Star-fan Marfan

Have you ever heard of Marfan syndrome?

The first time I ever heard of it was almost ten years ago. Big Sis brought home this freakishly tall thing of a man home one day (6’ is freakishly tall for little 5’2” me.) He had really long arms and really long fingers and a kind of misshapen head. A bit like Jack Skellington, sans the Shakespearean eloquence. A more redneck-y version of our favorite Pumpkin King, if you will. He made a jab about me being short, I made a jab about him being tall and two years ago he officially became part of our family after marrying Big Sis. He fits right in with our family, if you ignore the fact that he’s a really tall white guy in a sea of short Mexicans, but everyone loves him. It’s not a family gathering without, as my family has dubbed him, our “token white boy.”

At any normal glance, one might just see him as some guy who can reach the top shelves for you. Save a few bucks on a ladder. But Brother-in-Law is actually that tall for a reason.

See, the syndrome of Mr. Marfan affects the connective tissue of basically everything in the body. Imagine putting your hair in a ponytail with an old scrunchie, one where the elastic is all but dead but still with a bit of stretch. Yeah, it’ll hold your hair together for a while, but not very well. And that’s assuming it doesn’t fall off sometime in the middle of the day. If it doesn’t fall off, you might try getting it tighter, but then snap! It breaks, and now you have nothing. That’s life with Marfan, from what I understand. It sounds not too bad until your retinas just randomly detach one day. Or you dislocate your shoulder for the twelfth time. Or when you have constant back pain because your nerves are just too fatigued. Or all the connective tissue in your heart says, “Eh, screw it. I’m over it.”

Now, BiL has taken everything in stride. He had the lens replacement in his eyes, he had the heart valve replacement, he had the pacemaker, he had the poles fused to his spine, all that jazz. He hates pity and hate people doting over him, which for me personally makes things a bit more awkward when he gets sick because human nature has us trained to freak out when someone is ill. So it’s a bit of a conscious effort when he’s all but dying to act like everything’s chill. Like the day before Big Sis and BiL’s wedding and BiL had a seizure in the middle of the rehearsal dinner. His dad and brother caught him and while his mom and Big Sis cleaned up the vomit, the rest of us continued with our dinner. The wait staff at the restaurant freaked out but it took the rest of us to laugh it off and assure the staff this kind of thing happens all the time and not to trip. I even went so far as to make a joke about pre-wedding jitters and request a to-go box. Trying to keep things chill, but in reality I had lost my appetite. But life went on, they got married, and the two weirdos lived more or less happily ever after. You know, because it’s reality, not a Disney movie.

NEHO, I only bring all this up because yesterday BiL went into cardiac arrest and hit his head so the hospital had to put him into a medically induced coma. We’re all praying for him and sitting on our hands for good news. Can’t do much but pray. I’m not a freaking doctor. He’ll pull through, though. He always does.

And once we get the thumbs up that he’ll be alright, I’m drawing a penis on his face.

He would want it that way.


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