Livin’ on a Prayer

In the hospital after my second brain surgery in (June 2012) vs. (January 2013) living it up--visiting familyat the beach in St. Augustine, FL

In the hospital at Yale after my second brain surgery in (June 2012) vs. (January 2013) livin’ it up–visiting family at the beach in St. Augustine, FL

Well, I haven’t posted a blog in awhile, but in one way that is a good thing for me.  It is good because I have been very busy this past month, and the way things are looking, I am going to be pretty busy for a while it seems. I am the kind of person I have do something all of the time; keep moving, keep going.  If there is nothing for me to do, I find something to occupy my time.  When I am home alone, with no mode of transportation, I discover and create ways to keep myself busy.  I put effort into making each moment productive, in a way that can help me better myself physically and/or mentally.

Recently, I have been a huge fan of the work-outs provided on “On Demand” and I will do 2-5 of those workouts throughout the day (depending on how short/long they are).  Killer Core is one of my favorites right now.  I tried out one of the cardio dances, and let’s just say I will probably not be letting anyone see how ridiculous I must look doing that one!  I’ve also been building a website for my aunt’s new organization that we are in the midst of establishing (I can’t divulge much about that now but stayed tuned!). My aunt is very excited about the organization and her big plans, and I am very excited to be her right-hand (wo)man and utilize my writing and computer skills.  We both foresee very big things coming, and I am anxious to see how things pan-out.

The holidays are always a busy time for everyone, but through the holidays and shortly after I had several friends come to visit me, I went on a day-trip to Massachusetts for my cousin’s cheerleading competition, and then I spent two weeks in Florida visiting some of my family.  Just like that, January came, and now it is just about gone.  It was a great month, but I also have so much to look forward to and keep me busy in the next few months.  A productive Mo is a happy Mo.

Four of my really good friends, (whom I’ve met in college at Furman), all currently live within a rather short distance of Boston (just a few hours from me), so we are having a re-union this weekend in Boston, which I am also very excited for!  Besides my family, there is not one thing I love more in the world than my friends.  Those whom I consider my closest friends, I will have their back no matter what, and I hope they would do the same for me.  One of the best characteristics I consider of myself and my fellow Italian family is loyalty.  So if I deem you to be in the “MO-fia” as I call it, you’ll always be in good hands; but if you’re not, better start saying your prayers ; )

Speaking of prayers, the following week after traveling to Boston, I have  Bon Jovi and Taylor Swift concerts to look forward to.  I can’t wait to be Livin’ on a Prayer at Bon Jovi, TSwiftski is one of favorites.  We have a CD my aunt plays in the car, and when Livin’ on a Prayer comes on we crank the music up and we sing that song as loud (and it’s horrible) as we can.  My aunt has told me that when she hears it she thinks of me, and Yale, and how I was “livin’ on a prayer”.

Besides the concerts, I will be doing some travelling, and during which I will get to spend a couple of visits back in Greenville, SC (where I was living when I got ill).  While many of my close friends are dispersed around the country, some of my closet friends still reside in Greenville, so I am thrilled to be able to go and see them.  These won’t be your normal visits;  we’re talking one of my best friend’s bachellorette parties in Charleston, and her wedding in Greenville, SC this spring with a group of us who haven’t all been together in the same place, at the same time, since probably college….I am already anticipating stomach pain from laughing so hard.  I can’t wait to be singing karaoke, and fist pumping, and “livin’ on a prayer” with some of my best friends.  Those are some of the best times I’ve had.

When I get excited about things that are going to happen, I often times begin reflecting on the good ole’ times, and can’t wait to have new good times.  One of our favorite karaoke songs, and probably one of the most popular of all-time is of course, Bon Jovi’s Livin’ on a Prayer.  Arguably, you could say I was; “livin’ on a prayer,” this past year.  I often times find myself thinking a lot, about all sort of things.  Why am I alive? Why are they dead?  What if I did this instead of that?  How can I make this gluten-free recipe delicious? How many days until Justin Timberlake’s new CD comes out?  How is the Cowboy’s defense going to be next year?  Why did so-and-so say that to me?  How am I going to afford health insurance when my Cobra expires?–there is no telling what is going through my head at any given moment.  Things that I question, I try to research and educate myself and by making myself some-what more knowledgeable on the subject.  I usually just end-up attaining a lot of useless facts, and being left with a ton of unanswered questions.

For instance, how did I get a life-saving liver transplant on the very last day I needed one when just one day later I would be dead?  How did I survive not one-but TWO brain surgeries for invasive aspergillosis which has a 80-90% mortality rate?  How could my body endured three MAJOR surgeries with-in a five week span?  How was I able to run the mile in 10:39 last month when I couldn’t even walk in May?  The strangest part is, every negative thing thrown in my way this past spring/summer, not only did I come out alive, but I came out swinging!  I know I strive to work hard to be the best that I can be in everything I do, but that certainly has it’s limitations.  Just like I have my “MO-fia,” there is someone, something, somewhere that has my back.  I am very grateful for what must be some-sort of divine intervention, which I like to think of as my guardian angels, and I don’t think I have just one.

I can’t explain the answer to these questions I asked above with a mathematical equation, or a scientific law.  I also can’t explain it with a religion necessarily either. What I choose to explain it with is a lot of love and a frame-of-mind; a mind-set that is unwilling to compromise, unwilling to lose. I consider myself a believer-I believe in my family, I believe in my friends, I believe in my guardian angels looking over me, and most importantly I believe in myself.  I work hard at my goals, because I believe I can achieve them. I am here now, alive and making great strides, and for that, everyday, I give thanks for everyone’s belief in me, my amazing medical team, my mental and physical strength, my family and friend’s love and support all combined into one big positive force that propelled me to push with all of my might through the numerous, death-defying obstacles in my way.  I have gotten knocked down many times, but when I have gotten up, I only stood taller and stronger.  I lost my pulse four different times, and I am still here, doing better than ever.  I don’t believe there is anything or anybody out there that can knock me down, and keep me down, and whether that is true or not, it doesn’t matter because it is what I believe.  Someone can try, but good-luck with that, you will have the “MO-fia” after you, and I’ll be too busy “livin’ on a prayer”.  : D

“We’ve got to hold on, ready or not.
You live for the fight when it’s all that you’ve got.
Wooaaa, we’re halfway there. Wooaaa livin’ on a prayer.
Take my hand and we’ll make it, I swear. Livin’ on a prayer.”

Advertisements

New Year, New Health, New Beginning.

2012 was a pretty rough year for me, to say the least, and it can be briefly noted as this: Sudden acute liver failure. Sixteen days admitted at Greenville Memorial (South Carolina). Unexpectedly, moving back home with my extended family in Connecticut.  Fifty-two days admitted at Yale Medical.  A last-minute liver transplant. Seizures. Lost pulse. Two risky, very crucial, life-saving brain surgeries within 3 weeks of a liver transplant. Loss of right peripheral vision in both my right and left eye. Restriction from operating a motor vehicle indefinitely. Disabled on social security and medicaid….There’s pretty much no other way to sum it other than being the most crazy, effed up year of my life.

Although I feel like I have for the most part fully recovered, and I try to be as “normal” as you and anybody else, I still have some work ahead of me. I have been making a very swift recovery physically which you may or may not have tracked via Facebook, but I have had many set-backs mentally which you may be unaware of.

I have not been easily able to grasp all of the sudden and drastic changes that comes with a transplant and how by having a transplant, my life has been forever changed. I am still fighting a daily battle trying to come to terms with what happened and how another person’s life was taken away from them, and their organ is the only thing keeping me alive.  I have a life, and they do not.  Their family suffers and grieves, and mine is happy and celebratory.  Sometimes it doesn’t seem right.  I am still having a very difficult time coming to terms with everything that has happened as it happened so suddenly and so drastically. Those who were not there to actually see what I went through, to experience my pain, to endure my struggle, to personally encounter my fight, then why should I expect you to understand at all?

Like I already said, it is very difficult for me, I do not expect it to be easy for you. We live in a greedy world, and sometimes I feel that living inside me, my donated liver, was the greatest act of selflessness that a person can do. It has touched my heart and my root of being so deeply, that I will forever and ever, feel indebted to fulfill this life with great meaning in respect and honor to my donor and his/her family and friends.

With time, and patience, mark my words, I plan on being fully recovered within one-year from now, as I insist on doing everything necessary in-order to do so. I will put 125% of my mind, my body, and my soul in order to get there. With that being said, anything or anybody that will not be a positive and motivating addition to my efforts to succeed in my personal journey to live a long, happy, and healthy life, will most likely no longer be a part of my life. I have long been willing to put others before me, and in return I have been compensated with appreciation and sincere acts of generosity by many, but also mental scars by others. That unfortunately is life, and now it is time to move forward and create a positive and appreciated path before me.  On the upside I have learned many valuable lessons from my recent experiences and relationships with friends and family, and for this new year and this new life, I have very high expectations to turn my very fortunate “new beginning” into something meaningful and commendable.

I plan on still being generous and kind, and without-a-doubt the biggest goofball you may come to know, finding great humor in the silliest of things. On the other hand, I now lack the strength and desire to haul along other’s senseless and heavy-burdens with me, and it is my goal to no longer allot any of my time to such obstructions. These next few years are my years to triumph. I would love for all of my closest friends and family to be along-side me in support of my journey to thrive as an admirable person and not only make a difference in my life, and possibly even yours in the years ahead. Relationships should help you, not hurt you, so in order to do that you need to surround yourself with people who reflect the person you want to be.  Your friends and family should consist of people you are proud to know, whom you admire, and show equal love and respect back to you.  I do realize this will not be the case for all, as some people come-and-go, which will be a challenge I will have to face as well.  I would love nothing more than to see you standing not behind me, but right next me in my journey to conquer 2013 and the following years after.

“Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right, forget about those who don’t. Believe everything happens for a reason. If you get a chance, take it. If it changes your life, let it. Nobody said life would be easy, they just promised it would most likely be worth it.” ~Harvey MacKay

These are two short videos of some pictures of my medical experience and shortly after discharge at Yale Medical in New Haven, Connecticut. (Late April-June 2012).