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My Brother, My Hero

by Crystal Schaufus

David and I have always been close, from the time when we were little to now. David is my brother who is two years younger than me. We grew up playing Barbie dolls and Army men together and had always fought about something ridiculous. But that is how most brother and sister relationships are. We even grew closer when my brother Nic was born. David and I did not like the attention he was receiving so as he had grown older we would pick on him and ignore him when he wanted to play. I have many memories with David that I will not go into detail about Although, having so many memories with him made it difficult when he had to have surgery done.

David is quite a strong young man who towers over me being at least five foot eleven. He and I have similar physical features. He has freckles that cover him head to toe and thick brown hair on top of his head. He also has blue eyes and wears glasses. Being as strong as he is no one ever expected that there were two cysts growing inside his head on his brain. He hadn't known, until he noticed he was having headaches constantly. His headaches later on turned into migraines. They would not go away, so my mother made a doctor's appointment. The result was devastating.

Cancer runs in my family but at the time being fifteen and having tumors growing on your brain was not normal. Later we found out that the two tumors could be cancerous. The doctor gave David a decision that could risk his life. Those were either to have the surgery, risking his life or not to have it and have no idea how long he had to live. This was David's decision because he was old enough to make it. He chose to have the surgery.

There were many risks in having the surgery including death. I couldn't bare to think that I could lose my brother in a blink of an eye, never mind thinking how my parents are managing. Here we were thinking everything would be fine and nothing would go wrong. Little did we know that it wasn't going to happen. My mother had told me that there are time limits on surgeries. Once you pass a certain hour, different risks are a factor. David's surgery was supposed to last only two hours, instead he was under the knife for twelve. Having been there hours past his original time, David's unconscious body could not keep up. David ended up having a stroke.

The doctor's must have not realized it until he was in recovery. After my mom told me he had a stroke, I was confused and didn't know what to think. I was only seventeen at the time and I was afraid that something really bad had happened to him. Then again, I didn't even know how bad the stroke was and what condition it left him in. My mother made her way into Boston with my step-father, Nic and I. Walking into the hospital gave me goose bumps after seeing the rooms filled with sick and bed ridden children. The walls were covered with drawings and get-well sayings. A tear had rolled down my face. I was worried that David would be stuck there too. Soon enough I was standing outside his room. I looked in, there he was sound asleep.

My mother walked in first and I followed. My stepfather had left-overs in his hand from the previous night dinners. I took another look at David, and I started to cry. I soon realized he was paralyzed from the waist down and he lost all feeling and basic movement in his right arm. All the images of him riding his bike, and drawing his army stick figures and playing whiffle ball came swarming into my head. He soon woke up, for it was lunchtime. I watched him pick up his food with his fork and each time he would miss his mouth and hit himself. He had no actual control at all. The doctor told him he should attempt to use his right arm so he could at least get some movement back. At the time it just wasn't possible for him. He always gave up because he got too frustrated. I wouldn't blame him. At some point he needed to use the restroom. My mom had to help him up from the bed and stand behind him as he dragged himself with the walker. In my eyes, he was only fifteen and shouldn't have been ‘crippled'. But recovering from his head surgery was first priority before anything.

As weeks went by the doctor had him on a group therapy program. The program would teach him how to walk again and use his legs more, also learn to control his right arm. The nurses helped him move all his un used muscles that he hadn't used for weeks. I attended one of his sessions. The nurse had him get in a position where he would lay on his back and lift his legs one by one. Each time it would only get harder. The nurse would raise her hand telling him he needed to touch it. Sometimes he got so angry he just gave up. Work on his arm and hand were also a process though. His right hand was the one he wrote with, which meant he had to learn to write all over again. This made him feel like he was five years old starting from scratch. This did not give him the encouragement at all. Sadly at the time, my eleven year old brother who had bad penmanship to begin with, wrote neater then he did. Obviously recovery was going to take time. But I never knew he would ever be able to do the things he used too.

As months went by there were many improvements. The therapy was working. David's hair started to grow back from where the doctors had shaved it off, and you could see the define scars that the surgery left. One scar goes from the middle of the back of his head down to the hairline meeting his neck. Then there are two circles marked on the side of his head, where his skull was screwed into place, so it wouldn't move during surgery. Soon enough, he was showing signs that he could walk again. He still used the walker, but he was so eager to walk alone.

A year had gone by and David was recuperating quite well. There were no signs that the cysts were growing back and his headaches were gone. He learned how to write and read better. Even though the surgery temporarily took away his walking and writing skills, his humor stayed intact. He always had a humor that would make anyone laugh even me, on my worst days. He may have let the stroke take all those other things away but he made sure never to loose his humor. David is strong and that's how we knew he would work hard and put all the effort he could to get the other things back.

It's almost two years later. He can ride a bike and play whiffle ball. Before he could not even walk, but seeing him run now puts a smile on my face. He used his right arm for everything, even though he may not have full mobility back. In the summer he worked with my father in the construction business, dealing with tools. He got his permit a couple of months ago, he even has a car that he is fixing up. He is getting back to his old self, even though there are some things he may not be able to do. He always puts his mind to it.

David is my brother, my hero who I love very much even if we still do fight. I'm not sure how life would be if he wasn't able to walk anymore or perhaps if he never wrote again. But I am so glad to see he over came the obstacles life threw at him. It shows exactly how strong he is. I have no idea how I would be today if I lost him that day. I do know one thing I would be missing a big part of my life.

English Composition 1, Fall '07