Saturday, August 11, 2007


I wasted lots of time yesterday being scared.

I heard from my father last week that my younger brother's mystery illness was diagnosed by two physicians 4 months apart at a major research center as early onset Parkinson's disease. That's a damn shame--life has always been really hard for this brother due to what is probably Asperger's Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. Of course, when we were kids he was just considered really weird and out of touch, very literal in his interpretations of things, very rigid. He was always someone who lacked the social niceties (you would never ask him if he liked your dress as he was brutally honest if he didn't). His inability to nuance has hindered him throughout life.

He has kind of isolated himself from the rest of the family and I in particular have a hard time with him. We didn't speak for years due to what I considered his mean treatment of my parents and another brother--I apologized for my part in that estrangement 13 years ago, but we still are not close and never will be. There also is alot of that early childhood stuff that doesn't go away; I was the bright and shining oldest child, whereas he, only fifteen months younger than I, was always asked by our teacher why he couldn't be more like me (he is brilliant, but his social stuff crippled him). Our conversations tend to be lectures to me on his part, as are any emails. Of course, he always asks if I take his unsolicited advice and if I try to skirt the issue or disagree, then he gets mad and doesn't answer my emails for a year or so. That is just the way it always has been, even when I apologized for freezing him out I got a lecture on how I must hate men and that is why I didn't communicate with him.

Well! Anyway, after I had called and left a message expressing my concern about his illness, he emailed me to describe his symptoms and his journey in reaching a diagnosis that he and his wife could accept. I had a sinking feeling as I read his symptoms. They are eerily similar to the symptoms that I've been dealing with for the last few years. I was worked up for multiple sclerosis, with which our father was diagnosed many years ago, but that was ruled out. I have something, though, that is worsening steadily with time. I did not mean to appropriate my brother's experience, but the symptoms are too similar to be ignored. I won't bore you with them, but certainly my marathoning days are gone. I can't even make the physical motion of running; my muscles no longer work that way.

So I spent a few hours yesterday reading up about Parkinson's. I really got worried. I'm usually not a person who worries, as I consider worry to be a huge waste of time. Did I pray? Not really. I just wasted time. Then I felt hugely guilty for worrying about me, when my brother is the one I should be concerned about. I have repented of that.

Please pray for my brother and his family. He is a later in life parent and his poor young son has his own issues, now this. He used to be an Episcopalian, which always amazed me, but left the church after women priests became widespread. I'm not sure what his spiritual status is right now. That is not something of which we speak. Remember our entire family as we undertake this journey with one of our own.

1 comment:

Cathy said...

Praying for your brother, your family, and you. I have had students in my special education classroom who have characteristics of Asperger's but are too young to be diagnosed. I also know people around me who I am sure have Asperger's. They are a quirky lot and at times difficult. Blessings and prayers to you and your family.