Friday, August 19, 2011

Brian Hogan Jr. Update - August 18, 2011 "Where Does The Time Go"!

Greetings from 104 in the shade!  That's right.  And don't even get me started with the humidity.
I was thinking of what title to use for this update, but I couldn't think of a good one because there really isn't an update.  Sorry :(  The trouble with updates is that there's an expectation of something new and I have nothing new to report. That's not particularly a bad thing, but we really hoped Brian would be called for Stem Cell treatment before now.  It's not unusual to have hold ups with treatments that are not FDA (Federal Drug Administration) approved.  The FDA can put guidelines on treatment, but until these treatments are FDA approved, they call the shots with facilities such as LifeSource in Covington, Louisiana.  Yes, there are other facilities, but after meeting Dr. Lasala, personally, and getting to read statistics on his treatment, this is probably the best place.  Nothing is set in stone, so if the FDA don't pull their fingers out, we'll go elsewhere.  This "holding pattern" might kill all of us! 
I spent 10 very short days with Brian and the family, in July. I hadn't seen him for 12 months. What a great time! From the minute I booked the flight (which was less than two weeks from departure date), I was super anxious about seeing him.  Seeing him means it all really did happen.  Because I'm not around Brian daily (like the rest of the family), I knew it would be very emotional.  As soon as I pulled my suitcase out to pack, the weeping started.  I don't like flying anyway, but I was always super excited to go home.  The past couple of years, it's been bittersweet.  The plan was to get tougher about this sort of thing, not more emotional.  I figured if I cried as much as I could before I got to Ireland, I would be dried up like a prune.  Wrong.
My parents, Nevis and Shane met me at the airport.  Philly cried, of course.  My Dad seems to be shrinking.  Maybe it's because I've always seen him as the tallest man in the world.  Shane and Nevis looked sun kissed, which didn't match the weather outside the airport at all.  I never mind that it's cool in the summer, but it took me 3 days to figure out how to warm up.  I brought all the wrong clothes.  Thank God for whiskey!  My liver is grateful for the break though.
I flew in on Monday, but Brian thought I was coming on Thursday, so we surprised him (see attached pictures).  I can't describe the reunion.  I'll only cry on my keyboard and possibly short the whole computer!

When Brian asked me to describe the sunset, I thought I would curl into a ball and die.  Instead, I described the colors on an outfit I'd seen in his costume collection.  It had yellows, reds and oranges.  He loved that.  When we went to "Quiet Man Country", about an hour and a half drive from Limerick, Brian said "I wish I could see the countryside, I miss it so much".  The car went silent.  Holly barked (she's a dog), which was a welcome interlude.  We spent the car ride playing "the word association game", and Brian loved it.  He said "anything that keeps my brain moving, must be helping to heal me".  He's loving his books on CD.  He says they transport him to another world, one where he can see.

My parents house was a construction site.  Brian will be moving back home shortly.  His time at Beech Lodge was good for him, but he needs to be home.  My parents are in their 60's (which clearly isn't old), but they can't take care of him full-time.  We'll have to have outside professional care, but it'll be nice for the family to know where he is and who's with him at all times.  One side of our house will be for Brian.  It's beautiful.  I wish he could see it for himself.  He wanted exact details of everything from outlets to door knobs.  Brian's profession was Senior Quantity Surveyor at a very big company, so his job was in construction.  Brian was involved in the management side of construction, but he was in and out of building sites on a pretty regular basis.  He misses his work.  He said "all this sitting around doesn't suit me".  It really doesn't.  Brian was always like a bolt of lightening.  It's hard to watch him in a wheelchair.

Watching my parents and siblings with Brian is amazing.  They all do so much.  There's so much love around the kitchen table, that sometimes it's kinda sticky.  Oh, there are arguments too, but mostly everyone just wants to help as much as possible.  Brian took a nap on the Sunday I was home, and I caught my Mother just watching him from the bedroom door.  When she saw me, she said "doesn't he look perfect, like nothing is wrong"?  I can't imagine being a parent and helplessly watch my child suffer.  Parents must have a special trick for keeping it together, because I'd be in a looney bin by now.
Leaving was hard.  I suppose it's a mixture of sadness and guilt.  I get to "escape", but only physically.  Saying goodbye to Brian was actually easy.  He was happy that I was there, but excited about the next visit.  I don't know how he felt on the inside, but he held it together on the outside, and so did I.  It was just me and my parents at the airport.  Phil started crying as soon as I got in line to check in.  Part of me wanted to say "I'll stay for a few more days", but I would have been postponing the inevitable goodbye.  I think this was the first time my Dad cried when I was leaving.  Crying comes easier for him these days.  For that, I'm very sorry.  I thought I'd never board the plane and when I did, I wanted to squeeze my butt through the tiny window and hug my parents one more time.

Between flights and layovers, I was awake for about 30 hours.  I was tired and emotionally drained.  I had a few days to recoup, but they were sad and lonely.  It's never good to be alone when you're that sad :( I communicated with the family by text only for a week or so.  Hearing their voices just made me sad.  It was great to get back to work, but I felt like I was in a fog for a few days.  I have great friends, though.  I'm a lucky girl.

Brian would love to hear from you (even if he doesn't know/remember you).  Here's his contact info:
Brian Hogan Jr.
82 Russell Court
Ballykeefe, Limerick
Phone: 0876554411 (that's inside Ireland)  From the US it's 011353876554411.  From the UK, I'm not sure, but if you're Brian's friend, you'll figure it out!  He misses his UK friends a lot.
Everyone's busy and life just gets in the way sometimes, so if you've been meaning to write or call, do it NOW!!  As Brian says "you'd make a blind, brokenhearted little boy very happy".  If that's doesn't get you, you're stone cold! :)
From all of us, to all of you: Thank you for keeping in touch, your prayers, your cards, your messages.  We're grateful every day.
Hogan Family xx