Learn. Live. Hope, Uncategorized

I Am Grateful; I Am Not Satisfied

Don’t worry this isn’t a dictionary lesson.

Grateful:  a) feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness; thankful b) expressing gratitude Satisfy: a) to make happy, to please; b) to gratify to the full; appease

Overall, the last two months have been, for the most part, pretty busy and entertaining for me.  After the holidays were over and January rolled around, I went to St. Augustine, FL to visit my mom, step-father, and to surprise my little sister for her 25th birthday for about a week.  While I was there, my grandparents came to visit, and then I rode with them back to their winter home in Fort Meyers and stayed an additional week.  The following weekend after returning from Florida, I went up to Boston for a short weekend to spend time with a few of my friends from college who live decently close to each other.  The weekend after that I went to the Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, CT and saw Bon Jovi put on a 2-hour kick-ass live show…for free!  I can definitely agree that January and most of February were rather eventful months for me.  The last few weeks, on the other hand, have been more on the dull and uninteresting side.  I am not complaining, just stating facts.

I’ve been basically confined to the house with sporadic modes of transportation available to me here-and-there (depending on my family member’s schedules’), and it has begun to start to put me a little-bit “on edge”.  I absolutely believe I do a great job of finding ways to entertain myself and keep my mind busy.  I am also rather physically active, circumstances considered, which keeps me entertained frequently.  Still, it is unfortunately starting to wear away at me a bit; not having my independence that is.

I have noticed I have been getting very frustrated.  Frustrated that I can’t drive.  Frustrated that when I need to go somewhere that I need to find a ride.  Frustrated that I usually can’t be alone when I’m shopping, or alone at all sometimes.  Frustrated by all of the brotherly teenage bickering and yelling and farting.  My only “escape” is the room I stay in, but it is still not fully excluded from everything considering it is household public-access to the mini-office, work-out, and playroom.

This blog is not about me bitching up a fit.  This blog is about me realizing and sharing the true difference between what being grateful and being satisfied is.  Yes, I am frustrated that I cannot drive, but I am extremely grateful that I have enough of my vision field to still do many things.  Yes, I get frustrated always having to depend on a ride, but I am grateful that I have family that is willing and kind enough to drive me around.  Yes, I get very annoyed when the boys are loud and fighting, and when there never seems to be a moment of “fresh, clean air” while either of them are in the room if ya know what I mean, but, still, I am grateful to have them as my “brothers”.  Yes, I am frustrated that I used to live independently and now I feel like I am somewhat re-living my early teenage years, but I am grateful that my family has allowed me to be a part of their home, grateful to call them my family, and above all, I am grateful to be alive.

Today in the shower, as my mind was racing, “What is wrong with me?  What is your problem Mo?  Why are you on such a short-fuse so much lately?  C’mon get it together Mo.”  I kept thinking and asking myself questions, and thinking some more.  I came to the conclusion that I am grateful for everything and everyone in my life, but I am not satisfied with my life and that there is a difference.

Well, what is the difference between being grateful of your life and being satisfied with it?  The difference, for me at least, is I am so very appreciative of my life and that I have been given a second chance to make it satisfactory and fulfilling, but I am currently not fully satisfied with it.  Yes I am alive, but I want to be living; not trapped.

Not being able to drive does restrict my freedom and independence more than I would have ever thought, but I have been making-due.  The problem is I don’t want to “make-due.”  That has never been a mind-set of mine, and I don’t want to be content with “making-due.”  Ever.

I dream of being on my own, having a career, living in my own house, driving my own car, etc.  Not that I want to be alone all-of-the-time, I just dream to simply have my independence back.  I’m 27 and I live with my aunt, uncle, and cousins and the closest thing to my old “Mo-bile” now is riding shot-gun in my grandma’s Toyota Camry…with my grandma.  The luxury of “leaving and going as you please” doesn’t seem like a luxury until you have it suddenly snatched away from your feet.  I know “independence” is what I want, but how do I get it?  I went to the mall the other day and I didn’t see anything on sale for “Independence.” Purchase now and your first 3 months are free!”  Haha, I wish.

So, since “independence” isn’t for sale, how am I going I take my dreams and put them into an active game plan?  This can be tricky for my particular situation, because some of my goals are somewhat dependent on my medical progress, doctor’s diagnoses, etc.  My goals aren’t like, “I want to lose 10 lbs.” or “I want to run a 5K.”  While some of my goals are indeed like those, the ones I am talking about now are much different, such as, “I want to be able to see” and “I want to be able to drive”.  The only control I really have with goals like these is to just continue keeping-up with all of my doctor’s appointments, medications, staying healthy, and thinking positive.  After that, I am not sure if there is anything else I can do, but just patiently wait.

I often wonder what other people would do and how they would react if they were in my shoes.  The reason I wonder, is because I am constantly in conflict with myself, and always looking for more, and I wonder is that normal or not?  Then I question should I be satisfied with how things are?  Is it bad that I am still not yet satisfied with my life?  With all said and done, I did get a liver.  I survived two serious brain infections.  I am healthy.  I am alive.  I have wonderful friends and family.  Is it selfish of me, that I want more for my life than just being grateful and awake each day?  I want to be satisfied.

I would be satisfied if I was living every moment to the absolute fullest I could each day.  I know that isn’t possible due to time and monetary restraints, but this doesn’t stop me from trying.  I will steadily plug away each day at my goals until I get to where I want to be.  The problem is, I am never completely satisfied with where I am at, and I always want more.  Mo, always wants mo’–I am always trying to out-do myself in whatever it is I do.  I am my own worst enemy, and whether that is a good or a bad thing, I have yet to determine.

In one way, I believe it is a great thing, because I’m always trying to work harder, to make things better than they were before.  Settling is not in my vocabulary-for anything, or anybody.  On the other hand, sometimes I think I’m ready to do things, but my body is not, I push anyway, and I end up setting myself back a tiny-bit further from where I began.  It is vicious cycle of balancing, and that is something I have gotten much better at, yet still have plenty of room for improvement.

The truth of it all is I really don’t know what will make me truly satisfied?  Will I ever be able to get to a point where I can say, “That’s it?  I am here and this is the best life can possibly be.”  Who knows?  But ya know what?  That is okay because it keeps me continuously working hard at my goals.  When I’m working hard at my goals, trying until I can’t try any more, that is the one thing that I do find satisfactory in my life. That feeling that I’ve done everything I could possibly do, leaving no room for excuses.  It is a hard feeling to get to, especially with me since I am never satisfied ; )

“People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents.”
~Andrew Carnegie, American Industrialist & Philanthropist 

“Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.” ~unknown

 

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Learn. Live. Hope, Musical MOtivation, Uncategorized

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.”

Learn. Live. Hope, Musical MOtivation, Physical MOtivation

MO in the Mirror

Michael Jackson took the words right out of my mouth….

“I’m Gonna Make A Change,
For Once In My Life
It’s Gonna Feel Real Good,
Gonna Make A Difference
Gonna Make It Right . . .”

“I’m starting with the Mo in the mirror,
I’m asking her to change her ways
No Message Could Have
Been Any Clearer
If You Wanna Make The World
A Better Place
Take A Look At Yourself And
Then Make A Change…..”

Me jaundiced, hooked up to my IV patiently waiting with my cousin, Courtney, for a matching transplant in very late April 2012 just a few days before my transplant
Me, jaundiced, hooked up to my IV patiently waiting with my cousin, Courtney, for a match for a liver transplant in very late April 2012 just a few days prior to my transplant
Looking and feeling a million times better ready to celebrate the holidays with my family early December 2012
Looking and feeling a million times better ready to celebrate the holidays with my family early December 2012 a short 7 months later

Ever since I was hospitalized (first in Greenville in March and then at Yale in April), I have had no choice to make so many drastic modifications to my lifestyle in order to be healthy and stay alive. A transplant results in no drinking, no smoking, no raw sushi, and no salad bars just to name a few restrictions. I continually work out, and I am now fully dedicated to adhering to a gluten-free diet (in result of being diagnosed with Celiac Disease).

After my transplant and brain surgeries, I was having to swallow 46 pills a day, 46! Excuse my French, but holy $hi+ that is a lot of pills! I now am currently down to 29 pills/day, which is significantly less, but I still feel like an 80-year old doing organizing my weekly pills in one of those Monday-Sunday pill containers.

Swallowing a meal-full of pills several times-a-day, with all of the side-effects, on-top of feeling like my body had been run over by a16-wheeler was not fun. I could hardly perform simple tasks that you would never even think twice about doing like: walking, going to the rest-room by myself, getting my shoes/socks on without help, showering without sitting in a chair, without being constantly babysat.

One of my favorite lines in Adam Sandler’s “Big Daddy” is when Adam’s adopted son yells, “I wipe my own ass! I wipe my own ass!” The thought of this scene makes me chuckle to myself, and let me tell you why: when I was confided to the hospital bed (attached to what felt like enough wires to light up a Christmas tree), I couldn’t use the rest-room as I pleased. If I had to go #2, I had to buzz the nurse, wait for someone to bring me a bucket, do my thing, and then get my ass wiped, not by me, all while laying in bed (I am very good at back bridges when I do my workouts now haha). Talk about feeling violated, and privacy? Ha, I have lost all concept of what that is after my 52 days spent between the ICU and the transplant floor.

I endured a total of 71 days of hospitalization in the year 2013 which I later reflected on.  I missed out on most of the spring starting in mid-March going through the end of April, the entire month of May, and half of June from the outside world being locked up in the hospital (except for a brief two-week hiatus when I moved from Greenville, SC to Danbury, CT). While it was a great feeling to be out of the hospital, I wasn’t exactly “free” and nowhere near being back to “normal”. I am not allowed to drive because of my visual field impairment which is not expected to come back (I have lost my peripheral vision in both my right and left eyes to the right,  so unless something is directly in-front of me I can not see anything to my right-side).

My hair is finally filling in from where it was shaved in a line straight down the middle of my head for surgery. It is no longer falling out, which is very awesome to not have to pull handfuls of hair out of the drain every day. Since it is filling in, I no longer have to sport what I named a “Reverse MO-hawk.” I have gone from being completely independent and living on my own, to moving into my grandparent’s house. My grandparents are snow birds, so as they flocked to Florida for the cold winter months, I moved-in with my aunt and uncle and their two teenage boys, my cousins Robby and Rocco. I love my cousins, they are like my little bros, but if Call of Duty was never invented I think I would totally be okay with that.

My friends live in various states across the country, and I have no one besides my family here in Danbury.  When I say no one, I mean no one. I love my family dearly with all of my heart, but sometimes I just want to be able to hang out with my friends, go out for a drive to clear my mind, or go to the store alone. It are those “little things” in life that I can no longer do anymore that I long desire.  

I never realized how valuable those little things were to me, until they were no longer readily accessible to me. While my recovery is improving gradually and I am feeling much better, it still does not dismiss the fact that I am not exactly living the lifestyle of a normal mid-20-something year old.

The first few months after I was discharged, I wasn’t allowed to be home alone. There was a chance I could have more seizures, or fall, or that something else could easily go wrong with me. It is nice to have people around and be there for you, but everyone needs a breather by themselves every once in awhile; it is too often I lock myself away to catch a “breather” away from everyone else.

Although I’ve had to do a complete 180 with my life, I don’t wish to go back to the way I was living, not even for one second. I was going down a dead-end road, and wasn’t paying attention to the signs to tell me to pump the brakes and turn around. Sure I was having the time of my life, but deep down I wasn’t really happy with myself. Each day felt unfulfilled and I was yearning to do something with my life that was actually admirable. I wanted to feel proud of myself like I had once felt in my junior golf and college days.

Now, I finally am proud of myself again. I look in the mirror each day and I am in shock. Each day I see myself and when I see the “Mo in the Mirror” I’m like, “Wow, Mo, you’ve come such a long way, in such a short amount of time.” That feeling that I get when I see the new, improved, healthy Mo is what gives me the “Mo-tivation” to keep trucking along and give each day everything I have to offer.

Besides doing physical therapy I keep myself active each and every day. My over-anxious-self tried doing the Insanity work-outs within the first two months of being discharged, and that was probably the most idiotic set-back of my whole healing experience. Even though my mind was ready, my body was no where near being ready for that kind of physical activity and movement. So after that set-back and spending the last few months trying to heal from those injuries, I now finally feel SO much better and I can now begin to increase my physical activity gradually.

On Sept. 30, 2012, I participated in the Liver Life Walk held in Stamford, CT and walked 3-miles, which is my farthest recorded walking distance since being discharged from Yale in June. A few days after the Liver Life Walk, I felt like a small car ran me over, but that is definitely better than a 16-wheeler!  My legs were giving me large amounts of trouble, so unfortunately, I regressed once again. I continued out-patient physical therapy and ended that treatment in early November. Now, on my own, I work out in my aunt and uncle’s house with their treadmill, small weights, resistance bands, swiss ball, and use my own body strength with certain exercises and yoga poses. I walk a minimum of a mile each day, and sometimes I go up to 2.5 miles. My times have continued to improve as I continue to get stronger and gain more endurance. I incorporate a minimum of 100 crunches or similar type exercises to strengthen my core because that is very important to getting my entire body stronger.

I started off doing around 25-minute miles. I didn’t really keep track of my times at first because I was so slow–“Slow-Mo” you could call me, ha. Now I have started to keep track, because comparing times is really the only way to truly know if I am getting quicker or not.

Two-weeks ago, I did a 19:00 mile, two days after that I did it in 17:52, and the day after that I pushed myself really hard and did the mile in 14:09! Of course that is not an awesome speed or anything but I did shed over three-minutes in one-day, and with these chicken legs and everything else considering, that is a pretty big accomplishment! I left the treadmill with a big smile and felt pretty proud of myself, ready to set my next mile mark for 13:30.

On January 9th, 2013 I ran the mile in 10:39! I was so excited and proud of myself.  Yes, my legs did hurt and I had to take-it-easy for a few weeks after that, but it was very much worth the gratification of kicking so much ass!

Ran the mile in 10:39 just 7 months after discharge in June when I was hardly able to walk from one side of the house to the other
Ran the mile in 10:39 just 7 months after discharge in June when I was hardly able to walk from one side of the house to the other

Everyone is different in what motivates and inspires them to succeed, but I have found that my “mo-tivation” comes from seeing the results. When you can actually see a difference or a change for the better, that makes you feel like all of the hard-work you put-in is actually paying-off; and that is a damn good feeling. When you can look at the clock and see your times have gone down, or you can see in the mirror the physical changes taking place, that is fulfilling. I don’t know if it is the same feeling for you, but it gives me the inner drive to set goals and work harder at attaining them. I will work until I reach that goal, and then once I reach it, because I WILL reach it (and not let anything stop me), I then set higher goals to achieve.

I believe if you have a fierce mentality, you believe in your goal, and put the work into it, you can do anything you dream of. You have to believe in your goal, but most importantly you have to believe in yourself.  When you can get to that point, the work won’t seem like work, it will be overshadowed by your strong desire to succeed, and you will succeed.

One thing that I have found that is critical to achieving almost anything, is having patience. I am half-Italian and my last name is Gesualdi, so being patient isn’t exactly a characteristic that comes naturally for me. I have never really been patient in my life, but somehow, somewhere, during my ill-times, I dug very deep, the deepest I hope I will ever have to dig again, and found this patience with-in me that I never had before. My family was shocked. I was even shocked. It came out of nowhere. I don’t really care where it came from, but it was there, and it was crucial to saving my life. Without that patience I could have so easily given-up each and every time a doctor gave me negative news that pretty much suggested I had a greater chance of dying than living. Like I’ve said before, I firmly believe in mind over matter, and that is what got me through.

If you want to make a change, you have to start with yourself. It feels real good, it makes a difference, and it makes it right. That’s why I want you to know, I started with the “Mo in the Mirror”, and if I can do it, so can you, and so can anyone, you just have to believe you can 🙂

Musical MOtivation

“Roll If Ya Fall”

I know Christmas is right around the corner and you have probably been decking the halls while jamming to some “Jingle Bell Rock,” but in case you wanted to give your ears a short break from “Santa Baby” you can with a song I love called, “Roll if Ya Fall” by Barefoot Truth.  I love me some Christmas music, but most of us can probably agree that Christmas songs can get old pretty quickly, especially after you’ve heard, “Frosty the Snowman” for the third time in the past hour.  I like to change my music up all of the time, and sometimes a good song is exactly the thing you need to motivate you to get going in whatever it is you have to get done.

“Roll if Ya Fall” just sparks something inside me to just feel happy.  When the song first begins, it always seems to put me in a day-dream where I am sitting on a beach somewhere with friends relaxing, sipping on a nice cold beverage, living the life.  The first time I heard the song, during the instrumental intro, I found myself bopping my head around and tapping my shoes to the beat of the bongos heard in the song. So I’m feeling it, I keep listening, I hear the lyrics and I realized that the song actually has some depth and meaning behind it.  Hold-up…this song has a chillaxin’ DMB essence to it, and it’s lyrics are somewhat motivational?!?  That is right up my alley, and that’s what I call a Mo-tastic song!

As I listen, the song describes life as a “game”, and the little things we do in our daily lives contribute to our final “score.”

“And when we add the score at the end of this life, I wanna say I won the game.”

Being the competitive person that I am, this really has my attention now. Whether you are competitive in nature or not, if life is considered a game, that is one game that I an sure you do not want to lose.

Eventually, one day my time will be up, all of ours will; but mine will not be right now. I have already proved on more than one occasion, that if you are going to try to take me down, I will go down swinging with both arms swinging.  If you knock me down, I will get back up.  You can even knock me down a few more times after that, and no matter what, I will get back up, and I find a similar sense of action is found in the lyrics of this song.

Another reason I love this song is because it asserts being tough, without the intensity, but rather in such a cool, and relaxing way.  “It’s a simple inspiration, it always gets me high…,” I always find inspiration in song lyrics and try to apply those lyrics to my life because a simple lyric can become a simple inspiration for me.  When I’m inspired, and it doesn’t take much, there is no doubt I’m going to “roll” if I fall.  Even though this past April and May I fell, and I fell about as hard as you can go down, I got up, and got “rollin.” I plan on continuing “rollin” even “if flat shadows get me down, I’ma roll if I fall.”  I advise you to not stand in my way, because more than likely you will get your ass run over!

Learn. Live. Hope, Uncategorized

“MOnday”

So it’s Monday.  Monday is just one of those days that just hardly ever seems to have any appeal whatsoever.  Yesterday may have concluded to be an awesome weekend with your friends and family, but it flew by so fast, and now all you can hear is the annoying sound of your alarm going off.  Your next move is to probably hit the snooze button a few times because those few extra zzzz’s are better than any Monday could possibly be.  Waking up early to go to school or work is never ideal, but Mondays just always seem to be the worst day of the week, particularly because it is the farthest away from the weekend.  For most people, it is the kick-off to a treacherously long school or work week, and Friday can never-ever seem to come soon enough.  You might not even have a typical school or work schedule, but everyone still experiences their own “Monday” in one way or another, no matter what your lifestyle or schedule entails.

So, it’s Monday, and just because it is Monday you’ve started off your week with the negative juices already coursing through your veins before you even step out the door.  Anything seems better than going to work or school at this point.  Well, how do you expect your day to turn out when you’re approaching the day with that kind of attitude?  I will tell you right now that the guy/girl who woke up on the “right-side” of the bed today is going to beat you in today’s race simply because he/she is already seeing things in a positive light.

I believe that just about anything you perceive as negative, can equally be opposed by something positive.  For instance, in this case, at least you go to school and are receiving an education.  At least you have a job, almost 8% of the country is unemployed.  Would you rather be uneducated and unemployed?  I will assume not, because I can’t imagine the possibilities you WON’T have being uneducated, unemployed, and a poor attitude on top of that.

I’ll admit, maybe Mondays do suck for some people.  Maybe the only thing you have to look forward to is tonight’s episode of “The Voice” or Monday Night Football?  But you know what, it’s really not that bad, something could always suck worse.

I can tell you a time that really sucked.  When I was sick in the hospital at Yale for 52 days, I had no concept of what was a Monday or what was a Friday, or any day for that matter.   Each and every day that I was conscious, started out pretty much the same, no matter what day it was.  The day-shift nurse arrived usually sometime between 7 am and 8 am to introduce himself or herself, write their name on the dry-erase board, the PCA’s name, and the date.  Looking up at that dry-erase board was really the only way I knew what day or date it was.  The highlight of my day, besides my family visiting me, was usually getting a phone call or a text from friends back home in South Carolina, and that is only when I was having “good days” and was able to comprehend who I was.  There were lots of “good days,” but there were plenty of days my family tells me about that I have absolutely no recollection of occurring; days completed missed because I wasn’t conscious.

The dry-erase board with the date was the only way I could remember what day it was.

While I was in the hospital, I usually did not get much sleep.  Even if I was lucky enough to fall asleep, I was woken up every 2 hours or so to get my vitals checked or blood drawn for testing purposes.  Breakfast for me was not your usual bowl of cereal or breakfast bar on-the-go.  I have been diagnosed with celiac disease, so anything I eat has to be gluten-free.  Not exactly what you would call convenient, or even tasty for that matter, especially in the hospital.  I will say that Yale did offer a pretty good gluten-free selection, it was no Chick-Fil-A breakfast by any means, but for what it was, it was decent.

So, after I made my breakfast selection, no matter what I ordered, (it could be a bowl of Chex cereal and a banana) it would take 45 minutes to arrive.  So, by the time my meal had finally arrived I was usually swarmed by doctors and their “team” of colleagues (attendings, residents, etc) ready to tell me a whole bunch of things that I usually could not say or pronounce correctly.  Can I have the dumbed down version please?  Thank you.

At one point I was being seen by seven different specialties; that is a lot of docs checking you out all over each and every day (cardiology, neurology, liver, kidney, infectious disease, hepotology, and hemotology).  Each day they would come in to give me test results or tell me what kind of procedure(s) they were going to do to me on that particular day.

Finally after finishing breakfast which was interrupted at least a good 5 times by the nurse or visiting teams, next on the agenda was waiting to be carted away on a bed or in a wheelchair to go get an echo, an X-ray, a MRI, or whatever I was having done that day.  Sometimes I had two or three different tests performed in a day.  That was pretty much my day, and then the whole routine would pretty much start over very similar the next day.  Mind you, this is when I was conscious, and this does not include what I consider my “non-routine” hospital days.

There were a few days that would start off “normal,” for being in the hospital that is, but then all I could remember is going to sleep in my room on the 9th floor and waking-up two days later in the ICU with tubes in my mouth not having any idea what had happened or where I was.  That really blew my mind.  What if I had never woken up?  It’s difficult to think about sometimes, and it always makes me emotional when I do start thinking about it; but I did wake up, and I am doing great now, and that is all I can be happy for.  (In later blogs I will address some of the not-so-normal days spent at Yale, with the assistance of my family who unfortunately had to witness some pretty terrible things from what I hear.)

Even though for 52 days straight I was a prisoner to Yale, in retrospect, you just have to think that It could have been worse.  It could have been 100 days, I might still be there, or even worst, not be living at all. During that period, I had become acquainted with my medley of nurses on both the 4th floor ICU, and the 9th floor (the transplant floor) because I had spent so much time back-and-forth between the two floors.  The day I was admitted to Yale Medical, April 24, 2012, I was put on the 9th floor and my nurse’s name was Maureen.  She went by Mo.  I have gone to school with several female “Mo’s,” but it’s not as common as say maybe having a nurse named “Sarah” or “Amanda”.  How ironic I thought?

You may think that everything that has happened to me is horrible, and no doubt nothing about it has been a pleasure; but the way I see it, everything has been a blessing in disguise.  For some unknown reason it was meant to happen.  Yes, I did have to fight hard, and yes I do believe there where some angels looking over me,  but according to the science of it all, there is a much-much greater chance of me being dead than alive right now.  All of those negative statistics don’t matter right now, because not only am I alive, but I am doing great, better than anyone could have imagined!   I have experienced pain, and feelings, and moments that I would never wish upon my worst enemy, but in the end I am glad to have experienced it, to have survived it, and here to be able to share some of these “MO”ments with you.

I stand here now, the healthiest I have probably ever been in my life.  Not for one moment in the 16 days I spent in the hospital at Greenville Memorial or the 52 days I was a patient in the Yale ICU or Transplant floor did I think I couldn’t come out alive, deep-down I always felt I was going to make it.  Several times I could sense my family’s nerves’, and occasionally I even sensed the doctors lacking conviction in me surviving.  I still did not get scared.  Whatever was going to happen, was going to happen, but what is the most important of all, is that to me, in my head, I had everything under control.  I think sometimes I was the one giving my family and doctors hope.  My constant positivity and my vibe gave everyone in the room a better feeling from when they had walked in.  Even when I physically couldn’t make myself smile, I still tried.  That is what kept me in the game; that is why I am still here.

My sister Desiree, flew up from Florida to be by my bedside. Even when I couldn’t smile, I still tried.

At times people may have been nervous about my outcome, but everyone around me, near or far, believed in me, and so I believed in me.  I will say it over-and-over again, it is mind over matter.  Your mind is the most powerful weapon you have.  You can use that power for good, or just as easily for bad.  I try to channel my mind and it’s thoughts in a positive direction, and just look, I have turned some pretty horrific things into the unimaginable great.  Why can’t you do the same?  It’s not that you can’t, I believe you can do anything you put your mind to, but you just have to truly believe in it too.  Remember, it never hurts to have a few people believing in you too!  It may be Monday, but there is no better day than a Monday to start off with a fresh mind and a good outlook on life.  I don’t know about you, but I try to turn a Monday into a MOnday : )

It is not work that kills men; it is worry.” –Henry Ward Beecher

Mo Gesualdi 11/26/12

Learn. Live. Hope

The MOmentum is Just Beginning

Hello family, friends, acquaintances, and everyone in between:

I have been asked by family and friends alike to start several different projects in regards to my personal journey that began this past spring of 2012.  Surviving two life-saving craniotomies after a last minute liver transplant, gives me a lot to talk about.  I am finally well enough to put my words into action, and so here I begin.

My journey has hit every up-and-down, and all-around you can possibly wrap your head around, but, thankfully I am here now today to share my story.  Through everything that has happened to me and my family in the last half-year, I have learned a lot about the true meaning of friendship, family, and what life really is all about.  I plan to share some of my experiences, my thoughts, and my visions (along with the assistance of some of my friends and family who can recall things that I can not).  If my blog does nothing for you, that is okay by me, I’m just here doing my thing, and you have the right to do your thing.  If what I say or do can help you better who you are or what you do in any way, well, then that is well worth writing every bit of this  : )

Much Love,

Mo

I completed the 3 mile Liver Life Walk, held in Stamford CT on September 30, 2012