Calls from Hulkman

I just got off the phone with Hulkman…again.  That was call number 4 within the last hour. I love my brother dearly, but there are days that I would like to ring his scrawny little neck.  We have this “thing” where as soon as Mum and Dad leave for errands, he calls me to chat. It helps him feel like he’s grown-up and doing his own thing. I’m really the only person he can call so he can get carried away at times. Sometimes he’ll forget which speed dial to push and ends up getting my home answering machine over and over and over.  So I’ll come home to about 14 messages saying either, “Jen, will you call me back?” or “AHHHHHH, MAAAANNNN!!!!! C’ MON, JENNY!!!!!”  I love those last ones.  Cracks me up all day long. Because of his tendency to over work the calls, I’ve told him 1 call a day.  But he’s a sneaky little devil.  He’ll feign sadness, excitement or anger to eek more calls in.

Today’s one of those days.

But I also find myself having a hard time getting too upset because 1) he’s almost 42 and that’s getting up there for people with Down Syndrome.  One day I’ll be crying that those phone calls will never be again.  And 2) I think about how he almost died when I was barely 12.

We had moved to India in October of 1983.  It was a hard transition, for me at least.  My brothers seemed to deal with all the strange sounds, smells and sights just fine.  I cried almost every night for the first month we were there.  It was dirty and loud.  There was constantly a smell whether it was pungent human/animal excrements or wonderful spices.  You were never alone…too many people for that luxury.  Eventually I made a couple of friends in the neighborhood which helped the transition.  By December I was feeling more comfortable with my surroundings. 

I was looking forward to my birthday coming up – January 18th.  I was going to be a pre-teen! I just knew it was going to be wonderful!  Our landlords (who lived below us) and our neighbors were going to make a big deal about it and that’s exactly what I wanted!  I had huge expectations that unfortunately were not going to take place.

The night before my birthday, Hulkman went to pee and passed out.  There was blood in his urine and he had spots all over his body.  They took him to the newly built Apollo hospital.  There were doctors there that were from all over the world. That was such a relief as most hospitals at the time were very 3rd worldish.  The saying was “Bring your cats to keep away the rats”.  Hulkman was admitted into the ICU ward due to complications with bleeding ulcers and dengue fever.

On the morning of my birthday we were taken to the hospital to see him.  My other brother and I could only go in one at a time.  When it was my turn, as soon as I walked in, Hulkman looked at me so weak and pale yet started singing: “Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday to you. Happy Birthday, Jenny Pooh. Happy Birthday to you.”  His voice was so raspy and strained from all the tubes they had put down his throat during the night.  As sick as he was all he wanted to do was show me that he remembered.  I was a wreck.

I don’t remember how long he was kept in the hospital.  Sometimes it felt like days and other days it felt like weeks.  During that time he was losing more blood than they could keep in him.  Some wonderful Bible School students heard the hospital was running out of his type of blood so they came in a group and gave blood to Hulkman.  Unfortunately that still wasn’t enough, because then his intestines blew.  The doctors told my parents that Hulkman had about 3 days left to live so we needed to say our goodbyes. We were devastated. I remember thinking, “Why would God bring us to India just so we could lose Hulkman?! What kind of God is that?”

During all this time, we had thousands and thousands of people praying for Hulkman, but hearing this latest news, our landlords decided to step it up.  With 2 days left, they came to the hospital, anointed Hulkman’s head with oil, sang a song or two, and read a very touching prayer.  Honestly, I didn’t think much of it.  But apparently God thought otherwise.  By that afternoon the bleeding had stopped and Hulkman was sitting up in bed asking for mashed potatoes.  He was hungry!!  The doctors were stunned.  Since he wasn’t bleeding anymore they decided to run a scope down to his stomach to see what had happened.  What they found was even more stunning.  There wasn’t even scar tissue. 

I’ll never understand God’s ways, but one thing I have learned is to trust Him. His ways are mightier than ours.

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  • I can’t believe I have never heard that story before! I know you can picture me with tears rolling down my face right now…you know how sappy I am!! Truly a miracle and why he calls you several times a day!! Treasure each call!!

  • Oh my gosh Jen/Gi – what a story! I’ve got goosebumps and there are tears on my cheeks.

    By the way – remember my telling you of my cousin with Downs, whom I grew up with? He’s 62 years old!!! I don’t know if it’s relative or not, but his dad (my great-uncle) is 95 years old!

    By the way – I’m baaaaaaaaack and I’ve missed ya!
    (and your blog looks freaking fantastic!)

  • This touches a very raw nerve in me that I can’t talk about. Thank you for putting it in words so eloquently. And for being so transparent and open about your struggles. Not found easily in the Christian community, but needed so badly.

  • JenGi we have a big God, don’t we? Hulkman is almost as fortunate to have you as you are him. I can almost hear the messages, you described them so well I’m cracking up! I have a friend whose brother has Down’s Syndrome and on Friday nights when we’re there for small group, he always calls. And calls. And calls…until her husband finally answers and lovingly tells him she’ll call back after group, so be patient. And he usually listens to him–but I think it’s adorable. xoxo

  • Okay, so here is my full feature comment! AWESOME story. Thanks for sharing that. It was very beautifully written too. I have met Trent a time or two, but having a sister with downs I completely understand your feelings of both frustration and absolute love all at the same time. Jenni will call and leave me messages on my cell phone about all kinds of things. Like one night I invited her over for dinner because mom and dad were out of town and wouldn’t be back until really late that night. Jenni loves being by herself and can only handle people for a certain amount of time. So, she stays home a lot by herself. Anyway, that night she called while I was busy with the baby and left this message, “Sister (she always calls me Sister instead of Kristin), this is your sister, Jenni. Your sister Jenni, it’s me. Mom and Dad called and are coming home early. They are coming home early. I won’t be coming over for dinner because mom and dad are coming home early. I’m sorry but I can’t come over tonight. Mom and dad coming home early. Maybe next time, I’m sorry I can’t come over Mom and Dad are coming home early, okay? Okay, Love you, your sister Jenni.”

    I laugh and laugh about those messages!! What we would ever do without them! We’d never really know how to love and laugh as hard as we do, right!

  • Why hadn’t I heard this story before? Thank you for sharing…..I have some fond memories of “hulkman” too. I love you and your family and think of you often! Again…..thank you for sharing this story!!

  • Wow, Jen. I have chills. What a story. God is a mighty God, to be sure!

    Hulkman sounds like an amazing brother. I am sure you bless him as much as he blesses you.

  • Thank you so much for sharing your brother with us! Maybe you could do a blog all about Hulkman so that I can add you to the DSNM “The Future is Now” blogroll. There just isn’t enough blogging about adults with Ds to go round!

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