Art Verdi is in the hospital after having suffered two heart attacks

Art Verdi relaxed

 

Written by Art Verdi’s oldest son, Gary

The headline is pretty self-explanatory so I will just do a quick rundown of events. Forgive the bluntness of this but as you can imagine my focus isn’t on eloquence at the moment.  The time and dates below are the best I was able to remember based on internet time stamps and descriptions I received verbally from my family.

All times and dates are US East Coast time

Sunday afternoon (Feb 3)

I started receiving messages from family back in New Jersey that my father was in the hospital with a minor heart attack. Apparently, the night before he started having nosebleeds that he couldn’t get to stop and my aunt (his sister) took him to the emergency room.  Once there the doctor’s determined that he had a minor heart attack and so they (I assume) sedated him and put him in a private room.

Art Verdi wakes up

I believe it was the next day or the day after that he woke up.  We were all very optimistic as he was awake, alert, and breaking the nurses’ and doctors’ balls incessantly.  This is vintage Art Verdi.

He was still pretty weak and when I spoke with him he was having a lot of trouble talking because he was out of breath. Apparently, he was out of bed (for some reason I don’t know). Once he was back in bed we spoke briefly on the phone and the first thing he asked me was,

“What’s the score?”

I thought he meant what’s going on with me or whatever but it turned out he wanted an update on that day’s NY Knick’s game. Art is an avid sports fan. I have to admit I was completely taken by surprise. I guess I shouldn’t have been because I know how important sports is to my father.  However, I was still shocked because here I am, his oldest son, calling to talk to him for the first time since he was admitted and his first words to me are an inquiry about a basketball game. ha ha ha ha ha  Again, this is typical Art Verdi.

Later that same day when I spoke to my brother, also named Artie but not a Junior because his middle name is different, he told me that pop had asked him the same question about the score of the game. We both laughed pretty hard about that and a few other things because we knew this meant our father was feeling better. That’s what made this next part so difficult for us.

February 6, at around 11 AM

My father stopped being responsive and had a massive heart attack. As of right now he is on a respirator to alleviate the stress on his heart.

February 7, 2013 8 PM

I just woke up 20 minutes ago and my first call was to my brother for an update.  (Remember, I live in the Philippines so I am 13 hours ahead of my family in NJ). I just spoke to my brother who left the hospital a couple of hours ago. The doctor’s had considered taking dad off the respirator this morning but they didn’t. I guess they felt his heart still wasn’t strong enough and I am told they will re-evaluate tomorrow. I was relieved because yesterday when I was informed they would “pull the plug” this morning to see how he does I knew there was a 50/50 chance of his survival. So hearing he is still with us was a huge relief.

I was also informed that in addition to having a weakened/weak heart he also has a damaged liver and that his kidneys have shut down as well. I knew about the heart and I thought I knew about the liver but to be honest I have been in a bit of a fog as of late (understandably) so I am not sure if I knew for sure. I do now. The news about the kidneys is brand new information for me.

From what I am told his brain is undamaged so if he pulls out of this he should be normal with the exception of what his body has been through.

February 10, 2013

Early this morning my brother, Artie (not a junior because his middle name is different from our father’s) told me that the doctor’s were hoping to take dad off the respirator today.   There was no set time for this because they are going to base their decision on his vital signs and overall condition. I have mixed feelings about taking him off the respirator. On one hand it is keeping the stress off his heart giving it a chance to recover while keeping him stable. On the other hand, and this is why they want to take him off the respirator, while it is letting his heart rest and get stronger it is also weakening it. The heart is basically a muscle and unused muscles lose strength. As a result, the longer he is on there the harder it will be for his heart. My brother made a good point I hadn’t considered. He reminded me that the respirator is also controlling his lungs and the longer pop is on it the harder it will be for him to breathe on his own once taken off.

I was up until 1 AM, my time, (12 noon Jersey time) because I was told if they don’t do it by around 10 AM or 11 AM then they won’t do it at all that day. I figured I would add a little buffer time because if they did remove him I wanted to wait a couple of hours to see how he does. When I didn’t get an update I just went with the “no news is good news” assumption and I went to bed. When I awoke this morning (10 PM Jersey time) I found a message from my brother saying he is still on the respirator, there is no change, and now where the IV was inserted is a bacterial infection, which I am told is bad.

On one hand I am happy he is still with us but the longer this draws out on the machine the harder this will be for him later.

This is very difficult for my family

This is taking a horrible toll on my brother and my aunt (dad’s sister).  They are both at the hospital daily and I can only imagine how difficult that must be. I am spared that pain being away from home but my pain is in not knowing what is going on. I am at the mercy of my family in regards to updates and I am not there with my dad. So I am spared one pain only to experience another.

February 11, 2013

At 12:30 PM (Jersey time) I spoke to my brother who told me that our pop has made some improvement. I want to stress that although the improvement is relatively minor, my family and I are taking this news as a huge morale booster. The way I understand it is he is still on the respirator, but he did briefly open his eyes and he is moving around a little bit. The doctor seemed unimpressed when my brother told him about the eyes opening but he’s also a bit numb to the entire thing as he sees this stuff everyday.

I’m told that the next step is to run some tests for artery blockages and then take him off the respirator and possibly insert some splints to open the arteries when and where necessary.

My brother and I were laughing a little bit because my father didn’t open his eyes until my brother told him that the Yankees pitchers and catchers reported for spring training. My father is a sports nut but he is an avid Yankee and Knicks fan. It made us chuckle because even when staring death in the face his main concern is his two teams. I tell you. They don’t make diehard fans like that anymore!!!

February 15, 2013

When I talked to my brother last night he told me that our father is at a crossroads. The doctors tried taking him off the ventilator but he couldn’t breathe on his own so they had to put him back on it. My brother told me that he thought the doctors were going to ask for a decision as to what to do next.  That was last night.

My brother is at the hospital RIGHT NOW and he told me that my father was raising his arms today. The arm raising was a sign that he could understand and it is also his response. “Raise your arms if you can her/understand me” kind of a deal.

The following are quotes from my brother,

“Was just with pop. I was talking to him. He looked right at me. Eyes are open.”

“I asked him if he wanted to go home and watch Yankees spring training. He slowly an barely nodded his head yes.”

“They make you wear a plastic apron and latex gloves because of some virus he has. I told him I felt like a douchebag wearing it and his chest started moving in and out faster as if he was laughing.”

I don’t know about all of you, but to me that sounds like a man who is aware. The doctors agree that his brain is undamaged, so now we just need his heart and lungs to start working right.

February 19, 2013

I just heard from my brother who had just gotten home from the hospital. Our father is awake and alert. Unfortunately, he is stilll on the ventilator due to his inability to breathe on his own. As good as the news is about him being awake the fact that he is still on this machine is very distressing.

At any rate, we are all very happy that he is alert and awake. He was responding to questions and he is coherent.  My brother said when he woke up there was a Yankee game on and my father thought he was unconscious all the way from February to May or June. Understandable reaction, but my brother put his fears at ease by pointing out that the game was old.

“Jim Leyritz is batting. Is he an active Yankees player?”

Dad answered no”How about the guy on base? Is Tino Martinez still with the Yankees?”

Again, dad indicated no.

“How about Derek Jeter? Active Yankee player?”

This time he indicated Yes.

When I say he is responding to questions I don’t mean verbally. They removed the ventilator tube from his mouth but they inserted it through his neck via a tracheotomy. He is still unable to speak but he can nod his head and give other visual clues.

I am dying to call but there is no cell phone reception in the room he is in and the doctors don’t want him getting excited or upset so I have to wait. I did tell my brother to give dad an update on his granddaughters (my kids). The oldest, six year old Nicole/Nikki, has been learning the Pledge of Allegiance and has it about 80% memorized. Everyday after school we recite it while looking at the picture below.  Samantha (22 months old) won’t go to sleep unless I lay down with her and she was up until 1 AM last night. Once I laid down with her she passed right out.

Bald eagle head and American flag with the pledge of allegiance

February 20, 2013

I got a message from my brother on Facebook. AND I QUOTE…

“Pop ok today. Starting to breathe on his own. Slowly taking him off ventilator daily. Less and less each day. He cried a lot which was breaking my heart but I’m good at calming him down. Positive day minus the crying. Very upsetting knowing he’s so sad. I don’t show him it bothers me. I stay positive whole time.

His doctor is amazed!”

I called him an hour later (we just finished talking) and he told me how they are slowly backing him off the ventilator which is something one of my cousins had asked me about a day or two ago. I didn’t have the answer at the time and I intended to ask but I got my answer before I had to.

Overall dad is doing better and is still alert but we just need to get him over this hump with his heart and lungs.

Keep it up pop! You’ll get through this.

February 22, 2013

I haven’t spoken to my brother yet but I woke up to find the following message from him on Facebook.

“Pop has been moved to a new hospital today. He’s very alert now. Still on ventilator but that’s why he is here. It’s to get him off and than physical therapy. He’s not tied down anymore either. Can move his hands which he “nods” yes he’s more comfortable. Still can’t talk but I told him you and the kids have been prying and he smiled. He looks good a lot of smiling today. No crying.good stuff.”

March 17, 2013

I did miss one update a week or two ago. I started to type it and got sidetrack with a minicrisis and never came back to it. At any rate, here’s the lowdown on my father.

According to my brother, dad was moved to a third facility for some rehab. He has been off the ventilator for some time now and they are helping  him to walk and swallow food again. You have to figure certain things are going to be hard after being laid up in a bed with a tube in you for so long.  Apparently, he will be ready to go home in about a week but he will have to be watched closely.

I have to say we are all incredibly happy but I think amazed is another good adjective to use. My brother certainly is amazed and I know I am as well.

Pray for Art

I may not be a religious man but my father is and I know he believes strongly in the power of prayer, as does most of my family. So it is for them, and for my father, that I ask for your prayers, good thoughts and well wishes.  I will do my best to keep this up to date with new information as I receive it.

I am sorry it took so long to get this up here but I have been preoccupied and my family wouldn’t let me do this until everyone in the family was informed.

Spreading the news

If you have read this article please CLICK one (or more) of the social media buttons below.

Following in grandpa’s footsteps

I had to go to the mall today to buy some blank discs and pay my internet bill and run a few other errands. So, we were walking passed a music store and she ripped her hand out of my hand and ran inside. At first I was angry because she knows she’s supposed to hold my hand at all times. When I chased her inside and saw what she was looking at my first reaction.was, “Grandpa would love the sight of this!” LOL

I looked at the price and it was like 5500 pesos ($130) and I said to her,

“I’m sorry baby but this is way too loud and way too expensive.”

Then I added in my head, “…for a five year old in MY house.”

She said her famous line, “Grandpa will buy it for me.” to which I responded, “Ya know Nikki I wouldn’t be shocked if he did.” And so we took this picture.

Then of course we ended up walking through the toy section of a department store and she saw another kids drum set that was a bit smaller and less sturdy cheaper but I wasn’t buying that one either.

I’m starting to think she might have the music bug because this is not the first time she’s shown an interest in the drums. Add to that when I show her your videos she sits captivated and makes me show her video after video.

I know this mght be bitter sweet for you because on one hand you are happy your granddaughter may be following in your footsteps but considering she’s not there for you to see it or to teach her that must be hard.

The Glenn Miller Story

Lately, I have been on a Jimmy Stewart movie kick. So today I got around to watching The Glenn Miller Story. Pop, as you know I am not a musician so I had no idea that Gene Krupa was in this movie.  As if that isn’t enough, it’s a star studded cast as well. Imagine a movie with:

  • Jimmy Stewart
  • June Allyson
  • Harry Morgan
  • Louis Armstrong
  • Ben Pollack
  • Gene Krupa

I have to say I wasn’t sure if I was going to like this movie or even be able to appreciate it but I did and listening to his music I heard songs that I always liked and never knew were his.

I really liked watching the Krupa drum solos but the duet he does behind Louis Armstrong was really cool too.

One funny thing was I saw Ben Pollack playing the drums in the beginning of the movie and I thought that was Krupa. I had to actually look it up to find out it wasn’t. I had no idea (at that point in the movie) that Krupa was playing himself in the movie nor did I know he played with Miller.

Thank You Grandpa!

Nikki thanking Grandpa Art for the birthday money.

(Please read the description under the video.)

Her birthday (as you know) was November 13th which was a Sunday. So we had Samantha baptized that morning and there was a small baptismal party immediately after. The baptismal party and Nikki’s birthday party kind of slammed into each other as people started to arrive for the birthday some of the baptismal guests just hung around.

I spend the entire day and night chasing around 20 or so plus kids and since we had the street blocked off it wasn’t too bad but I also didn’t like the idea of the 3 and 4 year olds running halfway down the block.

Nikki had a GREAT time but as soon as the kids left she started getting bored. I said to Jenn that it was messed up that the birthday girl was the only one not having fun. (There was only adults left by around 8:30 or 9 PM.

I allowed the karaoke to continue until 10 or so but by then most of the guests were gone and I was exhausted from chasing kids and having gotten up so early in the morning for the baptismal. So at that point I shut it down and started packing up tables and chairs which signified to people THE PARTY’S OVER! ha ha ha

Nikki got mostly clothes for presents as did Samantha.

When I get paid I will buy a card reader to get the pictures off the camera since no one can find the USB cable. When I get those I will upload those as well.

Samantha is progressing well

She’s finally figured out how to turn herself over onto her belly. Her little personality is also coming out. She’s definitely a  happy baby as well. Even when she is sick she is still generally a happy child. The only time she is angry is when she is hungry and she screams bloody murder!!! LOL

Last night she slept in her crib and when we moved upstairs she woke up and decided it was playtime. Jenn and Nikki were both exhausted and I had to play with her till almost 1 AM and she was definitely in the mood to play.

She is  still a very vain little girl who loves to be told she’s pretty and stuff. She gets this HUGE smile on her face and it’s so cute.

She really loves to be outside too. She will just stare at the trees and watches the people and the cars that go by. She loves watching motorcycles go by because they make so much noise.

Nikki is sooo funny!

I finished teaching 3 classes tonight and I am downstairs holding Samantha and Nikki tells me.

“Daddy, you go upstairs and use the computer.”

I told her I couldn’t because I was holding her sister and Nikki tells me,

“I will hold the baby daddy You go  upstairs.”

I told her she was too small to hold the baby and she tells me,

“Lay her here (on the couch) and I will watch her.”

This kid is hilarious!  She wanted me back on the computer because I told her I would create a program to make it easier for her to switch between her movies on my computer. Now if she wants to change she has to ask for help and it’s frustrating for her (AND ME!) So I guess she is in a hurry for me to finish it.

 

Last night she had me rolling to. She tells me,

“My muscles hurt.”

I laughed and asked her which ones hurt and she tells me,

“My elbow hurts.” and she holds her elbow. LOL

Earlier the same day she is watching her cartoon, BRATZ and tells me,

“Daddy, I want to go to New York and be a model.”

I had to laugh because normally she is talking about going to New Jersey to see snow so this was a switch.

Happy Birthday Samantha!!!

Well, Samantha is 3 months old today. She was born at 1:08 AM on May 1st Philippines time. That was 1 PM April 30th for you guys.

Anyway, she is getting bigger. She’s so big now it hurts my back to hold her but she gets her cranky moods where if you don’t stand and sing and dance while holding her she will scream bloody murder.

Jenn was complaining before because I was in a class (50 minutes) and Jenn had to hold her the whole time and Sammy was awake the whole time. I came down and took her and with in 3 minutes she was sound asleep in my arms.  Jenn says, “How come she sleeps for you but I hold her for an hour and nothing?”  I said. “Well, Nikki was a mommy’s girl and Sammy is a daddy’s girl. What can I say?”

It reminds me when Nikki was Sammy’s age and if Jenn or her mother were not around at 9 or 10 at night to put Nikki down she’s going nuts! Nikki would scream for hours if necessary until one of those two held her till she fell asleep. When Jenn’s brother got into the motorcycle accident and Jenn spent like a week at the hospital I went insane with Nikki. LOL LOL  So i guess this is payback.

Anyway, Sammy is getting more alert and doing more and more. I think I told you she watches TV now. She also can turn herself. We lay her down and come back a few minutes later and this kid is pointing a different direction. She’s also close to turning herself over as well. I have to look it up but I think that’s advanced for a 3 month old.

Anyway, we have to borrow Jenn’s brother’s camera so we can get some more pictures.  I got some work to do so I’m closing this out.

Pasta

Well, according to Nikki it is magarones or something. So I taught her to correctly say Macaroni. The I taught her Pasta. But spaghetti still comes Basgetti or something like that.

She’s right here bouncing around like a lunatic right now. I won’t let her jump on the bed because I have to get it set up for bed. Otherwise, she and her dirty little barefeet would be jumping up and down on it like a Mexican jumping bean.

 

She says to me, “What you doing daddy?” I told her, “Going to grandpa’s website.” She says to me, “Can I see grandpa?” So now I will get to spend the next 20 minutes showing her videos of you and that will turn to questions about Jersey which will lead to questions about snow which will mean I will have to YET AGAIN show her pictures and video of snow which she is fascinated by. LOL

Update on your granddaughters

Let’s see. Samantha turns 3 months old August 1st and she not only holds her head up but she also has a thing for Barney (the purple dinosaur). Nikki watches it and Samantha gets all excited.  I know she likes the sound, movement, and the colors but she seems to really respond when the Barney character shows up. She’s funny. I will hold her against my chest facing away and she will lean forward and hold her little head up. It’s so cute!

Jenn has been leaving me alone with Samantha lately and she cracks me up because she asks, “Can you handle her alone?” It’s funny because this is our second child and I have done the baby thing already so why would I not be able to do it? The kid sleeps most of the time. When she wakes either stick a bottle in her mouth of hold/carry her and she’s usually happy. Maybe do some dancing and singing while holding her and she goes to sleep. Kids at that age (at least my 2 kids) are pretty easy to handle.

Actually, Samantha had a fever for a couple days and for the most part she was still a happy kid. Smiles and laughs and just slept through a lot of it. Nikki was the same way at that age. I guess I am pretty lucky. Nikki is actually pretty good still. She  plays a lot by herself and watches her movies and stuff. She has learned how to operate the DVD player and my computer. She turns it on for me in the morning and has her own log in and knows how to log in and knows how to open her internet games and play. She can even switch between them.

I will write more later. I have some classes to teach right now.

Lesson: Left Hand Finger Technique

Left Hand Focus at Different Speeds

I find that most drummers do not hold the stick with proper leverage, which is essential for a good rebound stroke. Some drummers hold the stick to far to the end and others to close to the middle of the stick. Neither way offers proper leverage for a good rebound. There is sweet spot on the stick that gives a drummer the best possible rebound. The Billy Gladstone style of playing has a lot to do with letting the stick do half of the work by getting the best possible rebound. If you hold the stick loosely in the fulcrum and just bounce the stick with the right hand you should find the best leverage. If you hold the stick to far to the end you can see how the stick dies after a few rebounds. A lot of drummers move their wrist when trying to use finger technique using traditional grip. This limits the stick’s movement to the speed of the wrist. The finger muscles are smaller and can move faster than the wrist muscles and if trained properly will offer greater speed and control.

If you find it very difficult to move the fingers alone, try the following. Hold the wrist with the right hand and practice just moving the fingers over the stick for 15 to 20 minutes a day. You will develop an ability to move the fingers independently with out wrist movement. You will start to manipulate the rebound of the stick using just your fingers with practice and time. A straight well balanced stick is very important when developing this technique. I always use Pro-Mark 5A Drumsticks with Nylon Tips, which through the years I have found to be perfectly balanced, and everytime I buy new ProMark sticks I am very satisfied.

Using both a metronome and a drumometer together will enhance your finger technique. I recommend keeping a log for each. The metronome helps keep the time and the drumometer records the speed. Practicing the finger technique with the left hand using this method will result in an increase in speed while finger control is maintained or improved.

For example, if you play left hand eighth note triplets at 160 with the metronome, the drumometer would read out 480 after one minute. If you maintain good finger control and can increase your metronome speed, the drumometer speed will show the speed increase.

The first three videos are one exercise at a relaxed pace, allowing the sticks do half of the work. We broke it down to 3 videos so it will be easier to download. Each video increases in speed by 3 beats on the metronome. I am not playing any substitutions with the right hand. When the right hand hits the drum I am going into a sixteenth note triplet or half a triplet. The left hand is playing without missing a stroke. There is no gimmick or trick to this, just practice.

Practicing without stopping, relaxed and not at top speed for long periods of time will strengthen the finger muscles. The goal is to have the strength to play faster when the music requires it. If you can do 160 playing triplets for a minute, then practice 150 for 15 or 20 min. In time you will find that you will be able to play more than 160 for a minute.

I prefer to practice with a tap button on the metronome. Your relaxed speed for 15 or 20 minutes will normally differ on a daily basis. Don’t strain or create a lot of tension, just start your endurance exercises where you are that day and work with it. If you feel a strain or a lot of tension then stop for a while, regroup, lower your speed and continue. The short term practice will eventually increase the long term goal of increased control and speed. Finger technique has a lot to do with controlling muliple strokes such as double stroke rolls, paradiddles and all the rudiments. These will be included in my technique video, soon to follow.

Single Strokes Both Hands

Watch Art Play Single Strokes Both Hands

In this video, I am not playing at top speed at all. I am playing very relaxed and working with the rebound of the sticks. This is an example of playing a single stroke roll using the Billy Gladstone method and letting the stick do half the work.

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