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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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.  

I’m Falling Apart!

I’m not sure what I did, but when I woke up this morning my calf felt a bit “off”, but I suited up and went running anyway! Since I’m finally making progress on the Couch to 5k, I wasn’t about to let a bad nights sleep that resulted in my calf feeling a bit “off” hinder my progress!

I got home, showered and went to work. A few hours later, my calf really hurt. A little bit after that I couldn’t stand it – I had too much to do to not be able to walk. Read that sentence as “I had too much shopping to do”

enough clothes and shoes

Digging through my medicine cabinet I found 1 last heat pack. It was meant for your back or hip, but darned if it didn’t wrap nicely around my calf!

I am sure I looked quite ghetto doing all of my shopping with a massive white wrap around my leg and a slight limp!

I did it anyway!

 

Well, I did take it off for the Target run – it was coming loose and I wasn’t patient enough to re-wrap it!

I felt the affects – and put it back on to drive back home.

OH – but, guess what I saw in the stores! Yes, I know that they are starting Back-to-school early, but you’ll never believe this:

Christmas display

Christmas!!  Christmas in JULY!!!

Anyway, eventually my shopping was done and I was headed home; however, on the way home I saw a mobile blood drive. And, well, it was time for me to donate again. And it’s the right thing to do. I save three lives each time I donate! And, well, July donations got a coupon for a free pint of ice cream.

I would have donated anyway.  Most likely.  🙂

Carter mobile blood drive

So, I flipped a youie once traffic was clear and headed in. Low and behold, there was no wait! I was meant to be there!

I did all of the qualifications and took my test and got settled in the chair.

About 10 minutes later they were wrapping a bandage around my arm and moving me to a chair on the other side of the van. They could not get into my vein. They got all around it – and they knicked something because I already have a massive bruise forming – but they couldn’t stick me.

Fortunately, it only took about 4 minutes for them to figure it out on the other side and 5 minutes later they were wrapping me up and I was getting my cookies and juice.

Let’s recap:
Big white wrap on my calf.
Big blue bandage on my right arm.
Big blue bandage on my left arm.
Scabs healing on my knuckles (trampoline park was still worth it!)

Yeah… I turned 40 and it looks like I’ve fallen apart!

I’m Out of Clean Clothes

I live in Texas.  I only own two pairs of jeans and you can only wear them so many times before you have to put them in the dirty clothes basket.  I’ve worn them twice (okay, one of them I actually wore three times) but today I was reduced to my track pants.  Yup.  The very loud pants – the ones that announce you are coming into a room minutes before you actually arrive.  But, I paired it with a really cute top!  I totally pulled it off, but that’s not the point – the point is that I must find time to do laundry! I figure if I have time to update you, then I have time to do laundry… 🙂 I’ll have clean jeans tomorrow.

I need more of these - but it would be a waste of money...

I need more of these – but it would be a waste of money…

The weather is finally warming up, but the problem is, I haven’t shaved my legs all week and I’m still as white as a ghost because our winter had dragged on forever.  FOREVER.

Anyway… back to the real story.  If you are tired of updates on Lee, then go ahead and just hit the “like” button and move on.

Lee has responded very well to the dialysis.  This morning we found out that his kidneys are improving.  We also found out that his liver is still congested and is getting worse.  His enzyme count is going up, and going up is bad.  So, a GI doctor was called in and we talked for a bit.  He asked about this and that and was surprised that the heart condition was just diagnosed 8 months ago.  He asked about family history.  I explained to the doctor that Lee was adopted and we don’t have any information about his family history.  (Oh, by the way, for those of you that were surprised yesterday to see that Lee and I don’t look alike, he’s adopted.  We got him when he was 6 months old, from South Korea.  As another side note, I’m really proud of myself for remembering that he’s adopted, cause I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in the doctors office with him and when family history comes up, I start to list off medical issues in the family and he looks at me and goes “I’m adopted”.  Or, when I’m alone and filling out my own paperwork, I can’t tell you how many times I have to stop and tell myself “No, heart issues don’t run in the family, Lee is adopted.”  🙂 I don’t refer to him as my adopted brother, because to me, he’s just my brother.  Plus, it’s really fun to mess with new people “don’t you see the resemblance? ” or even better, and yes, my sister and I have done this “Mom had an affair with the milk man, but don’t say anything, dad doesn’t know.” )

adoption

Okay, where was I?  GI doctor.  He ordered some tests, some blood work and a sonogram.  I’m sure we will have the results tomorrow.  We also saw the Infectious Disease specialist today.  Lee seemed to be running a fever – and apparently it’s very hard to run a fever while on dialysis.  I wasn’t aware, but the process of removing, cleaning and replacing the blood, it cools it down.  Lee is under several blankets and a bear hug blankets – which is pretty cool, it is a blanket of tubes and hot air is blown into the tubes and it “hugs” the body to help it stay warm.  The ID doc says everything looks okay, but they are going to monitor Lee, just in case.

Lee is still in a lot of pain, and one of his doctors pisses him off beyond belief, but that’s the doctor that comes in and presses hard on his belly every morning.  That would upset me, too!  Today he slept a lot today, but when he did wake up, he was very lucid and was able to have a conversation with all of his doctors.  He is drinking now, and the nephrologist is very happy with the urine output – while minimal, he is producing some and that is a good thing!  Lee also requested some fruit, grapes specifically.  When his surgeon came in we asked about that, and he cleared Lee for the fruit.  We were able to have nutrition bring up a fruit platter and Lee ate several bites.  This is great news as it relates to his progress.

Not the actual fruit plate... but it is pretty darn close!

Not the actual fruit plate… but it is pretty darn close!

Right now all of his doctors are thinking that the liver problems are related to his heart condition.  Once the tests are run and everything else is ruled out, then they will do a heart cath and monitor the blood flow on the right side of his heart.  The results of this test will probably mean that the transplant team will be notified and Lee’s file will be pulled and they will start reviewing the tests.  But, that is still a bit in the future, so I’ll save talk of transplant for later!

Happy Friday everyone!