After sitting in the emergency department for nearly eleven hours the doctors diagnosed my youngest brother with an extremely rare syndrome. I received the news of this diagnosis through a text from my Mom as I lay wide awake at 2:00am. Nathan and I, as well as our boys, had been at the hospital all day and had come home around 10:00pm because we had to get the boys to bed. Our drive home was completely silent except for Nathan quietly saying the words, “It’s like it’s not real, except it is.”
The relationship of a sibling is not often discussed. These people are the ones that we are the most closely related with. It’s a special relationship that automatically comes with a bond that cannot be broken. The most precious gifts my parents have ever given me are my two brothers.
They are the people that will always be in my corner and will always have my back. And the same goes for them. I will take up for them and defend them until the death. That’s just what we do. They’re my brothers and nothing can change that. Sure, there are times that they may really get on my nerves. I’ve even been so angry that I’ve thrown a punch at one of them. Not that that really phases either of them. They just laugh at me. That makes me even more angry. But then eventually we just laugh it off, move on, and have another funny memory to share as we all sit around together again another day.
A sibling is truly a treasure, and when faced with the fact that someone that close to you is very sick, all time seems to stand still. I experienced this first hand not quite two weeks ago. As I sat in the emergency department with my 17 year old brother watching him politely answering all of the doctors questions, I was so proud of the young man he has become. But I was also terrified. Pure, raw terror. I saw how weak he was and although he didn’t complain hardly at all, I knew something was very wrong.
Joshua had been suffering with numbness in all four extremities for over a week and hadn’t told anyone. When his throat and mouth became numb and it became difficult to swallow and eat he finally decided he should say something. About an hour or so later my parents had him at the hospital. Eleven or so hours and 8 or 9 attempts at a spinal tap later they had their diagnosis. Joshua was diagnosed with AIDP or Guillain Barre Syndrome.
Just those words make me shutter. Guillain Barre is a very rare (1 in 100,000) syndrome that usually causes nerve damage that results in severe weakness and eventually paralysis, which requires the use of mechanical ventilation. The weakness usually progresses for several weeks, plateaus for several weeks, and then begins to slowly improve. Full strength is sometimes not recovered for up to three years.
So now the waiting process began. He was moved to a room in the intermediate care unit and more testing was done. Results showed that nerve damage had already taken place. We waited. Every day I came to the hospital to sit with him. Caleb came too. There we were. Not a thing in the world we could do. But we were there, to sit with him and just be in his corner. We would sit and laugh about how bored he had been. He told me how he had entertained himself by watching some guy washing the windows outside of his hospital room. We joked that we were gonna bust him out of there.
In the midst of one of the scariest times of my life, I just had to trust the Lord. We may not always understand why He allows something to come into our life, but we still have to trust Him. I found myself in a near constant state of prayer for several days. I was unable to do anything to help my brother, but I have a personal relationship with the One who is the Great Physician. And you know what? He loves Joshua even more than I do. I cannot tell you how comforting that is.
Long story made somewhat short, there were and still are a lot of unanswered questions about Joshua’s diagnosis. His symptoms seemed somewhat different than the typical symptoms for Guillain Barre, although his test results proved this diagnosis. What we did learn is that he has a very rare type of this. One that is milder.
After being in the hospital for five days and receiving the appropriate therapies, he hadn’t seemed to progressively get worse and was discharged from the hospital. He was and is still extremely weak and physically wears out very quickly, but his breathing was never affected. He has had some moments where walking, eating, lifting his arms, and even smiling has been difficult or nearly impossible, but those things are not life threatening. He was told that he should regain his strength slowly and that he should be feeling back to normal within the next year.
I have always had a close relationship with each of my brothers, but I am positive that this experience we have had to endure together has only made us closer. We never know what tomorrow may hold for us or those we love, but I’m so thankful that I know Who holds tomorrow.