CharlieMC (charliemc) wrote,

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Chucky is in the Hospital

I got a phone call about Chucky first this morning. He has a bowel obstruction and the woman who cares for him (from the group home) said they might need to do surgery.

Anyway, I just got a call a few minutes ago from the doctor, informing me that 'Charlie' (which is what they call Chucky) was on his way to the OR for surgery. He mentioned that he might need to phone me again soon, as they could need to take more aggressive measures. This sounds pretty serious, so I suppose we should be prepared for his possible death.

Chucky is my older brother. I've mentioned him before, but for those who might not know (or recall), Chucky was actually born dead. It took something like five minutes for the doctor to get him oxygen, so he was brain-damaged from birth. Mom and Dad tried to keep him at home for the first years of his life, but they were unable to care for him. He was severely retarded and unable to recognize anyone. I've been told that even after years of living with people, he can barely recognize individuals. He was in an institution for years (where he got wonderful care). When it closed down, he was put into a group home.

Chucky is a ward of the state, basically because it would be impossible for our family to afford the medical costs associated with his constant care. Regardless of that fact, the next of kin is always contacted whenever there's an issue. After Mom died, I assumed the responsibility as his next of kin. Actually, I'd been doing that unofficially for years, even when both Mom and Dad were alive. (Dad and I used to read his reports together, years back.)

Though I've seen photos of Chucky as an adult and read many (many) detailed reports of his life as an adult, I always tend think of him as a child. We have just TONS of baby and toddler pictures of him (considering he was named for my dad and a much-wanted son). Those detailed reports (that used to be sent from Fairview) told the tale of Chucky's accomplishments over the years -- learning how to dress himself, swimming in the pool (he's an amazingly good swimmer) and helping with recycling. He's never been able to do much beyond that, and it's natural to wonder what plan God had when he allowed Chucky to survive...

For me, I've always been very cognizant of those who are 'slow' (mentally challenged), and I try to be thoughtful and kind. Yes, I remember times when as a teenager I failed to manage this, and it still bothers me all these years later. Perhaps Chucky's importance in this world is as a reminder to be humane. I don't profess to know, but I do know the impact on my own life, and it's beyond any simple words. Yet I don't talk about Chucky much, because on a day-to-day level he really doesn't have a real impact on my life. That may sound harsh, but it's honest. Of course, I don't always think about my deceased parents, either. Being human, I tend to focus on what's happening right now. And I don't believe that makes me a bad person. I can't change Chucky's life in any way, no matter what I do or don't do.

I've never even seen my brother face-to-face. Both Marilyn and Sue have, and they strongly discouraged me from doing so. I sense that it doesn't matter whether I see him or not, as long as I hold a place for him in my heart, which I do. I believe that one day I'll stand face-to-face with Chucky, and on that day we'll be able to communicate without the barriers of physical and mental defects. But that certainly will never be true in this life or this world.

Meanwhile, Marilyn and I love our 'defective' cat, Henry, very much. He, too, clearly was damaged during birth, both physically and mentally. (You can feel his skull and tell the shape is off, so I have to assume he has some brain damage.) No, Henry isn't as retarded as my brother, but he is a 'special needs' cat. It doesn't bother either of us, and we often joke about him being a 'little defective.' (Jokes help, for those who feel this is callous.)

I suppose that we're all a 'little defective' in one way or another, after all. It's interesting that mental retardation (or whatever term is PC right now) makes people so uncomfortable. Whether we realize it or not, intelligence is greatly important to us. I think it goes beyond levels of 'right' or 'wrong' behavior, by the way -- I think it's inherent, a 'survival of the fittest' thing (with apologies to both Darwin and Spencer). Frankly, we're skeeved by mental retardation, and it's probably natural to have that reaction.

But what do I know? I only know that I love my brother, even though I don't really know him. There's no good reason why I love him, except that he's my brother.

If this is Chucky's time to die, I'm sure my parents will both welcome him to heaven with open arms. It's funny, but it would seem strange for him not to be here, alive. But it's impossible to say he's had a wonderful life -- and has so much more to experience -- considering his limitations. So, if surgery doesn't work, I'm not inclined to encourage more aggressive treatment. No one has ever denied Chucky proper care for any illness or condition (this isn't his first surgery, by a long shot) -- and I was told right away that he was being medicated for pain. Yes, it's hard to let go of someone, but I'm strong enough to make the decision to let him go, if it comes to that.

Serious stuff, I know. But I am glad I wrote it here.

Tags: 2008, chucky, november-2008

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