Thursday, June 18, 2009

Love to Grandpa Joe

(that's me as a kid at Cedar Point with my Grandpa Joe)
No I have not gone missing and no I am not done blogging.

My last entry I told you about my grandfather's health problems.

My grandpa Joe was about the healthiest 80 year old man anyone's ever known. He had a gall stone blockage about a month ago that we took him into the hospital to have it removed. Unfortunately from there things spiraled out of control and went downhill fast. I have an empty pit in my stomach and it causes me so much heartache to say that he passed two Saturdays ago.

Grandpa Joe was always someone I was excited to see. You couldn't help but smile when he talked to you. He could do anything and would do anything for anyone. I always told Kevin he was where I got my strength from. He was also where I got my incredible skin color and tone from. I never had to worry about getting sunburns my whole life because I had his nice olive italian skin color.

Look at this guy. I don't think you could have a cooler gramdpa if you tried. He was tan year round.
One week before he first went to the hospital he was laying cement. Yes, he still worked part time at 80 and he was a cement worker. It wasn't until his funeral that a lot of us realized that the other men he worked with were all in their 30s and 40s. I always thought he was laying cement with a crew of old guys for some reason. When Kevin and I moved into our new house in Michigan, Grandpa Joe along with the help of my dad and my cousin Mark painted my house in under two days. It was amazing. I couldn't pick out colors fast enough to keep up with them. My dad was saying that grandpa Joe was always telling him that he takes too many breaks and paints too slow.

I am completely heartbroken and so is my family. I don't think I have cried more about anything in my life honestly. This took my family completely by surprise. We all assumed the first surgery would go so easily and he would be back to work and the racetrack in no time. One surgery turned into another that turned into one complication after another. His liver stopped working, his kidneys failed, his blood pressure dropped, his heart rate spiked, he got a stomach ulcer and on and on it went. I practically lived at the hospital the whole month with the rest of my family.

The hardest part was watching him go through it all suffering. He was unconscious for almost a week. We took him off the respirator one day and he started breathing on his own again. Then the next day he became conscious again and would look at us when we talked to him. We were all able to talk to him knowing he could hear us. We all told him how much we loved him. My dad assured him we would take wonderful care of my grandmother. I asked if he felt comfortable and he nodded yes. Not long after that he died with his whole family at his bedside.

My grandmother is always wondering why this happened. How it happened. Was there a way to prevent it from happening by forcing him to go to the doctor sooner and making them test his blood against his will. (like most grandfathers he was very against going to the doctor). I keep telling her this is the way Grandpa Joe would have wanted things. He would never want to get diagnosed with something like liver disease and be on treatments. He never wanted his blood drawn. He never wanted to walk with a cane or need help from anyone. He LIVED FULLY during his 80 years of life, never taking time off to be sick or disabled.

If wealth is judged by how deeply people love you, he is one of the wealthiest men in the world.

We all love you Grandpa Joe and miss you more than anything.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

It's been 2 years and I'M STILL ALIVE!!!!!!!

June 6th came and went and I'm sure you were all waiting for my blog entry. I had one in the works, but was completely sidetracked by my grandfather's illness. My grandpa Joe who is one of the strongest men I have known in my life is really sick in the hospital. It all started with gall stone blockage in a bile duct that probably went too long for an 80 year old man. After the procedures to remove the stone, things started to go downhill quickly. Blood pressure dropped, liver stopped working, heart rate spiked, he got a bleeding ulcer, and the his kidneys failed. I have been living in heartache at the hospital for quite some time. Please pray or send your good vibes to us (whatever your thing is). This is very difficult for me. I asked Kevin about my blog and what I should do. I has a post ready to publish with pictures and everything, but it felt too positive to post considering how I have been feeling. Then again, June 6th came and I'm sure some of you want to know how it felt to have that day come and go. This post is for all of you. I promise I won't drop off from the blog, but you have to bear with me through these VERY difficult times.

Here is the blog I wrote a while ago.....
Well we've been waiting for it. No one has been waiting for it as much as I have. Kevin is a close runner up though. It's been two years since my re-diagnosis and I am still alive. Two years since I was told I had 12 to 24 months to live and I am up and running (literally). Life is great. I feel great. This morning I went over what I was grateful for and of course I mentioned that I was grateful I was alive, grateful for the fact that my body is functioning on this beautiful June morning.

Then I called my dad and wished him a Very Happy Birthday and then I went on to begin the celebration for myself still being alive on the last day I was supposed to have to live if things went well with my prognosis. Guess things have gone really well.

Still this day was emotional. Of course I cried. (I seem to cry about everything now. Cancer made me emotional) I cried because I was scared that my next blood test would be bad and I would feel a fool for celebrating. Then I started doubting the fact that I should celebrate this day. What if one month from now I die from cancer??? Is it really that great that I survived the two years and had an extra month??? I was sad that I didn't have this huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I don't know what I expected to have happen. 

Once I got myself together though and started thinking right. I knew this day wasn't going to erase all my doubt. Really this day passing gave me the opportunity to stop obsessing about a prognosis I got. One less thing to have on the negative side of my brain. I knew it would be an emotional day and it was. Anyway, the rest of the day was great. We had some family and friends over to help celebrate. I got some gifts even and man do they all know me well. Whole Foods gift cards and book gift cards to feed my reading habit.

As you can see from these pictures I went skydiving this past weekend. It was amazing. Nothing like the feeling when you're about to jump looking out the plane. If you look closely you can see my friend Todd in the plane getting ready to jump next. We went as a birthday present to ourselves with Kevin and my cousin Luc.

We did a front flip out of the plane. I liked free falling upside down.

It is so cold up there. We jumped from 14,000 feet. The air was ice cold, but it didn't really matter. The free fall lasted a long 60 seconds.
We came in for a perfect landing (Kevin, not so much). My ears were popping, but I had so much fun and want to go again. I am such an adrenaline junkie.
I recommend skydiving to anyone who loves a thrill. 
Right after that we went to Cedar Point with my brother Taylor and my sister Marina for another action packed day of rollercoasters. Man did I have a great weekend.

Since I wrote this blog obviously things have gone bad with my grandpa Joe. I did get my blood tested for the tumor markers and I am in fact doing good. It went down over 30 points. That was great news and what I am doing combined with hormone therapy seems to be working. Life sure has its ups and downs.


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