Bro, this Bud’s for you
From Thursday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2011 5:54PM EST
I’m not at all sure I could survive being a patient in an intensive care unit for nine months, with no end in sight. That’s how long my brother Levi has been hospitalized, and he has been desperately near death for much of that time. As I write this, he remains in an isolation room in an Intermediate ICU.
Levi and I, now both firmly entrenched in middle age, are only a year and a half apart, right in the middle of a family of nine children. But we’re very different from each other. He’s always been kind of rough and tumble; I’m more bookish and reticent. I’m an avowed pacifist; Levi collects guns. He left school in Grade 8; I didn’t stop until I owned a terminal degree.
We weren’t exactly bosom buddies growing up, and drifted further apart as adults. So, while we live not 10 minutes from each other, we don’t see each other often – not nearly as much as brothers should. It’s not Levi’s fault – it’s been primarily mine.
When he was still a young man in his early 20s, he found himself a quadriplegic after a horrific road accident, and so his mobility is obviously limited, although he is fiercely independent insofar as he can be. Nonetheless, the blame for the paucity of contact has to be shouldered primarily by me.
To understate more than a little, life for someone who is quadriplegic is complicated by many things, and in my brother’s case, he has struggled with respiratory problems and the constant fear of pressure sores. Last February, Levi was admitted to hospital to have a deep infection on his elbow looked after.