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Brother's Keeper.
March 27, 2006 6:32 PM   Subscribe

Brotherly Love. "When a young Fort Lewis soldier returned from Iraq paralyzed from the upper chest down, it was his teenage brother who assumed the role of roommate and primary caretaker." The Seattle Times tells the story of Brandon and Blaine Powell. Be sure to check out the audio slideshow, which features Brandon speaking over photographer Alan Berner's images.
posted by jeffmshaw (13 comments total)

 
Harsh. And yet he'd do it again?
posted by Drexen at 6:52 PM on March 27, 2006


My God. The strength of people is amazing. Thanks for this link.
posted by digaman at 7:01 PM on March 27, 2006


What a sad story.

Then comes the bowel movement. Blaine uses his gloved hand to stimulate what his brother can no longer control. The process can take 30 minutes or more.

I suppose it seems purile to quote this out of everything else in the article, but to me it sums up the absolute dependence Brandon has on Blaine. They're both pretty strong to face each day like that together.
posted by GuyZero at 7:15 PM on March 27, 2006


SGLI now/finally includes a rider for 'traumatic injury'.
posted by buzzman at 7:24 PM on March 27, 2006


One day, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was touring the hospital, stopped by Brandon's bed. Rumsfeld offered his hand in greeting, leaving it extended awkwardly for a few moments before realizing his mistake.

yeeeeesh. moving. thanks for posting it. i really enjoyed the audio over the pictures. wish my local paper would do actually valuable stuff like this.
posted by fillsthepews at 7:43 PM on March 27, 2006


Great post. Thank you.

It really, honestly disturbs me beyond words that I could use to describe it that so many young men my age and younger (like Brandon) are going to have to deal with these terrible injuries for life. I'm sure this seems like a naive observation to someone who lived through the first Gulf War, or Vietnam, Korea...Or WWII. But this is the war of my generation...The only, I hope. And I just don't even know what else to say.
posted by rollbiz at 8:39 PM on March 27, 2006


"are going to have to deal with these terrible injuries for life"

And then there are those who don't even have that.
posted by dazed_one at 10:47 PM on March 27, 2006


The San Francisco Chronicle is running a four-part series, War Without End, on soldiers who were wounded in Iraq. They have two slideshows narrated by soldiers featured in the articles.
From March 19, 2003 to March 22, 2006
Dead: 2,319
Wounded: 17,269
Amputees: 454
Amputees who have lost more than one limb: 62
posted by kirkaracha at 6:51 AM on March 28, 2006


this made me cry for so many different reasons. it's just heartbreaking. the quote that fillsthepews posted was what got me started.
posted by thekilgore at 7:51 AM on March 28, 2006


One day, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, who was touring the hospital, stopped by Brandon's bed. Rumsfeld offered his hand in greeting, leaving it extended awkwardly for a few moments before realizing his mistake.

If God really existed, he would have given this kid use of his arm long enough to punch this dick in the face.
posted by dr_dank at 8:11 AM on March 28, 2006


He's not heavy, he's my brother.
posted by AuntLisa at 9:26 AM on March 28, 2006


Rumsfeld is a DICK, of course, because of his role in the Iraq War, but don't be so hard on the guy for extending his hand in greeting. That habit is very deeply ingrained. People do that all the time to my husband (for 3.5 years, a C3 quad with some use of one arm).

The "bowel program" is standard for those with spinal cord injuries. Neurogenic bladder is a problem as well, in SCI the urethral sphincter is perpetually closed which means the patient needs an indwelling catheter (a superhighway for pathogens) or catheterization every 4-6 hours.

Most insurance does not pay for personal care of this type---if the injured is married or can live with his parents, the spouse or family are expected to handle these details.

Caregiver burnout rate is very high. That very loving and dedicated brother will want and need to get on with his life sooner or later. Who will care for Brandon then?
posted by DawnSimulator at 10:17 PM on March 28, 2006


It's heartbreaking.
posted by deborah at 11:58 PM on March 28, 2006


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