1. to deprive of courage, hope, or confidence; dishearten; dispirit

My eldest brother died last year in April of complications from alcoholism. Almost a year ago, now. My father died in October. On December 28, 2012, not wanting to lose my remaining brother to alcoholism, I got desperate and arranged an intervention. My brother agreed to go through detox and then rehab. For the first couple of months, he did well. He went to meetings daily. He called his sponsor. He read the big book. He began working the steps.

My brother’s health, which had been quite poor, improved a bit. He ate better. He did his physical therapy to reverse the muscle wasting. He began walking and discarded the wheelchair. He had been malnutritioned, but began eating better. He began feeling better. He was optimistic.

Then he got sores in his mouth that wouldn’t heal, despite several courses of antibiotics. The sores were so painful that he couldn’t eat. So he drank Ensure. Then he got pneumonia despite having had the vaccine, and was admitted to the hospital for a few days. A couple of weeks after he was discharged, his legs became swollen and painful. Another visit to the emergency room. The doctors said it was cellulitis. They gave him another course of antibiotics. Still, the sores in his mouth wouldn’t heal. The bone had died from the radiation. He underwent more surgery to remove it. They’d already removed the lymph nodes when the cancer came back the second time.

He became discouraged. Frustrated. He stopped going to meetings, saying he needed to rest and concentrate on his health. While this did not bode well for his sobriety, it was hard to argue with him. He felt tired and weak. His mouth hurt. His legs hurt. Once again he began having trouble walking. The doctor told him he needed to rest. And besides, he had no desire to drink. So he didn’t need support from those people, he said. I talked to him gently. Reminded him what happened the last time he didn’t need support from those people. He agreed to call his sponsor.

Yesterday at work, he felt worse and appeared anemic. Last night he went to the emergency room. His white blood count was extremely elevated. They gave him plasma and admitted him. The doctor scheduled a bone marrow biopsy, which should be done by tomorrow. They gave him more plasma today. He feels a little better tonight.

The doctors suspect chronic myelogenous leukemia.

He beat mouth cancer. Twice. He got sober. And now he likely has cancer of his white blood cells. He’s lost his brother; his best friend. His father. He’s hanging in with his sobriety.

Damn it, he deserves a break.

I too feel discouraged. And afraid. I fear I’m going to lose my brother just as we were getting him back.

It never occurred to me that as I approached fifty, everyone would start dying. I didn’t spend much time thinking about death.

Now, I can’t get away from it.

My brother is sick again and I feel discouraged. And I know what needs to be done.


It’s either that, or let it suck me under. I refuse to do that.


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