Sat., March 24th was my 57th birthday. It was also the day my brother David died at age 58 from aspiration pneumonia due to complications from HD.

David lived alone in Arkansas for the last several years of his adult life. In 2007 David was arrested by the town police for being drunk & disorderly (it was in reality the HD symptoms). He was later taken to a hospital for a mental health evaluation (again HD) at which time his landlord and friend called us. Some family members then went down to AR to see him and make sure his health care professionals knew he has HD and was not drunk and disorderly, nor needed a mental health evaluation.

In April 2008, I went to AR to bring David back here so he could be taken care of properly. His friends had tried their best to care for him, but none of them could. We found an assisted living home for him because my husband and I could not care for him at home. He was there for a couple of years but as the disease progressed, they could no longer care for him. So last year we found a nursing home that had experience working with HD patients and even had another HD resident.

It was so hard to watch his health deteriorate every week when we visited him. But he always had a smile on his face, and he loved Yahtzee. We played with him every visit and called him Mr. 6 because he always seemed to get Yahtzee’s on sixes. He loved music, especially Elvis. Music seemed to be his saving grace in a situation that your mind works but your body doesn’t.

But his true testament comes from the day he died. After a two week fight with pneumonia, David lost his battle. It was such a struggle for us to just sit and watch his body fight to breathe. He was unconscious of course, but his hospice nurse was so wonderful to make sure he was clean and comfortable. She even went on-line and found some Elvis music and played it all day just for David. Before he died, nursing home staff all came to say goodbye. One of his hospice nurses even came in on his day off to say goodbye to David because of how David had touched his life this past year. Other residents came by his room to say bye and tell us how happy David had always made them feel with his smile and music and how much they will miss him. And they all cried with us.

This picture was taken two weeks before he died. He had asked to see our father. When Dad got there David rallied and was able to sit in his wheel chair and talk NASCAR with him. We stayed and talked with him all day. The next day too. So we were hopeful that he was on the mend and would survive this bout with pneumonia. We all believe that David knew his time was short so he wanted to see Dad and say bye to all of us.

In the end someone told me that he really gave me a great birthday gift that he chose to go to eternal life on the day I came into earthly life.


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