My Father's Recovery

“I Give You All My Love”

I am so excited! Today when I was talking to my dad on the phone he said VERY clearly “I give you all my love” and then he started to cry. It is heart breaking to see him get upset. At the same time it is amazing how clear he said it and how much he meant it.

He still is having trouble talking and getting out what he wants to say.  The therapists are noticing him trying to speak more frequently though.

One of the aids said to him “Carmine! Your family is always here, they are so concerned and want you to get better!” Clear as day my dad responded “I love them all so much.” It’s moments like these that give us all so much hope for his recovery.

The past few weeks is the most improvement I have ever seen in my dad. He has been feeding himself, brushing his teeth, and brushing his hair! (for the first time in 8 months!) ALSO, his diet has been upgraded! No more puree food, he can have almost all real food.

In physical therapy he is now able to sit up on his own for 30 seconds with no help which is incredible for him. The biggest struggle we are facing (physically) is how much tone he has in his legs. His body is so tight from laying and not moving. Within the next two weeks he has evaluations for a baclofen pump + botox to release tension in his body. We all hope this will help so he can get stronger and more independent.

I hope this improvement continues and there are no more setbacks along the way <3

 

 

My Father's Recovery

Time is everything

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Finally my dad has been back at rehab since July 13th! This has been our first full weeks of some consistency with him in what feels like forever. The past two weeks he has been very alert.. not sleepy at all during therapy.

Once he was sent to the hospital he has been strictly on a tubing feed diet – he couldn’t have anything by the mouth unless during his sessions in speech therapy. For the most part speech is happy with how he is doing when he is in session. He is eating an a normal pace and it feels nice to have some real food in him even if its just yogurt, oatmeal, or juice for now. They have upgraded him again to a pure diet but he often refuses to eat the food – so we are working on ways to get him to eat still.

The physical therapist is also noticing some right side movement which makes her hopeful for him in the future. Additionally, he is ‘pushing’ less to one side and staying more center which is amazing. The physical therapist is super happy with how he is sitting up ALMOST on his own. The concern is how tight everything is on him, how much tone there is in his muscle, and how much weight he has lost. For his tightness / tone we are working on getting him appointments for a baclofen pump as well as botox.

Below is a photo of him trying to sit up when he was first brought to this rehab, compared to now!

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The one thing we have noticed is how much more emotional he has been these past weeks. Throughout all of this, he has cried here and there, but not often. The past weeks he cries a few times a day that we see and it breaks our hearts. We always reassure him  everything is going in the right direction and recovery will take time.

I hope within the next few months he will see himself improve and start to feel a bit positive about all of this.

My Father's Recovery

Right side movement

As of today my dad is STILL in the hospital. It is so frustrating seeing him deal with all of these set backs when he could be getting therapy and improving.

The past few days his white blood cell count has been going down, which means his infections are going away, thank god! Additionally, yesterday he was given a blood transfusion to make up for some blood loss. Our fingers are crossed that he will go back to rehab today if all if his numbers stay in the range they should be.

The majority of time he has been in the hospital he has been sleeping and not alert. BUT when I saw him on Sunday it was the best I have seen him in weeks! He smiled as soon as he saw me. I laid right by his side the whole day. He was singing with me, playing with my hair, trying to talk, and so on. It is so exciting when he is alert… it shows how much he is in there.

My mom leaned over and told him “you’re the love of my life” and he bursted out crying! It is so hard to see him get emotional when he can’t clearly speak for himself and tell us what’s going on, but it was such a special moment.

Another thing we are noticing is movement in his right arm, hand, and fingers!!! IT IS SO EXCITING! One doctor said he would never get it back. A neurosurgeon said he wasn’t sure if he would ever be able to get that back… but my dad seems to be proving them wrong. This makes me extremely happy because of my dad’s love for music. My whole life, every morning, I would see him playing the guitar. It gives me peace knowing he will be able to do that again.

My Father's Recovery

Prayers and Positive Energy

Ohhh this past week has been another crazy one. My dad has had 3 hospital visits in the past 7 or so days… We know one thing is for sure, his body wants to fight. His strength is admirable and we are all so proud of him.

He has been to the hospital for a seizure and two potential GI bleeds. The seizure caused no further damage to the brain based on cat scans and EEG’s which we were so so happy about. Now he has to be on seizure medication, another one to add to the list.

Sunday he was admitted to the hospital for a bleed… they thought it was coming from a wound he has.

Now, yesterday, he was readmitted to the hospital for a bigger bleed… a possible GI bleed.

Based on further tests and examinations today we have narrowed down the possibilities  of what it could be + the location. We are trying to fix this problem once and for all. He will have a small procedure tomorrow that will give us the answers.

My dad NEEDS a break from this so he can get back to where he was in therapy. Please send prayers or positive energy with his name in mind. 💛

Link below to donate to his GoFundMe

https://www.gofundme.com/carmines-stroke-recovery

 

My Father's Recovery

Back At Rehab!

The past three weeks have been sooo crazy! While my dad was back at the hospital he overcame a bad UTI, pneumonia, and a small heart attack! After a lot of tests and keeping a close eye on him, he went back to rehab on Friday! YAY!

We had a bunch of scares while he was at the hospital but everything worked out. At one point the doctors thought his Aorta could be bleeding which made the whole family SO scared. It turned out to be the same bleed when all of this initially happened in December…  so no new bleeds, everything is still stable.

His last week at the hospital he started to talk A LOT. Probably the most I have ever heard him speak since all of this. A good amount of words he would say were coming out clear.. He even started giving high-fives which he has never done before!

Now that he is back at rehab he is not talking as much, but were hoping he is just re-adjusting and will start talking more again as the week goes on. He was moved to a different room at rehab but his favorite aid still has him, she was sooo excited to see him back!

The biggest struggle, still, is figuring out which medications are best for him and at what dose. I really hope this month we can nail down all of his medicine and we will start to see more improvement from him. <3

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My Father's Recovery

May so far

 

Here are some photos and videos with my dad before this past week..

 

May has been be filled with ups and downs. For the past week my father was admitted back into Stony Brook hospital – and will probably stay there for a bit longer.

We got a call from his Rehab center saying the left side of his face was drooping, he was vomiting, and had a twitch going on. Now this could mean a million different things – but instantly we thought… was he having another stroke…?

He got many brain scans all which came out clear – thank god! He had a UTI which was really affecting him. Now that seems to be gone, but he has a new infection that we are trying to find the source of.

He has elevated heart enzyme levels which means his organs are working harder. After many many tests, yesterday we discovered he had a Heart Attack. They debated doing surgery but felt it was too risky and are treating him with medicine.

With all of this happening, they pulled my dad off of a high dose of Amantadine. Ever since then he has not been able to open his eyes. Its been 3-4 days now where his eyes just won’t open… which is pretty scary. Right before all of this he was starting to talk more (even if it wasn’t coming out clear).

We are meeting with the neurologist we initially saw when he was in a coma and hopefully we will get to the bottom of what’s going on.

A lot of people ask me how my family and I are holding up. I have no answer other then we are hanging in there. We are all staying strong for my dad and have faith in his strength. My mom, brother, and I are so lucky to have supportive friends + family around us who haven’t left our side. <3

My Father's Recovery

The past two weeks

The past two weeks with my dad have been a little stressful. He had a really off week where he wasn’t being himself at all. He wasn’t smiling, making eye contact, and would not eat. The nurses, aids, and therapists noticed his change as well. At his rehab, an on-site neuropsychologist saw him and had a gut feeling he was on too much heavy medication.

While his ‘off’ week was happening, he was taken out of rehab a few times to get updated scans on his head + aorta.

We were so relieved to find out there was no new bleed in his brain, and the head scan came back clear. This really made us believe that it was his medicine throwing him off the whole time because there was no further brain damage.

Once his head scan came back, my dad had a visit with the Neurosurgeon at Stony Brook to review the scan with my mom + uncle. Overall, he said my dad had a massive stroke and took a really hard hit. He thought it was amazing that my dad is not on dialysis and that is a huge plus for him. He said multiple times to my mom that he will get better and everything is going in the right direction. As we have been told, it is a very slow process for recovery and there is always going to be setbacks along the way. Before leaving the room, he went up to my dad while he was laying in the stretcher and he said “Mr. Monaco you WILL get better” and my dad smiled at him.

My dad also had a visit with his vascular doctor. Prior to the scan, his vascular doctor thought there would be no change with the aneurysm on his Aorta. He said even if there was a change in size, there is NO way he would operate on my dad. The longer we can push off operating, the better. After reviewing the scan, the aneurysm on his Aorta is the same size, which is GOOD NEWS. This was the first time the vascular doctor was seeing my dad with his eyes open. When his doctor went to walk out of the office, he turned around, looked at my dad and said “Truly Amazing.”  Every doctor working on his case thinks it is a miracle he is alive.

Fast forward to the past week after a bunch of medicine changes, he has been much more himself. He is making eye contact again, starting to eat more, and smiling. I am super excited to see him this weekend. <3

 

Link below to help out my father’s recovery, anything helps.

https://www.gofundme.com/carmines-stroke-recovery

 

My Father's Recovery

Family + Friends

I can easily say the support of my dad’s family, friends, coworkers, and neighbors has made this so much more bearable for my mom, brother, and I. Once my dad can truly understand what happened, I think he will feel thankful and comforted by all of the support he has been given. Now that he is closer to home, we have family visiting him everyday. Almost every time someone walks into his room his face lights up!

All of the doctors say that family support plays a big role in a patients recovery. It gives them way more of a will to fight to get better.

This week my father will get some updated scans on his Aorta + Brain as well as a visit with a neurologist. We are all praying for some good news <3

 

My Father's Recovery

Little by little

This past week was such a rollercoaster with my dad. For a few days all of his numbers were off, which is extremely alarming. He was VERY tired and not alert. Eventually, they gave my dad an IV for some fluids, and the next day he was SO much better. After the IV he was the MOST alert we have ever seen him.

I keep in touch with my dad’s therapists every week to see how he is doing. Overall he is starting to talk more. Some words he says are clear, other words sound like gibberish. Either way, he is making progress in that area.

He is also starting to follow (some) commands now. Ex: We will ask him to grab a ball from our hand, and he will grab it! Before this, he would just stare at us.

In physical therapy he still needs 100% assistance to do everything. He is building up more of a tolerance and is leaning less to one side. He is making tiny improvements!

Over all, the therapists all think he is a lot more alert and understanding of his situation.

A lot of people ask me if my father knows what happened to him. I honestly… have no idea. We always tell him he got injured and is in a place to get better + recover, it’s hard to know if he fully understands. We do know that he is getting very frustrated. He is starting to make it clear he does not like his food and he is uncomfortable being in his wheelchair all the time. He actually has said a few times “this is bullshit.” If he can’t tell us how he feels, he makes super angry faces to show his frustration.

I hope as the weeks go on, he will be able to communicate more with us, and he can understand how far he has come and will continue to go.

If you want to help my family in his recovery process, there is a link below to donate. Anything helps and everything is appreciated more then you know!

https://www.gofundme.com/carmines-stroke-recovery

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My Father's Recovery

Starting to follow commands

 

I visited my dad early last Tuesday and brought him some flowers. Prior to this, he always made sure to have flowers in a vase on our kitchen table and he loooooved to garden. 

I started to separate the bouquet of flowers and showed him how I was putting each stem in the vase. I urged him to take a flower from my hand and try to put it in the vase, and he DID! 3 TIMES! 

This was such a huge step for him in my eyes. It has been a bit of a struggle because of his Aphasia for him to follow commands. 

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