiny home didn’t hold the smell of a sick man, but as I turned to the left, I sighted the pile of unpaid bills, discarded by a man that had not worked in months. More than a few of them were from medical service providers. A thin layer of dust enveloped billings from a broken medical system that insisted on a person either being well covered or destitute; to qualify for treatment in the land of the free.
Having little money and no medical insurance, Pat had intentionally bankrupted himself, so that he might have a chance of recovery through treatment; afforded him as a borderline indigent.
The next day Pat and I took Joseph to the Downtown Library, We walked for a moment around the complex that was now under construction. As we walked, Pat commented as to the various aspects of the structure. The talk between us had shrunk to background noise. After all, what did you talk about with the Dead?
Looking at me with the eyes of a scared boy, lost in the dying body of a middle aged man, Patrick said with all sincerity; I’m going to make it, right? Why else would I be talking of future construction projects, or finishing my LEED certification?
My heart sank as I put my hand on Patrick shoulder… Of course you’ll make it! We all need you bro, your journey here isn't finished.
It’s tough lying a dying brother.