The Sibling of a Sick Kid


Delilah Linan

My brother at one of his first hospital visits after being diagnosed with Crohn’s disease.

Delilah Linan

My brother and I when things were a little more simple

As a 3rd grader, my brother seemed to be in his prime. He was a star on his flag football team, constantly making touchdowns and being cheered on. He could outrun a lot of the other little 7-year-olds, which also must have helped spark his recess popularity. He was into sports and was pretty decent at most of them. The girls in his class would chase around my ´oh so athletic´ brother and attempt to flirt if that’s what you can even call it. He’d tell me about it on the way back home from school claiming to not like all the girl’s attention but I know it secretly boosted his 3rd-grade ego.

Along with being athletically inclined, he is really smart. He was in dual language all throughout elementary but after testing, his teachers urged my mom to switch him to higher programs because of his scores. School was never hard for him and instead was pretty natural, making me often forget he had brains and was more than just my stinky, wannabe football player, younger brother. 

My parents have always gone above and beyond to give me and my siblings everything we’ve ever wanted. My parents found themselves forced to grow up and leave their wild teen years behind after my mom got pregnant at only seventeen. Without knowing much, they managed and did pretty well actually. My mom is a sweetheart but a little crazy. There is nothing she loves or cares about more than us and she always made sure we always felt it. She might spoil us a little too much if I’m honest, especially the baby boy of the family since he never had to pick up a hand if my mother had a finger available. With all the friends in the world and no responsibilities or chores, his biggest conflicts in life were contemplating what chips he wanted from the store.

That was up until the end of 2016 when his perfect world began to flip. 

It started with these random stomach aches. His stomach would hurt and my mom, being who she is, would be quick to pick him up from school, trying to help but also figure out why he was in pain. Questions arose like, “Was it because of his diet?” or “Could he be lactose intolerant?” After the first few random belly aches, my mom took him to our local doctors hoping for some answers. We expected them after some testing but nothing showed up. This was kind of weird but my mom just thought to feed him a little healthier and our issue would eventually fade. In a perfect world that would’ve been enough but even on a diet, his stomach aches were becoming more consistent and severe. These stomach aches were no longer just that. 

My brother’s screams and tears filled the walls throughout our house as he cried out in pain and my mom was right behind him. Not knowing how to help or what to do for her poor baby tore my mom apart, who’s always quick to help but was now helpless. Watching him suffer broke her. Through my room door that was separating us, I could hear my little brother crying while repeating the same phrases “It hurts” and “Mom I can’t.” Knowing my mom couldn’t help, I was sure my presence wouldn’t help either and so instead I sat listening to the two people I love most hurt together. At this point, my mom couldn’t deny something was wrong and if our doctor couldn’t tell us anything, maybe somebody at a hospital would.

After countless tests and weeks, still nothing. Nothing came up and the doctors concluded his pain must’ve been due to anxiety and stress. Besides this, his life was close to perfect, stomach problems caused by stress just didn’t make sense. But tests don’t lie, so was he?

It was obvious people were kind of suspicious of his pain. Even my own father, who’s old school and didn’t grow up as fortunate as us, doesn’t fully believe in mental health issues like anxiety and instead views it as an excuse or something you make up in your head. My mother knew his pain was real though, no answers and people’s doubts left her already torn heart in pieces. She wasn’t satisfied and wouldn’t give up. Since then, she’s taken him to meet another handful of doctors. 

Eventually, my brother was diagnosed with Crohn’s disease. Though we solved our mystery, this was only the beginning of my brother’s problems. Blood testing turned into countless procedures and medicines in an attempt to help his pain.

He is now 14 and going into high school next year. Except unlike most, he will be entering high school with no middle school experience and half of an elementary school one, since being in and out of hospitals never allowed him to attend. He no longer plays football and doesn’t go out much at all. I know going through so much with nobody besides those who live with you isn’t easy but he is strong and always has been.

I can’t help but think about the kid he used to be and who he may have become if given the opportunity to. Experiencing his life through him will always keep me grateful for mine. It helps me realize that maybe my bad days aren’t so bad and that I must take advantage of everything I’m capable of since not everyone is.