Family Matters,  fighting the fat gene

Update on my brother

an anniversary portrait

Hi, all. This is just a quick update on my brother. I don’t know if many of you have been following the news on my twitter feed but my brother suffered from some heart pain and pain in his left arm the other day. He spent several hours in the emergency room getting tested. All the tests came back inconclusive but it looks like he has congestive heart failure, an enlarged heart and lung. He seems to be okay now though. He is on his way back home from Oregon (he is a long-distance trucker) and will get more tests when he gets home to figure out what is going on. He can’t drive right now (obviously) so one of my cousins is driving up to get him in Oregon and will bring him down to Red Bluff and from there CC will drive him home.

We’ve all known this could happen. My brother pretty much looks like a walking heart attack, not to mention it runs in our family. My grandfather had six heart attacks before he turned 40 (I could have my facts wrong but it was something like that). Shawn has been cutting back on his food intake for years and has been off red meat for a long time. Making life changes is of course a big issue here, but when I talked to him on the phone yesterday he seemed even more worried his job and family.

After many many years of failed careers it seemed as if he’d finally found something he enjoyed, was good at and actually came with a decent paycheck. It was a big leap for him to become a trucking teacher because he is surprisingly shy but he turned out to be really good at it. We’ve all been so overjoyed by this latest success.

BUT now that he is at risk of heart attack, he will probably lose his job which is exponentially damaging to him and his family. As you know they’ve barely eked by for years. If you are the praying type maybe you could add Shawn and his family (and especially CC who shoulders most of the stress) to your list.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I might try and put together some kind of fundraiser for them…so if there is any kind of art, coloring sheet etc. that you’d like me to sell for maybe a $1 a download or something, let me know in the comments. I’ll try to get on that ASAP. Also I’m donating all profits from my etsy shop to them too.

(photo taken at their 10-year anniversary in 2007)


  • Mrs. mom

    Hello Brenda, I just wanted to drop a line and tell you that your brother and his family as well as yours will be in my prayers. I think I speak for all your readers by saying that following your blog daily and through all the pictures you post makes it feel like you part of our lives, thank you for sharing this with us, I understand very well how difficult it is. God bless you!

  • alfredsmom

    I am not a tweet person (afraid it will be another thing to become addicted to!) So I didnt hear about your brother’s health scare. WIll be praying for him. And while I know that the money would not be the same, he might qualify for disability. My FIL went on disability after open heart surgery several years ago. I know, not necessarily a bright spot in a dreary situation, but still wanted to pass that along.

  • Gramma

    Your Mom just told me there was a test that showed an embolism. I sure hope not, but he is there in Red Bluff with your Uncle Dan, who suffered through a like experience. We continue to pray for the whole little family.

  • Kate

    Oh wow, Brenda. I am so sorry to hear about your brother. Hopefully his employer will be understanding. You are all in my thoughts!

  • Lori

    Prayers and well wishes for your brother and his family.

    PS: Though probably not an item needed for the masses, I could use pretty/creative slumber party invitations for my soon-to-be 8 year old daughters. I would gladly pay extra for a service like that to help with raising funds.

  • Joy

    I hope Shawn has a full recovery and a good prognosis!

    I loved the cards you made of recycled artwork, with the strips of watercolor paper. I’d buy postcards or notecards like that!

  • Ninabi

    Oh, I am so, so sorry to hear this. Tell your brother and CC that others are thinking of them and praying for them. And tell him- stay positive! My father was diagnosed 19 months ago with congestive heart failure, on oxygen, etc. In and out of the hospital. He was determined to get better and with new meds, he did. Back to working FT running a city transit system and will be turning 80.

    Had a friend with CHF who was told horrible, awful news by the MDs two summers ago and he got so mad he checked out of the hospital, blue as he was, and found a new doctor. Just got married this year….not bad for a guy given (supposedly) 48 hours to get his affairs in order.

    But back to your brother- I’m sorry about this. He’s so young and I’m sure CC and the girls must be so worried, as you are. Fundraiser- yes. I’ll help out.

  • Jen - Mom of 4

    Hi Brenda

    I’m so sorry to hear about this set back for your brother and CC. My Mom was diagnosed with CHF this spring. While it is very scary, your brother has a very high chance of getting better with medication. My Mom is now completely healthy.

    I will be checking out your esty shop and would purchase anything you put up for a fundraiser. Your family is in my prayers!

  • margalit

    I’m so sorry to hear this about Shawn, but you know that I am also living with cardiomyopathy (enlarged heart) and congestive heart failure, and if he’s careful, and spends a LOT of time resting, he should be alive for many many many more years. The thing is, cardiomyopathy in and of itself can be totally benign or can be extremely incapacitating, but it depends upon what kind you have, how long you’ve been symtomatic, and how much preventive care you have done to save yourself from heart failure or a heart attack.

    I’d be happy to talk to him about living with this disease if you think it might help. I assume that health insurance is an issue (isn’t it for everyone?) but he can apply for SSDI and get Medicare after a very long wait. SSDI doesn’t pay much and is totally dependent on what his total earnings have been, but it can make the difference between not eating and eating.

    He’ll also need to have an ICD device installed. It’s an internal defibrillator and it will ensure that any heart failure will be controlled as soon as the device notices changes in his heart beat.

    You can live a long life with CHF, as long as you watch your diet, take your meds, and stay away from the demon salt. That is the hardest thing for me. I love salt. Sigh,

  • sunny

    I would be happy to pay for a SAJ designed banner. I really like your family and I hope Shawn will live a long, healthy life.

  • Leesa

    are they sure it’s a heart attack? Sometimes Panic Attatcks (Anxiety) caused by huge stress overload and/or too busy schedules can look like the same symptoms. (I’m not a Dr though!) I know of a great book it you are interested that truly truly understands panic attacks, and in a simple, user friendly cartoon style short paperback- well, lets just say it really helps when people understand what you are going through, and gives great, easy strategies on how to overcome them/it.
    And there is NOTHING like the power of prayer, and the support network of family. x