Am I Just Watching my Brother Die?

Old 10-05-2010, 06:16 AM
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Am I Just Watching my Brother Die?

My 52 year old brother is an alcoholic. For a very long time he was a herion addict although he has not used in a number of years now. He was in detox and treatment in December 09, at that time he was having a lot of peripheral edema that took a lot of time to get under control. He lived with me for 3 months and he seemed to be doing okay. But he moved out in March and started drinking again. By June in was in terrible shape and went back into detox and then treatment. While in detox he was taken to the ER because of high amonia levels in his urine. After a week of detox he went into a 3 week treatment program. While he was in treatment he had to be taken back to the ER and that time they kept him for 2 days before releasing him back into treatment. Diagnoses, besides Hep B and C, and cirrhosis and ascites include hypothyroidism, high blood pressure, thrombocytopenia, hematuria, and back problems. These are the ones I know about, I am sure there is much more going on. After this last treatment he came back to live with me and has been here for 3 months and is not doing well although he has not been drinking out here. I kind of live out in the country the nearest store is several miles away. He can't physically walk that far, nor does he have any other way to get around except for me taking him places. When he got out of treatment he came home with a ton of prescriptions and while some of them may have been for short duration I am sure he needs to be on some of them daily. Meds he has been prescribed are levothyroxine, potassium, gabapentin, oral generlac, inderal, hctz, roboxin, lasix, folic acid, amlodipine, and procardia. He refuses to go see a doctor. Currently he is on SSI so he has medicaid. Intellectually I know there is nothing I can do, but it feels like I have brought home a body to watch die. He keeps saying he wants to get into subsidized housing but has made no attempt to do so. I understand too that he is in end stage alcoholism so I guess there is no good prognosis for him. I think he has given up. He will not talk with me. He just says he is fine, has HBP meds, doesn't need to see a doctor. He does very little here and never wants to go anywhere other than the grocery store. At this rate I think I am just watching him die. There are many days that I may not see him at all. I am scared, every day I wonder if I will wake up and find that he has died. If anyone has any advise, support to help me with all of this I would appreciate it.
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Old 10-05-2010, 09:40 AM
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Hello oshobabi, and Welcome to SR! I'm sorry that your brother is sick with this horrid affliction, and I'm doubly sorry that you find yourself having to watch his downward spiral due to his drinking.

Do you have any family support, for you? Or someone else in the family who can take some of the burden off you? Such as maybe another family member he can stay with some times to give you a break. I know how it feels to wonder and worry over finding your loved one dead in the morning, I do. It's a horrible way to live.

Al-anon would be very very helpful to you, a group of people who have dealt with the same things you're dealing with. If that's not an option due to your remote location, please do use us here at SR as a sounding board and for support for you, as you deal with your brother.
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:13 PM
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Just wanted to say welcome . I have an addict daughter so haven't beeen thru as many years, but still feel your pain.
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Old 10-05-2010, 02:41 PM
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Hi oshobabi and

Your brother sounds like my father. He just sits in front of the TV, drinking and smoking all day and all night. He really only stops to go to sleep. He hardly eats and only goes out in order to get beer and cigarettes and occasionally a hot dog from the convenience store. His stomach is bloated, his feet and ankles are swollen, and he makes horrible noises from his wrenching gut pain. He has no life, no relationships with his children or grandchildren. It is very sad. He has been this way since 1989 and is now 72. We have thought ALL these years, "Surely he cannot live another year." but he has.
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Old 10-06-2010, 06:07 PM
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Thank you everyone. I finally told my brother he had 24 hours to make a doctor appointment or I would. He didn't so I did. I told him all I wanted was him to see the doctor one time, have blood drawn, and a urinalysis. I told him he must give the doctor permission to speak with me about his condition and what all I can expect. I also told my brother that after we were done doing that it was totally up to him if he wants to continue follow-up care with doctor and it was up to him whether he wants to take prescribed medications. I told him he owed it to me to at least see the doctor one time. He agreed, but the appointment isn't until the 12th. If I have to I will literally drag him to that doctor appointment. I know that despite what the doctor says I will have a little more peace of mind if I actually know everything that is going on with him and what to expect. It may not be what I want to hear, but I sure need to hear it. And so does my brother.
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Old 10-07-2010, 08:15 AM
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My brother saw his eye doctor today (the only doctor he really wanted to see because he wants a corneal transplant). He has been treated for an eye ulcer for over a year and the doctor had told him his only chance to see through the affected eye he would be a cornea transplant. I doubt seriously my brother said anything to this doctor about his physical condition. His previous doctor who treated him for a year with eye drops was aware that he was an alcoholic but had no idea he had so many health problems arise after my brother quit drinking. This new doctor, who is in the same office, is the one who does the transplant. Certainly he would look through my brothers history and see that. We still have a doctor appointment with his PCP on the 12th. My brother said that the doctor's office is now working on getting Medicaid to approve the transplant. How could my brother even be a candidate for this when he has so many other health problems? I want him to have the surgery because he wants it so bad. I worry that he will really go into a depression if he can't get it done, yet I worry that we will just end up with more problems after the transplant. How far behind my brother's back should I go to make sure his eye doctor and PCP both are aware of his problems?
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Old 10-07-2010, 08:53 AM
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There is nothing wrong with choosing, as I did, not to watch someone die. I'm just pointing this out because earlier you mentioned that you have no choice but to witness this process until the end. There is always more than one option.

I know you're hoping that your brother will somehow be able to overcome his physical challenges, but there is a reason that the last stage of alcoholism is called the end stage. For me, it got to the point where I didn't need a doctor to confirm what I was witnessing with my own eyes.

I think your brother has chosen his path. We're here to help and support you. I have walked in your shoes and watched someone I loved succumb to alcoholism. The pain is excruciating. I don't have any words of wisdom to share, only a deep understanding of the fear and pain you're experiencing.
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Old 10-07-2010, 10:51 AM
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I can only echo what FormarDoormat has already said, I chose not to watch my brother die. It was obvious to anyone, who wanted to see, what was going to happen. I didn't want to watch that. I still loved him but I knew he'd made most of the choices he was going to make in life and didn't have time for many more even if he'd had some kind of biblical revelation or whatever.
I left him to his choices and enablers, after he'd died I helped choose music and even carried his coffin and read the eulogy, and grieved, I still grieve for him, he was my baby brother. But when I realised he was killing himself, and not so slowly anymore, I knew I had a life of my own to get on with.
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Old 10-07-2010, 11:17 AM
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I'll third Jill and Lucy. I came to understand the words, "love someone from a distance". I had to for my own survival. My thoughts are with you and your brother.

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Old 10-07-2010, 11:57 AM
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My thoughts are with you too, it's hard and it damn well hurts, but I'm still here, missing him but happy in my own life now.
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Old 10-07-2010, 02:08 PM
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Thanks again everbody. I probably didn't make it clear but currently my brother isn't drinking. He is sober because he is with me so he has almost 4 months of sobriety this time around. If he was still actively drinking he would not be living with me. As long as he doesn't drink I am in it for the long-haul. But because he has so much permanent damage, abstinence is not going to change any of his conditions, but will prolong his life. So that's why I titled it "Am I Just Watching my Brother Die?" He will eventually begin to deteriorate despite what any doctor can do and that's what scares me; despite abstinence I worry everyday that I will wake up and he will be dead. There have been days when I don't see him and I go and check on him. I haven't mentioned this but I am a recovering alcoholic as well. I quit 19 years ago July. I had hoped my brother would follow my footsteps (our mother was an alcoholic and died at age 53 from pancreatic/liver cancer). I am 53, my brother is 52. I've kicked him out of my house every time I caught him drinking or cooking up his herion, man until then I had no idea what it smelled liked! My son and I just couldn't figure out the smell for a few days. I looked into his room and there were needles, and other pararpharnalia, methodone bottles, and empty beer cans piled everywhere. Out he went; he had a choice, I would call the cops and turn him in or he could just get out. And back to the streets he went. He has been homeless for so long now I can't count the years anymore. After I got him out my 16 year-old son helped me clean the mess. We wore gloves, cleaned the carpet, replaced the blinds and painted the entire room. A 16 year old having to help clean up that kind of mess from him his uncle? Today my son still has no respect for my brother. He's sorry he is in the shape he is in, but prefers to not be around him. I have lived in my current home for 10 years now and tried twice before to get him out here when he was clean, only to catch him using and drinking again. He burned a fist sized hole in his mattress! He melted buttons on the cell phone. Out he went again. As long as he remains sober he can stay here as long as he likes. However, if he decides to move out he will have to figure that out all on his own. I won't take him anywhere and he has no form of transportation. Obviously he doesn't have a license to drive and can no longer drive himself anyway. Well that was a long one. I hoping for the best, planning for the worse. Ironically I just got out of a relationship with an alcoholic. He seemed so great when I met him. He rarely drank and things seemed positive. Well I was not prepared at all for the binge he went on a few months after we started dating. True to my typical co-dependent, care-taking nature I tried to make that relationship work but I couldn't handle the binges. Nothing like being around a man so drunk that he can't even remember your name, even after a year, and would start calling me "girl." Man the stories I have learned from that relationship!!!!
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Old 10-07-2010, 05:20 PM
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And while I feel hopeless at times, I know that if I can get a more accurate picture of where my brother is right now and the prognosis it will help me/us better decide if and/or when Hospice would be appropriate. I don't know if we have years or months at this point and the logical side of my head says I must know, to the best of the doctor's knowledge what the true prognosis might be. When our mother's doctor told us my mom had about 6 months to a year, she died 3 months later. Earlier than we thought, but at least we knew it was coming pretty much at any time.
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