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My Baby Brother

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'Megan, your brother is in the hospital''

With seven little words, my entire life changed in a dramatic and inspiring way. Of course, when my mother told me the above statement over the phone, I had no idea I would come out of the experience with a new outlook on life and my ideal hero finally found. At that moment all I could think about was my baby brother lying in a hospital bed with an I.V. hooked up to his arm and strangers running around him, drawing blood, poking and prodding, telling him not to worry everything would be okay. An experience I was all too familiar with and I hated to think of him anywhere near the hospital. I was running out the door to my car before my mother had even finished telling me what was wrong and driving the twenty miles to the hospital with tears running down my face.

''staying the weekend''

''diagnosed him with juvenile diabetes''

''blood sugar is way too high''

''we're at the ER. Come as soon as you can.'

Her words meant nothing to me. They were just snippets and fragments, senseless things that drove the tears harder. I pulled myself together as I entered the hospital parking lot, convincing my tears to wait because I had to be strong for my baby brother. He was only eleven; I was nineteen. My world wasn't the one that was going to change in a dynamic way; his was and I had to be there for him. But as I watched him walk into the ER as I had arrived before them in my mad dash to get to him I was shocked when I saw his face. He was smiling. I thought, being the superior and much smarter sibling that I am, that he simply didn't understand what was happening, how serious this was. There were only two things that I knew about diabetes: you had to constantly check your blood sugar and give yourself shots which meant needles and that there was no cure. But he knew and understood it all too well. He knew he'd be taking shots and tests for the rest of his life; he knew he wouldn't be able to just go out to eat and pick whatever he wanted off the menu. There were consequences, restrictions, and responsibilities to deal with now-three things that didn't apply to Chase.

My younger sister, 16, and I weren't allowed to be in ICU with him while they monitored his blood sugar as it dropped. We weren't concerned; we knew this meant changes in our lives and his, but it was diabetes. It wasn't life threatening, at least not in our minds. That was until my mother came out to use the restroom and told us just how serious his condition was. His blood sugar was above 700. A normal person should have been in a coma and if it dropped too fast, he would go into a coma and die. Marah began crying immediately, but I was too shocked to do anything. Because what my mother had just told me wasn't possible. My baby brother could not be in a life threatening situation, not the blue bundle I held in that very same hospital the day he was born, not the giggling toddler who followed me around with his grubby teddy bear dragging behind him, not the hyper-active pre-teen who drove me nuts with his constant sports talk. He couldn't die because I couldn't possibly live life without him.

Twenty minutes later, we were allowed to see him, of course bearing gifts to keep him entertained during his boring stay. I had tried to prepare myself to see him connected to the I.V and other various machines, but nothing could have prepared me for it. He looked so frail in the massive bed, dressed in the green scrubs that made him seem even more pale. I could clearly see the weight loss that no one in the family had seemed to notice and cursed myself for the umpteenth time for not noticing it. It just looked so wrong; it was a sight a big sister should never have to witness and I couldn't even begin to imagine how my parents felt. But my biggest shock came after I hugged him.

'Don't worry, Meggy Weggy,' he said giving me that goofy grin that showed his gap and using the nick name I abhorred, 'I'm gonna be fine. I know I'm not gonna die.'

I had spent the better part of the ride to town trying to come up with ways to console him, to comfort him as his life changed and in the end, he was comforting me. It's been six months since he was first diagnosed and not once has he complained. Despite the changes, the needles, the tests and endless doctor's visits, he has always been smiling. I couldn't understand it. If I had been faced with that situation I would have been crying and complaining 24/7. How could this goofy eleven year old kid be handling this so well? When I asked him if he had been scared while he was in the hospital, he paused, thought for a moment and then said:

'The I.V. That thing was huge!'

I couldn't believe it. The easiest part of the entire process had scared the daylights out of him and yet facing a lifetime dealing with an incurable disease didn't faze him in the slightest. And with that silly little comment, my baby brother had taught me a life long lesson that changed how I would face the changes that were bound to come my way: Whatever bump in the road you hit, whatever curve ball life throws at you just keep smiling because it's not as bad as it seems and you'll always make it through. Along with my new outlook on life came another realization. It was the easiest thing in the world for me to admit that my brother-my obnoxious, egotistical, irresponsible, brat of a baby brother was my hero. He faced and still faces a challenge that would bring most people to their knees and make them curse the heavens, but accepted it like it was nothing and moved on. And the best part: he came out smiling.





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