Thursday, November 4, 2010

Things fall apart

Things really do fall apart, Chinua Achebe. Like hearts. And lungs. Or brains. Such is the case in my family these days. I mentioned in a previous post that my family is single-handedly keeping the medical biz alive lately. Funny as that may be, it's starting to get out of control.

I hope my family doesn't mind me talking about them so openly and candidly on my blog. Most all of them are fairly non-secretive about their conditions and post their own snippets on Facebook and the like. I will try not to invade any of their privacy or make them uncomfortable about what I put on here.

Sister #1: Diagnosis - tumor on the pituitary. Last night I came home from the ballet (beautiful and fabulous!) and checked my email and Facebook, per usual. I found a note written by my sister stating that she was preparing for brain surgery on Friday to have a tumor removed from her pituitary. I knew something had been wrong. I had heard bits and pieces, but I didn't know the severity of this issue. Her husband, children, and other family can't really be with her, either. I'd like to think that she's taking it calmly in stride, because she is handling the situation without a lot of emotion. I just know how I would feel. The two words 'brain surgery' would be enough to throw me into a fit of tears, and in fact, reading about my sister's 'brain surgery' did send me over that precipice for a few minutes, as my heart ached for her.

Sister #2: Diagnosis - undetermined; may be neurological or cardiological (I don't think that's even a word, but I'm running with it). Several lumbar punctures (youch!), biopsy appointments, drugs, scans, time spent with several specialists, and the only answer is this: yes, there is SOMEthing wrong with you. We don't know what, but we'd love to prod you some more and wait for your cerebrospinal fluid to rise to dangerous levels right before helping you out. I honestly don't know how Sister #2 handles it, but what can you really do? You just keep living day by day, surrounded by people who love you and support you and would do anything for you. The best I can do is take her kids to McDonald's or bring her a giant microbe at the hospital after she's just had a semi-permanent monitor placed in her heart. Add to this her children who suffer with their own medical problems (see below) and a mother-in-law who recently passed away after a horrible bout with cancer. This sister is definitely down for the when-it-rains-it-pours award.

Nephew: Diagnosis - nobody knows, but after 8 years, they keep trying! This big guy has always lived a life full of monitors (who knew a kid could forget to breathe so much?) and doctors. Just this last week, he was diagnosed with a few additional problems that required some exploratory surgery. The good news is that these problems might lead a step closer to finding out what's happening big picture. Fingers crossed!

Sister #3: Diagnosis - interminable migraine headaches interspersed with dizziness and nausea. After about 6 weeks of not being able to hardly function because of constant headaches, Sister #3 decided it was probably time to see a professional. Now I quasi work in the medical industry, so I've seen the good and bad doctors can do, but really, doctors are just people. The first doctor told her it was probably a sinus infection or allergies and gave her some pills. No bueno. Since then, she's been in for two MRIs and to the chiropractor, and the best they can tell her is that it isn't a tumor. Luckily the chiropractation (word? don't care...) has been helping, but the jury's still out.

If that's not enough, let's talk about my own cancer scare from earlier this year, or my little brother's problems with abdominal whatnot on his mission. Or happiest of all, a new nephew being born but only after a painful pregnancy for my sister.

Here's what I have learned:

1) Health insurance, crazy as it may be, is a life saver. Sure, jumping through their hoops can sometimes be a joke, but just thinking of the costs for all the tests and procedures mentioned above is truly overwhelming.

2) In pain and heartache, my family knows where to turn for comfort--whether it be to cry upon one another's shoulder or seeking the Lord's help.

3) Dwelling on the difficult things doesn't make you feel good. Profound, right? Really, in my own experience and in discussing the experiences my family has had, you wake up each morning, figure out how much you can accomplish, you get to task, and you try to have a positive outlook. Oh, there's plenty of complaining that takes place, but once the complaining is done, it is sweet to see where others fill in the gaps of what we cannot ourselves get done.

And so, after my minute and a half of sobbing alone at my house last night, thinking of how much I want to absorb the pain and tumult that is affecting my family, I take comfort in the fact that when it comes down to it, we're going to be ok. We have each other. Things might fall apart, but we keep it together the best we can.

4 Comments:

Blogger heidikins said...

Oh wow, I'm so sorry you've had such a run with doctors and hospitals and diagnoses. Hope things take a turn for the better, for all parties involved.

xox

November 4, 2010 at 9:49 AM

 
Blogger Naomi said...

Cancer sucks.

The end.

November 4, 2010 at 2:14 PM

 
Blogger sarah said...

It sounds really bad when you actually read everything. Thanks for being there....the kids love it, and we love you.

November 5, 2010 at 7:03 AM

 
Blogger Kelly said...

That is a lot to deal with! I had two tumors removed from my pituitary back in 2007. It's sounds a lot scarier than it actually is. It's not picnic in the park, but it's quite as terrifying as one would think when they hear "brain surgery". I hope things look up for you all!

November 9, 2010 at 1:47 PM

 

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