The Worst Kind of Call
Despite the fact that it is not the first time I have seen my brother laid out on a hospital bed, it is never something you could get used to or comfortable with. Nor is there anyway to be prepared for one of those dreaded phone calls, calls like the one that came this morning while I was getting ready for work.
My father rarely calls me, and I cannot ever recall him doing so early on a weekday. He works a 9-5ish job too, and always has, and would therefore be at work. Work was where I would have been were it not Thursday. Today, I was to go in late and stay late to help in the store.
So instead I was just out of the shower. Apparently I caught him the second time he tried, because my phone was on vibrate.
As soon as I saw his name, I answered and the first words from my mouth were, “Is everything okie?”
“No, your brother is in the hospital.”
My father is not one to beat around the bush, and subtle is the antonym to any adjective I could think of in regards to him. Somehow, he always has a knack for saying things in the best manner to put my heart in my throat, though, today it was actually warranted.
He explained my brother was having bad chest pains, but they were pretty sure he was not having a heart attack. Phone in hand and Dad still at the other end, I walked into Mom’s bedroom and told her what was going on (waking her up in the process, as it was barely 8:30am). She was immediately up.
Rather than make several phone calls, or try and compose an adequate email, I called our receptionist. I tried to make everything come out in an intelligible manner, but I know I was talking fast. But she agreed to send an email for me, and that was one less thing weighing on me.
Mom and I were out the door in less than 20 minutes, and to the hospital about another 10 later.
Dad met us outside, even though the temperature was only maybe 40. He looks more haggard these days – a bit of stubble, a lil tired looking.
He took us back, but the nurse insisted some people had to come out before more could go in. Mom looked at me, and I knew what she was thinking before she said it. And I had figured as much before we ever left the house. My brother’s girl friend was there. However, the dynamics between her and I are a whole other story.
But I was not going to let something like that stop me from seeing my unwell brother.
Dad walked by with my brother’s girlfriend and her mother. Neither spoke, acknowledged or even looked at Mom and I. I had not really expected more.
Now, I love my brother, but honestly, we walked in and he looked like death warmed over. He was pale and looked half out of it and I have never heard him speak in the pained whisper that was all he could seem to manage.
I do not recall him ever looking like that when he was on Chemo. Then, it was more of a “I am only in this bed cuz there is an IV attached to me, but I would rather be elsewhere.” But at that point, he could barely lift his arms or his head.
After, what? 3 years of not being on good terms with my brother, it was hard to see him like that. But the irony of the whole situation did not escape me. It was only a moment of this severity that would get both my parents, my brother, his girlfriend and myself into the same building together. The other source of irony was the fact that it was on the one day I was not at work yet. Otherwise, I would have been all the way in Ann Arbor.
The doctor came by, and said the test results they had back so far showed that it was not his heart or his lungs. This was a great relief to all of us, as one of the Chemo sideeffects was it might effect his heart. So they were doing more tests, to figure out what it actually was.
After a while of sitting with and talking with my brother, we decided it was time to let him get some rest. He was obviously exhausted.
Back out in the lobby, I chatted with my parents, and we talked about various superfluous things.
I checked my email and could not help but be irate about the response my absence received from my boss. She said that to be absent, I am suppose to notify her before 8am, which is the normal start of my shift. (Disregard entirely the fact that my shift today was not suppose to start until 10am. AND disregard the fact that I am not clairvoyant – I cannot peer into my crystal ball and decipher that a family member is going to go into the hospital today, so I better let my boss know. I know, I am such a failure at life…) I was fairly irate, even more so when I caught my father snickering at me. He told me I should not let it bother me so much. I am sorry! I have to spend 40 hours of my life every week with this woman who detests me.
Oh, did I mention my boss even attached the personnel handbook, and pointed out the page with the tardy and absence policy?
So I replied to her that I called literally moments after I found out.
I fail to see how I could have notified her earlier…
I also text’d my baby brother, who is in California, to let him know what was going on. I fought with myself about it all morning, seeing as he is 3 hours behind and it was super early there. But he voiced his appreciation.
It was a lot of waiting. I do not imagine my brother got much rest.
When we finally heard more, they said they were releasing him.
From the sounds of it, my brother has been playing a new game lately (this I got from my baby brother). Add to that the fact he already does not sleep enough, or move around enough, and the whole thing began to sound more like stress and not taking care of himself. When he had cancer about ten years ago, he had part of his shoulder blade removed. So keeping those muscles active and strong is fairly important. So the doctors say he favored his bad shoulder too much, and the overcompensation in his other shoulder strained it, straining the pectoral muscle across his chest. Hence the chest pains.
My baby brother seemed less than surprised.
I am just glad he is okie. The doctor prescribed some heavy duty Ibuprofen and some muscle relaxers. He just needs some rest and to take better care of himself.
No more exciting hurry-up-and-wait days for me again for a while. 😛