Thursday, January 04, 2007

Hey, Brother

[Start Dictation.]

I finally felt good enough to get out of bed today. Still haven't mastered the fine motor movements required for typing, so the Stenos remain on the job. But I put a couple hundred yards on the Old Odometer after lunch, walking laps around my floor here in the hospital.

More importantly, today I got a first look at my little brother (little in size, of course, and not age, as we were born simultaneously, and since I entered the birth canal in the conventional head-first manner, by the Who Was All the Way Out Test, he's my senior). They wheeled me down to the Nursery — that much ground would have been too much for me to traverse on foot — where they have him in an incubator. I had to wait all this time to see him because they wanted me to undergo six hours of counseling first.

It's a traumatic thing to learn, after all this time, that you have a sibling.

"It's a traumatic thing, too, to have someone basically take a jackhammer to your face on Boxing Day. I think I can deal with it."

Phutatorius, you just can't go traipsing in down there. You need to prepare yourself mentally — emotionally. And so on.

So I talked through my feelings with the on-staff clinical psychologist over the past couple days. Then finally they gave me the go-sign, and Stan the Orderly came by with the Wheelchair of Truth. He rolled these old bones down to see my brother, and I've got to tell you, people: there's not a whole lot there to see.

It's all right, Phutatorius, for you to feel ambivalent. He's a human being and your brother, but he's also severely disabled and terribly small. You might find it difficult to forge an emotional bond with him, at first.

He's basically just this raw-skinned Sea Monkey-looking thing, lying under a heat lamp with a bandage over his leg stump. When they uncoil him, he's about eight inches long. Weighs barely two pounds. (I tell you, Brother/Sister, having a two-pound object taken out of your head is pretty trippy. I've got these overdeveloped neck muscles now, and they whip this new head of mine around like an empty piñata. So this is how the other 99.99999999% live. Wild.)

He's all squinty-eyed, too. Not used to the light, I suppose — but neither am I these days. He blinks constantly, needs the help of a respirator to breathe, and they feed him a mixture of saline and fish food with an eyedropper six times a day.

I'm all like whoa there —

It's completely understandable for you to feel abstracted from your brother. You can't go beating yourself up with guilt over it. It will take time, Phutatorius. Understand that it will take time.

They want me to sign papers, become his legal guardian. I'm not sure I can handle this. I watched the nurse with the eyedropper, trying to work that mush into his tiny mouth. I just don't know if I have the patience. I've never even had a cat, and for the most part they go out and feed themselves.

It's an opportunity for you to grow as a person.

Yeah, we'll see. He's literally a scaled-up Sea Monkey. An overgrown brine shrimp.

Still, though, he is kinda cute. And we've come this far together, the two of us . . . Coochy-coochy-coo, there, Little Buddy. Coochy-coo!

[End Dictation.]

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