We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...

We Climbed before the Klimb 4 Kim...
1997's Climb

Monday, November 21, 2011

Sometimes, it's the oxygen that haunts me....

"Whew, busy weekend here at the Conca household. Kim keeps improving, slowly, each day. We've been able to knock her oxygen intake down to 2 liters (and unplugged it once, just for fun). Saturday, we kept Kim entertained with movies and worked on helping her be able to regain some independence. She can now do her hair after I help her shower, as we have placed a chair in the bathroom - sounds like such a small thing, but it gives Kim a sense of accomplishment. She continues to have a good appetite and loved the ham, focaccia bread and turtle pie that my sister, Laur and her family sent out to us. It is amazing how fast the time goes, as we go from breakfast, shower, into lunch, nap, into dinner, meds in between, a nice shot of Lovenox to the stomach and off to bed!

Today, Kim felt even stronger...we were able to venture outside, despite it being perhaps the coldest day of fall, so far, at around 67 degrees and blustery. It was her first walk outside since being admitted to St. Joseph's on Oct. 19th. She cried tears of joy, once again, relishing every moment of her time outdoors, the smells, the trees, beautiful mountains and the brilliant blue sky. Of course, she took a long nap following the walk. Dinner was delivered by Sarah Stoner, who was Cody's first grade teacher - a dish the kids could not wait to try...Dorito casserole! It was tasty indeed. Later, our friends Rose, Vito and their son Joe and wife Deanna stopped by with a pantry load of pasta, canned tomato products, olive oil, several types of vinegar, eggplant, peppers, all sorts of biscotti and, to the bambini's delight...a whole case of lupini beans!! The kids LOVE these beans - hard to describe them if you've never had them, but they are a great snack.

Kim is working hard to get off of the oxygen. Tonio has become her little coach. Tonight, as he kissed her goodnight, Tonio picked up Kim's flowmeter and asked what her personal best was so far. Kim told him '750'...Tonio told her 'take a deep breath and you can hit 1000'. Kim explained that she had a long day and was too tired, Tonio persisted and Kim did it! A personal best. Tonio had her repeat it and promised to help her with it again tomorrow. These little guys are such blessings, and when we hit a tough moment in our day, it seems one of them will do something that puts a smile back on our face.

Quiet weekend for the kids...we started our day this morning, by going to church at St. Rita. Our friend, Suzanne Roelike, who works there, had the 9 a.m. Mass dedicated to Kim and was very nice. Jim came along with us and Grammie stayed home with Kim. Jim treated us to breakfast burritos at Nico's, perhaps the best breakfast burritos available and the kids weren't hungry again until dinner! Our neighbors, Tom and Amy took Cody out for some ice cream...Autumn spent the weekend working on her science fair project; 'are dogs color blind?'...Bella is not very interested in partaking in her project, but she is working diligently to get Bella on board. Autumn is also working on a book report, which kept her busy. Tonio loved watching movies with Mama and fell asleep watching the Eagles game with me tonight, which was kind of a nail biter, so I can't believe he didn’t wait up for the final result! Andrea and the girls checked in for a visit today, making Kim smile...  Again, the kids are happy Mama is home and enjoy making her salads, bringing her icy drinks, pillows, etc. The kids also played a great deal of Yahtzee with Grammie and Grandpa Jim...who noticed that the boys often take a few extra rolls, which really helps increase the number of Yahtzee's that they get!

Time is still moving very strangely for us, as we are still in the early stages of this journey, as Kim likes to call it. I find that now, we do have an extra hour or two during the day to just relax, but the rest is packed with taking care of Kim's needs and the bambini's. We keep focused on the day's victories and take each moment at a time. Tomorrow, it gets busy, as Kim gets her power port reactivated and we hope to learn the results of her blood test that will tell us how her kidneys are holding up. Tuesday, an early start with the 6:45 a.m. PT scan - to mark the areas/organs affected by cancer for Dr. Taetle to create his road map and course of action. This test will take several hours and Kim will need to lay flat for an extended period of time...something she has not been able to do since 10/19, so it will be a challenge for her. Later in the afternoon, she has an appointment with her personal physician, Dr. Struthers.

Well, almost time for Kim's pain medication - I just want to say thank you again for all of the positive thoughts and prayers - we're getting there!


          Oxygen...we kind of take it for granted, don't we?  I think, in the back of my mind, I felt that if we could just get Kim off of oxygen, everything would be allright...I kept thinking "What the hell?  Why can't she catch her breath?  Why is she still on oxygen?"  Perhaps a small part of me suspecting the worst, but not wanting to believe...wanting to have faith. 
          And, I wrote to you that this was the 'early stages' of Kimba's journey...except I was wrong.  It was late and I just didn't see it.  Or know it.  I still thought I had this.  I still thought that I had some sort of control, that I could do this.  Maybe not cure Kim directly, but help her back to health.
          Rereading this now, I see the irony in my statement 'personal care' physician...who turned out to be anything but.  Perhaps our doctors, these days, in an effort to outrun insurance costs, overbook patients, preventing them from any real personal care.  In any case, we were blessed that Mario's sister worked in Dr. Struther's office and helped us get in and out of the office much quicker and smoother.
          But, dear reader, the one constant, throughout this whole journey, was you.  And your prayers, well wishes and support...without it...what would we be?
          Rincon Vista PTA:
"Hi Lorraine,
Kim and I just wanted to say thank you for having the PTA donate $100 towards our kid's lunches! That was so generous of you and we really appreciate your help during this challenging time for our family. Kim is improving a little each day. Today, we were able to get her outside to walk for the first time since she was admitted to St. Joseph's back on 10/19. Thanks again for your support! Dave"
          Our neighbor, Amy, had a lot to do with this and was so focused on getting school support for our family.
          From Patti, then the attendance clerk at Cottonwood (mom of Casey Rudzena, Autumn's teacher!);
"Hi Patti, great photo - how did you guys do? Kim had a good day again today - we were able to walk outside - her first time walking outside since being admitted to St. Joe's back on 10/19!! Thanks again for the visit and everything Friday! Dave"
               FIRST walk outside!!!  In over a MONTH!!!  I can't even begin to describe what I feel when I think about that...
              To my sister Laur and her family:
"Hi Laur, Jas and kids,
Thanks so much for the big tub 'o food! I've never seen such a thing! This huge, styrofoam, container arrived and I couldn't imagine what it was. Inside, a beautiful ham, foccacia bread and a pie!! We ate mightily last night and still had some left over for today! Thanks so much, that was so thoughtful of you guys. Also, thanks for all of the prayers, even Jason's parents have been in touch with inspiring words. We appreciate it! Love, Dave"
          And now we send our positive thoughts and prayers to her family, as Jason's mother, Barb, is on her own journey and battle against cancer.  Barb sent us many prayers and well wishes...
         Check this out from Fred Fagliano, fellow Knights of Columbus brother who worked tirelessly for our family:
"Wow, tell Anthony thank you so much! Hope he did well today and had a fun, safe time. You sure have helped span the country with prayer for Kim, Fred. We sure appreciate it! God bless, Dave"

Dave, it sounds like Kim is doing better and she has a huge week coming and then Chemo a week from Monday again. The power of prayer is amazing. My middle son Anthony is racing in the Tour De Tucson today (60 miles) He has been practicing and doing the full 100+ for conditioning for a few weeks now. Although he does not consider himself an elite rider we consider him one and he told us he is dedicating his tour ride to Kim. That was pretty special when he told me that. We are all dialed in to Kim and with prayers coming from NY to Kansas City to Tucson I know we have the landscape covered. God Bless Kim and all of the Conca clan. we love you guys!!!!!

Vivat Jesus,
Fred and his extended family"
       To Vito and his family...Viro's, our safe haven in this storm...
Thanks so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to stop out and see us. It was so nice to see you and Rose and such a surprise to have Joe and Deanna come over too! Those two are such a nice couple, we love to see them.
Jim and I worked to rearrange the small closet that we call a pantry to be able to store all of that food you brought to us!!! It so nice, because none of it will spoil and it will last us a long time! Of course, the kids ate a jar of lupini beans right away and really like the Baresi brand. Kim was so excited you brought rubarb pie, her favorite and had a nice big slice - in fact, we polished off both pies!! That was incredibly generous of you guys, as always, and such a help to us right now. We cannot thank you enough.
Like I said, it was great to see you guys - you all really brightened Kim's day!
Take care,
            We lived on what he put in our pantry in the weeks after Kimmy passed away...
            And the Corbelli family...Jen and Kim once cooked an Italian feast together for the entire Cottonwood teacher/staff team!!
"Thanks so much Jen - you're family has inspired ours, too, and we so appreciate the positive words and all of your prayers! Thanks for the blog link, I'll get working on it and let you know if I need help! Take care, Dave

Hello Dave, Kim & Kiddos,
Please forgive my delay in this email as I've been trying, hoping, and praying to say the words I wish to convey. First and far most, I can not begin to express my joy in the fact that Kim is home now. Home is where the heart is and also where we feel most comfortable. Miles between us has nothing to do with prayers as I hope they have all reached you daily. You are truly an amazing couple, family and friends to many. You have always inspired me to be a better person with the love and happiness that your family emits. I have held you in my heart and in my prayers and will keep you all there always. We often ask...or maybe speaking from myself, WHY? Only HE has the answers. To make us stronger, wiser, more loving? You have already answered that. You're family is strong. You're wise in your guidance and your love is overwhelming. So, how do we overcome? Simply...family and more prayers. Family is a root that runs deep and can never be broken. Prayers are miracles waiting to happen. I write this in hopes that you know, how much we carry you close to our hearts. Speaking for myself, I have held off in writing in the simple fact that words can't express what great expectations I have for all of you. Know that I have prayed, asked my family to pray ( my grandma & mom seem to have a direct lineSmiley emoticon ) and yet prayed some more.
So with that being said, I will leave the link that should be helpful to start a blog. If for any reason you questions or ANYTHING at all...you know where to find me. The blog steps are pretty simple to follow. If you wish to be a bit creative in the process, I'd love to help.
With that being said, Goodnight Conca Family & God Bless!
 Love, Jen"
                   Jen helped a lot with getting Kimmy's blog up and running!!
                  These were the thank you's I was sending out last year this time...
                    ....And I am still thankful for all of the help we received while Kimmy was sick...
                  Tonight, we started prepping for Thanksgiving...the bambini told me "we hafta have Mama's pumpkin roll...and cranberry sauce!!".  I've never made a pumpkin roll.  But I'm about to try.  We did make her cranberry sauce tonight.  And the bambini proclaimed that it was perfect!
                  1 12 oz bag of fresh cranberries
                  1 cup of sugar
                  1 cup of water
                  1 can of mandarin oranges
                  Combine sugar and water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Add the bag of cranberries.  Reduce heat to a low boil and cook for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool to room temp.  Add in oranges and refrigerate.


  1. It is hard to look back knowing what would happen in just a couple weeks, because we all had such hope...

    We take so many things for granted in our life when we should be thankful for our health...I remember last year in our leadership meeting. people were so worried about the Peck's with their new baby and in danger of losing their job. I said, "The Conca's would love to switch places with them."

  2. Mary, that is the sweetest, most meaningful thing that I have heard this year. Thank you so much - you are right, we fall into the busy-ness of our lives and forget...and, it reminds me, that their are other families that probably wish they could switch places with me...Thank you...Dave