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Unread 06-19-2013, 11:16 PM   #1
backwaterdogs
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Posts: 12
Default I lost my brother two days ago and I need some help

Not sure why Im asking this as my brother died and too late to help, so I guess I am trying to reconcile a lot of guilt I have about our relationship over the last 13+ years.

My brother and I were pretty close growing up, but no so much in our teen years and later, seemed we just always fought, so really didn't have a great foundation, but have always at least been on speaking terms.

Anyway, in late 98, my mom was diagnosed with later stage pancreatic cancer and she was given 6 months to live in November of 1998, it was and still is devastating to me, I miss her greatly...she was wonderful.

My dad and brother are/were pretty heavy drinkers, and I have a lot of resentment towards both of them because of this and especially their behavior during the last 6 months of my mom's life. Long story, short...they did care about mom, but not enough to quit drinking and bringing about all the drama. 3 episodes I recall: brother going thru divorce(largely because of drinking) & bankruptcy due to gambling debt, my mother (with only a few months to live) bent over in tears and sobbing because my dad would leave her home alone all day while he sat at the bar, and lastly after disease progressed mom became paralyzed on Mother's day...brother and dad showed up late w/ no gift after being out drinking...never forget/forgive that day.

After mom's death, I moved away for about 5 years and maintained a distant relationship: infrequent phone calls, maybe a get together back home during Christmas, but not very close. This was about 2000 and right at that time my brother was diagnosed with a serious lung infection, initially thought to be tuberculosis, turned out to be something called MAI, Mycobacterium avium-intercellulare aka NTM. At that time, I didn't realize the seriousness of the disease as for the most part he was functional.

The disease progressed over the years, he would occasionally wind up with pneumonia, miss some work, etc, but i wasn't too involved. I still harbored some ill feelings from past episodes and invariably, every time we tried to speak, it would usually result in an argument. He was what we called a 'mean drunk'...it was hard to tell if he'd been drinking, he seemed to mask it so well, but trying to talk with him while drinking was like gas on a fire...and for the most part, I tended to avoid him...and unfortunately his son(my nephew)...dad was the same way, though not a mean drunk, it was easy to tell when he'd been drinking and so, I would avoid talking with him as it would infuriate me to try and talk to a drunk person.

In the last 3 to 5 years, my brothers health declined rapidly, lost all his weight, infection spread to his colon, had several surgeries, a painful hernia, abscesses in his colon, a colostomy for a period of time....one thing after another it seemed. He continued to smoke and drink(i assume quite heavily), but I did try to involve myself more, just to understand his sickness. My dad would go to doctors appointments with him, but wouldn't allow dad to go in...most of the details were kept close by my brother. He finally had to go on disability and was out of work, borrowed a lot of money from my dad. I gave my dad a few thousand as he was on a fixed income. However, really didn't do much directly for my brother at the time and I know it was rough on him for good while until SS disability started to come in(that takes a long while!)

the drama continued...a blocked colon in early 2012 requiring surgery, another episode in late summer requiring hospitalization, a broken hip in late '12...nearly lost him there. Got a little better for a few months, then back in hospital in may, another blockage...until ultimately loosing him here in mid june of 2013.

Sorry for the long intro to my question/issue, but since his death (which I knew was eminent for some time) I have been wracked with guilt about the distance I kept from him...I feel I wasn't a good brother and should have done something different years ago when it could have made a difference. However, we could hardly talk about Christmas party plan w/out an argument...and talking to him or my dad about their drinking always ended in argument.

After his death, his doctor opened up and provided information. As I suspected, alcohol was big factor in his death. I learned he would quit taking antibiotics for long periods to allow for drinking (the meds and alcohol would have killed quite quickly and he understood this). This doctor and several other doctors confronted him about the drinking and smoking and his non-compliance with the scheduled medications, but he continued to drink. The infection turned to what is known as MDRMAI, or multi-drug resistant MAI...the bacteria cultured in a couple of locations, but nothing could be given to treat him...his fate was sealed and he really did suffer the last 2 to 3 years of his life.

Not sure how he stayed for weeks on end in the hospital without a drink, but he had lots of pain and was usually on a fentynall(sp?) or some other heavy narcotic most of the time, im sure that sated his need for a drink to some degree. On his last days (he was in a nursing home, at age 49) he conviced the doc to allow him two beers per day...I heard he had a half a beer or something, but slipped off late morning on 6/17. I did visit him everyday of the last 2 weeks or so he was in the hospital and nursing home and I was able to help him a little here and there.

Im now grief struck...I had a sick brother that I couldn't along with very well, I didn't help much. Im confident any plea I may have made over the years would have resulted in a fight and possibly complete loss of contact, but I still feel so bad. Im again angry at him for what he did to himself, his son, our family, everything.

So, I'm turning to this forum for some help and consoling. I read on all the other stories, that the person has to do it for themselves, which he just would not do....but for some reason, I still feel like I let my brother down.

I'm hopeful for some help and perspective from others..thanks!
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