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Tito's Second Chance

$4,605 of $65,000 goal

Raised by 60 people in 3 months
Created July 27, 2018
Team Tito
On July 16th, 2018 Tito fell into a coma. He spent a little over a week in the ICU and has been transferred to a new hospital. Since then he has come out of the coma and has been transferred out of ICU! While there is still so much that is unknown about his outcomes for the future, Tito continues to make positive progress every day. His family has rallied by his side praying and hoping for the absolute best for him. There is still a long road of recovery ahead both in and outside of the hospital. The goal with this GoFundMe is to alleviate financial stress for Claudia, Tito’s mom, at a time where she needs to be, and should be, focusing her energy towards Tito’s recovery. Unfortunately, in times of medical crisis the rest of the world continues to turn. On top of general monthly bills, including a mortgage, the family is bracing for the forthcoming medical bills and planning for the future so they can help meet all of Tito’s medical needs. If you have spent any time with this family, it will not surprise you to learn that they are doing every thing they can to support one another and Tito. Will you join me in gathering around this family by contributing today? At this time, Tito’s recovery is everyone’s priority so the family kindly asks for support in the following ways:- financial contributions via GoFundMe or Venmo (@Claudia-Alfaro-09) - by giving through Venmo no processing fees will be deducted from your gift- Gift cards and E-gift cards for Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, and UberEats (because hospital cafeteria food can be expensive and is notoriously not healthy nor tasty). For information on how to get gift cards to the family please contact Tito’s cousin, Natalie, at n.alfarofrazier@gmail.com- Please direct any questions on how to support the family to Tito’s cousin, Natalie, at n.alfarofrazier@gmail.comThank you to everyone for your prayers and support thus far. The family has felt lifted up by the community around them. Help us in continuing the support for this family by taking some of the worry off of their shoulders. Thank you and God Bless!
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At times I don’t know how to start or what to post as an update. I want to convey my appreciation to all those who have supported us, touch on mine and my family’s feelings and experience with this whole ordeal and update everyone on Tito’s recovery while also being mindful to preserve some privacy. I hope I can do all three. Tito was transferred to Kaiser in Vallejo because of its exceptional rehabilitation program. On a daily basis, he had vigorous Speech, Occupational and Physical therapies. Speech therapy focused on his cognitive abilities like concentration, memory and problem solving. Physical therapy focused on his motor skills and strengthening his muscles, especially since he had atrophy from being in bed for so long. Occupational therapy focused on impulse control, and practicing everyday tasks he used to do like putting clothes into the washer, doing a puzzle, and playing his ukulele.

I went to many of these sessions. During one of his Speech Therapy sessions, the therapist had a deck of playing cards and said she was going to hand him a card one by one. He had to put the red cards in one pile and the black cards in another. Then she took the red pile and asked him to sort them by putting the diamonds in one pile and the hearts in another, and the same with the clubs and spades for the black cards. Next she laid the black cards out in two rows all out of order. She gave Tito the pile of red cards and asked him to place the cards on top of each black card by matching the numbers of the red card to the number on each black card. Since they were all out of order, he had to search and find the respective cards. It took him some time but he completed it. After he did this he rubbed his head and put his face in his hands saying it was too tiring. She let him rest and gave him the last instructions where he had to put the set of black and red cards that were stacked on top of each other in order from Ace to King. This all took about 20 minutes and afterwards he was exhausted. It was hard for me to see that a simple task caused such stress on his brain. This was the same guy who has always been innately intelligent, things came easy to Tito and he was always ready with a quick comeback or witty remark. My heart ached to see him so tired and frustrated with what he was being asked to do. But it made me realize just how severe his brain injury is and the intense work that’s ahead.

At first glance, people think he’s improved so much because just four weeks ago Tito was in a coma and now he’s starting to walk with assistance. To some degree, it’s true. Tito is a walking miracle. But I also fear that people will get the false impression that he’s doing so well that he’s nearly his old self again. He’s far from that. The Social Worker who’s been working with us empathized with our fears. She said that many professionals call people with Anoxic Brain Injury, “The Walking Wounded” because often times their bodies recuperate faster than their brains. Just because Tito is speaking more clearly and doing better physically, he isn’t the Tito we all remember. The injury affected his short term memory. He often couldn’t remember whether I had come to visit him the day before or what he had done earlier in the day. One day he spoke to my husband, Sid on the phone and said he was the only one who hadn’t visited him, and when Sid told him he had visited him just two days before, he was shocked and said he didn’t remember. He still has to be watched 24 hours a day. He can’t hold a conversation for more than a few minutes. He often starts to say things that don’t make sense and he begins to slur his words. He becomes withdrawn and stops answering questions or doesn’t acknowledge people in the room. He’s forgotten how to play checkers and his ukulele. Tito’s level of conversation is also very surface based as though he’s regressed back to the age of a 10 year old.
I’m constantly reminding myself to stay positive but I can’t help but be afraid of all the unknowns. I’m worried about how far he will be able to go in his recovery process. I also worry about possible changes to his personality. And despite my fears, I’m immensely grateful that we didn’t lose him and that he’s progressing. When he’s lucid and in good spirits he can be funny and crack a joke. He’s become more affectionate, giving people hugs, blowing kisses and extending his hand to hold theirs. One night I had to leave his room and I asked him if he wanted me to come back the next day. He said “No. Wait. Yes.” I asked, “Which one is it?” He motioned me to come closer and with his finger pointing at me, he said “As a rule of thumb, always come.” I just smiled and told him, “Ok. I’ll see you tomorrow.” And he rolled over to go to sleep.

My mom, Rita and I have all stopped working in order to take care of Tito. He was discharged to our home today and he’ll still need round’ the clock supervision. Between the three of us we’ll be taking shifts in caring for and supervising him. Anytime he gets up, we have to hold his waist and guide him so he doesn’t fall. He needs us to cook for him, help him shower, tie his hair up, while also encouraging him to try some of these tasks on his own so he can regain his mobility and independence. He’ll be getting Occupational, Speech and Physical therapy in home. As excited as we all are that he’s home, I can’t help but worry about finances. With the three of us out of work, our funds are limited. We all still have our bills to pay, I have 3 kids, (ages 13, 9 and 15 months) to care for, and my mom still has to pay her mortgage. We’re taking these things one day at a time. That’s all we can do. I can say though, I am happy to leave the hospital, and see Tito in his own bed, in his own blankets and surrounded by all the things familiar to him. Again, thank you for all the love and support. It means more to us than you know.
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It’s been 20 days since Tito first went to the hospital. During this time so much has happened and there has been such a wide range of emotion. On Monday July 16th, what had started off as a simple phone call to my husband to see if he wanted to meet up with me for lunch, became the worst call I’d ever make. The tone of his voice explaining to me that Tito had been transported to John Muir Hospital and was in critical condition made my heart sink. I ran to my car and told him I was on my way. He kept telling me to drive safely, and didn’t provide me with any other details but the fear in his voice let me know something was very wrong. I don’t know how I got to the hospital before my husband and my mom, but I did. I walked into the emergency room not seeing any familiar faces. My mind was racing and I had no other details about my brother’s condition. Finally, after what felt like eternity, my mom came into the small conference room where I had been escorted by a staff member. She was obviously in shock. I was tasked with calling all three of my other sisters and my dad. It was excruciating calling each one of my sisters to share the news and hear the same reaction; that they had to leave right away, our baby brother had been rushed to the hospital and was in critical condition. Each of them could barely make out what I was saying as they answered the phone. Somehow in between my cries and yells they heard the message and I heard each of them fall apart just as I did and then say “I’m on my way.” Eleanor left from Santa Cruz, Elizabeth from Los Banos, and Rita from San Jose. I knew it’d be a while until I’d get to see my sisters and get some comfort in embracing them to face this crisis together. We finally got in contact with my dad, but I couldn’t bare to tell him. My mom calmly spoke to him on the phone, explained the situation and he, just as calmly as my mom, said “Ok” and that he was on his way.

Once my family was together, the doctor explained that Tito was in a coma and was not breathing on his own. He had been intubated and the MRI showed he had too much swelling in his brain to see what damage had been done. They decided to cool his body temperature down to 36 degrees by using a cooling machine around his body in an effort to decrease the swelling. He said the next 72 hours were the most critical and it’d be a waiting game to see if the swelling would go down to get a clearer picture of what was going on. I felt my legs go out from under me and fell to the floor after hearing the news. How could this be happening? I thought, I must be having a nightmare and just needed to wake up. I live with Tito. I had just seen him before going to work that very morning. But it wasn’t a dream. It was very real. And all we could do was wait.

Those first few days, there was a flood of emotion. We didn’t know if Tito was going to live. We were stuck in our anxiety waiting for a response, waiting for a clue that would tell us how Tito was doing. If you’ve ever met the Alfaro family, we’re huge. It took only minutes to get the word out and my cousins, aunts and uncles were in contact with us and each other. Everyone called and sent messages offering love and support. I knew everyone loved us and Tito, but I was too overwhelmed to speak to anyone. I felt confusion, sadness, frustration and anxiety all at the same time. I felt powerless. There was nothing I could do, but wait. That first night, we went home because the hospital wouldn’t let us stay overnight, but we hardly slept, if at all. All I could do was think of Tito and the type of person he is.

Anyone who meets Tito always has a good impression of him. He’s sweet, kind hearted, funny and polite. Despite our 13 year age gap, I’ve always felt this tight bond with him. Maybe it was because I was at his birth and changed his diapers, maybe it was because we have similar personalities, or enjoy the same type of humor, or because we both struggle with depression and we understand each other on a level that most people can’t. Whatever it is, Tito has always had a very special place in my heart. My family and I had just moved into my mom’s house 2 months prior to live with her and Tito. But before that, we lived right around the corner where Tito was a frequent visitor. He’d usually call and ask “Are you home? Can I come over?” My answer was always “Why are you asking? Come over.” Shortly after, the door would open to see this big 6’3 man child walk into my doorway. No matter what mood I was in, anytime I saw him, it always made me happy. Tito has a calming energy about him. If you know me, that comes in handy when I’m in an elevated state. Tito could always tell when I needed extra love. He’d just come over and ask me if he could give me a hug. I love his hugs. He’s nearly a foot taller than me. When he’d hug me, I felt like I was being engulfed by his love and the calming energy he emitted immediately made me feel better. Tito could hang out with all of us. He and my husband Sid have a close relationship. Sid has known Tito since he was 2 years old, so they’re also like brothers. My children love their uncle and he’s great with all 3 of them. Sophia, my 15 month old is particularly fond of him. If she isn’t saying “Mom, Mom” she’s saying “Tito, Tito.” Every morning when Sophia would wake up, she’d climb out of bed, walk to Tito’s bedroom door, bang on it saying “Tito! Tito!” until he’d open up. He never seemed upset, no matter how tired he was. This is who he is. An understanding, loving, easy going person who is fun to be around.

Instead of our usual hang out, our new routine was to wake up, get dressed, maybe eat something and head to the hospital. We’d stay all day and leave around 9pm or later (if we could sneak it) and do the same thing again. In the days that Tito was in the ICU, we had an out pour of love and support from people far and wide. My family prayed hard. We had people from all over the world praying for this young man. Thanks to Social Media, we were able to get the word out and people prayed and prayed. And then, on day 3 my mom, dad and I entered Tito’s room and his eyes were open (which they said was normal but not voluntary). My parents said hi to him and I swore his eyes followed my parents’ voice. I immediately went out of the room and asked the nurse. She said it could be involuntary movement but it could also not be. Later that day we got the update that Tito’s brain was no longer swelling and he didn’t have any brain damage but the MRI did show he had brain injury. The doctor said he felt confident Tito was going to come out of the coma and as you all know, HE DID! I was preparing myself to hear the worst possible news, and instead we heard great news! The doctor and nurses said this outcome was very rare and they were so surprised by Tito’s progress. He’s a fighter and he was showing it. Since then he has been showing improvements every day. I know he’ll get better. I know he’s a fighter, but I miss the little brother I know. I miss our talks, our back and forth banter and nagging at him for drinking all my chocolate almond milk. I have to keep in mind that this is not a race, that I have to be patient and all will be well. Thank you all for your love, support and reminding me of the importance of self-care in order to be well for Tito and my family. So I will be patient and enjoy every moment I have with Tito. If he fights, I fight. I love you Tito.

Mercedes
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Hello to friends, family, acquaintances and kind strangers,

My name is Mercedes and I'm one of Tito's four sisters. As many of you know my little brother has been in the hospital since July 16th and was in a coma. The neurologist originally gave us a 10% chance of a full recovery. Since then, we have had an amazing amount of people rally around our family to pray for Tito and he came out of the coma!! We were told there was no brain damage, but he does have brain injury. I love my brother with all my heart. He's kind, loving, giving and has a beautiful soul. I couldn't imagine my life without him. He's truly one of my best friends and I'm so thankful he's been given a second chance.

He has already begun to speak a little (we can understand about 40-50% of what he says) and he began to swallow which allows him to eat soft foods on his own. Just 2 days ago the doctors were discussing having to put a feeding tube in his stomach and today he was eating pudding!

His recovery will take many months as he'll have to relearn everything from speaking, to walking. But every day he makes progress and we are so thankful for the support of our friends, family and community. My family and I will be by his side every step of the way during this long recovery process. I will do my best to update you all on his progress. Thank you for your generous donations, but most of all for your thoughts, prayers and well wishes for Tito and my family. We're beyond moved by the love that surrounds us.

We greatly appreciate it if you can continue to share our GoFundMe link to spread the word. Every bit helps.

Sincerely,

Mercedes Lezama
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$4,605 of $65,000 goal

Raised by 60 people in 3 months
Created July 27, 2018
Team Tito
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