Sunday, August 15, 2010
The Summer of Cherry Coke Slurpees
Cousins--Lisa and Mike's kids and my kids (minus Adrie) at Hebgen Lake, Montana in July.
Every summer goes by quickly, that goes without saying. Almost every kid will attest to that. To someone who loves the summer with a passion, it's hard to see my favorite season pass by without being anxious and irritated. But this year it went by especially fast for me, perhaps because of what was looming with a big grin at the finish line--a big P a big T and a big A, in that order. But as that zoomed glaringly into focus, some other things happened along the way.
My brother in law Mike is alive and well. It is a miracle that he lives and breathes. Anyone who knows anything about medicine tells him that. The chances of surviving a burst illiac artery are slim at best. He has extensive nerve damage in his right leg and no feeling from the hip to the ankle. We are so thrilled that he's alive that the fact that he walks with a walker or crutches is almost of no consequence. He craves cherry coke slurpees and shows all who come to visit the massive scar that railroads down his chest three to four inches wide.
It is a miracle to us that he can drink cherry coke slurpees considering that everything in his abdominal cavity was basically shut down for four weeks. My sister Lisa, who once rolled her eyes at the slurpee habit, will now let him consume whatever his heart desires. He is 30 pounds thinner and weak. A lot of regular food is hard to digest. But not the slurpees. Seven Eleven is about two minutes down the road, good news for all those making multiple trips for him.
The kidney that doctors thought would be damaged beyond repair is functioning optimally.
Best of all is his sense of humor. It has always been legendary, and I wondered if he might be different when he got home after 5 weeks in the hospital. I wondered if we would all still be laughing. I wasn't disappointed when I first talked to him and was almost immediately laughing--just like always. His sense of humor remains smooth and unblemished, as if he hadn't been anywhere near death's door and back.
Physical therapy is life's work right now. His doctors say he can never move another piece of furniture in his life. Mike actually thanked the doctor for this piece of news, since he has been on more elder's quorum moves than he likes to remember. That means he and his family will stay put as well, which makes us all happy.
So Mike--son, brother, brother in law, husband, dad, uncle, and friend to many, is working each day to get his life back to a state of normalcy.
Once you've nearly died, though, normal is never what it once was.