What Can I Expect From My 3 Month Old Baby One Man’s Courage

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One Man’s Courage

My brother was a healthy and happy man. He came to Canada from England and found a career he loved and a wife he cherished. He had never been seriously ill in his 45 years of life and looked forward to the rest of his life, in Canada.

One morning he woke up to find his body covered in dark bruises. This alarmed him a bit and due to his wife’s efforts he visited the local doctor. After being sent to a skin specialist and many other professional people, the verdict came back that he had a rare blood disorder. There was no cure, only a bone marrow transplant could save his life.

As you might imagine, this was devastating news to everyone who knew him. His family especially, knowing him

being a wonderful kind and generous man, how could this happen? Suddenly his life was turned upside down, without warning of this tragedy visited upon him. We all tried to lift his spirits, with banal things and assurances of cures at first, but fear filled our hearts.

He had to wait until a potential bone marrow donor was found, which we knew could take a long time, if ever. On this occasion we were lucky, a lady in the US was found to be a match for him and volunteered to come to Canada to do the procedure. The actual procedure was not difficult and he came through it with flying colours, we were so grateful for the opportunity that this now gave him life. Little did we know what kind of life he would have.

In short, he went through many months of agony while his body tried to accept the new marrow, he had to shave his head to save his energy, he was isolated to keep him from any external infection, and his diet was restricted. He lost a lot of weight and his will to live dwindled as he fought valiantly to take his next breath. His lungs were weak and the medical staff had to operate to put a metal plate in his lungs. In fact, when I was allowed to visit, he looked like one of the concentration camps in the war. I was sick with worry, especially when his doctor gave him little chance to survive, maybe 6 months at most.

They also found that his hips had worsened and he had to have a hip replacement while in hospital. His skin was like parchment, and if he received any kind of blow or blow, he could start bleeding and not be able to stop. His immune system was shot, so he couldn’t be around anyone with a cold or the flu.

He finally returned home from the hospital after many months, and his wife became his nurse around the clock. She worked tirelessly and devotedly to take care of him, she became his lifeline and deserved all our admiration for her dedication to his quality of life.

He was always cheerful, although always in pain, he would be cheerful and talkative, especially about sports, the television became his soul mate, his window to the outside world. Little by little, by his own determination, he started walking with crutches, this allowed him to go around the house a little and felt that he was making progress. He had to have oxygen in the house to help with his breathing, and a nurse to come every day to dress his open sores, but he remained hopeful that he would be able to get out and about.

With the constant help of his wife he progressed to using a walking stick and was able to get in and out of their van with assistance. He had to visit the hospital every 2 weeks to have his blood replaced with new blood, he became quite a favorite with the nurses and they were full of admiration for his ability to handle that procedure, on such an ongoing basis. By that time, 3 years had passed, he was full of hope that he would continue to get stronger, even though he knew, as we all did, that time was not on his side.

He also had to undergo another hip replacement, and had pins put into his hip to hold it together as his joints and bones deteriorated. While he was in hospital, he had to receive many blood transfusions as part of his treatment, this was to be his downfall. The medical staff discovered that he had contracted HIV from tainted blood. Final blow. He didn’t tell the family for quite some time, wanting us to keep thinking he had some sort of future. His wife of course knew, and also hid it from us, putting a terrible strain on them both.

He was determined not to give in, and even managed to do some woodworking with his hands, because he needed something to fill his days and make him feel useful. Always with pain at his side. The Doctors thought that since his lungs were in such bad condition, he should leave Ontario and it’s cold weather and go to Vancouver, where the winters were milder. So they sold their house, and made the move.

They found a nice little house by the water where he could sit and watch the sea and relax as best he could. He began to feel much more tired, and just liked to sit. He called from Vancouver (I was still in Ontario) and told me all about where they were living, that he wasn’t doing so well, but didn’t want his wife to know because she was trying to get them settled. They had been in Vancouver for 2 months when I got a call that he had been taken to hospital and was in a bad way. I got on the first plane out and rushed to his bed. He was in a coma and didn’t know I was there. The doctors said his bladder had burst and he only had a few hours at best.

The saddest thing was, he had a new grandchild in England that he had never seen, she was his first grandchild and was supposed to visit him that summer. His daughter and family flew an emergency from London to be by his side. We put the 3 month old baby on his chest hoping he might know she was there, we liked to believe he did. I sat by his bed for 16 hours, he never came out of the coma, but I held his hand knowing he knew I was there. He passed away peacefully in the night, free from his pain and suffering.

He lived 10 years longer than the doctor predicted, he lived in constant pain and even at the end he hung on for life, 16 hours longer than their prediction.

COURAGE comes in many guises, but to me, none as strong as the courage of a man who loved life, a man who smiled through our tears, and who tried to make us see that life is as you made it, even through adversity. This man, my beloved brother, whom I miss every day, will always be in my heart. In Clewes

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