Often when my brother calls me, he doesn't really talk. He will ask what I'm doing and then has nothing to add. I'll follow up with 14 questions, to which he will have essentially the same answer: "Not much." Then I will start telling random stories, wondering if he is watching TV instead of listening. Sometimes I think he's been so conditioned to my rambling all these years that the white noise of it is sometimes soothing. Then I tire of hearing myself speak and let him go.
A few months ago, he called while we were watching the Dexter finale. If any of you have seen the show, you know that a WHOLE LOT OF CRAZY always happens, especially during the last episode. I let the call go to voicemail to call him back after I had calmed down (I'm always terrified on behalf of the hero). I figured that because my brother was in Houston for work, he must have scored tickets to the Rockets and was calling to tell me.
When I called back, I found out that my brother was in the Emergency Room. Remember that spurting blood thing he had going on with his leg? He already had surgery to fix it, but the problem had re-started at the ankle. It started spewing after he took a shower, and thankfully a coworker staying at the same hotel brought him to the hospital.
At this point, I started losing it. What kind of horrible person chooses to watch TV over answering the phone when her baby brother is bleeding profusely in some strange hospital a thousand miles away? Jon was trying to convince me that I am not a horrible person, but it still felt like it. I tried to be calm, because if I freaked out audibly, my brother would regret even telling me about it. He forbade me from telling my parents under the threat that he will never let me know what's happening again, and assured that he was fine. He was going to make an appointment with the doctor who did his other vein surgery when he got back to Mobile.
My brother's new phone thing is when I ask him a question he claims a) he's already told me the answer, b) I never pay attention/remember/listen c) that he won't repeat himself. And then he says I'm just like dad (no offense, dad, you're great). No one on Earth can get under my skin as much as this boy. And he takes sadistic pleasure in driving me batty.
So I never could determine if he had met with the surgeon again or if there was an upcoming procedure. He didn't want to tell mom, and he kept saying he'd already answered that question. I fired back that he's certainly not important enough that people take notes every time he speaks, and anyone who thinks so is on drugs. He said he'd tell mom I think she's on drugs and hung up.
Then he told mom that he was having ankle-vein surgery. The next day. And when she found out I had known about this whole situation, she was upset. For obvious reasons.
I think part of the reason my brother moved so far away is because my parents and I are consistently hovering over his eating, sleeping, partying and medicine-taking habits. It's selfish, really. We have grown fond of the little brat and would like to have him around for another 50 years or so. But my brother was taught at a very young age to live in the moment. If he wants to go to a bar and do shots with his buddies, that's what he's going to do, no matter how many cardiologists recommend against it. It makes my parents absolutely crazy with worry. But that stubborn part of his personality is likely what has helped him stay alive.
My mom got over her anger. We'd rather someone know what's going on with the kid than all three of us to be in the dark. But we spent the day of his procedure feeling a little out of sorts. We weren't there. We didn't know what has happening, hell, we didn't even understand exactly what they were doing to him. It's a blessing his roommate took the day off work to take him home and watch over him. That Mark is a good guy.
Shortly after he woke up and was able to keep graham crackers down, the phone calls began. The only upside to surgeries is the absolute hilarity of talking to my brother when he is on powerful drugs. The usual phone habits are out the window, and he's downright chatty. Unfortunately, he's also saying all kinds of brazen and ridiculous things, such as proclaiming to be able to take down a male nurse five times his size in a fistfight, or demanding an explanation from his heart surgeon as to why such a rich doctor drives a Ford Taurus. Who knows what he had said to the hospital staff this time. He called me at work about a dozen times. Later, I relayed a few tidbits of what he had been saying, and the response was, "Oh no. OH NO." It wasn't too embarrassing, but it was entertaining. But it's nice to know that--even while he was high as a kite and not making a lot of sense--he still wanted to talk to me.