It’s “Fun-Filled Friday” time again, but today is an especially difficult day for me and my family because it marks an anniversary we never asked for or wanted to happen. Although it may not sound like something appropriate for a “Fun-Filled Friday” post, it is what’s on my mind: one year ago today, October 16th, my only full-blooded brother Kevin died at the age of 41 because of complications from heart disease, diabetes, and morbid obesity. In some ways it’s hard to believe it’s already been that long and in other ways it seems like just yesterday I could hear his very distinguishable laugh. I miss him so much, but his untimely death last year has motivated me to keep doing the work I am doing now more than ever before!
In case you missed the tribute video for Kevin I created, check it out:
And since Kevin is the focus of the final chapter of my upcoming book 21 Life Lessons From Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb, it is entirely appropriate that I share with you excerpts from that particular “life lesson” so you can read more about the man I called “brother.” Thank you for reading and ENJOY getting to know this really awesome guy who was taken from us way too early.
Excerpts from Lesson #21 “The early death of a brother or loved one may not be prevented” from 21 Life Lessons From Livin’ La Vida Low-Carb (2009):
As I have prepared to write this final “lesson” in my book, I do so with a very heavy heart because of someone who was, is, and always will be very near and dear to me in my life – my only full-blooded brother, Kevin Lee Moore. Those of you who have regularly visited my blog over the past few years know that Kevin, like me for most of my life, had struggled with his weight and allowed it get up to a very dangerous level of morbid obesity. In fact, he experienced a series of heart attacks in the span of one week in 1999 that nearly took his life at the age of 32.
Ironically, Kevin was a gentle giant with a big loving heart. But his decision to ignore his weight problem was catching up to him fast and he had a clear choice – continue on the same path and die or make some attempt to lose weight and lots of it. Most people would say Kevin was given plenty of opportunities to get his weight and health under control. If the heart attacks he had in 1999 didn’t wake him up, then what would? You just have to shake your head at people (even family members) who don’t allow circumstances to jar them back into reality.
For much of his life, Kevin shunned doing anything about his weight. He was discharged from the Army in his early 20’s because of his weight and it was all downhill from there. He was in a very bad marriage with an ex-wife who literally abused him both mentally and physically that drove him to eat, eat, and eat some more just to comfort himself. It really was a very sad situation that led him down the path to morbid obesity. Others may see Kevin’s story as an extreme circumstance, but I believe he is more typical than people want to admit. While many overweight and obese people can be happy in life and everything seems fine, there are ways that life could be so much better if they could bring their weight under control.
Kevin continued to have health problems over the past few years because of his morbid obesity, heart disease, and diabetes. Just as he had done on every previous time he attempted weight loss or anything in his life, Kevin was gung ho about it…for a while. But then it happened to him – he would start feeling a little bit better thinking he was gonna be okay, stop doing those things that were essential for improving his weight and health, and then go into complete denial about his morbid obesity. Sure, he’d had some difficult life experiences, including a horrific marriage to a woman who basically made his life a living Hell when he had his heart attacks in 1999 and was no longer able to work. Thankfully he got out of that relationship a few years ago, but the lingering effects of that toxic marriage had been done.
Like many people who are hurting and their life seems to be in such turmoil, Kevin undoubtedly turned to food to comfort himself. And not just a little food. I mean an out-of-proportion gargantuan amount of grub that would make most people’s eyes bug out. For example, he used to tell me how he would go to McDonald’s and get 5 Big Macs with 3 large orders of French fries and 10 cookies. EEEEEK! What would be unreasonable to most, this was the reality for my brother.
Here was my own flesh and blood killing himself with his diet – a man that I grew up with as my Big Bro and I always looked up to. Yeah, he was my stupid, ugly butt hole older brother and he thoroughly enjoyed taunting me as every older brother does, but it was only because he was my brother. We shared a lot of happy memories wrestling (he used to say, “let’s me and you rassel!”) on the ground or playing pool at the local game room (I always beat him and he hated that!). We endured divorces galore that both of our parents went through and lived as normal a life as we possibly could with the hand life dealt us as kids. What we went through was “normal” for us.
In 2006, Kevin needed open-heart surgery according to the doctors, but they didn’t want the liability of his death in case he didn’t survive it. He was only 39 years old at the time and we knew Kevin would need a miracle at that point. The longer Kevin ignored the grave reality of his condition, the longer he remained morbidly obese and slowly kept chipping away at his life.
In the Spring of 2008, mom contacted me and said hospice had been called in for Kevin who was given only a few more months to live. While on the outside he looked fine, the inevitable impact of years of morbid obesity was catching up with my brother. The hospice nurse would administer oxygen and morphine for Kevin so he would be comfortable in the final few months he was expected to live. Needless to say, Christine and I visited him one last time in Pensacola, Florida in July 2008. We had an awesome time seeing him and my family in a week I will never forget for the rest of my life. Kevin only had one artery functioning at the time and it was 95% blocked with stents no longer doing any good. He was too high-risk for any surgery and he had pretty much given up on changing his diet and lifestyle anyway.
The thing that struck me about seeing Kevin was how “normal” he looked. Yes, he was a very large man weighing in at about 350-400 pounds or so. But he was out and about doing the things he loved the most – playing Texas Hold ‘Em, bingo, flirting with the ladies, and singing at the local karaoke bar. We did a little bit of everything he enjoyed during that week (sans the flirting for me since I already have my woman!). And yet he was on morphine and oxygen for comfort because he was easily out of breath and sweating profusely even in a well air-conditioned room. This was Kevin’s life in the final days. We made some great memories together that I’ll not soon forget.
Although it was not unexpected, my brother Kevin started rapidly declining in health in October 2008. I received a telephone call from my dad in Tennessee who was passing on the message to me from my mom who was so shaken up by the news that she couldn’t bear to call me directly about it. It turned out Kevin went to the hospital on a Friday evening because his defibrillator went off twice. The doctors were keeping him overnight for observation and early on that Saturday morning he had a heart incident that did not trigger the defibrillator to go off. They had to shock his heart 10 times to revive him and he severely bloodied his lip and tongue from biting them as they were doing this. Major damage was done to his already weakened heart and now he was in a “coma” state in intensive care for a variety of reasons. Things looked very bleak and we knew it was only a matter of days for Kevin to live.
He was hooked up to a ventilator and was heavily sedated with seven medicines being pumped into his body so he couldn’t be awake. His body would start gagging if he were conscious with all the tubes running down his throat. Plus, they had to go in and do a heart cath after administering plasma to thicken up his blood and doctors found that there was really not much else they could do for him with virtually every single artery completely blocked. Additionally, the pressure on his heart was supposed to be 15, but his registered at 40. It was as if his heart was about to explode and the doctors were helpless to do anything about it. They were trying to wait it out for a few days to see if his condition would improve on its own.
The pulmonary doctor gave us the grim truth of the situation – Kevin’s kidneys were shutting down from the efforts to keep his blood pressure and heart rate reduced since he suffered cardiac arrest on that previous Saturday. They were hoping keeping him in a drug-induced coma would help his heart heal, but his other organs were beginning to fail. They turned off his defibrillator and on that Wednesday morning they took him off of the ventilator since they expected more organ failure and increased pressure in his heart.
The doctors said he would live as little as a few minutes or up to a few days when they did this. At this news, I saw something I’d never seen before in my entire life – my dad walked off to the side towards the wall turning his head away from everyone and started sobbing uncontrollably. I mean I’d never even seen the man cry before and there he was with tears rolling down his cheeks. I wrapped my arms around his neck and held him close to console him. It was something I never want to see again because I knew this was breaking dad’s heart to watch happening to his son just a few months after he had quintuple heart bypass surgery himself.
For the first few hours Kevin was off the ventilator, he was in and out of consciousness but breathing on his own and somewhat alert. The nurse told us that when they shocked his heart back on Saturday that he may have sustained some brain damage. It was probably only minor, she added, but it could impact his ability to talk. But as the day progressed, Kevin’s ability to communicate improved quite dramatically right before our eyes. Despite having no nourishment for his body since that previous Friday, taking him off of all blood pressure and heart rate machines, and keeping him on a morphine drip and oxygen alone, Kevin did something that was a pleasant surprise to all of us – he smiled.
It happened kind of by accident when I got locked inside of the bathroom adjacent to the hospital room they put him in. When I finally got out, my sister Beverly said, “Hey Kevin, Jimmy got locked in the bathroom!” Hearing this, the biggest, most beautiful smile bloomed on Kevin’s face teeth and all and it was a joyful time for the family to know he was still with us for however much longer God would allow. We got Kevin to laugh a few more times in the next few hours, especially when my mom accidentally introduced me as Kevin’s “sister” to a visitor – Kevin couldn’t stop grinning because I know he was laughing his butt off on the inside with that one.
At 4:30am on Thursday, October 16th, 2008, our loving son, brother, and friend went home to be with the Lord. He passed away peacefully in his sleep in the early morning hours. I’ll never forget that big grin on his face as we shared memories and funny moments throughout the day. My dad was with Kevin when he took his final breath and we were all there at the hospital bed within a few minutes of learning he was gone. It was very difficult on all of us as my mom, sister Beverly, dad, and others were openly sobbing in the hours after we all let what happened sink in all the while telling our favorite stories about Kevin. By the grace of God, I was able to keep it together fairly well and it took some time to hit me fully. Eventually we had to say goodbye to Kevin’s body and we had the assurance that we would see him again someday in heaven.
It wasn’t until we were on The 2nd Annual Low-Carb Cruise to Mexico in January 2009 when I was speaking to the group of low-carbers on board the Carnival Ecstasy cruise ship about my low-carb story and winding down my talk when my wife Christine chimed in, “Hey Jimmy, why don’t you tell them about your brother Kevin?” Within seconds, my voice quivered and the floodgate of tears opened up for the first time since he had died just a few months before and it made me realize at that moment he was gone forever. Kevin was really gone. That infectious, goofy laugh of his would no longer be heard and my Big Bro would no longer be there for us to visit when we go to Florida. It all makes me very sad to think about, but I’m also encouraged to know that there is still hope for other Kevins out in the world today.
Sorry to share something so seemingly grim for “Fun-Filled Friday” today, but I couldn’t let this date pass without any mention of Kevin at all. He will ALWAYS be remembered by me and those who loved him for as long as we have stories to tell. I can’t wait for you to read the entire chapter on Kevin in my book because it is a very important one that hammers home the message of livin’ la vida low-carb as strong as anything I could ever say.
Before we end today, you know I gotta share something funny. Here’s a comedian named Eric O’Shea who decided to match up some popular songs to market certain products to consumers. This guy had WAY too much fun with this, especially with what he said the hit song “You Raise Me Up” could promote:
And finally I have a video for you featuring a woman from our church named Kim Lord (on the left) who sings with the gospel group Lordsong along with her sisters Heather Day and Valerie Ellenburg (also members of Lordsong) singing the classic hymn “It Is Well” in the rotunda at the American Music Theater in Lancaster, Pennsylvania earlier this week. Nothing beats GREAT harmony! Let this inspire you today.
WOW! Well, that’s about it for this “Fun-Filled Friday” and I’ll have more for you coming up next Friday! THANK YOU for reading and we’ll be back with more low-carb content for you soon. Have a great weekend everyone!