SEARCH BLOG: DISEASE
Posts may be less frequent for a little while. As you get older, you begin to lose family members. Two months ago a cousin; last month an aunt. It's expected for the most part, but sometimes hastened along by factors that could have been avoided.
We are on our way to see my older brother, Jack. Although we've been separated by geography most of our lives, it doesn't make the bonds any less. Over the last 15 years, he has suffered more than most with nasty afflictions. First came the rheumatoid arthritis. For a guy who loved his hobbies of horseback riding and raising cattle and just getting out to the barn, that was a major setback. Then last year came the bypass surgery complicated by the arthritis medicine that compromised his immune system. Then last month the news that he has advanced lung cancer... somehow missed by his doctors when all of his heart treatment was being done last year. He was told he had about six months to live by his doctors.
The rheumatoid arthritis doesn't run in the family, so I looked up what might have triggered that in someone in his late 50s. Well, according to MedicineNet.com, my brother hit the smoking trifecta:
Smoking is well known to be associated with added risks for a number of diseases including emphysema, lung cancer, and coronary artery disease. Now it appears that heavy smokers are also at a markedly increased risk of developing rheumatoid arthritis.It's tough for non-smokers to appreciate the power of tobacco addiction. Many smokers know what they are doing to themselves and can't stop. Unfortunately, my brother was one of them.
Wednesday he took a turn for the worse. He died yesterday, much sooner than we expected. I didn't have a chance to say goodbye in person because our trip was scheduled on the basis that he had more time. But death has its own schedule. Jack was a good man who just couldn't save himself from the poison that was robbing him of everything that gave joy to his life.
I'm glad my older sister and my brother's wife were there and able to tell him that I loved him. I'll say goodbye to my brother at his funeral service on Sunday.