Talking About End of Life (EOL) Matters: On the Advent of the Life Interruption of My Only Brother

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One thing is certain about death and mortality ... after all of these centuries, no one is absolutely certain about how to handle end of life affairs, especially in moments of tender crises when loved ones are hooked up to Life Support systems and no one knows exactly when to pull the plug.

Such is a life dilemma for me since my only brother experienced a situation where he checked into a hospital, as they said, "complaining of not being able to breathe." According to his doctor, once they were able to stabilize his breathing incapacity, he went into immediate cardiac arrest, and then after they stabilized his heart rhythms, he immediately started to have seizures of the brain - so severe that it took them nearly two days to get them under control.

While this was going on, (and we had absolutely no idea this was happening with our brother -my sisters and I-but about three or four days later, I ended up taking a swift ride to Northside Hospital in Atlanta with my niece, and his only daughter, to check on him and see how he was doing and what the issues were and try to advise her on what to do next.

More than anyone would care to believe, I'd like to see him get up, walk out of the hospital healed, well, and whole again ... as if nothing happened, because that would be the END TIME TESTIMONY OF THE CENTURY; but I also know that the reality is that if they can get to the bottom of his 'life-threatening' issues, he is most certain to come out a long-term invalid.

There are certain people out there with "spiritist beliefs" who don't believe he will suffer any long-term damage from this event, but as of the last update this morning, he still was not responsive after the removal of the sedatives that calmed down the seizures and put him in an induced coma in order to get it under control. No response, they said, and the MRI is showing that he has no oxygen going to his brain and is not getting any brain wave signals. As of today, they were planning to "do a study" -according to his nurse- to find out why his brain activity has ceased to function. it's been a week.

On Saturday, we were told that he could still hear us, so we talked to him and tried to encourage him to hang on -- but today, they are not showing any signs that he can hear, let alone respond, any more.

END OF THE BEGINNING

Sadly, if he does transition, he will be the first of four siblings to leave this world under what I can only call highly tragic circumstances.

I have seen absolute miracles happen in my lifetime, though, so the only thing I have been able to say to my niece, his legal next of kin who has the final say in whether or not they unplug his life support, is that if he does comes through this, I will be his Armorbearer For Life.

We need to start a church to tell that testimony to the world because it's going to be a hotter one than Kevin Zadai's ministry, and I will also be the first one at his footwashing ceremony ... toting his water, opening his doors, carrying his packages, and bringing him Callaway Blue water and Maraschino cherries on little plates with little cocktail forks on the side ... simply because he's going to have a LOT to tell us about his temporary journey outside the realm of the living and back into the physical world that he was living in before this event.

A LOT.

I've prayed about this as much as I can muster up the faith to disbelieve scientific analysis, and I must say that they have treated my brother -who is three years younger than me- like absolute Hospital ICU Royalty.

He sits there with lifelines, IV tubes, and a respirator hooked up to him like the High Prince of A Salaam Alaikum and I can tell, just by looking at him, that he was given the most tender of care and their finest efforts to save his life. Considering that he has no money and no insurance, to our knowledge, this is absolutely astounding to see. 

I'd like to think of it as one of the answers to our many many prayers and I am grateful to the nursing staff and doctors of Northside Hospital for all they have done to keep him alive, so far. Now comes...

THE ONGOING DEBATE ABOUT LIFE SUSTAINING SYSTEMS

For all lawful and medically scientific purposes, however, my brother died about a week ago. At least, he's clinically dead .. and they have asked his daughter for permission to unplug the life support systems because there is nothing else they can do, nor can they treat him for the other maladies he is diagnosed with if he does begin to function on his own - breathe on his own and become animated again. They can't treat the kidney malfunction with dialysis, they can't give him blood thinners, and if t hey start on dissolving one aneurism, the other could break loose and end his life regardless.

Over the course of my life, I have seen many many hot and hardcore discussions about whether or not to 'pull the plug', and if so, when.

I know my faith is greater than a mustard seed, but some people have faith far bigger than mine if they see him walking out of ICU "just fine." I gotta give them that one and say how wrong I was.

I won't question the Divine Providence of It All, because I understand that the greater good is how The Lord God is working on our faith through all of this.

His ways are not ours, His will is not our will all the time, and His thoughts are not our thoughts, so Glory Be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost.

I am happy, all things considered, to have had an opportunity to speak to him and minister the grace and testimony of a Loving and Living God to him when they said that he could still hear, so no matter the outcome -- if he leaves the hospital on one side or the other -- I will call it, as Wayne Watson called it, THE ULTIMATE HEALING.

We won't quibble, we will wait and see what the end is going to be...

Right now, though, it is pure torture for me watching this go down the way it is; it is painful and depressing. 

However, this much is certain above all else, it will all be over soon - one way or the other.

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