Posted by: ginacoggio | April 27, 2009

To remember the day.

I am writing this tonight from my apartment in New York City. A month has passed since my mother died and needless to say it has been a whirlwind month. It seems fitting to spend this night in quiet remembrance of my mother’s special day and to finally get these photos up for you, which so many have asked me about. Her birthday is coming up on Wednesday, exactly a week after my own. I turned 30 on Earth Day.

Below are a selection of the photos Dennis took on April 4th at the Gruppe Gallery in Jericho. The day was rainy and cold, but you can tell how cheerful it was inside by the light and everyone’s bright clothing. If you happened to take pictures and would like me to post them here, too, please pass them along. My email address is: gina.coggio@gmail.com

This is me and Tico.

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Some of the spread, set up beautifully by my family.

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Tico and Evergreen Erb, who volunteered to play her harp at the celebration, even though her foot was sprained and sore!

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My sister Andrea showing me what to do with markers and the guest book.

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Tico and all of us Arcadians singing the State of Maine song:

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Reverend Anderson listening to Frank tell a story:

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Good friends and family:

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Me and Tico singing the State of Vermont song. We were the only two who knew it—and we had also just learned it the day before!

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Singing the song “River”:

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Good friends and family:

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The Winders from Ohio, Megan and Frank:

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Me saying something:

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Friends and family:

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Lynne (a.k.a: L.L) telling a wonderful story about the Bear Rug:

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More Arcadians, Florida friends, granddaughters, and Coggios:

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Dennis’ family:

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Sarah, Weezie, Florida friends in the background:

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All smiles:

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To those of you who were able to make it to the day, thank you. For those of you who weren’t, I hope these photos help you feel like you were.

My love to, and thanks for, you all.

Posted by: ginacoggio | March 27, 2009

The last mile.

The first thing you should know is that she didn’t feel a thing. Her heart beat slower and slower and, without pain, without struggle, without any kind of hardship, she moved on. Frank and I and Joyce were beside her the whole time. We said our words, I hummed a tune, we held her hands. And after just moments of our time together this morning, she floated away. 11 o’clock, on the dot. Just the way she did all things, punctual-like.

The second thing you should know is she fought a good fight. It turns out there does exist a thing in this universe that my mother can’t boss into submission, and it happens to be lung cancer. And so it was. And she went out with grace and dignity, like a real champion.

I know many of you are wondering about a celebration or service. My mom did not want a formal service. Therefore, we are having a gathering of friends and family next Saturday, April 4th, here at our home. If you would like details, please feel free to email me at:  gina.coggio@gmail.com and I will be happy to send you information once it’s been figured out (please understand I’m not totally clear about everything yet, but I will be, I promise). I’m counting on you Patch People to spread the word gently through that thick vine. I picture, per Mom’s wishes, our home filled with energy and laughter, music, and memories. Please come and share with us if you feel you are able. I also ask that you don’t wear black. The more colorful, the more reflective of my mother and her energy and her life.  We are celebrating. These, of course, are my mother’s wishes. But they make sense to me. After all, her motto was, “When life gives you pumpkins…make pumpkin pie.”  

Those of you receiving this blog update through email should know that if you send a reply to this email, it will go to my mother’s e-mail account. I have no idea what her password is so no one will see your reply. If you want to get in contact with me or the rest of my family, please feel free to email me at the address above. 

From my heavy heart, I thank you all for your love and compassion, for your joy and your support. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for your presence in my mother’s life. You need to know how you helped her, shaped her, lifted her up. I saw the ease with which she went and it was due in great part to your love that wrapped around her from afar. 

With love and gratitude,

gina

(the blog administrator.)  :-)

Posted by: annefisler | March 27, 2009

Wishing I were writing something different.

Hi friends.
Tonight I am going to tell you what my mom wants you all to know.

First, she’s back in the hospital in Burlington. She went in this morning after having serious difficulty breathing. They put her on some oxygen and she was feeling and looking better. They admitted her and she’s on the floor she wants to be on with the nurses and doctors she has come to love and admire so much.

Second, she may have pneumonia or another infection again which is complicating her breathing a great deal. She’s on fast-acting morphine and Lorazapam to help ease her breathing and so that’s all very good.

Third, boy, does she love this blog. Although she can’t get to a computer to read comments, I’ll be sure to share whatever notes you leave here with her. Your words and thoughts and prayers give her so much comfort and joy. As I’ve heard from many of you recently, it’s done the same for you, too. I’m glad for that. Thank you.

Fourth, we’re hoping to get her home. In truth, she’s feeling scared and uncomfortable, but I’ve assured her she’s in the place where she needs to be to feel most comfortable and that she should not be afraid to ask for whatever she needs. The morphine is there to help her and she should use it as much as she needs. When I saw her tonight, she’d requested it twice. So she knows she has the ability to “ask, and she shall receive.” (I also said there are thousands of people out there committing crimes to get access to the kinds of drugs she has available to her, so she should just go ahead and jump on that bus. She smiled but knew what I was getting at.)

Fifth, she loves you Patch People. She really loves you. She thanks you. She wants to get right back on here and read all your thoughts. I’m confident she will, it’s just a matter of time and of all the right pieces falling into place (i.e: clearing up the infection, making sure she’s stable enough and comfortable enough to make any kind of transition out of the hospital.) We’ve got family and friends visiting in the coming days and so I encourage you to give a call at home if you care and to keep checking this blog for updates, which I promise I’ll do.

So I guess maybe you get the message: Leave a note! Anything. Leave it twice. Three times. Think of Frank, too. Send some thoughts up once and a while.

Thanks,
gina

Posted by: annefisler | March 23, 2009

From the couch.

You probably don’t know that my mom has been in the hospital again, this time for just two nights, to help her breathe better. She had two great roommates and got instruction in how to use her inhaler and nebulizer. They’re both respiratory therapies that help shrink inflammation but not tumors in her lungs, thus giving her a little bit more air to breathe. She was kind of reluctant to go home because it was so safe in the hospital and she’d had a horribly bad morning Wednesday morning before going to the ER that she was on the afraid side of things. But she’s home now and pretty much on the couch and relaxing or in the recliner and feeling so exhausted, but not panicking because she’s been here before. She had a visit from the VNA the day after she got home and Kelly will be coming tomorrow (Monday) and that always makes her feel more confident.

She thanks everyone for all the comments and when she does get to write the next post by herself she’s afraid she won’t be able to do the regular reply to the Patch because there’s so many comments. Dr. Susan said it is still too early for her to know whether the new chemo drug is doing anything, so she’s still holding out hopes for that. Could be a number of weeks more to know anything there.

Thank you again for your continued thoughts and prayers and know that she’s happy that I’m home to hang out with her. Phone calls are hard to handle for her now because it takes a lot of breath to talk, but visitors in the afternoon perk her up. Joyce came by today and brought food and slipper-socks (which she says she desperately needed). She is also looking quite fashionable in a navy blue bathrobe—regal, I might say—so along with photos of said slipper-socks, she will post a few of her in her royal blues.

Posted by: annefisler | March 16, 2009

A girls’ day out

“Out” is a relative term, but almost anything is out compared to my life recently – inside the car, and inside the house.  So when I got a visit from Joyce and Diane on such a beautiful day as yesterday (and Lynne was already here), I decided to try my new O2 conserver regulator that I’d gotten on Thursday.  Naturally, we all had our cameras, and you can imagine that it was worse than a wedding, where everyone wants the same shot on their own camera – poor Frankie was clicking a mile a minute!  And we even managed to get him in a few (although, sad to say, not on mine – oh well, it was a girls’ day out, after all….)

First of all, though, here’s two shots of a beautiful bouquet that was sent to us by one of the other Traveling Hoodies, klink  (now I realize I should have taken pictures of Ellen’s roses and Catherine’s chrysanthemums, but I just can’t get everything done it seems…).

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When we headed outside after getting the new O2 conserver regulator correctly set up ( I tried it a few days ago and promptly let ALL the air out of the tank), we made a stop at the big rock near the birdfeeders.  Lynne looks great in this shot, but I look like the Frito Bandito guy (with a cockeyed mustache).  I really should have used the black magic marker to emphasize the mustache, but probably you all have good enough imaginations to see it the way it is here.

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 Then I jump back a few decades, and all of a sudden I’m Casper the Friendly ghost (but at least I’m friendly). 

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 We all managed to walk (very slowly) down to the river.  Joyce is the only one who is shorter than I, so I had my arm over her shoulder on one side, and Diane’s arm on the other.  To say I was being well looked out for is an understatement.  When we got down to the river, I was glad to see that the Arcadian fireplace from last summer was still in place (great job, Amy and Weezie).  You can see the little carry case that came with the O2 regulator in the background, leaning against the fireplace.  Also in this picture you’ll see my one chance of appearing taller than Lynne (I was on a hill).

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 We all took our time walking back up the hill toward the house, and then took a few more photos.  This is a pretty nice shot of the three of us – me flanked by two gorgeous red-bedecked gals

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 And,  just to prove that she always means what she says, here is Lynne, having wrestled me to the ground,  giving me noogies in a giant headlock – BUT – guess who’s still smiling and smelling like a rose?   Ho ho ho – Why, the PQ, of course!  

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 We all had a great time being together again yesterday.  We (including Frank) enjoyed a yummy quiche from a local coffeehouse/bakery, the Village Cup, and those guys all had some fine wine with their meal as well.  We’ll have another mini reunion when Lynne flies back up here in June. 

 I just realized that I can’t just write about all the socializing that’s been going on – I need to do a little medical update as well so……

When my neighbor drove me in to the ER on Friday, things were happening kind of fast.  My breathing was becoming labored quickly, and in that mode it gets a little scarey and panicky.  I’m so grateful that my VNA nurse, Kelley, was here to give me guidance and recommend that I go in to get seen.  She called her supervisor, who then called ahead with all my info to the ER so that my arrival and intake would be quick and smooth (which it was).  I’m also so very grateful to my neighbor, Deanna, for driving me and staying with me the whole time.  She was a really good advocate for me while I was in there, too, because if she thought something was taking too long, she’d go check it out.

They gave me a lung Xray (saw no extra fluid buildup, which was good), blood tests and a urinalysis ( I can now perform that one at the drop of a hat – or should I say pants?  Ha ha ha!).  No sign of infection – again good.  So they wanted to increase my Prednisone dose back up to the 60 mg. level.  That was the opposite of what I’ve been doing for Dr. D, so I wanted them to get ahold of him to make sure we were all in agreement on the course of action to take.  They did get him, and they agreed on the level of Prednisone I should be on for the next few days.  This morning (Monday) I called his office to find out how he wants me to start tapering off from the higher dose this time.  Prednisone does help with tissue inflammation in the lungs (but not with tumor shrinkage), so anything that can be done to get me more room in my lungs for O2 is good.  It thus helps with energy – but all of these problems I’ve recently had have taken a toll on me, which will take a while to recuperate from.  Luckily, Gina will be arriving this Saturday, and I know she will be a great help to me.  I still am slated to have an appointment with Dr. D  on March 31st so he can check me out.  I just hope I don’t get in trouble again coming down from the Prednisone – maybe I’ll just have to stay at a certain level and then judge by a scan whether or not the chemo is doing something good.  Breathing is job #1, after all….

I adjust my O2 level up or down, depending upon how I’m feeling.  I’ve always been a little reluctant to increase it, thinking that somehow I’m “losing” by doing so – but I’m quickly getting over THAT goofy way of thinking.  When I can breathe, the whole world is a different place….   Things will be sort of quiet this week – Lynne leaves tomorrow morning, and there doesn’t look like anything else is scheduled on the calendar – who knows – maybe I can even finish up my hooking project!  So that’s all of my current medical update.  And now to the Patch. ( Because Lynne wrote this post, she’s going to be the one to give the replies, and here she goes):

Joyce:  What fun it was to spend some much over-due time with you and Diane yesterday….we couldn’t have planned better weather or a better lunch. Great quiche and vino……I’ll be returning (hopefully with a stronger back), at the beginning of the summer, so get ready for another wonderful time. Keep our beloved P.Q. in line (yes, I know that’s quite the task)……

Tico:      How fun it was to see your response…..thanks my friend. The Loving Spoonful……wow…always enjoyed their music and I’m proud to say I remember all the words to that song and others…..am I old or what? How many Patch People reading this even know who the heck this band is I’m speaking of? Come on….own up!!!

Lee:       Hello fellow Patch Person! Happy to report,my back is indeed better and seeing as though I’m flying home tomorrow morning, the ride will hopefully be better going South than coming up North…that was one sore flight. Thanks for the nice words re: my blogging “attempt”…it’s been fun….

Robyn (aka:Swoosh):     Hey Robbie……we should get the Frank Man to write a blog now and then…..right….that ain’t gonna happen because he knows the Ponderosa Girl(A.K.A. Sweep) does the best ever job of keeping all of us connected. See you at the airport around noon…..XO more than my luggage….

Debbie:   And well I remember you…….nice to “speak” with you on Tina’s blog. We are truly enjoying our visit, and thanks for commenting on my guest blog. I enjoyed being her “stand-in”….

Weeziie:   Weezie…we saw three movies(all good ones) and I put a dent in not only her eggnog, but of course her JD…ummmmmm gooooood….thanks for your kind words about my writings. I truly enjoyed saying hello to all you Patch People…We’ll be staying close intouch through the P.Q’s wonderful blog. Til then……love you all….XOL.L.

Posted by: annefisler | March 14, 2009

Friday the 13th … the stage is set

The P.Q. has bestowed upon me the distinct honor of sitting in and being her “guest blogger”….how great is this I ask?  Hopefully, I’ll due her proud. So, with this in mind,let the story begin………I flew up from tropical,beautiful Sarasota,Florida only to arrive with a lower back problem which escalated on my flight and by the time I landed, I looked like an old woman(I don’t care to age myself anymore than I normally have to),all hunched over – simply stunning looking…..By evening’s end, I was “walking/crawling” like some weirdo cartoon character; trying hard not to complain(I only seem to have three degree’s of comfort zones on any good given day) and of course, this didn’t work. My smiles were forced and I knew I was in for it…….The following morning, Frank had to take me to a walk-in clinic at a local hospital to get some much needed care and as we were leaving the house, Tina had her lovely Kelley(her visiting VNA nurse)arrive, who weekly checks in on Tina’s progress and monitors her breathing.Tina had mentioned that night I arrived that she felt she wasn’t receiving enough oxygen through her machine and uppped  her level a small amount. So, here’s Friday the 13th and while Frank and I sit awaiting a doctor to alleviate my discomfort, Tina , we find out through Kelley(who called Frank),was being driven into Burlington by a neighbor to check in through the emergency room to get a look-see at certain lung sounds Kelley thought important to have checked out. Being a Friday, it was indeed a smart move to get our P.Q. to  see a doctor since once a weekend hits, it’s tough……..so, here’s Frank….sitting in one hospital with me, the wonderful houseguest, and his beloved wife sitting in another hospital…….Yikes!!!!!!  Gotta love the scenerio of it all…..Poor Frank….what a guy!!!!!!!  The upside is, we both came home that same day(yeppeeeee) and happy to report, we all slept well that evening. Tina is breathing much easier today(my back is somewhat better too) and the P.Q. will be updating you all on her next blog with the latest medical info. So, with Friday the 13th neatly tucked away until next year, I’m happy to say a grand “hello” to all you Patch People and to let you know we’re enjoying our time being together. The weather is sunny and beautiful and tonight with Frank attending a fire fighter’s dinner, I’m cooking a fun meal followed by a movie I rented. We’re going to be two bugs laying up in a very comfortable rug…Love to all you Patch People who help keep our beautiful Queen on the positive and happy path. Tomorrow I’m planning on getting her little pinhead into a great headlock and wrestling her to the ground…..just kidding……or not?  XO L.L. (aka: Lynne)

Posted by: annefisler | March 12, 2009

An Arcadian at D-H

Yesterday (Tuesday) Frank and I got down to D-H early so we could meet up with Judy Carter Campbell.   She’d called a few days before that, wondering whether we could eke out a little visit while she was staying close by at her sister’s house in NH.  Well, she obviously passed Map and Compass at JMG camp (and now with a little help from her car’s trusty GPS), because she arrived right on time – and we did manage to have a short, but sweet, visit.  This woman travels more than anyone else I know, and she’s always doing good works wherever that takes her.  She told me she’s got a firm date for our Rangeley gathering and will soon be letting eveyone know about it.  I got to see a few more pictures of their cruise, and then some very special shots of her gorgeous grandson.  By the way, I’m wearing my special Arcadian Blue and Black jacket, adorned with my JMG pin and 4th level canoeing (what a showoff, eh?  But what else would you expect from a “fast-level-getting-girl” – which is a whole different story that involves Toni and Weezie, and which I can’t go into right now).  Anyway, our visit in the coffee shop was great (Frank kept warning us about the crummy – Ha ha ha – backdrop for our picture), and I can’t wait until our next meeting.

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I had my blood drawn (through my new port), and all was well – and then we went to see Dr. D.   You can see all the notes he takes in his pocket.  It’s so funny – I write down loads of questions on an envelope, he takes the envelope and can totally read my messy writing to answer them – AMAZING!!!

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In a nutshell, he said it was really a bit too soon to tell if the chemo was working, and it is complicated by the fact that I’m still weaning off of my high dose of Prednisone (which has been helping me breathe better and given me a little energy).  What IS true, and which made him “a little relieved”,  is that at least I know I’m not worse, and that’s a good, verifiable thing.  I will see him again in 3 weeks and have a lung Xray – and then again 3 weeks after that, when I’ll have a scan.  In the meantime, still no pimples – although I do have prickly feelings on my scalp when I touch it.   Also, yesterday I got hit with the Big D (and I still don’t mean Dallas), so that de-energized me even more.  The thing about this daily kind of chemo is that I really won’t get a break from the side effects – they will just “fluctuate” in their intensity, Dr. D said.  Oh well, if it works, then I’ll deal….  But I really am exhausted, and this kind of tired doesn’t let me feel too great.

On the positive front:  Lincare came and brought me the humidifier bottle for my O2 concentrator, so maybe that will help my nose even a bit more.  And a nurse from Lincare is coming tomorrow to check me out on that new conserver regulator.  If it works for me and I get enough O2 on it, then starting tomorrow I’ll be a lot more mobile – I just put the smallest tank in a bag and go!!  Walking around outside, or riding in the car – whatever I want to do.  A small tank with the new regulator will last maybe 8 hours or so, so now I can go places a lot more easily without worrying that i may run out of O2.  I just have to start feeling better so that I want to go places….

Lynne arrives tomorrow afternoon, and we’ll be very happy doing NOTHING for a few days.  Actually, Joyce and Diane are coming over for a girls’ lunch on Saturday, but they’re bringing everything.  Now, before my head droops much further and hits my keyboard, it’s off to the Patch:

 klink:  I love being “fetching”!

Craven: Ahh.. there’s that fetching again – plus, “cheerful” (I’m ignoring the “school bus” comment).  The ring is my Skidmore ring, which I never got during college because it looked identical to the Burnham ring.  Then I lost it – so finally at my 25th Skidmore reunion I got one.

Sara:  And now I’m “smashing” – I just love this!

Cousin Tom:  So you just read the saga of my ring –  I’ll have to look at Martha’s Cosgrove ring – I’m not sure I’ve seen it before.  I know you’d be here if you could, don’t worry.

Jane:  Hi down there in the south – I think you may be seeing Emma Lou sometime as she wends her way north.  By the way, my hooking project is near completion.  If I had ANY energy at all right now I could finish it in a day –  but…..

doug and adele:  I just KNEW someone was going to say that about my socks!   14 puppies – YIKES!!  You’d better not forget your camera!   Can’t wait to hear all about them and their antics.  Thanks for the info about those drinks.  I actually like Gatorade, so that’s the one I’ll try first for dry mouth.  I’ll let you know about my BB picks – and, no, Dancing with the Stars is not a show I watch.  I don’t watch any of the shows that have competitons, because I feel too sorry for the ones who get eliminated.

Robyn (aka: Swoosh):  I LOVED the name for your house!!  I want to come and play there, too.  I know I’d get fantastic treatment.  You know that Lynne and I will be calling you guys and keeping you up to date (even though it will be hard to call you when you’re in Lynne’s suitcase).  So glad you’re getting my blog OK now – there’ll be a lot of good posts and pictures coming up here soon!

Jennie:  And now I’m “fiiiine lookin'” – It can’t get much better than this!

Joycey:  Except when my Joycey says I look “greater” than my pictures…. Love you back, and see you Saturday.

Posted by: annefisler | March 10, 2009

Pumpkin mania

Joyce came over yesterday (Sunday), and besides the usual excellent personal shopping she did for me, she also “hemmed” my new workout pants, made me Chai tea, made me laugh, and also took these pictures for the Patch:

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The pumpkin face pillow was given to me by Marja last fall – the sweatshirt came from Lynne – and the pants  were from Adele and Doug.  I don’t know how I could dress any more like a pumpkin queen if you paid me a million bucks.

 Here are the pictures of my haircut, which really show how thick and wonderful my hair is growing in – though a teensey wild at times…..

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Later in the day I got a visit from Erica and Paula.   Erica is Art’s (and my) first grandchild, and technically thus Gina’s niece – although she is only 5 or 6 years younger.  Paula is her Mom, and my claim to fame here is that I was her PE teacher back when she was in 7th and 8th grade.  Today she’s a very fit woman, so I told her that’s because of all those laps we used to make them run – ha ha ha!  Anyway, we had a wonderful time catching up with one another, and I had a lot of fun.  By the way, Erica, who is in fashion design, told me that I’m the only person she knows who could get away with my orange pumpkin outfit!!

Today I spent entirely on the couch, mostly sleeping.  I don’t know if I’ve managed to make a dent in my sleep deficit, but I plan to sleep the whole car ride down to D-H tomorrow as well.  Poor Frank – he’ll have no one to talk to.  My guess is that he’ll just eat more Doritos to keep himself awake….  Now I’m heading for the Patch, and then it’s off to bed for this PQ:

L-L:  I have NO idea why I said only 40 hours in my last post – I guess it was just wishful thinking.  And thanks, but no thanks, about that Wasabi – I still need my nose to stay on my face….

Amy:  Thanks – and I’ll take every saint I can get!

gina:  Thanks, honey – glad to know I haven’t lost it.

Sara:  I’d LOVE to come to your hose and play – who knows??

Duke:  I really like knowing that Tico and I are part of your mosaic sounds so cool!  I’d love to see that cartoon of Tico, if it would be possible.

Rags:  Like I’m not going to remember YOU!!!  Ha ha ha!!!   Thank you so much for reading and taking the time to comment (even if it took two tries).  I’m so happy to hear from voices from the past, and I thank you for your nice comments.  Hope you’ll continue to read…..

Penny (aka: Pen-Pen):  I guess it will be a go tomorrow as far as seeing Judy – the weather will be good for driving, although since she needs to get back to help her sister she won’t be able to stay and meet Dr. D. – oh well, maybe another time.  And hopefully I’ll be seeing you, too, either here at home or at Rangeley (smiley face, smiley face).

Anne:  Thanks for the tip about Boroleum.  My nasal problem has greatly improved just in these last few days with the reduction of O2 blowing, and also with the ointment that Joyce brought over for me.  But I’ll definitely keep the other product in mind.  Glad to have another convert to Funfetti – let me know what you think whenever you do make the cake.  I don’t know one person who doesn’t love it.

Weezie:  I’ll be sure to give your best to Judy.  We won’t have a lot of time, but you KNOW we’ll pack in a lot of talk and laughs!

 

 

 

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