In 3 days time my sweet brother, Luke will be having hip replacement surgery. He is only 26 years old and yet arthritis has crippled him with pain and stolen joy from even the simplest activities. You may be thinking 26 years old…he is too young to have arthritis! Well, Luke also has Trisomy 21, better known as Down Syndrome. Individuals with Down Syndrome are at higher risk for various musculoskeletal conditions and autoimmune diseases which can lead to the development of arthritis. What started out as an occasional complaint of leg pain and a slight limp, quickly progressed into debilitating pain and physical disability for Luke. Despite Luke’s inability to clearly articulate what he is feeling, his tears and noticeable distress say more than words could ever express to us. For when Luke cannot get out of bed to go to the YMCA (his favourite activity of the week), it is clear that something is not ok.
Following a very difficult pre-operative appointment on New Year’s Eve, my parents brought Luke back home feeling unsupported and apprehensive after being told to reconsider their decision to have the surgery by hospital staff. Yes, Luke is stubborn and strong-willed…It took half an hour to take his blood pressure and his blood work could not be completed even after an hour of trying. However, how can we let him live in pain, on 8 pills of Tylenol #3 a day for the rest of his life when there is the possibility of fixing his hip? As a healthcare professional myself, it is frustrating to hear how quickly the nurses and doctors want to give up. Luke cannot advocate for himself. He has not been given a voice to stand up for himself. Luckily, both of us have been blessed with strong, smart, and brave parents who will carry him through the adversity.
Being so far away at this time is heartbreaking. Through all the doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, and tests that my family have endured, I have anxiously awaited updates from 4000 km away. Even now as I type, I must fight a lump in my throat and the tears that cloud my vision. I wish I could stand alongside my parents at this time, carry some of the burden, and ease my brother’s pain. Yet in this moment all I can do is pray, surrender my guilt, and trust in the community of love all around us. Therefore, I ask for your prayers, positivity, and healing intentions. “A miracle is a shift in thinking, a shift from fear to love” (Marianne Williamson). Help us pull Luke through the negativity and fear. Help us surround him with love.
Photo courtesy of Iron & Bragg Photography