A couple of posts ago, I told you that my brother Jerry was in the hospital.
In Cardiac ICU to be exact. Very scary stuff.
After much testing, it was determined that Jerry had pneumonia and a secondary bacterial infection. All of this was very stressful to his heart, which was why he was in the Cardiac ICU.
I went to see him in the hospital yesterday. There was a nurse with him, trying to get a needle into his arm. Jerry has a thick skin in many ways, including literally - so she was really having to work at it. I tried distracting him by asking him questions, but after a particularly strong jab, Jerry held his breath, turned red and tried not to cry. As the nurse backed off, Jerry said to her, "Please tell me that you got it that time. Lie if you have to."
There was a long pause before she said, "Okay then..." and walked out of the room. We chatted a little more, Jerry being somewhat distracted by some rescue show on the TV. Then the nurse came back in with a new needle set.
Jerry's eyes got wide. "I thought you got it!" he nearly whimpered.
"But you TOLD me to lie!" she replied.
Jerry's a pretty tough guy, but he does not like needles. And after you've been jabbed as much as he had been, it really hurts! Luckily, she found just the right angle and the needle slid in with just a quick intake of breath from Jerry and it was done.
When I left, he had two different kinds of antibiotics being pumped into him. And Mom and Dad were on their way to visit with him. Only two visitors at a time and a short visit were the requirements, so I left.
Dad later sent out the update - and a picture of Jerry hooked up to his various medical thingys. Mom sat next to him. Jerry was expected to be moved out of ICU in the morning but remain in the hospital for another two days or so.
So is my heart.
It's funny how you can take someone's presence in your life for granted. I've been worried about Jerry for quite some time. He recently put on quite a bit of weight and hasn't been eating well - he tends to do this when he goes through periods of time when he's not terribly happy. His life isn't what he thought it would be. No wife. No kids. He drives a towtruck and spends much of his time rescuing strangers and their stranded cars, or fixing cars by the side of the road, or changing tires, or cleaning up accidents.
He truly is a white knight and his mighty steed is a teal-colored tow truck covered in palm trees.
In a way, he seems invincible. He's done what he's done to his body. The world has done what it's done to his life. And he's still standing. He's still a good, honest, decent man who rarely thinks of himself first.
So it was a shock to hear of him in the hospital because he was ill.
I am the oldest of my siblings. I'm the one who's had the health problems. Me in the hospital wouldn't surprise me, but my baby brother? It's not supposed to happen like that.
In many ways, Jerry doesn't fit in. He had undiagnosed dyslexia as a child, and was labeled stupid by the school system. It wasn't until he was 16 that they figured out what was going on, but by that time, Jerry had had enough and quit school. It was enough to impact his life. He's gotten his GED now because he realized that without that, he really couldn't accomplish much. And there is so much he can do! He's a mechanical genius. He's been tearing motors apart and putting them back together since he was quite young. From lawnmowers to Dad's truck. He has a different way of thinking and somehow manages to come up with some rather bizarre solutions that actually wind up making sense.
But people don't always get how wonderful he is. Sometimes WE don't get it either. But my brothers and me - we are all best friends. We love each other and try to understand each other and have fun and great talks together. But we don't always realize just how much we mean to each other.
John is in Kuwait. He's had to sit by and watch all of this unfold from afar and keep up with everything via email. And he wrote this after a rather frantic email asking what we were doing to support Jerry:
I apologize for being an officious ass; I'm just scared for my little brother. And for me. If that big, sweet, goofy heart were to stop beating while I am 8000 miles away, I don't know what I would do.
And that about sums it up for the rest of us too. What would we do without Jerry?
Thankfully, we won't have to find out anytime soon.