Those of you may remember the WordPress template greeting for your very first blog post, this is my first post in quite awhile. It seems when we last connected, I was lamenting over the pressure of the holidays and moving out of my lovely apartment in London for a field research trip to West Africa.
Thank you to those who responded with helpful advice about remembering to breathe and the real meaning of the season, but the dark fate of 2016 had struck me in its final hours and gave me pause to think about the importance of our lives and family.
My Christmas in London was absolutely lovely. I spent the weekend with a British family in Croydon, opening presents, eating, and drinking until I was blind. Really, its the stuff that movies are made of, to wake up and open wrapped presents (I got soo much stuff!) and have magnificent home-cooked meals and mixed cocktails at every meal and snack hour.
My move-out wasn’t too hectic, honestly the only thing that sucked is that I realized that I have way too much stuff. Like my personal effects quadrupled in the last year, despite me sending some books home earlier in the year, selling my major appliances, donating clothes, and giving away lots of household items, and throwing out stuff, including my favorite shampoo and conditioner because I had no where to pack them.
My trip to NYC started off with a 9 hour delay at Gatwick, followed by an overnight ride in an 1000 degrees Fahrenheit cabin on Norwegian airlines. I’m not shitting you when I say the flight crew didn’t even serve refreshments on this transatlantic flight. In fact, I had to get up and ask for a drink of water when I couldn’t bare it anymore.
My first day in NYC ended in a family medical emergency. My older brother, who had been sitting in the den watching TV, could not get up and walk upstairs without assistance. So I helped him up the stairs, where I noticed his sudden weakness and vertigo. The next morning I drove him to the hospital and my entire world crashed.
My brother is nonverbal because he was born with cerebral palsy (CP). However, he is friendly, smart, a sports jock, and a laid back guy. His only flaw is that he is a Leo and always has to be the center of attention. But what’s shocking about what happened, is that no one in my family could remember the last time he had a cold, let alone be taken to the ER.
The first 48 hours had dramatic highs and lows, after 45 minutes of being triage and sent to an ER bed, his vitals started to decline; his heart rate was at 32 and then the labored breathing started. By 8pm that evening, they supposedly had a bed in the cardiology unit, but he went into respiratory distressed and hypothermia. So he and our family spent the night in the ER room.
By the next morning when his body temperature went up to 92 degrees Fahrenheit, we noticed the heart rate improving too, but his breathing was still labored. Not only is this a difficult situation for anyone to watch a loved one, but having doctors talk to you about end-of-life decisions and aggressive treatments, like intubation, just builds on everything…Everything I took for granted. Everything that I missed or said. The times when I didn’t call home when I should have.
He did do better that day, and they made the decision to move him to a general floor instead of ICU, but the next day he downgraded a bit so the doctors said they felt better with him in the ICU so they could keep a closer eye on him. He didn’t get moved from this ward for another two days. While my brother did get better and came home last week, essentially as normal as before, we don’t have a real explanation for what happened as all the tests were negative, and after some antibiotics and steroids, he still continued to improve. So the professionals believe it was some sort of viral infection. In which, I responded by having the home professionally cleaned and offering to burn all his belongings.
He refused the latter.
So what does this mean? While I still have my brother, I actually lost a close friend the night I arrived. This New Year’s has given me a lot to reflect on. I have been so embedded in trying to “find myself” and “live life” because I felt tied down in New York, but none of that is important anymore. Not university, not my thesis, nor my trip. I was certain that night in the ER, that I would be emailing my professors to tell them I am not coming back this year. Because that is what I had to do, if it happened.
However, it didn’t, and I did not spend my brief time in the city going out for drinks and catching up with the latest gossip like I intended. I spent nearly two weeks shuffling between the hospital for 2-3 days and going home for a quick showers and food. I left for Manhattan twice: the first time for that funeral for my friend and again for dinner. I have been home making the most of my time with my relatives.
And you know, home is not a bad way to vacation. Its been rated 3 and half stars.
Happy New Year, everybody!