Just want to ask a favor of you all

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unfaithfulsfan
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Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by unfaithfulsfan » Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:11 pm

I haven't been a member of LR for that long so I don't know most of you as well as you seem to know each other. You've all been a lot of help to me, however, as I work on the perpetual learning curve of all things PC and you all have my gratitude and appreciation.

I'd like to ask another favor of all of you, no matter whether you choose to read the following novella. Please, whether you are the praying type or not, say a prayer for the following:

1) That my mother-in-law, Fran, and my wife, Karen, are able to find peace after watching their respective husband and father dwindle from a 260 lb robust man who truly loved life and his "two girls" into the 120 lb non-responsive shadow that was transferred to hospice today after a 4 year battle with Vascular Dementia;

2) that if it is Al's intention to hang on until June 14, 2008, his and Fran's 50th wedding anniversary, that he is able to do so with as little discomfort as possible;

3) and finally for Big Al (now "Li'l Big Al"), whenever he's ready, to make the transition peacefully and with no pain, into whatever is in the next plane. Be it heaven or simply eternity with family and friends who have gone on before.

I met my wife only 3 years ago so I wasn't fortunate enough to get to know the "real" Big Al Guminski. But I've seen his work ethic in his work. From the stories I've heard since moving to Buffalo to help my wife take care of him and Fran, though, I really don't think they make'em like him any more.

I've seen the brick work he did on my wife's patio off Karen's house in Brownsville, Texas, along with the attic door he'd installed and the wiring he'd done and it was all flawless and precisely thought out. The bricks were carefully chosen or cut to pefectly match the color pattern where the patio joined the house itself. The wood frames for the patio windows were meticulously cut and assembled.

When I first met Al there in Brownsville, he and I sat on that patio after our first dinner together and he pointed those things out to me, stumbling occasionally for the right words that were already escaping him. I'd fill in the blanks and he'd thank me in his soft, yet strong voice. Fran and Karen both told me they could tell he really liked me.

(It took a couple of years for it to sink into ol' dumbass here, just what a compliment that was. For Big Al Guminski to like this ol' redneck boy from South Mississippi.)

My wife and I now sit and watch TV or work on our computer on the similar, though far more elaborate, patio Big Al built onto his own house here in Buffalo. By the time we made the final move here in 2006, though, Big Al's words were mostly gone. We'd see him looking intently at his work sometimes and he'd struggle to try to point out some facet of that work but ultimately he'd be unable to find any words but we knew what he meant, "I built that."

I've met people in the village of Sloan that knew Al and, to the last one, they tell me he was one of a kind. He was the guy who didn't have to like you to help you if you needed it. Even if it was 3 am in a blinding snowstorm, for which Buffalo is famous, when he was on his way home from his Production Supervisor's position at Freezer Queen.

He was Polish through and through. He loved to dance and sing and eat good food. He loved to cook. And he definitely loved his "gima piva" (Cold beer) along with his Chivas Regal. Big Al was definitely a partier. People he worked with 25 years ago never forgot him. Some of them call all along and are truly saddened to hear that he has this godawful disease.

I helped my wife clear off the table in the basement where Al used to start his vegetable plants from the seed he collected from last year's garden--adjacent to the full woodworking shop where he always had something in the works. Tomatoes, green peppers, egg plant, garlic, cucumbers. All perpetuated from the seed he collected each year.

All those projects around the house kind of went to hell after he was diagnosed with Vascular Dementia in January, 2004. Then, just 6 months later, in June, his best friend and the absolute love of his life, Fran had a spinal stroke and has been in a wheelchair ever since.

My wife became their caregiver and they would spend the winters in South Texas and the summers in Buffalo. We planned to move them permanently to Texas but Al's condition worsened so rapidly and he could no longer handle the change of surroundings. Any change at all terrified him and he couldn't adjust.

So I quit my job as General Manager of Papa John's #2620 in Harlingen, TX,and we've spent the last two years here in their home where my wife grew up. The three of us helping each other to take care of him. It hasn't been easy but it's had its moments. Through the incoherent tantrums and murderous threats becasue he'd lost the concept of what a bowel movement is. To the big smiles and genuine "thanks" as we helped to put him to bed or gave him coffee. The more and more rare "I love you" that brought Karen and Fran to tears. To the time he looked up at me, head on his pillow (finally) and with a broad smile, said "Good night, you son of a bitch"

Now, he doesn't know who any of us are, but we think he knows when, or if, we're there. The nurses think he does and so do we.

Don't know how much longer we have with Li'l Big Al. I wish I'd known him before this shitty disease stole away the best of who he was. I was lucky in that he still was himself enough to show me some of his work.

Thanks for reading this pale attempt at describing a truly good man.
"A payphone was ringing and it just about blew my mind,
when I picked it up & said 'Hello' this foot came through the line"
~Bob Dylan

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by martini161 » Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:32 pm

Very sorry to hear that, you have my condolences

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by DMB2000uk » Wed Jun 11, 2008 2:46 pm

I really don't know what to say to all of that, I just hope that by being able to unload your story knowing someone is listening has helped you a bit.

You have my condolences too.

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by vicaphit » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:01 pm

Good luck to you and your family during your hard time.
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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by Sapientun » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:48 pm

Gosh, I'm really sorry for you.
You have my condolences as well.

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by Darkstar » Wed Jun 11, 2008 3:51 pm

It was very eloquently stated, and i feel for you guys as my father also has it.
my condolenses to you and family.

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by vbironchef » Wed Jun 11, 2008 4:06 pm

unfaithfulsfan you have a huge heart. I wish the best for all. I wish that nobody has to endure so much pain. I wish our health care system was much better. I don't know what to say. Peace. Love. Understanding.

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by XstollieX » Wed Jun 11, 2008 7:27 pm

I wish you and your family the best. I hope everything is easy and painless as can be for 'big' Al

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by Apoptosis » Wed Jun 11, 2008 8:26 pm

Wow, didn't expect to see that. You sound like a great person and so does he. Keep your head up!

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by stev » Wed Jun 11, 2008 10:55 pm

If the clock could have been turned back to 2006, I could have given you some insight to help control or stop the diminishing effects of the Vascular Dementia. Usually, people only live 5 years once the disease hits.

My Great Aunt is now going on nearly 10 years without having the Vascular Dementia get the best of her. A naturopathic doctor has made great recovery steps in her life. Still there are some days things are spaced out for her. However, she hasn't slipped away at all.

Once the level of disease is halted in it's progression, it stays at that level with very little improvement. One of the great helps is the red ginseng tea from Korea or North America.

It's a bummer to hear about others who have slipped away so fast. My dad's god-mother went quickly in three years. The Vascular Dementia got most of her memory, but strangely enough, she knew her name, her husband and daughter nearly to the end. She would still be able to quote Bible verses she knew as a child, but couldn't tell you what city or state she lived in or her phone number for the past 30+ years.

It's tough knowing that the brain is dying while the rest of the body lives until the involuntary brain center dies off. Only then life support is an option, but for what? The brain had already passed away.

There is so little we understand about this Vascular Dementia. If found early, it can be held in check for a long period of time. Of course, most insurance companies will not cover no traditional medicine practices, but will spend millions on typical medical that will not help in the greater picture of things.
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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by unfaithfulsfan » Thu Jun 12, 2008 7:24 am

Thanks so much, everyone. My wife and mother-in-law both send their thanks as well. Al is in hospice and is being treated very well. There is a DNR in effect so while he is not being "treated" for anything, he is made to feel comfortable. He's not in any apparent pain and he seems to be at peace. No one can ask for any more than that.

Stev, thank you, especially. It sounds like you know a great deal about this terrible disease. It took my father 11 years ago but in a sense, Dad was lucky. He had mulitple strokes before he reached the point that his body was shutting down. He went quickly.

I wish we'd known about the tea, too. Many people, including nurses, think my wife is a nurse. She has taken the responsibility of caregiving extremely seriously and has read volumes both on Dementia and the complications and inner workings of spinal strokes, her mom's condition. She discovered quite a few natural things that seemed to help. Folic acid seemed to perk his memory a bit.

David, I don't envy you the road ahead. I truly wish for you and your family all the best. This is one of the toughest things to have to face because the person is still healthy in all respects but the essence that makes them them just drifts away. I've heard it called "The Long Goodbye," and that's about as accurate as it gets.

There are a lot of excellent support resources out there including the Alzheimer's forums. My wife has lived there for the last year or two. But above all, no matter how tough it gets, don't forget how to laugh. Sometimes that's all that gets you through.

Thanks again everybody for your kind words and thoughts. We truly appreciate them and all of you.
Jack
"A payphone was ringing and it just about blew my mind,
when I picked it up & said 'Hello' this foot came through the line"
~Bob Dylan

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by duplo83 » Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:42 am

Trials such as this really make you remember what is truly in important in life, don't they? I'm very sorry for everything you and your family are going through, but if you hold tight to one another everything will turn out okay. My prayers are with you and your loved ones.
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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by tomato » Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:36 am

I also express all the best to you and your family... ;) :)
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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by Illuminati » Fri Jun 13, 2008 1:55 pm

My condolences as well... My wife's grandfather went through the later stages of Alzheimer's. I, like you, never knew the real man he was, but I watched my wife and her family hang on to the great memories they had of him. It seemed to help them all a lot while he couldn't remember ... much of anything or anyone. I hope you and your family are able to find peace in the memories of who he really was.

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by geokilla » Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:29 pm

You have my condolences as well. May you and your family get the best out of this difficult time of your life.
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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by stopthekilling77 » Fri Jun 13, 2008 7:40 pm

another person you dont know, connected through the community here, saying that i feel for you and that you should feel proud you know such a person

and when the inevitable comes, you will have the great ability to tell others about this person who impacted your life for the better
he sounds like an amazing individual, and my heart goes out to your family right now
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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by unfaithfulsfan » Fri Jun 13, 2008 11:45 pm

Again, Fran, Karen and I all offer our most sincere thanks for your truly heartfelt words and wishes. Thanks so very much for allowing me to share this transition and for allowing me to write it out. =D> Y'all are awesome.

We just got home from Hospice. Li'l Big Al has made it to their 50th anniversary. We don't know if he'll make it through the day, but it doesn't matter. He made it. We've all said our goodbyes and simply are enjoying whatever time he has remaining.

He has been receiving nothing but 5 mg of morphine every 4 hours and swabs to keep his mouth moist. His breathing is extremely shallow and respirations are 15-20 seconds apart. He has been running a temperature between 103 and 105, which is normal as the body completes its shutdown. He lost an amazing amount of body mass over the last 24 hours. We know it's natural at this stage, but it is still mind boggling.

Despite all that, he seems to be comfortable and at peace. When we talked to him today, his eyes, although shut, moved at the sound of our voices. All of our very small family was there and we spent the day talking about everything and nothing. More distant relatives and friends sporadically came by to pay their respects and stayed to put in their two cents' worth.

My wife pointed out, that would have made Al's day. He loved to sit around talk about lighter topics with friends and family. Those are the things that matter to him....and us.

Jack
"A payphone was ringing and it just about blew my mind,
when I picked it up & said 'Hello' this foot came through the line"
~Bob Dylan

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Re: Just want to ask a favor of you all

Post by unfaithfulsfan » Sat Jun 14, 2008 8:10 am

L'l Big Al passed on at 4:10 a.m. on June 14, 2008. He held on for their 50th. The nurse said he left peacefully--he took a breath, let it go, and stopped.

All three of us were overwhelmed with a sense of peace and contentment. It felt very natural. Corny as it sounds, it was like coming to the end of a really sweet story.

Not a bad exit at all, Al.
"A payphone was ringing and it just about blew my mind,
when I picked it up & said 'Hello' this foot came through the line"
~Bob Dylan

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