“When I was a baby, he loved holding me and taking care of me. Now it’s my turn.”
Some siblings play with you, some fight with you, some are your best friends, and some do all of the above. My sibling does none of the above. Well, for now. My brother is my best friend. We used to play together, study together, talk to each other in the night, and trust each other with our secrets, but now we can’t do any of those things. He was recently paralyzed, but now we are teaching him how to walk, talk, and do math. We are turning him into the boy he used to be.
I am Meg and I will tell you how my brother, Matt, became paralyzed. We live in New York City. Nine months ago my brother was walking across the street and a car was speeding. My brother tried to back up and the man in the car tried to slow down, but it was too late. The man in the car hit my brother, and he screamed. My brother fell to the ground and he didn’t move. My mother got a call and she ran to the street where he got hit. I ran after her (let me remind you my brother was totally fine before this). We took ten minutes to get there. We were panting so much. When my mom and I got to the street he was being pulled into the ambulance. We went in with him. He didn’t make a sound. He didn’t move. My mom surely thought he was dead. There was blood all over his body. I couldn’t think straight.
My mom was crying and crying. Once we reached the hospital they took him into a testing room. I was sitting outside of the door crying because by now I thought he was dead too. I did not want my best friend and brother to die. Once they came out they said, “He is alive,” (I sighed with relief) but, he was paralyzed. At that point my mom stopped crying and she said, “Can you treat him?” they said, “Yes, but, he will be needing therapy.”
So, one month after that he got paralyzed he started therapy. Now, eight months later he can finally walk. He can finally have a full conversation. He still cannot read, write, and do physical activities. So I, Meg Warner, have volunteered to help.
I am younger than him, yet at this point, while he is being trained and he is going into eighth grade, I know how to do more activities than he does. That does not mean I am smarter than him, it just means we have to get all of the knowledge he has out of the back of his brain. Every day I work on math flashcards, reading flashcards, and spelling flashcards with him. We started off with preschool flashcards. He did well at those. Then we did kindergarten, which still wasn’t terrible. Then, everything up to sixth grade was fine, but seventh and eighth he is blanking out on. So those two grades are what we will have to teach him. He is getting the math of seventh grade, but his spelling is not great. So we don’t really work on math. We have been working on reading and spelling for weeks and he still can’t get it right.
Now, after weeks and weeks, we are going to the doctor to see if he has dyslexia. The test was positive. He has dyslexia. That makes the process of teaching twice as hard. So now I can not teach him, the doctor will. That is just the start of my brother’s story.
About My Brother
So my brother is a normal boy and I still believe that. He just needs to learn what he already knows. My brother was born August 3rd, 2003. He is two years older than me. He is twelve and I am ten.
We live in a brownstone building downtown. I can’t tell you exactly where for safety reasons. We have a big house and we also have added a training room for my brother for when his physical therapist comes.
He goes to the Anderson School and I go to The Dalton School. Well, now he isn’t in school, he is technically homeschooled but with a doctor. When I was a baby, he loved holding me and taking care of me. Now it’s my turn.
His favorite sport is tennis. He also likes playing soccer. He cannot do any of those anymore. As a small child he was on a soccer team and, before the accident, he was ranked seventy-fourth in the tennis Eastern Conference. He keeps telling me he wants to play tennis, but I say, “No you can’t. That will hurt you more.” He gets mad and storms off. I never intend to hurt his feelings, but he thinks he is still the boy he was before the injury. I tell him, “We are trying to turn you into that boy,” but he has to be taught. He still is the same boy but he has to be trained to be as smart as he possibly can. He also has to be able to do physical activities.
My brother and I have almost as much fun as we used to. He can talk, walk, and have fun with me. The thing is he can’t play catch with me, tennis with me, play soccer with me, skate with me, and pretty much do any sport with me. He now talks to me like he did. In the night we talk but a lot of nights he is in the hospital. We are both lonely those nights.
His spelling and writing is the level of my grade, which actually isn’t that bad considering that he has dyslexia and I am not bad at writing and reading. Technically he is doing really well.
The Bad News
We are walking with him down the street (we take a wheelchair just in case), when my mom got a call. You know when your mom gets a call and then all of a sudden she goes serious? Well, that’s what happened. As she picks up the phone I see a contact that says “Matt’s Doctor.” I get scared.
After my mom puts down the phone, I ask her what happened and she says, “Matt has to go to the doctor right away.” I am traumatized by now so I just sit and watch. She calls my dad, and he comes straight to the hospital. They say, “Matt has a tumor.” They say something about taking a CT scan. They think he has cancer, but I don’t believe it. It can’t be true, can it? We go straight to the hospital. We take an uber to get there. It comes so quickly, and we get to NYU Langone. They take him into a room to take a CT scan. We have to wait outside of the door on the chairs. He comes out with different-colored wire things on his head. One is red, one is blue, one is green, one is yellow, and there are also other colors. He is very drowsy, so we take him home and he falls asleep.
Through those days we are very scared for the result.
We finally get the results and they say, “He has a brain tumor.” I start crying. He walks up to me and hugs me. I am so sad. He almost fully recovered from being paralyzed, and now he has a tumor. The nurse tells us he will have to stay there overnight. When he is conscious he says, “I want to have the surgery so I can live, pursue my tennis dream, have a normal life, and not remember all of this happening to me. I definitely don’t want to not have the surgery because the tumor will kill me. I am very scared for the surgery.”
I try to stay strong and say, “You’ll be fine. I have to go, bye.”
In the night I am worried and lonely. I don’t want my brother to die. “The tumor isn’t big,” they said. They said, “The surgery isn’t that hard but it is risky.” My parents are trying to decide if he should have surgery. If he doesn’t have surgery, the tumor will spread and he will die at some point. If I have a say in it I will say yes because he would be fine after that (hopefully).
So my parents are talking all night and the doctor says, “If you want him to have the surgery it will be tomorrow.” They finally agree on letting him get the surgery. The doctors say, “It might make teaching him two times harder.” I know he will be the same boy. So the next day we see him on the chair in the hospital. They give him a shot that will make him fall asleep and then they take him into the other room. I am so scared. My brother could be dead in two hours or he could be a healthy kid in two hours, but my hopes are up.
I have been waiting in the waiting room for two hours and he’s not out. Is he okay?
The doctors come out with my brother on the chair. He is unconscious. They say, “The surgery went well.” I am so happy I jump out of my chair and hug him. (Remember he is still unconscious).
The doctor says, “He will have to take Tylenol or Advil for his headaches.” The doctors say, “He just can’t do any physical activities or physical therapy for two weeks.”
He stays there overnight. In the morning we pick him up from the hospital and he acts normal, but we have to take him in the wheelchair because he can’t walk until the physical therapist comes. We talk. I ask him how he felt. He says, “I’m fine,” but he has a headache. I tell him to go ask Mom to give him Tylenol. He says, “Okay.” He goes and asks.
Two weeks have passed and he wants to start tennis again. My brother can’t move very fast yet. He can’t walk because he isn’t allowed to, and now he has forgotten how to. So we get the physical therapist to come, so soon he will be able to play tennis. The physical therapist says, “It will be easy to teach him how to walk and run.” The problem is that he can’t move fast. He takes three days to get his legs to move fast. Then it takes three more days to get him to get a tight grip on the racket. It takes five days to strengthen his leg and arm muscles. He is able to play tennis. He tries out for a tennis team called The Ravens.
He gets on the team! He has a match in one day, which is the state’s match. He has been trained really well and I think he is ready.
We go to the match. He wins the first set six to one and wins the second set six to zero. He wins!!! We celebrate by buying a cake and eating it while watching Lemonade Mouth the Movie! The minute he won I knew he was totally fine.