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My Father’s Recovery

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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My Father's Recovery

A new rehab

Almost two weeks ago my father transferred to a rehab closer to home, which our family was super relieved about. In a way, though, I was a little scared. When a patient is transferred from one facility to another it can be a huge set back for them. It means new evaluations, tests, nurses, aids, therapists, doctors, and the list goes on. Luckily, I feel as if my dad has stayed the same and realizes he is closer to home. He now has friends and family visiting everyday which is a huge plus for everyone.

I scheduled a day with the team to watch my dad in therapy. He gets an hour of speech, physical, and occupational therapy 5 days a week. We are four months in since the incident and the team keeps saying this is the “beginning beginning” of his recovery. After being in a coma for a month, it still took my dad a very long time to stay awake and be alert throughout a whole day.

To break it down..

Speech Therapy: Mainly the therapist is working on his chewing + swallowing. He currently is on a pureed diet (100% blended food). The therapist is starting to introduce some scrambled eggs + french toast. This makes me so excited. In my opinion, one of the reasons he is so weak is because he hasn’t been able to eat real food in 4 months. I am eager for him to start building up some strength from eating again. For right now he needs assistance with using utensils. BUT he is starting to take a cup of juice, bring it to his mouth, and drink it himself (which is sooo exciting!) As far as speaking goes, he will occasionally said “yeah” or “okay” out loud. Otherwise, if you put a phone to his ear, you’ll get some more out of him. All the therapists are working on getting him to speak by constantly asking him questions and talking to him.

Occupational Therapy: Occupational therapy is working on getting him back to the basics. They work on showing him how to brush his hair, brush his teeth, get dressed, etc. They really try to get him to follow commands, which he struggles with due to his Aphasia. My dad know’s what we are telling him to do, but his brain won’t connect to his body to allow him to do so. In the past week we are starting to see him make more of an effort with focusing on what we are telling him to do. 

Physical Therapy: Physical therapy + occupational therapy over lap a lot. In both sessions they get him out of his wheelchair to sitting on a mat. My dad needs 100% assistance to do all of that. They are working on building up his tolerance for sitting. Right now he is able to sit with their help for about 15 minutes. No one knows what he will gain back physically, it’s something that is going to take a lot of time and work. The good thing is, he is tolerating it. He is always willing to participate and will smile at the end of his sessions. 

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My Father's Recovery

Physical Therapy

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Physical Therapy is something my dad will have to do the rest of his life. Right now at rehab, they are working on standing him up. They lift my dad from his bed with a harness, and lay him on a tilt table, strapping his body down. The tilt table allows them to see how far he can go without his blood pressure dropping.

The biggest concern + struggle is as they raise him more to standing position, his blood pressure drops, and they have to stop. If his blood pressure drops too low, they risk him passing out.

After a few weeks, his blood pressure stayed stable while doing the tilt table. Now, the physical therapists were working to stand him up. It takes equipment and a team to do so because my father is not able to hold his own weight. He has a harness around his body, a table in front of him, and people holding him up in order to get him on his own feet.

The team told me when they actually try to stand him on his feet, he starts to curse the whole time. The fact that his right side hasn’t moved in 3 months, and he has been laying in bed for that long, his body can’t handle the change of standing. One of the physical therapists said to me.. it’s funny how some of these patients can’t speak.. and then they start cursing up a storm in physical therapy. It’s just an automatic response to pain for them, or really for anyone.

I can’t wait for the day my dad will be able to stand on his own again. It could take a very long time, but he is dealing with the pain. As time goes on, I am hopeful it will get easier for him.