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.
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.
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.
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