First off, I want to begin by saying that I’m telling this story because I think it will help people who are dealing with or have family members dealing with addiction. I also think it will help people who are faced with a situation that is totally and completely out of their control.
My older brother Jesse, is turning 40 this year. In his late twenties, he was diagnosed with crohn’s disease and prescribed oxycontin. From that time forward, he has battled addiction of prescription pills.
On February 11, 2014, he caught pneumonia, which went septic quickly, most likely due to a compromised immune system. Extraordinarily, the night before, he was on his way to the airport to go to rehab. Thank god the airport called an ambulance, convinced he didn’t look so well.
My family and I got the call that morning that we needed to get to the hospital right away, as Jesse was in critical care. It was the kind of call that every family who has someone suffering with addiction, dreads and regretfully imagines to get.
An hour after we got to the hospital, he went into cardiac arrest. Yes, that means his heart stopped for 3 minutes. The doctors miraculously brought him back to life. They are literally miracle workers over at the St. Albert Sturgeon hospital.
Today, he is in a long-term care facility and has been diagnosed with a brain injury due to the lack of oxygen to his brain during his illness with pneumonia. Essentially, he can’t move his body and has very little brain function at this time.
So what is this like for my family and I? It’s really a loaded question and the only answer is that we take it day by day. We have our shitty days, but most days are good. He hasn’t been around very much in the past 5 years due to his addiction so it’s not a drastic daily change. And when he was around, it was really quite stressful because we weren’t communicating with Jesse, it was the addiction we were talking to.
How am I personally coping with the situation? This may sound messed up, but I know he’s safe in the long-term care facility and I like that more than where he was while struggling with addiction.
When I walk into Jesse’s room, I am usually in a lot of pain if I focus on the physical circumstance of the setting. So I go inward. I see it from a spiritual perspective. I ask myself questions like, “Is there anything wrong or any problem occurring at this very moment?” and there usually isn’t. He’s safe and looks mostly comfortable. I am healthy and get to see him so I can feel okay with it.
I look for little lessons that I can learn that will make me an overall more well rounded human being. And there is a huge piece of surrendering here. Teaching me how to be okay with uncertainty. We all know life is full of situations suggesting we relinquish control.
So with that being said & ironically, my brother may not be able to talk or move, but he’s teaching me so many lessons just by being. He doesn’t have to communicate with me to be my brother.
Chances of him making a full recovery are slim BUT there have been cases similar to his where people have miraculously come out of it like this one here.
I am hopeful. But in order to be okay with everything, it’s most important to ask myself “How is today? How is this moment right now?” 9 times out of 10, he is comfortable and I’m good with that.
I am grateful to my brother, today. His strength is remarkable knowing everything he’s been through and all he is teaching me.
I love you Jess!