"My Cousin Dave" A Modern Day Job!"

“When I woke up this morning, you were on my mind.” We Five

Two Wild and Crazy Cousins

I’ve been thinking about my cousin Dave an awful lot lately. And yes, he really was on my mind this morning! (Sunday) In fact I had a dream about him just before waking. You see, for the past several years Dave has been on a roller coaster ride of health issues. Just like Rosanne Rosannadana used to say on Saturday Live,  “It’s always something.” and “If it ain’t one thing it’s another.”

Nearly 20 years ago Dave was diagnosed with lymphoma. It was pretty serious, but he was in peak physical condition and was able to beat the cancer handily. He was able to resume his normal life with nary an issue. Then about 5 or so years ago the cancer returned and though he managed to beat it yet again, it took its toll and seemed to open the floodgates to a long list of  health concerns and countless wellness battles. It hasn’t been easy, he’s gone from cancer to serious infections, to vertigo to Parkinson’s, with a host of other ailments in between.  Yeah my poor cousin has been through the f-ing wringer and his wife and kids have been there right beside him every step of the way. God love them.

Dave and I have always been close, we might as well have been brothers.  He’s a year younger than me and  we’ve hung together since we were little kids.  He lived right across the alley from our grandmas’s house and it seemed like my mom was always at grandma’s so Dave and I saw each other pretty often while growing up. Yeah we shared many  a good times together as kids, teens and in adulthood. We shared similar interests and even had the same taste in girls. Now that was definitely the cause of a few problems now and then but after a brief chill period we’d always managed to work things out. Yeah we were tight. When I got married he was my best man and years later I was his.  God I wish there were more that  I could do for him, I’d gladly share his load.

Earlier this year Dave underwent a procedure known as DBS / Deep Brain Stimulus to help him with the Parkinsons. The procedure  involves implanting electrodes  in the brain and a neurostimulator similar to a pacemaker. that delivers electrical stimulus to the targeted areas of the brain that control movement. Unfortunately it isn’t as easy as implanting the device and throwing the switch. There’s a lot of fine tuning or programming involved and that doesn’t happen overnight. It can takes several months to find the right combination. In the meantime the patient can experience a host of reactions and side-effects including  the possible  apathy, hallucinations, compulsive behavior, cognitive dysfunction, depression or mania, speech impairments, mood swings and a change in personality. Suffice it to say that Dave was experiencing a number of these side-effects and  needed reprogramming.  

Dave’s side effects were not only taking there toll on Dave but his wife as well. She called UCLA  several times to try and have Dave seen, finally she was told that his stimulator would need to be off for at least a week before they could diagnose and reprogram him. That when Ray and I got our opportunity to help out.  He shouldn’t be at home alone while his wife  was working because knowing Dave he would want to  do chores and home maintenance that could be dangerous to his health, so we offered to have Dave stay with us. He was our house guest for nearly a week. Ray and I were more than happy to help by providing a place for Dave and giving his wife some time to recharge her batteries. 

Dave’s stay went well. We enjoyed having him stay with us. We teased that he was now under the supervision of my wife, Nurse Ratchett of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest fame and the key phrase was “not under my watch.” It was like old times spending time with him. I know it was good for both of us. While with us I learned that in spite of his limitations Dave is most definitely still Dave. He doesn’t like being told that he can no longer do something. Telling him that he can’t only make him want to prove he’s still able to do it. Inside he’s still Dave. Like he told me, in his head thinks are straight, but they don’t come out that way in his words or actions. There is this major disconnect. Hopefully once they get the programming down pat he’ll be able to go on normally. He was programmed a week ago Friday and seems to be doing pretty well.

Then on Saturday I got a text from Dave. He had a PET Scan the previous weekend  and just learned that he has a break of the L3 vertebrae. I guess it’s pretty nasty. He’ll find out this week how it will be handled.  Come on! enough already! As if  things haven’t been bad enough already! Nobody should have to go through so much crap! Other men would probably be crying in their beer but not Dave, he’s drinking his. He’s got such an incredible attitude about it all, I don’t know how he does it. I don’t know if I could handle  what he’s going through as well as he is. I would hope that I could.  Hang in there cuz. If there’s anything I can do to help don’t hesitate to ask.  Praying for you man. Love you…









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