My mom's side of the family has a Christmas get together the Saturday before Christmas. This is the tradition for as long as I can remember. My mom has six brothers, and my family is massive, so getting together on Christmas Day itself became too challenging. Last year, I didn't attend the family party for the first time EVER because one of my aunt's switched to two Saturdays before Christmas, and I had already made plans. Otherwise, I've always attended the party - most years, the party is hosted at my mom's house but some years it switches to one of my aunt's houses.
This year I was looking forward to attending the annual event. It was last night. Mr. Lock and I arrived early, and we enjoyed catching up with my aunt and uncle and greeting the rest of the guests as they arrived. My dad, 13-year-old brother and grandmother arrived a little later than expected, just after 6 pm. My mom and 22-year-old brother ("Miles"), were unexpectedly absent. My dad pulled me aside, not wanting to wreck the party for all, to tell me that my mom just took Miles to the emergency room.
Apparently he was in the basement, and started screaming for my mom. It was his head, he was in intense pain. They didn't know what to do, it was so sudden, so they rushed him to the hospital.
We were waiting for an update from my mom. She finally called to tell my dad that they were doing a CAT scan. Of course at this point I'm feeling incrediby anxious and worried. Finally she calls to say that they didn't see anything on the CAT scan, but they want to do another test to check his spinal fluid for blood.
Miles was refusing the test. He heard there was a slight chance that if they missed they could hurt his spine and send him in to surgery. He was scared, anxious, worked up... by this point more of my extended family at my aunt's house was worked up over the news of where Miles was and what happened. They were all pushing for him to have the test... it would tell us if he had an aneurism or burst anything in his head. My mom and dad wanted him to have the test. But, he's 22-years-old. If he tells the doctors no, then there's nothing his parents can do.
Miles and my mom have a long history of arguments. Miles is as anxiety-ridden as I am, but has a lot less self-awareness and has a lot more difficulty coping. He struggles, often, with certain situations because he also has Learning Disabilities and ADHD. When he's having trouble coping with anything, I am the person he turns to.
I was at my aunt's house, ready to continue to enjoy my family party, but I was sudden so worried about my brother. I knew I needed to go to the hospital, I knew he needed me to calm him down, to convince him to make an informed choice -- to do the very commonly done test to ensure he was healthy, before walking out of that hospital.
My uncle drove me to the hospital, and I ended up staying there for nearly 3 hours with my brother and my dad. I calmed Miles down, we talked it out, he chose to do the test. I was able to stay with him, and help him cope with another few hours in the ER. He was angry and beligerent at times, but it was the right thing to do. He needed me, I'm his go to person when he's scared and is trying hard not to show it to others.
It was a huge relief when the test results came back. The spinal fluid was clear, so it must have been a migraine -- though it's apparently very rare for a migraine to hit that hard and that suddenly at my brothers age (according to the doctor). We were so relieved, though, to know for sure that it wasn't something worse.
Miles was relieved too, and I know that even though he was scared to have that test done, he was able to sleep easier leaving the hospital knowing he was okay. Today he called me, apologized for "acting like a jerk" (his words), and thanked me for coming to the hospital last night.
I may have missed the family party again this year, but if my brother needs me, I will be there for him.
(Mr. Lock, I should add, was a rock star. He came with me to the hospital, but then I sent him back to the party. He had only met some of those family members ONCE before, but he had a great time with them singing and playing guitar, he made a great impression.)
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