Just Like Me

I haven’t been around much for a few weeks, so I thought I’d share some of what is going on in my life. My brother, just 32, had a heart attack one year and two weeks after mine. Then three weeks later I found myself back in surgery getting a new stent. So heart disease has once again become front-and-center. Here’s a post I wrote for my heart blog, My Life in Red, but it’s really just real truth about pain, fear, and anger, and fighting like mad to keep up hope.

He’s a distance runner. Just like me.

A parent. Just like me.

A spouse. Just like me.

A sibling. Just like me.

He’s young. Just like me. Younger, even, than me.

He had no risk factors, other than high cholesterol and family history. Just like me.

He continued running. Just like me. The first mile was terrible. His lungs couldn’t keep up with his legs. He forced himself to run anyway. Just like me.

He had pain for days. Just like me.

He had all kinds of explanations and excuses. Just like me.

When it finally became unbearable, he drove himself. Just like me.

He went to the ER then the OR then the ICU. Just like me.

And now he’s a heart attack survivor.

Just like me.

One year and two weeks since I had a heart attack, my little brother, age 32, had one too. To say it’s a shock is an understatement. To say it is terrifying even more so.

My reaction went far beyond a big sister worried about her brother, and to be honest I’m still trying to understand how I feel. I want to help. I want to shake him. I want to cry. I want to learn. I want to flee.

I want to be not-sick.

And I want to know why. Why is it that two of three siblings have heart attacks within a year and at such young ages? Why is it that two healthy people (we run marathons, for goodness sake!) who do everything right end up with lifelong, life-threatening diseases? Why? Why? Why?

Because if I don’t know, I can’t stop it. I can’t change my future, or his, or my sister’s. Or my sons’ or their children’s. I feel helpless and at the mercy of this disease in a way I haven’t felt since I was the one in the hospital bed, smiling and joking and making people feel better. And I don’t like it. Not one bit.

I wonder if my brother feels just like me.

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  1. […] 5. Just Like Me is about my younger brother’s heart attack, a year and a week after mine. It also appeared on my heart blog, so perhaps duplication drove down its numbers. It is pretty raw and sad. […]