Saturday, August 30, 2008

Back on the Road to Recovery

Just saw Dad this morning for a quick visit. He was awake and eating breakfast - plastic ventilator - bad choice, dad. Go with the bagel next time the waitress comes around.

In any event, they were getting ready to take it out because he is able to do his own breathing, thank you very much.

I'm sure he will have a wonderful visit with mom today. She was very happy to get the news that he was getting off the breathing tube.

The plan is for him to be in ICU for a few days and then head back to rehab and get back to all that swallowing, sitting and standing.

Dad, you did great. Keep smiling and laughing. You are amazing and it is a blessing to all of us that you've still got your razor sharp wit. I hear you told your nurse she looked like Al Roker's sister. Seriously, Dad, you need to filter some thoughts. Unfortunately, we know just who you mean :)

Peace, Michelle

Friday, August 29, 2008

In Recovery!

So, the gall bladder is still in, but all the stones and sludge are out.

What, they didn't take the gall bladder out?!

I know...that's how we reacted, too, but it's fine.

Dad's surgeon explained that there was too much bleeding for him to remove it safely. The fact that he was able to clean it out was still an accomplishment and Dad will be able to heal without danger of another attack. This is good. There were at least 15 little stones that could have caused a future problem. Sorry stones, you missed your chance!

He is sleeping peacefully right now and we hope to chat with him tomorrow.

Our Goodbye Gall Bladder party has been renamed the Goodbye Gall Stone party. Drinks will be served neat (as opposed to "on the rocks" for you non-drinkers!).

Thank you all for your love and support.

Surgery at 10:30 am this morning!

Got moved up for some reason.

Will post when he is in recovery!

Lots of love, Michelle

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

He's a platelet maker!

Platelets climbed from 40,000 to 66,000. I've seen him make a lot of things, but this is a first!

He was moved from ICU to a regular room, which means he is stable (or they needed his bed!) Probably a little of both, but they would not have moved him if it was a risk, so we are fine with this. Mom is there with him now and she says he looks good to her. I'll bet!!

Surgery still on for Friday. We are all feeling strong, Dad included. Your prayers have no doubt helped us with that. Again, many thanks to all of you.

Please keep praying for peace of mind, strong bodies and a smooth road until Friday.

Cheers! Michelle

PS Some of you have asked me if my dad is "his old self". I'll let you decide based on an exchange between he and his nurse yesterday:

Dad: Resting comfortably, tucked nicely under his covers.

Nurse: "Al, I'd like to turn you, ok?"

Dad: "No"

Nurse: "Come on, Al"

Dad: "No, I'm comfortable just like this"

Nurse: "Al, I don't want to see your bed sores get any worse"

Dad: "Then close your eyes"

What do you think? :)

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Friday it is....

Surgery is now early afternoon Friday. He will be stronger by then and we will get to kick off our Labor Day Weekend with a good-bye gall bladder party. I've never hosted a gall bladder party, but one thing my family knows how to do is party, so I'm sure we'll figure it out! Good riddance, GB.

They postponed surgery due to a low platelet count. The hematologist feels they are low due to one of his antibiotics, so they have taken him off and hope to see the numbers rise on their own. Better to have his own platelets than someone else's, they say. Makes sense to me.

Dad had a quiet day. He was tired and slept most of the day. He was talking in his sleep and having some lovely dreams based on what we heard - he was enjoying a cold drink, eating fudge and taking pictures of us. I'm glad he was dreaming of things he likes to do! He'll be back to them soon enough.

He got a new fancy bed to help relieve some pressure on his back sores, we hope it helps.

At the end of the day he had a visit from Brian and Josh, which I'm sure he enjoyed! I know it cheered my mom up as well. Thanks, guys :)

Make platelets, Dad, but just as importantly, enjoy your sweet dreams!

Love you lots, Michelle

Not today...

We are waiting to talk to his surgeon, but it seems that he would like dad's platelets to come up on their own.

Surgery is now tentatively scheduled for Friday.

More news later.


Monday, August 25, 2008

Bye-bye Gall Bladder! Hello, Healing!

Dad is 99% sure, scheduled for surgery this afternoon. Not sure exactly what time yet. His platelets are a little low but they will probably just give him some and do what they need to do to get rid of that nasty gall bladder.

We just know it's what he needs to really begin healing. His doctors and nurses are wonderful and we are confident that they will do an excellent job.

Michael and I are heading up this morning. He likes to look into the doctor's souls and make sure they realize just how important my dad is before they start working on him. Me, I have other jobs, as you know.

No worries. We've done this before and the results were better than expected. This will be no different.

We're all right there with you, dad. Looking forward to seeing you in recovery!

MRI Today

Dad is going for an MRI this morning.

I had a nice visit with him last night. He had me wave his healing stone over him. Mom and I bought it for him in NY. He says he really likes it and the nurses do, too. They often wave it over his abdomen and one of them uses it on herself as well. However, Dad says she called in sick today! I'm guessing she wanted to be healthy for her fake sick day.

When I left he was sleeping peacefully and talking and smiling to himself in his dreams. Very sweet. :)

We doubt he will have surgery tomorrow. They want him to keep getting stronger and so do we. In any event, I am sure his team of doctors will make the right decision. Please remember to keep them in your prayers as well.

Will keep you informed.

Love, Michelle

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Slow and Steady

They were able to take Dad off of his blood pressure medication last night. This is good and I think this means he can have an MRI so they can assess his gall bladder and help them make a decision about surgery.

He is getting stronger. We can hear it in his voice and see it in his arm movements.

Hang in there, Dad. Have a peaceful Sunday and I'll look forward to seeing your handsome face on Monday :) xo

Love, Michelle

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Feeling Strong!

Just got word from my mom that my dad is feeling strong today!
He looks great, which means she feels great, too!

Good job everyone. Dad especially. He is impressive, isn't he?
We expect nothing less because he has never given us any reason to.

Have faith in him, because you always have. Did he ever let you down? Nope.

Believe in him, because he always believed in you, which is one of the many reasons we all love him so much.

He can do it, and so can we.

So, cast your fears and doubt fact throw them far, far away.

No worries. Really. He is getting really great care. His doctors and nurse love him as much as we do.

And did I tell you that he and I look alike now? Like twins. Especially with my roots growing in. In fact, I may even have more gray than him - ew.

Who knew?

When he was younger he looked like Jeff, in the service, like Andy, at work, Mike.
In the hospital with a high bilirubin count, skinny and no muscle tone - me.
I'm thrilled, but I am going to have my bilirubin checked, get to the gym and buy me some Clairol. :)

Go, dad.

Love, Michelle

Friday, August 22, 2008


"Learn the art of patience. Apply discipline to your thoughts when they become anxious over the outcome of a goal. Impatience breeds anxiety, fear, discouragement and failure.
Patience creates confidence, decisiveness, and a rational outlook, which eventually leads to success."
~ Brian Adams

I don't know who Brian Adams is ( a beach boy?!) and I don't much care, but I like what he says. I have found myself in the impatient category - aaagh! So, I am going to aim for patience and find success! No doubt about it.

Dad is resting and doing his best to stay positive and on track. All we can ask.
We all know that healing takes time. So, be patient, remember to breathe, I have learned it helps, and smile often. He would want you to do all of those things :)

Peace, Michelle

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Good News

No surprise, dad has a good heart.

Waiting to hear what the next step is. The pain seems to be coming from his gall bladder, so his surgeons need to make a decision about when to take it out.
We would like it to be soon, but his team of doctors will meet and come to a decision.
The issue is that he needs to be healthy enough to undergo anesthesia, etc. I'd bet there will be at least a little more rehab before it happens, but we really would like it to happen soon. His gall bladder seems to be the source of all evil. Maybe my dad can make it disappear - pray for that - why not? I believe...


Procedure this morning

Hi, all,

Dad was having some chest pains yesterday so they are going to do a cardiac catheterization this morning at 7 am just to rule out a blockage in his arteries. I anticipate they will not find a blockage. The meds could be causing some swelling of the membrane around his heart which could be what is causing the pressure and pain.

So, hopefully, no blockage will be good news to dad and his spirits will be better today. He is very tired, understandably so.

Andy stayed with dad last night and my dad was very happy to have him there. If you need an optimist - call Andy! (Don't call me, my nickname is is alarm-y) Andy has cheered us on through all of this and last night was no different. He and Amy are both very special and we are blessed by them both.

This has been hard on everyone, all of you included, but no one more so than dad. Well, my mom's way up there, too. Please pray for some relief for him and a big giant step forward in his recovery process.

I will post from his room as soon as we get results.

Love, Michelle

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Dad called my mom this morning!

To tell her he loved her :)

She is heading up to give him a kiss :)


Hammer Time!

Thanks for helping to lift him out of his much deserved funk! He's ready to keep moving little step at a time.

Go, Dad. You are awesome.

xo michelle

Monday, August 18, 2008

He'd rather be a hammer

...than a nail. Yes, he would, if he only could, he surely would.

But he is weak and been feeling like the nail for too long. He's tired of it today and nobody blames him one bit.

Please pray for his spirits today. What a difference a day can make, so let's hope tomorrow he's feeling more like his smart, funny, optimistic self :)

Love, Michelle

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A good day!

Dad looks and feels good today. You've heard that before, I know. But it is good, this is just a small setback. They told us we would have these - 2 steps up and one back still gets you where you're going!

We are awaiting test results to find out where the infection is coming from. It could be from the PICC (sp?) line (this is how antibiotics get into his veins - diff than an IV line) It could be from the catheter, or it could be something else. We'll see. In any event, they are treating the infection and pumping him up with fluids because he is dehydrated.

My dad noticed it was 9:33 this morning and he, my mom, Mike and I all said a little silent prayer together. It is really nice to have him in the loop!

His spirits were very good and he was doing his swallowing and arm exercises. He's a trooper. You knew this. Even so, I think you're gonna like him more than ever, if that's possible.

Hey, he loves all of his visitors, but I have to pass along a compliment to Teddy.
He works with Dad at Willowbrook and gets the top visitor award today! Teddy, Dad says he loves when you visit. He says you're interesting to listen to and you don't ask a lot of questions that require him to talk too much. Thanks, Teddy :)

Don't be insulted if you're not Teddy. Just think of a good story before you go. Or just go when Teddy goes. Maybe you'll enjoy his visit, too!

Love, Michelle

We're baaaack - and so is Dad

Back in ICU. He had a little setback - slight fever and an infection. It could just be a urinary tract infection from the catheter. Heading up to the hospital now to see if we can get some more info.

More news later...

Thursday, August 14, 2008


Hey Kids!

My dad calls me every other night and asks me " Hows the Dude"? You are soooo THE DUDE after all this crap! Keep up the good work! If you think there are so many good wishes of people on this website, you have no idea of the amount of people that are wishing and praying for you that are not so computer savvy (not that I am) but like dad, he doesn't get on the computer every day, but asks and thinks about you every day! Believe it or not, there is a legion of us that are still praying every 9:33! Dad and I both want to come see you over the weekend if that's ok. We just want you to be comfortable. We know this has been a very challanging week! Keep on keepin on Al! We love you and are soooo in AWE! You are doing GREAT! The fact that you're wakin' up on the right side of the grass every day is a tribute to your strength, support, desire to be here and the love you have for your peeps! You are AWESOME and we all love you soooo much!!! All our love, Kim and Ryan

We're watching you !!!

Just a note to tell you Joy and I were passing thru San Jose on Tuesday and had a chance to have lunch with Dan and his two beautiful daughters. We got Saint Angela on the phone – she moved from the beach to back up on the hill near Torricella – and all we could do is talk about you. All of us are watching your progress and our prayers are with you and your family. Hang in there - were looking forward to seeing you and having some scrapple and chipped beef at the local New Jersey dinner this Oct.
Barry, Joy, Dan and Saint Angela

Michael's report...

Dad is in good spirits and looking strong...and heading down for therapy!

He must have heard mom's packin' her visa. Try and catch her, dad!
We'll bring you a present if we get good reports. And we only accept good reports, like this one. You're set.

Love you, Michelle

He needs a good, healthy weekend. Pray for that, please.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It is what it is...

Dad is healing. Slowly and shirley. :)

No matter where he is he will continue to get better. Believe me he wants to get up and out and when he can, he will.

So, like I said, Mom and I are going on a road trip. You can't go with us but you can play along. You were here for the hospital so you should be able to do the vacation.

Mom's going on a road trip and she's bringing chex mix, candy, her visa, pinot grigio for me, and her favorite wine, 1. _________

I'm going on a road trip and I'm bringing mom, pretzels, diet ginger ale, dad's GPS, my Lukoil card and 2. _____________

Next year we're bringing 3. _______

Answers: 1. onasiP, 2. koob taf gib a 3. dad

He's such a palindrome.

If you got one out of 3 right (or you are bringing something we like!) you can come next year, too.



Admire this while we are away


Very frustrating for us and for dad. He is really not ready for all the therapy.
The reality is he is still very weak. Struggling with the feeding tube and not able to pass the swallow test. So, Mike and mom are trying to figure out where he needs to be...back in a hospital? It seems sometimes the doctors make decisions based on insurance, go figure.

So, Mike and mom are trying to figure it out and make the best decision for dad. Mike is making calls to insurance companies and doctors while Dad is sleeping off a day of messed up sugar levels.

My mom and I will be away for a few days in New Paltz, NY Woodstock here we come!) Hopefully, she can relax and get some mental and physical rest. Retail therapy works for her as well, so there will be shopping involved. Please pray for a nice trip for her and that she comes back ready to get back to the advocating, waiting, praying etc.

I'll try and post if he gets moved again. For now, he is in Marlton Rehab.

Get back on the 9:33 duty. We still have work to do.

Gone Shoppin'


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Thank you every one of you who has followed dad's progress and helped carry us along. I have just been printing the blog for him and realize how many of you are out there praying, pushing, lifting, hoping and WAITING for him to come home. He'll be there. He has worked so hard already, his reward can't be too far away.

He is working on getting stronger. He has a long way to go but he will pick up speed as he gets better. Remember when he was just working on breathing? It's all good from here on in.

He now weighs a whopping 150 lbs. so the goal is real food and liquids by mouth. A good goal and he will enjoy it when he gets there!

His routine will be workouts from 8 am to noon. He probably gets a break in there. I am guessing then nap? and visitors in the afternoon and evening. Hours are until 8 pm. I am sure he'd love to see you!

When he can take phone calls we will let you know!

Love, Michelle and crew

Sunday, August 10, 2008


To the entire Porreca clan,and I stress "entire" because there was a steady stream of well-wishers.And especially to my latest hero Al,

I wish you well. I wish you continued healing. It was my pleasure to share this part of your journey. For whatever reasons you had to take this harsh road of illness, from what I have seen and experienced, you and your wonderful family have handled this with extreme patience, dignity and love. And for that you are a lucky man.
Lee-you are the best. Thanks for the "almost better than sex" pralines.

I'll be checking your progress.
Beth Reeves,Rehab Manager
Lourdes Specialty Hospital

Friday, August 8, 2008

Movin' On!

Dad is moving today! This means he is stable enough to handle more therapy. Very good news. He will also be able to be seen by his original doctors and we are very pleased about that as well.

He will be back in Marlton at the rehab facility located next to Virtua, where he was in the beginning. Here is a link so you can see what it's all about and get directions and visiting hours.

Please pray for a smooth transition, a restful weekend for him and that he hits the ground running on Monday! More likely it will be sitting, but a sit's as good as a stand at this point :)

Go, Dad!

Much love, Michelle

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Thanks Maureen for the Iced Tea Song?!

I think it was Maureen, although all of our cousins sang that song in the car - that was one long song so thanks for sparing us all of the chorus'! And thanks for the love. Dad is so touched by everyone's care and concern and he loved the song!

Unfortunately, dad only gets iced tea in his dreams but it's a good for us to sing :) Maybe if we sing it loud enough we can get the attention of the iced tea gods...Hello, he's down here waiting.

He did get some pudding today. Again, we were more excited than he was. Apparently, it was nasty tasting and stuck to his dry throat. It's a start.

He was in good spirits, which we all needed today. He has been a little down in the dumps, with good reason. He's back though, and as usual made us smile and was interested in all our silly stories.

Hang in there, dad. Every day gets you closer to home. Love you, Michelle

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Here's a tune we all know (with different words of course)

Saw some Ice Tea, Saw some Ice Tea, Saw some Ice tea just now...Just now I saw some Ice tea, saw some Ice tea just now.

You know how the rest of the song goes...

the end goes like this..

It was yummy, it was yummy, it was yummy just now...Just now it was yummy, it was yummy, just now.

I know I shook things up a bit (the peanut / Ice tea ) But that's part of my charm as well you know.

We all learned this song from you and so it goes!

One step at a time takes you a very long way in the you...

Monday, August 4, 2008

The good news...

is that Dad is making progress with the swallowing. However, not yet ready to be let loose on the liquids. Tomorrow, Shana, the therapist will give him some pudding or applesauce under very safe conditions. As you can imagine, even dad is scared that the liquids will go down the wrong "pipe" so we are happy that they are waiting until there is no danger. Iced tea is over-rated anyway. Love is better...and we love him very, very much!

The doctors are pleased with his progress. He's not as pleased as they are.
He's just mad he missed the engagement party. I don't blame him - it was a lot of
fun and a very happy occassion! We are so happy to welcome Amy into our family. She's is sweet, funny, beautiful and so "just right" for Andy. And we like her family just as much! Good job, Andy! I think there are many more fun parties in our future - and Dad will be at all of them. When we get a little down in the dumps, we remember that we are very, very grateful for the better days that are ahead.


Swallow Test Today

Sometime this morning...look for the good news later. :)

Iced tea, iced tea, iced tea, iced tea, iced tea......

Friday, August 1, 2008

Stand by your bed.....

.....and tell the world about it! You have to sing that to get the reference. Or maybe you just have to be me. I'll never know.

Anyway, he did it. Stood by his bed, 2 days in a row and he wanted me to tell you about it! First day was 10 seconds with support, obviously) and today 30 seconds. This is so good. It takes a lot out of him but he needs to do that twice a day starting Monday.

Surprise, everyone loves him there. They said he is pleasant, funny, a hard worker, and patient. They don't know about his road rage.

Jeff is in town for Andy and Amy's engagement party (yay!) and Dad was thrilled to see him. Dad is sad to miss the party but he'll be there in spirit...and we'll Photoshop him into the pictures. He will if we don't :)

Swallow test next week? We'll see. He is doing a great job with his exercises and just needs more body strength in general to ensure he'll pass.

Please continue to pray for his patience, good spirits, and strength to keep this up.
Unfortunately, he knows just how long Beeeeeebeeeeeeetown Road is.

Wishing you some summer fun this weekend.