Tag Archives: surgery recovery

6 years of carrying a bullet in my shoulder

This past Monday, June 29th, marked the sixth year anniversary of when I was shot. Past years I’ve gathered with family and friends to celebrate and thank God for the incredible miracles He performed that night. Some years I have a dinner or a party and I usually go Mass.

It’s amazing to think back to that night and the days following and see how far I’ve come thanks to the Grace of God and the many, many prayers from friends, family, and even strangers all over the world!

Words cannot even begin to describe how grateful I am to all those who’ve prayed for me, supported me, and have been by my side throughout these past six years as I stumbled my way to recovery. I’ve made mistakes and at times haven’t been the easiest patient. Through all of it, I’ve learned what true friendship looks like and am thankful to those who stuck by me and loved me during the darkest moments of my recovery.

The day I was released from the hospital

The day I was released from the hospital

Six years later I still have some incision pain from the surgery and little issues with swallowing every once in awhile. My energy level still isn’t what it used to be and I’m still pretty jumpy. But I’m incredibly grateful that for the most part I’m fully recovered. I’m also grateful for all the opportunities to share my story and reach out to others who are hurting more than I could possibly imagine.

For the past two years I’ve been speaking to gangsters with the LAPD at Operation Cease Fire and last year I addressed 300 prisoners. If you would have told me that I would be speaking to those who’ve hurt people the way I’ve been victimized I would have thought you were crazy! Yet, with the grace of God and many friends and family praying for me and for them I’ve been able to reach out to them. While I stand in front of them as a victim, I strive to share with them a message of healing and forgiveness.

 

I’m still on my journey of healing and living a life of love and forgiveness and I do that carrying a bullet in my right shoulder. My prayer is that what was meant for death can be used for life!

 

“The God of all grace who called you to His eternal glory through Christ Jesus will himself restore , confirm, strengthen , and establish you after you have suffered a little.” 1Peter 5:10

“Cast all your worries upon Him because He cares for you.” 1Peter 5:7

Speaking to prisoners of a high max security prison.

Speaking to prisoners at a high max security prison.

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splendidly slow

It has been a while since I posted anything regarding Rosario’s medical status.  The good news is she continues to improve splendidly, but slowly.  The great news is she is still complication-free!  Thanks, of course, to your continued prayers!

Rosario hasn’t had the normal physical therapy one might expect after such an intense trauma due to her uninsured status, but she has benefited from the generosity of friends.  One of whom is a massage therapist and is able to keep a watchful eye on Rosario’s muscle tone improvement, at a compassionate discount.

Most of Rosario’s pain, which she still experiences chronically, is on her right side, where the incision was made, and in her lungs whenever she takes a deep breath, yawns or coughs.   Recently, Rose noticed pain on her left side, which concerned her.  She thought there was something wrong with her left lung, but Dad assured her it wasn’t.

“You would have trouble breathing if there was something wrong with your lung,” he told her.  “It’s probably the muscle near your lung.  After all, you did have a tube in there.”

The next time Rosario went for a massage, she mentioned it to her massage therapist.  Maranda felt the culpable muscle and discovered one of Rose’s ribs was out-of-place, most likely caused by the tube that was inserted in the hospital to drain her left lung.  She didn’t notice it before because the pain from the incision was so intense.  Now that it is slowly subsiding, Rosario is able to notice other pain.  I know more pockets of pain is not fun, but it is proof that healing is taking place!

This experience has been eye-opening for all who come in contact with Rosario.  It is difficult for us to comprehend the extent of her injuries and pain. Once in a while, people will try to compare their surgical and medical experiences with hers.  Some do it as a way to almost compete with Rose; others do it so they can relate to what Rosario is going through, still recognizing the difference between their situation and hers.  A few people question her slow rate of recovery, but the doctors said it would take a year.  Rosario isn’t the type of person to mope around, milking her injuries for all they’re worth – she is fiercely independent.  Relying on others hasn’t been easy, but it has been motivating.  Rose has days when she is ready to conquer the world, but the reality of her current physical limitations keeps her from doing so.  Other days, she is exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically.  Still, she does her best to stay positive about life.

On one of Rosario’s ready-to-conquer-the-world days, she made herself lunch: mac & cheese!  It was a HUGE step on her journey back to independence.  Soon, she’ll be whipping out her famous molasses cookies for mass consumption!  Oh, wait – she’s already done that!  Rosario made two batches of cookies over the weekend, with a little help from yours truly.  Pretty soon she will be physically ready to conquer the world – and she will do it with the help of her divinely delicious molasses cookies!

As always, thank you for your continued prayers!  May you have a blessed and holy Christmas!

Posted by Cecilia

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Progess – Slow But Steady = A Carepage Post

Posted Sep 18, 2009 2:15pm

Hey there, family and friends!

I apologize for the lack of updates and email notifications. CarePages has been having issues with the emails. Even if you don’t receive a notification, please feel free to visit the site and leave messages for Rosario.

We’ve reached a ‘slow and steady’ point on Rosario’s road to recovery. This has been good and bad. The ups and downs are not as volitle, but her day-to-day improvement isn’t as noticable, which can trick us into thinking there is no improvement. (This is when Rose needs your wonderful notes of encouragement and prayer to keep her spirits up.)

There isn’t too much to report. Rosario has had some busy weekends visiting family, going to a friend’s wedding, being part of our cheering section at performances, etc. She even got to see the Celebration on the Grand fireworks last week! (We weren’t sure how Rosario would do with the sound of the fireworks, but she was ok.)

The weekdays are tough since most of Rose’s family and friends are at work. There isn’t much she can do yet, which makes for long, boring days. Please pray that we can find something productive for Rosario to do as she continues her recovery.

Also, be sure to check out the photo gallery. We’ve uploaded some more picutres. It is important to realize that even though Rose looks like her amazingly fabulous self, she is still in a lot of pain.

Please keep the prayers and messages coming!

Posted by Cecilia

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Please Pray! – A Carepage Post

Posted Jul 30, 2009 2:40pm

Hi ya’ll! It’s me, Maggie. Rosario and I just got back from her doctor’s appointment. She’s been feeling nausous (I totally spelled that wrong) and threw up last night. This morning we were late to the appointment because she was not feeling well and was tossing her breakfast. We did eventually manage to get out the door and to the doctor. While sitting in the doctor’s office, the dry heaves came. The doctor sounded concerned. He said she was not out of the woods and may get an infection. So, he scheduled an appointment to see her again next week to keep a good eye on her. Please pray that infection doesn’t come into play and that she be relieved of pain and other bodily set backs. Rose is very nervous about the possibility of infection.

On a beautiful note, we got to see Dr.Massimo. He showed us pictures of her esophagus before and after the surgery. He said “look at your medal”. You can see Rosario’s medal with Our Lady of Guadalupe and you can faintly see Our Lady 🙂 BEAUTIFUL! Thank you Mother Mary! Dr.Massimo also gave Rose some trendy exercise moves. Watch out P90X, Rose will give you a run for your money.

When we got home, she walked all the stairs up to the apartment. Rockstar!

This is the first time I’ve seen Rose in over a week at least. I can definately tell she’s getting stronger. She seems a bit discouraged and afraid that she’s having set backs, but the healing process is going to take time. Baby steps Oscar. Baby steps. Oh wait. Actually she’s no longer Oscar. She officially changed her name back to Rosario Guadelupe Rodriguez Schwartz while at the hospital today.

Thank you for the prayers!

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Guilty Feet…. A Carepage Post

Posted Jul 21, 2009 2:04am

Hello there family, friends, fans & followers of Rosario…

It’s Danny here… I’m sitting here with the beloved Rosario… it’s been awhile since I’ve written an update and certain members of the family are all over me about writing an update as I am privy to certain details of Rosario’s daily life, especially since she has been staying with me since Wednesday evening, the 15th.

Yes, slight change of venue. Why is she with me now? Well, in spite of the stellar care she was receiving at her last home, I was getting very jealous and decided to kidnap her so that I could wake up every 4 hours during the night to give her medicine…

… this new location works better for everyone, especially me, as it turns out, because I have no job or life to speak of ( unlike everyone else out here) so I can be there for her 24/7 if needed. Also, being the lazy person that I am.. now, instead of driving all the way to Manal’s to see my friend… all I have to do is take a few steps… it saves gas and the environment… and that’s how we do it out here in Cali.

OK, what has been going on in the last few days…

Well we’ve had some downs but also many ups!

A few nights ago Rosario had a very difficult night.. She had pain, nausea, knots in her back and felt like she had to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes, so needless to say she got very little sleep. We had to figure out what was causing the troubles…

See, last week she was on a full dose of pain meds… 15 ml of lortab elixir (liquid mixture of codine & ibuprofen) every 4 hours. When I picked up the original prescription on Thursday the 9th, it was written for 4 bottles… we had trouble finding a pharmacy that had it in stock… when I finally found one they told us that they had to call the doctor… it is now about 10 at night and the hospital sent her home with no medicine, as they assumed that we would have no problem finding it… so it’s time for her to take her pain meds and I am 8 miles away waiting for the pharmacy to comply… well they said that they couldn’t get ahold of the doctor so they would give us one bottle (about a 5 or 6 day supply) to tide us over until they could speak to the doctor and that I could come back for the rest on Monday or Tuesday… OY! OK… as long as I have something to take her…. fine…

Fast forward to Monday … I call to arrange to pick up the remaining three bottles… they tell me that the doctor said he now only wants her to have the one bottle that she already has and if we need more we’ll have to contact him. Here we go…

So we were trying to figure out what to do in the event that we wouldn’t be granted anymore pain meds. Rosario decided to go on rations and began taking only 7.5 ml … and only 3 times a day! Needless to say she was in a lot of pain!

Well Thursday the 16th, she had a follow up appointment, which Maggie told you about in an earlier post. The doctors reassured us that she needed to be on pain meds so she could get through her daily activities, otherwise she wouldn’t be able to do them at all, and her muscles could atrophy. So… we got another bottle prescribed and were determined to keep her on a regular schedule of pain meds so she could be as active as possible.

So, naturally, we went right back to the 15 ml every four hours routine… well in spite of feeling well that day, and going , on her own power, to the doctor’s appointment.. she had a rough night!

As I said above, she was sick and didn’t get much sleep… AND she was still in a lot of pain. huh??? She also told me that when she was able to doze off she was having terrible nightmares that she was being pulled into an abyss… I felt so helpless… it was tearing me up that I couldn’t comfort her…

The only thing that helped was when we prayed and asked St. Philomena to intercede. She finally dozed off… I continued to pray the rosary…. after that she drifted off to sleep and slept pretty well in the morning to make up for the night…

So the next day I did some reading and thought that it might be a reaction to the actual pain meds… so Rosario decided to attempt 10ml every 4 hours… I told her that I felt confident that this would help…

So we started on that track… and she had a really good day, in spite of the rough night… she did her walking and breathing exercises and ate pretty well considering. In the evening she also had visitors… Manal, Tiffany, Julia and Gavin all stopped by to cheer her up… she was very lively up to about 10:30pm then she just said , “I’m really tired, sorry” and nodded off to sleep. That night she slept 10 hours!!! Waking only for the 4 hour intervals to get her medicine. No extra trips to the bathroom, no nightmares, no nausea! Praise God!

That brings us to Saturday the 18th… Rosario did her walking & breathing exercises as usual, and Maggie came by with some fresh mashed potatoes and gravy… and as if that wasn’t enough she helped Rose take a shower. She was sooo happy to get showered up… and since she was clean why not put on some make up???? So that’s what Rose did! And since you are clean and in makeup… why not get dressed an hit the town… and so she did… well kind of… we went to a monthly event at church that we both usually serve. This time we were just in the crowd… We walked in during adoration and many people spotted her and just had to run up to see her… some of them smiling huge smiles, some , their jaws agape in awe, and the rest were smiling big smiles With their jaws agape! So we sat in the last pew… Rose really can’t get in a kneeling position as much as she would have liked to… As soon as we sat down we were confronted with the presence of Christ and Brother David’s beautiful voice… this was an unexpected emotional moment for Rose! It seems like a no brainer but we weren’t thinking about it… we were to busy getting ready and getting her there to worry about how we would feel when we got there… in fact we forgot to bring tissues… big mistake 🙂
Rose said, “It was my first time in adoration since the incident and I just felt like… “I’m alive!!!… and I’m at (name of event)!!!!!” Now normally I would be the one crying, but since Rose started first I figured I would just let her and save mine for later…
So she got to see Br. David, who was very emotional when he saw Rosario and didn’t really know what to say. He just kept saying how much everyone was praying and he was kissing her hand with tears in his eyes..

Then many more friends came over to just see the miracle that is Rose, all beaming with gratitude. We waited for Fr. Darren to finish up a confession to say hello… he came to the car and chatted with Rose telling her how grateful he was and that he had offered mass for her the moment he found out.

Well, it turns out that after such a full day it was a very good thing that she got such a good night’s sleep the night before and when we got her home she was ready for meds and beds.

Saturday night was also a good night’s sleep and Sunday was a relatively good day. Once again, Rose got all dolled up and allowed me to accompany her to evening mass… We saw more friends (They never seem to run out with Rose) and she was able to sit through the whole mass and afterward was able to chat with some friends…

On the way home, we were trying to think of things that Rosario might eat (she has a problem with her appetite and would love for all of you to pray for that) so she said she might like some orange chicken… I pretty much ran out the door…”I’m on it!” I am always excited when she has a taste for anything, as she rarely does… you know how little she eats normally? well, that’s nothing compared to lately… but she tries very hard to get her nutrition as she knows it is important for her healing…. and I try to gently but firmly convince, trick, fool, connive and humor her into eating more… every now and then I’ll pull out some old school guilt… “You know Rose, there are children all over the world who would love to be eating that chicken, and you’re just letting go to waste (clucks tongue)” 😉

So we had orange Chicken and fried rice and then our friends Phillip and Marianne came by with a cake that Marianne had made and Philip and Marianne sang happy birthday to me (Which was on the 7th) it was very nice… Rose said she couldn’t sing to me last night, but interestingly enough had no problem singing along with “Singing Bee” on TV tonight, so she must be healing fast! (The previous sentence was me giving Rose crap as she reads along with what I am writing … but it’s also true.)

The cake was great, but Rose , as you may know, doesn’t eat cake… whatever.. more for me… it was delicious as all of Marianne’s dishes are!

SO last night we had another bumble… the 10ml every 4 hours seems to be right on the money but last night she woke around 1:50a and needed to go to the bathroom, so we both went back to sleep and proceeded to sleep all the way to 7:00am… good for sleeping, but bad for medicine taking… we somehow missed the 3:30 med time! She woke up with in severe pain and could barley move… so we gave her her meds at 7. We basically skipped a med time… not sure how because we set alarms… maybe we didn’t hear the alarm… not sure… but she did get a lot of sleep and got back on track throughout the day. She did her walking (around the inner courtyard balcony of my apartment building) and her breathing exercises… and in the evening AnaMaria came by to bring cards, visit and help her bathe (apparently I’m not allowed to do that… whatever! 😉 ) So once again she was clean and feeling relaxed. After all her hard work and ups and down I rewarded her by renting a Pay per view movie ( i told you I was lazy). Now she’s kicked back in my recliner eating a popsicle and reading mail from her adoring fans!

She has ups and downs and will continue to do so. She has emotional days and non emotional days. In the first couple of weeks she had no trouble talking about the details of “the incident” … she could talk about them very matter of fact, however recently, she has become very sensitive to talking about it as it causes her to relive the event over and over. I myself have had to adjust as one of the ways I cope is to just call it out and say it a lot… I’ve had to amend that in recent days. We had to pause the movie tonight and fast forward past the violent part, even though it was done in a comical way. So FYI, be sensitive, she is going through a new phase in all of this…

Some highlights…

Rose washed a spoon! … I think that she is actually better at this now than she was before the incident!
She can get in and out of bed by herself..
She can do a lot of stuff, she just does it slower and in more pain…
she applies her own makeup… when she does this the pain seems to disappear 🙂
She actually was able to do a slow sway dance with me.. oh … I was singing that song “Careless Whisper… “I’m never gonna dance again.. ” She snapped, “Don’t sing that!” as if she’s in danger of that… which she is not… I told her, “You have nothing to worry about… ‘GUILTY FEET have got no rhythm’… you don’t have guilty feet… so… you’re good” (I hope someone gets that) 🙂
She had her first Starbucks Cinnamon Dolce Latte, which she nursed over three days…
Rose spoke to her brother Charles and almost died laughing!
She did a three way ichat with Ceci on one end and Mom, Jeffrey, Angie, and Rita on the other… look for posted photo.
She smiles a LOT!!! And laughs a LOT … mostly AT me… not WITH me…
Sometimes Rose is still effected by the anesthesia… she forgets things. what Ceci calls “Brain clouds” Rose has now jokingly started calling “gun shot brain’ I prefer to call it “having a 9 millimeter moment.” 🙂 She has definitely kept all of her sense of humor through all of this!

//

Posted By Danny

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Fun With Technology – A Carepage Post

Posted Jul 17, 2009 9:24pm

Today, I was able to iChat with Rosario and Danny (but mostly Rosario)! It was great! Most of the time I just stared at my beautiful sister’s face. I was smiling so big, she kept making fun of my dimple.

“Your dimple is so big right now!” she said. “Look – it’s this big!” She demonstrated by pressing her finger into her cheek. Rosario looked ridiculous, and it made us laugh.

I loved being a part of her afternoon for a little while. When she did her breathing treatment, I got to keep track of how many times she did it. I thank the Lord for the technology that allows me to be close to my sister even when we are separated by hundreds of miles!

My favorite part of our iChat was when I asked Rose what time it was over there. She looked to her left and said very slowly, “Um… it’s… five… five… something…”

“Obviously it’s not a digital clock,” I said, knowing my sister’s distaste for analog clocks.

She grinned and shook her head. I felt bad for making her laugh so hard, but it was too good to pass up! We spent a lot of time laughing about that and mocking Danny (But don’t tell him! He’s such a good sport!)

On a more serious note, Rosario did want to reiterate her gratitude for everyone’s prayers. She truly feels them working and asks that you keep them coming. Even though Rose is doing remarkably well, she still has difficult moments. Last night, for instance, was rather difficult. Rosario had a lot of discomfort and wasn’t able to sleep. She finally fell asleep around 4AM. Despite the rough night, Rose said she had a pretty good day. Please, please, please keep praying for her and her caretakers. Your prayers are vital to Rosario’s recovery. And remember that we are keeping you in our prayers, too.

Posted by Cecilia

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Visit to the doc – A Carepage Post

Posted Jul 16, 2009 8:07pm

Hi all! Rosario’s friend Maggie here! Cecilia gave me the power to send updates! Awesome!

Today was Rosario’s first doctor’s appointment since she was released from the hospital. I met her about an hour before the appointment to get all dolled up! Rosario looks great without makeup and she looks great with it 🙂 She is so blessed!

Danny, Rosario and I made our way to the Speilberg building. After getting all signed in and what not, we sat in the waiting room next to a little kid who told us where the best place to get yogurt is, all the flavors they have and that celebs hang out there. He couldn’t remember the name, but said it’s close to McDonalds and the pet store. Maybe someday we’ll find it and rub elbows with the celebs 🙂

After a short wait, Oscar’s name was called. The first doctor she saw was great. Rosario’s been taking smaller doses of the pain medication because she only had one bottle, but the doctor said she needs to take it to help her get through her breathing exercises and other things such as lifting her arms and making those muscles stronger. So she was prescribed another bottle and Danny will surely push her to the max on those exercises 🙂 The doctor also described what her muscles went through during surgery. It explains a lot of the soreness.

Then Dr.Massimo (don’t remember last name) came in and removed the sutures. He is a lovely lovely doctor. He closed the curtain so we couldn’t see (phew!). Rosario just said “Ouch!” about twice. She was a trouper! She said she truly felt everyone’s prayers. The doctor almost left without removing the sutures on her left side, but she was like “hey, don’t leave, I still have more on the other side!”. I don’t know if those were her exact words, but you get the idea 🙂 Dr.Massimo reiterated that it’s a miracle the way the bullet traveled through Rosario. He said it was like the bullet wove through the vital organs saying “excuse me. excuse me. excuse me.”.

Then Dr.Allins came in and checked her out. He said she looked good 🙂 He said she can incorporate harder foods into her diet as long as she can chew them up til they’re a soft consistency.

The doctor’s also said she will most likely set the metal detectors off at the airport.

By the time we were done at the doctor, Rosario was getting hungry. We headed to Whole Foods and Rosario went inside! It was really a beautiful moment. She said “I’m at Whole Foods. I’m alive.”. It was a bit emotional. I think we both had the potential to cry, but we kept it together and forged on for some groceries!

We got some quiche from the hot foods section for lunch. We took it back to Danny’s place and ate. Rosario did a pretty good job of eating. By this time, she was tired, so I took off and she most likely crashed.

I hope I didn’t miss anything, tell too much, tell anything wrong or confuse you all. Rosario? Danny? What are your sides of the story? Ha!

Keep up the prayers! They work wonders!

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