Sunday, September 6, 2015

Happy 50th Birthday, Robert!

Robert turns 50 years old today!

After a busy year and an insanely busy summer, I think it is only appropriate to get back to this blogging business with a celebration or two – it is also my and Richard’s 18th anniversary!

Eighteen years ago, I never imagined Robert’s birthday and our anniversary would intersect more than a phone call to wish my brother a happy day.  Robert lived independently 18 years ago and Richard and I were blending our family of three kids and numerous animals.  Robert lived in a different city with both of our parents close by and I naively did not give his future living arrangements or health a second thought. 

It never even occurred to me that one day both Richard and I would be caring for Robert after my parents passed away and as Robert’s cognitive and mobility function dramatically declined. 

In fact, it didn’t really seem in the realm of possibility that Robert would be around for 18 more years with as many times as he ended up in the ER from accidents, falls and seizures.  It is no secret that I have worried about Robert making it to this milestone birthday.  The guy has had more close calls than I can count (and that really isn’t much of an exaggeration). 

Robert dodged death when he was a teenager and nearly drowned from having a seizure in a pool.

He survived two brain surgeries, 45 years of numerous anti-seizure medications and their long-term side effects (one of which is a toxic level of ammonia right now which we’re trying to get under control), a VNS implant and removal, a Deep Brain Stimulator implant and resulting life-threatening infection traveling the leads to his brain, head injuries, burns, broken bones, pneumonia, sepsis, pneumonia and septic shock, pneumonia, pneumonia, pneumonia. Not to mention the seizure clusters he started having a year ago and which continue on a pretty regular basis.  Status Epilepticus is my concern during these awful episodes.

But he made it to 50!  Which surprises and amazes and confounds me all at once. 

Robert, of course, is not surprised at all.  He tells me frequently that God told him he wasn’t done with him and he will let him know when he is done. 

He is so matter-of-fact about dying and does not worry in the least. 

Which makes me realize Robert making it to 50 carries more significance to me than to Robert.  For Robert, his birthday is a day for him to get presents and cake and extra Rocky Road Ice Cream.  It doesn’t matter if it’s his 40th, 50th or 75th.  As long as he has Rocky Road Ice Cream and we make a fuss over him, he will be happy. 

To me, Robert making it to 50 years old shows just how resilient and strong that guy is and how the power of believing in something so strongly (“it isn’t my time to go yet”) can yield such profound results.

As far as me and Richard making it to 18 years, I have to admit I am a little surprised, amazed and confounded by that as well.  We have experienced joy, success and milestones as the kids grew up but also crushing obstacles – never defeats!

We continued to walk through all of it together (sometimes one pulling the other). Our anniversary is a testament to the devotion, love and commitment we have for each other and family.
Today we will celebrate birthdays (we have several September birthdays in the family) and an anniversary by hosting a family party. 

And, of course, enjoying some delicious Rocky Road Ice Cream. 

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