Reblog: Then He Kissed the Back of my Hand

Apparently I found the limit on the number of times WordPress will let you reblog one of your own blog posts… Today is the 3rd anniversary of my baby brother’s passing, and so I took some time this morning to re-create the story to share, spend some time with my own thoughts, and just reaffirmed how fast life can change and how important it is to stop and spend time in the moment.

Love you all, and now back to the story.

*******************************************************************

My parents always knew that they wanted to have 2 kids and to adopt.  So, after me and my sister, they began looking to adopt.  They wanted to adopt a special needs kid, provide a home to a child that might be overlooked.  They were aware of their own limitations and knew that they wanted a child with a physical handicap.  We took sign language classes together for a while when we thought we were getting a deaf sibling.  That fell through and in the end, we found out about Lee.  Lee had a little red triangle that appeared on his forehead above his nose when he cried and got upset.  The Koreans considered that a handicap.  It was meant to be!

Image<a Lee at Universal Studios, he’s so strong, he is lifting up the A-Team Van with one hand!

His Korean name is Man Ho Ha and we picked him up from Dallas airport when he was 6 months old.  He was ours from the time he was a month old, but we couldn’t get him until he was 6 months old.  It was amazing.  A Korean woman had traveled with him and several other babies and dropped them off at other stops, and Lee and one other child, a little girl, were her last stop.  We passed him around our arms while at the airport and just couldn’t keep our eyes or hands off of him.  It was a memory that will always stay with me.

He was named Jayman Lee.  Jayman is spelled slightly different from normal so that we could incorporate his Korean name in there – and Lee is a family name.  We just called him Lee.

Image

Through the years, as a good older sister does, I tormented him! I curled his hair and my other sister dressed him up.  Good Times!  Since there is 10 years difference between he and I, we were pretty close.  When he got older, I always took him school supply shopping.  We had season passes to Six Flags for many years.  Apparently, when he and I were younger, I thought I was also his mom.  He would bring home papers from school that were subpar and needed a parents signature, in order to keep him out of trouble I would sign his papers.  Then mom and dad would never know that he didn’t do well.  Yeah, uh, they found out anyway.

It was 10 months ago that he was diagnosed with viral cardiomyopathy.  You have followed my journey with him here on my blog.  After the initial diagnosis, he did good.  We had a few set backs, but overall, he was doing really well managing the condition.  We did have a few scares along the way, but he always pulled through.  In fact, our aunt commented at a family function “you don’t look sick.”  Yeah, she’s that aunt.

ImageLee’s Senior Picture

A little over a month ago he started not feeling very well.  His meds were adjusted, but he knows is body, and he knew when it was time to go to the ER.

He never left the hospital again.

This kid was amazing.  He took everything that was thrown at him.  We didn’t think he would survive the gallbladder surgery, but he did.  Then he was transferred to UT Southwestern, which is one of the best hospitals for cardiovascular issues.  He seemed to be getting better, but then stopped.  I can’t tell you how many times we were told “he may not make it through the night” but he did.  When he went in for his LVAD surgery, again, we knew he might not survive, but against the odds, he did.  I’m so very proud of my brother for all that he went through and how well he handled it.

There was a Tuesday that I went to visit him in Dallas.  He took my hand and held it.  He told me how much he loved me and how glad he was that I was his sister.  He said that he knows how much crap I put up from him over the years and he was so glad that I was always there to support him.  He also mentioned how thankful he was that I could spend so much time with him in the hospital.  He acknowledged that it couldn’t have been easy for me, but that he wanted me to know how much he appreciated it, and me, and how very much he loved me.

Then he kissed the back of my hand and sat there holding my hand.

That’s the last conversation I had with my brother.

Image

Lee with our nephew

That night he had to be put on the ventilator.  A week later he coded and slipped into a coma.  This Monday, he had a CT scan and we were told that there was swelling in the brain due to damage and that the doctors would not be able to fix that.

It was time.

This Tuesday we gathered by his bedside.  Mom, dad, my sister, my grandmother and I.  We held his hand, kissed his head and said our goodbyes.  When we were ready, we called in the doctors and nurses and they turned off his machines and left us in peace.  We stood by and talked to him, held his hand and we cried as he passed away.

Lee transitioned peacefully to Heaven surrounded by love.  We let him know how much of a blessing he was to us, and that we were letting him go.  He didn’t take long to pass, and we all knew when it happened, you could see the peaceful expression, it was so nice that after such a trying journey, he had found peace.

Image

Last picture of me and Lee, at the hospital

Today we have been busy making the arrangements.  Lee will be cremated and we will have a memorial service this Saturday morning.  I’ve been in contact with family and friends and have been absolutely amazed at the outpouring of love and support I have received.

Lee was well loved, and for a pain in the butt brother, he was pretty darn awesome.

Thank you all for being part of my journey with Lee.

Tense

First, let me apologize.

I am not a niche blogger.

If you came here because I once wrote a funny post,

Looking for funny at Did That Just Happen Blog

a running post

Eye of the Tiger power song at Did That Just Happen Blog

or maybe a cooking post

Gordan Ramsey cooking meme at Did That Just Happen Blog

– and you wanted more of that, on a consistent basis, this might not be the place for you!

And, I truly feel badly over this!  I’d love to write about running. Or cooking.  And heavens knows I’d actually love to be funny!  But alas, I’m a storyteller.  I spin a good yarn.

But that is neither here nor there – I just felt the need to get that out!

Plus Eye of the Tiger is totally my Power Song and when I saw that e-card, well, it had to be utilized!

But today I want to talk about tense.  And this doesn’t fall into any category listed above!

noun

1.

(grammar) a category of the verb or verbal inflections, such as present, past, and future, that expresses the temporal relations between what is reported in a sentence and the time of its utterance
I was talking to a colleague the other day and said “It’s okay, I can say that, my brother was Korean”
He WAS Korean. Like overnight he all of the sudden wasn’t anymore.
I was trying to say that my brother is no longer with us… but he is still Korean, dead or alive – and y’all I have let this twirl and twist around my head for days… I am not sure how to relate that my brother is Korean, but no longer with us, without going into a massively long explanation!
Am I the only one that runs across stuff like this and then freaks when they can’t figure it out? Or, fingers crossed, has someone figured this out for me already?!? Is there an answer? A cheat sheet? Anything? Cause the tense makes me a bit tense!!
Happy Tuesday everyone! 🙂

Lee Was Here

For those of you who have followed my blog for any amount of time, you know that a year and a half ago I lost my (28 year old) baby brother.  

Fast forward to a few weeks ago, mom and dad were on vacation and I was house and dog sitting.  Well, I thought they had an under slab leak, as all of the sudden there was a puddle in the living room! I totally freaked out, and spent hours trying to figure out where the water was coming from.  I finally traced it back to an ice maker that is supposed to be turned off.  

However, I got the water cleaned up, the ice maker turned off and we thought all was fine.

Until the wood floors in the kitchen / breakfast room started warping.  Apparently the water had been leaking under the kitchen / breakfast nook floor for several weeks before it even made it to the living room. 

Needless to say, this Saturday morning we ended up spending time pulling up the wood panels in the worst areas.  We got a big section pulled up and hauled out to the truck and as Mr. T was rolling up the thermal barrier, he goes “Look, there is Lee”

And we all stopped – and not going to lie – I was looking for a ghost! 

Not a ghost:

Lee Was Here

Lee Was Here

Lee would have been about 17 when he wrote this on the concrete under the new floor.  It was a wonderful surprise to find in the middle of less than pleasant circumstances.  

He is still with us.  

A Year Later

It has been over a year since I last talked to my brother and today marks the one year anniversary of his passing.  At times it is still surreal.  Just the other day Mr. T asked if I had seen the trailer for the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie, and I said no, and he goes “It’s totally different.  I hate that Uncle Lee won’t be able to go see the movie with us.”  Uncle Lee did love TMNT growing up, and we’ve all seen the earlier movies a hundred times because he loved them – and yes, I hate that he won’t be here to go see the movie with us, too.

TMNT New

New look of TMNT

TMNT What have they done

TMNT Old School wondering “what have they done to us?”

 

Many of you were with me as I went through this journey, and you met Lee and learned about CRRT and how a mechanical heart works! While it really feels like it took a long time, it was 9 months from start to finish and one month from the time he started having real issues until his passing.

Several months ago I went through my Facebook feed and made a copy of all of my updates on Lee, I wanted to make sure I always had them, and today I am sharing them with you.

page-dividers-clip-art-7914

April 6, 2013

Keep Lee in your thoughts and prayers. The meds he was put on to help his diabetes have made him sick, he’s switching to a new med, but still has to suffer thru the weekend while the old ones work out if his system. Please and thanks!

 

April 8, 2013

Lee is being admitted to the ICU for observation and monitoring. Please keep him in your thoughts and prayers. His blood pressure is very low and there are some other issues. Thanks!

 

April 9, 2013

I’m sitting on one side of Lee’s bed and mom is on the other. I’m checking emails and watching TV and for the last couple of minutes I just keep hearing mom giggle. Silence and then a giggle. Silence and then giggle, giggle. Not sure what she’s doing, but apparently that side of the bed is funnier!

 

April 9, 2013

(Mom’s post) I am asking everyone to put our son Lee in their prayers tonight. He is in ICU and is scheduled for surgery tomorrow. There is real concern about how his heart is going to handle the surgery. Please keep him in your prayers. He is being a trouper but his heart just isn’t helping him

 

April 10, 2013

Lee is out of surgery. He did good! He gets to go straight back to his room in the ICU and do his recovery there. Thanks to everyone for the prayers and the reaching out. Please continue to pray for his recovery.

 

April 11, 2013

Lee had a rough morning and his kidneys didn’t kick start like we wanted. So he had a port installed this afternoon so that dialysis could be administered. This will be a continuous bedside treatment to slowly clean his blood and remove the toxins. This should make it easier for his body to then work on its own. Thanks for the prayers and support. Let me know if you have any questions! And he had really appreciated the well wishes that have come his way!

Last picture of Lee and I together.

April 12, 2013

Lee is much more lucid today, which helps me out, I can tell what he’s saying, lol. The dialysis is working and his kidneys look good. His liver doesn’t look so good, tho, so we are calling in a new doctor for help. As always, thanks for the prayers and support!

 

April 12, 2013

We were told that Lee’s recovery would be up and down, and despite the setbacks, we do seem to be moving forward. Lee met some new doctors today. We’ve seen the GI doc, who is running some tests and had an ultrasound done on the liver, and we’ve seen the infectious disease doc who will just watch for a few days. Hopefully we can find out if something is wrong with his liver (it’s still congested) or if the issue is heart related. He slept a good portion of the day today, so I think his body is busy healing itself!

 

April 13, 2013

Small setback today, Lee has a fever, which is next to impossible when on dialysis, so they are working to find and kill the infection. They have also played, in essence, musical IV’s and removed the art and central lines and put in a picc line. He was surprised to learn today was Saturday, apparently he lost a few days during all of this!

 

April 14, 2013

Lee’s numbers look good today and his fever broke. Those are both big checks in the win column. We are very blessed that he has such a great group of doctors and nurses looking after him.

 

April 15, 2013

To my untrained eye, Lee seems better. His color has improved and his diet has been upgraded to full liquid so he gets things like cream soups and malt-o-meal. Of course, his numbers are still all over the place, not as stable as we want, but, he is moving forward. It is slow progress, but progress nevertheless. Please continue to send your prayers for Lee, and for his doctors and nurses and us! It’s been a full week in the ICU and there isn’t an end in sight just yet.

 

April 16, 2013

Lee had a rough day, but he was weaned off of one specific med, and this allowed us to stop dialysis. Tomorrow we should have new lab numbers to review, and the CRRT (dialysis) machine won’t be far away, but we are really hoping that his body is taking over and he won’t need more than a few hours a day, if at all. He is so ready to get better and be out of the hospital!

IMG_1450

April 17, 2013

Day 10 in the ICU and we are still showing progress, but it’s hard. Lee is struggling with pain and aches and today he went down for a traditional hemodialysis treatment. Please just keep him in your prayers.

 

April 18, 2013

Today Lee had a CT done for pictures of his internal organs and tomorrow he will have a Swan-Ganz right heart catheterization. (They will inset a small tube into the right side of the heart and arteries leading to the lungs to measure function and blood flow.) This will help get a full picture of what is going on inside his body and his doctors work on his treatment. Prayers please!

 

April 19, 2013

Lee is being transported to one if the UNTSW hospitals, not sure which, probably St. Paul. This will provide more specialize care. Sadly, I don’t think he’s well enough to really appreciate the helicopter ride, but the Care Flight staff will take good care of him.

 

April 22, 2013

Lee’s kidneys are doing better today, that’s a blessing and tomorrow they are going to attempt the right heart cath again. Hopefully they can do it this time. Everyone is ready to know the results of that!

 

April 23, 2013

I’m taking Mr. T to Diva Dinner tonight. Against his will. Good times ahead! On another note, on paper Lee is doing better, his kidneys and liver are responding. Sadly, he’s had a rough night and an even rougher day, he’s just out of sorts and very uncomfortable. He does have a small infection that they are fighting, but otherwise, looking good. On an even better note, more depts. have signed off on his transplant, so we might be able to get his case in front of the board for review and approval this week! The LVAD is also in serious discussion.  Prayers!!

 

April 24, 2013

Lee ended up being sedated and put on a ventilator yesterday evening and then had a contrast CT done. Found nothing on the CT that required surgery & he made it through the night! Prayers do work! He has developed a higher fever, so he is currently packed in ice and they are keeping him sedated while he is on the ventilator. Please keep sending prayers for him, his doctors and staff and family. Let me know if you have any questions! Thanks!

 

April 24, 2013

Lee’s fever broke! Yay! The ice blanket has been off for hours and he is running normal. The docs plan to do the right heart cath, no matter what, tomorrow (fingers crossed!).

LeeRemembered016

April 25, 2013

On another note, Lee’s fever came back, but has stabilized. The docs have decided not to do the right heart cath and just proceed forward with the surgery for the LVAD. Lee’s condition is hour by hour, but if he stays stable, they will do this tomorrow. Blessing!!! Also, today, his file is going before the transplant selection committee at St. Pauls. Please pray that he gets approved for his heart transplant!

 

April 25, 2013

Please pray for Lee’s surgery. Tomorrow he will have the LVAD installed on his heart. This is a very high risk operation but there is a surgeon willing to take it on and we are hopeful. He’ll have a rough couple of days afterwards, but this should help him while we wait on transplant options.

 

April 26, 2013

Please keep praying for Lee. We just got a report that the surgery is going well. He is still open on the table, but the device is installed. They are doing dialysis to cleanse his blood of the toxins and meds. Should only be a few more hours. Thanks!

 

April 26, 2013

Please keep up the prayers. The right side of his heart didn’t hold up when they put the device on the left side so they have had to go ahead and put an assistance device on the right side, too. They are still running dialysis to help clear his blood, and it should be a few more hours. Thanks guys!

 

April 26, 2013

Surgery is over. They will be watching him for bleeding and stabilizing vitals. They may go back in as early as Sunday and try to take off the right side assist device. He survived the surgery! Another victory!

 

April 27, 2013

Please be praying for Lee who is back in surgery this morning due to his assistance devices. Thanks

 

April 27, 2013

Lee just got out of surgery. Had to replace the LVAD unit. Took off the RVAD but added an Ecmo to oxygenate his lungs. They are filling up. The Ecmo will basically bypass his lungs to give them time to heal. I haven’t researched that item yet! Please keep praying!

 

April 27, 2013

Well, Lee no sooner got done with surgery earlier and they took him right back in. The oxygeninator (I made that word up) that was working his lungs wasn’t balanced with his LVAD. Considering they haven’t ever done this combination of equipment before, they are paying real close attention and pulling out all the stops. Please keep him in your prayers.

 

April 28, 2013

Lee was bleeding a lot last night, so they had to open his chest again to pack it and try to stop the bleeding. They will leave it open so they can go in and repack as needed. Please say a little prayer as you read this!

 

April 28, 2013

Sunday was a day of rest for Lee and he had a pretty peaceful day. His chest is still open and packed and probably will be while he is on the Ecmo, but that has allowed his lungs to begin to heal! Thanks to everyone for their prayers!

100_1389

April 30, 2013

This morning Lee is back in the OR and they are removing all of the packing, cleaning out his chest and doing an antibiotic “Paint” job inside before they finally sew his chest up. It’s been open for a couple of days now, so this is really good news that they can close him up! The LVAD is working well and they are keeping him on the ECMO a bit longer. Please pray for a successful closure this morning. Thanks!

 

April 30, 2013

Lee made it out of surgery this morning, but he’s been rushed back to the OR due to bleeding. Please continue to keep him in your prayers!

 

April 30, 2013

Lee had a busy day. Had surgery to close his chest, was rushed back in when he “sprung a leak”. It appears that closing the chest put more pressure on the organs and machines than expected, as once they opened him back up, everything was normal. So, now his chest is open (a bit more than before) and he is packed up again. They went ahead and installed a defibrillator on his right side, just in case, but as of now, only his left side is getting assistance. Also, prayers have been answered because he is off the Ecmo and back on the ventilator. Please keep the prayers coming! It is still a very touch and go situation.

 

May 1, 2013

In the wee hours of the morning Lee was back in the OR having the ECMO put back on, the right side if his heart just wasn’t keeping up. It was a success and he is back in his room, chest open and packed up. The doctor is thinking of waking him up later today. Please keep praying for him and that his heart will hold on.

 

May 1, 2013

The doctors have taken Lee off all of the anesthesia and we are waiting for him to wake up. He needs to wake up and be able to follow some basic commands and then the doctors can go before the transplant selection committee tomorrow with a good report. Please keep in mind his chest is still open and packed and he is back on the Ecmo, and he has just been through so very much. Today’s prayer is for him to wake up! Thanks!

 

May 2, 2013

Please keep Lee in your prayers as we are still waiting for him to wake up properly. They are calling in a neuro consult and will possibly do bedside CT tomorrow. Let me know if you have any questions and thanks!

IMG_1459

May 3, 2013

Today’s prayer is for Lee’s liver to function properly. They think the liver is causing some of his sedation issues. So, we’d love for his liver to start working better so we can see if he will wake up properly. Today he will have another procedure and they will remove the packing in his chest, give him an antibiotic paint job and then repack his chest. We appreciate all of the prayers.

 

May 4, 2013

Just got done seeing Lee. We still need lots of prayers for his liver! He is also back on CRRT, but that’s okay, his kidneys will bounce back. Come on liver! Work! Please and thanks!

 

May 5, 2013

Please keep praying for Lee’s liver! I talked to the nurses and they said we can post Get Well cards for Lee in his room. If you need an address please message or text me. I think he would enjoy hearing us read them to him!

 

May 6, 2013

This morning Lee has some GI bleeding issues that they are working on, and he is going to have a CT scan done soon. Please pray for the healing of his body. Let me know if you have any questions, and I’ll update you when I have more info! Just keep sending up the prayers!

 

May 7, 2013

Thank you all for your love, support and prayers. Today we released Lee from life support and he had a very peaceful transition to Heaven. My family and I are so grateful to all of you who have said prayers, thank you very much from all of us from the bottom of our hearts.

page-dividers-clip-art-7914

 

 

25 Songs in 25 Days – Day 7

25 Songs in 25 Days – Day 7 – A Song That Reminds You of the Past Summer

My past summer was rough.  Beyond rough.  Blessings by Laura Story was one of the songs that we played at Lee’s funeral, and while it is a beautiful song, unlike almost all of the other songs I’ve picked, I couldn’t listen all the way through!

To those that were with me last summer, thank you so much from the bottom of my heart for all of the support and love you showed.

For those who weren’t with me, here is a link to my favorite post, and a good summation of my life last year.

Then he Kissed the Back of my Hand. 

And check out these awesome people that are playing along with me:

Melanie Jo Moore

Surviving the Mad House

Life in the Wylde West

Bishop Eddie Tatro’s Study

Four Calders

 

 

It’s the End of the Year as we Know it!

Goodbye 2013 and Hello 2014.

I’m currently thinking about New Year’s Resolutions… I can’t wait to share them with you all!

Until then, I’ve decided to get on the band wagon and provide you with my Top 5 Blogs from the past year!  Whoo Hooo!  Lucky you!

Now, I do have a disclaimer.  I eliminated my very top blog as it has 2,000 more hits than the next one down… obviously not a fan favorite, just a search engine favorite!

A Supernatural Obsession

Nerd fandom

I think that this post is a hit because of the search terms; however, I’m super happy to include it because I like to share the love of the Winchester brothers.  You’re welcome.

Lessons from the Movies: The Bucket List

The Bucket List

The Bucket List

I did love this post.  Looking back, the formatting is off and I can tell that I have modified the way I blog just a bit; however, I’m really pleased that this one made the list!  I love my bucket list!

The Baby Shower Didn’t Suck

Really? You want to display and then eat a cake that is a baby's butt?  Am I the only one that has issues with this??

Really, you want to display a cake that looks like a baby butt and then expect me to eat it.  Not happening.  And if you give me a part of the cake that looks like a human leg I will personally cut off your toes and see how YOU like it!  Okay, sorry, but baby showers can be freaky things and even just posting this brings up an irrational response apparently…

Then He Kissed the Back of my Hand

IMG_1459

Now, this post still brings a tear to my eye.  In fact, I almost didn’t re-read this post, but I couldn’t help it.  Thanks to all of my fellow bloggers who followed me through this journey, you guys were there through the medical jargon, the laughter and the tears.  This is still my favorite post of all time.  And probably always will be.

What Does Being Brave Mean?

Bravery[3]

There are days that just making it through the day makes me feel brave.  I know that everyone has a different definition of “bravery”, and some of the items that I have trouble with you might be able to breeze right through; but the fact that I do them despite the fact that my heart is pounding out of my chest – well, I’ll take that as a win!

Thank you to those who have read my blogs, and many thanks to those of you that take the time to leave a comment.  I’ve really enjoyed meeting and interacting with all of you this past year – you’ve all brought laughter and light into my life.

Tattoos and Tears

I got my tattoo! And, it’s awesome!

Saturday afternoon I went with Karen to help her finish Christmas shopping.  This is the first year that she’s ever waited this long, and oh my goodness – I was amazed at how many people wait so long and are willing to face the crowds!!  It was insane! There were people everywhere!  And don’t even get me started on traffic!!

That’s not the point, but I felt the need to share!

Before we headed out, we had swung by a tattoo shop that was supposed to be open, but there was a sign on the door that they would be opening late.  (Fine!  Be that way! Can’t you tell I am dying to give you my money?) After several days hours of shopping  we were finally headed back.  Karen said it wasn’t out of the way to stop back by the shop – so we did!

I showed the lady what I was thinking and after working on the design for a few minutes her design matched my vision.  So, I rolled up my sleeve, sat down, and promptly burst into tears.

Karen offered to hold my hand.

I have the best friends!

The artist handed me a paper towel to mop up my face and she began.  I was worried at first because I was very clear this was a memorial tattoo and I needed someone who would respect that – and she seemed, well, dry.  I have an overabundance of personality and pretty much expect that in others – so a dry tattoo artist wasn’t first on my list.  But, as we sat there and talked and she worked, I finally saw a human side to her and when it was over and done with, I realized that she did a great job.  She engaged me in a good way and distracted me just enough that the waterworks didn’t flood the building and cause us to float out the front door.

I think we were in and out in under 30-45 minutes.  It didn’t take long at all; and now I have a beautiful piece of art on my forearm.  It is very simple, very elegant and exactly what I pictured.

Memorial tattoo

P.S. I woke up Sunday with what I thought was an eye infection, and after finally managing to get my contacts out, I called and got an appointment with the local Doc in a Box.  Scratched cornea.  Fortunately, not a rip or a tear, just a little scratch.  So, I’m confined to my glasses and have several different eye drops that I’m putting in every couple of hours.  Should be better by tomorrow – fingers crossed!

P.P.S. The Cowboys just suck.  There is no way to sugar coat it.  If I hadn’t already been crying due to my eye, the game would have had me in tears.  How do you blow a lead that big? How do you have such poor clock management skills? How do you have such poor play calling?  And, when did our head coach start pointing fingers? Really? Ugh.

P.P.P.S. If you missed the original post where I found my inspiration for the tattoo, you can find it here.