Saturday, February 27, 2010

Greg Update Feb. 27th, 2010

Okay, this is not a good day for me to begin with, so please bare with me. 15 years ago TODAY was 'the' worse day of my life. Bar none.

I was 9 months +1 day pregnant and I found out my baby Alex had died inside of me. The doctor showed us there was no heartbeat on the Ultrasound and none of us could not believe it. The grief I experienced on that day is something I cannot really describe. I mean... I had a dead baby inside of me!

These are two excerpts from the book I am writing regarding this day, 15 years ago:

"The nurse accompanied my mother and I to the perinatal office where they have more sophisticated Ultrasound machines to confirm what they called 'fetal demise'—how I hated that word. Alex was full term; he was far from a fetus. I remember needing to lean on someone to walk, remember feeling like I was out of my body, like I was living someone else's tragedy. I did not know what to think, say or do, I was numb. I could not even cry."

"That was most likely the worse day of my life; I shed more tears that day than the previous ten years combined. Nick went home with me, and from there we called the doctor to schedule an induction. I would have to wait that whole day and that following night before I could go in. It was the longest day of my life. I just sat there on the couch, unable to do nothing, unable to eat, unable to speak, unable to do anything but cry."

Anyway... this blog is not about Alex, I just wanted everyone to know that if I sound a little emotional... this is why. I don't cry often about Alex anymore, I am not someone who cries or thinks about this constantly, but this is HIS week. It will always be.

My dad made me chuckle today. He asked me why every bad thing has to happen to ME! Well, I told him, at least it's not self-inflicted, right? By that I mean, it's not like I caused any of it. Yeah, some days I feel sorry for myself, I nag, I complain, I get moody, but those other 350 or so days of the year I am able to look at the bright side of things, I can find the silver lining, thinking what I can learn from it. I don't want to be a victim. I have my health, and I cherish it, and I am able to care for my loved ones. That's what life is about.


Greg, Connor and I came home Wednesday night from having the Carotid Doppler test (among several others), all with a negative outcome except for the blood being WAY too thin. They told us that if they would not call us in the AM by 10, to call them to get to see the Neurologist-with the sole intent to get an MRI basically. No surprise here, they didn't call, so I called them at roughly 10minutes after 10AM (I am not messing around, LOL) and the lady called me back to go see a certain Neurologist nearby at 1:30pm. We went in and the Dr, thankfully, was only too willing to get Greg to do the MRI, he was very worried, even told us to go in STAT! Greg is so funny, he was feeling quite awful and wanted to do everything 'tomorrow', or 'some other time'. I insisted, mainly because I've never seen him in such pain and I was worried to death. He kept telling me that his headache was caused by him not eating well. I was doubtful. We went in to get the MRI, which took about 3 hours, and then we went home. All Greg could do was lie down and sleep. Even texting took a toll on him.

The next day I got a call from the Neurologist and he literally scared me to death. He told me, to my shock, that there was a large hemorrage on the deep right side of his brain, that he was to get off blood thinners immediately and to bring him to the ER right away and that they would need to keep him into observation in ICU for the next 3 days. He even told me that if I wasn't going to bring him in, that he was going to come and get him!!! I freaked out. I went in to Greg, told him what was going on, he wasn't happy, but we managed to get his bag packed, get him dressed and all and on our way within 45 minutes.

At the ER they brought him right in (we didn't have to wait in any line), they got him a bed in the ER right away and within one hour of him being there, they took his blood, did a EKG, a chest Xray, a CATscan, give him anti-seizure medication and hooked him up all over the place. I never, ever saw this fast work anywhere, it was astounding. Greg was actually feeling better right now that he had been in the past several days, so when people asked me if he was okay my only answer was, well, yes?

Three doctors came in to talk to us. The first was a NeuroSurgeon, very nice man, he told us that what Greg had was a hemoragging stroke. There are two kind of strokes, a clot stroke and a hemoragging stroke. This, of course, explains a LOT. Explains why his cholesterol #s, blood pressure and all were normal and he still stroked out. There were no CLOTS anywhere that caused this. So, what was the cause? The vein that burst was in the SAME area of the brain as his previous one, and that clot stroke he had last September weakened the veins in that portion of his brain. He told us no excercise could have caused this, that this is just 'bad luck' so to speak. It was going to happen eventually.

The other thing he told us that I thought was interesting was that the blood thinners might have had something to do with this, but that their main concern at this point was to make sure he stopped bleeding, that the blood in his brain was not going to CLOT because that would be very, very dangerous, they were happy that he hadn't had any seizures, so their hope was to keep an eye on his progress as to make sure the blood absorbed back into the brain. He confirmed that his headaches had been caused by the bleeding. Later Greg told me his CATscan already showed that there was less blood and that the doctors were pleased with his progress.

The second & third Doctor (both hospital Neurologists) pretty much said the same thing. I thought it was interesting that they both asked if Greg smoked or drank. Greg has never been a smoker, and hasn't had a sip of beer since his last stroke. They are all baffled that he's having these problems and he's only 50. There is no history in his family of this either, so, no real warning.

Since yesterday Greg had two blood (plasma) transfusions to thinken his blood, and he'll have at least one more tomorrow. He's had no less than a dozen blood tests to check for all kinds of things just today, but all in all he's in good spirits. I'll be able to go see him tomorrow when his friend from work comes and watches the kids. Hospitals don't allow children under 16 to go see patients, especially in ICUs, since they have patients with H1N1 up there as well.

I want to thank everyone, especially Mike & Don, for being such amazing friends to Greg. Thank you everyone for the sweet words, prayers and kind support. I will probably give an update in a few days, after Greg comes home from the hospital.


Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Greg Update 2/24/10

What a difference 10 days make. 10 days ago I was so thrilled at Greg's progress, while today things look muted, as if we're in this dark tunnel, searching for the light.

The bottom line is that Greg apparently had a mild-stroke on the same area as before. He was riding his excercise bike at work when a feeling came over him of tingling and numbness over the whole left side of his body. He got a ride home immediately and at home fell several times.

Because of the way it happened he thought it was a TIA (TIA means "transient ischemic attack", often considered a warning sign of a stroke), made worse by his falls-he had a particularly nasty fall on our hard floors which was not good and left him in a lot of pain. He had several TIAs before his last stroke, so that's what he thought it was.  We called his Neurologist and he stated if he got another one to immediately head to the ER, which we for certain planned to do. It was only later, when the numbess didn't go completely away, not regaining the use of his left arm and leg as before that we started thinking that what we were facing was not a TIA but an actual stroke with no warning signs.

How could this be? Just two weeks ago he had a complete workup. His cholesterol/Tryglicerides were in the "normal' range, his blood pressure had been normal for months now, he's still taking his cumadin (blood thinner), cholesterol/tryclicerides, blood pressure, and anxiety medications. We changed our diet, even going organic. How could this be? How could this be? How could this be? It made ZERO sense.

When all he wanted to do was sleep and looked lethargic that's when I was not going to wait around anymore and his Dr. squeezed us in the AM.
The first things out of the Drs' mouth was... "Why aren't you in the hospital'? Yes, yes, we heard that before. Please everyone, if you love us, DO NOT ask us why. We thought it was a TIA, Greg was convinced it was a TIA. We had talked to the Neurologist, even bugging him at home. As the Dr. told us, unless you can get to the ER within 4 hours of a stroke, the clot busting medication isn't going to work, so there was no point going in now.

From there we saw another Doctor who went through Greg's entire "stroke" history. They took his blood, took different tests, and sent us over to the imaging center to do a Carotid Doppler Ultrasound, to check the blood flow of the veins in his neck. When we arrived back the Doctor told us all the tests came back negative, and it was apparent that this mild stroke hit most likely the same part of he brain as before. We have an appointment for the morning with the Neurologist to see about getting an MRI as soon as possible, and we have another appointment set up with another Neurologist next week and a renoun expert in Loma Linda after that.

At the moment Greg is sleeping. He's exhausted. We have a boatload of questions for the Neurologist tomorrow, such as... why did this happen when his numbers are perfect? Is there a limit of excercise he can do? Is this going to happen again?

From the look of things at the moment looks like all the progress Greg has made in the past 3 months (since roughly mid-november) is gone. He used to be able to walk (albeit slowly) without his brace, but no more. He had made quite a bit of progress on his arm and hand and it's all gone. His face does not look any different and he can walk with the brace not needing the walker, which is great news.
The only thing left is that I want him to stay home for a good month to get better and all his leave and vacation is gone from taking time off from his previous stroke, so tomorrow I will have the Neurologist fill out an application for Short Term Disability. Come to find out, thanks to my friend Michelle (what a life-saver!) that the state of California is one of only 5 states that helps families financially this way. We are hoping we can work this out.

At the moment Greg is too weak to talk to anyone so I ask to please hold your calls or texts until he feels better. Give him a couple of days. If you have anymore questions, don't hesitate to text me. I prefer the texting right now if only because it's easier to manage for me! Thank you for the kind thoughts and words, they mean a lot.


Thursday, February 18, 2010

My personal IDOL favorites of the top 24...

Okay, not to brag or anything, but I am pretty good at picking the winners or at least the ones that will make it far in the competition. Kelly was my favorite from the auditions on season 1. Clay was my fave from the auditions on season 2, I picked Daughtry as my fave from the auditions on his season and I only had eyes from Adam last season after the auditions just to name a few ;-)

This season I truly believe Aaron and Katie will go FAR!!

Aaron Kelly

16 years old

Sonestown, PA

Casey James

27 years old

Fort Worth, TX

Crystal Bowersox

24 years old

Elliston, OH

Katie Stevens

17 years old

Middlebury, CT

Lacey Brown

24 years old

Amarillo, TX

Michael Lynche

26 years old

Astoria, NY

Siobhan Magnus

19 years old

Barnstable, MA

Tyler Grady

20 years old

Nazareth, PA

Monday, February 15, 2010

Greg Update 2/15/10

I can't believe it's already mid-february. Where does time go?

So... yesterday we had our Valentine's Day. Lots of chocolates. Connor probably had the best time of all. I worked most of the day so I was exhausted when I got home. I put my glittery v-day hat on and cooked Pizza Margherita and Shrimp. That's as close to a V-day dinner as we'll see in years to come. Dinner out? What's that?

Greg is improving. Yes, it's slow, but it's happening. I notice he walks a smidge faster and he can do most things on his own, or, at least, tries to. When he can't he thinks outside of the box, it's funny. His arm is possibly what is making the slowest progress. He leaves a bit earlier for work on most days so he can go to the gym there. He was happy that he's now able to lift some weights with that arm, but it's still incredibly painful to move that arm behind his head. We're working on it. I bought a heat massager and he really likes it, he can feel the difference the next day.

Greg is now driving himself to work one or two days a week, that is amazing! The other days his friend gives him a ride. It works out quite well for him.

His diet of course had to change since he got home. While his cholesterol and triglicerides #s were not particularly off the charts when he had his stroke (which was caused by that genetically thin vein), and his number have since dropped to the normal levels, we still got to work in finding foods that were low in sodium and fat/cholesterol content. Then we watched the documentary "Food Inc." (nominated for an Oscar BTW) and "King Corn" and that was it. I can't believe what is happening with the food supply in the US, it's disgusting. We're now supporting REAL farmers and supporting OUR health by buying organic foods all around. Greg was in the thinking that Organic foods would not taste good but... guess what? It tastes BETTER. I saw a bumper sticker the other day that said: "Buy Organic Food... your grandparents called it "food"." Greg had a chuckle! It tastes better because it does not have any pesticides, antibiotic, growth hormones and any of those ingredients you can't pronounce. Does it cost more? Sure, a bit. But to us is 100% worthed. We never eat out at restaurants anyway, so we have a budget for it. We can make cuts elsewhere. Our health is our #1 priority.
For those of you who have seen the movie "SuperSize Me" about a guy who ate at McDonalds every day for 30 days, it's really a no brainer. Fast food is not good for you. Even Subway, heavily advertized on shows like the Biggest Loser, is not exactly health food-the sodium is sky high. Greg was shocked-he ate at Subway at least once a week. No more. I buy low-sodium deli for him to make sandwhiches with.
I was raised in Italy so I never ate that way, my grandma had a mini-farm so I grew up eating tons of veggies and fruits, fresh eggs and chicken. I always cook at home and rarely I eat out (and my #s have never been out of range my whole life), but I know the general population in the US has some learning to do.  I know Greg sure did. We feel empowered and with our health under control we'll never have to worry about strokes or heart attacks ever again. It was a wake-up call. There is an old saying in Italian that says that 'not all bad things come to hurt you' and we're starting to feel that way now.

I want to thank everyone that always asks about Greg or Nicky, they are my life so it means a lot to me when other people care.

Silvia and Family