My youngest brother was admitted to the hospital Monday night after falling off a ladder. An MRI showed a tennis ball sized brain tumor. We were told he needed immediate surgery. Tuesday was spent preparing him for a Craniotomy. A digital map was needed of his brain and some of his vital signs required stabilizing. All day Wednesday we anxiously waited.

The wait was excruciating, for him; literally. His pain was extreme. He complained to everyone. Loudly and often. They tried to medicate him. He consistently groaned that it wasn’t even close to touching his pain. He eventually told them that he had been in so much pain, for so long, he had been self-medicating. The doctor he finally revealed this fact to, was unable to get details.

My brother’s life has always been a challenge; he was born in storm, during a hurricane. He had surgery to remove a swallowed penny as a baby. I remember as a kindergartener overhearing my parents concerns about the anesthesia. As a toddler, he climbed on top of a dresser. While falling off, the mirror broke, seriously cutting his throat. That scar runs right along the bottom side of his now grey-bearded jaw bone. On his tenth birthday, he snapped his tibia in two. Surgeries were required to try to repair the breaks; again, concerns about anesthesia. He first learned to play, then master the guitar while recovering. He sketched out entire comic books. Artistic expression was and is his go-to therapy and his primary passion.

Our dear parents are both departed. His relationship with the mother of his two younger children is damaged beyond repair. She is legally out of the picture; he has sole custody. We located his estranged 27 year old daughter via the web and asked her to call us ASAP. She did. They had not spoken for at least a year.

Myself, I’d seen nor spoken to him in well over a year. Our last interaction was at our mom’s funeral, when he awkwardly pulled me into a sobbing, apologetic embrace.

As children, he adored me. When I left home at 18, he was 14 and running with his pack of misfits. Tragically, two of those lost boys took their own lives as troubled teens. Drugs were involved.

He had the surgery yesterday. He is still begging for more drugs. Still in agony, and now paranoid, he is afraid. I am afraid too. I fear his tumor is only a part of this brain storm.