The other shoe drops.

Old 03-03-2015, 11:57 AM
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The other shoe drops.

My sister called me from the hospital today. She was diagnosed with a brain tumor. NYPD took her aside after she got off the subway because she seemed to be losing her balance on the subway platform. EMTs were called, and her blood pressure was extremely high. She was then admitted to the hospital.

She's been ill for a couple of weeks now, with dizziness being one of her symptoms, along with headaches. She went to an urgent care facility last week, and was given a script for ear drops, and was also told to take Advil and an OTC decongestant. They drew her blood and ran tests. If she got the results of those tests, she didn't tell me.

My sister never goes to the doctor. Never has. She gets angry when anyone brings it up. She shuts down when anyone continues to suggest that she see a doctor. I'm certain that part of this is fear is around what they'll "find." She finally broke down and made an appointment with my doctor for next Monday because she doesn't even know a doctor from her own experience.

Of course, there's a back story. In October of 2013 she was laid off from her job at a major US bank after years of working there. She basically did everything one can and needs to do to open new branches in her region. I think she opened more than a hundred branches in the past few years for them. She was taking in high six figures, something that would not be available were she to find a similar job, having worked her way up to that salary over time and during a time in which people were being paid in banking much more than they are today.

I often cautioned her that her work was taking years off her life, and that she might be better off with a less stressful and less time-consuming position elsewhere. She was pretty much on call whenever she was not physically at work and, as I saw it, her job was killing her.

Back to October of 2013...She was devastated after being laid off. Everyone who worked with her, within the bank and otherwise, such as large clients, offered to help her. Though she would never admit it, she fell into a protracted depression, and she was extremely pessimistic about finding similar work, and certainly at a much lower salary. Her age (she's mid-fifties) and her salary worked against her despite her formidable CV and recommendations from top people in her field. As always, she declined my suggestions to see someone about her depression, and instead toughed it out on her own. She did time-consuming volunteer work, took a demanding class in her field that would make her an extremely attractive candidate for other jobs in banking, and worked out her finances.

She received an extremely "generous" severance package which only partially relieved the sting of being let go. It included an additional non-disclosure agreement...she knew virtually everything about the bank's practices from top to bottom, and they didn't want to turn their former employee into a smoking gun. But she suffered very deeply. I spent a great deal of time with her while she was unemployed, and a good relationship became even better.

I noticed along the way that she was occasionally purchasing bottles of wine. This surprised me since my sister was never much of a drinker, and had below-zero tolerance. I didn't think much of it at first, so that was that. My sister has also been a chain smoker for maybe thirty years or more, and talking with her about her smoking is also forbidden.

She got a job with a Chinese bank in Chinatown this past June, and she loves it. She works directly with the CEO and her right-hand man. She came back to life, and shuddered when she thought of her previous work. I continued to visit with her, and noticed this past fall that she was pretty much drinking wine every time I visited with her after five o'clock. I would bring this up in nonthreatening ways, and she'd typically ask me if her drinking bothered me, being that I'm sober. One time at her house I noticed a cache of empty wine bottles in her kitchen. She was forgetting conversations that we'd had, and she was sometimes visibly impaired while drinking. I brought all of this to my therapist and a good friend of mine in AA. I frequently encouraged my sister to see a doctor for a comprehensive physical. She either said what she thought I wanted to hear, refused to talk about it or told me she was fine and didn't need a doctor. My eighty-four-year-old mother, a former nurse and recovering alcoholic for thirty five years who does not know about my sister's drinking, would regularly confront her about her smoking and about seeing a doctor. This has been going on for years.

When she became ill the past couple of weeks, I again encouraged her to see a doctor, offering to go with her, and she finally opened the door to this a little bit. Her cognitive functioning during her recent illness has suffered, and I couldn't help but wonder how much this had to do with her drinking. I've been holding my breath since she went to urgent care, and now this.

When I spoke with her earlier, she told me that she'd be undergoing tests at the hospital and would pretty much be knocked out and otherwise unavailable tonight, so I'm packing a bag for her with creature comforts and going to see her tomorrow.

I can't say I'm least not yet, but I'm very sad. I rued the day that "something would happen with her medically," and now that day has come. The doctors so far haven't given her much of a prognosis beyond telling her that it's a "serious" condition.

Mary Ann is all heart. One of the reasons she was so successful in her professional life is that she takes very good care of her employees, her clients, and her colleagues. Everyone loves working with her. She takes care of stray cats, gives herself and her time to people in need, and generally makes the world a better place. It's extremely difficult for me to feel grateful at the moment, and I'm saddened that it took what it took for her to seek medical care and attention. At the very least, I'm happy to be able to there for her when she needs me. God knows she's been there for me many times in the past.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:14 PM
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EndGameNYC - I rather held my breath while reading this. I am so sorry that you, your sister, your Mom and your family are going through this.

Stay close to your friends at SR.

We are here for you.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:22 PM
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That is a touching post. We are all here for you. Keeping you and your family in my prayers.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:28 PM
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EndGame, I am so sorry you are all facing this uncertain time.

May you find peace and comfort in each others' presence right now.

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Old 03-03-2015, 12:28 PM
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bona fido dog-lover
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Hugs and prayers for you and your sister and family.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:28 PM
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Sorry about your sister.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:55 PM
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I'm very, very sorry.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:57 PM
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I'm sorry to read about what's going on with your sister.
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Old 03-03-2015, 12:59 PM
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Oh my dear friend... I'm with SoberLeigh about holding my breath reading this... but glad you shared. I'm so very sorry to hear this.

Parts of your sister's story remind me of a few people I know, an old ex from about 15 years ago, for example, or my father, or some aspects of myself (when I was younger). So I kind of understand her attitude and behavior, I think.

I am sure you know how it's best to interact with her in this situation. What I usually find a good way with similar people who are close to me, in situations when they suffer something that directly cuts into a very old an ingrained resistance is to be there for them as much as I realistically can, and be as open as I can, formulating my worries but without pushing them in any way. It sounds like that's what you have done with her already. I hear you on the adversaries often bringing previously unexpected and unimagined strength to relationships -- it's a sad but very real.

Brain tumors are not something that can be prevented or avoided even with rigorous and regular medical care, unfortunately they are unpredictable chance events. There are also many kinds, not all of them malignant, and many often respond to treatment well. Your sister will know more about all this and the options as she progresses with tests and consultation with the doctors.

I'm here for you, my friend. We all are. Unload as much as you like and whenever here and anywhere else that you find helpful.

Hugs to you... and good thoughts to your sister and family.
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:13 PM
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Thank you for all of your support. I truly appreciate it.

I'm going to the hospital later on anyway. Even if she's not conscious. She's in the ICU. My experience and my belief is that just being there physically can make a difference, so that' what I'm going to do. Besides, it will be nice for her to have her goodie bag when she wakes up tomorrow.
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:21 PM
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Prayers and best wishes for you, your sister and your family End

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Old 03-03-2015, 01:21 PM
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Behold the power of NO
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I just wanted to give you a hug and let you know that you and your family are in my thoughts.
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:22 PM
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Its a cold and its a broken hallelujah.
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We will walk the hospital journey together my sweet friend.

I will hold a space of grace for you as you move through this.

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Old 03-03-2015, 01:26 PM
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My prayers go to you and your family.
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:27 PM
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Very sorry to read this EndGame, prayers for you and your family.
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:39 PM
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wish all the best possible for your sister and family, and of course for you as you are dealing with this news.

always reach out here when you are feeling the need EG,
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:46 PM
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My deep wishes of hope and serenity for you and your sister, Endgame.
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:53 PM
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Gathering her things and getting ready here before I go to see her. Your support truly helps. We've spoken a few times on the phone for a couple of minutes each time. Can't think but wonder about how relieved she sounds after finally seeing a doctor, what with the information she's been given, but I'll deal with that later.

No worries for anyone about me drinking. I've lived through suicides and other losses by death and a great deal more through my many years of sobriety. It was never a crisis that made me want to drink, and it's no different now. I need to be as present as possible, which seems now to be my default mode.

Thanks again.
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:55 PM
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Prayers for both of you! Take it a moment at a time, that is all one can do. XXX
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Old 03-03-2015, 01:55 PM
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I am very sorry to hear about your sister. That must be very frightening for you (and your family). Just to share - my cousin (female) sounds exactly like your sister. Never wanted to "get doctored" as she phrased it. Workaholic, bright light and everyone loves her. Smoker as well. She started getting dizzy and finally relented to a doctor's visit. She had Ménière's disease. They were able to treat that, but they also found a brain tumor. It was benign, but because it was wrapped around a critical artery, they had to take it out, otherwise they would have just let it stay there and monitor it.

I am hoping that this is something similar to what your sister has. There is hope! Take care
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