Thursday, March 10, 2011

On the strength of fathers, cat scans & Amy Winehouse

Yes, yes, it's time for an update.  I keep waiting for these updates to get easier, but the fact of the matter is: they don't.  I don't want to send updates because it just confirms that there's a reason for an update, and I wish (with all that I am) there was no need to sit and type these.  

Brian suffered a series of seizures on a Saturday morning, a couple of weeks ago.  I was in my kitchen chatting with a friend when the phone rang.  It was Nevis.  Not that it's unusual for Nevis to call, but I knew before I answered the phone that something wasn't right.  "Brian's in the hospital, he's had several seizures, they called 999 and the ambulance brought him to the hospital".  Silence.  It's not how you expect your day to start.  It's too far away to just jump in the car and get there.  I could tell Nevis was worried because she was quieter than her usually perky self.  "Nevis, do I need to come home"?  Silence.  "Should I call and talk to Dad"?  "Yes".  I assured her that seizures happen for a variety of reasons, and that he was being well taken care of now.  I don't remember saying goodbye, but I remember having to sit down because I couldn't feel my knees. 

I called my Dad.  I don't believe in reincarnation, but if I did, I'd want to come back as that man.  What a calm and strong man my Father is.  He really is the voice of reason.  How I wish I'd listened and observed more while growing up.  I remember saying "you don't know everything, Dad".  How ridiculous I was.  He knows his children inside and out.  "Don't panic, they're sending him for a Cat Scan, and we'll know more when the results come back".  He said "Brian is a bit out of sorts and is yelling orders at everyone, so I think he'll be okay".  I said "Dad, should I come home".  "Love, if I was worried, I'd tell you to come home".  That's all I needed to hear.  I'm a pro at booking last minute.  It's the packing that still stresses me out.  While Dad was talking, I was making a list in my head of what to pack.  I remember thinking: darn it, I just packed away a bunch of winter stuff, and now I'll have to pull it out again.  "Wait, I shouldn't come home"?  Dad: "not until I'm worried, love". 

The text message updates were pretty entertaining: He's yelling at anyone who comes close to him to get him something to eat.  He's telling the nurses that he's sick of this place and wants to be released immediately.  You can't keep me against my will.  I'd very much like a yogurt.  I'm dying of thirst here people. 

God bless Siobhan.  She sent me a long FB message giving me the details.  I could almost smell the hospital food.  Unfortunately, Brian couldn't eat anything until after his scan.  He was not a happy boy. :) He was transferred to a private room in the middle of the night.  I'm pretty sure it was because he was being a "challenge".  But the staff quickly fell in love with him, and he was constantly being supervised. 

Pretty funny stuff, but I was uneasy until I called the next morning for an update.  The scan showed some minor bleeding on the outside of the brain.  It was nothing unusual for a patient with a brain injury.  The Doctor said to my Dad "about 10% of the population experience bleeds like this, and they never know it".  I was baffled at that, but what do I know?  10% of the population is certifiably crazy as far as I'm concerned, but we're talking about my brother's brain here.  Obviously something is wrong if he's having a bleed, albeit "minor".  So, they sent him to Cork (about an hour away from Limerick) for an advanced brain scan.  That didn't show anything out of the ordinary (except the obvious damage from the incident in July 2009).  He was kept in the hospital for a few days just for observation, and then released.  Apparently he had several sing songs in the hospital.  Shane said at one stage there were 6 staff members around the bed and they were all singing!

He's back to his "normal" self now.  It's par for the course, I expect.  We'll just have to keep an eye on his temperature and watch for any type of infection, even small ones.  Great - he's now a China doll!

His mood is good.  He's just waiting for the donor approval at LifeSource in Covington, Louisiana.  Once the Stem Cells are procured, and placed in the incubator, we have to get him on a plane!  It'll happen this Spring.  I'm confident of that.  We're all so fortunate to still have him with us, so we'll do whatever it takes to get him here, and get him the best possible treatment for his injuries. 

The first time I spoke to him post "episode", I said "sing me something".  He sang "To Make You Feel My Love".  When he sang  "I'd go hungry, I'd go blind for you, I'd go crawling down the avenue, there is nothing that I wouldn't do, to make you feel my love", I thought I would crumble with sadness.  Then he took a deep breath and said "I'd love a coffee".  Par for the course, I expect.  :)  He knows exactly how to tug at the heart, and isn't afraid to do it.  Oi, such a boy!

The week before his seizures, he had been to his old Secondary (High) School.  The teachers invited him to speak to some of the students about his experience at St. Enda's.  He was a huge hit.  He told stories of how he rode his bike to school, parked it, and always wondered if all the bike parts would be there at the end of the school day. One afternoon, Brian and his friend returned to the bike area only to find his friend's bicycle saddle missing! Get him to tell you the whole story. You'll be doubled over with laughter.  He had the teachers and students laughing and crying. He encouraged the students to make the most of their time in school.  He said "go to College, work hard, be a good person, be proud of your education".  My Mother said she looked at my Father, and giant tears cascaded down his proud cheeks.  Brian didn't need notes or prompting.  He spoke from memory.  He was honest.  He told them to chose their friends wisely, as he had made some bad decisions with friendships in his life, and it's forever changed his future.  Brian makes friends easily, but he encouraged the students to surround themselves with people who would protect them from harm.  We know that unforeseen occurrences befall us all, but we can surround ourselves with the right kinds of people in life.  People who become friends, and who protect us from opportunists.  He told the students to be a good brother, sister, daughter, son, friend.  The students and teachers lined up to meet him afterward.  He was then whisked away to the teachers lounge for coffee and scones.  The school want him to address the whole student body soon.  What an honor.  They're all mad about him, and are diligently fund raising for one of "their own".  It's lovely.  My heart swells with pride. 

In other news: my Mother's brother, Dave Clancy, passed away on Sunday.  I didn't have the pleasure of knowing him well, but my Mother said "he was a gentle man".  As far as I'm concerned, that's golden. I felt a particular kind of sadness for my Mother loosing her brother.  We came way too close to that ourselves.  I only wish I'd known Dave Clancy.  It's terrible to be away from home when all you want to do is throw your arms around someone and have a good cry. I don't want to throw my arms around any random person, and bawl all over them mind you.  I'm particular who I share my runny nose with. My cousin Liz, from NY, sent me facebook pictures of the post- wake trip to the pub (as it was happening). The marvels of modern technology.  Far from the days when you'd have to wait for the postman to bring a letter with all the details. Typical Irish crowd -  mourning in a pub is just a part of it all.  The act of celebrating the life lived is sad but it's also a necessary part of the mourning process.  If you didn't do that, you'd forever be trying to figure out what the blazes was missing. Dave was a Guinness man.  I'm betting the Guinness stocks just went through the roof in the Limerick area.  I raised my glass to Dave Clancy more than once since Sunday.  "Cheers".  xx

As far as I know, there's nothing else to report.  Thank God.  That's enough "excitement" for a while. 

Thank you all for your love and support.  We would be lost without each and every one of you.  The email update list has grown, and while I'm not exactly sure who reads these updates, I suspect it's quiet a few.  A big kiss, hug and squeeze to you all.  For those of you who hit "reply", I read Brian your lovely emails. 

Much love,

Hogan Family  xx

P.S.  If you'd like to send Brian a note, here's the address:

82 Russell Court,
Ballykeefe, Limerick
This picture is of Brian dressed as Amy Winehouse.  I'm pretty sure this wasn't the kind of "rehab" he had in mind!  Great legs!