Nak's Return Home

My little brother Nak passed away on August 21st at approximately 3 pm. He was in the hospital for 2 months and 10 days, mainly in the Intensive Care Unit. He was in Florida visiting relatives, 2100 kms (1300 miles) from his home in Toronto.

He battled type-1 diabetes for 10 years and complications severely debilitated him in the last 3. He had to return home to my mother where she would care for his basic needs while he was often bed-ridden. He had lots of difficulties with his intestine and digestion, preventing him from leaving the house much. His mental health also deteriorated during this time.

He wanted to continue his active lifestyle so he would buy bikes, rollerblades, and other things. But would have to abandon them at first attempt after falling or nearly falling, repeatedly reminded that his vision, coordination, energy and general health have deteriorated beyond normal function and he could no longer do things that were once natural and enjoyable.

My mother was greatly restricted during this time while taking care of my brother. She lives almost alone in Canada while her mother and most of her 6 siblings live in Florida with their families, minutes away from each other. She wanted to visit for many years but could not travel because my brother was unfit to go and could not be left alone. Last year, they had to abandon a planned trip because my brother felt too unwell to go, both physically and mentally.

This year, in a bout of good spirits and better mental health, my brother decided he was finally able to go, despite his physical limitations. This was seen as something that could finally bring back some activity and purpose in his life, and restore his mental health in the long run. At this point, he was essentially house-locked for three years, only going on short car rides with my mother.

This would also be the first time that I saw him in 4 years. I lived in Vancouver for most of the last 7 years and had just completed a university degree. I was unable to travel home regularly since I funded my studies almost entirely from student loans and was always on a restricted budget.

It was great to see him then and we got along really well, both of us maturing much since we last met. I accompanied him on the plane alongside his dog, Midnight (my mother had to travel at a different time).

We had a great time while we were there with our extended family, spending time with cousins, and even an extended family trip to Orlando. It was a good eleven days while I was there before I had to leave for the rest of my summer plans. My brother and mother were to stay for another week.

Two days after leaving Florida, my mother called me to tell me to immediately return. My brother had gone into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) the night before with a severe lung infection that sent him into septic shock and caused his heart to stop. They were able to revive him but they were unsure if he would make the night. He would recover from that initial bout and eventually leave the ICU into a normal ward, only to return to the ICU a week later with more cardiac arrests, where he would stay.

His lung infection was found to be necrotizing, or eating, his lungs and had caused severe, irreparable damage over time. His diabetes was difficult to control and his digestion and absorbtion were greatly hampered, hindering his recovery. Even with the initial infection treated, the damage to his lungs was so great that he continued to need a breathing machine and it continued to cause complications throughout his body.

His immune system was severely compromised which allowed such an infection to occur. The doctors were looking for unknown underlying immunodeficiency disease but were unable to continue searching once he became perpetually unstable, unable to undergo further testing safely. If there wasn't an underlying illness, it was possibly from the severe and prolonged malnutrition due to his digestive issues. They were never able to conclude the cause with certainty.

He continued to have more cardiac arrests and every time it was feared that there was significant damage to his brain from lack of oxygen. The first few times he surprised all the doctors and nurses with his resilience by waking up and appearing normal the next day or so, going back to his old self.

Eventually, the accumulation of damage to his brain from subsequent cardiac arrests made him lose all upper-level function and become non-responsive. His body was shutting down and he needed support for much of his organ systems to be alive.

On August 21st, after being in the hospital for 2 months and 10 days, his life support was discontinued and he passed away quickly and peacefully at approximately 3 pm. While not intended, this was during the solar eclipse over Florida. I treat this as purely coincidental and a cool memory to have, but perhaps a small part of me deep inside wants to attach some significance to it.

I was told that while in the hospital, my brother Nak won the hearts of all the nurses and staff with his ordeal and resilience, and personality for those who met him, after being there for over two months.

My mother greatly wants to fly his body back home where he can have a burial and she can visit him frequently for the remainder of her life. We believe he would want a burial over cremation. If he had passed away in Toronto, we would try to give him a burial. After talking with a funeral home in Florida, flying him back will require the services of two funeral homes alongside the airfare and cemetary costs. In total, the costs was estimated to be $17 000.

At this point, we seem to be only able to financially afford a cremation. If we were to somehow afford a burial here, he would be far from home and my mother would not be able to visit him.

Any funding would go towards bringing Nak home for a proper burial. Any extra funding would go towards his remaining medical fees that we are expecting to recieve. His hospital fees have been covered but we will still recieve a bill for the two months of doctors' fees whom are private contractors in the hospital. If the amount raised cannot cover his return, any funds would go towards a local memorial.

He enjoyed snowboarding, skating, rollerblading, biking, fishing, and camping. And he loved his dog, Midnight.

In all, I am happy that I was able to spend time with him in his last few weeks and he was able to enjoy himself.

But overall, he did not have a good life. We want to give him a good burial. He was 28 years old.
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Rith K.

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