A family emergency


Be careful when asking, “What next?”, even rhetorically.

My brother, (see “Faith” and elsewhere), had a terrible fall on Monday afternoon, his partner’s birthday, outside their Montreal home.  Craig struck his head on the pavement and suffered a traumatic brain injury, the extent of which can only be revealed a little more each day.

Tuesday morning, before dawn, one of my sisters, Janice, rushed into Toronto and we grabbed a train to be with my mother (in Perth, southwest of Ottawa) while my other sister, Lynn, flew to my brother’s bed-side to be with Craig and his partner, Claude.

The two of them had just been up to see Mom at Easter and those are the memories, for now, that Mom is holding on to.  Janice and I are going to go to Montreal for a quick visit Saturday and Sunday and then report back to Mom firsthand.  (Mom and I may travel to Montreal when I come back to see her, as has been planned for months, for the Mother’s Day weekend.)

As for my brother, he is in critical condition.  He has had one emergency surgery, rather typical in these cases, to relieve pressure on the brain caused by the injury.  He is showing signs of paralysis on his left side and still has a breathing tube down his throat so we are unable to determine how his speech, and all sorts of other brain activity, may be affected but Lynn says he seems to be comprehending simple questions, doing the yes-no, one squeeze-two squeeze drill.

The neurosurgeon has told my sister that he thought Craig would not have survived the emergency operation, so we chalk that up to family genes and the fact that he has a strong heart after quadruple bypass surgery almost exactly one year ago.  We know the timing of that was perfect!

In addition to the ailments he and I share in common, Craig has been dealing with a condition called polymyositis for the past few years, a degenerative neuromuscular disease which was progressing very quickly to the point where a motorized wheelchair was soon going to be in the cards.  He and Claude had just sold their home and are set to move into a more accessible condominium apartment as of June 1.  There is all matter of legal change-of-ownership crap that Claude still has to deal with (and Craig, too, which will prove difficult in the short-term) as that deadline looms – unimportant, in so many ways, and yet things which cannot be ignored.

Now, assuming Craig survives (and we take nothing for granted on that score), he faces months – if not longer – as an in-patient at the rehabilitation centre of the Montreal General Hospital.  That’s down the road, though, as he remains in the critical care unit of the Montreal Neurological Hospital next door to the Royal Vic, if you know Montreal at all.  Both are part of the world-renowned facilities made famous by neurology pioneer Dr. Wilder Penfield.  Craig has been visiting these hospitals regularly, both for his HIV and his neuromuscular concerns, so at least he is a well-known, well-liked patient.

We await to see how Craig’s speech might have been affected, which we will not know until his breathing tube has been removed.  His comprehension seems good in that, when told he could be moved to a private room today, he gave the “thumbs up” sign!  It is still not clear how his language skills will be impacted.  Craig and Claude relate in French, for all intents and purposes, and Craig has spent his life learning both French and Spanish.

We await to see how his mobility will be affected, knowing that he was, at the very least, headed for a motorized wheelchair before the accident even happened.  This just adds months and months, optimistically, of physical and vocational rehabilitation to the picture – and rehabilitation to what levels is still unknown.

We await much, with as much grace and patience as we can summon!

I do not know how soon, after my return from Montreal, I will leave Perth for Toronto.  I would guess it will be the middle of next week at the latest.

My internet access is limited to the town library, just down the hill from my Mom’s, and a cafe that makes pretty good Cafe Americanos, but my blog, email and Facebook have suddenly become less of an urgency in my daily life (at least until I get home again!)

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4 thoughts on “A family emergency

  1. Oh my goodness Kenn, I’m so very sorry to hear this news. Please know that I will be keeping Craig, Claude, you and all of your family in my thoughts and prayers.

  2. Thanks for letting us know what’s going on. I will better be able to pray for you now.

    My heart goes out to you and your family. The LORD be with you!

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